Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, July 21

“Book of Mormon: Were the Mothers of the Helaman’s Two Thousand ‘Stripling Warriors’ All Widows?” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Were the Mothers of the Helaman’s Two Thousand ‘Stripling Warriors’ All Widows?”

grego
(c) 2010

Some people have a belief regarding the two thousand (/two thousand and sixty) young men in the Book of Mormon known as the sons of Helaman, who were the sons of the Anti-Nephi-Lehites. They believe that the sons’ fathers were all killed by the Lamanites, so their mothers reared them, and that’s why the mothers had such great faith and could teach their sons regarding faith. Here are two mild examples of this thinking (I’ve seen some go so far as to suggest that most, or even all of, the fathers were killed):

“When the Lamanites attacked them, the fathers did not flee or cower, they ‘went out to meet [the Lamanites]’ without weapons. Many of the fathers were killed (1,005) in that battle and in other attacks…
While the mothers were rearing their children, the Lamanites attacked more than once and many of their husbands were killed.  Under the Lord’s direction these women left their homeland, traveled with their families to the unfamiliar land of Jershon, and there made a new home for their children” (http://www.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2009_04_21_Clark.htm).

“I then realized that this group of people – the Anti-Nephi-Lehis – had been slaughtered by fellow Lamanites a few years before. Those are the verses I quoted from Alma 24. Most of those killed probably were men. Both men and women faced death fearlessly after they covenanted to never kill again. However, it is my opinion that most of those killed were men. I think they would have placed themselves in a position so they were the first attacked by the Lamanites. So many of these young men had likely lost their fathers in this attack. A lot of the attackers when they saw what they were doing, threw down their weapons of war and joined with the Anti-Nephi-Lehis but I doubt any of the mothers would have remarried any of those other Lamanites – it’s possible but not probable. They were forgiving people but there is a difference between forgiving the person who might have killed your husband and turning around and marrying them.
While some of these widows might have remarried (men other than their converted attackers), it’s likely that many were left to raise their children on their own (with the help of the church and community). There were fathers involved (“they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives”) but the mothers played the larger role. Again, I believe that it is because many of their fathers had been killed by the wicked Lamanites. These were “Momma’s boys” because for many of them, a mom is all they had. This is all opinion (and maybe literary license) but it makes sense. These sons of widows were taken care of by He who watches over and cares for the fatherless and widows” (http://ahouseofprayer.blogspot.com/2010_01_01_archive.html).

Verses in Alma 24, 27, 53, and 55-58 are relied on.

I’ll have to set out a better time schedule of these events, if possible, from the Book of Mormon, to get a better idea of the possibilities of the comments. Nevertheless, the Book of Mormon shows that while the above comments about the sons of Helaman might be true, it is clearly not the case that all their fathers, and possibly not the case that most of their fathers, were killed.

First, let’s take another look at Alma 24:
6 Now there was *not one soul among all the people* who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not.
7 Now, these are the words which he said *unto the people* concerning the matter: I thank my God, *my beloved people*, that our great God has in goodness sent these our brethren, the Nephites, unto us to preach unto us, and to convince us of the traditions of our wicked fathers.
9 And behold, I also thank my God, that by opening this correspondence we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed.
11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—
12 Now, *my best beloved brethren*, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren.
16 And now, *my brethren*, if our brethren seek to destroy us, behold, we will hide away our swords, yea, even we will bury them deep in the earth, that they may be kept bright, as a testimony that we have never used them, at the last day; and if our brethren destroy us, behold, we shall go to our God and shall be saved.
17 And now it came to pass that when the king had made an end of these sayings, and *all the people* were assembled together, they took their swords, and all the weapons which were used for the shedding of man’s blood, and they did bury them up deep in the earth.
18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives…
20 And it came to pass that their brethren, the Lamanites, made preparations for war, and came up to the land of Nephi for the purpose of destroying the king, and to place another in his stead, and also of destroying the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi out of the land.
21 Now when *the people* saw that they were coming against them *they* went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword.
22 And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God.
23 Now when the Lamanites saw that *their brethren* would not flee from the sword, neither would they turn aside to the right hand or to the left, but that they would lie down and perish, and praised God even in the very act of perishing under the sword—
24 Now when the Lamanites saw this they did forbear from slaying them; and there were many whose hearts had swollen in them *for those of their brethren* who had fallen under the sword, for they repented of the things which they had done.
25 And it came to pass that they threw down their weapons of war, and they would not take them again, for they were stung for the murders which they had committed; and they came down *even as their brethren*, relying upon the mercies of those whose arms were lifted to slay them.
26 And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; and those who had been slain were righteous *people*, therefore we have no reason to doubt but what they were saved.
27 And there was not a wicked *man* slain among them; but there were more than a thousand brought to the knowledge of the truth; thus we see that the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people.

It seems this might be read in two different ways (though the first interpretation is favored), but a relative conclusion can be drawn: if this were all men, only the men covenanted and were killed; if this included women, men and women both covenanted and were killed.
In addition, there is nothing here that says or implies that the slain Anti-Nephi-Lehites were married and had older children. And, contrary to previous commentary, I give my opinion that the mothers would be willing to marry those newly converted men—of course, that would be assuming that the men were single themselves!

And in Alma 27:
2 And it came to pass that the Amalekites, because of their loss, were exceedingly angry. And when they saw that they could not seek revenge from the Nephites, *they began to stir up the people in anger against their brethren, the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi; therefore they began again to destroy them.*
3 Now *this people again refused to take their arms, and they suffered themselves to be slain according to the desires of their enemies*.
4 Now when Ammon and his brethren saw this work of destruction among those whom they so dearly beloved… therefore, when Ammon and his brethren saw this great work of destruction…

There is no clear mention that “the Lamanites attacked more than once and many of their husbands were killed”. I also doubt that these attacks amounted to much compared to the first major attack. Once more, who was really killed?

There is also Alma 53:11:
11 And because of their oath they had been kept from taking up arms against their brethren; for they had taken an oath that they never would shed blood more; and according to their oath they would have perished; yea, they would have suffered themselves to have fallen into the hands of their brethren, had it not been for the pity and the exceeding love which Ammon and his brethren had had for them.
12 And for this cause they were brought down into the land of Zarahemla; and they ever had been protected by the Nephites.
13 But it came to pass that when they saw the danger, and the many afflictions and tribulations which the Nephites bore for them, *they were moved with compassion and were desirous to take up arms in the defence of their country*.
14 But behold, as they were about to take their weapons of war, they were overpowered by the persuasions of Helaman and his brethren, for they were about to break the oath which they had made.
15 And Helaman feared lest by so doing they should lose their souls; therefore all those who had entered into this covenant were compelled to behold their brethren wade through their afflictions, in their dangerous circumstances at this time.
16 But behold, it came to pass *they* had many sons, who had not entered into a covenant that they would not take their weapons of war to defend themselves against their enemies; therefore they did assemble themselves together at this time, as many as were able to take up arms, and they called themselves Nephites.

Who was going to break the covenants about not taking up arms and going to war—the mothers? I don’t think so; though of course, it could have been… Also, “*they* had many sons”.

Then, there is Alma 56:27:
“And now it came to pass in the second month of this year, there was brought unto us many provisions *from the fathers of those my two thousand sons*.”

Helaman clearly says “the fathers of those my two thousand sons” brought many provisions. (Fathers, or step-fathers counted as fathers?)

And then, there’s this, in Alma 56:47: “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and *they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers* than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.”

One way to interpret that is that they were fighting for the “liberty of their fathers”, who were living in religious freedom in the Nephite lands, and that that was more precious to them than their own lives.

So, I conclude that while many of the fathers might have died, many surely survived, and the myth that the mothers of the sons of Helaman raised their sons single-handedly, is not concrete.

More: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2010/08/05/book-of-mormon-widowers-of-ammonihah-and-anti-nephi-lehi-widows-by-grego/ .

Another possibility as to what was meant: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2013/03/21/book-of-mormon-stripling-anti-nephi-lehies-rehearsed-to-helaman-the-words-of-their-mothers-alma-5648-by-grego/

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