Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2013, July 25

“Book of Mormon | Alma 51: Why Does Liberty-Loving Captain Moroni Compel and Kill Nephite People who Resist Him?” by grego

Book of Mormon | Alma 51: Why Does Liberty-Loving Captain Moroni Compel and Kill Nephite People who Resist Him?

grego
(c)2011-2013

Some might believe that Captain Moroni wasn’t righteous because he compelled Nephites to do as he wished or die. Surely he could have come up with a more peaceful way to take care of this problem, that didn’t infringe on people’s rights or freedom?

As one put it:

**
“Captain Moroni executed king-men for not taking up arms against the enemy. Was that not compulsion? Must the Nephites have resorted to a hawkish defense policy for preservation against the Lamanites? Couldn’t they have employed a more dovish policy and still maintained peaceful relations?”

“In regards to compulsion of the state, particularly in regards to taking up arms to “defend the country,” there’s no better example of this than in Alma chapter 51. Let’s read this account, shall we? First of all, it begins with a debate between two opposing political parties. On the one hand are those who were labeled “kingmen” and on the other those who were labeled “free men.” Not sure who did the labeling. In verse 5, Mormon writes that those who wanted to alter the law “were called kingmen.” Who did the labeling is a mystery, but my guess, based on history being written by the victors, this label was given by the “freemen” who, in verse six, is written that they took the name upon themselves. In any case, these first few verses are quite fascinating because while contentious, the two sides put it up for some vote (not sure what the voting population was—probably just the men). In the end, the “free men” won, and the “kingmen” lost. They were sad, but they didn’t take up arms against the “free men.”
But here’s where it gets interesting. Amalickiah, now ruling over the Lamanites, pressed his advantage in the war. Pahoran wanted to get more soldiers for the battle. The “king men” refused to fight. Surely one has a right under “voluntarism” to not pick up a sword or a bow and arrow to kill another, right? Isn’t that what you two believe? Or are there instances where voluntarism is void and null? In any case, they refuse to take up arms.

Let’s see what happened:
Alma 51:13 And it came to pass that when the men who were called king-men had heard that the Lamanites were coming down to battle against them, they were glad in their hearts; and they refused to take up arms, for they were so wroth with the chief judge, and also with the people of liberty, that they would not take up arms to defend their country.
14 And it came to pass that when Moroni saw this, and also saw that the Lamanites were coming into the borders of the land, he was exceedingly wroth because of the stubbornness of those people whom he had labored with so much diligence to preserve; yea, he was exceedingly wroth; his soul was filled with anger against them.
15 And it came to pass that he sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.

WOW! I gotta say…Imagine today General Patraeus coming out and writing a letter to the president asking him for permission to compel dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death. WOW! Do you two get it yet? A vote was put up before the people and in apparently a free and fair vote, the “kingmen” lost. They didn’t take up arms against the “free men” nor did they take up arms to defend the “free men.” So what do the “free men” do?

And it came to pass that it was granted according to the voice of the people.
17 And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.
18 And it came to pass that the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth.
19 And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period.
20 And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country.
21 And thus Moroni put an end to those king-men, that there were not any known by the appellation of king-men; and thus he put an end to the stubbornness and the pride of those people who professed the blood of nobility; but they were brought down to humble themselves like unto their brethren, and to fight valiantly for their freedom from bondage.

WOW! Compelled to hoist the title of liberty. Methinks at this point the whole notion of liberty failed. You’re only free when you are compelled by someone, according to Captain Moroni. Oh, if only indeed everyone were like this man…”
**

First, one needs to understand the Nephite social contract, as explained here: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/book-of-mormon-korihor-vs-the-nephite-social-contract-the-law-of-war/ .

Liberty, freedom, and Nephite government is not all about “do what you want, even if it infringes on others’ liberty and rights to do what they want”.

Captain Moroni and Mormon explain many times what it is they’re fighting for, as in this article: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2008/07/31/book-of-mormon-whats-worth-fighting-and-dying-for/

Not long before the situation in Alma 51, there is the Amalickiah situation–an attack on Nephite liberty; a desire for a king; they are angry with the Christians and want to kill them; their numbers are less than the free men; they run away:
Alma 46:4 And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power.
5 And they had been led by the flatteries of Amalickiah, that if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people.
6 Thus they were led away by Amalickiah to dissensions, notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church, for they were high priests over the church.
10 Yea, we see that Amalickiah, because he was a man of cunning device and a man of many flattering words, that he led away the hearts of many people to do wickedly; yea, and to seek to destroy the church of God, and to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake.

Most of Amalckiah’s followers are captured, and the ones that covenant to support freedom can live:
Alma 46:33 And it came to pass that Amalickiah fled with a small number of his men, and the remainder were delivered up into the hands of Moroni and were taken back into the land of Zarahemla.
34 Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them.
35 And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom.
36 And it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites.

Harsh? Sure seems that way. Necessary? Sure seems that way.

Who are the king-men in Alma 51? What do they want?

Alma 51:5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.

8 Now those who were in favor of kings were those of high birth, and they sought to be kings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.
13 And it came to pass that when the men who were called king-men had heard that the Lamanites were coming down to battle against them, they were glad in their hearts; and they refused to take up arms, for they were so wroth with the chief judge, and also with the people of liberty, that they would not take up arms to defend their country.
14 And it came to pass that when Moroni saw this, and also saw that the Lamanites were coming into the borders of the land, he was exceedingly wroth because of the stubbornness of those people whom he had labored with so much diligence to preserve; yea, he was exceedingly wroth; his soul was filled with anger against them.
15 And it came to pass that he sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.
16 For it was his first care to put an end to such contentions and dissensions among the people; for behold, this had been hitherto a cause of all their destruction. And it came to pass that it was granted according to the voice of the people.
17 And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.
18 And it came to pass that the armies did march forth against them; and they did pull down their pride and their nobility, insomuch that as they did lift their weapons of war to fight against the men of Moroni they were hewn down and leveled to the earth.
19 And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period.
20 And the remainder of those dissenters, rather than be smitten down to the earth by the sword, yielded to the standard of liberty, and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country.
21 And thus Moroni put an end to those king-men, that there were not any known by the appellation of king-men; and thus he put an end to the stubbornness and the pride of those people who professed the blood of nobility; but they were brought down to humble themselves like unto their brethren, and to fight valiantly for their freedom from bondage.
22 Behold, it came to pass that while Moroni was thus breaking down the wars and contentions among his own people, and subjecting them to peace and civilization, and making regulations to prepare for war against the Lamanites, behold, the Lamanites had come into the land of Moroni, which was in the borders by the seashore.

Moroni gives his own perspective on the king-men problem:
Alma 60:16 Yea, had it not been for the war which broke out among ourselves; yea, were it not for these king-men, who caused so much bloodshed among ourselves; yea, at the time we were contending among ourselves, if we had united our strength as we hitherto have done; yea, had it not been for the desire of power and authority which those king-men had over us; had they been true to the cause of our freedom, and united with us, and gone forth against our enemies, instead of taking up their swords against us, which was the cause of so much bloodshed among ourselves; yea, if we had gone forth against them in the strength of the Lord, we should have dispersed our enemies, for it would have been done, according to the fulfilling of his word.
17 But behold, now the Lamanites are coming upon us, taking possession of our lands, and they are murdering our people with the sword, yea, our women and our children, and also carrying them away captive, causing them that they should suffer all manner of afflictions, and this because of the great wickedness of those who are seeking for power and authority, yea, even those king-men.

Pahoran writes about a group of men who are against freedom, set up a king, and fight against the free men and other Nephites fighting for their freedom. This group sounds eerily like the king-men:
Alma 61: 3 But behold, there are those who do joy in your afflictions, yea, insomuch that they have risen up in rebellion against me, and also those of my people who are freemen, yea, and those who have risen up are exceedingly numerous.
4 And it is those who have sought to take away the judgment-seat from me that have been the cause of this great iniquity; for they have used great flattery, and they have led away the hearts of many people, which will be the cause of sore affliction among us; they have withheld our provisions, and have daunted our freemen that they have not come unto you.
5 And behold, they have driven me out before them, and I have fled to the land of Gideon, with as many men as it were possible that I could get.
8 They have got possession of the land, or the city, of Zarahemla; they have appointed a king over them, and he hath written unto the king of the Lamanites, in the which he hath joined an alliance with him; in the which alliance he hath agreed to maintain the city of Zarahemla, which maintenance he supposeth will enable the Lamanites to conquer the remainder of the land, and he shall be placed king over this people when they shall be conquered under the Lamanites.

This is what happens to them:
Alma 62:6 And thus, when Moroni had gathered together whatsoever men he could in all his march…
7 And it came to pass that Moroni and Pahoran went down with their armies into the land of Zarahemla, and went forth against the city, and did meet the men of Pachus, insomuch that they did come to battle.
8 And behold, Pachus was slain and his men were taken prisoners, and Pahoran was restored to his judgment-seat.
9 And the men of Pachus received their trial, according to the law, and also those king-men who had been taken and cast into prison; and they were executed according to the law; yea, those men of Pachus and those king-men, whosoever would not take up arms in the defence of their country, but would fight against it, were put to death.

Amalickiah’s followers, the king-men in Alma 51, and the rebels in Alma 60-61 are all in the same boat: they want a king, they lust after and covet positions of power and authority, and they are willing to use whatever means they can to reach their aims.

The first group was going to use lethal force to get a king, not even bothering to try a vote (unlike the Amlicites); the second group was likely going to wait for the free men to be killed by the Lamanites, then step in and take over; and the third group actually had a rebel king that tried to establish an alliance with the Lamanite king.

So why did Moroni do what he did?
Alma 61:10 And thus it became expedient that this law should be strictly observed for the safety of their country; yea, and whosoever was found denying their freedom was speedily executed according to the law.
11 And thus ended the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; Moroni and Pahoran having restored peace to the land of Zarahemla, among their own people, having inflicted death upon all those who were not true to the cause of freedom.

Captain Moroni didn’t compel random people to join him, or freedom-loving people who feared war but were willing to help out in other ways, or even freedom-haters who were still willing to uphold the Nephite government; he compelled those he had reason to kill because they had rebelled and used arms against him, or who likely would have. Being a Nephite capable of defending their own land and people from an invading army–not attacking or going to another country in a dubious war–meant that you supported the government. Note that there had been always been Nephite dissenters who had left the Nephites and lived under the Lamanite king–there was that freedom. But for those who had crossed the line, Moroni’s compulsion was a form of mercy. It was giving the king-men a chance to prove their loyalty to their country instead of suffering death for treason, as explained in this article: https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/2009/02/18/book-of-mormon-an-oath-of-liberty-a-critique-of-the-book-of-mormon-as-support-for-a-moral-obligation-to-fight-for-ones-government-by-grego/ :

“At this point, it is probable that the king-men are not just in a state of dissenting opinion, contention, and dispute, but are dissenters, rebels, opposers of the government in more than word–in a state of open forceful opposition to the government. Every time the word dissenter is used in the Book of Mormon, it is more than just words–there is a physical separation because of a disagreement over law or government. The king-men have chosen to be enemies of the state. They are doing this while still in Nephite land. By doing so, they could be charged with treason and likely executed.

Now, even in this state, Moroni gives them the choice to return in good standing, or suffer the consequences of their choices. Not once do we read in the Book of Mormon of any other Nephite (other than the chief judge) having to take an oath of allegience to the Nephite government. At least for the king-men, taking the oath–after rebelling against the state–allowed them to set aside their penalty and reaffirm their citizenship and rights; refusing to take the oath would just allow the just penalty to be enforced. This oath was to support their form of government, and was a protective set-up so that when Amalickiah and the Lamanites came against the Nepites, they would not be divided on the inside.

If the Amalickiahites had not committed any crime, but had decided to leave the country and go to the Lamanites, this likely would have been fine. However, by being “determined to slay” innocent people, wanting to seek kingship by force, then having the plan to leave the country with a plan to become the Lamanites allies against the Nephites, the king-men are clearly in an illegal situation.

Later, in Alma 62:7, we learn that king-men resisted the lawful Nephite government by the sword, yet the men who were not slain in battle were taken prisoners and received a fair trial. Once more, the opponenets of liberty were required to take an oath. For them, it was not just fight for the defense of the country or die, which would have still been a fair oath, I believe; but: “whosoever would not take up arms in the defence of their country, BUT WOULD FIGHT AGAINST IT, were put to death.” In Alma 62:10, it reads: “And thus it became expedient that this law should be strictly observed for the safety of their country; yea, and whosoever was found denying their freedom was speedily executed according to the law.” “Fighting against the country” and “denying freedom” are different than opposing or refusing to fight in a war, especially in an offensive one in another country.”

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2013, July 22

“Book of Mormon Geography: Where Does Captain Moroni’s Prayer Take Place?” by grego

Book of Mormon Geography: Where Does Captain Moroni’s Prayer Take Place?

grego
(c) 2013

Alma 46:16 And therefore, at this time, Moroni prayed that the cause of the Christians, and the freedom of the land might be favored.
17 And it came to pass that when he had poured out his soul to God, he named **all the land which was south of the land Desolation**, yea, and **in fine, all the land, both on the north and on the south—A chosen land, and the land of liberty**.

Anti-New York geographical setting believers use the second starred section to support their claim that America is included because of the “on the north” part.

But does this land of liberty include the land of Desolation and what’s north of it, or not?

The first starred section makes it seem like it means all the lands on the north and on the south, that are south of the land Desolation. If that’s not what that part means, why was it included, as it seems to contradict what they are trying to prove in the second part?

If not, then does this section support that this must have taken place in North America, such as in New York?

“Book of Mormon: ‘Despised Christians’ among the Nephites??” by grego

Book of Mormon: ‘Despised Christians’ among the Nephites??

grego
(c) 2013

Alma 46:18 And he (note: Moroni) said: Surely God shall not suffer that we, who are despised because we take upon us the name of Christ, shall be trodden down and destroyed, until we bring it upon us by our own transgressions.

I didn’t really understand this verse for a long time–why would Nephite believers be despised in Nephite land?? I think it means “despised by Amalickiah and his followers”.

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