Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, February 25

“Book of Mormon: Ammon and the Waters of Sebus” by grego

Book of Mormon: Ammon and the Waters of Sebus

grego
(c) 2008-9

Brant Gardner has written:

“The account of Ammon at the waters of Sebus is both well-known and entirely misunderstood. If we strip the story of its faith-inspiring aspects it becomes nearly nonsensical. Allow me to retell the story in a way that highlights its anomalous aspects.

Ammon, a traditional enemy, volunteers to be a servant for a Lamanite king. Instead of killing or jailing this enemy, the king immediately offers one of his daughters in marriage.

The Lamanite king has an ongoing problem with his flocks at the waters of Sebus. Several times a band of men has scattered the flocks. (See Alma 17:28.) In spite of the repeated scatterings, it never occurs to the king to send armed guards to protect them. He could have done so, because in the aftermath of these events, he suggests that armies could protect Ammon (Alma 18:21). Strangely enough, however, they couldn’t protect the flocks.

Mormon indicates that it is thieves who are after the flocks, but they pick a particularly
difficult target. The text specifically mentions that the flocks “scattered . . . insomuch that they fled many ways” (Alma 17:27).

Ammon suggests that the he and servants round up the flocks. It does not appear that this has ever occurred to anyone before. That they were successful (Alma 17:32) confirms that the so-called thieves did not get anything for their effort. We must assume that other servants could have gathered the flocks. However, they preferred to lose their lives rather than track down the errant animals.

Apparently only after the flocks are scattered do the servants give Ammon the bad news: “Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men.” (Alma 17:28). First the king offers him a daughter, then he sends Ammon into a situation where it is virtually certain he will be executed.

Ammon seems to be the only one to whom it occurred to fight back. Just as the king never supplied armed guards, there is no record of any other servant resisting. None of Ammmon’s companion servants joined in the fight.

In the spiritual aftermath, the king and queen are lying as though dead. When the servant Abish gathers people to see the miracle, several of those who come are relatives of those who scattered the flocks, including the brother of a man who was slain. (Alma 19:21-22) The text doesn’t tell us why the king lives among thieves.

Of course the spiritual message is the same in spite of all of these oddities. However, in a historical document we expect that the actions of the participants in the events would make some kind of sense. This is where the lack of cultural context for this tale becomes dramatically obvious. Everything that we ought to know to fill in these blanks of nonsense is missing. The motivations and reasons are not clearly explained as they would be in a science fiction story that attempted to create an unusual situation. This story is either the result of a very poor writer, or of unexplained cultural context.

Mesoamerican political tensions supply the missing content. Maya kings balanced their own power base against competing lineages. The translated texts tell of some instances that appear to indicate a change in the power balance, with a new lineage assuming the throne and creating a new dynasty. Historian David Drew describes the problem for the Maya kings:

Increasingly recognized today . . . is the likelihood of a constant, dynamic tension
between the ruler, along with the family group, the royal lineage that surrounded him,
and other powerful and long-established lineages within a city state. The centralizing
success of royal dynasties almost certainly obscures the extent to which kings
depended upon and negotiated with other political factions. For each dynasty of the
Classic period had in earlier centuries been merely one among many such
patrilineages or kin-groups. It is impossible to know with any precision how ruling
lines established themselves at the end of the Preclassic period—as war-leaders,
perhaps, or as mediators in local disputes. However they came by their authority,
they could only have maintained it through consent and co-operation, despite the
impression of absolute power that their monuments create. From the eighth century,
at Copán in particular, there is some evidence of the negotiation that must have gone
on behind the scenes. There is little reason to believe that this kind of jostling was not
seen in earlier centuries too. (Drew, David. The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings.
Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.)

All aspects of the story of Ammon at the waters of Sebus make perfect sense
against the backdrop of a Mesoamerican king struggling with competition from a
powerful rival lineage. Note that when the king is discussing the incident with
Ammon he asks: “tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms of my
brethren that scattered my flocks” (Alma 18:20, emphasis added) While it is
possible that the phrase “my brethren” is extremely generic, it would be very unusual
to presume robbers as “brothers” of a King, and equally as unusual to include
anyone outside of the city as one’s “brothers.” These thieves really are “brethren”, and that is the whole reason for the trouble. Now let me retell the story against the backdrop of political tensions with Lamoni’s “brethren.”

Ammon comes before the king and asks to be a servant. Ammon is a Nephite and
therefore not only an outsider but an enemy. The king offers to make him family by
marrying one of his daughters. If Ammon had accepted, he would also have
accepted rule by the new family and therefore be under the king’s control. By
refusing, Ammon continues to be an outsider and therefore potentially uncontrollable.
The king decides to place Ammon in a position where this condition of being outside
the city’s political intrigues might be advantageous. He sends him to water the flocks
at Sebus.

The dumb thieves who don’t get much from their raids are actually getting everything they want. Key to understanding the story is that whatever ruse was employed to allow the fiction that they were robbers, the reality was that they were well-known to the servants and to the king. They were members of the rival lineage who were attempting to alter the balance of power. By scattering the king’s flocks they were embarrassing the king and therefore diminishing his appearance of total control.

Because the rival lineage was sufficiently powerful, the king could not move against
them directly without creating civil war. Therefore, the king could not send armed
guards. If he killed the members of the competing lineage it would break whatever
illusion of cooperation there was and instigate civil disorder. The guards
cannot defend themselves for the same reason that the king could not send
troops.

The king could not, however, allow the situation to completely embarrass him.
Therefore the fiction of thievery is either created or allowed to remain. Because something had to be done to restore the king’s honor in the situation, the guards are punished for their “failure.” The king places the failure on the guards and executes them to demonstrate that he is still controlling the situation.

Along comes Ammon, who is an outsider to the political intrigue. Ammon is not a member of either lineage and as an outsider would be unaware of the identities of these “brethren” thieves or the delicate political situation. He is a wildcard in a high stakes game. The king deliberately puts him into a situation where it is possible—even probable—that he will use his sword, where all other servants have held theirs. It is quite possible that the king expected Ammon to do some damage, but ultimately fail to protect the flocks. From the king’s perspective, any damage that Ammon did would improve the king’s standing in the political impasse by gaining more revenge without the political cost–because it was done by an outsider.

When Abish finds many relatives of the robbers as well as the brother of the slain “thief” close by, we have our confirmation that this is a delicate political dance. Only if the family is part of the royal court would so many relatives of outlaws be that close to the home compound of a king. That a family of a thief is that close to the king tells us that the thieves were also that close. The thieves at the waters of Sebus were not from another city. They were not miscreants ostracized from this city. They were of a family that was sufficiently prestigious that it spent time in close proximity to the king. It had to be a competing royal lineage.

This reinterpretation of the events against a Mesoamerican cultural background
creates sense from the near nonsense of the contextless account. Our analysis of
Book of Mormon politics tells us that not only do the structural elements trace more firmly to a Mesoamerican context, but that the Mesoamerican context provides needed information that fills in the gaps between the assumed understanding of the writer and the reader.” (Brant Gardner, a talk given at the 2004 FAIR conference)

-=-=-=
grego’s response:

Well, it seems long before Brant Gardner unraveled the great mystery here about the waters of Sebus, I got most of it from watching the video “Ammon, Missionary to the Lamanites”, one video of the “Animated Stories from the Book of Mormon” video series. It seems that Scott Orson Card pretty much “did the work”, long before 2004. Here are some other things to think about, that support this idea:

-=
I think it safe to say that the king would send either his best, or his worst servants on this water-the-flocks mission. He probably sent the worst/ most expendable, which means they weren’t very up there in the social ladder. Besides, it seems that it could mean those who were part of the Laman/ Lemuel group, but who weren’t directly descended from them–perhaps servants, or other minors in the story, or “others”.

-=
Perhaps king Lamoni killed the servants not because they couldn’t fight for him, but because they chose not to (a la “Ammon, Missionary to the Lamanites” says), perhaps not wanting to join sides in this friendly dispute of life and death; and to the king, “not for” = “against”—“you didn’t defend my sheep, but let my enemies take them” = “you’re a traitor, bye-bye”.

-=
Alma 18:3 is interesting, because the king’s servants say “…he cannot be slain by the enemies of the king”—not “*our* enemies”; also, “we know that he is a friend to the king”—showing the loyalty not to the Lamanites or the Ishmaelites or the king’s kingdom or group, but to the leader. Because of this and the previous episodes, it also is clear these are not just ordinary robbers out for a pillage, but the king’s enemies.

-=
Note that this robbery takes place right before the big Lamanite king’s feast:
Alma 20:8 And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.
9 And behold, the father of Lamoni said unto him: Why did ye not come to the feast on that great day when I made a feast unto my sons, and unto my people?

King Lamoni’s father is the king of all the Lamanites; that puts him in a very good position, and I wonder what family, even if powerful, would dare go against that…? King Lamoni’s brother becomes king (name changed to Anti-Nephi-Lehi) when his father steps down. So, these robbers et. al. would not have to worry just about Lamoni, but his father, too.

Another supporting part in this story is that Lamoni says that the king of Middoni is “a friend unto [Lamoni]”; which means ruling lesser (perhaps like vassal) kings *aren’t* all in the family, and often might even be among non-friends. If Lamoni’s father has sons, where are they all? One becomes king after his father, the other is a king (Lamoni); then what? How come there might be lower non-friendly kings under Lamoni’s father? Think along the lines of a big king and minor kings–vying for position and rank under the big king? Who will “move up” in power? And if that king is Lamoni’s friend, which king isn’t?

-=
Alma 19:20-21
17 …by making known unto the people what had happened among them… therefore she (Abish) ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people.
18 And they began to assemble themselves together unto the house of the king. And there came a multitude…
19 And now the people began to murmur among themselves; some saying that it was a great evil that had come upon them, or upon the king and his house, because he had suffered that the Nephite should remain in the land.
20 But others rebuked them, saying: The king hath brought this evil upon his house, because he slew his servants who had had their flocks scattered at the waters of Sebus.
21 And they were also rebuked by those men who had stood at the waters of Sebus and scattered the flocks which belonged to the king, for they were angry with Ammon because of the number which he had slain of their brethren at the waters of Sebus, while defending the flocks of the king.
22 Now, one of them, whose brother had been slain with the sword of Ammon, being exceedingly angry with Ammon, drew his sword and went forth that he might let it fall upon Ammon, to slay him; and as he lifted the sword to smite him, behold, he fell dead.

First, Abish doesn’t just tell everyone in the royal compound; in fact, there is no mention of a royal compound, she just “ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people”.

There are no guards or servants–they’re all on the floor with the king and queen–so what will happen?

Three groups of people complaining are mentioned, the latter two being:
–those who blame the king for killing his servants (their families?), and
–those mad at Ammon for killing the robbers, “their brethren[,] at the waters of Sebus” (their families?).

Ammon killed seven, and wounded many others; and yet, there were still many that escaped unhurt. That’s a lot of enemies to be hanging around.

-=
Alma 19:31 And [Lamoni] immediately, seeing the contention among his people, went forth and began to rebuke them, and to teach them the words which he had heard from the mouth of Ammon; and as many as heard his words believed, and were converted unto the Lord.
32 But there were many among them who would not hear his words; therefore they went their way.

Who were those “many”? I imagine most would have been the competing families, who had little respect for the king and his words.

-=
Alma 20:5 Therefore, if this is the case, I would that ye should go in and see my husband, for he has been laid upon his bed for the space of two days and two nights; and some say that he is not dead, but others say that he is dead and that he stinketh, and that he ought to be placed in the sepulchre; but as for myself, to me he doth not stink.

Here, it seems that there are people up there that are trying to get rid of king Lamoni.
Who thought he stunk and needed to be buried?

-=
And a question:
Alma 20:14 Now the father of Lamoni commanded him that he should slay Ammon with the sword. And he also commanded him that he should not go to the land of Middoni, but that he should return with him to the land of Ishmael.
15 But Lamoni said unto him: I will not slay Ammon, neither will I return to the land of Ishmael, but I go to the land of Middoni that I may release the brethren of Ammon, for I know that they are just men and holy prophets of the true God.

What were they going to do in the land of Ishmael?

2009, October 14

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the Book of Mormon article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS

grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 8: A CRITIQUE OF THE ARGUMENT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION OF THE NEPHITES DUE TO OTHERS

John L. Sorenson:
The social, political, ethnic, and language relationships involved in this business are not straightforward, to say the least. An analysis of the terminology applied to peoples in the Book of Mormon could reveal useful information on this subject. This is not the place to do that fully, but the approach can be sketched and some of the results anticipated. References to the key people of the record vary: (1) “Nephite(s)” or “the Nephites” occurs 339 times; (2) “people of the Nephites,” 18 times; (3) “people of Nephi,” 4 times; (4) “children of Nephi,” twice, and (5) “descendants of Nephi,” twice. Usage of the second and third expressions gives us something to ponder about the composition of the people referred to. The meaning of the first expression is made clear early by Jacob when he says, “those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites.” Then he continues the definition in an interesting way: “… or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:14). A few lines earlier Jacob had reported that when Nephi anticipated his own death, he had designated “a [successor] king and a ruler over his people … according to the reigns of the kings… . And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever [personal] name they would” (Jacob 1:9, 11). Jacob here makes clear that his definition of “Nephites, or the people of Nephi” hinges on political allegiance to a king, a king who always bore the title “Nephi.” This definition does not depend at all on whether “Nephites” were or were not literal descendants from Nephi, nor whether they had Sam, Jacob, Joseph, or Zoram, the founding fathers of the group, among their ancestors. In fact Jacob’s terminology may refer to the original father Nephi only indirectly. What he says in 11, where the term “Nephites” is first used, is that those classified under that term were simply all who were ruled by the existing monarch, the current “Nephi.” No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that “Nephite(s)” means anything else. It is essentially a sociopolitical, not an ethnic or linguistic, label. Cases where the text reports that political allegiance changed are consistent with this notion. Thus the children who had been fathered, then abandoned, by the renegade priests of Noah chose to “be numbered among those who were called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:12). That is, when they came under the sovereignty of the current head of the Nephite government, they both gave their allegiance to him and changed their group label to “Nephites.”

****”No reason is evident to me to believe that in the 338 usages after Jacob begins the practice that “Nephite(s)” means anything else.” Wow. Three hundred and thirty-eight times, and it all means the same exact thing? Was this checked, or assumed? I won’t check it, and I seriously doubt that anyone else checked it. However, Jacob 1:13–two verses later–seems to immediately show that this theory isn’t very strong. Then, for example, see 4 Nephi 1:36, 37; Mormon 1:8, 9. Once more, we see who makes up the “Nephites”. And all the other names mean something different? That was checked too? Nope (we’ll see later on).

It is interesting to note that King Mosiah, though king of the Nephites, was not named “Nephi”; neither his son Benjamin, nor Benjamin’s son Mosiah. And this was before the mixing with the people of Zarahemla.

Out of curiosity, how come “people of Laman” is not used in the Book of Mormon, when they at least had the Almaite slaves? Would the Almaite slaves have counted as the “people of Laman”?

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
In a parallel case earlier, “all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi” (Mosiah 25:13). Conversely, when Amlici and his followers rebelled against Nephite rule and “did consecrate Amlici to be their king,” they took a unique group name to mark the political rebellion, “being called Amlicites” (Alma 2:9). Meanwhile “the remainder”–those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler–“were [still] called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:11). Again, when the Zoramites transferred allegiance from the Nephite government to the Lamanite side, they “became Lamanites” (Alma 43:4, 6). We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling “Nephi,” who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi. But the label does not of itself convey information about the ethnic, linguistic, or physical characteristics or origin of those called Nephites. It is true that the name “Nephites” sometimes connotes those who shared culture, religion, and ethnicity or biology. But every rule-of-thumb we construct that treats the Nephites as a thoroughly homogeneous unit ends up violated by details in the text. Variety shows through the common label, culturally (e.g., Mosiah 7:15; Alma 8:11-12), religiously (e.g., Mosiah 26:4-5 and 27:1; Alma 8:11), linguistically (e.g., Omni 1:17-18), and biologically (e.g., Alma 3:17, note the statement concerning Nephi’s seed “and whomsoever shall be called thy seed”; Alma 55:4). “Nephites” should then be read as the generic name designating the nation (see Alma 9:20) ideally unified in a political structure headed by one direct descendant of Nephi at a time. Even more indicative of social and cultural variation among the Nephites is the usage by their historians of the expression “people of the Nephites.” It connotes that there existed a social stratum called “the Nephites” while another category was “people” who were “of,” that is, subordinate to, those “Nephites,” even while they all were under the same central government and within the same broad society. Limhi was ready to accept such a second-class status for his people, the Zeniffites, and assumed that the dependent category still existed as it apparently had when his grandfather had left Zarahemla (see Mosiah 7:15).
The Amulonites operated a similar system in the land of Helam, where they held Alma’s group in effective serfdom (see Mosiah 23:36-39 and 24:8-15). (At the same time the privileges of the Amulonites themselves were at the sufferance of the Lamanite king, as shown in Mosiah 23:39; power in Lamanite society was also heavily stratified.)

****On the other hand, all this could be explained like this: I am American, from America, from the US, from the USA, from the States, one of the people of America, etc. Is anything usually meant by any one of those terms, to differentiate it from the others? No. So, must the writers have necessarily been differentiating anything? Are we looking too hard for something that doesn’t exist? Is the typical, general American a certain way? Maybe. Is every American that way? Of course not.

I would ask the reader to consider this passage in light of “Nephites” and “people of Nephi” definition proposals given above by John L. Sorenson, and see if it makes any sense whatsoever:
Mosiah 25:1 AND now king Mosiah caused that all the people should be gathered together.
Mosiah 25:2 Now there were not so many of THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI, OR SO MANY OF THOSE WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF NEPHI, as there were of THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, who was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness.
Mosiah 25:3 And there were not so many of THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI and of the people of Zarahemla as there were of THE LAMANITES; yea, they were not half so numerous.
Mosiah 25:4 And now all THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI were assembled together, and also all THE PEOPLE OF ZARAHEMLA, and THEY WERE GATHERED TOGETHER IN TWO BODIES.
Mosiah 25:5 And it came to pass that MOSIAH did read, and caused to be read, the records of Zeniff TO HIS PEOPLE; yea, he read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again.
I think it’s clear that the proposed distinction is false–king Mosiah did not gather his people (wait–I thought they were “the people of Nephi”, not the people of Mosiah!?)–the lower class–together with the people of Zarahemla (whoops, not Zarahemlaites)–is this a special “lower class”/ people of Nephi/ people of Zarahemla meeting with the king, while the REAL members of society stayed home?–and read them the records. And there are other places in the Book of Mormon where the definitions don’t match up. THUS, IT’S SAFE TO ASSUME THAT THE MAJORITY OF THE FURTHER ARGUMENTS BASED ON THIS LINE OF THINKING ARE ALL INCORRECT. In logic, if you start with false premises, the result will also very likely be false/ incorrect.

“We see, then, that the Nephites constituted those governed by the ruling “Nephi,” who was always a direct descendant of the original Nephi.”
Um, John L. Sorenson just said that “‘the remainder’–those loyal to Alma, the continuing official ruler–‘were [still] called Nephites’ (Mosiah 25:11)”–did I miss that Alma’s name was Nephi?
Mosiah 25:13 “And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon NONE BUT THOSE WHO WERE DESCENDANTS OF NEPHI.”
Where does the Book of Mormon say that “the ruling ‘Nephi'” “was always a DIRECT descendant of the original Nephi”?

“Violations” of the meaning are clearly noted; never, however, is a violation mentioned that is caused by “others”. This should make one think…

“It connotes that there existed a social stratum called “the Nephites” while another category was “people” who were “of,” that is, subordinate to, those “Nephites,” even while they all were under the same central government and within the same broad society.”
If this can be shown by the text, I am ready to listen. Where is evidence of and support in the Book of Mormon text for this statement of differentiation? (The Amulonites doesn’t count, really, huh?)
King Limhi says:
Mosiah 7:15 For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne. And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.
I am missing any hint at all that king Limhi believes that such a system exists among the Nephites. Can you imagine that someone like Nephi and those that followed him had slaves? :( However, let’s say there were slaves, or bondsmen, or indentured servants, or people paying off debt or crimes, or something that could be termed “slave”; or that it was a contract among the less righteous Nephites. Would that be that ALL slaves were OTHERS who were the people of Nephi, and “NEPHITES” were “real” Nephites? In other words, only Others could be slaves, and none of the slaves were true Nephites? How possible is that? (Maybe the Nephites captured slaves when they attacked other peoples and won??)

We see that this system might have existed; we also read this:
Alma 27:8: And the king said unto him: yea, if the Lord saith unto us go, we will go down unto our brethren, and WE WILL BE THEIR SLAVES until we repair unto them the many murders and sins which we have committed against them.
Alma 27:9: But Ammon said unto him: IT IS AGAINST THE LAW OF OUR BRETHREN, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED BY MY FATHER, THAT THERE SHOULD BE ANY SLAVES AMONG THEM; therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of OUR BRETHREN.

So does the term “people of Nephi” occur AFTER king Mosiah II? If so, that would seem to really put the steam out of that argument. And yes, it does. Many, many times. So what, the freed slaves were still a lower class of others that never mixed in?

However, to assume that “Nephites” and “people of Nephi” means those things, is a big step with no evidence backing it. Once more, where in the text…?

What might have happened? The Mulekites (who joined with king Mosiah I) might have had slaves, NOT the Nephites themselves originally; yet, joining with the Nephites and being called Nephites, and the slaves not immediately freed, the Nephites (read “Mulekites who became Nephites”) would have had slaves, and then perhaps a few Nephites; later, king Mosiah II made slavery against the law.
The Zeniffites would have left from this time period when the Mulekites and Nephites were joined, but before Mosiah II had changed the law.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Generally, similar stratification is evident in the account of the Zoramites where the powerful segment succeeded in expelling those of the deprived poorer element who did not toe the line (see Alma 32:2-5; 35:3-7).
—-
****Why would the poor Zoramites want to join the Nephites, if they were only to join in as poor slaves? Just to be able to worship in sanctuaries? But hadn’t they just been taught by Alma and Amulek that true worship didn’t require sanctuaries?
Part of the problem with dissident/ segment groups was their changing of the Nephite laws, as we see in this example, as also with the people of Ammonihah. This is an example of it. These are not mainstream Nephites!

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The dominance of a powerful Nephite establishment over subordinate groups is shown dramatically in Mormon 2:4. There we read that Nephite armies under Mormon “did take possession of the city” of Angola, obviously against the resistance of the local, nominally “Nephite” inhabitants. Hence, some were more Nephite than others, in a sense.

****Why John L. Sorenson believes it is “obviously against the resistance of the local, nominally “Nephite” inhabitants”, based on the text, is a mystery to me. The text offers no evidence for that.
And yet, when talking about Amulek, John L. Sorenson did not explore this option.

It is true that “take possession” and “obtained possession” can mean a change in powers, and “took command” mean to switch leaders of the same team:
Alma 52:24 “…And while Teancum was thus leading away the Lamanites who were pursuing them in vain, behold, Moroni commanded that a part of his army who were with him should MARCH FORTH INTO THE CITY, AND TAKE POSSESSION OF IT.”
Alma 52:25 “And thus THEY DID, AND SLEW ALL THOSE [LAMANITES] who had been left to protect the city, yea, all those who would not yield up their weapons of war.”
Alma 52:26 “And thus Moroni had OBTAINED POSSESSION OF THE CITY MULEK WITH A PART OF HIS ARMY…”
Alma 53:2 “And MORONI WENT TO THE CITY OF MULEK WITH LEHI, AND TOOK COMMAND OF THE CITY AND GAVE IT UNTO LEHI…”
In the context of cities, Mosiah 23:29, Alma 43:22, 47:8, 51:23, 26, 30, 52:13, 55:24, 58:21, 28, 61:18, Helaman 1:20, Mormon 4:2, 7, 13, all support “take/ taking possession” meaning one side taking it from an opposing side.
Alma 2:25,
Alma 50:29 Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward.
Alma 62:6 And thus, when Moroni had gathered together whatsoever men he could in all his march, he came to the land of Gideon; and uniting his forces with those of Pahoran they became exceedingly strong, even stronger than the men of Pachus, who was the king of those dissenters who had driven the freemen out of the land of Zarahemla and had taken possession of the land.
Alma 62:7 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.
Alma 62:8 And behold, Pachus was slain and his men were taken prisoners, and Pahoran was restored to his judgment-seat.
Alma 62:11 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.
3 Nephi 4:1 AND it came to pass that in the latter end of the eighteenth year those armies of robbers had prepared for battle, and began to come down and to sally forth from the hills, and out of the mountains, and the wilderness, and their strongholds, and their secret places, and began to take possession of the lands, both which were in the land south and which were in the land north, and began to take possession of all the lands which had been deserted by the Nephites, and the cities which had been left desolate.
Alma 27:26 And it came to pass that it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession of the land of Jershon; and they were called by the Nephites the people of Ammon; therefore they were distinguished by that name ever after.
In Helaman 1:33, we read that:
“…Moronihah TOOK POSSESSION of the city of Zarahemla AGAIN, and caused that the Lamanites who had been taken prisoners should depart out of the land in peace”.
Mormon 4:2
Mormon 4:8 And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation.
“Took possession” is not really clear here, because of the death of the chief judge, but fortunately the word “again” in the verse supports my answer.
Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God.
Alma 50:38 Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman.
Alma 63:1 And it came to pass in the commencement of the thirty and sixth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, that Shiblon took possession of those sacred things which had been delivered unto Helaman by Alma.

So, here’s a little of what the Book of Mormon says in Mormon 2:
Mormon 2:4: And it came to pass that we did come to the city of Angola, and WE DID TAKE POSSESSION OF THE CITY, and make preparations to defend ourselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that WE DID FORTIFY THE CITY WITH OUR MIGHT; but notwithstanding all our fortifications THE LAMANITES did come upon us and did drive us out of the city.

“And it came to pass that we did gather in OUR PEOPLE as fast as it were possible, that we might get them together in one body” (Mormon 2:7).
“But behold, THE LAND WAS FILLED WITH ROBBERS AND WITH LAMANITES; and notwithstanding the great destruction which hung over my people, they did not repent of their evil doings; therefore there was BLOOD AND CARNAGE SPREAD THROUGHOUT ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, BOTH on the part of THE NEPHITES and also on the part of THE LAMANITES; and it was ONE COMPLETE REVOLUTION THROUGHOUT ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND.” (Mormon 2:8).
It likely means just what it says: Moroni, fleeing to an area that was previously far from the battlefront and not prepared for war, took over the Nephite city–that is, put it under military command, and relieved the civil leader(s) of defense duties, and possibly civil duties (martial law) over the city. Had he had privileges or the voice of the people to do this (as the previous Moroni often had), this is completely fine. Why would righteous Mormon usurp authority from an “other” “lower” people (and then possibly kick them out of their own city,) who were already “Nephites”, then gather in “real” Nephites who were somehow all around in the same/ nearby area? Mormon plain wouldn’t have done it, especially if it were an non-warring city of stranger Nephites. Isn’t class distinction spoken about in the Book of Mormon? Isn’t this “Charity” Mormon?
Wait… wouldn’t these other people be Lamanites, as per the definition that all these Others authors promote: those not friendly to the Nephites, or something like that? Or did Mormon take possession of the city because the people gave it up to him so he could help them survive?

Does this theory–that Mormon 2:4 shows lesser Nephites–make sense? The only possible way it would make sense, is if another people had first taken it from the Nephites, and Mormon was just taking back what was lawfully theirs, or if this people were evil and God told him to do it/ etc. Which would make them not Nephites, but another people. So there is that possibility, but it seems pretty remote.

And when there were Nephites, Lamanites, and robbers all over the land in a state of extreme random violence, how did this lesser “people” survive? It’s hard to imagine that, at this time, a smaller, lesser group of people, especially one unfriendly to the Nephites, could have survived the robbers and the Lamanites, but then be overtaken by the Nephites.

When speaking about Amalickiah, it says:
Alma 47:31 “And it came to pass on the morrow HE ENTERED THE CITY NEPHI WITH HIS ARMIES, AND TOOK POSSESSION OF THE CITY.”
Alma 47:33 “Therefore, when the queen had received this message she sent unto Amalickiah, desiring him that he would spare the people of the city; and she also desired him that he should come in unto her; and she also desired him that he should bring witnesses with him to testify concerning the death of the king.”
Amalickiah, already on the Lamanite side and the leader of the Lamanite army, “took possession” of the Lamanite capital! How could that possibly be? Easy–he is not the civil ruler. I believe that this once more supports my view.

Also, this seems to be a pattern in this war of Mormon with the Lamanites.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
A socially complex society is also reflected in Alma’s expression, “all [God’s] people who are called the people of Nephi” (Alma 9:19).

****Well, this interpretation might be one possibility, though I find that a hard way to interpret it. That’s a very blurry reflection, at best. How about, “God has a lot of people, and the people of Nephi are some of them.” Wow, there you go! No “socially complex society” because of Others needed… Wait, where is the connection between a “socially complex society” and Others?
Let’s see about these verses, where Alma is speaking to the people of Ammonihah. The people of Ammonihah (at least some, though it seems like most or all is more like it) were
1. not of the church at that time (Alma 8:12);
2. studied to destroy the liberty of Alma’s people (geographic or religious?) (Alma 8:17), which was
3. unlawful, both civily and in the sight of God (Alma 8:17).
Yet, Alma, speaking to them, asks them to REMEMBER: “the tradition of your fathers” and “the commandments of God” (Alma 9:8); how God led “OUR FATHER, LEHI” out of Jerusalem and through the wilderness (Alma 9:9); how God had “delivered OUR FATHERS out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of THEIR OWN BRETHREN (Alma 9:10). Alma then continues to differentiate the Ammonihahites from the Lamanites, and instead group them with the Nephites (see Alma 9:18-24), linking them–once more–to the complete Nephite history in the process.
Let’s look at verses 18 and 19 again:
Alma 9:18 “But behold, I say unto you that if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with utter destruction; and it shall be according to the fierce anger of the Lord.”
Alma 9:19 “For he will not suffer you that ye shall live in your iniquities, to destroy his people. I say unto you, Nay; he would rather suffer that the Lamanites might destroy ALL HIS PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI, if it were possible that they could fall into sins and transgressions, after having had so much light and so much knowledge given unto them of the Lord their God;”
So what else could this mean? God will not allow the Nephite apostates and seditionists to follow and fulfill their plan to destroy his people, but would rather leave that task to the Lamanites.
Though it might sound simplistic and strained, the Lord also has other people in other lands.
Alma could also have meant for the Ammonihahites to remember that they were Nephites, too, and that the prophecy still held to them, even though they had separated themselves from the Nephites; the prophecy wasn’t just for the “other” Nephites. Which “other” Nephites? The ones the people of Ammonihah were going to try to destroy.
And the Lamanites did destroy the people of Ammonihah.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
This subordination and potential variety within the society seem to me plainer in the expression “the people of the Nephites” than in the more usual “Nephites.” If we look closely, then, it seems that we can detect in the “nation” centered at Zarahemla an ability to incorporate social and ethnic variety greater than the title “Nephites” may suggest on surface reading. Also of interest is a statement by the judges in Zarahemla to Nephi when he prophesied the destruction of the Nephites because of wickedness. At Helaman 8:6 they reply, “we are powerful, and our cities great, therefore our enemies can have no power over us.” The surprising thing is that nominally the Nephites and Lamanites were at this time in an unprecedented condition of peace (see Helaman 6:34-37). So who were the “enemies” those Gadianton-linked judges had in mind?

****I think that the fact that they were at peace for so long led them to believe that the Lamanites didn’t attack because they feared them.
Helaman 3:17: And now I return again to mine account; therefore, what I have spoken had passed after there had been great CONTENTIONS, AND DISTURBANCES, AND WARS, AND DISSENSIONS, AMONG THE PEOPLE OF NEPHI.

Helaman 3:19: And it came to pass that there WAS STILL GREAT CONTENTION IN THE LAND, yea, even in the forty and seventh year, and also in the forty and eighth year.

Look at Italy in the late 1200’s/ early 1300’s.

These wicked judges might have easily called the Lamanites “enemies”–though converted, there were still two lands and a long history of war and hatred.

It is also possible that there was at least contention, if not war, with the people in the land northward, who at that time were wicked:
“And it came to pass that many of the Lamanites did go into the LAND NORTHWARD; and also Nephi and Lehi went into the land northward, TO PREACH UNTO THE PEOPLE. And thus ended the sixty and third year” (Helaman 6:6).
“For he had been forth among the people who were in THE LAND NORTHWARD and did preach the word of God unto them, and did prophesy many things unto them;” (Helaman 7:2)
“And they DID REJECT ALL HIS WORDS, insomuch that he could not stay among them, but returned again unto the land of his nativity” (Helaman 7:3).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Could they have been non-Lamanites (rival secret groups?), some of whose descendants in the final period of Nephite history constituted a third, non-Lamanite force (see Mormon 2:10, 27)?

****There is nothing I see in Mormon 2:10, 27 that even implies this coming of the Gadianton robbers into the Nephite lands from a different place, if this is what is meant. All the references to the Gadianton robbers/ secret societies in the Book of Mormon (including Ether) relate them to the Nephites and Lamanites only.
Not only that, but Nephi was preaching against the Gadianton robbers, who had obtained sole management of the government and had many followers (Helaman 6:39; 7:4, 21, 25).
Additionally, when Nephi is rejected and then there is a war, it is among the Nephites, not the Nephites versus “others” (Helaman 10:18). We read a few verses later that it is really the Nephites versus the “secret band of robbers” (Helaman 11:1, 2)–the Gadianton robbers”, who were “amongst them” (Helaman 11:10).

2009, October 2

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 4

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 4
grego
(c) 2004-2009

PART 4: FOOD; ANIMALS; OTHERS IN THE LAND OF PROMISE; PROPHECIES OF ISAIAH

John L. Sorenson:
Cultural Adaptation and “Others”
The point about “war” opens up the larger issue of cultural learning and adaptation in the new land by both Nephites and Lamanites. A pair of telling passages in the book of Mosiah lets us know that some “native” New World people or other had to have provided at least one direct, crucial cultural input to the immigrants. Not long after 200 B.C., Zeniffite King Limhi reminded his people in the land of Nephi that “we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind” (Mosiah 7:22). Note that Limhi mentions “corn” first in the list of tribute crops. In Mosiah 9:14 it is the only crop mentioned at all: “Lamanites … began to … take off … the corn of their fields.” Now, “corn” is clearly maize, the native American plant that was the mainstay of the diet of many native American peoples for thousands of years. There is no possibility that Lehi’s party brought this key American crop with them or that they discovered it wild upon their arrival. Maize is so totally domesticated a plant that it will not reproduce without human care. In other words, the Zeniffites or any other of Lehi’s descendants could only be growing corn/maize because people already familiar with the complex of techniques for its successful cultivation had passed on the knowledge, and the seed, to the newcomers. Notice too that these passages in Mosiah indicate that corn had become the grain of preference among the Lamanites, and perhaps among the Zeniffites. That is, they had apparently integrated it into their system of taste preferences and nutrition as a primary food, for which cooks and diners in turn would have had familiar recipes, utensils, and so on.

**** “Now, “corn” is clearly maize, the native American plant that was the mainstay of the diet of many native American peoples for thousands of years…” —I’m sorry, but why is this corn “clearly” maize? How was that clear connection made? I imagine Joseph Smith could have been very clear by saying “maize”, but he said “corn” instead. Result? It’s not “clearly” maize. Wait! I guess it could be said that it’s as clear as “horse” really meaning nothing but “horse”.

Interesting that some apologists, in explaining about corn and animals, for example, mention that these were probably names given to other things–yet here, corn is “clearly” maize. Looking at Mosiah 7:22 again–“we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and EVEN ALL OUR GRAIN OF EVERY KIND”–I wonder why corn seems to be listed as a grain, when it is not—it sounds as if it is listed as the first grain. In South America, there are many other kinds of grain that were most likely unknown to Joseph Smith. This “corn” could have been any of them (chia, anyone?), or even Indian corn. Following is a list of some other grains, or what might be considered grains, especially by someone who is not a grain scientist (such as me)–so this is not a scientific list, and might be missing a lot, or might even be redundant: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn (blue/ Hopi, popping), kamut, millet, oats, quinoa, rice (basmati, brown, wild, etc.), rye, sorghum, spelt, wheat (durum, red, white). There are also beans/ legumes/ lentils/ others, which might be included in some way: puy lentils, borlotti beans, cannellini beans, foulde medammes, gunga peas, broad beans, pinto beans, soy beans, pearl barley, black-eye beans, mung beans, aduki beans, flageolet beans, wheatgrass, buckwheat, green lentils, garbanzo beans, grean peas, yellow peas, sweet potato, black bean, etc. Perhaps a few of these were grown there, or even their hybrids (so as there really is no word for them to translate).

If it were really maize, here we have another problem of the chicken and the egg: where did these “people already familiar…” with corn, get it from? Do you mean to say that people remained in the Americas caring for corn from Adam on down, or from the flood on down, or what? Or, perhaps, from before Adam? Is maize absolutely only “indigenous” to the Americas? How did maize start, and be continually planted since the beginning of the world, if it “is so totally domesticated… it will not reproduce without human care”? Or did someone domesticate it? Do all corns require the same human care? Is it possible that maize was somewhere else, too, but that we still don’t know about it? Science is full of anomalies. Just some curious questions in this paragraph that should be answered before jumping to conclusions.

-=-=-=
John L. Soreson:
This situation reminds us of how crucial the natives of Massachusetts were in helping the Puritan settlers in the 1600s survive in the unfamiliar environment they found upon landing. The traditional American Thanksgiving cuisine of turkey, pumpkin, and corn dishes–all native to the New World–is an unconscious tribute to the gift of survival conferred by the Amerindians by sharing those local foods with the confused and hungry Europeans. Did an equivalent cultural exchange and unacknowledged thanksgiving process take place for Lehi’s descendants in the Book of Mormon land of first inheritance or land of Nephi? Since it is certain that “others” passed on knowledge about and a taste for corn to the Nephites and Lamanites, it becomes likely that other cultural features also came from them.

****”Sure, let’s talk about “Thanksgiving”. Quote: ” …turkey, pumpkin, and corn dishes–all native to the New World…” Note—that would be wild turkey and Indian corn. And while pumpkin was available, it has never been found mentioned as having been eaten by them at this meal. Also, the main reason for the “confused and hungry and (other negative adjectives) Europeans” had to do more with setting up around Christmas (after over a while of being there) in New England, poor shelter, a harsh winter and lack of supplies, bad drinking water, constant vigilance against and fear of Indian attack, and sickness–not because of lack of food from their summer harvest or… confusion? In fact, their very first harvest there was very bountiful.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The keeping of “flocks,” for example (Mosiah 9:14; cf. Enos 1:21), was not a pattern which Lehi’s folks are said to have brought with them; no animals are mentioned in Nephi’s Old World record (it is purely speculation that they utilized camels or any other animals in their trek from Jerusalem to Bountiful). Even if they started out with animals, these would not have survived the party’s famine-plagued journey through western Arabia (note, for example, 1 Nephi 16:18-32). Moreover, no hint is given that any were taken aboard Nephi’s boat (in specific contrast to the Jaredite case–see Ether 6:4). So how would they have obtained native American fowls or other animals to keep in “flocks,” or, more importantly, how would they have discovered techniques for successfully caring for them?

****This is interesting–while “camels” might be “[pure] speculation”, much of Sorenson’s content in this paper is “pure speculation”… Just that convenience seems to be the deciding factor as to whether it is pointed to as speculation or shored up as evidence.

Like many things in the Book of Mormon, ‘not said =/= not.’ On the other hand, let’s take a look at what Nephi actually says about seeds and flocks (which seem to be missing from the original article):
“1 Nephi 18:23: And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.
1 Nephi 18:24: And it came to pass that we did BEGIN TO TILL THE EARTH, and we began to PLANT SEEDS; yea, WE DID PUT ALL OUR SEEDS INTO THE EARTH, WHICH WE HAD BROUGHT FROM THE LAND OF JERUSALEM. And it came to pass that they did GROW EXCEEDINGLY; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.
1 Nephi 18:25: And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were BEASTS IN THE FORESTS OF EVERY KIND, BOTH THE COW AND THE OX, AND THE ASS AND THE HORSE, AND THE GOAT AND THE WILD GOAT, AND ALL MANNER OF WILD ANIMALS, WHICH WERE FOR THE USE OF MEN. And we did find all manner of ORE, BOTH OF GOLD, AND OF SILVER, AND OF COPPER…
2 Nephi 5:11: AND THE LORD WAS WITH US; and we did prosper exceedingly; for WE DID SOW SEED, AND WE DID REAP AGAIN IN ABUNDANCE. And we began to RAISE FLOCKS, AND HERDS, AND ANIMALS OF EVERY KIND.
Enos 1:21: And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did TILL THE LAND, AND RAISE ALL MANNER OF GRAIN, AND OF FRUIT, AND FLOCKS OF HERDS, AND FLOCKS OF ALL MANNER OF CATTLE OF EVERY KIND, AND GOATS, AND WILD GOATS, AND ALSO MANY HORSES.
Now, we assume that neither Lehi nor anyone else was a farmer, or a herder. That also is speculation…

However, the Lehites had brought seeds with them, and planted them immediately, and knew how to care for and harvest them. “…they did GROW EXCEEDINGLY; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.” No big Thanksgiving dinner from the natives needed here!

Did they bring flocks with them, or animals? Could have, but that is not necessary. Why? Because Nephi says that they found all kinds of animals, including “wild animals, which were for the use of men.” In other words, right right after the Lehites landed, they discovered the animals, and Nephi knew about the uses of animals by man. It is not until 2 Nephi 5, however, that “we BEGAN to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.” Later, in Enos, it says that they were raising them. No animals are mentioned in Enos that Nephi did not mention before in 1 Nephi 18.
Yes, it is possible that animals could have made it through the desert. And if not, wouldn’t it be possible to find some along the way, afterward?

Also, “flocks” seems to be connected with “herds” and animals (see Enos 1:21: “And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did…raise…flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses.” ).

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Discovery or invention of a major cultural feature like the domestication of animals is rare enough in human history that it is highly unlikely that these newcomers could simply have pulled themselves up culturally “by their bootstraps” in this way in a generation or two.
—-
****This is a surprising statement.

Unfortunately, your only other assumed possibility is that someone had to show them how to do it, right? Look at the American wild horse. Wild one day, domesticated the next. And, it seems very much that it is being assumed that domestication means complete domestication–chickens that don’t eat worms or bugs; goats that have to be rounded up every night, have their hooves trimmed, be completely taken care of, eat alfalfa or commercial feed, etc. This is far from the case for many types of animals–potbellied pigs, Soay sheep, etc. need very little work and outside help to prosper.

Speculation here–especially if the animals had lived on their own for a while, it would have insured a hardy stock to domesticate, which might have actually made it easier for them to survive and prosper.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
We will see below that significant, specific cultural features of obvious Jaredite origin appeared later among the Nephites without any explanation of how their transmission was accomplished down through time. It is a safe presumption, however, that some groups existing at the time when the Jaredite armies referred to in Ether 15 were destroyed simply refused to participate in the suicidal madness of Coriantumr and Shiz. They would have ensured their own survival by staying home and minding their meek business in this or that corner of the land.

Such minor peoples might hardly even have noted the distant slaughter of the Jaredite dynasts, so absorbed would they have been in their local affairs. The likelihood is that more than a few such groups continued past the time of the “final destruction” of the Jaredite armies at the hill Ramah, and some could well have been living in the land southward as Nephi and Laman built up their small colonies.

****How safe is that presumption? Let’s see what the Book of Mormon says about this:
Ether 11:12: “And it came to pass that in the days of Ethem there came many prophets, and prophesied again UNTO THE PEOPLE; yea, they did prophesy that the Lord would UTTERLY DESTROY THEM FROM OFF THE FACE OF THE EARTH except they repented of their iniquities.”
Ether 11:20: And in the days of Coriantor there also came many prophets, and …cried repentance UNTO THE PEOPLE, and except they should repent the Lord God would execute judgment against them to their UTTER destruction…”

Ether 13:20: “And in the second year the word of the Lord came to Ether, that he should go and prophesy unto Coriantumr that, if he would repent, and all his household, the Lord would give unto him his kingdom and spare the people–
Ether 13:21: Otherwise they should be destroyed, and all his household save it were himself. And he should only live to see the fulfilling of the prophecies which had been spoken concerning another people receiving the land for their inheritance; and Coriantumr should receive a burial by them; AND EVERY SOUL SHOULD BE DESTROYED SAVE IT WERE CORIANTUMR.”

Ether 15:12: “And it came to pass that they did gather together ALL THE PEOPLE upon ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, WHO HAD NOT BEEN SLAIN, SAVE it was ETHER.”
Ether 15:14: “Wherefore, they were FOR THE SPACE OF FOUR YEARS GATHERING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY MIGHT GET ALL WHO WERE UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND, and that they might receive all the strength which it was possible that they could receive.
Ether 15:15: And it came to pass that when they were ALL gathered together, EVERY ONE to the army which he would, WITH THEIR WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN…”

Ether 15:33: “And the Lord spake unto Ether, and said unto him: Go forth. And he went forth, and beheld THAT THE WORDS OF THE LORD HAD ALL BEEN FULFILLED…” And what were those words? That the Jaredites had all been destroyed.

Those verses should make it very clear that Jaredites did not remain. This does not mean politically. In other words, it seems that according to the prophets, NOT ONE SINGLE Jaredite, other than Coriantumr and Ether, survived the final conflict. In fact, the last words that Ether wrote tell are: “Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God. Amen.” (Ether 15:34)

Now, if there were still people in the land, survivors, or remnants hiding because they were peaceful, etc., why didn’t Ether continue his work of preaching repentance? If he did, we don’t know of any of it.

But is this the correct interpretation of “utter”? Let’s see about some other places in the Book of Mormon where it’s used:
It is prophesied to the people of Ammonihah:
Alma 9:12: “…But behold, this is not all–he has commanded you to repent, or he will UTTERLY destroy you from off the face of the earth…
Alma 9:18: …if ye persist in your wickedness that your days shall not be prolonged in the land, for the Lamanites shall be sent upon you; and if ye repent not they shall come in a time when you know not, and ye shall be visited with UTTER destruction…
Alma 10:18: …pull down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the UTTER destruction of this people.
Alma 10:22: …ye would even now be visited with UTTER destruction…”
Now, we know that the unrepentant people of Ammonihah were UTTERLY destroyed–every single one of them:
Alma 16:2: “…the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah, and began to slay the people and destroy the city.
Alma 16:3: …[the Lamanites] HAD DESTROYED THE PEOPLE WHO WERE IN THE CITY OF AMMONIHAH, and also some around the borders of Noah, and taken others captive into the wilderness.
Alma 16:9: And thus ended the eleventh year of the judges, the Lamanites having been driven out of the land, and the PEOPLE OF AMMONIHAH WERE DESTROYED; yea, EVERY LIVING SOUL OF THE AMMONIHAHITES WAS DESTROYED, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness.”
We see that the same interpretation holds–no survivors, no escapees, no hidden people on the fringe.
What about the Nephite’s utter destruction? Is it the same?
Alma 45:10: “… this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall dwindle in unbelief.
Alma 45:11: …then shall they see wars [, etc.] even until the people of Nephi shall become EXTINCT–
Alma 45:14: But WHOSOEVER REMAINETH, AND IS NOT DESTROYED IN THAT GREAT AND DREADFUL DAY, SHALL BE NUMBERED AMONG THE LAMANITES, AND SHALL BECOME LIKE UNTO THEM, ALL, SAVE IT BE A FEW WHO SHALL BE CALLED THE DISCIPLES OF THE LORD; AND THEM SHALL THE LAMANITES PURSUE EVEN UNTIL THEY SHALL BECOME EXTINCT…”
Helaman 13:10: Yea, I will visit them in my fierce anger, and there shall be those of the fourth generation who shall live, of your enemies, to behold your UTTER destruction; … and those of the fourth generation shall visit your destruction.
Helaman 15:17: …saith the Lord, concerning the people of the Nephites: …I will UTTERLY destroy them…
Moroni 9:22: But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare thy life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their UTTER DESTRUCTION; for I know that they MUST PERISH….
Moroni 9:24: And if it so be that they PERISH, WE KNOW THAT MANY OF OUR BRETHREN HAVE DESERTED OVER UNTO THE LAMANITES, AND MANY MORE WILL ALSO DESERT OVER UNTO THEM…”

Yes, the Nephites were utterly destroyed, by definition as the faithful seed of Nephi. Here, the use of Nephite is different. One side of the conflict survived, and Nephites became Lamanites, and survived (though probably had little affect upon Lamanite society). With the Jaredites, however, both sides were destroyed, so there could be no deserters, from one side to the other.

What about other instances?
Helaman 6:37: “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was UTTERLY destroyed from among the Lamanites.”  In other words, NO robbers were left.

Another instance with the Gadianton robbers:
3 Nephi 2:13: And it came to pass that before this thirteenth year had passed away the Nephites were threatened with UTTER destruction because of this war, which had become exceedingly sore.

Can we summarize by saying that it meant every single Nephite? Yes, the Nephites were about to be wiped out, as per to the definition of religion, as noted above with the Lamanites.

Abinadi, prophesying of the people of King Noah, said:
Mosiah 12:8: “And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will UTTERLY destroy them from off the face of the earth; yet they shall leave a record behind them, and I will preserve them for other nations which shall possess the land; yea, even this will I do that I may discover the abominations of this people to other nations. And many things did Abinadi prophesy against this people.”
Many died, then they suffered, and then they repented, so there was no fulfillment. Later, they joined with the Nephites and ceased to exist; however, I don’t think this is the utter destruction the Lord was talking about for them.

What about the Lamanites?
“Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites…; the Lord shall be merciful unto them” (Helaman 15:12).
“Therefore, saith the Lord: I will not UTTERLY destroy [the Lamanites]…” (Helaman 15:16).
Yes, the Lamanites dwindled/ lessened in number, by quite a bit; but they remained.

Also, look at what was happening with the Jaredites during the final stage of destruction:
“Now the name of the brother of Lib was called Shiz. And it came to pass that Shiz pursued after Coriantumr, and he did overthrow many cities, and he did slay both women and children, and he did burn the cities.”
“And there went a fear of Shiz throughout all the land; yea, a cry went forth throughout the land–Who can stand before the army of Shiz? Behold, he sweepeth the earth before him!”
“And it came to pass that the people began to flock together in armies, throughout all the face of the land.”
“And they were divided; and a part of them fled to the army of Shiz, and a part of them fled to the army of Coriantumr” (Ether 14:17-20).

“And so terrible was the destruction among the armies of Shiz that the people began to be frightened, and began to flee before the armies of Coriantumr; and they fled to the land of Corihor, and SWEPT OFF THE INHABITANTS BEFORE THEM, ALL THEM THAT WOULD NOT JOIN THEM” (Ether 14:27).

“And it came to pass that they did gather TOGETHER ALL THE PEOPLE upon ALL THE FACE OF THE LAND, who had not been slain, SAVE IT WAS ETHER.”
“And it came to pass that Ether did behold all the doings of the people; and he beheld that the people who were for Coriantumr were gathered together to the army of Coriantumr; and the people who were for Shiz were gathered together to the army of Shiz.”
“Wherefore, they were for the space of FOUR YEARS GATHERING TOGETHER THE PEOPLE, that they might get ALL WHO WERE UPON THE FACE OF THE LAND, and that they might receive ALL THE STRENGTH WHICH IT WAS POSSIBLE THAT THEY COULD RECEIVE.”
“And it came to pass that when they were ALL GATHERED TOGETHER, EVERY ONE to the army which he would, with their WIVES AND THEIR CHILDREN–BOTH MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN…”  (Ether 15:12-15)

Everyone and every means of survival was being destroyed or gathered; and, there’s no third part—it was either Shiz or Coraintumr. Unless the Lord led a small righteous part out of the land… but then, that would cut the Jaredites from the rest of the Book of Mormon, too, so this theory of surviving Jaredites just doesn’t really seem to fit.

Does it talk anywhere else in the Book of Mormon about the Jaredite destruction?
We read that:
“And they gave an account of one CORIANTUMR, and THE SLAIN OF HIS PEOPLE. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons” (Omni 1:21).
One might say, well, “the slain of his people” could mean just that–just his people, and not all the others. Yes, I agree. But then, in the next verse, it says:
“It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord CONFOUNDED THE LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE; and the severity of the Lord fell UPON THEM according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22).
It seems to mean that “[Coriantumr’s] first parents” and theirs were all destroyed, not just Coriantumr’s people.
We also know the situation with the Gadianton Robbers:  join, or be completely destroyed.

Anyone left outside the walls in the area would have not lasted long, no matter how neutral or small they wanted to remain or be.

No groups could remain neutral here–it was for one side or the other, or be killed. Remaining physically neutral is not a one-sided, personal decision! As many sides have said in many conflicts, “if you’re not for us, you’re against us–” which means you join us or we kill you. I doubt that ANY Jaredites had the choice of “simply refus[ing] to participate in the suicidal madness” and “staying home and minding their meek business in this or that corner of the land.” (And goodness, if any were to have remained as proposed, they would surely have had to leave or run away, not just stay at home.)

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Lehi’s final prophecy to his children foreshadowed this happening. He said, It is wisdom that this land should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance. Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance … . But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord, … I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them. Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten. Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them. (2 Nephi 1:8-12)

**** No matter how true this might or might not be, I still fail to find a relation to “[foreshadowing] this happening.”

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
How much time can we suppose elapsed between the time when Lehi’s descendants “dwindle[d] in unbelief” and when the Lord brought “other nations unto them”? How distant were those “other nations” at the time Lehi spoke? Latter-day Saints generally have supposed that the “other nations” were the Gentile (Christian) nations of Europe who began to reach the New World only 500 years ago. To believe so requires limited imagination.

**** Maybe a reason that many Latter-day Saints think that way is because of scriptures like Mormon 5:19: “And behold, the Lord hath reserved their blessings, which they might have received in the land, for the Gentiles who shall possess the land.”

Or perhaps 3 Nephi 16:4, which says “And I command you that ye shall write these sayings after I am gone, that if it so be that my people at Jerusalem, they who have seen me and been with me in my ministry, do not ask the Father in my name, that they may receive a knowledge of you by the Holy Ghost, and also of the other tribes whom they know not of, that these sayings which ye shall write shall be kept and shall be manifested unto the Gentiles, that through the fulness of the Gentiles, the remnant of their seed, who shall be scattered forth upon the face of the earth because of their unbelief, may be brought in, or may be brought to a knowledge of me, their Redeemer.”

Beware the suppositions of man.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
As for the Lamanites, they dwindled in unbelief within a few years. Alma said that “the Lamanites have been cut off from his presence, from the beginning of their transgressions in the land” (Alma 9:14). How then could Lehi’s prophecy about “other nations” being brought in have been kept long in abeyance after that?

**** And what about the interpretation of “dwindle in unbelief”? Who would like to show that “dwindle/dwindled in unbelief” is equivalent to “cut off”?

****That wasn’t his prophecy. This was: 2 Nephi 1:9: “Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.
2 Nephi 1:10: But behold, when the time cometh that they shall dwindle in unbelief, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord–having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise–behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.
2 Nephi 1:11: Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.
2 Nephi 1:12: Yea, as one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodsheds, and great visitations among them; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.”

As the Lamanites remained in power until at least the destruction of the Nephites, this couldn’t include people before that time.

Also, it was the Nephites who dwindled in unbelief, as the Lamanites taught their children to not believe–resulting in a big immediate cutting off, not a dwindling.

Lehi probably knew that Laman and Lemuel would rebel and teach their children to rebel, so it wouldn’t mean them at the very beginning.

-=-=-=

Michael R. Ash:
Lehi’s sermon in 2 Nephi 1:6–11 seems to preclude non-Lehite inhabitants in the “land of promise.” Traditional, and perhaps erroneous, interpretations arise when we read Lehi’s remarks that “shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord” (v. 6), and that the promised land “should be kept as yet from the knowledge of other nations; for behold, many nations would overrun the land, that there would be no place for an inheritance” (v. 8). Lehi told his children that if they remained righteous that they would prosper and “be kept from all other nations” so that they would “possess” the land “unto themselves” (v. 9).

On the surface, this seems to support the traditional interpretation that the Lehites were the primary progenitors for the American Indians. A closer look at 2 Nephi, however, is helpful. This chapter takes place some time shortly after the Lehites arrived in the New World (before Nephi and his brothers separated and before the first use of the terms Nephite and Lamanite). Lehi, who is nearing death, spoke to his posterity with counsel and warning. He said that the land of promise was offered by the Lord in covenant to Lehi, his children, and “all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (v. 5, emphasis added) and that none would come to the land except those brought by the hand of the Lord (and we can certainly presume that the Lord brought others into the promised land prior to, during, and after Lehi’s arrival).

****On what foundation we can “presume”, I have no idea. Perhaps the author would like to elaborate and enlighten.

-=-=-=—
John L. Sorenson:
Such statements do not preclude the possibility that others already lived in the land of promise. The Lord promised that other nations—which up till this point had referred to Old World nations—would not know about and overrun their land.

****I’m sorry, I don’t understand how the author understands that the Lord meant Old World nations. Perhaps the author would like to elaborate here, too.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
(Imagine the changes that may have happened had the New World been common knowledge among European and Old World nations of Lehi’s day!)

****It doesn’t, but that’s not what the author’s trying to prove–he’s trying to prove that they did exist.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The promise to keep the land secure has a caveat; as long as those brought from Jerusalem (Lehi and his family) remain righteous, they would prosper and be “kept from other nations” (v. 9). Lehi warned, however, that the time would come that they would “dwindle in unbelief” (v. 10) after which the Lord would allow “other nations” to take their possessions and cause them to be “scattered and smitten” (v. 11). While traditional LDS thought has supposed that this refers to the coming of the Spaniards (which may possibly account for a future and dual fulfillment of Lehi’s prophecy), Lehi immediately launched into an exhortation to his children telling them that as “one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodshed” (v. 12). This suggests that Lehi suspected the coming of “other nations” in the near future. The appearance of the “other nations” is directly linked to not only the wickedness of Lehi’s descendants, but also to a scattering and smiting of those who become wicked.

****Here we have a strong interpretation of scripture. Let’s look at 2 Nephi 1:9 again:
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as THOSE WHOM THE LORD GOD SHALL BRING OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and they shall be kept from all other nations, that they may possess this land unto themselves. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be none to molest them, nor to take away the land of their inheritance; and they shall dwell safely forever.”
To me this is not just Lehi and his family. We know, for example, about the “Mulekites”.

I also see no relationship or correlation between “one generation passeth to another there shall be bloodshed” and how “this suggests that Lehi suspected the coming of ‘other nations’ in the near future”.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
Shortly thereafter (chapter 5) we find that Laman and Lemuel were so unrighteous that they wanted to kill Nephi. It is at this point that Nephi and his followers (now called “Nephites”) separate themselves from his brothers and their followers (now called “Lamanites”). According to Lehi’s prophecy, when his children became unrighteous the Lord would allow “other nations” to smite them (2 Nephi 1:11). This wouldn’t be possible unless there were already others present, or others arrived immediately after Laman and Lemuel fell back into their unrighteous habits.

****2 Nephi 1:11 reads:
“Yea, he will bring other nations unto them, and he will give unto them power, and he will take away from them the lands of their possessions, and he will cause them to be scattered and smitten.” And yet, there is nothing about the Lamanites fighting wars with anyone other than the Nephites, even after the destruction of the Nephites. Moroni says that:
“And behold, the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more; and great has been their fall; yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Mormon 8:7).
“And behold, it is the hand of the Lord which hath done it. And behold also, the Lamanites are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8).
“And now, behold, I say no more concerning them, for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 8:9).
Where are the others that were to smite the Lamanites, and scatter them, and take the lands of their possessions? Nowhere there!

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
And in fulfillment of Lehi’s prophesy, when Nephi departed he took away the Liahona, the plates of brass, and the sword of Laban (the “possessions” important to the Lehites). In time we read how the Lamanites were “scattered and smitten.” Several centuries later, we find Alma exhorting his people to righteousness and recounting the story of Nephi’s wayward brothers as an example of the consequences of wickedness (Alma 9:13-14) . Now the Nephites were becoming wicked and were at risk for the same fate. We see the prophecies of Lehi—the promises and curses (which would include the invasion of “others”)—as having already been (or continuing to be) fulfilled.

****Sorry! This is just plain false. We don’t see anything in Alma 9, or elsewhere, about how the Lamanites are scattered and smitten, as the author says.

-=-=-=-
John L. Sorenson:
Accordingly, it seems that a possible scenario might be thus: When the Lehites arrived they would have found sparse communities of “others” (perhaps too small to be called “nations”) in their new land. The Lehites would have continued to peacefully coexist (perhaps even intermingling) with these “others,” pursuant to their righteousness. The wickedness of the Lamanites, however, might have brought aggressive “others” (“other nations”) into the Lehite colony who could have merged with the Lamanites and joined in their quest to destroy the Nephites (who may also have joined with peaceful “others”). When the Nephites separated from the Lamanites the promises and warnings of Lehi would have been realized (and like many prophecies in the Bible, may have seen multiple fulfillment).

****Here’s a more probable scenario:
“But behold, when the time cometh that THEY SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, AFTER THEY HAVE RECEIVED SO GREAT BLESSINGS FROM THE HAND OF THE LORD–having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, KNOWING THE GREAT AND MARVELOUS WORKS OF THE LORD from the creation of the world; HAVING POWER GIVEN THEM TO DO ALL THINGS BY FAITH; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise–behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them” (2 Nephi 1:10).
“Yea, he will BRING OTHER NATIONS UNTO THEM, and HE WILL GIVE UNTO THEM POWER, and he will TAKE AWAY FROM THEM THE LANDS OF THEIR POSSESSIONS, and he will CAUSE THEM TO BE SCATTERED AND SMITTEN” (2 Nephi 1:11).

First of all, we see that the Lamanites, for a long time, don’t fit the description given in verse 10; only the Nephites do. So, the author’s interpretation is already off.

Secondly, we see that the Lamanites DO fit the description of other nations given power to “take away” Nephite lands and cause the Nephites “to be scattered and smitten”–in fact, this is the direct promise given to Nephi about the Lamanites (1 Nephi 2:23-24): “For behold, in that day that [the Lamanites] shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.”
“And if it so be that [the Lamanites] rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed (the Nephites), to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.”
This is also the case of the nation of the Gadianton robbers, when it was a nation.

Third, we see that after the group dwindles after Christ’s visit, the prophecy is fulfilled for the remaining seed, such as with Moron.

Could there have been others who participated also? Once more, the Book of Mormon doesn’t show any did, continually defining the Lamanites and Nephites as seemingly not having outside groups. Though perhaps after Moroni, there were.

-=-=-=-
Matthew Roper:
Is there a distinction, for example, between “nations” and other social groups? Lehi would have been familiar with nations such as Babylon and Egypt that had well-organized armies capable of waging sophisticated warfare and extending their power over large distances. Lehi’s prophecy could allow for smaller societies that did not yet merit the description “nations.” For instance, John L. Sorenson’s model of Book of Mormon geography places the land of Nephi in highland Guatemala near the site of Kaminaljuyú. At the time Nephi and his people separated from Laman’s followers to found their own settlement in the early sixth century B.C., archaeological evidence shows that that region had only scattered, sparsely populated villages.57 Also, to “possess this land unto themselves” does not necessarily mean to be the only inhabitants but can also mean–as it often does in Book of Mormon contexts–that a group has the ability to control and exercise authority over the land and its resources (see, for example, Mosiah 19:15; 23:29; 24:2; Alma 27:22, 26).58

****I can agree with this meaning of “possess”.

-=-=-=-
Matthew Roper:
Significantly, however, even Lehi’s statement about “other nations” is conditional. Lehi indicates that the promised protection from threatening nations would be removed when his children dwindled in unbelief. John L. Sorenson has observed that the Lamanites, at least, dwindled in unbelief from the beginning.

****Did the Lamanites “DWINDLE”? See the part about “dwindling” above.

How possible is it that this “dwindling” refers to the Lamanites, from the beginning? The following verses in the Book of Mormon show how all the prophets, from Nephi to Moroni, interpreted this “DWINDLE” to mean from about 400 years after Christ, and on:
Nephi records:
“AND it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Look, and behold thy seed, and also the seed of thy brethren. And I looked and beheld the land of promise; and I beheld multitudes of people, yea, even as it were in number as many as the sand of the sea.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld multitudes gathered together to battle, one against the other; and I beheld wars, and rumors of wars, and great slaughters with the sword among my people.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld many generations pass away, after the manner of wars and contentions in the land; and I beheld many cities, yea, even that I did not number them.”
“And it came to pass that I saw a mist of darkness on the face of the land of promise; and I saw lightnings, and I heard thunderings, and earthquakes, and all manner of tumultuous noises; and I saw the earth and the rocks, that they rent; and I saw mountains tumbling into pieces; and I saw the plains of the earth, that they were broken up; and I saw many cities that they were sunk; and I saw many that they were burned with fire; and I saw many that did tumble to the earth, because of the quaking thereof” (1 Nephi 12:1-4)

“And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land.”
“And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away.”
“And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF.”
“And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations” (1 Nephi 12:19-23).

1 Nephi 13:35 “For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb.”

1 Nephi 15:13 “And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed–”

1 Nephi 15:18 Wherefore, our father hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham, saying: In thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.

2 Nephi 26:15 After my seed and the seed of my brethren shall have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, and shall have been smitten by the Gentiles; yea, after the Lord God shall have camped against them round about, and shall have laid siege against them with a mount, and raised forts against them; and after they shall have been brought down low in the dust, even that they are not, yet the words of the righteous shall be written, and the prayers of the faithful shall be heard, and all those who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF shall not be forgotten.

2 Nephi 26:17 For thus saith the Lord God: They shall write the things which shall be done among them, and they shall be written and sealed up in a book, and those who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF shall not have them, for they seek to destroy the things of God.

2 Nephi 26:19 And it shall come to pass, that those who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF shall be smitten by the hand of the Gentiles.

Alma the younger says this:
“And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, the Nephites, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, in four hundred years from the time that Jesus Christ shall manifest himself unto them, shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF.”
“Yea, and then shall they see wars and pestilences, yea, famines and bloodshed, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct–”
“Yea, and this because they shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come” (Alma 45:10-12).

Samuel the Lamanite says:
“Yea, even if they should DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF the Lord shall prolong their days, until the time shall come which hath been spoken of by our fathers, and also by the prophet Zenos, and many other prophets, concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth–”
“Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them” (Helaman 15:11-12).

Helaman 15:15 “For behold, had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF” (Helaman 15:15).

Jesus says:
3 Nephi 21:5 Therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, unto your seed which shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF because of iniquity;

Mormon also says:
4 Nephi 1:34 Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF and wickedness, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away.
4 Nephi 1:38 And it came to pass that they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites, and Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites; and they did not DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, but they did wilfully rebel against the gospel of Christ; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, even as their fathers, from the beginning, did DWINDLE.
Mormon 9:35 And these things are written that we may rid our garments of the blood of our brethren, who have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF.
Ether 4:3 And now, after that, they have all DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF; and there is none save it be the Lamanites, and they have rejected the gospel of Christ; therefore I am commanded that I should hide them up again in the earth.

Mormon says:
Alma 50:22 And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, and mingle with the Lamanites.
Mosiah 10:17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.
Mosiah 1:5 I say unto you, my sons, were it not for these things, which have been kept and preserved by the hand of God, that we might read and understand of his mysteries, and have his commandments always before our eyes, that even our fathers would have DWINDLED IN UNBELIEF, and we should have been like unto our brethren, the Lamanites, who know nothing concerning these things, or even do not believe them when they are taught them, because of the traditions of their fathers, which are not correct.

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John L. Sorenson:
Furthermore, the early Nephites generally did the same thing within a few centuries. Their wickedness and apostasy culminated in the escape of Mosiah and his group from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla (see Omni 1:13-14). And if the Lord somehow did not at those times bring in “other nations,” then surely he would have done so after Cumorah, 1100 years prior to Columbus. Even if there were no massive armed invasions of strange groups to be reported, we need not be surprised if relatively small groups of strange peoples who were neither so numerous nor so organized as to be rivals for control of the land could have been scattered or infiltrated among both Nephites and Lamanites without their constituting the “other nations” in the threatening sense of Lehi’s prophecy. Thus in the terms of Lehi’s prophecy, “others” could and probably even should have been close at hand and available for the Lord to use as instruments against the straying covenant peoples any time after the arrival of Nephi’s boat.59

****I don’t feel very assured when I hear a mortal explain what the Lord “surely” “would have done”, and how other nations “could and probably even should” have been there to fulfill the prophecies according to a personal interpretation. I am more comfortable with something like “a possibility and even probability is that after Cumorah and before Columbus, “others” were brought into the land”.

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Matthew Roper:
Scriptural Support for the Presence of Others, Prophecies about the Scattering
The scriptural evidence against the presence of others, then, is sparse and unimpressive. The scriptural evidence for the presence of others, however, is abundant. For instance, prophecies from the Old Testament would have led Lehi’s people to expect to be placed in a new land in the midst of other people. The prophets of ancient Israel had foretold that the tribes of Israel would be “scatter[ed] … among all people” (Deuteronomy 28:64) and “removed to all the kingdoms of the earth” (Jeremiah 29:18) and that they would become “wanderers among the nations” (Hosea 9:17). Further, Moses informed them, “The Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead you” (Deuteronomy 4:27). These prophecies make plain that the whole house of Israel was subject to being scattered among non-Israelite peoples who would be more numerous than they.60 Lehi taught his children that they should consider themselves to be a part of this scattering: “Yea, even my father spake much concerning the Gentiles, and also concerning the house of Israel, that they should be compared like unto an olive-tree, whose branches should be broken off and should be scattered upon all the face of the earth. Wherefore, he said it must needs be that we should be led with one accord into the land of promise, unto the fulfilling of the word of the Lord, that we should be scattered” (1 Nephi 10:12-13).

The allegory of the olive tree, as recounted by Jacob, spells their fate out even more plainly. Branches broken off the tame tree, which represents historical Israel (Jacob 5:3), are to be grafted onto the roots of wild trees, meaning non-Israelite groups. In other words, there is to be a demographic union between two groups, with “young and tender branches” from the original tree, Israel, being grafted onto wild rootstock in various parts of the vineyard or the earth (Jacob 5:8; see also 14). Jacob 5:25 and 43 clearly identify Lehi’s people as such a broken-off branch. That branch is to be planted in the choicest spot of the vineyard. In that prime location, the Lord has already cut down “that which cumbered this spot of ground” (Jacob 5:44)–clearly a reference to the destruction of the Jaredites.61 In addition, the statement that one part of the new hybrid tree “brought forth good fruit,” while the other portion “brought forth wild fruit,” is an obvious reference to the Nephites and Lamanites respectively (Jacob 5:45).

So the Lehite “tree” of the allegory consists of a population geographically “transplanted” from the original Israelite promised land and “grafted” onto a wild root–or joined with non-Israelite people. Note that the Lord considers the new root to be “good” despite its being wild (Jacob 5:48). This allegorical description requires that a non-Israelite root–other peoples, in terms of this discussion–already be present on the scene where the “young and tender branch,” Lehi’s group, would be merged with them.

****A strong point. Of course, this depends on how far you want to carry the literalness of the allegory. For example, notice in the allegory that the branches are both the gentiles and the Israelites, not that the roots are gentiles and the branches are Israelites. The emphasis is on the branches, yet how can you have branches without roots? What or who are the roots?

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Matthew Roper:
Open-ended Promises concerning the Land
Book of Mormon prophets describe for latter-day readers the responsibilities that rest upon those who inherit the land of promise. But these conditions did not begin with Lehi’s family or even with the Jaredites; this land has been one of promise from its beginning (Ether 13:2).62 Those conditions specify that the people and nations who inhabit the land are to be free from bondage, captivity, and “all other nations under heaven” if they will serve God (Ether 2:12). The reverse is also implicit in Moroni’s statement: those who do not serve God have no promised protection and may expect to be subjected to bondage, captivity, and affliction by other nations who will come to the land and exercise God’s judgment upon them. Some people, then, are brought to the land for their righteousness, and others are brought to scourge the inhabitants. Moroni also states that unrighteous nations or people may be swept off the face of the land, but “it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land, that they are swept off” (Ether 2:10), suggesting that those peoples who do not reach a “fulness of iniquity” may yet remain in the land.

“And he raiseth up a righteous nation, and destroyeth the nations of the wicked. And he leadeth away the righteous into precious lands, and the wicked he destroyeth, and curseth the land unto them for their sakes” (1 Nephi 17:37-38). Nephi’s statement in the context of his own family’s journey to a New World land of promise suggests that their experience is not unique but indicative of the activities of other groups. Upon his family’s arrival, Lehi explained the nature of the covenant by which they would inherit the land. The Lord had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, “but, said he, notwithstanding our afflictions, we have obtained a land of promise, a land which is choice above all other lands; a land which the Lord God hath covenanted with me should be a land for the inheritance of my seed. Yea, the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord?” (2 Nephi 1:5). We know that the Mulekites were, like the Lehites, led out of the land of Jerusalem “by the hand of the Lord” (Omni 1:16). Lehi’s reference to “other countries” suggests countries other than the land of Jerusalem. Modern readers may correctly include in that category gentile peoples who migrated to this hemisphere during historic times, yet Lehi does not limit the application to post-Columbian gentile groups. Their identity is left open and unspecified.

“Wherefore, this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring. And if it so be that they shall serve him according to the commandments which he hath given, it shall be a land of liberty unto them; wherefore, they shall never be brought down into captivity; if so, it shall be because of iniquity; for if iniquity shall abound cursed shall be the land for their sakes, but unto the righteous it shall be blessed forever.” (2 Nephi 1:7)

Lehi’s words parallel similar promises in both the Book of Mormon and latter-day revelation:
“Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe.” (Alma 45:16)

“And thus the Lord did pour out his blessings upon this land, which was choice above all other lands; and he commanded that whoso should possess the land should possess it unto the Lord, or they should be destroyed when they were ripened in iniquity; for upon such, saith the Lord: I will pour out the fulness of my wrath.” (Ether 9:20)

“And I said unto them, that it should be granted unto them according to their faith in their prayers; yea, and this was their faith–that my gospel, which I gave unto them that they might preach in their days, might come unto their brethren the Lamanites, and also all that had become Lamanites because of their dissensions. Now, this is not all–their faith in their prayers was that this gospel should be made known also, if it were possible that other nations should possess this land; and thus they did leave a blessing upon this land in their prayers, that whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land might have eternal life; yea, that it might be free unto all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be.” (D&C 10:47-52)

In both the Book of Mormon and modern-day scripture, the language of the scriptural promises concerning the land is open-ended. It refers to “whoso should possess the land” (Ether 2:8), “whatsoever nation” (Ether 2:9, 12), “he that doth possess it” (Ether 2:10), “all men … who dwell upon the face thereof” (Ether 13:2), “whosoever should believe in this gospel in this land” (D&C 10:50), “all of whatsoever nation, kindred, tongue, or people they may be” (D&C 10:51). The covenant conditions under which blessings may be inherited are explained, while the identification of who may inherit them is left unspecified in terms of both identification and time. Whoever they are, whenever they come, whatever their origins, the Book of Mormon makes clear that “this land is consecrated unto him whom he shall bring” (2 Nephi 1:7).

****Yes, but these things should be interpreted according to the limits given by the Book of Mormon, and also remember that this openness does in no way prove others coexisting with and integrating with the Lehites at all.

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Matthew Roper:
Significantly, at this point in the text Nephi introduces the term people of Nephi for the first time in reference to his followers (2 Nephi 5:9), a term that may be suggestive of a larger society including more than his immediate family.

It is also at this point that the term Lamanite first appears. Nephi explains that he made preparations to defend his people “lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people” (2 Nephi 5:14). As demographer James Smith observes, “One reading of the latter phrase is that ‘Lamanites’ is a new name for the family and followers of Laman, Nephi’s brother-enemy from whom Nephi fled. Another possible reading is that some people not previously called ‘Lamanites’ were now so called, presumably because of Laman’s affiliation with them.”63

****I’m not sure what the great emphasis in many writers on talking about “Nephite”, “Lamanite”, “people of Nephi”, etc. is. Possible, yes, yet it would be hard to fit in with the Book of Mormon text. Another much easier, clearer, and more sensible possibility is that after the split they realized they were different peoples and named the groups. Note also that there is a failure to mention any other group by any name.

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Matthew Roper:
After explaining how he and his people separated themselves from Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and their people and having told how the people of Nephi became established in the land, Nephi quotes a prophecy of the Lord. “And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done” (2 Nephi 5:23). This prophecy anticipates future mixing and intermarriage with the Lamanites, but the immediacy of Nephi’s personal observation that “the Lord spake it, and it was done” suggests that the process was already underway at the time Nephi left or very shortly after the separation. That is, unidentified people had, at this early period, already joined with the Lamanites in their opposition to Nephi and his people and had become like them, and Nephi saw this event as a fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy.

Since Nephite dissensions are not explicitly mentioned until several generations later,64 Nephi’s statement about unidentified peoples intermarrying with the Lamanites seems to indicate the presence of other non-Lehite peoples who had joined or were joining the Lamanites.

****I believe this to be an incorrect interpretation of the scripture. “And the Lord spake it, and it was done” reads better as a separate verse–it refers to the whole curse, not to that particular portion of the curse.
Also, remember that Alma 47:35 says, “…yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the DISSENTERS OF THE NEPHITES, FROM THE REIGN OF NEPHI DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME.” There were dissenters from the very beginning; therefore, any need for others to fulfill this prophecy/ curse is clearly dismissed by this verse.

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Matthew Roper:
In light of the possibility that additional non-Lehite peoples had united with both the Nephites and the Lamanites, the teachings of Nephi and Jacob relating to Isaiah take on greater significance. After explaining that “we had already had wars and contentions with” the Lamanites (2 Nephi 5:34), Nephi inserts a lengthy sermon delivered by his brother Jacob (2 Nephi 6-10). Jacob indicates that he has previously spoken about “many things” (2 Nephi 6:2) but that Nephi now wants him to preach from Isaiah. In fact, Jacob says that Nephi had even selected the scriptural passages he was to discuss: prophecies of Isaiah that concerned the relationship between scattered Israel and the Gentiles (2 Nephi 6:4). Further, Jacob asks his people to liken these passages from Isaiah to their present situation (2 Nephi 6:5) and suggests that the application of these teachings concerns “things which are” as well as things “which are to come” (2 Nephi 6:4). As Latter-day Saints, we quite appropriately focus on the latter, but what was the context that made likening Isaiah’s words to themselves meaningful to the Nephites?
Jacob prophesies that in the latter days some Jews will reject the Messiah and be destroyed, while others will believe and be saved (2 Nephi 6:14-15). Jacob also interprets Isaiah as referring to two distinct groups of Gentiles: those who nourish and unite with Israel (2 Nephi 6:12; 10:18-19), and those who fight against Zion (2 Nephi 6:13; 10:16). In the latter days, both groups of Gentiles will play an active role in the drama of Israel’s gathering and redemption. “Wherefore, he that fighteth against Zion, both Jew and Gentile, both bond and free, both male and female, shall perish; for they are they who are the whore of all the earth; for they who are not for me are against me, saith our God” (2 Nephi 10:16). Certainly, Jacob’s sermon looks to the future, but I am persuaded that in likening Jacob’s teachings to themselves, Nephite contemporary listeners would have drawn the obvious parallel with their own situation. As a branch of scattered Israel in a new land of promise, they sought to establish Zion but were opposed, hated, and persecuted by their former brethren. Even when Jacob applies these prophecies to the latter days, his words have immediate relevance to his contemporary listeners, who would likely have seen their Lamanite persecutors as the “Jews” of Jacob’s prophecy and the “Gentiles” as those non-Lehite peoples who had joined with the Lamanites against the people of Nephi.

****More than likely, they were thinking of themselves as Israelites and the Lamanites (“both Jew and Gentile”) as those who “shall perish” for fighting against them (“fighteth against Zion”).

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Matthew Roper:
However, in his application of Isaiah to the Lehites, Jacob explains that not all Gentiles would oppose Zion and that some would be joint heirs with the people of Lehi in the blessings of the land: “But behold, this land, said God, shall be a land of thine inheritance, and the Gentiles shall be blessed upon the land” (2 Nephi 10:10). How would the Gentiles in the land be blessed? By being numbered among the children of Lehi.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, thus saith our God: I will afflict thy seed by the hand of the Gentiles; nevertheless, I will soften the hearts of the Gentiles, that they shall be like unto a father to them; wherefore, the Gentiles shall be blessed and numbered among the house of Israel. Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God.” (2 Nephi 10:18-19)

The Lord’s promise, delivered to the people of Nephi by Jacob, is a perpetual one, having application from their own time forward.

****So everyone living in the Americas will be Lehi’s seed? I don’t think that’s what the verses mean, but that is what I think is being unrealizingly said. I don’t see a necessary connection between “blessed and numbered among the house of Israel” and “them who shall be numbered among thy seed”.

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Matthew Roper:
In the context of its time, Jacob’s sermon can be read as addressing the immediate question of how Lehite Israel was to relate to and interact with non-Lehite peoples in the promised land. The answer was that they might, if they so chose, join with the people of God in seeking to build up Zion as joint inheritors of the land. Once they did so, they too became Israel and were numbered with Lehi’s seed. Some have wondered why, if other people were present in the land during Book of Mormon times, they were not mentioned more frequently in the record.
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****I would hesitate to use “more frequently”, as the latter implies that they are mentioned–yet I haven’t seen that they are.

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Matthew Roper:
The precedent of making no distinction between Lehi’s descendants and converts from the rest of the population, introduced by the Nephites’ first priest, would have been foundational to the unity of Nephite society, would have influenced the words of later Nephite prophets, and may have set the additional precedent of viewing all peoples in the land in polar terms, such as Zion/ Babylon or Nephite/ Lamanite. Previous cultural identity would have been swallowed up in this polarized frame of reference.

****Yet it isn’t, with the examples given in the Book of Mormon. We have record of the joining of the Mulekites, and of the conversion and joining of the people of Ammon, and other Lamanites later on; and even many of these authors in John L. Sorenson et.al. make it a point to try to prove that many of these groups remained separate and distinct, even many years after combining with the Lamanites. Seems wishy-washy to me.

And what influence do you see that this had on the “words of later Nephite prophets”?

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Matthew Roper:
An example of this process can be seen in the case of Nephi’s righteous brother Sam. When Lehi blesses Sam, he promises, “Blessed art thou, and thy seed; for thou shalt inherit the land like unto thy brother Nephi. And thy seed shall be numbered with his seed; and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed like unto his seed; and thou shalt be blessed in all thy days” (2 Nephi 4:11). Lehi blesses all his children, but only Sam is promised that his seed will be numbered with Nephi’s. Interestingly, when Lehite tribal designations are mentioned, there is no tribe of Sam (Jacob 1:13; 4 Nephi 1:35-38). Why? Apparently because when one is numbered with a people, one takes upon oneself the name and identity of that people. Similarly, Gentiles, once numbered with Israel or Lehi, are thereafter identified with their covenant fathers without respect to biological origin. From then on, they too are simply Israel.

****And Zoram is too, though he isn’t quite Lehi’s seed–then, of course, by the covenant he is, right? So, were Jacob and Joseph numbered with Nephi?

And yet, throughout the Book of Mormon, we read of many different “-ites”. Why were all the sons of Ishmael lumped together?

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Matthew Roper:
Nephi’s emphasis on the universal nature of God’s love is even more meaningful if written and taught to a people grappling with issues of ethnic and social diversity. “And he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33). Nephites would understand Jews to be those who came out from Jerusalem, yet the additional reference to Gentiles and heathen would only make sense to a Nephite if there were others in the land.

****And what about “black and white, bond and free”? Would that also “only” make sense to the Nephites if “there were others in the land”? So there were also blacks there, right? And slaves/ bondsmen? And they could hear the gospel and join in, right?

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Matthew Roper:
Likening Isaiah unto the Nephites
If there were others in the land, it would also help explain why many of Nephi’s people had difficulty understanding Isaiah, although not all of them did (2 Nephi 25:1-6). Converts who had never lived in the ancient Near East would have lacked the historical and cultural background that made the words of Isaiah “plain” to Nephi.

****True, it would–but not just for converts.

Just Isaiah makes understanding Isaiah difficult! However, Nephi says that it was in particular not knowing “concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews” (2 Nephi 25:1) that made it difficult, though surely not knowing the background would make it difficult, also. At the least, Nephi’s, Sam’s, and Zoram’s children; along with Jacob and Joseph; and maybe others, had never even seen Jerusalem, and Nephi didn’t teach them the things of the Jews (2 Nephi 25:6). So, while converts would have had problems understanding, so would anyone else in this circumstance. And why must those “others” living in the land be converts? If they were branches of the house of Israel, and they believed the words of Nephi, wouldn’t it be more likely that any “others” (this is a very hypothetical situation for me, yet I must ask it) were already believers, not “converts”?

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Matthew Roper:
It is also apparent that some Isaiah passages cited by Nephite prophets would make better sense to a Nephite if there were others in the land.

****Or, it would make sense if they knew (as they had already been told) that strangers would sometime join their posterity.

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Matthew Roper:
Here we will mention just three.

Strangers join the house of Israel. “For the Lord will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land; and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob” (2 Nephi 24:1). Such prophecies may quite pMatthew Roperly be applied to latter-day readers of the Book of Mormon as we liken the scriptures to ourselves, but they need not refer to us exclusively. How would the Nephites have likened this scripture to their own situation, as their prophets invited them to do? They would no doubt recognize the great mercy of the Lord in bringing them out from Jerusalem and saving them from destruction, and they would also see the Lord’s hand in setting them in a new land of promise where they could establish Zion. Significantly, this prophecy would also suggest to the ancient audience that there were “strangers” in the land who had joined or would join with them in accepting the teachings of Nephi and could be numbered with the house of Jacob.

Temples and people. “And it shall come to pass in the last days, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills, and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” (2 Nephi 12:2-3, quoting Isaiah 2:2-3). While there are several ways of reading this passage, the Nephites would likely have thought about their own temple, recently constructed at the direction of Nephi “after the manner of the temple of Solomon” (2 Nephi 5:16). This was the temple at which Jacob taught (Jacob 1:17; 2:11) and likely the one at which Nephi’s own teachings to his people and his quotations of Isaiah were presented. Isaiah’s reference to “many people” coming up to be taught would evoke the idea of people joining the Nephites and accepting their traditions and beliefs.

A confederacy against Zion. Nephi cites Isaiah’s prophecy concerning the alliance of Rezin, king of Syria, and Pekah, king of Israel, against Ahaz, king of Judah (2 Nephi 17-22, quoting Isaiah 7-12). Ephraim, Judah’s brother-tribe, has allied itself with a non-Isaelite nation (Syria), and they seek to depose Ahaz and replace him with someone of their choosing (2 Nephi 17:1-6, quoting Isaiah 7:1-6). Responding to the crisis and the fears of the king and the people of Judah, Isaiah prophesies that the conspiracy of their enemies “shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass” (2 Nephi 17:7, quoting Isaiah 7:7) and urges Ahaz simply to have faith and be faithful (2 Nephi 17:9, quoting Isaiah 7:9). The application to Nephi’s day is plain: In his ambition to gain power and assert his claims to rulership, Laman, leader of the brother-tribe of “the people who were now called Lamanites” (2 Nephi 5:14), has very possibly, like Pekah of Israel, acquired non-Israelite allies and made war on another ruler of Israelite descent, Nephi, and his people (2 Nephi 5:1-3, 14, 19, 34). Perhaps frightened by the superior numbers of their enemies, the people are counseled to trust in the Lord.

****It also makes sense that Nephi and Jacob don’t choose a few verses from here, then from there, etc. They take big sections out–that doesn’t mean that every little thing in each section is specifically and specially fitting to the Nephites at that current time.

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John L. Sorenson:
And if the Lord somehow did not at those times bring in “other nations,” then surely he would have done so after Cumorah, 1100 years prior to Columbus. Even if there were no massive armed invasions of strange groups to be reported, we need not be surprised if relatively small groups of strange peoples who were neither so numerous nor so organized as to be rivals for control of the land could have been scattered or infiltrated among both Nephites and Lamanites without their constituting the “other nations” in the threatening sense of Lehi’s prophecy. Thus in the terms of Lehi’s prophecy, “others” could and probably even should have been close at hand and available for the Lord to use as instruments against the straying covenant peoples any time after the arrival of Nephi’s boat. Archaeology, linguistics, and related areas of study have established beyond doubt that a variety of peoples inhabited virtually every place in the Western Hemisphere a long time ago (with the possible exception of limited regions which may have been more or less unpopulated for the period of a few generations at certain times). The presence of almost 1500 different languages belonging to dozens of major groupings which were found in the Americas when the Europeans arrived can be explained only by supposing that speakers of the ancestral tongues had been in America for thousands of years. The notion that “the Indians” constituted a single ethnic entity is a totally outdated one which neither scholars nor lay people can justifiably believe nowadays. Abundant facts are completely contrary to the idea. The most that is possible is that in some limited territory in a part of America Lehi’s people and those who came with Mulek had their chance to establish their own niches where they could control their own fate. But they were not given thousands of years of isolation to play with. (The Latter-day Saint pioneers in Deseret were allowed only a single generation, from 1847 until the railroad came in 1869, to do the same. After that, competing economic, social, political, and ideological systems directly challenged them, and nearly swallowed them up.) It seems unavoidable that other peoples were in the land, somewhere, when Nephi’s boat landed on the shore of the “west sea,” and quite certainly some of them were survivors from the Jaredite people, as indicated in the book of Ether.

****It doesn’t seem right to put personal limitations on prophecies. Let’s see, Joseph says a Moses will be raised up–and it takes 400 years. Isaiah says Jesus will be born–and that’s maybe 700 years. Daniel speaks about the last days–over 2,000 years. Etc., etc. And Lehi’s seed are still in the Americas, I imagine–I don’t see why we should set a time limit on his prophecies.
There is no immediate cause-effect relationship requirement or limitation shown in this prophecy.

The explanations in this whole section are very imaginative.

Let’s take another look at Lehi’s prophecy, and other similar prophecies:
“Wherefore, I, Lehi, have obtained a promise, that inasmuch as THOSE WHOM THE LORD GOD SHALL BRING OUT OF THE LAND OF JERUSALEM shall keep his commandments, they shall prosper upon the face of this land; and THEY SHALL BE KEPT FROM ALL OTHER NATIONS, that THEY MAY POSSESS THIS LAND UNTO THEMSELVES. And if it so be that they shall keep his commandments they shall be blessed upon the face of this land, and there shall be NONE TO MOLEST THEM, NOR TO TAKE AWAY THE LAND OF THEIR INHERITANCE; and THEY SHALL DWELL SAFELY FOREVER.”
“But behold, when the time cometh that THEY shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, after they have received so great blessings from the hand of the Lord–having a knowledge of the creation of the earth, and all men, knowing the great and marvelous works of the Lord from the creation of the world; having power given them to do all things by faith; having all the commandments from the beginning, and having been brought by his infinite goodness into this precious land of promise–behold, I say, if the day shall come that they will reject the Holy One of Israel, the true Messiah, their Redeemer and their God, behold, the judgments of him that is just shall rest upon them.”
“Yea, he will BRING OTHER NATIONS UNTO THEM, and he will give unto them power, and HE WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THEM THE LANDS OF THEIR POSSESSIONS, and he will cause them to BE SCATTERED AND SMITTEN.”
“Yea, AS ONE GENERATION PASSETH TO ANOTHER THERE SHALL BE BLOODSHEDS, and GREAT VISITATIONS among THEM; wherefore, my sons, I would that ye would remember; yea, I would that ye would hearken unto my words.” (2 Nephi 1:9-12)

It is interesting to me that Lehi does not say “my seed”, or “my seed (along with Zoram) and Ishmael’s seed” here, but “those whom the Lord God shall bring out of the land of Jerusalem.” It sounds like there might have been others. Of course, it could mean the Mulekites.

Also, Lehi does not say that others will or won’t be in the land–just that his righteous seed will be “kept” to “possess the land unto themselves”. If they keep the commandments, they will be able to keep control of their land in peace. In fact, it sounds like there will be others, but that any others will, at the least, be tolerant of them.

As a reminder, the mistaken explanation of the “dwindling” of the Lamanites has already been explained.

Before this record, we have that of Nephi:
“And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land” (1 Nephi 12:20).
“And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS AMONG THEM; AND IN WARS AND RUMORS OF WARS I SAW MANY GENERATIONS PASS AWAY” (1 Nephi 12:21).
“And the angel said unto me: Behold THESE SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF” (1 Nephi 12:22).

“And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel–and THIS REMNANT OF WHOM I SPEAK IS THE SEED OF THY FATHER–wherefore, after I HAVE VISITED THEM IN JUDGMENT, and SMITTEN THEM BY THE HAND OF THE GENTILES …” (1 Nephi 13:34).
“For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and AFTER THY SEED SHALL BE DESTROYED, AND DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, AND ALSO THE SEED OF THY BRETHREN, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb” (1 Nephi 13:35).

Now, here is Alma’s prophecy on this:
“And these are the words: Behold, I perceive that this very people, THE NEPHITES, according to the spirit of revelation which is in me, IN FOUR HUNDRED YEARS FROM THE TIME THAT JESUS CHRIST SHALL MANIFEST HIMSELF UNTO THEM, SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF” (Alma 45:10).
“Yea, and then shall they see WARS AND PESTILENCES, YEA, FAMINES AND BLOODSHED, even until the people of Nephi shall become extinct–” (Alma 45:11)
“Yea, and this because they shall DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF and fall into the works of darkness, and lasciviousness, and all manner of iniquities; yea, I say unto you, that because they shall sin against so great light and knowledge, yea, I say unto you, that from that day, even the fourth generation shall not all pass away before this great iniquity shall come” (Alma 45:12).
Here’s Mormon’s commentary, in Helaman 6:34:
“And thus we see that the Nephites did BEGIN TO DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, and grow in wickedness and abominations, while the Lamanites began to grow exceedingly in the knowledge of their God; yea, they did begin to keep his statutes and commandments, and to walk in truth and uprightness before him.”

Samuel the Lamanite, speaking about the Lamanites, says:
“Yea, even IF THEY SHOULD DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF the Lord shall prolong their days, until the time shall come which hath been spoken of by our fathers, and also by the prophet Zenos, and many other prophets, concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth–” (Helaman 15:11)

The Lord says:
“For it is wisdom in the Father that they (the Gentiles) should be established in this land, and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled which he hath covenanted with his people, O house of Israel;”
“Therefore, when these works and the works which shall be wrought among you hereafter shall come forth from the Gentiles, UNTO YOUR SEED WHICH SHALL DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF BECAUSE OF INIQUITY;” (3 Nephi 21:4-5)

Later, we read:
“Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts, for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches, and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus; but the people of Jesus did not smite again. And thus they did DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF AND WICKEDNESS, from year to year, even until two hundred and thirty years had passed away” (4 Nephi 1:34)
“And it came to pass that THEY WHO REJECTED THE GOSPEL WERE CALLED LAMANITES, AND LEMUELITES, AND ISHMAELITES; and THEY DID NOT DWINDLE IN UNBELIEF, BUT THEY DID WILFULLY REBEL AGAINST THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST; and they did teach their children that they should not believe, EVEN AS THEIR FATHERS, FROM THE BEGINNING, DID DWINDLE”. (4 Nephi 1:38)
“And it was because of the wickedness and abomination of their fathers, EVEN AS IT WAS IN THE BEGINNING. And THEY WERE TAUGHT TO HATE THE CHILDREN OF GOD, EVEN AS THE LAMANITES WERE TAUGHT TO HATE THE CHILDREN OF NEPHI FROM THE BEGINNING” (4 Nephi 1:39).

I think it is clear that these prophecies are all talking about the same time–the destruction of the Nephites and the dwindling in unbelief of the Lamanites, about 400 years after Christ—NOT almost 600 years before Christ—a thousand-year difference.

It also makes the point that the Lamanites probably did not “dwindle in unbelief” at the beginning—Laman, Lemuel, et. al. actively taught their children to reject God and do evil.
Also, this prophecy seems to mean that these things relating to other peoples will happen after the sum remainder of both sides dwindle in unbelief, not just one side, or both sides to some differing degrees.

It seems that everything that happened in the Book of Mormon, happened in a relatively small area; especially if it were mostly enclosed (by the sea on two sides, desolate wilderness, etc.); and, given the size of the American continents; it is not necessary that the peoples in the Book of Mormon ran into any other races or groups of people. There is one mention when Mosiah runs into the people of Zarahemla, who had also left the same area; the two might have both been near each other for over 300 years without knowing it.

The Book of Mormon says in Alma 43:13 that the “Lamanites…were a COMPOUND OF LAMAN AND LEMUEL, AND THE SONS OF ISHMAEL, AND ALL THOSE WHO HAD DISSENTED FROM THE NEPHITES, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.” There is no mention of any others.

Helaman 11:24 doesn’t seem to differ much, either: “And it came to pass that in the eightieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, there were a certain number of the dissenters from the people of Nephi, who had some years before gone over unto the Lamanites, and taken upon themselves the name of Lamanites, and also a certain number who were real descendants of the Lamanites, being stirred up to anger by them, or by those dissenters, therefore they commenced a war with their brethren.”

Alma 24:29, similarly: “Now, among those who joined the people of the Lord, there were none who were Amalekites or Amulonites, or who were of the order of Nehor, but they were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel.”
Alma 47:35 says, “…yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, AMONG ALL THE PEOPLE OF THE LAMANITES, WHO WERE COMPOSED OF THE LAMANITES AND THE LEMUELITES AND THE ISHMAELITES, AND ALL THE DISSENTERS OF THE NEPHITES, FROM THE REIGN OF NEPHI DOWN TO THE PRESENT TIME.”
Mormon 1:8: “And it came to pass in this year there began to be a war between the NEPHITES, WHO CONSISTED OF THE NEPHITES AND THE JACOBITES AND THE JOSEPHITES AND THE ZORAMITES; and this war was between the Nephites, and the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites.
Mormon 1:9: NOW THE LAMANITES AND THE LEMUELITES AND THE ISHMAELITES WERE CALLED LAMANITES, AND THE TWO PARTIES WERE NEPHITES AND LAMANITES.”

Not other parties, even towards the end of the whole history.

D&C, similarly.

Once again, the language is interesting–“surely he would have done so,” “should have been close at hand,” “the most that is possible,” “unavoidable,” “quite certainly,” etc. Actually, I probably should have used the word “blasphemous” instead of “impolite,” “as indicated.”

“As indicated in the book of Ether”–where and how is that?

Very few prophecies are shown left unfulfilled in the Book of Mormon. Almost all are/ have been fulfilled, or pointed to a particular or further time. If there is one, I haven’t found it yet (outside of Isaiah), though there might be. In fact, the Lord chasitizes Nephi for not having written the fulfilling of the prophecy of Samuel that many would arise from the grave and appear to others. The promise made to Lehi about obeying and prospering is quoted multiple times in the Book of Mormon. Why, then, is the only time connected to this other of Lehi’s prophecy–based on a Lord’s promise, and its conditions–related to the far future? If it was fulfilled any time earlier, why isn’t it in this record, when Mormon writes many things that show that proving the words of the Lord through his prophets is one of its main purposes?

See, for example, the following verses from the Book of Mormon that contain the word “fulfilled”, and which are specifically about God’s words, prophets’ words, and God’s covenants being fulfilled: 1 Nephi 7:13, 15:18, 16:8, 17:4; 2 Nephi 3:14, 5:19-20, 9:17, 10:15, 25:7, 25:21, 24, 27, 30; Words of Mormon 1:4; Mosiah 20:21, 21:4; Alma 3:14, 5:57, 58; 7:11, 13:26, 25:15, 34:13, 37:17, 19, 24, 26, 45:9, 14; Helaman 11:8, 6:13-14; 3 Nephi 1:4- 6, 15, 25; 5:1, 14, 25; 9:16-17, 10:11, 12:18-19, 46; 15:4-6, 8; 16:17, 20:11-12, 46; 21:4, 23:10, 28:7, 29:1-2; Mormon 8:22, 33; Ether 12:3, 11; 15:3, 33; Moroni 10:31.

See also these verses that contain “words of the prophets” and are related to prophecies: 1 Nephi 2:13, 3:19, 2 Nephi 25:19, 26:8, Jacob 6:18, Mosiah 15:11, Helaman 16:13, 3 Nephi 1:16, 20; 5:2.
See also a search for “according to the/ his word(s)”, which deals with the same topics of prophecies being fulfilled; you will find angels, the Lord, and the many prophets’ names completing this phrase.

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” Part 3: SHEREM

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”
grego
(c) 2004-2009

Part 3: SHEREM

I’ll first put some pertinent scriptures here first, as this story of Sherem is often used as one of the strong arguments for “Others” in the land.
Jacob 7:1 And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem.
Jacob 7:2 And it came to pass that he began to preach among the people, and to declare unto them that there should be no Christ. And he preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:3 And he labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me.
Jacob 7:4 And he was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore, he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil.
Jacob 7:5 And he had hope to shake me from the faith, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
Jacob 7:6 And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:7 And ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me.
Jacob 7:8 But behold, the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul, insomuch that I did confound him in all his words.
Jacob 7:10 And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.
Jacob 7:11 And I said unto him: Then ye do not understand them; for they truly testify of Christ…
Jacob 7:13 And it came to pass that he said unto me: Show me a sign by this power of the Holy Ghost, in the which ye know so much.
Jacob 7:14 And I said unto him: What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the thing which thou knowest to be true?…
Also, the time reference given here is “[Between 544 and 421 B.C.]”. At the end of Enos, it is 420 B.C. (It is likely that this is much more towards the 544 end than the 421 end, as Jacob was born in the upper 590’s.)

John L. Sorenson:
The account of Sherem’s encounter with Jacob reiterates the question. “Some [ten more?] years had passed away,” and Jacob was now verging on “old” (cf. Jacob 7:1, 20-26). At that time “there came a man among the people of Nephi whose name was Sherem” (Jacob 7:1). Upon first meeting Jacob, he said, “Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard … that thou goest about much, preaching” (Jacob 7:6). Now, the population of adult males descended from the original group could not have exceeded fifty at that time. This would have been only enough to populate one modest-sized village. Thus Sherem’s is a strange statement. Jacob, as head priest and religious teacher, would routinely have been around the Nephite temple in the cultural center at least on all holy days (see Jacob 2:2). How then could Sherem never have seen him, and why would he have had to seek “much opportunity” to speak to him in such a tiny settlement? And where would Jacob have had to go on the preaching travels Sherem refers to, if only such a tiny group were involved. Moreover, from where was it that Sherem “came … among the people of Nephi” (Jacob 7:1)? The text and context of this incident would make little sense if the Nephite population had resulted only from natural demographic increase.

Brant Gardner:
With the clear enmity between lineal Nephites and Lamanites at this early period, it is unlikely that Sherem was a Lamanite born after the separation of the two colonies, yet that would be the only other possibility if we do not factor “others” into the equation.

****Actually, there are many other possibilities other than “others”.
Once more, it goes back to the question of initial population size, which I have treated. That there answers all that needs to be answered.
*It’s also possible, that with probably thousands of people in the Nephite population (as shown above) at this time, Sherem came from a village other than the one Jacob was in. Not hard to imagine. How many people do you know in the next village, especially if you didn’t have TV’s, newspapers, or telephones? How many people do you know on the next street over?
Let’s look at a few more, though:
*Or, Sherem, being a wise man, especially having seen evidence, knew that the Lamanites could only overcome the Nephites through the Nephites’ wickedness, and therefore had come over peacefully from the Lamanites to corrupt the Nephites, which would allow the Lamanites to overcome them, according to the blessings and the curses.
*Or, perhaps desiring to rise up and be the leader of the Nephites, without the Lamanites, he left the Lamanites to corrupt the Nephites, then wanted to politically overcome them later.
*Or, Sherem could have been from a group that split away from the Nephites earlier. Looking at the record, maybe even 50 years could have passed away since then. Somewhere in that time it would not have been improbable for a small group, especially if it were just a couple or family or two, to splinter away. There’s plenty of that happening in the Book of Mormon all the time. To those who say it would have been mentioned, remember the Amalekites–major players later on, yet not even their splintering off is mentioned.
*In Alma 47:35, we read: “And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time.”
*Sherem could have been a Lamanite. The Lamanites would still have spoken the same language. Clear enmity, yet the Nephites had a clear desire to preach to the Lamanites.
*Kevin Christensen proposed that Sherem was a Mulekite trader (keep in mind with regards to spelling and grammar that this was typed quickly on a discussion board):

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner, from posts:
However, the answer cannot be that he came from inside the Nephites because they were surprised that he spoke the language.

**** I’m sorry, I’m missing that part in my Book of Mormon about “they were surprised that he spoke the language”–which verse is that? Or, is that Brant Gardner’s personal interpretation of what Jacob REALLY meant?

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner, from post:
It is just as good a guess that he was a believer in the Mosaic scriptures because of contact with Lamanites – and more likely since both for language and ignorance of where to find Jacob he is painted as an outsider.

**** Can anyone find any evidence that Laman and Lemuel believed in and lived the Law of Moses? Did the Lamanites, then, really believe in it? Did they have any scriptures about it, or did Nephi have them? How then was Sherem “a believer in the Mosaic scriptures because of contact with Lamanites”?
And it’s clear that Sherem was not a believer in the Law of Moses:
Jacob 7:14 And I said unto him: What am I that I should tempt God to show unto thee a sign in the thing which THOU KNOWEST TO BE TRUE?…

He had “ignorance of where to find Jacob”? Where is that in the Book of Mormon text? Once more, an unsupported personal interpretation of sacred text…

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner, from post:
…the real question would be why Jacob would ever say that he had a “perfect knowledge of the language of the people” unless it were somehow unusual. I doubt anyone has every said of you, “why, you speak En[gli]sh so well.” The only time we point out such things is when they run contrary to expectations.

****If I were President Bush, I might take that as a compliment. But yes, many have said that, and in the USA, too–though to me that’s incidental.
“Unusual”– let’s see–do most people have a perfect knowledge of English? What was your SAT score? Near perfect? Now, can you argue with those words, are you fluent with them? How many words are in a language, and how many are commonly used? And can you use those idioms to express and uphold your point of view? Why did Jacob mention language in particular? What else does Jacob say about speech here? Let’s review the text:
Jacob 7:2 And HE (SHEREM) PREACHED MANY THINGS which were FLATTERING UNTO THE PEOPLE; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:3 And he labored diligently that HE MIGHT LEAD AWAY THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE, insomuch that HE DID LEAD AWAY MANY HEARTS; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, he sought much opportunity that he might come unto me.
Jacob 7:4 And he was LEARNED, that he had a PERFECT KNOWLEDGE of the LANGUAGE OF THE PEOPLE; wherefore, HE COULD USE MUCH FLATTERY, and MUCH POWER OF SPEECH, ACCORDING TO THE POWER OF THE DEVIL.
Jacob 7:5 And HE HAD HOPE TO SHAKE ME FROM THE FAITH, notwithstanding the many revelations and the many things which I had seen concerning these things; for I truly had seen angels, and they had ministered unto me. And also, I had heard the voice of the Lord speaking unto me in very word, from time to time; wherefore, I could not be shaken.
Jacob 7:6 And it came to pass that HE CAME UNTO ME, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: BROTHER JACOB, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, PREACHING THAT WHICH YE CALL the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.
Jacob 7:7 And YE HAVE LED AWAY MUCH OF THIS PEOPLE that THEY PERVERT THE RIGHT WAY OF GOD, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, DECLARE UNTO YOU THAT THIS IS BLASPHEMY; for no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come. And after this manner did Sherem contend against me.

What do I see? Does all that mean that the outsider Sherem learned to speak good Nephitese? No. Jacob means that Sherem has the ability to use speech to flatter and persuade people; he breaks the rules of logic, but no one notices (no man can know of things to come, but somehow he can know Christ won’t come); he uses the scriptures to lead people away; he even tries to overthrow Jacob with his speaking ability, which Jacob points out is “according to the power of the devil”. The devil did not teach Sherem to learn a new language, but to speak the language of the PEOPLE (note: not the language of the Nephites…) to further the devil’s work, much like Zeezrom and Korihor. Note that Sherem goes straight for the jugular at the opening remark, just like Cicero does in his hailed oratorical attack on Cataline. Here is a quote from Cicero about this (and more): “I HAVE FREQUENTLY FORCED MY ANTAGONIST TO RELINQUISH THE FIELD. _Hortensius_, an eminent Speaker, once declined to answer me, though in defence of an intimate friend. _Cataline_, a most audacious traitor, being publicly accused by me in the Senate-house, was struck dumb with shame: and _Curio_, the father, when he attempted to reply to me in a weighty and important cause which concerned the honour of his family, sat suddenly down, and complained that I had _bewitched_ him out of his memory.” Does this sound like what Sherem tries to do in his meeting with Jacob? Jacob’s intent in writing “he had a perfect language of the people” is to show that Sherem was a great orator, not an outsider.
In fact, note that after this stinging sucker punch accusation, Jacob writes,
Jacob 7:8 BUT BEHOLD, the LORD GOD POURED IN HIS SPIRIT INTO MY SOUL, INSOMUCH THAT I DID CONFOUND HIM in all his words.
Jacob knew he was right, that the belief in Jesus Christ was true; yet he still seemed to need the Spirit’s help to not “relinquish the field” and “win the speech contest”.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner, from post:
What of the idea that the language is sophistry? Of course it is. The text says so – but if it makes a point of declaring the sophistry, why declare also the specifics about the language? It is redundant. Certainly it could be all a reference to how well Sherem manipulates language, but there is still the surprise and the problem of Sherem at this late point in Jacob’s life showing up and gunning for him in a verbal shootout. If Sheremi is inside the community, he had to learn at someone’s feet, and Jacob had been appointed as one of the teachers. How did Sherem the student miss Jacob the teacher? Even assuming a two generation gap (which would make Sherem a little too young to be taken seriously) we have the problem of assuming some form of educational institution that would be able to teach a bright student a sophisticated knowledge of the scriptures – and Jacob not be inolved or know of it – and have the student be unaware of the man who for years was the prime interpreter of scripture for the community.

****(I’ll skip all the language comments here, as its’ clear Brant Gardner finally admits the text is talking about sophistry, and I’ve already shown that. But after admitting that, he goes on to say “but Jacob says it twice, so it’s redundant, so it has to have a special meaning that’s not obvious from the text…” Give it up, man!! ;) )

Jacob was appointed as one of the teachers, correct. What, a school teacher?? No! A teacher of the word of God. (In the twenty or so times the word “teacher” is used in the Book of Mormon, it’s used to mean that.) Sure, if one were to assume only a few children at this point, it’s possible one might mistakenly assume that Jacob and Joseph were the only two school teachers…

Where does it say in the Book of Mormon that “Sherem the student miss[ed] Jacob the teacher”?

Since Brant Gardner seems to be unaware of Mesoamerican schooling, we have a sudden lack of Book of Mormon “insight” for this section. Unless it is not possible to imagine some form of education other than receiving it straight from Jacob, there is no problem here.

Let’s assume that at least Jacob and Joseph and Zoram taught their children and others in the group the scriptures, and that those others taught others; there’s a gap right there easy enough for anyone to see.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner, from post:
“When the whole situation and all of the evidence are added, the interpretation of the language is simply another indication to the reader that they should understand Sherem as a foreigner. To anyone of the time it would have been obvious from the clues given and hence not required to be stated openly.”

****This type of statement, in my opinion, would make one superior to Fawn Brodie in the ability to always just KNOW what those poor Book of Mormon writers and Joseph Smith were thinking and really wanted to say, but either couldn’t or didn’t.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
One of the texts on the Book of Mormon that clearly depends upon friendly relations with peoples who are not specifically Nephites is the appearance of Sherem noted in the Book of Jacob. Jacob notes Sherem’s self-introduction: Jacob 7:6 “And it came to pass that he came unto me, and on this wise did he speak unto me, saying: Brother Jacob, I have sought much opportunity that I might speak unto you; for I have heard and also know that thou goest about much, preaching that which ye call the gospel, or the doctrine of Christ.”

Both from Sherem’s words and the way Jacob describes the encounter, we have the very clear impression that Sherem and Jacob had never met before. Given the probable size of the Nephite community at this point in time, it would have been impossible for Sherem to have been a member of the community and not have met Jacob prior to his adulthood. Sherem, of necessity, comes from outside the Nephite community.

****The “very clear impression” of Sherem and Jacob never having met is solely a matter of personal interpretation.

-=-=-=
Michael R. Ash:
Since Jacob was one of the original Lehites in the New World, the maximum adult population among the Lehites couldn’t have been more than a dozen people. Yet Sherem had come from another settlement and had never met Jacob, the chief Nephite priest.

****”And now it came to pass after some years had passed away, there came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem.” I think that I’ll start with a little thinking, then do what Brant Gardner always espouses doing, but which he seems to have forgotten to do here: a word study. (Mine will be for the Book of Mormon only here, though I’m sure outside sources will just strengthen my argument.)
Think about this: were Sherem a stranger who literally/ physically came among them from the outside/ another place, how did he suddenly become able to have “a perfect knowledge of the language of the people” (Jacob 7:4)? (Wait, I’m having a flashback of Pocahontas and John Smith at the Grandma Tree… Ok, maybe I’m wrong… ;) )
Then, why would Jacob have asked him if he believed the scriptures (I’m assuming one would have to read before one could believe), and how could Sherem have told Jacob that he did (I assume that meant he had read the scriptures and understood them)? (Jacob 7:10: “And I said unto him: Believest thou the scriptures? And he said, Yea.”) If Sherem were from the outside, where did Sherem get the scriptures, and then how did he read them? Or did he come from the outside for a while, learn the language, read the scriptures, and think of a new religion to preach? And why would Jacob believe his answer about having read them?
Perhaps Jacob wrote this part to stress that he wasn’t a stranger to the Nephites.

This “came…among” in Jacob 7:1 could mean that he “rose up”. In Helaman 7:25, Nephi says: “Yea, wo be unto you because of that great abomination which has COME AMONG you; and ye have united yourselves unto it, yea, to that secret band which was established by Gadianton!” Well, it wasn’t a strange group of outsiders that “brought” the secret band of Gadianton to the Nephites, even though I believe that is what Brant Gardner believes. So, I’ll add some scriptures here that expound a little more on this, to strengthen the interpretation of “came among”:
Helaman 1:9 Now when THOSE PEOPLE who were DESIROUS THAT [PAANCHI] SHOULD BE THEIR GOVERNOR saw that he was condemned unto death, therefore THEY WERE ANGRY, and behold, THEY SENT FORTH one KISHKUMEN, even to the judgment-seat of Pahoran, and murdered Pahoran as he sat upon the judgment-seat.
Helaman 1:11 And HE WENT UNTO THOSE THAT SENT HIM, and THEY all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man that Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran.
Helaman 2:3 But behold, Kishkumen, who had murdered Pahoran, did lay wait to destroy Helaman also; and he was UPHELD BY HIS BAND, who had entered into a covenant that no one should know his wickedness.
Helaman 2:4 For there was one GADIANTON, who was exceedingly expert in many words, and also in his craft, to carry on the secret work of murder and of robbery; therefore HE BECAME THE LEADER OF THE BAND OF KISHKUMEN.
Helaman 2:5 Therefore he did flatter them, and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people; therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman.
It’s clear that the band is comprised of people who had wanted Paanchi to be chief judge: Nephites.

This use is also supported by 2 Nephi 10:3, where Jacob writes: “Wherefore, as I said unto you, it must needs be expedient that Christ–for in the last night the angel spake unto me that this should be his name–should COME AMONG the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him–for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God.” Once again, Jesus didn’t “come among” the Jews from the outside, unless you want to stretch it and count coming back from Egypt; but he had originally been from them. Or, unless you want to count coming down from heaven; but in that case, everyone would be in the same sense.
Also, in Helaman 6:2, it says: “For behold, there were many of the Nephites who had become hardened and impenitent and grossly wicked, insomuch that they did reject the word of God and all the preaching and prophesying which did COME AMONG them.” Unless all the Nephite prophets were from “others” or even outside groups, I don’t believe the literal interpretation of “come among” holds here, either.
Samuel the Lamanite, in Helaman 13:26, “…if a prophet COME AMONG you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and CAST HIM OUT and seek all manner of ways to destroy him…” Some might say that Samuel was talking about himself only; that might, but also might not, be. I imagine if it were, he might have just said so. Let’s see the continuation of this in Helaman 13:27: “…if a man shall COME AMONG YOU and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth–and if a man shall COME AMONG you and say this, ye will RECEIVE HIM…” Though Samuel came among them from the lands of the Lamanites, I doubt he meant “come among”, “cast him out”, and “receive him” in literal, straightforward, one-way interpretations only–what, could no prophets and false prophets exist among the Nephites, but only come from outside the Nephites? Hardly so.
Also, in Mosiah 11:20, we read: “And it came to pass that there was a man AMONG them whose name was Abinadi; and he WENT FORTH AMONG them, and began to prophesy, saying: Behold, thus saith the Lord, and thus hath he commanded me, saying, GO FORTH, and say unto this people, thus saith the Lord–Wo be unto this people, for I have seen their abominations, and their wickedness, and their whoredoms; and except they repent I will visit them in mine anger”;
and then, in Mosiah 12:1: “And it came to pass that after the space of two years that Abinadi CAME AMONG them in disguise, that they knew him not, and began to prophesy among them, saying: Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying–Abinadi, GO and prophesy unto this my people, for they have hardened their hearts against my words; they have repented not of their evil doings; therefore, I will visit them in my anger, yea, in my fierce anger will I visit them in their iniquities and abominations.” Well, there was only one people for Abinadi at this time, and he was there among them already. If Abinadi were already there among them, how could he “[come] again and “go”? On the other hand, there are some uses of “come among” that are straightforward in the Book of Mormon, such as in Alma 7:8 and Alma 20:13.
In Alma 47:35, we read: “And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time.”
“All the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time”–this phrase helps clear up a few things. First, it seems that the dissenters always fled to the Lamanites. Why not another group, nation, or “others”? Second, “from the reign of Nephi”–clearly, that’s long before Jacob (Sherem), and much earlier than the first mention of the Amalekites, the first large group of dissenters that we read about. (Note that to call EVERYONE who wasn’t a Nephite a Lamanite, makes no sense when the Book of Mormon talks about Nephites and Lamanites.)

It would do well to keep in mind that Sherem is a liar (see Jacob 7:14, 19). Would it be stable to construct an argument based on his words, or might one therefore proceed with caution, out of necessity? Was it possible that Sherem was practicing his preaching and debate skills, polishing his rhetoric, building his base of followers, and perfecting his doctrine before daring to argue with Jacob? There was, naturally, much riding on the line here. Of course Sherem could say that he had tried to speak with him, but just hadn’t been able to; is this just the familiar “I tried to call you, but I couldn’t reach you” argument?

If this is not the correct interpretation, perhaps it is this: Jacob himself writes that “…[Sherem] labored diligently that he might lead away the hearts of the people, insomuch that he did lead away many hearts; and he knowing that I, Jacob, had faith in Christ who should come, HE SOUGHT MUCH OPPORTUNITY that HE MIGHT COME UNTO ME” (Jacob 7:3). This sounds much more like Jacob was trying to avoid a head-to-head confrontation, not that there were so many people they never ran into each other.
Also, I imagine Sherem wanted to do debate with a large audience watching, not just see Jacob and debate him–it’s like trying to set up a debate, or a boxing match–it’s not just hey, two people see each other, go at it.
Also, none of this states or even implies that Jacob hadn’t known Sherem before this time, or that Sherem had been around preaching for years, contrary to what is inferred in the article: “How then could Sherem never have seen him, and why would he have had to seek “much opportunity” to speak to him in such a tiny settlement?” He might have known him and seen him often before Sherem started his preaching.

“…[T]hat thou goest about much, preaching”: being a priest and a teacher over the people of Nephi, especially if with only his brother Joseph to help, he would have had the responsibility of “home teaching”, etc.; in addition, he had to work for a living– probably farming and tending flocks–somewhat time-consuming. Understanding this context, the statement then makes more sense. However, with Jacob being old, I wonder how much running around he was doing… Perhaps Sherem is just flattering and buttering Jacob up?

“Thou goest about much” need not mean that Jacob traveled days on end to preach. So, if there were only a few adults, maximum, where was Jacob going? To visit and preach to others all the time? My wife goes about much every day–market, shopping, taking children all over, etc.; yet, it’s most all within a square mile of area. The missionaries “go about much”, yet sometimes it’s in just a few places in a small town. So, it’s an assumption that it must mean “many miles” and “many cities” of travel.
Anyway, it’s here that I’ll comment on the two-pronged approach to population. John L. Sorenson, Brant Gardner, et. al. try to show that either the population was exceedingly small, so there had to be others to fit the text (like in the above example); or the population was large, so there had to be others to fit the text. Neither is necessary!

Also, we read in Jacob 7:16, 17 that “And it came to pass that [Sherem] said unto the people: Gather together on the morrow, for I shall die; wherefore, I desire to speak unto THE PEOPLE before I shall die. And it came to pass that on the morrow the MULTITUDE WERE GATHERED together…”
It seems obvious that he had preached his doctrine to the people. How big was the population? Seemingly large enough the two might not have met in the chocolate shop, yet possibly small enough for the people to be spoken to and to be gathered “on the morrow”.
“And where would Jacob have had to go on the preaching travels Sherem refers to, if only such a tiny group were involved.” That’s correct–it’s not a tiny group, at this point the population is likely in the thousands. Nevertheless, when you get farms/ fields, and no high-rise apartment bujldings, it’s a bigger area. Heck, even the suburb I grew up in only had about a hundred homes, and I just stayed in a small area of that most of the time.
Also, if “on the morrow” means the next day, the people could be gathered without prior notice or preparation for the next day. I assume that unlike King Benjamin, there wasn’t a special holiday/s where the people were probably already preparing to go to the temple, or unlike Jesus, when it was…well, Jesus. (3 Nephi 19:2-4: here “on the morrow” is used to signify “tomorrow/ the next day”.) There is the factor, though, that this came after many days, and it’s possible many of Sherem’s followers might have been waiting nearby, who had been gathered to listen to his debate Jacob and were still hanging around to see what would happen to him.

Sherem was likely simply a great Nephite persuader who preached the Law of Moses.

Jacob writes: “…the time passed away with us, and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a LONESOME and a solemn people… (Jacob 7:26). “Lonesome” doesn’t sound like they were mingling and mixing with lots of other peoples, especially those who believed in the same religion. It’s possible to be lonesome surrounded by others, but it’s much harder to be lonesome surrounded by others of the same religion and country.

2009, September 24

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land… Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” Part 2: Arguments Concerning Jacob

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

Part 2: Arguments Concerning JACOB (except Sherem)

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
The plausible presence of these “others” among the Nephites at this early point in Nephite history provides a context for a strange choice Nephi makes when recording on his personal plates. In 2 Nephi 6, Nephi records a sermon that Jacob gave. This is an odd discourse in the absence of any explanatory background. Jacob addresses a population that has recently established a city, and may still be in the throes of establishing that city and their way of life, and he preaches to them about a text from Isaiah that deals with the long distant future salvation of Israel through the Gentiles. Of all of the possible concerns for a people recently established in a new world, let alone a new city, why discourse on an event thousands of years away, and dealing with Gentiles in the Old World? To top off this mystery, we have Jacob’s statement that it was Nephi, the king, who suggested this topic.7
When we look at the sermon again with our understanding of the likely presence of a goodly number of non-lineal Israelites in the early city of Nephi, that sermon becomes precisely the type of sermon that a king might request. We can easily imagine tensions between the two cultures arising, and a wise king noting the importance of “Gentiles,” or non-lineal Israelites, as the salvation of Israel, or the literal descendants of Lehi. Nephi would be “likening” this future situation to that of his own community. The not-so-subtle message would be that these “others” in their midst would be essential to the salvation of the Old World lineages. Rather than a discourse on a theological future, it is a strong commentary on an important social present.

****They had established a city? Note that in the Book of Mormon, city/ land is used most of the time, never “town” until Mormon 4:22 and Mormon 5:5:
Mormon 4:22 And it came to pass that the Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages.
Mormon 5:5 And it came to pass that whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants thereof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire; and thus three hundred and seventy and nine years passed away.
The word “village” occurs in the Book of Mormon here:
Mosiah 27:6 And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land.
Alma 8:7 Now it was the custom of the people of Nephi to call their lands, and their cities, and their villages, yea, even all their small villages, after the name of him who first possessed them; and thus it was with the land of Ammonihah.
Alma 21:11 refers to a Lamanite village.
Alma 23:14 And the Amalekites were not converted, save only one; neither were any of the Amulonites; but they did harden their hearts, and also the hearts of the Lamanites in that part of the land wheresoever they dwelt, yea, and all their villages and all their cities.
How one could build a city but not have a village and then town, is a little difficult to explain. No one has gotten the numbers to work. Thus, to cite “city” as writer’s evidence of a very large town, is false.

Jacob says, “. . .the words which I shall read are they which Isaiah spake concerning all the house of Israel; wherefore, they may be likened unto you, for YE ARE OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL. And there are many things which have been spoken by Isaiah which may be likened unto you, because YE ARE OF THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL” (2 Nephi 6:5)–twice, he clearly says that they are of the house of Israel.
Why would he give a talk to a combined audience of Israelites and “others” and say that they were all of the house of Israel? Unless they were another group of covenant people that had been led out before, right? And if that were the case, then why weren’t they be given as the example when Lehi was talking about all that in 2 Nephi 1? In other words, please explain “non-lineal Israelites”.

There are other reasons this topic may be considered appropriate at this time:
–it is similar to a baby’s blessing, with the “baby” being the Nephites; like one, it prophesies their full life; were it given at the time of a special feast/ celebration/ ceremony, it is especially fitting.
another announcement of fulfillment of the prophecy of the fall of Jerusalem (after 2 Nephi 1:4), which prophecy was given before and plays an important part in Lehite matters, and which announcement was also promised before.
–it’s a majestic prophecy for a small group of wanderers, much like the prophecy of Joseph Smith that the church would grow to fill the earth–why did that talk take place, when those listening couldn’t even fathom it?
–the Nephites were already oppressed by the Lamanites and had probably already had wars with them. They were smaller in number and no doubt less inclined to violence. Ask any members living in dangerous places if those words are fitting, uplifting, and bring comfort to them, and I think you’ll have a positive answer.
–the scriptures speak of Christ, his omnipotence, and his saving mission.
–it could be to show the Nephites that some prophecies, like Lehi’s about future nations, are sometimes in the far future; however far, though, they were not forgotten.
–being likened to them, that the Nephites will be sorely smitten before Christ comes, that Christ will come among them, and that afterwards they will be smitten again; but not to destruction, a lot because of the prayers of the faithful; “the Lord will be merciful unto them, that when they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer, they shall be gathered together again to the lands of their inheritance” (2 Nephi 6:11). Sounds just like the history of Lehi’s seed.
–as a reminder that Lehi’s seed (and other Israelites there, and elsewhere) are not forgotten to the Lord, and are his, and the posterity will one day be gathered (see Jacob 7:41), and the promises fulfilled.

Actually, there’s no need to speculate too much, because Jacob himself even gives reasons for this particular sermon:
–“that ye might know concerning the covenants of the Lord that he has covenanted with all the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 9:1).
–“[that ye might know] “[that] he has spoken unto the Jews, by the mouth of his holy prophets, even from the beginning down, from generation to generation, until the time comes that they shall be restored to the true church and fold of God; when they shall be gathered home to the lands of their inheritance, and shall be established in all their lands of promise” (2 Nephi 9:2).
–“that ye may rejoice, and lift up your heads forever, because of the blessings which the Lord God shall bestow upon your children” (2 Nephi 9:3).
–to answer many of the listeners’ questions: “For I know that ye have searched much, many of you, to know of things to come; wherefore I know that ye know that our flesh must waste away and die; nevertheless, in our bodies we shall see God” (2 Nephi 9:4).
–as an introduction to his discourse on the Savior and the atonement (most of 2 Nephi 9).
–so that those listening might “. . .behold how great the covenants of the Lord, and how great his condescensions unto the children of men; and because of his greatness, and his grace and mercy, he has promised unto us that our seed shall not utterly be destroyed, according to the flesh, but that he would preserve them; and in future generations they shall become a righteous branch unto the house of Israel” (2 Nephi 9:53).
–to show the Nephites how they fit into God’s plan in the world (2 Nephi 10).
–to explain that cut off from Jerusalem =\= “cast off” from the Lord (2 Nephi 10:20).
–to stress that the land they were now in possession of was “a better land” and they were led there by the Lord (2 Nephi 10:20).
–to remind them that “the promises of the Lord unto [us]” are “great” (2 Nephi 10:21).
–to show them that they are not the only Israelites in this situation; God has led others away, too. (2 Nephi 10:21-22).
–to show them that ” the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also” (2 Nephi 10:22).
–to let them know that they can “cheer up” and not be controlled by their situation and negative feelings (2 Nephi 10:20, 23);
–and, to let them know that now is the most important time for them, and that they need to worry more about repenting now continually feel anxiety regarding their and their seed’s future. (2 Nephi 10:20, 23-24).
(How someone could claim to carefully read the text, and miss all fourteen (and maybe more) of those reasons, is a question worth pondering…)

Now, it is true that God says:
“Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto THY SEED, and THEM WHO SHALL BE NUMBERED AMONG THY SEED, forever, for the land of their inheritance. . .” (2 Nephi 10:19). Well, we already have Zoram and Sam’s blessings from Lehi where this happens. No other interpretation be needed, though it’s possible. Here God is already saying that there will definitely, at some time, be others who will join the seed of the Nephites (Mulekites?).

However, then Jacob says:
“And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for WE ARE NOT CAST OFF; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
“But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, THERE MUST NEEDS BE MORE THAN THIS, and THEY ARE INHABITED ALSO BY OUR BRETHREN” (2 Nephi 10:22).
“For behold, THE LORD GOD HAS LED AWAY FROM TIME TO TIME FROM THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, ACCORDING TO HIS WILL AND PLEASURE. And now behold, the LORD REMEMBERETH ALL THEM WHO HAVE BEEN BROKEN OFF, wherefore he remembereth US also” (2 Nephi 10:22).
Jacob seems to go to great lengths to comfort the Nephites about their own particular situation, and how it was not completely unique, explaining that there were many other Israelites in their same situation; were there already other Israelites there, the Nephites would hardly need to be reminded/ taught this.

-=-=-=-
Brant Gardner:
So far we have examined points of correspondence that only require contact with another people. Now we turn to events that require the particular cultural content of Mesoamerica at the very time period of the Book of Mormon event. The first example is another of Jacob’s sermons. In this case, we have Jacob’s first recorded sermon in his own book, encompassing Jacob chapters 2 and 3. This sermon is much more problematic than Jacob’s discourse on the future salvation by Gentiles. The first problem is his choice of topics. Jacob has two major problems with his people. He will decry their use of riches, and he will preach against their adoption of polygyny.
On the surface of the discourse we have the structural problem of the relationship between these two topics. Even given the presence of both problems in society, what is the linkage between the two that suggests that they be treated in the same sermon?

****What is the “linkage between the two topics”? Brant Gardner himself has just explained why they are in the same talk: “Jacob has two major problems with his people.” Not to mention what Jacob says in Jacob 1:17–“Wherefore I, Jacob, gave unto them these words as I taught them in the temple, HAVING FIRST OBTAINED MINE ERRAND FROM THE LORD.” And, in Jacob 2:11–“Wherefore, I must tell you the truth according to the plainness of the word of God. For behold, as I inquired of the Lord, thus came the word unto me, saying: Jacob, get thou up into the temple on the morrow, and DECLARE THE WORD WHICH I SHALL GIVE THEE UNTO THIS PEOPLE.” There it is–the Lord told him what to talk about. And why would these two topics “be treated in the same sermon”? For the same reason. I have spoken myself like this in church, as have many others–nothing surprising to anyone, I think, to hear more than one topic in a sermon, especially one given by a leader. And besides–well, they’re NOT “treated in the same sermon”. Jacob finishes one, then starts the next, as we see: “And now I MAKE AN END of speaking unto you concerning this pride. And were it not that I MUST SPEAK UNTO YOU CONCERNING A GROSSER CRIME, my heart would rejoice exceedingly because of you” (Jacob 2:22). “But the word of God burdens me because of your grosser crimes. . .” (Jacob 2:23). That’s two sermons, not one.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
After the Nephites had existed as an entity for about forty years (see Jacob 1:1), their men began “desiring many wives and concubines” (Jacob 1:15).
How many descendants of the original party would there have been by that time? We can safely suppose that adaptation to foods, climate, disease, and natural hazards would have posed some problems, although we cannot quantify those effects.

Let us at least start to bracket the possible growth in numbers by setting an upper limit that is at the edge of absurdity. Assume a birth rate twice as high as in today’s “less developed countries,” a rate perhaps not even attainable by any population. Let us also suppose no deaths at all! Under those conditions, if the initial Nephite group was comprised of twenty-four persons, as I calculate generously, by the time of Jacob 2, they would have reached a population of 330, of whom perhaps seventy would be adult males and the same number adult females. Of course the unreality of that number means we must work downward. Using a more reasonable figure for the birth rate and factoring in deaths, we see that the actual number of adults would be unlikely to exceed half of what we first calculated–say, thirty-five males and thirty-five females. Even that is far too large to satisfy experts on the history of population growth.3 With such limited numbers as these, the group’s cultural preference for “many wives and concubines” would be puzzling. The fact that the plural marriage preference for the early Nephites is reported as a cultural fact seems to call for a larger population of females. If so, it could only have come about by incorporating “other” people.

****First, population growth:
Quote: “Assume a birth rate twice as high as in today’s “less developed countries,” a rate perhaps not even attainable by any population.”

The promised land was hardly that. There promised land seemed to provide plenty of everything that was needed, including space/ land, crops, flocks, adequate housing, moderate climate, etc. The Book of Mormon describes very few of these above-mentioned problems; beside, wild beasts are only mentioned in other parts of the land; and, compared to surviving on raw meat in the desert (which they did for 8 years), and then surviving on a ship (which they did for a while), to these rugged desert dwellers, the promised land would have been like heaven in this regard. Especially when considering that during their whole trip to the new land, only one death is mentioned–that of Ishmael.

Nephi says animals were plentiful (see below about animals), and they brought lots of seeds (see below also); besides, lack of adaptation to foods rarely results in death. It sounds like a safe paradise, and only war would inhibit reproduction and multiplying.

If they were in Central America, they probably didn’t have droughts or lack of water, freezing cold winters with snow, etc. It seems that there was plenty of tillable land to support the population with food.

Being primarily farmers and herders, lots of children might have been a blessing to help with work.
Fevers and sickness are mentioned later in Alma 46:40, but then goes on to say not really, because of the great medicine–but when they learned that, who knows, unless they learned it from others already there from the beginning, which would mean sicknesses weren’t much of a problem for their population growth. Of course, this is almost 550 years later, or so. It then says that “many died of old age” in Alma 46:41, which doesn’t seem to support an argument for lots of young deaths.

Also, remember–they were Mormons! This is a people who remembers that children are a blessing of the Lord, and they desire to have as many children as possible; on the other hand, the Lamanites might have figured that the more children they had, the easier it would be to accomplish what many might have seen as their “purpose in life”–to have victory over the Nephites. It seems that land was not a problem for the Nephites, as we see in the few available instances that everyone had enough land to sustain themselves (as in Alma, 3 Nephi ). Not only that, but by obeying the Lord, they were prospered in the land by Him, which means that they were definitely not in the same category as a modern “less developed country.”

My grandparents each had about 14 siblings, most all of whom grew up and had quite a few, too. Look at many Utah/ Idaho families. It is still not unheard of for Mormons to have 10-14 children now. Lots of very poor families in Mexico, Latin America, and Guatemala (hmmm…) currently have lots of children. Now imagine that they are all church members, and that they know that all needs are supplied.

Nor did Lehi and Ishmael seem to have any problems with having lots of children. Most children from large families have many children, too. By being isolated, most of their children would have thought it the norm and expected to have that many children. Ten children would not be anything extraordinary.

And let’s take it a little further: if Sariah and Ishmael’s wife had borne twins or multiple children, which are more likely to bear twins, then perhaps some of their children had twins, and on down.
What if Nephi’s married sisters were all older than the sons? If Lehi’s siblings were all two years apart; and there were two-four older daughters, then they would have been possibly eight years older than Laman, and fourteen years older than Nephi. Had they married young, as females, they could have been married when Nephi was born. It wouldn’t be impossible if the oldest had had 8 children by the time Nephi got married! These children would also have been much, much older than Jacob and Joseph.

Also, remember the possible servants and journey-joiners others.

It is extremely hard for me to come to any other conclusion than this: that to propose and use a population growth model that is based on modern “experts” is ludicrous.

So, let’s go to the higher end of the scale, and make it somewhat extreme, yet possible: were each person in the group to have 10 children who reached maturity– married and started bearing at the age of 20 (though I don’t doubt most married younger than that), and finished when they were 46–and each succeeding generation the same, then you have a whole lot of people in a very short time, and it especially seems that way if everyone is spread out farming and herding instead of living in high-rise apartment buildings downtown. After 120 years–that’s six generations of 20 years each, with no deaths (of course they died, so figure to count that in later)–the Nephites could–let’s say five couples at start, each 10 children each bearing 10 children…–that’s 10 people… then 50… then 250… then 1,250… then 6,250… then 31,250 in the sixth generation, and 156,250 in the seventh. Um, that’s a heck of a lot of people… Right, that’s not including deaths, but it’s also no including anyone from the previous generation being counted in for a total count, either. Do you know 156,000 people? (That’s 780 wards of 200 people each.) Yeah, neither do I. No need for others!

**** Likewise, “many wives and concubines” need not mean 1,000 women per man; wouldn’t a few women satisfy that definition, especially for a very strict, upright man like Jacob?
Also, one striking major problem with polygyny for a smaller group would have been not only the sin, but the small, limited number of sexually-reproductive women if all the men wanted them all. Who would the other growing-up young men marry and establish a family with and reproduce with? And with the lack of female choices, how young were the young women when they were being chosen–16? 14? 12? 10? Thus, polygamy was not just the sin of not delighting in the chastity of women, it also meant the lack of marriage for other men, and a greater negative effect of Nephite society being out of balance.

It is also probable that some men died in those wars and contentions, leaving more women and also widows, possibly with children. So, it’s easy to see that the women could outnumber the men, yet the group remain very small. Who wants to bear another man’s burden, without reaping his reward? The remaining living men could easily think, why would I want to support a woman (and her children) if I weren’t married to her? Especially if the group was limited to a few families, it would make sense that if a married men died in battle, his brother would marry his wife (law of Moses).
This could easily lead from the limited/ special case polygamy of the law of Moses, to generalized polygyny. We see a similar situation of bearing the burden of widows with Limhi’s people, another small group, though as king he commanded the men to support other widows.

With a large number, you wouldn’t think as much about having many wives and concubines as you would if you were in a smaller group–the closeness between the people and the disproportion is greater, clearer, and stays with you more.

Here’s the introduction to the polygamy part:
“Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites” (Jacob 1:13).
“But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:14).
“And now it came to pass that the people of Nephi, under the reign of the second king, began to grow hard in their hearts, and indulge themselves somewhat in wicked practices, such as like unto David of old desiring many wives and concubines, and also Solomon, his son” (Jacob 1:15).
Jacob transitions directly from naming everyone (minus “others”) to polygny. No mention of others, no mention of trade, very problematic situation to explain for believers in “others”.
Jacob 1:13-14 is probably the most perverted verse in the argument of others. “See, ‘Lamanites’ “seek to destroy the people of Nephi”, so that means EVERYONE who tries to do that! And ‘Nephite’ just means ANYONE “friendly to Nephi”! This is a classic example of taking something out of context to fit a viewpoint. Note that before this explanation, Jacob clearly distinguishes the tribes, then immediately says he will summarize them all into two groups; there is no mention any other group or people. No one else, no mention of “others”. The definition of “seek to destroy the people of Nephi” and “those who are friendly to Nephi” are not given to include “others” that Jacob DOESN’T mention, but to separate the already clearly-mentioned tribes into two peoples for clear reference; in other words, Jacob is saying that the main leader of each group of tribes, represents the entirety of the tribes that shared the same beliefs. Reading 1 Nephi and especially 2 Nephi really puts that in perspective. And in fact, this is what Lehi had prophesied to Zoram and Sam (2 Nephi 1).
Then, this is just how Jacob defined “Nephite” and “Lamanite”.
Later, the use of terms like “Gadianton robbers”, “Amlicites”, “Amalickiahites” in the Book of Mormon also shows that “Lamanite” does not include everyone who seeks to destroy the people of Nephi.

And how is it possible that any other hamlet/ hamlets of previous people(s) would so easily melt into Nephite culture, when the Nephites were the outnumbered outsiders? This would be most likely if there were a king or small group of leaders who could decide for everyone; but with members of the same race spread out in hamlets, how could that happen? Arguing that outsiders are already in the Nephite group from soon after the landing seems to be a circumlocution argument.

If the Nephites were marrying outsiders as wives and concubines, one might expect Jacob to talk about the dangers of doing so, in addition to it not being right. But Jacob only mentions polygamy and how some probably excused themselves through the Bible. He doesn’t mention anything about outside influences leading to this situation of polygamy, but he relates this happening to David and Solomon in the Bible, which to me seems to mean that the Nephites were excusing themselves because of it (, perhaps while the Lamanites, not having the Bible, wouldn’t, or didn’t. Jacob says that the Lamanites remember the commandment given to Lehi, but the Nephites don’t.) He does not use the abundant examples in the Old Testament about marrying outside religioners. In fact, he doesn’t mention anything about marrying non-believing wives or its dangers. Jacob does not talk about Solomon and how his non-believing wives led him astray, nor does Jacob say anything about the tribes marrying other people with other beliefs and how that affected the covenant, nor does he talk about how marrying outside the covenant affects the children. So it is much safer to assume that the extra wives, and concubines, were already in the group, and “believers”.
The only other scenario I can see is that (1) this part was excluded from the records or (2) the outsiders were also the covenant people of the Lord. In Jacob 3:10, Jacob says “Wherefore, ye shall remember your children, how that ye have grieved their hearts because of the example that ye have set before them; and also, remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.” Jacob mentions that the fathers’ examples and filthiness affect the children, but he says nothing about outside mothers’ false beliefs, customs, etc.

Which brings up another point. When the Lord curses the Lamanites, he gives the reason for it:
“And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction” (Alma 3:8).
Notice that this curse is only on those in Lehi’s and Ishmael’s families:
“And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women” (Alma 3:7).
It seems that the Lord doesn’t worry about them mixing with “others”; why? Why didn’t the Lord o worry about them mixing with “others”–such as in Jacob 2?

Something I do find interesting is that Jacob writes: “Now Nephi began to be old, and he saw that he must soon die; wherefore, he anointed A MAN to be a king and a ruler over his people now, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:9). This seems strange. It wasn’t Jacob, the next in line; nor seemingly Nephi’s oldest son. Written this way, I infer a man who would be a stranger to us, and not of their family, possibly even a person somewhat remote to their group. Yet then, a few verses later Jacob writes this:
“Now the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites; nevertheless, they were called Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites.”
“But I, Jacob, shall not hereafter distinguish them by these names, but I shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi, and those who are friendly to Nephi I shall call Nephites, or the people of Nephi, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:13-14).

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
An analogous case that John L. Sorenson fails to mention is the problem of wealth among the early Nephites. Jacob informs us:
And now behold, my brethren, this is the word which I declare unto you, that many of you have begun to search for gold, and for silver, and for all manner of precious ores, in the which this land, which is a land of promise unto you and to your seed, doth abound most plentifully. And the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have obtained more abundantly than that of your brethren ye are lifted up in the pride of your hearts, and wear stiff necks and high heads because of the costliness of your apparel, and persecute your brethren because ye suppose that ye are better than they. (Jacob 2:12-13)
These verses give the appearance of a direct relationship between gold and silver and the wealth that they have obtained. This makes sense to a culture raised on the Western notions of intrinsic value in the metals, but in the context of an early Nephite culture both of these verses are nonsense unless others are in the land.

Brant Gardner:
Our first problem with Jacob’s sermon is that he is presenting what would be an impossible situation if we assume the city of Nephi is isolated in the land. He suggests that they have become wealthy because of the gold and silver that they have found, elements that he calls abundant. This should be impossible. First of all, in a Mesoamerican economy, gold and silver had no intrinsic value. They continued to lack intrinsic value for Mesoamerican populations up to the time of the Conquest when the Spaniards rather forcibly imposed their own values for gold and silver. Secondly, it is hard to get rich from gold and silver ore.

****First, let’s see the whole picture as Brant Gardner sees it: “this surely takes place in Mesoamerica… and, the text in the Book of Mormon doesn’t match what I think we think we know about Mesoamerica at that time period… so, I have to change the Book of Mormon to match what I think we know about Mesoamerica!” That is incorrect.

Why all the mention of “brethren” by Jacob if there are so many others among them? Is this being used only in the church manner?

Why is this “nonsense”? Didn’t the “early Nephite culture” come from, relate to, and remember the old world? Didn’t the wealth that Lehi had at Jerusalem consist of “his gold, and his silver, and his precious things” (1 Nephi 2:4, 3:22)? Would it be so hard to believe that Nephites and Lamanites (see Alma 17:13-14), familiar with gold, silver, and precious things (including “precious ores”), would use it as a measure of wealth? Or, that a monetary system could grow from it? In fact, doesn’t the Book of Mormon say that “Now these are the names of the different pieces of their gold, and of their silver, according to their value. And the names are given by the Nephites, for they did not reckon after the manner of the Jews who were at Jerusalem; neither did they measure after the manner of the Jews; but they altered their reckoning and their measure, according to the minds and the circumstances of the people, in every generation, until the reign of the judges, they having been established by king Mosiah” (Alma 11:4)? The Nephites “altered” the system–“in every generation, until the reign of the judges”–sounds like every generation would include from the beginning. Didn’t Nephi teach his people to work metals? Why wouldn’t that have had any implications? So in fact, the fact that they used gold and silver makes very clear evidence that they were isolated–*especially* if they were in Mesoamerica. If there were others already there that had joined with them from the beginning, don’t you think that there would have already been a system of barter or such among them? And if others had joined them at the beginning as John L. Sorenson and Brant Gardner assume, wouldn’t this have been a speech for Nephi’s time, not now?

What about King Noah? If Brant Gardner’s reasoning were all true, it seems that one must assume that this group of Nephites, which is in Lamanite bondage, is not really cut off from other groups–because king Noah taxed his subjects’ precious metals and food for the support of himself and the other leaders (see Mosiah 11:3-4). If they were not really cut off, how come “outsiders” play no part in any of the lonely Nephite situations? How do all these “outsiders” mingle so freely and wander among, and trade with, both the Lamanites and the Nephites, especially when the Lamanites like to take these things by force? Or perhaps he traded with the Lamanites? Oh, I forgot, he also used the metals for his temple! Why would he do that if they didn’t have any value? He could have just as well polished tapir dung and strung it up! Perhaps it is to provide consistency of not mentioned “others”–even in those records? Ummm… I wouldn’t say so.

Later, we see that both the Lamanites and the Nephites have lots of gold, silver, etc., and it seems that it is because of the trading ONE WITH ANOTHER, not with “others”:
“And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse ONE WITH ANOTHER, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire.”
“And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” (Helaman 6:8-9)

And once more, there is plenty of precious metals in all the land.

Why is it hard to get rich from gold and silver ore? As long as there are commodities, that’s fine.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
Third, it is difficult to get rich on anything that anyone can find in abundance. Verse 12 discloses that gold and silver (and “all manner of precious ores”) are plentiful in the land. The very fact that they are plentiful is a direct dismissal of their economic value.
Value is a relative term, and nothing that is plentiful-no matter what it is-makes one wealthy if one’s neighbor has an equal amount of it.

****”Plentiful” does not dismiss their economic value–it just possibly changes the system a little. For example, land and crops are plentiful for all in an agrarian society, and land and flocks for all in a shepherding society; yet, there are certainly differences in wealth.
The last sentence is key here, and it’s interesting that Brant Gardner assumes that every Nephite has “an equal amount of [gold, silver, and precious things]”. Just because they are plentiful does not lead that everyone will attain as much as they want without any effort or expenditure of resources, and that all will obtain alike. What does Jacob say about this assumption? Here it is: Jacob says that the reason some are richer than others is because “the hand of providence hath smiled upon you most pleasingly, that you have obtained many riches; and because some of you have OBTAINED MORE ABUNDANTLY THAN THAT OF YOUR BRETHREN…” Well, there it is–it is very abundant; maybe everyone CAN get it–but some get it more than others, and maybe only due to “the hand of providence”–“luck”, or something where there is not a strong correlation between effort and reward. One might strike a vein, while another might pan a few ounces a week, etc.
Notice that Jacob gives no relationship between “obtaining precious metals = trade = greater wealth”; only “obtaining precious metals = greater wealth”. Trade is mysteriously left out (even more than “others” is mysteriously left out of the Book of Mormon…).

Also, if gold and silver are plentiful all over the land, and plentiful to everyone in the land–not just Nephites and Lamanites–why would it be of value to the Nephites and Lamanites, only in the case of trade? In other words, if the people they were trading with already had gold, silver, and precious ores–plentiful in the land–what worth would they have, according to this, unless they were trading with “others” that were way out of the land? Remember, there was “an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north” (Helaman 6:9) Interestingly enough, in the verse previous to that, Helaman 6:8, we read that “And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire”. Lamanites and Nephites, “one with another”–not with any outside group(s). And if precious metals were so plentiful, and led to great trade, why didn’t Nephites and Lamanites have constant wars defending it from “outsiders”? True, they could also have been left out of the text.

If two people have a billion dollars and can live a comfortable life, they aren’t rich? If half a group has a billion dollars each, and the other half has a million each, is there a difference?

Even manna sent from heaven, which required no work to produce nor diligence to grow, was not eaten in the same amounts by all–if you didn’t gather, you didn’t eat! I’m sure precious ores are a little more complicated than that.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
In the case of gold and silver, we assume that the metals are valuable because they can purchase things. If we think of an early Nephite population isolated from all other populations, what could gold or silver “buy”? In a barter world, where the necessities of food and shelter are paramount, piling up gold and silver rocks in the back of one’s home doesn’t lead to wealth but to time taken from more productive and important chores. You cannot trade gold for food if everyone has gold. It has no exchange value.

****I guess this is the explanation for why American farmers are so poor? ;)

Everywhere, food and shelter are paramount. But if you already have them, then what?

This is saying that even a righteous people can easily distinguish between needs and wants–is this something one sees with, let’s say, modern Utah LDS? Anything can buy anything, depending on people’s wants and values.

Everyone has money, but I can still buy stuff with it–in other words, it still has “exchange value”. Just that some have more than others.

“It has no exchange value.” Hearing this from an American is very interesting, because the paper money the USA uses now has no intrinsic value other than the paper, nor even representative value–and hasn’t for quite a while. Though there’s plenty of it created every day from thin air, the economy has kept on for over half a century.
Though you can’t burn precious metals to keep warm…

And like we don’t buy expensive “wants” for ourselves, even when we don’t have our needs.

A barter system is used/ can be used only for “necessities”? Hardly! I’ll trade you my painting for your gold.

All throughout the Book of Mormon, precious metals have value and/ or are used as a system. Even when it seems to be only the Nephites (and Lamanites) versus the Gadianton robbers (Lamanites and Nephites), the Nephites still keep their gold, silver, and precious things:
“And it came to pass that they had not eaten up all their provisions; therefore they did take with them all that they had not devoured, of all their grain of every kind, and their GOLD, AND THEIR SILVER, AND ALL THEIR PRECIOUS THINGS, and they did return to their own lands and their possessions, both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward” (3 Nephi 6:2).

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
Jacob 2:13 indicates even more clearly that others must have been present and that the Nephites had active commerce with them. A result of the “wealth” of the Nephites is that they begin to wear costly apparel. Again our modern sensibilities trick us into an assumption that this would be logical. However, if no others are present and the Nephites are isolated as a small group, how does one obtain costly apparel? In a society without stores, in which everyone must make his or her own clothing from the locally available fibers and dyes, where would “costly apparel” come from? If all members of the society have access to the same materials and dyes, they simply copy the style-they do not have anything that anyone else does not have, and they certainly do not “purchase” it to render it costly. They make it. These two verses describing the economic conditions of this early Nephite society make sense only if the Nephites are a larger population and are trading goods with other communities.

Brant Gardner:
Finally, we have the manifestation of this wealth in “costly apparel.”9 This is another situation that should not exist. In an isolated community with no department stores, clothing is made by the community. The same materials are available to all; the same dyes are available to all. Even stylistic changes tend to be widely copied. It is quite common for villages to have an almost uniform dress rather than a segregation created by dress. Under the assumptions that are commonly brought to the Book of Mormon text, that of a group of people alone in the land, it should be virtually impossible to have “costly apparel.”

****I wonder if this section is the most opinionated in the entire paper… At the least it is truly full of assumptions due to a Mesoamerica culture.
“Clothing is made by the community”–where is that in the text?
“The same materials are available to all”–unless I have more gold or commodities, and then some might not be.
“The same dyes are available to all”–unless I have more gold or commodities, and then some might not be.
Perhaps Brant Gardner has never heard of “monopoly”? Don’t you think the most-skilled artisan could be hired? (Hey, is that what happened in “The Testaments”?!)

Surely the rich could have integrated gold and silver into their clothing. I shag my dress with gold ornaments, I put gold plating on my chest, etc. How does this relate to “trading goods with other communities”?

The author assumes that any two people in the same community can do the same thing; but in separate communities, no two people can do the same thing, or copy. Don’t most Americans have access to the same clothes? Let’s face it–most all of us have the same materials available. But, we still don’t wear the same clothes. Why? Price is probably the biggest reason. Then there’s appeal. Some wear costly apparel nowadays that is high-priced brand names, for example–where the price is high, but for an “unworthy” reason, many would say. Is that an America-only, present-day only thing?

Also, it’s a matter of allocation of resources–including time, interpretation of value, and values.
This whole argument of “others” based on economics like this is useless.

-=-=-=-
Brant Gardner:
There is a condition, however, that explains all of Jacob’s economic problems. That condition is trade. As will be noted, not just any trade, but trade in Mesoamerica at this particular point in time. As noted for the coastal region of Guatemala, there were others in the land when the Lehites arrived, and archaeology tells us that there are other populations and cities in the general land when the Nephites arrive at the location of their city, presumed to have been in the Guatemalan highlands. If we assume that the gold and silver were being worked, using metalworking skills Nephi could have taught them, then these worked goods would have exchange value with other cities, and the resulting importation of goods creates a situation where those engaged in the trade accumulate more unique prestige goods than those who do not trade outside of their own city. Thus trade provides precisely the conditions Jacob is combating.
The process of trade would have brought not only esoteric goods, but also a mechanism for the very social differentiation that Jacob excoriates. This is the cultural problem behind the “costly apparel” that will become one of the hallmark themes of the competing religious ideas throughout the rest of the Book of Mormon. In Mesoamerica, the time period of the early Nephites saw developing social stratification, and an increasing pressure towards kingship in the cities of the Maya lands. This social differentiation was supported by the accumulation of esoteric goods, often displayed on the clothing of the elite. As Schele and Mathews put it, “People throughout Mesoamerica wore these currencies as jewelry and clothing to display the wealth and enterprise of their families.”10 Bringing in clothing and adornments from other locations is a way to create a differentiation in dress. When the clothing itself becomes the display mode for elite consumption goods, then the costly apparel in and of itself becomes the marker of the increasing economic and social distance between developing classes. It is important to remember that Jacob’s issue is never wealth, but rather the social stratification that was based on wealth. The costly apparel was a unique Mesoamerican mode of creating and displaying that social separation. The pressures for creating social stratification that we see beginning in the city of Nephi mirror the greater trend in the entire Mesoamerican cultural area at just this point in time.
The presence of trade relations with other Mesoamerican communities therefore provides a context in which we may understand Jacob’s sermon denouncing social stratification through wealth, particularly wealth manifest through costly apparel.

****Hold on, I’m quite confused–I thought we just read, from Brant Gardner, that: “First of all, in a Mesoamerican economy, gold and silver had no intrinsic value. They continued to lack intrinsic value for Mesoamerican populations up to the time of the Conquest when the Spaniards rather forcibly imposed their own values for gold and silver.” So, do they have value in Mesoamerica or not? Which one is it: “[no value in Mesoamerica]”, or “[high value right next door, and all over Mesoamerica]”? If precious ores are all over the land, how come gold and silver are not in the mountains (maybe a few miles away?), but down in the valleys and by the seashore? Is this where they are usually found?
If you want to go the trade route, a very outside “other”, such as by shipping or long journey trade, seems much more plausible.

All throughout the Book of Mormon, precious metals are used as a system. Here’s the strongest point for trade: even when it seems to be only the Nephites (and Lamanites) versus the Gadianton robbers, the Nephites still keep their gold, silver, and precious things: “And it came to pass that they had not eaten up all their provisions; therefore they did take with them all that they had not devoured, of all their grain of every kind, and their GOLD, AND THEIR SILVER, AND ALL THEIR PRECIOUS THINGS, and they did return to their own lands and their possessions, both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward” (3 Nephi 6:2).
Why would the Gadianton robbers want that stuff, if they couldn’t eat it? If the robbers were all brothers and shared together, what good would it be to have? Unless, they could trade it with other groups of peoples. But, who would be willing to trade with Gadianton robbers? Maybe someone was…
Were the Lamanites involved in this war? It doesn’t say that they were. But, wouldn’t the Gadianton robbers have attacked them, the easy prey, first, and taken their things? When food was scarce, wouldn’t the Gadianton robbers have killed the Lamanites to avoid fighting with them over eating wild animals? The only other reason I can think of is that the Nephites believed that they would triumph and society would continue pretty much as they knew it.

On the other hand:
How could any group possibly survive outside of the Nephites and Gadianton Robbers, especially at the time in the book of 3 Nephi, especially when the Gadianton Robbers inhabited and infested the mountains (which is usually the last place of refuge)?

-=-=-=-
Brant Gardner:
. . . we again must note that Jacob’s denunciation of polygyny is problematic for multiple reasons, none of which have to do with the obvious difference between Jacob’s denunciation and historical LDS polygamy.
First, Jacob consistently equates having more than one wife with whoredoms and unchastity. This is as impossible as valuable gold that is easily found. Note that Jacob clearly speaks of wives, not of harlots. All societies that accept multiple wives have legal regulations that legitimize the union. A plural wife is a wife, and relations with a wife do not fall under the rubric of whoredoms in any society. Thus, Jacob is somehow in the position of having a type of union that someone recognizes as a wife, but which he (and the Lord) do not.

****I agree that riches, multiple wives, and trade with others COULD be related–it’s a possibility, but definitely not a necessity–just like BMW’s, stock market, and California blondes could be related.

It’s not hard to imagine that some men, reading about David and Solomon, married more than one woman and called them both wives, and were committed to them and supporting them. It doesn’t have to mean that society accepted it or not, or whether it was legal or not–and Jacob never says anything about that.
It’s not the easiest to prove that a woman is married to a man, or even that they are committing whoredoms. To these men, and to a few others, the woman is a wife. To their first wife, and to society in general, the woman might or might not be. Look at Taiwan. Some men, especially the older wealthy ones, have illegal second (or more) wives, maybe even concubines. It is usually not a huge secret, though they usually don’t go around telling everyone (especially their first wife!). They can’t excuse it on scripture, either, unlike the Nephites. And no, they didn’t learn it from or because of trade–it’s their own history, just like with the Nephites.

David and Solomon had wives and concubines, but never does it mention that they slept with harlots. Do you see the reasoning, the excusing behind what the Nephites were doing, and why Jacob used only David and Solomon as examples–out of the many stories they must have had about harlotry, fornication, adultery? “The scriptures are clear: no whoredoms. But… it was ok for David and Solomon to have many wives and concubines. Let’s do the same! We aren’t breaking the commandments of fornication, adultery, or coveting in this way.” (Kind of like the BYU Las Vegas shotgun weddings type of thing…)

Once more, Brant Gardner assumes many things that aren’t supported by the text, but only by a forced interpretation of missing text made to fit purported Mesoamerica history.

-=-=-=-
Brant Gardner:
. . .Jacob also describes the fate of the wives and children in ways that make no sense. He speaks of the daughters of Jerusalem being led away captive11 and their children being brought into destruction.12 It is hard to see how the very fact of multiple wives can be equated to captivity, and cause the destruction of their children. Many factors in a marriage might be considered to yield such an end, but not the very fact of a marriage.
Once again, the cultural context of Mesoamerica gives us a way of seeing this text and removing those difficulties. The same context of trade provides the answer. The development of social segregation in Mesoamerica has been the subject of multiple theories and studies, but one study uses the archaeological information to support the hypothesis that the development of “institutionalized social inequality and political privilege”13 was due to the internal social pressures of personal advancement. In terms of this theory, such seekers of advantage are termed “aggrandizers.”
“Aggrandizers simply strive to become more influential. It is the successful deployment of resources and labor that ultimately ensure the social and political longevity of an aggrandizer.”14 Building renown commences in the nuclear unit of production. An aggrandizer first accumulates deployable resources by the sweat of his brow, and through the efforts of his wife (wives) and children. The more wives and children the better.”15
The linkage between economics and multiple wives is absolutely parallel between Mesoamerica and the situation we see in the city of Nephi. The communities with which trade would have been established would certainly have had men with multiple wives among the most influential, and those would also be the ones with the most excess production to trade. Along with the trade goods, the mechanisms of achieving the excess production for trade would be carried back to the Nephites. The Nephite men who were taking wives were precisely the same as those who were seeking to exalt themselves over their neighbors, using the trade-acquired “costly apparel.” These particular Nephites fit the description of the aggrandizers, and it would not be surprising that they would attempt to adopt the accumulation methods of those they saw as successful role models for trade. Their adoption of plural wives would be modeled after foreign law, not Nephite law, and therefore subject to Jacob’s denunciation as a non-sanctioned union, even though it could be seen as a legitimate wife in the greater cultural context of the region.

****Nowhere do I see in the Book of Mormon text this “linkage between economics and multiple wives” that “is absolutely parallel between Mesoamerica and the situation we see in the city of Nephi”. It might be absolutely parallel in Mesoamerica, but the Book of Mormon fails to mention any relationship.

Nor do I see in the Book of Mormon where it says that “the Nephite men who were taking wives were precisely the same as those who were seeking to exalt themselves over their neighbors, using the trade-acquired ‘costly apparel'”. In fact, of all the things one might expect to hear relating these two sermons and interwoven among them, would be Jacob saying so. He doesn’t. He shows no relationship, nor hints to one, at all.

However, I do see support that the Nephites might have had lots of children, and in a desire to get even more, had more wives–thus, big numbers for population that don’t require “others”.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
The last piece of information that finishes elucidating the problematic aspects of Jacob’s denunciation of polygyny is the probable exchange of wives with another community. The practice of the social exchange of wives to establish close bonds is well understood in human history. We may easily imagine that a daughter who was brought out of Jerusalem, as noted in Jacob 2:32-33, who was sent to another village might consider her marriage as a form of captivity because of the separation from her known community and background. The children are under threat of destruction because of the foreign ideas being brought into the community. Certainly children born of Nephite women in other communities would have little opportunity to grow up with the Nephite god, and therefore be subject to spiritual destruction. If the Book of Mormon events of the early city of Nephi took place in highland Guatemala as John L. Sorenson’s correlation suggests, this scenario is more probable than any other, and fits the text of the Book of Mormon better than any other explanation.

****Captivity and destruction could also result from the promise made to Lehi: obeying the commandments would bring prosperity, but disobeying them would bring destruction. This is what we read in Jacob 3:5: “. . .the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father–that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.” It seems that Lehi received a commandment that they were to have only one wife; the will of God had been precisely given, and the matter was clear to all; yet, the Nephites broke this commandment–wouldn’t captivity and destruction be the result, according to the promise of the Lord?

Wouldn’t a daughter maybe also feel like a captive if she were being bought as a third wife to an older man instead of the young man of her choice? Or if she were leaving her village to go to another village (what you think after all this time there is still just one little village?)?

If Brant Gardner’s assumptions are correct, where is the denunciation of the Nephites selling/ giving their daughters away, or the reference to trading wives? Why doesn’t Jacob talk about this? Why does Jacob just talk against men having more than one wife, and concubines?

What Brant Gardner fails to mention, is that David and Solomon both had wives that were from “conquered” or foreign peoples, and that displacing a believing wife with a non-believing wife, who then teaches the Nephite children to not believe, also fits this description.

2009, September 18

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land… Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” Part 1 by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land… Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” Part 1

grego
(c) 2004-2009

Part 1

Over the past few years, a line of thinking and persuasions for it have become prevalent in LDS writings–that there were “others” in the Book of Mormon lands, and even though the Book of Mormon might not come out directly and clearly say so, there are lots of places that prove it, backed up with other areas that provide evidence.

This article is a response to the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson, of FARMS, in which the claim is made that the Book of Mormon is full of proof that there were others there before, during, and immediately after the Lehites, and that there was plentiful interaction between them and the Lehites. I aim to show that the Book of Mormon evidence does not prove outside groups, and that most all of the instances that are used that try to show that it does, are actually based on wrested interpretation and speculation–kind of like Cinderella’s sisters trying to scrunch their large feet into that small shoe.

Since others since have picked up many lines of his reasoning (Brant Gardner, Matthew Roper, Michael R. Ash, James E. Smith, Richard D. Grant), and even repeat the same in many articles, I also respond to some of these, especially where they follow the same line of reasoning, but add on to or differ somewhat from John L. Sorenson’s.

Here is a list of the articles:
When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There? John L. Sorenson
(FARMS) When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There? – FARMS JBMS

“Multiply Exceedingly: Book of Mormon Population Sizes.” John C. Kunich, Pp. 231-67. Nephi’s Descendants? Historical Demography and the Book of Mormon Reviewed by James E. Smith

“A Social History of the Early Nephites” by Brant Gardner (maybe one or two others by him, too)

“Nephi’s Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations”
Review of Nephi’s Neighbors: Book of Mormon Peoples and Pre-Columbian Populations
Reviewed By: Matthew Roper
Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2003. Pp. 91—128

“Were the Lehites Alone in the Americas?”
Written by Michael R. Ash for the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR), Copyright ©2004. http://www.fairlds.org

Proving whether there were others there or not, whether in the Book of Mormon or otherwise, is not my purpose, though I sometimes note other thoughts regarding this issue (from the Book of Mormon)–in either direction (there were or there weren’t).

My purpose is to provoke much greater and intense thought and assessment about the subject. If there are evidences and proofs of “others” in the Book of Mormon, let there be; if there are not, let’s not try to untextually and illogically force them!!

Author’s Note:
About my writing: writing articles on the Book of Mormon, etc. is a hobby of mine, not my profession (unlike many of the authors’ articles to which I am responding). I have not responded to every argument in every article–not enough time, not enough thought put into it, not enough expertise, not enough…
Also, I am not paid to write in any certain style. Therefore, a few explanations might be helpful. A line of alternating dash/double dash (-=-=-=) separate each section of the original article(s) and my response; three dashes (—) and with ****, denote my response to the original article. I changed the way I quote the authors, so they should all be given by name, but there might be an attribution mistake or two. Sometimes CAPS are used to show stress, clarity, or to single out an important part of a larger section. But aren’t CAPS yelling, and very rude? Only if you want it to be. So why not italics, or bold, instead? Italics are an absolute pain to work with in some computer writing programs, and it costs too much to print bold type. Besides, my email contains caps, but not italics or bold. I started using caps here a long time ago for this, and have continued. Unless noted, all CAPS are mine.
There might be mistakes–all sorts of mistakes, of different types. The length of the articles, the redundancy sometimes within them, the redundancy between them, the way I have tried to break them up, my redundancy in answering, interrupted work over periods of time, etc., didn’t help. If you see something, please let me know. This ain’t set in stone. ;)

-=-=-=—

When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There? John L. Sorenson
(FARMS)
When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There? – FARMS JBMS
Abstract: A number of statements in the Book of Mormon text are examined, which indicate the presence in Lehi’s “promised land” of peoples other than those descended from Lehi’s party. Reasons are considered why the topic is not addressed more explicitly in the record. It is concluded that there is clear evidence for the presence of “others.” Several puzzles about the history of the Nephites and Lamanites are linked to the question of whether they found others already living in their promised land. It seems important enough to call for serious examination of the text of the Book of Mormon for all possible evidence. Let us first look at what the Nephite writers say about their own group. Then we will see what we can learn about other groups described or mentioned in the record. In each case we will not only look for direct data on population size, ethnicity, language, and culture but also will draw plausible inferences about those matters.

Arguments from LEHI to NEPHI

John L. Sorenson:
Population Growth among the Nephites
Two questions about Nephite population size are of major concern. First, how fast did the Nephite group grow as a result of the natural fertility and mortality of the original party? We need to examine whether the numbers attributed to them at various points in their history can be accounted for in terms of natural increase by the Nephite portion of Lehi’s group. If the numbers cannot be explained by that means, then recourse to “others” is required to account for the apparent excess.
-=-=-=-
****Whoa, pardner! Already from the start we have a big problem… Let’s slow down a second, such a fast start. John L. Sorenson assumes a huge thing that I can’t: the number and membership of the original party. Who was in the original party? We don’t really know, do we? Is it possible that some might not be mentioned, such as possibly Lehi’s servants? I imagine that he had many–he was a man with a large family, and great wealth–enough that Laban, who had many servants and a high position, became so envious that he would kill for it. Though not necessary, it wouldn’t not make sense that the servants went with him on the journey–otherwise, the reason Zoram went wouldn’t make good sense. (I imagine Lehi could have sent his servants away, or had a wicked family member take over his matters and kept the servants working–saying he and his family were going somewhere to do something, and would be back after a lengthy period oftime, etc.) The record doesn’t say so, but it would seem such an understood and small matter–unlike joining other groups of people, which would warrant much more mention in the Book of Mormon. For example, Lehi’s daughters are mentioned only one time. Did they go? How many were there? Who did they marry? We don’t know how many daughters he had, nor how many sons of Ishmael, nor his daughters, nor how many servants Ishmael might have had that went with them also, nor how many children the married ones might have already had. It is probably safe to assume that nobody among the two households was left behind in Jerusalem, as Mormon says in 3 Nephi 5:20 that “. . .he [God] brought our fathers out of the land of Jerusalem, (and no one knew it save it were HIMSELF AND THOSE WHOM HE BROUGHT OUT OF THAT LAND)” (3 Nephi 5:20).

Matthew Roper:
After telling us that “Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord” (2 Nephi 4:13) and were planning to kill him (2 Nephi 5:3), Nephi then relates:
And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me. Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words. (2 Nephi 5:5-6)
At the time the Nephites and the Lamanites separated, then, Nephi was accompanied by his own family, Zoram and Sam and their respective families, his younger brothers Jacob and Joseph, and his sisters, in addition to “all those who would go with me.” Who were these others who “believed in the warnings and the revelations of God”? The most likely answer seems to be other people living in the land, not of Lehi’s family.

Brant Gardner:
The best hypothesis, then, to explain Nephi’s mention of “all those who would go” is that he referred to those of the hamlet or hamlets who had joined with the Lehites and who, in recognition of the greater social and technological sophistication of the newcomers, had permitted them to occupy roles of leadership over their hamlet in exchange for the new knowledge or goods they brought with them (in addition to the gathering power of religious conversion; see 2 Nephi 5:6).
Lehi’s company had every reason to accept aid from, and a merger with, local populations. Lehi’s group planted seeds from the Old World, but a rapid acquisition of information about survival skills particular to the New World would have been extremely important. They would have needed to know about the local food sources that were successful, the local sources of materials for clothing, the locations and types of clay for pottery, and any number of location-specific cultural items.

Brant Gardner:
“Does the text lend any credence to the idea that “others” had come into the Lehite colony this early? Nothing points definitively to that conclusion, but on at least one occasion (in 2 Nephi 5:6) the most plausible explanation rests squarely on the presence of “others.” Nephi describes the flight of his family and of those who would follow him from the machinations of Laman and Lemuel:
And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me. Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words. And we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. (2 Nephi 5:5-7)
The identity of “all those who would go” with Nephi rests on those who are specifically named and the probable division of Lehi’s clan. Not specified among Nephi’s followers are the children of Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael, thereby leading us to assume that they remained behind. A comparison of Lehi’s final counsel to the sons and daughters of Laman and Lemuel (see 2 Nephi 4:3-9) with his words to the seed of Sam (see v. 11) makes the loyalties of the children of Laman and Lemuel to their fathers appear obvious. Previous alliances of the sons of Ishmael to Laman and Lemuel (see 1 Nephi 16:37; 2 Nephi 1:28), as well as their behavior immediately following Lehi’s death (see 2 Nephi 4:13), suggest that they were not inclined to follow Nephi. It is rather unlikely that any of the wives chose to split into a clan separate from their husbands, and indeed the Book of Mormon indicates the early preferences of the wives of Laman and Lemuel (see 1 Nephi 7:6; 18:9) and Nephi (see v. 19), although their individual alliances at this time of division are not specifically mentioned. When we account for the named or mentioned persons and those likely to remain behind, very little room remains for “others” from the original Lehites. In fact, using individuals mentioned in the text and their logical progeny, we can account for everyone. Regardless of how the group split up, however, if “all those who would go” were only one or two people we would expect that Nephi might make mention of them, at least by their head of household, as he does for the families of Zoram, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph.

****Well, this surely isn’t the necessary case. We cannot expect Nephi, Mormon, or any of the other writers to act like this. We don’t see where they act as we would expect them to act, or write as we would expect them to write. To say this, is hoping for nothing substantial. And, not everyone is mentioned. For example, what is said about Sariah, or Ishmael’s wife? There is no mention of them by name as to their death or their choosing to go or remain. If they were so important, and Sariah had even been mentioned many times previously, why is she not mentioned by name at this point? So, we conclude it isn’t the case. Once more, without actually knowing the original party members (and ones that might have been added over the course of travels!), it’s impossible to draw these types of conclusions.
And what, then, did the Nephites give the hamlets, in exchange for all that the hamlets gave them, such as corn, costly apparel, the location of pottery clay and metals, local food sources, etc.? Or, were these free to the Nephites? Or, did they unfairly steal this knowledge, or such? Did they buy the leadership with religion? Unlikely, right? But why would the hamlets tell them where the money was? Isn’t that like the banker teaching someone how to rob a bank? And besides, if the other people that were already there had all that precious ore that was so plentiful, what good would it do the Nephites to go after it, too, unless it profited them?

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
Indeed, Nephi’s descriptions of “his people” begin very early to have the appearance of referring to more than the named individuals, if only in the characterizations of the activities mentioned, activities that, from John L. Sorenson’s internal perspective, would indicate a larger population.

Michael R. Ash:
Who were these others who, in addition to those already mentioned, followed Nephi? It is at this point that we get the terms “people of Nephi” and “the people who were now called Lamanites” (2 Nephi 5:9, 14). It’s possible that at this point such terms took on a cultural perspective and referred to all peoples who aligned themselves with Nephi or his contentious brother.

Matthew Roper:
Significantly, at this point in the text Nephi introduces the term people of Nephi for the first time in reference to his followers (2 Nephi 5:9), a term that may be suggestive of a larger society including more than his immediate family.

****Quote: “Indeed, Nephi’s descriptions of ‘his people’ begin very early to have the appearance of referring to more than the named individuals.”
And how does one infer that? What of his description lends to that interpretation? I am unaware of any.
What is being proposed here, is that a very small group of foreigners completely overtook the political and cultural systems from a huge group of related people, all in the space of just a very few years. Possible? Yes–but highly unlikely, in my opinion. Can anyone provide examples from history where this has happened, and especially had similar outcomes?

In 2 Nephi 5:6, it says: “Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, AND ALL THOSE WHO WOULD GO WITH ME. And ALL THOSE WHO WOULD GO WITH ME WERE THOSE WHO BELIEVED IN THE WARNINGS AND THE REVELATIONS OF GOD; wherefore, they did HEARKEN UNTO MY WORDS.” This seems to be people who were not of Nephi’s immediate family group. Did Ishmael have any other daughters? Did any of Laman et. al.’s grandchildren follow? If Nephi’s sisters were all married to Ishmael’s sons, which ones left, and how many? What about the children? Servants may have later intermarried with both Nephites and Lamanites, especially after the split between the two groups. Lehi’s servants, and especially anyone serving Laman and Lemuel, might have also valued this opportunity to escape from men like Laman and Lemuel, making up part of the others who saw Nephi as the true inheritor of Lehi, and/ or respected, believed Nephi, and left with him. Did the Lehites meet up with anyone in the desert, or along their travels, who joined their group?

When it talks about other groups very early in the Book of Mormon, we have the problem of language. How would a stranger “other” understand and believe the “warnings and the revelations of God”, and be able to “HEARKEN unto [Nephi’s] WORDS”? (The split between the Nephites and Lamanites came very early.) Unless, of course, there were people in the land who already spoke the same language. Which meant that they probably had the same, or at least similar religion, and maybe culture, too. But how probable is this?

Yes, it seems likely that the “others” included some not of Nephi’s immediate family.
Once again, refer to my first remark for more info.

-=-=-=
Richard D. Grant:
Have you noticed in your study of the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites and Nephites appear to be totally different cultures. While the Nephites continue many of the Hebrew traditions and practices, the descriptions of the Lamanites give no hint of Hebrew background. In a very short time they developed a totally new, or at least different, life style. To me, it seems probable that Laman and Lemuel, together with the sons of Ishmael, joined with a people who they found inhabiting the land upon their arrival. While Lehi’s descendants adopted the life style of this established population, Laman and Lemuel, together with their descendants became leaders of this new society which Nephi and his descendants identify by the name of Nephi’s eldest brother.

****Yes, they are different cultures. Remember that with Lehi, most of their lives were oriented according to the law of Moses and religion. After Lehi and the big split, the Lamanites didn’t have revelation, religion, and hard work as “restrictions” anymore. When you have two groups of people with very different values, differences result quickly. The result? You very quickly have two nations. Outside cultural or religious influences are not necessary. Look at a family where two children have very different values–family reunions already show the results. Just after a few years of leaving home and getting married, the children’s lives can be VERY different. Stick on another generation, and the differences could be so far apart you would never recognize them as being related. Anyone other than me ever felt that at a family reunion?

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
We necessarily begin with the origin of Lehi’s people in the New World. It is indisputable that Lehi and his company landed on a coast, and the coast of Guatemala is our plausible location, according to John L. Sorenson’s reconstruction. If a ship carrying Lehi’s party were to have arrived on the coast of Guatemala approximately 590 years before Christ, what might they have found? Would they have been alone or were other people already there?
The archaeological survey of the Middle Formative sites for the coast of Guatemala deals with sites dated some two hundred years earlier than Lehi’s landing, so we need to make some inferences. Two hundred years prior to Lehi’s arrival there were seven settlements ranging from one household to twelve households.1 After this time, the coastal areas saw a peak of population density not seen until the Late Classic period, over a thousand years later. It is important to understand that the settlement areas were not necessarily larger, but simply more numerous.2

****Seven whole small settlements, of maybe four people in a settlement? Spanning a whole coast, in a POSSIBLE place/ country? And of those settlements that were later discovered, could they possibly have been Lamanite settlements, instead of those of “others” already there? Isn’t it just as likely that the Lamanites wiped the “others” out and those settlements were theirs?
While Guatemala might be A/ ONE “plausible location”, it is far from the only possibility, and need not be accepted as one, much less THE one.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
The second question concerns the relative size of the Lamanites and other groups compared with the Nephites. An analysis has already been published of the age and gender of the personnel in Lehi’s party.1 Nephite demographic history obviously begins with that information. My reading of the text puts about eleven adults and thirteen children in Nephi’s group when they split with the faction of Laman and Lemuel. However, the adults included only three couples. None of the unmarried persons, including Nephi’s brothers Jacob and Joseph and, probably, their sisters, would have had marriage partners available until nieces or nephews came of age, so for some interval the group’s reproduction rate would have been even lower than those numbers seem to suggest. The Lamanite faction I estimate to have included four couples with the likelihood that the oldest grandchildren of Ishmael were just coming into the age of reproduction.2 Within a few years the Lamanites should have had on the order of half again as many persons as the Nephites, and that size advantage should have continued thereafter. Within a few years Nephi reports that his people “began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land” (2 Nephi 5:13).

****Nephi says, “began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land”, not “began to prosper, and to multiply exceedingly in the land”–a big difference. Nevertheless, let’s continue.

Here, I won’t include many others who might have been included (see previous response above).
Nephi’s sisters, especially the older ones already married to the sons of Ishmael, and Laman and Lemuel had had children in the desert (1 Nephi 17:20), and Nephi, Sam, and Zoram probably had a few, also (1 Nephi 18:19). Nephi’s sisters could have already had a few children each before they even started out from Jerusalem, especially if they had married young, and if they were much older. Some of the desert children could have been older (by maybe four years) than Jacob. And what if some of Lehi’s children were from another mother?

When you start out with a small group, it looks big fast. Comparatives and superlatives are relative, and sometimes figures of speech. Have you ever been to a large group of people seated outside, say like for a concert? Looks huge, yet, it’s only a few thousand.

(Hey, how about a family reunion of my great-grandparents’ posterity? Mine was so huge that it took up more than a whole huge church, and that wasn’t even everyone; I hardly knew any of my relatives, and I was pretty involved with genealogy. Yes, most married outside of the family; but even if they had married in the family, it would have been big.)

About 2 Nephi 5:13–note that the reason Nephi gives for this, is “And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly”–NOT, “and others were with us; and we did prosper exceedingly” or “and because others helped us, we did prosper exceedingly”, etc.

-=-=-=
John L. Sorenson:
When about fifteen years had passed, he says that Jacob and Joseph had been made priests and teachers “over the land of my people” (2 Nephi 5:26, 28). After another ten years, they “had already had wars and contentions” with the Lamanites (2 Nephi 5:34).

****Yes, only two priests and teachers over the entire people? That right there shows a much smaller number initially than what Sorenson et. al. allude to.
“Wars” do not need large groups of people. I believe most of us don’t find anything wrong with the term “war” to signify something smaller. Many gangs with small groups have “wars”, such as in the term “gang wars”. Look at the ways many native tribes (such as in Africa, Southeast Asia) fought/ fight battles and wars with small groups of men.

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
With the addition of “others” into Nephi’s party we have a larger core of people than we could possibly have with the segregation of only those who arrived with Lehi. Three events described for the early city of Nephi would appear to confirm the presence of more people than those who had come from the Old World. About thirty years after the departure from Jerusalem, Nephi describes some of the events of the establishment of the city of Nephi. First, Nephi describes having not only built dwellings, but also a temple.4 Public building projects require excess labor. Even on a modest scale, a public building takes time and resources away from daily life. The very existence of a public building suggests a larger population than the pure Old World immigrants and their natural increase.

**** Since when does “dwellings” (um, where is that in the Book of Mormon text?) mean “large, difficult-to-build, separate houses for everyone”?
And why does one all of a sudden take “temple” in the text to mean “large and extensive public building projects”, which one temple hardly justifies. This “public building” is not really what seems to be implied. It is not a government building, for example. It is a temple. It isn’t required to hold a great many people inside its walls. To us, it might be comparable to building a house–labor-intensive, takes time and work, but not that difficult for someone who sees the necessity of having one.
How big was Solomon’s temple? In 2 Nephi 5:16, Nephi says he “did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things… but the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon”. “After the manner”: does that mean it’s the same size? It could, but it doesn’t. If it were a large temple, that might be a great undertaking for so few people.
Possibly, notice that Nephi mentions nothing of rock or cement at this point. (In fact, nothing is mentioned of cement until Helaman 3:7.) What was the temple constructed of, huge blocks of granite? Possibly wood, or clay temple? Would that seem such a difficult task, if so?

-=-=-=
Brant Gardner:
The second event that indicates the presence of a larger population is the declaration of Nephi as king.5 Small hamlets do not have kings. To name one of a dozen men “king” is an insult, not a compliment. Finally, we have the designation of Jacob and Joseph as priests and teachers “over the land of my people.”6 Were we to assume only Old World peoples at this point, we have a king and two priests servicing perhaps ten households. The early Nephite political/religious structure is too top heavy for so few people. The only situation that sufficiently explains our text is the presence of non-Old World peoples at this early date.

****Kings do not need lots of people under them to be called kings. I don’t find any “insult” in this, in the Book of Mormon or otherwise–perhaps there are many historical references I could be pointed to? Do any annals of history show that to be called a king over a few people is an insult? And when does it stop being an insult and becomes a compliment? 200 men? 400 men? 700 men? Wouldn’t that be convenient to know! Then we could figure out how many men there were. Gardner often protests using “presentism”, and I would like to point out that here he does not just use “presentism”, he uses “‘personalism'”–he asks that all give substance to his pure opinion. Sorry!

Remember, King Noah had many priests–at least 24, if not more–yet his subjects were a small group, which had grown from a very small group, which had had… a king: Zeniff. (The history and growth of king Zeniff’s people, which could/ should serve as a subset to the Nephite growth, hasn’t, unfortunately, been treated by any of these researchers, as far as I can tell.) Hey, how about that Alma guy–another small group of about 200 people (children included, if any over the age of eight?).

I see this differently–I see that one ruler and two religious teachers shows that there probably weren’t many people at that time. These religious leaders were possibly responsible for both Melchizedek priesthood ordinances and Law of Moses rites, not to mention other duties. Also, unlike the priests in Jerusalem, it is likely that Jacob and Joseph also worked for a living. Wait… how many men are in a branch presidency? I’ve been in branches that had less than 10 families in them. So how is this “top heavy”, especially if you throw in Jacob and Joseph doing home teaching ;) ?

John L. Sorenson:
The reports of intergroup fighting in these early generations also seem to refer to larger forces than growth by births alone would have allowed. At the twenty-five-year mark of their history, Nephi already reported that they had had “wars” with the Lamanites (see 2 Nephi 5:34), yet the male descendants of the original Nephites could not reasonably have numbered more than a score by the time these “wars” are mentioned. Later, in Jacob’s old age, the “wars” mentioned in Jacob 7:26 would have been fought with a maximum of fifty on his side and not dramatically more for the attackers. Either the expression “war” was being used loosely at this point in the account or else the population springing from the original Lehites had already been augmented by “others,” it appears to me.

****See response to small numbers of fighting men for “war” at the beginning of page 4.
Later (Jacob 7:24, 25), Jacob writes: “And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the LAMANITES. . .and they had an eternal hatred against US, THEIR BRETHREN. And they sought by the power of their arms to DESTROY US CONTINUALLY (this sounds like war). Wherefore, the people of Nephi. . .became as yet, conquerors of THEIR ENEMIES (“the Lamanites”, in the plural–not the Lamanites AND (lots of) others).
Also, in Words Of Mormon 1:13: “And it came to pass also that the ARMIES OF THE LAMANITES came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them. . .
Words Of Mormon 1:14: And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their ENEMIES, UNTIL THEY HAD SLAIN MANY THOUSANDS OF THE LAMANITES. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.”
Thus, here it seems that only Lamanites are their enemies.
Then, in Jacob 7:26: . . .and HATED OF OUR BRETHREN, WHICH CAUSED WARS and contentions. . .
In Helaman 12:2, it says that the Lord helps the Nephites by making sure their “enemies don’t declare war on them”; at this time, it is the Lamanites and Gadianton robbers (Helaman 11:1, 2) that make the plural.
The end of the great Jaredite war goes through the process of dwindling numbers, though most of the Lamanite/ Nephite wars seem to have hardly been to the death of everyone.
Also, it seems probable that especially at the beginning the weapons, especially on the attacking Lamanite side, would not have been as advanced or of as high quality; and, the Nephites would hardly want to actively and pursuingly kill the Lamanites, as the verses above and elsewhere show.

2009, August 26

“Critique of FAIR Website’s Book of Mormon Article: ‘Lamanite Curse'” by grego

“Critique of FAIR Website’s Book of Mormon Article: ‘Lamanite Curse'”

grego
(c)2009

This is a critique of the FAIR website’s article, “Lamanite curse”, found at: http://en.fairmormon.org/Lamanite_curse .

FAIR Article:
“Criticism
* Critics claim that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned.
* “Mormon folklore” claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon “misdeeds on the part of their ancestors.”

grego: Well, I also don’t believe either of those, but the article doesn’t answer them as much as it tries to do other things…

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FAIR Article: “The Book of Mormon, however, sometimes does call the mark a curse, as shown in Alma 3:6-7.
And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women. Alma 3:6-7 (emphasis added)

Although this passage refers to the mark as the curse, it later makes a distinction between the curse and the mark. These passages also indicate that the curse was applied prior to the mark. [2]”

grego: Whoops, one passage is not “sometimes”. However, if other references had been given, that would be “sometimes”.

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FAIR Article: “What is the curse?

Tvedtnes suggests that curse applied to the Lamanites was that they were cut off from the presence of the Lord. Nephi states:

Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence. 2 Nephi 5:20

A group of Nephites who joined the Lamanites illustrates. Their skin color was not changed because of their rejection of the Gospel but the curse was applied to them. Hugh Nibley describes the situation of the Amlicites:

Thus we are told (Alma 3:13-14,Alma 2:18) that while the fallen people “set the mark upon themselves,” it was none the less God who was marking them: “I will set a mark upon them,” etc. So natural and human was the process that it suggested nothing miraculous to the ordinary observer, and “the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves; . . . it was expedient that the curse should fall upon them” (Alma 3:18). Here God places his mark on people as a curse, yet it is an artificial mark which they actually place upon themselves. The mark was not a racial thing but was acquired by “whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites” (Alma 3:10);[3] (emphasis added)”

grego: Notice this part carefully, because it is a “hook”: “So natural and human was the process (note this is talking about the mark on the Amlicites, not the Lamanites) that it suggested nothing miraculous to the ordinary observer, and ‘the Amlicites knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark themselves’. Here God places his mark on people as a curse, yet it is an artificial mark…”
We will see this nice illusory transition in the next section—be prepared, or you will miss it!
We suddenly have a conclusion that the mark was not racial, though it’s uncertain if this refers to the Amlicites or to the Lamanites. Perhaps the confusion is intended?

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FAIR Article: “What was the mark?

As shown above, the mark may vary from group to group. The Amlicites marked themselves, and this was taken by the Nephites as a sign of divine “marking.”

Many LDS have traditionally assumed that the “mark” was a literal change in racial skin color.”

grego: There it is!! Did you see the magic trick? From the marking of the Amlicites, to others, to the marking of the Lamanites—even though there is no connection between the two in the Book of Mormon, the author (Brant Gardner, I guess, right?) wants you to imagine that there is one, even if it is just based on “common sense” type imagining.

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FAIR Article: “There are certainly verses which can be read from this perspective. A key question, however, is whether modern members read the Book of Mormon’s ideas through their own society’s preoccupations and perspectives. American society was (and, to an extent, continues to be) convulsed over issues regarding race, especially black slavery and its consequences.

As a result, nineteenth- and twentieth-century members may have read as literal passages which were far less literal to the Nephites.”

grego: This is the ultimate cop-out that FAIR uses for some explanations: “presentism”. What it often actually means is, “Since the interpretation given doesn’t suit my purposes, I will find a reason to nullify it, and then present *my* (modern-day—but don’t remember that!!) interpretation in its stead.
It also has what I’ll refer to as Americanism. How do people in other societies *other than America* interpret the passages? If you guessed, “Literally”, “racially”, or something similarly, you would be pretty correct.
So much for that line of reasoning…

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FAIR Article: “Douglas Campbell has completed an exhaustive review of all such references in the Book of Mormon.[4] He found that there were twenty-eight usages of the word “white” or “whiteness” in the Book of Mormon. He divided them into several categories:
1. Clothing: symbols of purity or cleanness
2. Fruit (of tree of life): luminosity or holiness
3. Stone (clear and white): literally white stones are not clear, they are opaque. Thus, white is again a term for holiness or luminosity
4. Hair (black or white): a single mention (based on the KJV Sermon on the Mount) uses the term as an allegory or symbol
5. Jesus, his mother Mary, or those made pure by him: exquisite, radiant, awe-inspiring
6. Gentiles: all Gentiles, thus not about skin color but beautiful, pure, and righteous
7. The saved: pure, holy, without spot
8. As a pair of contrasts (black and white, bond and free): sets of opposites
9. Nephites: See below

Thus, virtually all other uses of the white/black terminology reflects symbolic or spiritual states, not literal color.”

grego: This is an example of what I would call extreme playing with semantics—reading and interpreting the meanings so that they fit a predetermined, boxed, structure.
Let’s see…
1. White clothing—while symbolizing purity—is what color? White. Good.
2. What color is the fruit? White. Good.
3. The definition here for “white stone” is forced. I have seen white clear stones (in fact, I own one). It is clear, and it is white, but it is not holy (I’ve tried, but I can’t see anything… ;) )
4. Hair is what color here? Black (younger), white (aged). Good.
5. I’m glad FAIR has confirmed that Mary did not have white skin, but was very dark. (Can I order that vision too? Which page is that in the Church catalog?)
6. So by that reasoning, all Gentiles are “beautiful, pure, and righteous”?? Clear problem here…
8. So, as a pair of contrasts, Nephi just indiscriminately picked “black and white” to go along with and “bond and free” and “male and female” ? Are “bond and free” and “male and female” *also* completely symbolic?

Let me add something here that might be helpful to see and remember, from http://anthropology.si.edu/goddard/redskin.pdf:
“For example, both James Madison and Black Thunder, who used red and white as racial terms (see below), also used red (or bloody) and white to symbolize war and peace, clearly intending no linkage between the two idioms (Stagg et al. 2004: 175–177; Boilvin 1816).”

Ok, my research wasn’t quite “exhaustive”, but it did take a minute or two.

Here’s another thing: the mark follows many of the above examples, in that not only was it symbolic, it was *also* a physical color:
2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
Try making sense of *that* verse when thinking “skin of blackness” is a metaphor!

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FAIR Article: “It is likely that Nephites would not have had the modern American “preoccupation” with skin color, and so would not be burdened with our tendency to see references about skin to automatically imply race.”

grego: And here is a presentist interpretation about skin color and the Nephites, just like I warned about a few paragraphs ago.
Why would it be “likely”? Is there anything FAIR knows about the Nephites that allows that comment? Because I can’t see that in the Book of Mormon, and in fact, I find verses to the contrary (I show them below.) References, please, FAIR, to back up this statement?

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FAIR Article: “Thus, concludes Campbell:

White-skinned Nephites and black-skinned Lamanites are metaphors for cultures, not for skin colour.”

grego: Nice conclusion; many have concluded many things from the Book of Mormon. While conclusions are nice, I really prefer evidence and proof. Which, unfortunately, are missing from the argument.

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FAIR Article: “The church teaches that the descendants of the Lamanites inhabited the Americas when Columbus arrived. But Lamanites are not black-skinned; they are not even red-skinned.”

grego: First, is anyone sure that is Columbus?
Second, where are the descendants of the Lamanites in the Americas?
Third, I would like to know how one assumes that the Lamanites met by Columbus (is that what was inferred?) looked the same as the ones that were from close to 600BC.
Fourth, I would like to know if they were the same color as the Lamanites in 231 AD, and 400(+ -) AD; and that those from 400(+ -) AD had the same dark skin mark as those of 580(+ -) BC. Keep in mind the conversion of the Lamanites (Helaman 5+), the remaining of the people after the great destruction before the coming of Christ, the numerous Nephite dissenters and deniers among them and their intermixing, etc.
References, FAIR?

Next, I will plead a case of presentism and Americanism: “black” does not necessarily mean “black”, but means “dark”. “Blacks”—in America—usually doesn’t refer to people who are the color of pitch-dark black, or even black; most I know are a much lighter shade; even brown. It would have made, and would make, much more sense—for smart modern advanced Western Americans—to call them “Browns” instead, but… didn’t happen, eh? Is it possible something similar happened to the Lamanites, too? Does the Book of Mormon ever state after 3 Nephi, for example, that the Lamanites had “skins of blackness”?
As another example, Chinese say they have “black eyes”—when in fact, they have brown eyes.
See also Jacob 3:9, Alma 3:6.
And yes, many people in the Americas Indians were dark-skinned.

If Indians aren’t red-skinned, why did they call themselves “red-skinned” (http://anthropology.si.edu/goddard/redskin.pdf, p.3)? And, as you see in that reference, why did one use “Whites” and “Black”? Or, are you talking about other Indians that are just dark-skinned?:
“As an example Robert Vézina (pers.comm., 20 February 2005) cites Jean-Bernard Bossu (1768: 60), who quotes a Natchez elder as referring to ‘tous les hommes rouges,’ explaining that, ‘C’est ainsi que ces Sauvages s’appellent pour se distinguer des Européens qui sont blancs, & des Africains qui sont noirs.’ In the translation of Seymour Feiler (Bossu 1962: 39) this is ‘all the red men,’ with a note: ‘This is what the Indians call themselves to distinguish themselves from the Europeans who are white and the Africans who are black.'”

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FAIR Article: “As the ‘skin of blackness’ is a metaphor, so too is the white skin of the Nephites.”

grego: Woah!! Where in the FAIR article was it ever shown that “‘skin of blackness’ is a metaphor”??
And where did that linked conclusion come from?

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FAIR Article: “Perhaps 3 Nephi 2:15-16, in which the Lamanites have the curse taken from them, fulfills 2 Nephi 30:6. In these verses the Lamanite has become ‘white and delightsome’ not ‘pure and delightsome.'”

grego: Yes, no doubt Jesus prophesied a prophecy that a past occurrence already fulfilled… Get a clue, folks! ;)

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FAIR Article: “I do not believe the Lord changed their physical skin to white in the twinkling of an eye. These Lamanites…became cultural Nephites.”

grego: Your belief has no bearing on this. We are looking at the text, and maybe even more, but we are not tapping into your belief, to find out what really happened.
I missed “twinkling of an eye” in my Book of Mormon—can FAIR provide a verse, please?
Yes, they likely did become cultural Nephites. And…?

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FAIR Article: “Some things better explained by this model

There are also instances in which skin color does not play a role, when it should—if the skin color change is literal and noticeable. This should suggest that the literal skin model may be inadequate, since it makes nonsense of a few textual passages.

For example, Captain Moroni wanted to portray his men as being ‘Lamanites’.”

grego: This example was already explained away and shown to be wanting in a few different ways on the FAIR discussion board (mormonapologetics.org; search “Lamanite skin color”). I wonder why those same arguments are not mentioned and countered here for purposes of building credibility for the FAIR article? Is it very scholarly, or honest: to ignore known (and public!) credible counter-arguments that obliterate your point of view?

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FAIR Article: “He searched among his troops for someone descended from Laman, and found someone. Moroni sent this man with a troop of Nephite soldiers, and he was able to deceive the Lamanites:”

grego: The writer would have you believe that “a troop of Nephite soldiers” means “white men”, while the text never says that. Not only that, one writer on the discussion board thread already noted that the Book of Mormon is unclear that the antecedent to “his” is Moroni; it could very well be Laman.

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FAIR Article: “Now the Nephites were guarded in the city of Gid; therefore Moroni appointed Laman and caused that a small number of men should go with him. And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us. Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy…(Alma 55:7-9.)

If skin color is the issue, then a single Lamanite with a group of Nephites should be easy to spot. But, in this case, it is not. Why, then, the need for a Lamanite at all in Moroni’s plan?

A “native” Lamanite was probably needed because there were differences in language or pronunciation between cultural Nephites and Lamanites (compare between Ephraim and others’ ‘shibboleth, Jud. 12:6). Note that the Book of Mormon says that “when the Lamanites heard these words,” they relaxed and accepted the Lamanite decoy with his Nephite troops. What they could see had not changed, and surely if a dark-skinned Lamanite shows up with a white-skinned bunch of Nephites, they would be suspicious not matter what he says. But, if Nephites and Lamanites are indistinguishable on physical grounds if dressed properly, then their sudden reassurance when a native Lamanite speaks is understandable.

This fact was probably obvious to Mormon and Captain Moroni. The text does not spell it out for us (since it was obvious to the writers), but the clues are all there for the careful reader.

This passage is nonsensical if literal skin color is the issue. It makes perfect sense, however, if Nephites and Lamanites are often physically indistinguishable, but have some differences in language which are difficult to “fake” for a non-(cultural)-Lamanite.”

grego: So… why is it “nonsensical”, and where are all those “clues” for the “careful reader”? What a loaded sentence! How about this: “The text does often spell out Lamanite skin color for us (and it was obvious to the writers), and the clues are all there for the non-careful and the careful reader”.

I see many problems with this interpretation of events, and in fact, a literal skin color interpretation seems to make more sense.

What is happening here is that the article writer is ignoring clear cases of the text, in favor of one episode that, through contrived personal interpretation and reasoning, provides evidence to the contrary. Hmmm… Trying to figure out which one I’ll be persuaded more by…

So, let’s see if there is any other way to read this…
Laman says, “I’m a Lamanite”—the native language being the important thing, especially since the setting is not bright daylight anymore. When Laman gets there, and interacts with the Lamanites, they see that he *is* a Lamanite.

What about the others with Laman, then? Perhaps they are all dark-skinned Lamanites (which the reading allows just as much, if not more, than the proposed interpretation by the article writer).
But, there are still other options. Has no one at FAIR seen “7 Years in Tibet”? The others could very easily be painted in coal, mud, clay, berries, etc., and/or be wrapped up.
Or yet, they were rebel Nephites (like Amlicites, Amalickiahites), where at most a temporary mark on the forehead would do the trick.
Note that Laman never says, “*We* are Lamanites”. He says, “*I* am a Lamanite. Behold, *we* have escaped…” Why the change in sentence subject?

Besides, the main thing is, they have wine! Note also that while FAIR would have you believe the Lamanites relax after hearing “I am a Lamanite” (here is the quote: “Note that the Book of Mormon says that ‘when the Lamanites heard these words,’ they relaxed and accepted the Lamanite decoy with his Nephite troops.”) that is not necessarily true. Take a look:
Alma 55:8: And when it was evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine and brought with us.
Alma 55:9 Now when the Lamanites heard these words they received him with joy; and they said unto him: Give us of your wine, that we may drink; we are glad that ye have thus taken wine with you for we are weary.

What words made the Lamanite guards “[relax] and [accept] the Lamanite decoy? Was it, “I am a Lamanite”? Or was it, perhaps, “[the Nephites sleep and we] have taken of their wine and brought with us”?
Verse 9 would have me believe it was the latter, *not* the former.

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FAIR Article: “Is the lifting of the curse associated with a change in skin color?

The Lamanites are promised that if they return to Christ, that “the scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes:”

And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.
And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.2 Nephi 30:5-6

At the time that this statement was made by Elder Kimball, the Book of Mormon did indeed say “white and delightsome.” This passage is often quoted relative to the lifting of the curse since the phrase “white and delightsome” was changed to “pure and delightsome” in the 1840 (and again in the 1981) editions of the Book of Mormon. The edit made by Joseph Smith in 1840 in which this phrase was changed to “pure and delightsome” had been omitted from subsequent editions, which were actually based upon the 1837 edition rather than the 1840 edition. …

It seems evident from the passage in 2 Nephi that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the “scales of darkness” for their eyes.”

grego: They shall also be a “pure and delightsome” people. Why cut “scales’ apart from “pure and delightsome”, then choose just one? Is that because it fits in with what the article writer would want us to believe?

There is no Book of Mormon reference noted in this FAIR article that says the “scales of darkness” or anything else mentioned is the lifting of the mark or curse.
Any references to make this “evident”, would be appreciated.

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FAIR Article: “It is sometimes indicated that Lamanites who had converted to the Gospel and thus had the curse lifted also had the mark removed. If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing like actual skin color, its removal is even more easily understood.

And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year. 3 Nephi 2:15-16”

grego: First of all, “sometimes indicated” is not true. The removal of the mark is recorded only once. It is not recorded when the Anti-Nephi-Lehites join, nor about their sons who fight with Helaman, nor in Helaman 5 when so many Lamanites are converted and more righteous, as a people, than the Nephites, nor anywhere else—only in 3 Nephi 2.

Whether something is easier to understand or not, doesn’t make it truer or not, right? Is someone limiting God’s ability to work a miracle?

“If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing…” Are we to also understand that the mark of the Amlicites upon their foreheads was “more in the eyes of the Nephites than is a physical thing”? Once more, this metaphorical thinking brings many problems with it…

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FAIR Article: “As with the invocation of the curse followed by the application of the mark, this passage indicates that the curse was revoked and the mark was removed when the Lamanites’ skin “became white like unto the Nephites.” The Book of Mormon makes no mention of any change in skin color as the result of the conversion of Helaman’s 2000 warriors, yet these Lamanites and their parents had committed themselves to the Lord, and were often more righteous than the Nephites were.

Thus, although a change in skin color is sometimes mentioned in conjunction with the lifting of the curse, it does not appear to always have been the case.”

grego: As mentioned above, it wasn’t the case, other than in this case.

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FAIR Article: “And, as discussed above, it may well be that Nephite ideas about skin were more symbolic or rhetorical than literal/racial. This perspective harmonizes all the textual data, and explains some things (like the native Lamanite and his band of Nephite troops deceiving the Lamanites) that a literal view of the skin color mark does not.”

grego: Once more, this is given as a way to “[explain] some things”. I would like to ask, FAIR, *what* “things”, exactly, are explained by this way of reasoning?
Once more, there is only one example given—Laman, in Alma 55—not many. (And that’s a bad example…)

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FAIR Article: “Chapter headings modified in the 2006 Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon

This perspective is perhaps reinforced by some recent changes in the Book of Mormon’s modern chapter headings.

These headings are not part of the translated text and were never present in the 1830 edition. The most significant expansion of chapter headings occurred in the 1981 edition of all of the Standard Works. Changes made in the chapter headings of the 2006 Doubleday edition reflect the view of the curse being a separation from the presence of the Lord, rather than a “skin of blackness.”

Note the following two changes to the chapter headings between the 1981 and 2006 (Doubleday) editions (emphasis added):
Chapter 2 Nephi 5
1981 (Official LDS Church Edition) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.
2006 (Doubleday Edition) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.

Mormon 5
1981 (Official LDS Church Edition) The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy, and loathsome people
2006 (Doubleday Edition) Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them”

grego: “Changes” might “reflect the view”, but the text already explains it.
I’m not sure how this whole section supports anything, really.

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FAIR Article: “Conclusion

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed.

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the “curse.” At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.”

grego: A much better closing. Overall, though, the article seems disoriented, loose, and in need of much revision.
“Symbolic”? No, it’s actually real. “Black” translated as meaning pitch-dark black for the entire existence of the Lamanites? Ok, I can see problems with that—and it’s been shown.

-=-=-=
grego: The first part of my critique is done.

Here’s another question: How would intermarrying with natives (as Brant Garnder and many FAIR members believe happened) affect the skin and physical features, especially 1,000 years later? Would that affect episodes such as Laman’s?

Now, let’s look at a few verses that FAIR didn’t manage to put in this article…

***
2 Nephi 5:20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

2 Nephi 5:22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

grego: Being cut off is the curse, and they were cursed, “because of their iniquity”. Then, it follows, “wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome”. If were to read this solely symbolically, as FAIR does, what do we make of that? I can’t make anything of that symbolically, because how could they be “righteous” (FAIR’s symbolic interpretation) after “their iniquity”? Were the Lamanites righteous before the separation and complete cursing? The” loathsome” part is due to the curse, yet we will see in other parts of the Book of Mormon that some of the Nephites connected the skin color to it.

***
Jacob 3:3 But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction.

grego:
Some of the Nephites are not “pure in heart” (righteous), but are “filthy” (symbolic of wicked); the curse is recalled; the Lamanites are not “filthy like unto you” (“filthy to you on the outside, but not filthy like you on the inside due to clearly choosing deep sin”), even though they are under the curse of being cut off from the Lord.

***

Jacob 3:5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you [due to fidelity];

Jacob 3:7 …and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers…

Jacob 3:8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

Jacob 3:9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

Jacob 3:10 … remember that ye may, because of your filthiness, bring your children unto destruction, and their sins be heaped upon your heads at the last day.

grego: Jacob ties in outer filthiness of the Lamanites to the inner filthiness of the Nephites.
He also ties in the physical colors of the Nephite vs. Lamanite skins, with a symbolic color of their skin at the judgment day.
Neither construction is pure symbolism.

Lamanite iniquity, cursing, filthiness, and black (read “dark”) skin mark—all literal/ seen by the natural eye—are from their ancestors.
Nephite iniquity, cursing, and white skin that is symbolically black (read “light to the physical eye, but symbolically dark/ wicked”)—all seen by the prophetic eye—is from themselves.

Jacob was basically chastizing the Nephites for hypocrisy. They judged the Lamanites on outward appearances, but ignored that inwardly, they appeared worse.

***
Alma 3:6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.

grego: A verse that supports “black” to be read as “dark”, not literally pure black. Clearly, the dark skin is the mark of the curse.

***
Alma 3:7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.

grego: After the cursing, the mark was put on everyone, not just the fighting men.

***
Alma 3:8 And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.

Alma 3:9 And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.

Alma 3:10 Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.

Alma 3:13 Now we will return again to the Amlicites, for they also had a mark set upon them; yea, they set the mark upon themselves, yea, even a mark of red upon their foreheads.

Alma 3:14 Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said to Nephi: Behold, the Lamanites have I cursed, and I will set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed, from this time henceforth and forever, except they repent of their wickedness and turn to me that I may have mercy upon them.

Alma 3:15 And again: I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also.

Alma 3:16 And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed.

grego: Mingling with the Lamanites made one called a Lamanite, being cut off from the Lord, and having a mark set upon oneself. However, it seems that the marks are different for the original Lamanites and “additional” Lamanites.

***
3 Nephi 2:15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;

grego: The curse was removed, *and* the skin became white. This is the only instance. If the mark were only symbolic of the curse, why didn’t it happen with the Anti-Nephi-Lehites? Why didn’t it happen with other converted Lamanites, at other times?

Summary:
*Is “darkness” symbolic in the Book of Mormon? Usually.

*Is it possible that the Lamanite mark was symbolic? No.

*Was a literal dark skin the mark for all the Lamanites? No.

*Was light skin a mark for a Lamanite who had the curse removed? Rarely (only one recorded instance).

*In that one recorded instance, was there also a cultural and political joining of Lamanites to Nephites that had never seemed to happen to the same extent before? Yes, there was.

*Was a literal dark skin pigmentation the mark for the original Lamanites? Likely. To say the least, there was surely some physical, not symbolic, mark on the Lamanite skin.

*Could the original dark skin Lamanite mark have come from intermarriage? No, definitely not. There are many reasons:
1. The mark came upon the first generation, not just the future ones (Alma 3:7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.).
2. Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael were already married (see: 1 Nephi 16:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife. 1 Nephi 18:9 And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days, behold, my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and also their wives began to make themselves merry, insomuch that they began to dance, and to sing, and to speak with much rudeness, yea, even that they did forget by what power they had been brought thither; yea, they were lifted up unto exceeding rudeness.).
3. Jacob preached that the Lamanites were monogamous and faithful.

*Could the skin color have come from some other physical source/ reason? Ah, good question…

These additional unmentioned verses sustain the conclusion that the mark was not metaphorical/ spiritual, but literal/ physical.

2008, December 17

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 3 by grego

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 3
by grego

Are there places in the Book of Mormon where good things are said of the Lamanites?
I’ve already written and posted about compassion in the Book of Mormon. That would be a good place to start.
Here, the Lamanites are merciful because of compassion; and slavery is more profitable than killing:
Mosiah 19:14 And it came to pass that the Lamanites had compassion on them, for they were charmed with the beauty of their women.
Mosiah 19:15 Therefore the Lamanites did spare their lives, and took them captives and carried them back to the land of Nephi, and granted unto them that they might possess the land, under the conditions that they would deliver up king Noah into the hands of the Lamanites, and deliver up their property, even one half of all they possessed, one half of their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and thus they should pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites from year to year.
Is it biased to say that the Lamanites were “charmed with the beauty of their women”? I’ve lived in lands among many races, and I’ve seen this as typical of darker men towards lighter women, not atypical. Is it true, that lighter women are more beautiful than darker women? That’s not the point–to those men they were charmed by their beauty, and that’s what the Book of Mormon is saying.

What did Jacob, who was an original Nephite, say?
Jacob 3:5 Behold, *the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins*, are *more righteous than you*; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father–that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
Well, it seems that some of the early Nephites didn’t like the Lamanites; slightly understandable, given that the Lamanites were often trying to kill them or such. Whoops… already in Jacob we see that the Nephites and Lamanites aren’t clearly split the righteous versus the wicked in all ways, and that the Lamanites are more faithful to the good that they have from their fathers, than the Nephites.

Here are two times when the Lamanite king swore an oath and kept it:
Mosiah 19:25 And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites made an oath unto them, that his people should not slay them.
and
Mosiah 20:24 And it came to pass that the king was pacified towards his people; and he said unto them: Let us go forth to meet my people, without arms; and I swear unto you with an oath that my people shall not slay thy people.
Mosiah 20:25 And it came to pass that they followed the king, and went forth without arms to meet the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did meet the Lamanites; and the king of the Lamanites did bow himself down before them, and did plead in behalf of the people of Limhi.
Mosiah 20:26 And when the Lamanites saw the people of Limhi, that they were without arms, they had compassion on them and were pacified towards them, and returned with their king in peace to their own land.

We also never hear of Lamanites breaking their oaths to never war again.

And, as all who know the story know, Ammon, Aaron, and the other missionaries had great success, and the Lamanites became different people:
Alma 23:18 And *they began to be a very industrious people*; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them.
Alma 24:18 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; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands*.
Alma 24:19 And thus we see that, *when these Lamanites were brought to believe and to know the truth, they were firm, and would suffer even unto death rather than commit sin*…
Surely this is not Lamanite bias!

Here’s a great Lamanite conversion:
Helaman 5:19 Therefore they did speak unto the great astonishment of the Lamanites, to the convincing them, insomuch that there were eight thousand of the Lamanites who were in the land of Zarahemla and round about baptized unto repentance, and were convinced of the wickedness of the traditions of their fathers.

And another one:
Helaman 5:40 And it came to pass that the Lamanites said unto him: What shall we do, that this cloud of darkness may be removed from overshadowing us?
Helaman 5:41 And Aminadab said unto them: You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom; and when ye shall do this, the cloud of darkness shall be removed from overshadowing you.
Helaman 5:42 And it came to pass that they all did begin to cry unto the voice of him who had shaken the earth; yea, they did cry even until the cloud of darkness was dispersed.
Helaman 5:43 And it came to pass that when they cast their eyes about, and saw that the cloud of darkness was dispersed from overshadowing them, behold, they saw that they were encircled about, yea every soul, by a pillar of fire.
Helaman 5:44 And Nephi and Lehi were in the midst of them; yea, they were encircled about; yea, they were as if in the midst of a flaming fire, yet it did harm them not, neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison; and they were filled with that joy which is unspeakable and full of glory.
Helaman 5:45 And behold, the Holy Spirit of God did come down from heaven, and did enter into their hearts, and they were filled as if with fire, and they could speak forth marvelous words.
Helaman 5:46 And it came to pass that there came a voice unto them, yea, a pleasant voice, as if it were a whisper, saying:
Helaman 5:47 Peace, peace be unto you, because of your faith in my Well Beloved, who was from the foundation of the world.
Helaman 5:48 And now, when they heard this they cast up their eyes as if to behold from whence the voice came; and behold, they saw the heavens open; and angels came down out of heaven and ministered unto them.
Helaman 5:49 And there were about three hundred souls who saw and heard these things; and they were bidden to go forth and marvel not, neither should they doubt.
Helaman 5:50 And it came to pass that they did go forth, and did minister unto the people, declaring throughout all the regions round about all the things which they had heard and seen, insomuch that the more part of the Lamanites were convinced of them, because of the greatness of the evidences which they had received.
Helaman 5:51 And as many as were convinced did lay down their weapons of war, and also their hatred and the tradition of their fathers.
Helaman 5:52 And it came to pass that they did yield up unto the Nephites the lands of their possession.
Helaman 6:1 And it came to pass that when the sixty and second year of the reign of the judges had ended, all these things had happened and the Lamanites had become, the more part of them, a righteous people, insomuch that their righteousness did exceed that of the Nephites, because of their firmness and their steadiness in the faith.

That experience is alluded to by Jesus himself:
3 Nephi 9:20 And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

More about righteous Lamanites and wicked Nephites:
Helaman 6:35 And thus we see that the Spirit of the Lord began to withdraw from the Nephites, because of the wickedness and the hardness of their hearts.
Helaman 6:36 And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words.
Helaman 6:37 And it came to pass that the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers of Gadianton; and they did preach the word of God among the more wicked part of them, insomuch that this band of robbers was utterly destroyed from among the Lamanites.
Helaman 6:38 And it came to pass on the other hand, that the Nephites did build them up and support them, beginning at the more wicked part of them, until they had overspread all the land of the Nephites, and had seduced the more part of the righteous until they had come down to believe in their works and partake of their spoils, and to join with them in their secret murders and combinations.

Nephi says:
Helaman 7:24 For behold, they are more righteous than you, for they have not sinned against that great knowledge which ye have received; therefore the Lord will be merciful unto them; yea, he will lengthen out their days and increase their seed, even when thou shalt be utterly destroyed except thou shalt repent.

What about here?:
Helaman 13:1 AND now it came to pass in the eighty and sixth year, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea, in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God, according to the law of Moses.
Helaman 13:2 And it came to pass that in this year there was one Samuel, a Lamanite, came into the land of Zarahemla, and began to preach unto the people. And it came to pass that he did preach, many days, repentance unto the people, and they did cast him out, and he was about to return to his own land.

Samuel the Lamanite lauds the Lamanites:
Helaman 15:3 Yea, wo unto this people who are called the people of Nephi except they shall repent, when they shall see all these signs and wonders which shall be showed unto them; for behold, they have been a chosen people of the Lord; yea, the people of Nephi hath he loved, and also hath he chastened them; yea, in the days of their iniquities hath he chastened them because he loveth them.
Helaman 15:4 But behold my brethren, the Lamanites hath he hated because their deeds have been evil continually, and this because of the iniquity of the tradition of their fathers. But behold, salvation hath come unto them through the preaching of the Nephites; and for this intent hath the Lord prolonged their days.
Helaman 15:5 And I would that ye should behold that the more part of them are in the path of their duty, and they do walk circumspectly before God, and they do observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments according to the law of Moses.
Helaman 15:6 Yea, I say unto you, that the more part of them are doing this, and they are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily.
Helaman 15:7 And behold, ye do know of yourselves, for ye have witnessed it, that as many of them as are brought to the knowledge of the truth, and to know of the wicked and abominable traditions of their fathers, and are led to believe the holy scriptures, yea, the prophecies of the holy prophets, which are written, which leadeth them to faith on the Lord, and unto repentance, which faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart unto them–
Helaman 15:8 Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.
Helaman 15:9 And ye know also that they have buried their weapons of war, and they fear to take them up lest by any means they should sin; yea, ye can see that they fear to sin–for behold they will suffer themselves that they be trodden down and slain by their enemies, and will not lift their swords against them, and this because of their faith in Christ.
Helaman 15:10 And now, because of their steadfastness when they do believe in that thing which they do believe, for because of their firmness when they are once enlightened, behold, the Lord shall bless them and prolong their days, notwithstanding their iniquity–
Helaman 15:11 Yea, even if they should dwindle in unbelief the Lord shall prolong their days, until the time shall come which hath been spoken of by our fathers, and also by the prophet Zenos, and many other prophets, concerning the restoration of our brethren, the Lamanites, again to the knowledge of the truth–
Helaman 15:12 Yea, I say unto you, that in the latter times the promises of the Lord have been extended to our brethren, the Lamanites; and notwithstanding the many afflictions which they shall have, and notwithstanding they shall be driven to and fro upon the face of the earth, and be hunted, and shall be smitten and scattered abroad, having no place for refuge, the Lord shall be merciful unto them.
Helaman 15:13 And this is according to the prophecy, that they shall again be brought to the true knowledge, which is the knowledge of their Redeemer, and their great and true shepherd, and be numbered among his sheep.
Helaman 15:14 Therefore I say unto you, it shall be better for them than for you except ye repent.
Helaman 15:15 For behold, had the mighty works been shown unto them which have been shown unto you, yea, unto them who have dwindled in unbelief because of the traditions of their fathers, ye can see of yourselves that they never would again have dwindled in unbelief.
Helaman 15:16 Therefore, saith the Lord: I will not utterly destroy them, but I will cause that in the day of my wisdom they shall return again unto me, saith the Lord.
Helaman 15:17 And now behold, saith the Lord, concerning the people of the Nephites: If they will not repent, and observe to do my will, I will utterly destroy them, saith the Lord, because of their unbelief notwithstanding the many mighty works which I have done among them; and as surely as the Lord liveth shall these things be, saith the Lord.

And there’s more, but I think that should be enough to get the correct idea.

Are there any places in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites are described in a negative light?
In addition to the parts included in the section above, there is more.
Here, the Nephites are described as very wicked, and the Lord tells them of impending death and other problems with the Lamanites if they don’t repent:
Mosiah 11:6 Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity.
Mosiah 11:7 Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them.
Mosiah 11:8 And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper;
Mosiah 11:9 And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things.
Mosiah 11:13 And it came to pass that he caused many buildings to be built in the land Shilom; and he caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom, which had been a resort for the children of Nephi at the time they fled out of the land; and thus he did do with the riches which he obtained by the taxation of his people.
Mosiah 11:19 And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites; and thus they did boast, and did delight in blood, and the shedding of the blood of their brethren, and this because of the wickedness of their king and priests.
So, does that mean that Mormon also has a Nephite bias? Or just a “king Noah” bias? Or is he, once more, presenting “things as they were”?

And there is more, much more.


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2008, December 15

Book of Mormon: Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 2 by grego

Book of Mormon: Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 2
by grego

First, why would Mormon have a bias, especially towards the early Lamanites?
He lived at a time when the Lamanites are not the original Lamanites, except that they follow the same principles of rejecting the truth and teaching their children to hate the truth and those that accept it. In fact, at the time of his writing, the original Lamanites don’t seem to have been in existence for four hundred years or so; and for some years before that, the Lamanites were more or less more righteous than the Nephites.

If anyone had a bias, it was likely the early writers. But is any bias evident in *their* writings?

Where are the Lamanites described negatively in the Book of Mormon?
Following are negative descriptions of the Lamanites. Descriptions are both physical and based on action, and from the Nephite perspective. Note that descriptions *cannot* be correctly labeled “biased” if they are true! Note that these descriptions also come about because of curses that the people brought on themselves (and though the children bore the curse and mark in life, they won’t in eternity). Note also that there is not a causal relationship of “mark –} curse”; it’s the other way around.

Here are many of the examples of negative descriptions:
2 Nephi 5:21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
2 Nephi 5:22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
2 Nephi 5:23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
2 Nephi 5:24 And because of their cursing (grego: note the wording and the difference: “cursing”, not “mark”) which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

Alma 3:5 Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins, and also their armor, which was girded about them, and their bows, and their arrows, and their stones, and their slings, and so forth.
Alma 3:6 And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.
Alma 3:7 And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.
Alma 3:8 And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.
Alma 3:9 And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.
Alma 3:10 Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.
Alma 3:19 Now I would that ye should see that they brought upon themselves the curse; and even so doth every man that is cursed bring upon himself his own condemnation.

Jacob 7:24 And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for *they delighted in wars and bloodshed*, and they *had an eternal hatred against us*, their brethren. And they *sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually*.

Enos 1:11 And after I, Enos, had heard these words, my faith began to be unshaken in the Lord; and *I prayed unto him with many long strugglings for my brethren, the Lamanites*.
Enos 1:13 And now behold, this was the desire which I desired of him–that if it should so be, that my people, the Nephites, should fall into transgression, and by any means be destroyed, and the Lamanites should not be destroyed, that the Lord God would preserve a record of my people, the Nephites; even if it so be by the power of his holy arm, that *it might be brought forth at some future day unto the Lamanites, that, perhaps*, they might be brought unto salvation–
Enos 1:14 For *at the present our strugglings were vain in restoring them to the true faith*. And *they swore in their wrath that, if it were possible, they would destroy our records and us, and also all the traditions of our fathers*.
Enos 1:18 And the Lord said unto me: *Thy fathers have also required of me this thing*; and it shall be done unto them according to their faith; for their faith was like unto thine.
Enos 1:20 And I bear record that the people of Nephi did seek diligently to restore the Lamanites unto the true faith in God. But our labors were vain; *their hatred was fixed, and they were led by their evil nature that they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling in tents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us*.

Jarom 1:6 And they were scattered upon much of the face of the land, and the Lamanites also. And they were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts.

Ok, even in our times, if someone can show that running around naked in society is a mark of class, let me know…
The Nephites tried to teach the Lamanites, but the Lamanites tried to kill them. Many less-than-desirable habits are listed; is there any reason why we must believe this is opinion instead of description? I mean, most people have no problems with calling Hitler all kinds of derogatory things, even though they have no first-hand information or experience whatsoever; yet these writers did have first-hand information–they had been among the Lamanites to preach to them, they fought with them, they likley observed them and had run-ins with them, etc.

More:
Mosiah 24:7 And thus the Lamanites began to increase in riches, and began to trade one with another and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, *a very cunning people, delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren*.

Another:
Mosiah 25:11 And again, when they thought upon the Lamanites, who were their brethren, of their sinful and polluted state, they were filled with pain and anguish for the welfare of their souls.

Here is one of many examples of how the Nephites were usually better prepared for war than the Lamanites:
Alma 43:20 Now the army of Zerahemnah was not prepared with any such thing; they had only their swords and their cimeters, their bows and their arrows, their stones and their slings; and they were naked, save it were a skin which was girded about their loins; yea, all were naked, save it were the Zoramites and the Amalekites;

Some apologists have claimed that the incidents of getting drunk and having bad things happen attest to a Lamanite bias.
The Lamanites get drunk here:
Mosiah 22:6 Behold the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city. The Lamanites, or the guards of the Lamanites, by night are drunken; therefore let us send a proclamation among all this people that they gather together their flocks and herds, that they may drive them into the wilderness by night.
Mosiah 22:10 And king Limhi caused that his people should gather their flocks together; and he sent the tribute of wine to the Lamanites; and he also sent more wine, as a present unto them; and they did drink freely of the wine which king Limhi did send unto them.

and here:
Alma 55:13 And it came to pass that they did take of the wine freely; and it was pleasant to their taste, therefore they took of it more freely; and it was strong, having been prepared in its strength.
Alma 55:14 And it came to pass they did drink and were merry, and by and by they were all drunken.

(and possibly this one:
Alma 47:18 And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died).

But then, on the other hand, the Nephites don’t fall for the tricks:
Alma 55:30 And many times did they attempt to administer of their wine to the Nephites, that they might destroy them with poison or with drunkenness.

But there’s a reason why, and it’s clearly given to us:
Alma 55:31 But behold, the Nephites were not slow to remember the Lord their God in this their time of affliction. They could not be taken in their snares; yea, they would not partake of their wine, save they had first given to some of the Lamanite prisoners.
Alma 55:32 And they were thus cautious that no poison should be administered among them; for if their wine would poison a Lamanite it would also poison a Nephite; and thus they did try all their liquors.
Not only that, the Nephites did it first–were they going to fall for their own trick? And the two Lamanites stories have a long time between them, and are in different circumstances.

Is that so hard to understand? Must there be a bias there?

Well, what about getting lost? Of course Mormon wrote that to show how stupid the Lamanites were:
Mosiah 22:16 And after they had pursued them two days, they could no longer follow their tracks; therefore they were lost in the wilderness.

So what is one to make about this?:
Mosiah 8:8 And they [Nephites] were lost in the wilderness for the space of many days, yet they were diligent, and found not the land of Zarahemla but returned to this land, having traveled in a land among many waters, having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been peopled with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel.

Hey, Mormon even writes about this *twice*:
Mosiah 21:25 Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness.

I guess because Mormon and the original writers cite no anthropological study in the Book of Mormon when they give these descriptions and write these happenings, Gardner, Bokovoy, and others assume that it had to be opinion and what the Nephites imagined, but didn’t really know. Where is the basis for this assumption? Well, because older historians were like that, unlike now” type of stuff. Faulty. Once more, assumptions and speculations–“since most swans in that pond are white, of course Mormon was a white swan, too”. Wait… modern historians write without bias? History books and newspapers are written without bias? No, no.

Are there any clear first-hound accounts in the Book of Mormon itself about dealings with the Lamanites, where the Lamanites are decribed in a negative light?
Yes, here are some (second-hand summary of a grandson, then first-hand accounts of Limhi):
Mosiah 7:21 And ye all are witnesses this day, that Zeniff, who was made king over this people, he being over-zealous to inherit the land of his fathers, therefore being deceived by the cunning and craftiness of king Laman, who having entered into a treaty with king Zeniff, and having yielded up into his hands the possessions of a part of the land, or even the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom; and the land round about–
Mosiah 7:22 And all this he did, for the sole purpose of bringing this people into subjection or into bondage. And behold, we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind, and one half of the increase of our flocks and our herds; and even one half of all we have or possess the king of the Lamanites doth exact of us, or our lives.
Mosiah 9:1 I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them–but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.
Mosiah 9:4 Nevertheless, after many days’ wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents in the place where our brethren were slain, which was near to the land of our fathers.
Mosiah 9:6 And I went in unto the king, and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom.
Mosiah 9:7 And he also commanded that his people should depart out of the land, and I and my people went into the land that we might possess it.
Mosiah 9:8 And we began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom.
Mosiah 9:10 Now it was the cunning and the craftiness of king Laman, to bring my people into bondage, that he yielded up the land that we might possess it.
Mosiah 9:12 Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people; therefore they were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands; yea, that they might feast themselves upon the flocks of our fields.
Mosiah 10:12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this–Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea;
Mosiah 10:17 And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them; therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.
Mosiah 10:18 For this very cause has king Laman, by his cunning, and lying craftiness, and his fair promises, deceived me, that I have brought this my people up into this land, that they may destroy them; yea, and we have suffered these many years in the land.

Note that king Limhi wanted to be friends with the Lamanites; he fought to the death against those who wanted to kill them, at first, and did what he could to keep his people from attacking the Lamanites.

Did the Lamanites always keep their word, or are there instances where they are sometimes deceitful for gain? Here’s the experience Alma the elder and his people had (can we trust Alma the elder?):
Mosiah 23:36 And it came to pass that the Lamanites promised unto Alma and his brethren, that if they would show them the way which led to the land of Nephi that they would grant unto them their lives and their liberty.
Mosiah 23:37 But after Alma had shown them the way that led to the land of Nephi the Lamanites would not keep their promise; but they set guards round about the land of Helam, over Alma and his brethren.

The Strongest Witnesses
Nothing, however, beats the strongest witnesses: the Lamanites themselves, missionaries who had spent 14 years among them, and the Lord. Here’s a look:
Alma 17:4 And *they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites*…
Alma 17:13 …they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken.
Alma 17:14 And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to *a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands*.
Alma 17:15 *Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers*; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance.

The Lamanites admit to their situation as described by the Nephites:
Alma 17:28 Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now *the king will slay us, as he has our brethren* because their flocks were scattered *by the wickedness of these men*…
Alma 17:35 “*[the Lamanites] delighted in the destruction of their brethren*; and for this cause they stood to scatter the flocks of the king.
Alma 18:2 “[the Lamanite king said:] Behold, is not this the Great Spirit who doth *send such great punishments upon this people, because of their murders*?”

Wow. This is huge right there. Ammon remembered one command and performed it, and it astonished the Lamanite king so much he thought Ammon was God:
Alma 18:8 And it came to pass that king Lamoni inquired of his servants, saying: *Where is this man that has such great power*?
Alma 18:9 And they said unto him: *Behold, he is feeding thy horses. Now the king had commanded his servants, previous to the time of the watering of their flocks, that they should prepare his horses and chariots*, and conduct him forth to the land of Nephi; for there had been a great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.
Alma 18:10 Now *when king Lamoni heard that Ammon was preparing his horses and his chariots he was more astonished, because of the faithfulness of Ammon, saying: Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them*.
Alma 18:11 Now I surely know that this is the Great Spirit, and I would desire him that he come in unto me, but I durst not.

More:
Alma 23:3 “that his (the Lamanite king’s) people might be convinced concerning *the wicked traditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness*.

More from the big Lamanite king (Lamoni’s father):
Alma 24:7 Now, these are the words which [the Lamanite king] 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*.
Alma 24:9 And behold, I also thank my God, that by opening this correspondence (with the Nephites) *we have been convinced of our sins, and of the many murders which we have committed*.
Alma 24:10 And I also thank my God, yea, my great God, … that he hath forgiven us of those *our many sins and murders which we have committed*…
Alma 24:11 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…

What does Samuel *the Lamanite* say?:
Helaman 15:4 But behold *my brethren, the Lamanites hath he hated because their deeds have been evil continually, and this because of the iniquity of the tradition of their fathers*.

(It is very possible that when these Lamanites left to the Nephites, they took their records/ history with them. It is also probable that there was more on the plates that Mormon did not include.)

So, it’s very clear that chances were much better that Mormon and the other Book of Mormon writers were very accurate in their descriptions of the Lamanites, than that they were operating under false assumptions.


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2008, December 13

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 1 by grego

Book of Mormon | Real or Imaginary–Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy’s Claim of Mormon’s Bias against the Lamanites? Part 1
by grego

Some Mormon/ LDS apologists, including Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy, claim that Mormon had a clear nonfactual bias against the Lamanites, or that Mormon used untrue or stereotypical caricatures of them.

I have found that this is not only necessary to discuss in defense of truth and Mormon, but for a few other reasons, too. This is the chink in the armor that becomes gaping holes.

First, it can be THE excuse for “exposing” Mormon’s weakness and fallibility as a writer/ historian, in an excuse to expand the possibilities of other interpretations than those allowed by the text–to “open it up”, so to say, to make more leeway in wriggling and supporting a personal (and rarely scripturally-supported) point of view. This is also very convenient when one desires to match up the Book of Mormon with what is known of Central American history, when it should be matching up history and anthropology to the Book of Mormon. Unfortunately, when one plays this game of forcing the Book of Mormon to fit what is currently known, it’s a game based on a slippery slope of science…

Another big reason is that, since we “know” that Mormon had a bias, we understand he also had a bias about Captain Moroni, that Mormon gets way too carried away when writing about him and wars, etc. I imagine, maybe this is because some in the LDS Church are afraid to accept the clear teachings about freedom and such.

There is a third reason I’ve found this argument particularly disdainful: I’ve heard it as an excuse to reject all the “fringe” (what one wants to call fringe) teachings of Ezra Taft Benson (even though they were covered hundreds of talks and decades of time). Here’s how the argument goes: See, Ezra Taft Benson got carried away in his writings and teachings about government, freedom, the Book of Mormon and secret combinations, etc., which is not really spiritual stuff, because of a personal fetish–just following the precedent of Mormon getting carried away in his writings and teachings about war and Captain Moroni, which is not really spiritual stuff, because of a personal fetish; and we know he did that, because of how he treated the Lamanites in the Book of Mormon with a negative, personal bias. (Note, folks, the similarity between the topics and manners in which Ezra Taft Benson and Captain Moroni spoke…)

Yet somehow, in all the Book of Mormon, I personally can’t find this so-called Lamanite bias *anywhere*. So I asked for references in the text, and in fact, I’ve asked Brant Gardner and David Bokovoy and others for instances of clear/ concrete cases unsupported in any logical, normal way examples in the text, and… they never showed it/ were able to show it. It seems that the imagination is strong when convenient, and dull when not wanted…

And, claims of Mormon’s Lamanite bias or use of strong exaggeration in his writing in the Book of Mormon based on what I have been shown are clearly unsupported by the text. (Brant Gardner claimed to have dug deep into the story of Ammon and the king’s flock, and said that Mormon was completely wrong on a point or two; but were one to continue digging even deeper, it would be seen that Brant Gardner’s claim is wrong, as his digging was also incomplete and not completely correct.)

The main point of this Lamanite bias claim is this:
Mormon portrays the Lamanites in a very negative light–such as being wicked, savage, living in tents, eating raw meat and drinking blood, etc. Then, it’s often said that this is done in contrast to the way the Nephites are portrayed–shown as righteous, high-classed, highly developed people. This, in the face of other parts of the text that show developed Lamanite society, cities with buildings, governments, etc.–in contrast to the Lamanite stereotype; obviously showing Mormon was biased.

Let’s see if *any* of this is true. (I will not treat “Nephites=good, Lamanites=bad” topic deeply here.)


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2008, November 28

Critique | The Lamanites’ Bones (from Brant Gardner’s “Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message”)

Critique | The Lamanites’ Bones (from Brant Gardner’s “Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message”)
by grego

From http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2008_Mormons_Editorial_Method_and_Meta-Message.html

Brant Gardner:
“Similarly, early in the book of Alma the Nephites beat back an invasion by Lamanites which supported Amlici’s internal rebellion. Mormon describes the aftermath of the battle:

36 And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them.
37 Yea, they were met on every hand, and slain and driven, until they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts.
38 And it came to pass that many died in the wilderness of their wounds, and were devoured by those beasts and also the vultures of the air; and their bones have been found, and have been heaped up on the earth. (Alma 2:36 – 38)

We can comfortably accept the historical information that the Nephites were victorious and drove the Lamanites out of their land. However, the final description is the interesting one. Mormon suggests that the Lamanites were lost in the wilderness and had been attached by wild animals. His evidence is that “their bones have been found.” The fact that they found bones and not bodies is also probable history. However, that the bones were of those particular Lamanites is most likely an invention after the fact, a historical “just-so” story made to fit the available facts.

Does any of this mean that Mormon was less than a prophet? Absolutely not. What it means is that his understanding of his task was appropriately ancient. He wrote with the historical sensibilities of the ancient world, which necessarily saw all events as they fit into and supported their religious understanding.”

-=-=-=
grego: First, Mormon does not suggest that “the Lamanites were lost in the wilderness”; if someone can see that in the text, explicit or implied, please share.

Second, we are completely unknowing of what Mormon’s source said, and to draw assumptions only from what he wrote is to… well, assume.

I believe that Gardner assumes that Mormon is talking about his current state of affairs when he comments on the bones–that Mormon is himself aware of the bones, and drew the assumption about what happened and whose bones they were; but in fact, it is just as likely that Mormon is not adding his knowledge here, but is taking this from an earlier source. Or, that Nephites know the history of that spot, similar to asking natives/ long-time residents about a historical spot–they weren’t there and didn’t personally see what happened 400 years ago, BUT history says that… I believe everyone has had that experience.

Nevertheless: no human bones in wilderness *infested* with *wild and ravenous beasts* (especially in large number) –} many Lamanites go there, most already wounded –} Nephites hear cries of Lamanites and roars of beasts (imagine that!) and see vultures circling down and landing –} all Nephites know people don’t go there, and never have/ no record of other humans going there –} human bones are found there, likely with arrowheads found in/ near them (like with Zelph) and their weapons right nearby.

Does that sound like an “invention” or a “just-so story made to fit”? Or, can one draw a logical and probable conclusion from those simple facts? Here’s mine–Lamanite bones!


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Book of Mormon | Critique: Why Mormon Couldn’t Know the Lamanites Got Lost (from Brant Gardner’s “Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message”) by grego

Book of Mormon | Critique: Why Mormon Couldn’t Know the Lamanites Got Lost
(from Brant Gardner’s “Mormon’s Editorial Method and Meta-Message”)
by grego

Brant Gardner:
“At times, Mormon must tell us “history” that no one could have known. For example, Mormon tells the story of Limhi’s people escaping from the Lamanites and moving people and animals into the wilderness. Although they were pursued, Mosiah 22: 16 confidently tells us: “And after they had pursued the two days, they could no longer follow their tracks; therefore they were lost in the wilderness.” Peering back through time to what can be known of this situation, it is likely that Limhi’s people would be aware that they were being followed for two days and that thereafter they were not. However, when Mormon tells us that it was because the Lamanites could no longer find their tracks, he is telling us something that his sources could not know. The Limhites would not have known whether or not their tracks were visible, and certainly wouldn’t have known what was in the Lamanite mind when they cut off pursuit. It is equally likely that the Lamanites realized that it simply wasn’t worth the effort, as the Lamanites were in possession of a fully functioning city into which they could easily move their own people and begin to be productive.”
http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2008_Mormons_Editorial_Method_and_Meta-Message.html

Whenever I have a choice between Brant Gardner and Mormon, I start out assuming “Mormon” as the correct answer; and even after numerous times, I must admit that that method hasn’t failed once, yet.

It doesn’t fail here, either.

See Mosiah 23:30 (-37) for why someone “could have known”, and why Mormon could, and did, know the rest of the story and put it in the Book of Mormon. Remember, also, that Mormon does not include every detail of history in the text; I suggest not assuming he can’t know just because he doesn’t tell you how he knows.


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2008, November 27

Book of Mormon | How Did the ‘Order of the Nehors’ Begin before Nehor?

Book of Mormon | How Did the ‘Order of the Nehors’ Begin before Nehor?

by grego
(c) 2008, 2010

It seems we have a problem in the Book of Mormon.

In Alma 1, we are told:
Alma 1:2 And it came to pass that in the *first year of the reign of Alma in the judgment-seat*, there was *a man brought before him to be judged*, a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength.
Alma 1:3 And *he had gone about among the people*, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that *every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people*.
Alma 1:5 And it came to pass that *he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money*.
Alma 1:6 And *he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching*.
Alma 1:12 But Alma said unto him: Behold, *this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people*…

Yet, in Alma 20, we read:
Alma 21:1 Now *when Ammon and his brethren separated themselves in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, behold Aaron took his journey towards the land which was called by the Lamanites, Jerusalem*, calling it after the land of their fathers’ nativity; and it was away joining the borders of Mormon.
Alma 21:2 *Now the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem*.
Alma 21:4 And it came to pass that Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the *Amalekites. And he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of the Nehors; for many of the Amalekites and the Amulonites were after the order of the Nehors*.
Alma 21:5 Therefore, as Aaron entered into one of their synagogues to preach unto the people, and as he was speaking unto them, behold there arose an Amalekite and began to contend with him, saying: What is that thou hast testified? Hast thou seen an angel? Why do not angels appear unto us? Behold are not this people as good as thy people?
Alma 21:6 Thou also sayest, except we repent we shall perish. How knowest thou the thought and intent of our hearts? How knowest thou that we have cause to repent? How knowest thou that we are not a righteous people? Behold, *we have built sanctuaries, and we do assemble ourselves together to worship God. We do believe that God will save all men*.
Alma 21:8 And the man said unto him: We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing. We do not believe in these foolish traditions. *We do not believe that thou knowest of things to come, neither do we believe that thy fathers and also that our fathers did know concerning the things which they spake, of that which is to come*.

Nehor—with this belief system/ religion, of the order of the Nehors–seems to have first started in the Nephite lands at the same time that the order of the Nehors was already established in the Lamanite lands—even long enough to build synagogues specifically built for the order. How is that possible? There wouldn’t likely have been time for the order/ religion to pass over from Nehor and his followers to the Lamanites that quickly!

One LDS apologist, Brant Gardner, wrote about this problem:
“The “order of the Nehors” is named for a murderer. Since the religious movement was around prior to Nehor (such as in king Noah’s court) then Nehor wasn’t the originator. In fact, he doesn’t seem to be all that important to it. Nevertheless, Mormon names the movement after him. Was that historically correct? Probably not. However, he certainly named the movement after a murderer. That tells us what he thought of it.”

Unfortunately for that line of thought, I find little evidence and certainly no proof in the Book of Mormon text that:
–the order of the Nehors had been around since king Noah’s court,
–or that Nehor wasn’t the originator (particularly among the Nephites, which Alma seems to say he was),
–or that he wasn’t that important to the order (as it’s clear in Alma that he is very important to the order and its history among the Nephites).

So, is there really a mistake in the text with timing (by Alma or Mormon?), or did Mormon—as Brant Gardner says—strongly exaggerate or twist the naming of something “on purpose” for the purpose of the text (which I admit is possible, but I disagree with Brant as to the extent), or… is there another possible way?

There are other possible ways.
Nehor may not have been the originator of the order of Nehors among the Lamanites, it might have been called by another name there.
Or perhaps his father, Nehor, was the founder.
Or, Nehor might have been the name of the leader of the order, more like a title–similar to how all the Nephite kings were named “Nephi” for a while (Jacob 1:11), or like the Dread Pirate Roberts (for those familiar with “The Princess Bride”).
Or, of course, Nehor was a Nephite dissenter/ descendant who came over to the Nephites from the Lamanites (possibly as Sherem had come).

As support for these latter possibilities, note that at least three times the order is called “order of the Nehor*s*, that is, in the plural:
Alma 21:4 And it came to pass that Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the Amalekites. And he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after *the order of the Nehors*; for many of the Amalekites and the Amulonites were after *the order of the Nehors*.
Alma 24:28 Now the greatest number of those of the Lamanites who slew so many of their brethren were Amalekites and Amulonites, the greatest number of whom were after *the order of the Nehors*.
And here, possibly:
Alma 16:11 Nevertheless, after many days their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth, and they were covered with a shallow covering. And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years. And it was called Desolation of Nehors; for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate.

So, if it’s named after Nehor, why isn’t it called the “order of Nehor”?

Note that the order of Nehor was already established among the Lamanites—particularly the Nephite dissenter groups, the Amulonites and Amalekites—when it is heard for the first time among the Nephites; and that Nehor is the one that brings it to the Nephites. As “God saves all” was the main principle of belief, the Amulonites and Amalekites would be a good place for the order of Nehors to spawn—they were dissident Nephites familiar with God and the old religion, yet basically excommunicated by the Nephite Church of God for not obeying the commandments.

I don’t see this order of Nehor existing much earlier, especially in king Noah’s time, because not only is there little or no evidence of it, but also because of this verse:
Mosiah 24:11 And *Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries*; and he put guards over them to watch them, that *whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death*.

And especially these verses:
Mosiah 24:4 And he appointed *teachers of the brethren of Amulon* in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus the language of Nephi began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites.
Mosiah 24:5 And they were a people friendly one with another; *nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi*;
Mosiah 24:6 But *they taught them that they should keep their record, and that they might write one to another*.

Note also this important verse:
Alma 22:7 And *Aaron* answered him and said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? And *the [Lamanite] king* said: I know that *the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him*. And if now thou sayest there is a God, behold I will believe.

The king gave the Amalekites permission to build sanctuaries to assemble and worship God. What sanctuaries are these? I imagine them to be the order of Nehor sanctuaries/ synagogues–they might be the same as in Alma 21:4-6. So, this was within the king’s lifetime as being king (How long? I have no idea. I’d say no more than 40 years maximum, he’s probably 64 or so at this time, just my guess! ), and to me it seems like in the conversation it was just in the recent past. King Noah was about minimum 58 years before we hear of the order of the Nehors in Nephite land (about 148 BC to about 90 BC), and probably a decade or two before the reign of this Lamanite king.

As further support for my argument, note the internal consistency between Alma 22:7 and the earlier verse I mentioned of Mosiah 24:4-6. There is no mention of the Amulonites saying that there is a God and desiring to worship him; Mosiah 24 says that at least at that time, the Amulonites didn’t teach the Lamanites about God or their religion.

That the Amulonites might have used some of, or relied on, the teachings or traditions of the original wicked priests of king Noah, from whom they descended, is very possible. The priests seem to have believed somewhat in “do what you want, just make a sacrifice, God’s cool with it”. However, note that Nephi (2 Nephi 28) was aware of this as a doctrine of the latter days, and it’s a typical viewpoint of many people. Likewise, the priests of Noah didn’t seem to accept that God (Jesus) would come down and be like a man and atone for man’s sins, similar to what the order of Nehor (in Ammonihah) believed. Nehor preached the priests should be supported by the people, and that’s the lifestyle of the wicked priests of king Noah/ Amulonites.

But we see there are differences between the priests of king Noah and the order of Nehors:
1. The order of Nehors taught that all would be saved (Alma 1:4); the priests taught that adherence to the law of Moses saved (even though they didn’t adhere to the law very well…).
2. The order of Nehors worshiped in synagogues; the priests in the temple.
So, to say the order basically existed at the time of king Noah, is stretching it, at the least.

I imagine that Nehor decided that with the establishment of the Church not too long before, and especially with the Nephite switch from government-by-king to government-by-judges, it was an opportune time to start the order among the Nephites; and whether he was at the head or whether he was chosen to spread it among the Nephites or if he personally saw the monetary opportunity—gave it a go. The Nephites worrying about religion and God much more than the Lamanites, always having religious contentions and sinners, and having much more money and riches, and there possibly being less competition among the Nephites, likely gave Nehor a level of success he could only dream of among the Lamanites, Amulonites, and Amalekites.


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