Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, October 20

What Does the Book of Mormon Teach about Pre-emptive Strike? by grego

What Does the Book of Mormon Teach about Pre-emptive Strike?

(c) 2006-2009

What does the Book of Mormon have to say about this type of warfare? Is it ok to go into another country and attack it, especially if they haven’t done anything yet? What if they have done something, and are retreating? What if they are harboring terrorists? What if they attacked you before, in the past?

I will give seven stories from the Book of Mormon that help with answers to those questions.

We start with the Nephites and the Lamanites defending themselves against the Gadianton robbers, who have already sent a clear letter of intent with a clear plan to attack:
3 Nephi 3:20-21–[The Nephites and Lamanites say, “Let’s] fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands. But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands…but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this he will deliver them into our hands.”

3 Nephi 4:13–“…Gidgiddoni commanded that his armies should pursue them as far as the borders of the wilderness…” This was the border/ demarcation between the Gadianton robbers and the Nephites/ Lamanites.

3 Nephi 4:15–“…the armies of the Nephites did return again to the place of their security…” Also, there are still robbers–the Nephites did not chase them down in their own territories.


Here’s Captain Moroni. Notice that he threatens the Lamanites that the Nephites will defend themselves, and then follow the Lamanites into their lands. However, remember that this is BECAUSE the land the Lamanites live in at this time originally was the land of the Nephites; notice the words “withdraw, return, your own lands, receive, retain, defend”:
Alma 54:6–“…except ye repent and withdraw your armies into your own lands, or the land of your possessions, which is the land of Nephi.
Alma 54:7–“…except ye repent and withdraw your murderous purposes, and return with your armies to your own lands.”

Alma 54:9–“…we are prepared to receive you…”
Alma 54:10–“…our armies shall come upon you except ye withdraw…for we will retain our cities and our lands.”

Alma 54:12–“…and I will come against you, and I will follow you even into your own land, which is the land of our first inheritance…”
Alma 54:13–“…ye have sought to murder us, and we have only sought to defend ourselves. But behold, if ye seek to destroy us more we will seek to destroy you; yea, and we will seek our land, the land of our first inheritance.”

Alma 62:38–“…Moroni did slay them with a great slaughter; and they did drive them out of the land…”


Here’s what Mormon has to say about preemptive strike:
Mormon 3:6 And there we did place our armies, that we might stop the armies of the Lamanites, that they might not get possession of any of our lands…
Mormon 3:7 …the Lamanites did come down …to battle against us; …we did beat them, insomuch that they did return to their own lands again.
Mormon 3:8 …they did come down again to battle…
Mormon 3:9 And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.
10 And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.
11 And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination…
14 And when they had sworn by all that had been forbidden them by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, that they would go up unto their enemies to battle, and avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren, behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying:
15 Vengeance is mine, and I will repay…
Mormon 3:16–“And it came to pass that I utterly refused to go up against mine enemies; and I did even as the Lord had commanded me…”
Mormon 4:1 …the Nephites did go up with their armies to battle against the Lamanites…
Mormon 4:4 …And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them.”


Notice this story, too:
Helaman 2:5–“…therefore Kishkumen sought to destroy Helaman.”
Helaman 2:6–“…one of the servants of Helaman…having obtained…a knowledge of those plans which had been laid by this band to destroy Helaman–
Helaman 2:7–“Kishkumen made known unto him the object of his desire, desiring that he would conduct him to the judgment-seat that he might murder Helaman.”
Helaman 2:8–“And when the servant of Helaman had known all the heart of Kishkumen, and how that it was his object to murder, and also that it was the object of all those who belonged to his band to murder, and to rob, and to gain power, (and this was their secret plan, and their combination) the servant of Helaman said unto Kishkumen: Let us go forth unto the judgment-seat.
Helaman 2:9–“…the servant of Helaman, as they were going forth unto the judgment-seat, did stab Kishkumen even to the heart, that he fell dead without a groan. And he ran and told Helaman all the things which he had seen, and heard, and done.”
Helaman 2:10–“…Helaman did send forth to take this band of robbers and secret murderers, that they might be executed according to the law.”

So, there was absolute conviction of organizational and personal capital offense intent, in addition to previous capital offenses; when the servant started out to fulfill one more intent, and Kishkumen followed and was happy and prepared to commit it, he was killed; then, the chief judge wanted to take the rest of them alive to try them according to the law.


The story of Alma and Amlici:
Alma 2:2 …Amlici had…drawn away much people after him…they began to endeavor to establish Amlici to be a king over the people.
Alma 2:3 Now this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions of Amlici; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people.
Alma 2:5 And it came to pass that the people assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another.
Alma 2:7 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king over the people.
Alma 2:10 Now when Amlici was made king over them he commanded them that they should take up arms against their brethren; and this he did that he might subject them to him.
Alma 2:12 Therefore the people of the Nephites were aware of the intent of the Amlicites, and therefore they did prepare to meet them…
Alma 2:13 And thus they were prepared to meet the Amlicites at the time of their coming.
Alma 2:15 And it came to pass that the Amlicites came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make war with the Nephites.
Alma 2:18 …the Nephites…slew the Amlicites with great slaughter, that they began to flee before them.
Alma 2:19 And it came to pass that the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter…
Alma 2:20 And it came to pass that when Alma could pursue the Amlicites no longer…the Nephites did pitch their tents for the night.
Alma 2:21 And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots, whereby he might guard himself against them, that he might preserve his people from being destroyed.
Alma 2:24 …we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites; and behold, the Amlicites have joined them;
Alma 2:25 And they are upon our brethren in that land; and they are fleeing before them with their flocks, and their wives, and their children, towards our city; and except we make haste they obtain possession of our city, and our fathers, and our wives, and our children be slain.
Alma 2:35 And it came to pass that when they had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them…
Alma 2:36 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.
Alma 2:37 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.

So, Amlici wants to be king; the matter is settled by vote, after everyone’s voice is heard; he and his people are in the land of the Nephites when they rebel; nevertheless, the Nephites still wait for him to attack them; then they pursue and kill them, as they are still in the land; Alma sends spies to help defend against them; the Amlicites join the Lamanites and attack again; the Nephites defend and pursue and kill them because they are still in their land, or later in a neutral empty land–not back in their own land.


Captain Moroni, the rebel Zoramites who are living in Nephite land, and the Lamanites:
Alma 43:4
“…the Zoramites became Lamanites; …the …Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them; therefore they made preparations for war; yea, they gathered together their armies in the land of Jershon.”
Alma 43:5 And it came to pass that the Lamanites came with their thousands; and they came into the land of Antionum, which is the land of the Zoramites…
Alma 43:15 And it came to pass as the armies of the Lamanites had gathered together in the land of Antionum (DS NOTE: this is Nephite land!), behold, the armies of the Nephites were prepared to meet them in the land of Jershon. (DS NOTE: they didn’t go attack them even when they had trespassed into Nephite land.)
Alma 43:18 And it came to pass that he met the Lamanites in the borders of Jershon…


The story of Captain Moroni and Amalickiah and his men, who had already rebelled while still in Nephite land:
Alma 46:28 And now it came to pass that when Moroni had said these words he went forth, and also sent forth in all the parts of the land where there were dissensions, and gathered together all the people who were desirous to maintain their liberty, to stand against Amalickiah and those who had dissented, who were called Amalickiahites.
Alma 46:29 …when Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni were more numerous than the Amalickiahites–and he also saw that his people were doubtful concerning the justice of the cause in which they had undertaken–therefore, fearing that he should not gain the point, he took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi…
Alma 46:30 …Moroni thought it was not expedient that the Lamanites should have any more strength; therefore he thought to cut off the people of Amalickiah, or to take them and bring them back, and put Amalickiah to death; yea, for he knew that he would stir up the Lamanites to anger against them, and cause them to come to battle against them; and this he knew that Amalickiah would do that he might obtain his purposes.
Alma 46:31 …he took his army and marched out with his tents into the wilderness, to cut off the course of Amalickiah in the wilderness.
Alma 46:33 And it came to pass that Amalickiah fled with a small number of his men, and the remainder were delivered up into the hands of Moroni and were taken back into the land of Zarahemla.
Alma 46:34 Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them.
Alma 46:35 And it came to pass that whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant to support the cause of freedom, that they might maintain a free government, he caused to be put to death; and there were but few who denied the covenant of freedom.
Alma 46:36 And it came to pass also, that he caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land, which was possessed by the Nephites; and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites.

In verse 31, we see that Moroni wants to capture the rebel Nephite while he is still in Nephite land; once he crosses over into Lamanite land, however, Moroni does not pursue him, even though he knows Amalickiah’s evil intent. The captured Amalickiahite rebels need to make a covenenant of freedom or die; this is because they had cut themselves fully off by openly rebelling, and needed the covenant to come back, or else remain in their state of open rebellion. Then, the title of liberty is “hoisted upon every tower”


Another thing to see:
Doctrine and Covenants 93


While I was able to find other similar examples, I was not able to find one example to the contrary. I believe that the above seven examples from the Book of Mormon support the conclusion that “pre-emptive strike”, especially in the enemy’s own land, is not of God.

Anonymous said…
This is something that I thought at the time but the Israelities were commanded to kill everyone in the land the Lord had for them so there is an example. Nephi hadn’t killed anyone before but the Lord commanded him so potentially the Lord could command a righteous nation to attack another (even if we don’t have any/many scriptural references to it). Titch
3:29 AM

Titch, On the surface, it seems that way. And maybe, somehow, it is. Having scriptures to back that up would certainly be helpful.
However… Note that with the Israelites, there was still a process led by God. They did not declare war and enter and destroy, but they were attacked first.
Also, about Nephi’s legal defense in killing Laban, see my articles “Book of Mormon: More About the Brass Plates; Why Did Nephi Kill Laban?” and “Book of Mormon: The Brass Plates, in Three Episodes”

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