Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Fate of the Land of Promise: Part I

Every Latter-day Saint knows what happened after the thousand years of the Nephite Nation. But what happened in the Land of Promise following the demise of the Nephites?
First of all, there were three distinct groups that the Lord brought to the New World—the Western Hemisphere: The Jaredites, around 2100 B.C., the Lehi Colony, about 587 B.C., and the Mulekites (People of Zarahemla), about 5 years later.
Secondly, we seem to have an idea why two of these three groups were led away from the Old World, one from Mesopotamia, and the other from Jerusalem. The first, the Jaredites, came at a tumultus time during the building and destruction of the Great Tower, and the confusio linguarum, confusion of tongues, that established some seventy or seventy-two separate dialects, and the people separated into small pockets of families, groups, or kinship lines: “of these were the isles of the nations divide in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations” (Genesis 10:5).
Josephus, writing in the last century B.C., claimed the Lord destroyed one-third of the tower of babel with winds and storms
The second group, from Jersualem, led by Lehi and his family, including the family of Ishmael, and possibly the servants of both families, came away just prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jews being led away into captivity in Babylon.
While both these groups needed to be led away by the Lord because of pending destruction of their areas, the the third group seems less understandable. In the case of the Jaredites, the preservation of a direct line from Noah, thus from Adam, was accomplished, as well as beginning the peopling and restocking of the Western Hemisphere. In the case of Lehi, the promise to Joseph was enacted (Ether 13:8), bringing Joseph’s lineage to the double portion of land promised him (Lehi from Menasseh, and Sariah/Ishmael from Ephraim).
However, when king Zedekiah was about to be overthrown by the invading Babylonians and his entire family destroyed, his youngest son was preserved. One possibility is that his lineage was that of Judah, which in the end, might prove to be the issue at hand.
In any event, this land, that was held by the hand of the Lord from any knowledge after the Flood waters withdrew (Ether 13:2), was to be the location of the Land of Promise, first for some 1500 years during the Jaredite occupation, then another 1000 years of the Nephite occupation. The written record, abridged by Mormon, provides us with the knowledge of this 2500 years.
However, what happened after the Nephites were all slain in the Land of Cumorah around 385 A.D.? Moroni tells that the Nephites who escaped the final battle were tracked down by the Lamanites from city to city and place to place (Mormon 8:7) until they were all found and killed (Mormon 8:2).
This Lamanite blood-lust was not quenched, however, and once all the Nephites except Moroni were gone (Mormon 8:3), they began to war among themselves throughout the entire land in a civil war that seemed to have no end (Mormon 8:8). Since the last battle took place about 385 A.D., and as late as 421 A.D., 36 years later, the civil war among the Lamanites was still raging it must be assumed that it continued  beyond the record of Moroni; however, that record falls silent.
The next activity we know about in the Western Hemisphere is the voyages and landings of Columbus and then the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors. From that point on, the future of the indigenous peoples of Mexico, Central and South America were all behind them.
The storming of the Teocalli (God-House) in Mexico City by Cortez and his troops
While historians tell us nothing of the following thousand years until the arrival of the Spanish, an epic poem fills in the blanks. This lamentation about a thousand years later, as recorded in the epic poem “Inca Rocca,” written by Chauncey Thomas, who had the records of Montesinos and others to draw upon, describes the great, depressive lamentation of the continual wars between the Peruvians (Lamanites) as they flowed from the various records he read. Though just a poem written much later, the feeling and situation described in these words seems to ring true of the Lamanite condition in the Land of Promise once they had annihilated the Nephite nation.
Since the time of the old empire’s fall,
A thousand years had passed.
Insatiate war, that heeds not right nor life, nor love,
Had gorged upon the people’s sustenance,
With famine, dread pestilence,
And still the strife went on,
No lasting peace, but ever and anon,
And now the angry notes of war were heard again,
And then the growing corn was trampled down,
And smoking hamlets marked
The deathly trail of warlike bands.
And time wore slowly on,
The victors of today, tomorrow slaves,
Then slaves grown stronger break their bonds
And thus a thousands years had passed,
Like created waves that roll on
To break along a rock-bound shore,
Then sink back silent in the vast abyss.
So had the noisy years for ages gone,
Scattered their fretful foam athwart the world,
And sunk to silence in the endless past.
A thousand years of war.
Oh sympathy ‘tis will thou canst not scan
With pitying eye the boundless world
Of woe the past hath known,
Else thou wouldst weep thine eyes away in grief,
And bless thy loss that thou no more could see…
Our schemes o’er thrown, enemies bolder grown,
Days without peace, and nights without repose,
Friends turning cold, aye, many cold in death,
Yet colder than the dead, are friends estranged,
All this and other ills not yet complete,
Do but destroy our inborn love of life,
And make most welcome that which endeth all.
It would appear that this poem captures the feelings of the Lamanite survivors after a thousand years of internal civil war that saw no peace for fifty generations or more. When the Lord told Mormon that vengeance against the Lamanites was His: “Vengeance is mind, and I will repay” (Mormon 3:14), there seems little doubt that the Lamanites eventually, in the good time of the Lord, received their due. One can easily see the plight of the Lamanites once the Nephites were gone. Though they had been victorious in their conquest, the result was their utter destruction over a thousand years when they saw a brief moment of glory, only to be tread underfoot by the conquistadors.
The result of their victory over the Nephites was not peace, but as Moroni pointed out, continual and savage war. War that brought misery and constant attacks and battles among those who destroyed the earlier, at one time, righteous, nation. A thousand years of constant battle, constant fear for life, constant fighting or preparation for fighting, never knowing when the next battle would come.
The various Lamanite groups broke into tribes, into family kin bands, into small clusters who fought everyone and anyone who encroached upon their domain. A thousand years without peace!
Today, archaeologists and anthropologists call them Inca, a people who rose to power less than 100 years before the Spanish conquest of the Andean Plateau. But we know them from Mormon’s writintgs as the Lamanites.
(See the next post, The Fate of the Land of Promise: Part II,” to see about the final destiny of the Land of Promise as viewed today)

1 comment:

  1. Del... ever wonder about the Tower of Babel? If we look in the sky today.. is there anything that we see that we could build a tower to and really expect to reach it? Or is this story just a myth?

    Well.. it could be considered one like many believe the Bible to be many myths. But again.. the Book of Mormon mentions things like Noah's flood, and the Tower of Babel... taking it out of myth status.

    But what could the ancients have seen that made them believe they could actually build some sort of tower to reach what? the moon? Or is there something more going on here?