Sunday, December 1, 2013

An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part III

Continuing with the comments in a website article one of our readers sent in entitled: “Other Peoples in the Promised Land,” from the "Book of Mormon Resources" website, posted on Friday, April 6, 2012: 
    Comment: “Jarom 1:6 - Lamanites were more numerous than Nephites.  Why?  Initially, Laman, Lemuel, 2 sons of Ishmael became Lamanites - 4 groups. Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, Joseph became Nephites - 4-5 groups. Possibly the Lamanite families were joined by more of the indigenous peoples than were the Nephites.” 
    Response: During Jarom’s time, in about 420 B.C., some 150 years after the original colony landed, there were about eight generations of Lamanites, and seven of Nephites. Now, if Ishmael’s “household” (1 Nephi 7:5) included servants and their families, the number could have been perhaps twice the size of the original Lamanite group. After all, if it was merely Ishmael’s children and the two sons and their families, the statement would have been “Ishmael, and also his family,” but it was not—it was “Ishmael, and also his household,” which in ancient times, and among the Jews, meant those living in Ishmael’s house in addition to his own family and extended family, such as servants.
The problem is, we simply do not know what numbers were involved in this original group. Besides, at the time of the split, Laman and Lemuel had wives and small children, very likely about 3 or 4 kids each (at least 8 to 10 years from the time they were married), and the sons of Ishmael, two adult men with large families by this time, some of which would have been at least in their teens, maybe older (the boys would have been about 50 and the wives about 40 by this time), plus servants and their families (servants would have gone with the oldest Ishmael male son under the circumstances of primogenitor). Compared to this, Nephi, Sam and Zoram were married with small children. Jacob, Joseph, and his sisters, were not married. This means that the four families of Lamanites, two were a generation ahead of Laman and Lemuel, while the Nephites had three groups, but all of which were just beginning. This gives the Lamanites about twice the size in terms of providing past and ongoing descendants.
    Comment: “Mosiah 24:5-7 - Groups of Lamanites friendly with each other, yet occasionally fought among themselves except with their own tribes.” 
Response:  The scripture cited has nothing to do with fighting among themselves, or about individual tribes. It is about the Nephite defector Amulon teaching Lamanites the Nephite language and how to write and keep records, thus the Lamanites became “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” (Mosiah 24:7). That is, they traded with the Nephites and were cunning and wise about it, willing to cheat them, or at least outfox them in trade and business, but did not try to do so among their own brethren, i.e., other Lamanites.
    Comment: “Mosiah 25:3 - Lamanites more numerous than Nephites and people of Zarahemla combined. They might have commandeered other indigenous groups south of the narrow strip of wilderness.” 
    Response: “This is an old question with a very obvious and simple answer. When Mosiah I was told to flee the City of Nephi (Land of Nephi) the area was occupied by Nephites, who had been in the Land of Nephi for at least some 350 years. By this time, the Nephites had become a multitude of people, but when Mosiah left, he took only those who would go with him—those who would hearken unto the voice of the Lord (Omni 1:12). This means that a large number of Nephites remained behind and, since they were evil, which prompted Mosiah’s flight, they were there when the Lamanites overran the Nephite lands.
No doubt some were killed, but others, very likely a large amount, defected over to the Lamanites. This, then, added to the Lamanite numbers, making them much larger in number than the Nephites who reached Zarahemla, and even more than Mosiah’s Nephites—which would have been a small number (Mosiah 25:2), and the Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) who, together, were not half so numerous as the Lamanites (Mosiah 25:3).
    Comment: “Mosiah 25:12 - Whenever outsiders joined with Nephites they were called Nephites.” 
    Response: In this cited verse, we are dealing with the Amulonites (Nephite defectors who at one time had been the evil priests of king Noah), who had stolen Lamanite daughters (Mosiah 20:1-5), married them, and had children. “And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites” (Mosiah 25:12). Thus, these were not “outsiders.” The children were half-Nephite and half-Lamanite, who had been among the Lamanites, and now converted over to become Nephites, and from that time forth were so called.
    Comment: “Mosiah 29:44 - Reign of judges were established among all the people who were called the Nephites. Inference is that there were other peoples besides the descendants of the Lehite colony.” 
Response: The reason for this language is that in the recording of the events, it was the habit of the Nephites to call everyone among the Nephite group (Samites, Zoramites, Jacobites, Josephites, Mulekites, Amulonits, etc.) as Nephites for ease of writing about them collelctively (Jacob 1:13-14; Mormon 1:8-9). No other people are implied!
    Comment: “Alma 3:11 - Whoever didn’t believe in the Lamanite traditions were Nephites, inferring there were others than direct descendants of the Lehite colony.” 
    Response: In the verse cited, the battle between the Nephites and the Amlicites (Nephite defectors who had joined the Lamanites), and that those who joined the Lamanites were also cursed and marked as were the Lamanites (Alm a 3:9-10), and in the following verse, we find: “And it came to pass that whosoever would not believe in the tradition of the Lamanites, but believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and also in the tradition of their fathers, which were correct, who believed in the commandments of God and kept them, were called the Nephites, or the people of Nephi, from that time forth” (Alma 3:11). This only tells us that those who believed in God among Lehi’s children were called Nephites, and those who did not were called Lamamnites, even though there were several tribal names involved: Nephites, Samites, Jacobites, Josephhites, Zoramites, etc., and Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. There simply were no other people involved, mentioned or implied.
    Comment: “Alma 3:17 - Nephi’s seed is whomever follows him (regardless of lineage).” 
    Response: The verse cited above has to do with those Nephites who defect over to the Lamanites will no longer be called Nephites; and whoever is called Nephi’s seed are those who follow God and are among the righteous. No other group or people are suggested or implied. This, again, is about the Amlicites at this moment, for they defected to the Lamanites, marked themselves like the Lamanites (Alma 3:18), and were cursed because they brought this upon themselves (Alma 3:19). Again, there is no mention, suggestion, or idea implied about other people in the Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part IV,” for more information on the website article sent to us and whether or not the scriptural record tells us that there were other people in the Land of Promise)

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