Monday, December 2, 2013

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

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: “Alma 7:1, 6 - Alma speaks to the people of Gideon “in my language;” possibly inferring that the people of Gideon were of a different lineage and who had learned the Nephite language so he could communicate with them, but that he didn’t know their specific language or dialect.”
Response: After taking care of things in the Church in Zarahemla, Alma “departed from them and went over upon the east of the river Sidon, into the valley of Gideon, there having been a city built, which was called the city of Gideon, which was in the valley that was called Gideon, being called after the man who was slain by the hand of Nehor with the sword” (Alma 6:7). At that time, rather than speaking to people in outlying areas through others or by letter, Alma goes in person. He says: “Behold my beloved brethren, seeing that I have been permitted to come unto you, therefore I attempt to address you in my language; yea, by my own mouth, seeing that it is the first time that I have spoken unto you by the words of my mouth, I having been wholly confined to the judgment-seat, having had much business that I could not come unto you” (Alma 7:1). Alma, now able to speak in person (in my language; yea, by my own mouth), goes on to say, “And even I could not have come now at this time were it not that the judgment-seat hath been given to another, to reign in my stead; and the Lord in much mercy hath granted that I should come unto you” (Alma 7:2). The idea that Alma could not communicate with them, or they had a different language, is ridiculous. The language he meant, as he said, was speaking to them in person, “by my own mouth” (Alma 7:1).
    Comment; “Alma 7:6 - the Gideonites were not prideful and set upon riches and vain things. They may have been a completely different people than those in Zarahemla, who were prideful and concerned about worldly things, yet all in the Nephite nation.”
Response: Alma tells us that he had a difficult time bringing the people of the Church in Zarahemla back from their unrighteousness and hoped that he would not have that much problem with those of Gideon. They were not a different people, they merely had not strayed from the Church like those of Zarahemla. In fact, Alma says, “I trust that ye are not in a state of so much unbelief as were your brethren” (Alma 7:6) and goes on to say that he trusts they were not in the condition of those of Zarahemla. It is interesting to note that he said “as were your brethren,” a term usually meant among the Nephites as those directly related.
    Comment: “Alma 17:26 - Lamanitish servants - why this designation if they were not true Lamanites?” and also: “Alma 19:16 - Abish (secret Church convert) was one of the Lamanitish women.  What is a Lamanitish woman compared to a true Lamanite woman?”
    Response: We are talking about a Lamanite king named Lamoni, who was king over the Land of Ishmael and a descendent of Ishmael (Alma 17:21) and those of his people who were his servants. Lamoni offered to have the Nephite missionary Ammon, marry one of his daughters (Alma 17:24), but Ammon declines and offers to be one of his servants (Alma 17:25). Now the king had servants watching his flocks, and Ammon served with these “Lamanitish servants” (Alma 17:26). The term Lamanitish is also used a little later of a woman named Abish (Alma 19:16), who was the servant of Lamoni’s queen.
However, if you read these three chapters (17-19) of Ammon’s meeting and the king and queen’s conversion, you will find that the term Lamanite is not applied to specific people, but to Lamanites in general, where the term Lamanitish is used only twice, when a reference is made to specific people, both servants. It should also be noted that the term Lamanite is used in a general sense, but Lamanitish in a specific sense. As an example, we might refer to “Spaniards” in a general sense, but say “Spanish man” in a specific sense. Or “Jewish” in general and “Jew” specifically, etc. They are the same people, but the terminology is grammatically different.
    Comment: “Alma 21:2-5; 22:7; 24:1, 28; 27:12; 43:6, 17 - Amalekites. This is a hard-hearted, wicked group of otherwise unidentified people living among the Lamanites in the land of Nephi.  Some LDS scholars (Royal Skousen) think their name was misspelled by Oliver Cowdery when penning the printer's manuscript and they are actually the Amlicites, followers of a Nephite dissenter named Amlici. Amlici himself and many of his followers may also have been other than pure Nephites (See Alma 2:1-38; 3:1-18). The Amalekites were definatly of a different lineage than the Lamanites (See Alma 24:29).”
    Response: Regarding the Amalekites, the verse cited reads: “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 24:29). These Amalekites were not of Laman or Lemuel descent, but could well have been from the sons of Ishmael, or they could have been Nephite defectors. These people first show up combining with the Lamanites Amulonites to build the city of Jerusalem in the Land of Nephi (Alma 21:2).
They were obviously an evil people, for it is said, “Now the Lamanites of themselves were sufficiently hardened, but the Amalekites and the Amulonites were still harder; therefore they did cause the Lamanites that they should harden their hearts, that they should wax strong in wickedness and their abominations” (Alma 21:3). Such attitudes generally are found in defector groups, who join the Lamanites and try to stir them up to war with the Nephites, since their own numbers (Amalekites and Amulonites) were not sufficient alone to attack the Nephites. In addition, we find that the Amalekites and Amulonites were after the order of Nehors, and had synagogues—a particular Nephite custom. Also, one of the Amalakites contends with Aaron, asking him “Behold are not this people as good as thy people” (Alma 21:5), which is certainly a Nephite defector argument against the Nephites. And in fact, they were Nephite dissenters (Alma 43:13).
    Comment: “Alma 30:6 - Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla. If the “land of Zarahemla” means the entire land, which is the nation of the Nephites, it means that he was a non-Nephite coming from another group of people who were not Nephites.  Some LDS researchers have shown that Korihor is actually a Jaredite name and that he may have been a descendant of some Jaredites who were not involved with the great war that ended the Jaredites as a people.  If the “land of Zarahemla” means the local county-like area immediately around the city of Zarahemla, then Korihor could have been a Nephite (still possibly with Jaredite ancestry) from another land within the greater land of Zarahemla.”
     Response: First of all, it has long been the practice of Jewish families to name their children after ancient people of different cultures. Nephi and Sam were named after Egyptians, Laman and Lemuel after the Arab culture. Secondly, the name Korihor is not specifically Jaredite, but was of Mesopotamia before that, and is also an Egyptian name (we have written about these names before). Third, the Land of Zarahemla carried three meanings in the Book of Mormon: 1) the land itself, separated from the Land of Nephi by a narrow strip of wilderness, 2) the major land of then Land Southward, and 3) the Nephite nation’s capital, whose land carried an all encompassing meaning. Fourth, there is no indication that Korihor was of some other people than the Nephites. He lived in 74 B.C., at a time when some Nephites lived in Bountiful (not in the Land of Zarahemla specifically) and very likely in the Land Northward (not in the Land of Zarahemla overall). On the other hand, “came into the land” may not even mean how the writer of this interprets it. 
(See the next post, “An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part V,” 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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