Saturday, January 11, 2014

Was Every Nephite Killed in 385 A.D.?

Don R. Hender writes in his article Logic of the Aftermath of Cumorah, stating that “after the last great battle, there were only 24 of the combatants of the Nephites left alive. But unlike the Jaredite wars of extinction which gathered every living soul in unto the frenzy, the Nephite demise was not that of every living soul. It was the demise of a nation and there where still those of Nephite descent left alive. Many of these where Nephite dissenters who had defected over to the Lamanite cause (See Mormon's letter to Moroni, Moroni chapter nine that states that there had been Nephite dissenters and that they expect many more and as I make the letter date to be that associated with the Jordan defense).” 
Response: Let’s cut in here for a little course correction. At the time of this letter to his son, Mormon is writing long before the gathering of the last battle at Cumorah. Chapters 8 and 9 in Mormon are written by Moroni: “I have but few things to write, which things I have been commanded by my father” (Mormon 8:1); and after abridging the Jaredite record, Moroni returns to write more himself (Moroni 1:1), in which he ends his writing by including a couple of letters his father had written to him in previous years (Moroni 8:1; 9:1). Since in the second letter, Mormon describes the debauchery of the Nephites and shows that they are even more depraved than the Lamanites, we might place this around the time that Mormon stated of the Nephites: “I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually; for I saw thousands of them hewn down in open rebellion against their God, and heaped up as dung upon the face of the land. And thus three hundred and forty and four years had passed away” (Mormon 2:15), which was around 345 A.D. We can also suggest that the Nephites by abut 366 A.D. had become so wicked, that Mormon writes: “And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually. And there never had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as was among this people (Mormon 4:11-12).
    Article: “Also, it seems to be indicated that unlike the Jaredite round up which gathered every living soul into the frenzy, the Nephite round up of Mormon had left some remote pockets of Nephites who did not join in the battle but still believe in Christ as the Lamanites continued to seek them all out and kill whoever would not deny Christ.”
    Response: Mormon makes it clear that they were fleeing from city to city and “the Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages” (Mormon 4:22), and spells out the result of those who did not join the Nephite retreat, “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” (Mormon 5:5). It is not likely that any Nephites were not involved. This was a Lamanite instigated bloodbath of all Nephites. No doubt, when the Lamanites took the cities where Nephites had been left behind or could not keep up, there were given a choice, “Deny the Christ, or die” and all those who did not deny the Christ were killed. In fact, Moroni makes it quite clear—after Mormon’s death and the final battle of annihilation of the Nephites, he states: “the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more” (Mormon 8:7).
    Article: Thus Nephites descendants who had or would defect to the Lamanite cause where still in existence.”
    Response: Those Nephites who defected were thereafter called Lamanites (Alma 43:4), and those who joined the Lamanites (Alma 59:6) brought the curse of dark skin upon themselves “dark according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse” (Alma 3:5, 7). “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 3:10). They were no longer Nephites!
    Article: Also the seed of the Nephites who had mixed with the Lamnaites where still in existence. And, by deduction, the Nephites who would deny and abandon their belief and faith and Christ where not put to death. So 'Nephites' as a people still remained but not as an identifiable people.”
    Response: This is simply not true since the Lord said, “I will set a mark upon him that mingleth his seed with thy brethren, that they may be cursed also. And again: I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed. And again, I say he that departeth from thee shall no more be called thy seed” (Alma 3:15-17). Thus it can be concluded that whoever defected from the Nephites to join the Lamanites became Lamanites in name, appearance, and genetics, since their skin color was changed to that of the Lamanites. The Lord made it clear they were no longer Nephites in any way.
    Article: So it was only the Nephite nation which professed to follow after Christ that disappeared.”
    Response: This is a typical approach most Theorists take. They create a scenario that is not correct, is opposed to the scriptural record, then use it to establish a fact that is completely erroneous, yet try to claim it is correct. The Nephite nation, and the Nephite people, were all destroyed—any who defected to the Lamanites became Lamanite and did not remain Nephite.
    Article: “So when Mormon gathered in all of his people to battle the Lamanites at Cumorah, that wasn't all of the Nephites. It was just all of the Nephites that where willing answer the 'call' to fight and take a stand for their liberty, families, and beliefs as Nephites as a nation.”
    Response: It is interesting that someone can read the scriptural record and ignore what it says. “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” (Mormon 5:5). Again “that wasn’t all of the Nephites” is a completely erroneous statement—it was not a volunteer army that Mormon commanded. You either went with the Army or the Lamanites destroyed you, burned your village and left waste and destruction behind.
    Article: “And as wicked as most of 'these' Nephites were”
    Response: Mormon does not use the term “most” nor does he imply it. He tells us of the Nephites: “the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually” (Mormon 2:15). This means that the salvation of the Nephites had passed, that God’s mercy was no longer in effect, that the atonement did not cover them. Mormon makes no distinction between people—he was talking about the Nephite people, not just his Army.
    Article: “[The Nephites] still retained their identity as a Nephite nation and were willing to fight and die for 'their Country' and 'freedom from Lamanite oppression.”
    Response: At the time Mormon covers, and right up until the final battle at Cumorah, the Nephites retained their identity as a people and as a nation. Whether they were willing to fight and die for their country or not, we do not know. That they had no choice but to fight is self-evident by the conditions Mormon describes.
    Article: “The 'Nephites' that where not present at this final battle where those who refused to answer the 'call to battle' and go to battle and fight against the Lamanites”
    Response: There is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest or even hint that not everyone was involved in this mass revolution. When the battle was over, Moroni makes the statement; “I am alone” (Mormon 8:5), and when he states: “the Lamanites have hunted my people, the Nephites, down from city to city and from place to place, even until they are no more” (Mormon 8:7), and also: “for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers that do exist upon the face of the land” (Mormon 9:9), we ought to conclude that the Nephite people were all dead. Moroni goes on to say, “yea, great and marvelous is the destruction of my people, the Nephites” (Mormon 8:7), he is not telling us “part” or “a portion” or “some” or “most.” He is describing “all.”
(See the next post,Was Every Nephite Killed in 385 A.D.? – Part II,” for more information about whether or not every Nephite was killed in 385 A.D.)


  1. I agree with your analysis of this. The Nephites that left on Hagoth's ships to the Land Northward probably lost their identity as Nephites after a few generations. Accepting a South American geography for the BoM account, the word Northward in Alma 63:5 means that these people went to Central or North America, not to the pacific islands that would be Westward of them. The Nephites are described as " exceedingly fair" (1 Nephi 13:15) and to my knowledge none of the indigenous people in North or Central America were exceedingly fair by the time the Europeans came.

  2. Unfortunately, we do not know what happened to those who went north in Hagoth's ships. That they settled in Meso- and Central America is obvious from the similar ruins and roads; however, we know nothing of these Nephites going into the U.S. We do know that Zelph's skeleton was found in Illinois near Griggsville. However, Zelph was not a Nephite as E.D. Howe wrote in his anti-Mormon book "Mormonism Unveiled," but identified by Joseph Smith as a while Lamanite warrior officer or chieftan, who lived and served under the Prophet Onandagus, who is not further identified other than his being known from the mountains to the sea. In addition, the journal records and reports of those involved are conflicting in many ways, leading William J. Hamblin to write "there are many difficulties that make it nearly impossible for us to know exactly what Joseph Smith said in 1834 as he reflected on the ruins his group encountered in Illinois."
    As for the white skin, there are numerous reports from the early conquering Spaniards of groups of light-skinned natives found in various areas, from Peru in South America to Mesoamerica. Some claim there were light-skinned natives found in the U.S. Such reports may be accurate, or someone's wishful thinking. That is why I stick strictly to the scriptural record to determine anything about the Jaredite to Nephite era and their location.