Thursday, February 6, 2014

More Comments Answered Part VIII

Continuing with more comments from readers of our website, and our responses: 
   Comment #1: “Hugh Nibley claims that large numbers of Nephites defectors joined the Lamanites during the last, final battle at Cumorah and were involved in the fierce tribal wars among themselves. This conflicts with your view that only a few defected at this time” Miller D.
Response: It is not unusual for Nibley and me to be on opposite ends of a view. In this case, the scriptural record tells us the opposite of Nibley’s comment: Moroni claims the Lamanites killed every Nephite who would not deny the Christ (Moroni 1:2), sacrificing women and children to their idol gods (Moroni 4:14).  When the Lamanites finally gained the upper hand in the last, great battles, they swept the Nephites off the face of the earth (Mormon 4:18), again sacrificing captive women and children (Mormon 4:21), and as the Nephites fled, they took everyone with them, both those in towns and villages (Mormon 4:22), because those who did not join the Nephite retreat, were destroyed by the invading Lamanites (Mormon 5:5) who burned all the Nephite towns, villages and cities.  So great were the Lamanite numbers that they tread the Nephites under foot (Mormon 5:6).  
    As the Nephites fled, those who could not keep up were killed by the Lamanites  (Mormon 5:7).  Mormon gathered in all his remaining people (Mormon 6:15) into one group (Mormon 6:6), including women and children (Mormon 6:7).  As the final battle commenced (Mormon 6:9), all but 24 Nephites were killed (Mormon 6:11), with Mormon falling wounded (Mormon 6:10) and Moroni among the survivors (Mormon 6:11). 230,000 Nephite men were killed (Mormon 6:11-15), which would probably total at least half a million people when including the women and children. At this time we learn that "a few Nephites had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had dissented over unto the Lamanites had fallen" (Mormon 6:15-emphasis mine). The definition of "few" in 1828 was "not many, small in number; the sense of few and small are often united." Few meant few then as it does now "a small number, used to emphasize how small a number of people a group is." Nibley can say "large numbers," but the scriptural record written by the man who was there and in charge of all Nephites wrote "few."
While Mormon did not know what happened to those "few" Nephites who escaped to the south, Moroni tells us that all of them were eventually hunted down and killed (Mormon 8:2). Also, Mormon and his 24 survivors, except for Moroni, were all killed by the Lamanites in the following battle (Mormon 8:3).  Moroni wraps up the final scene by writing:  "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), for there are none save it be the Lamanites and robbers" (Mormon 8:9).
    Why some scholars, like Nibley, want to read into these scriptures what is not there, is always a curious question. It should be kept in mind that Mormon, who saw all these events (Mormon 5:9) was constrained by the spirit from writing in too much detail because the awful sights he witnessed were too gruesome and terrible, and would offend future readers. Had there been any who escaped, or large numbers who dissented over to the Lamanites in these final hours, it seems likely that Mormon would have mentioned it. In light of there being nothing to suggest such a thing, Nibley and other scholars would do well to stick to the record and not try to invent survivors and events which are not shown to have existed.
Comment #2: “In a discussion lately, someone broached the subject of the Mulekite people in Zarahemla, after joining with the Nephites, continually incited wars against them in hopes of regaining the right to rule. He said he got this from someone named Hobby, but I’ve never heard of him or his theory abut the LOP. Do you know anything about this?” Ross T.
    Response: Several theorists believe such a thing, beginning with Nibley, continuing through Sorenson, and branching out to others. Mesoamericanists Michael and June Hobby wrote a book in 1994 (with Troy J. Smith) called Angular Chronology: The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America, which introduced what they termed a breakthrough of a "new discovery," termed angular chronology, in pre-Columbian dating. Angularchronology is, they claim, based upon the discovery of a change in the cardinal directions that supposedly occurred during the period in which such ancient American civilizations as the Hopewell mound builders of North America and the Preclassic Maya of Mesoamerica were at their zenith. It divides all of pre-Columbian time into two highly resolved chronological periods, separated by a great discontinuity.
As for inciting wars, Hobby also wrote on the same page 64: "The Right-to-Rule" Mulekites interacting with the "The Righteous-Shall-Inherit-the-Earth" Nephites caused some intriguing struggle for political power and determined much of the course which Book of Mormon history took. Nibley started the idea that all the malcontents among the Nephites had Jaredite names, and that the Mulekites intermingled with the Jaredites, which is an idea never suggested in the scriptural record. Who these dissenters were, we are not told. They carried the name Nephites and only in one case do we know one dissenter was a Mulekite, a man named Ammon (Mosiah 7:3), and there is some discussion that the name Ammon was actually of Egyptian origin, not Jaredite (see an earlier post). The Ammon mentioned in Ether 12:15 is actually the name of a Nephite, not Jaredite.
    The people of Zarahemla, and their leader, Zarahemla himself, welcomed the Nephites: “Now, there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly, because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews” (Omni 1:14). Also, “And it came to pass that the people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together; and Mosiah was appointed to be their king” (Omni 1:19).
    Now the people of Zarahemla outnumbered Mosiah and the Nephites two to one—had there been any problem between them, these Mulekites could easily have risen up and appointed Zarahemla to be their king. But they recognized that Mosiah was a prophet of God (Omni 1:19), and knew that the Jews not only had the right to rule, but that prophets had God’s ear. Thus, there was no other choice but to elect Mosiah their king.
    Of course, we are not told what role the Lord played in this event, like with the Jaredites and later Nephites, who were about ten years ahead of Mulek and the people who brought him to the Western Hemisphere. We are not told what the Mulekites knew about this land to which they were led, nor to whom it rightfully belonged, or what rights they had to inherit it. Obviously, under Jewish law and tradition, stretching back some 2,000 years to at least Abraham, was involved in rightful ownership or inheritance of the lands in which they lived. And that ownership or inheritance was through the blessings of the Lord. So when Mosiah and the Nephites showed up with the records and the knowledge that this was to be Lehi’s land of promise, the Mulekites both had their answers to the rights to the land, and how they could become part of those rights and have their inheritance from the Lord in regard to their land.
The Mulekites, after all, were a numerous people (Omni 1:17) and well outnumbered the Nephites (Mosiah 25:2), yet they agreed to have Mosiah as their king (Omni 1:19) and join with the Nephites (Mosiah 25:13) because the kingdom had been conferred upon the Nephites.  This was at a time of spiritual ferver when Alma baptized Limhi and his brethren (Mosiah 25:17) and the sons of the priests of Noah renounced their Lamanite heritage and became Nephites (Mosiah 25:12).
    None of this suggests that the Mulekites fought against the Nephites for control of the kingdom, but rather joined them realizing their God, the God of the House of Israel, had conferred the leadership of the land of promise onto Lehi's descendants and those who were numbered among them.  There is not a single suggestion anywhere in the scriptures to show that the Mulekites and the Nephites were at odds with one another, or that it was the Mulekites that tried to undermine the Nephite right to rule—once again, they themselves were now Nephites.

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