Saturday, August 29, 2015

Asiatic Robber Bands

When reading Hugh Nibley, he uses the term Robber Bands, and refers to those robber bands of Asia, and connects them to the Jaredite period. One of the problems with this is that the Asian period and the Jaredite period are not necessarily compatible. 
    Nibley wrote: “An important by-product of the Asiatic-Jaredite system of rallying armies and absorbing nations is an efflorescence of robber bands on all the face of the land. (Nibley (2) p 233)”
It is interesting that in the Nephi record, the term Robber or Gaddianton Robber and their acts is listed in eleven sequences, including some with the Lamanites, but not one single mention in the entire Book of Ether. And since such Robbers pose a threat to the continuity of any government, if they had been in the Land Northward with the Jaredites, one would think some mention, even if minor, would have been included. However, there are only two mentions of "Robbers" in the land (Ether 10:33; 13:26), and one mention of a single robber (Ether 10:3).
    Does this mean they did not exist in the Jaredite nation, except in the days of Com. There is no way to know. However, when Nibley makes a major point of their existence and that, later, they infiltrate into the Land Southward to join up with the Lamanites and dominate those warriors, one needs to take a second look at the reality of such a scenario, for the mention or existence of robbers occurs only in one period, and then again a little later during the last days of the Jaredite battles between Corientumr and Shared. At a time when the entire nation was at war and everyone was joining one side or the other, the fact that some turned to robbing would be understandableand when we consider that the record is being abridged by Moroni, who would hve known of Robber Bands among the Nephites and Lamanites, it seems significant that he did not refer to the "robbers" as being organized in such a manner.
    Nibley added, (p233), “Asia has at all times swarmed with robber bands, exactly as did this continent under the Jaredites, and from time to time these robber bands have formed coalitions strong enough to ruin states and overturn thrones.
    Since we do not have the entire account of the Jaredite nation and its activities and problems, it cannot be assumed that it was the result of robber bands that brought destruction to the Jaredites—but, rather, their wickedness and unwillingness to do as the Lord asked them.  But Nibley is not through with his mention of these robber bands despite their not being mentioned in the scriptural account as any organized force as Nibley describes:
    He continues (p234): “This typical and recurrent state of things vividly recalls the awful days of the Jaredite robbers, when every man slept on his sword to guard his property from every other man—and still had it stolen (Ether 14:1-2)”
    Verses 1 and 2 of Ether chapter 14, does not suggest this problem was from robbers stealing things, or their involvement at all. In this case, The ongoing war between the two main Jaredite factions, under Shared and Coriantumr, there was a two year hiatus between the two leaders, which had both been wounded; however, during this time the war continued as “all the people upon the face of the land were shedding blood, and there was none to restrain them.” (One of the things about an army that few non-military people understand is, that it is the leaders of any military unit or force that keeps the force in checkkill off or eliminate the leaders and chaos results as the military unit or army goes berserk in killing, robbing, and rapine orgies. With both leaders here wounded and out of the picture for a time, we see this result among the two Jaredite forcesit is human nature, not robbers that leads to such inhumane actions).
Typically, dynamic leaders keep an army in check, or on a specific battle plan, and in this case with both Shared and Coriantumr withdrawing because of their wounds, all the people were still fighting. As a result, a great “curse” came upon the land because of the iniquity of the people, in which a man could not keep hold of his own property. When he set it down at night, it was gone in the morning. Every man kept hold of what was his and did not lend out or borrow, and kept his weapon in his hand to defend himself and his family against those who would attack him without warning.
    After this two-year period, and after Shared died his brother, Gilead, became the new leader, who gathered his army against that of Coriantumr and the war was resumed. There were “secret combinations” among Gilead’s people who gave great strength to his army; however, they murdered him and Lib became the new leader, continuing the war with Coriantumr, who killed him in battle and his brother, Shiz took his place, again pressing the war with Coriantumr. This battle continued until all were dead, including Shiz, and only Coriantumr remained alive as the Lord had told Ether.
    Nowhere in all this is there any mention of Robbers or Robber Bands, thieves, or the like. If they existed, which they probably did as unorganizerd individuals or small groups, there is no record of them. But that never slows down a Mesoamerican Theorist, including Nibley from creating what is not in print.
It is interesting that early writings are full of adventures of robber bands, such as those of Greece, of which Alexander the Great is oft considered the last of the breed of those who brought him to power and broke apart at his death. Robber bands are mentioned in the Ionian Islands of Greece, Turkey, Thessaly, Corinth and Olympus, that were protected by the villages, and who burned and plundered the districts under the Pasha’s protection.
    There were bandit cavalcades or robber bands along the Mongolia prairie; robber bands were suggested in connection with Lehi not having fire across the great sand desert (1 Nephi 17:2), and robber bands that were the descendants of Genghis Khan, Ogdai and Batu, who led their hordes of cavalry in conquest after conquest.
    But all of these were of a much later date than the Jaredites, who came on the scene sometime during or just after the days of Peleg, who was born five (5) generations after the Flood (Shem, Arphaxad, Salalah, Eber and Peleg.) Then,”in the days of Peleg the earth was divided” (Genesis 10:25), the Tower was built, Babylon was founded, the Jatedites left, and eventualy Egypt and Greece (among other nations as the confounded languages spread further out from Babylon) were founded.
    While our 2116 date is an arbitrary one for the leaving of the Jaredites (see Chapter 12, “Jaredite Chronology,” Who Really Settled Mesoamerica), a complete though speculative chronology is available to see how these events fit into place with one another based on their probable ages and the known dates of the Flood, Peleg, the Tower, etc.
    The point is that when Nibley continually creates an Asian-Jaredite connection, both the timing and the location are not consistent, and a false understanding is established. As an example, the famed Robber Bands of Asia, which Nibley connects as the forerunners of the Jaredfites, did not even exist at the time the Jaredites formed and were led out of Mesopotamia. While the two civilizations may have had this in common, it was not because the Jaredites were part of the Asian development, which came later, and not likely to be the forerunner, since they disappeared from history and ended up on an entirely different continent with no connection before or after with that movement in Asia.
If, indeed, the Robber Bands of history were the descendants of Ghenghis Khan, as some historians claim, or those of the later Arabs who controlled the Rub’ al-Khalil, or even of the later Greeks (Ionian Islands), the fact of the matter is there is no record, hint, or suggestive connection that would link the Jaredites to this movement in any way. Simply because, after many generations in the land of promise, the earlier righteous people degenerated into warring tribes may suggest a connection to Hugh Nibley, it seems like a huge stretch to me with no supportive connection in distance, time, or location.
    What it suggests more readily, is that Satan with his evil enterprises is alive and well in all parts of the world and has been in all periods of time. Robber Bands are less isolated to a people, it would seem, than to the evil nature of many types of people for they have existed in numerous areas and among numerous peoples over the course of history.

No comments:

Post a Comment