Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Fall of the Lamanites – Part I

It all began soon after Lehi left Jerusalem. Within days, they stopped in the wilderness to camp, in a secluded valley beside a flowing stream. Both were significant in their existence for Lehi had been traveling along the Wadi Arabah, a long, comparatively narrow rift or depression from six to twelve miles wide and 118 miles long, beginning just south of the Dead Sea and running to the northern edge of the Gulf of Aqaba, which in Lehi’s time was simply considered an arm of the Red Sea.
The dry, arid, desert path to the south—the Wadi Arabah is actually a continuation of the Great Rift Valley separating Jordan from Israel, and known from ancient biblical times as simply “The Arabah
    Beginning at 1292 feet below sea level just beyond the Dead Sea, the valley gradually ascends as it goes southward for 67 miles to a watershed, which rises 660 feet above sea level. From here it quickly descends until 45 miles further southward it reaches the Gulf of Aqabah at Ezion Geber. In ancient times, there were a number of villages (only ruined remains are left) and many copper and silver mines from which ore was dug in the time of Solomon (1000-900 B.C.) About 300 years after Lehi passed through here, the Nabateans reached the area of the Negev from Arabia in the slow nomadic manner of the period. Their capital became Petra (City of Rock), which is now Jordan’s most famous tourist attraction.
Lehi passed down this barren, desolate and dry rocky sand route toward the Red Sea—a hot and parched area that is virtually without rain
    After about five or six days travel along the Wadi toward the Red Sea, then three more days “along the borders which are nearer the Red Sea” (1 Nephi 2:5), he stopped and “pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water” (1 Nephi 2:6). Once in the secluded valley, of course, after some eight days suffering in the heat of the Wadi, the temperature and climate was immediately and noticeable reduced. It was here, after giving thanks to the Lord for their safe travel out of Jerusalem, Lehi drew attention to his two older sons and their wayward and rebellious tendencies.
    Nephi records: “And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!” (1 Nephi 2:9). Lehi then turned to Lemuel, and said, “And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!” (1 Nephi 2:10).
    Not finished, Lehi added, “Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem, to leave the land of their inheritance, and their gold, and their silver, and their precious things, to perish in the wilderness. And this they said he had done because of the foolish imaginations of his heart. And thus Laman and Lemuel, being the eldest, did murmur against their father. And they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them. Neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets. And they were like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem, who sought to take away the life of my father. And it came to pass that my father did speak unto them in the valley of Lemuel, with power, being filled with the Spirit, until their frames did shake before him. And he did confound them, that they durst not utter against him; wherefore, they did as he commanded them” (1 Nephi 2:11-14).
    Nephi, in an excited state of the Spirit, intervened for his brothers with the Lord, who told him, “Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart. And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands” (1 Nephi 2: 19-20). Then the Lord sealed the fates of the Lamanites, when he said, “And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord” (1 Nephi 2:21).
    Long before they even reached the Bountiful, built the ship, and sailed to the Land of Promise, Laman and Lemuel set the groundwork for their eventual destruction, through their disobedience.
Even upon their father’s errand to retrieve the brass plates, Laman and Lemuel attack Nephi and Sam, requiring an angel to intervene for the safety of the younger brothers
    For Lehi’s sake, the Lord had set aside a land, a promised land, that was choice above all other lands, that was to remain uninhabited after the Great Flood until the Jaredites landed (Ether 13:2) and the land to which Lehi would eventually come (Ether 13:5).  This land was set aside for those who would serve the Lord (Ether 13:2), and be a land of promise for Lehi’s seed (2 Nephi 1:5; Jacob 2:12) if they were faithful (1 Nephi 7:13).  The land’s existence would be kept from the knowledge of all other nations (2 Nephi 1:9) and would be a land of their inheritance (1 Nephi 1:9; 3 Nephi 15:13), provided they kept the Lord’s commandments (2 Nephi 2:20; 4:14).
    However, if Lehi’s seed did not keep the commandments and became unrighteous, the Nephites would be utterly destroyed (Alma 9:24; Helaman 7:24).  At the same time, the Lamanites would be scattered and smitten (1 Nephi 13:14) and visited by the Lord with judgement (1 Nephi 13:34), but they would not be entirely destroyed (2 Nephi 4:9; 9:53) nor would those Nephites who had mixed with the Lamanites be completely destroyed (1 Nephi 13:31).  The Lord also promised Joseph, the last born of Lehi’s sons, that his seed would not utterly be destroyed (2 Nerphi 3:3).
    Thus we have a situation where the righteous did not remain so and were wiped out (Mormon 8:2,7,9; Moroni 1:2,5), and those who did not have the pure knowledge the Nephites possessed (Alma 9:19-23), were spared from utter destruction (Mormon 8:9) because they did not have the promise (Alma 9:24)., and were allowed to destroy their once more righteous brethren (D&C 3:18). Even so, the Lamanites were to suffer greatly because of their wickedness (1 Nephi 13:14) and even after the destruction of their enemy, they knew no peace (Mormon 8:8; Moroni 1:2) and were involved in one continual round of murder and bloodshed, with no one knowing when the civil war among them would cease (Mormon 8:8).
    From approximately 385 A.D. onward, the remnant of Lehi’s seed in the Land of Promise were at constant war.  No sooner had the Lamanites defeated and annihilated their long-time, hereditary enemy, the Nephites, with whom they had been at almost constant war for a thousand years, than they fell into a civil war among themselves that was so harsh and bloodthirsty that Moroni would not discuss it.  Obviously, this civil war was Lamanite against Lamanite (Mormon 8:8, Moroni 1:2), but we are not told directly what part the Gadianton Robbers had in this war, for those are the only two groups Moroni claims were left in the land (Mormon 8:9).  It seems probable that the Robbers were among the Lamanite forces fighting one another.  The civil war evidently involved all of the remaining military forces that had been marshaled to wipe out Mormon’s army, for Moroni tells us that the whole face of the land was one continual round of murder and bloodshed (Mormon 8:8).
(Image D – The Lamanite Civil War began at the conclusion of the last Nephite battle at Cumorah and was still raging when Moroni closed out his record 36 years later with the war having no end in sight
    How long this civil war lasted we are not told, but more than thirty-six years after it started, Moroni tells us it was still going on and that it was exceedingly fierce among them, and that they had completely put to death any Nephite survivors that had escaped the battle at Cumorah or that existed in the land (Moroni 1:2).
While history gives us no direct clue as to how long this civil war continued, an epic poem about an Incan King, Inca Rocca, which we have covered in these posts over the years and which suggests that the wars continued for a thousand years and that there was no peace in the land during all that time—which time would take us to about 1400 AD when the Inca began to expand their kingdom and eventually create an Andean Empire that covered a larger area than Europe.

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