Monday, September 7, 2015

Several Unusual Men – Limhi and Gideon VI

Thus the city of Nephi, in the Land of Nephi, that area where Nephi, the son of Lehi, settled after escaping from his brothers and the sons of Ishmael following Lehi’s death, settled up in the highland valley with encircling hills that looked down upon this once peaceful valley, where Nephi taught his people to be industrious and work with their hands and build after the manner of what he had known in Jerusalem and what the Lord taught him since leaving.
King Limhi was the last of the Nephite kings who ruled a small area of that land, the city of Nephi and city of Shilom
    In this home of their forefathers, or the land of their first inheritance, Limhi, the last of the three kings who ruled his people in peace for two years following having the kingdom conferred upon him. As he introduces himself to Ammon, who had been sent by Mosiah to learn of the whereabouts of those who had gone back to the land of Nephi with Zeniff, “I am Limhi, the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came up out of the land of Zarahemla to inherit this land, which was the land of their fathers, who was made a king by the voice of the people” (Mosiah 7:9).
    Following a two year hiatus in the land of Nephi, the evil priests of king Noah kidnapped twenty-four of the “daughters of the Lamanites” when they “gathered together to dance” (Mosiah 20:5) and make merry in the wilderness. This brought a condemnation down upon the Nephites, for the Lamanites assumed it had been they who had stolen their daughters (Mosiah 20:6).
    While others worried over this and a pending war with the Lamanites regarding the outcome, it was Gideon who stepped forward with a solution.
Gideon once again solved the Nephite dilemma of how to deal with the Lamanites who wanted to come to war and destroy the Nephites when their 24 daughters turned up missing
    “Now when Gideon had heard these things, he being the king's captain, he went forth and said unto the king: I pray thee forbear, and do not search this people, and lay not this thing to their charge” (Mosiah 20:17). Where Gideon’s information came from is not stated, but for whatever reason, he saw the evil priests for who and what they were and well understood their immoral ways and their handiwork in the theft of these Lamanite daughters. “For do ye not remember the priests of thy father, whom this people sought to destroy? And are they not in the wilderness? And are not they the ones who have stolen the daughters of the Lamanites?” (Mosiah 20.18)
    Gideon’s simple logic over came any resistance and these Nephite leaders looked about. Perhaps Limhi looked to Gideon for a further solution, and his chief captain came up with a bold one: “And now, behold,” Gideon suggested, “tell the [Lamanite] king of these things, that he may tell his people that they may be pacified towards us; for behold they are already preparing to come against us; and behold also there are but few of us” (Mosiah 20:19).
    At the time, Gideon knew that the Lamanites, thinking that the people of king Limhi had committed the crime, became angry, and their king led an army against the Nephites” (Mosiah 20:6-7). It had been Limhi who had seen their war preparations from one of the high watchtowers Noah had built. Even though he didn’t know why the Lamanites were attacking, he gathered his people together, and they were lying in wait when the enemy arrived (Mosiah 20:9). The two armies “fought like lions for their prey” (Mosiah 20:10), but in the end the Nephites drove the enemy away, even though the Lamanites outnumbered them by more than two to one.
    When the Lamanites retreated, their king was left wounded on the field, and he was brought before Limhi, who demanded to know why the Lamanite king had broken the truce between them and attacked his people. It was then Limhi learned from the Lamanite king of the treachery the Lamanites had placed upon the Nephites, and with Gideon’s bold plan of enlisting the captured Lamanite king to plead their case before the Lamanite army,

Limhi had the Lamanite king brought before him, after his wounds had been treated. Now, Limhi was a just man, and he said, “I will search among my people and whosoever has done this thing shall perish.”
It is interesting that both these kings of hereditary enemy forces, required complete trust from the other—and had they both not given it, the positive end result would not have been accomplished. Fortunately, however, they both became convinced that the priests of king Noah had committed the crime, and the Lamanite king “was pacified towards” the Nephites. When the Lamanite king asked Limhi to have his army put down their weapons and approach his Lamanite army that had retained their weapons (Mosiah 20:24), one can only imagine what might have gone through the minds of both men—and their chief captains as well.
    It was obviously not a trusting situation, but evidently prompted by the Spirit, both kings and forces agreed to the trust one another in these one-sided terms. What Nephite on the battlefield did not think that the Lamanites, furious at the taking of their daughters, would pay any attention to their king? It probably occurred to more than one Nephite that if the Lamanite king were determined to utterly destroy the Nephites, the best possible way to accomplish it would be to have an unarmed Nephite army meet a well-armed and angry Lamanite army. Yet, the Lamanite king, keeping his oath, had to bow down before his army and “plead in behalf of the people of Limhi” (Mosiah 20:25).
    It is hard to imagine such a diplomatic feat today. Two warlike peoples with a memory of years of bloody battles faced each other, and one of the armies did the incredible: on the strength of the promise of the enemy king, they completely disarmed themselves and threw themselves on the mercy of their enemies. And their enemies, when they saw “the people of Limhi, that they were without arms, had compassion on them and were pacified towards them, and returned with their king in peace to their own land” (Mosiah 20:26).
    Limhi did not rule as a dictator.
    Gideon did not follow evil suggestions.
    Finally the Nephite’s prayers were answered when Ammon arrived with a rescue party from Zarahemla.
    It was Gideon, who once again, came up with the plan no one else could develop—a way to get the Nephites, their women and children, flocks and herds,out of the Land of Nephi and back to Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:3-8).
Gideon led them through the back gate toward the back pass and out of the city, while the guards were sleeping, drunk with the new wine provided them by the Nephites 
    Was it a foolish desire that led Zeniff to want to reclaim their land of first inheritance and chance going back among the Lamanites? We may never know the answer to that, however, the opportunity for great men to come to power and provide great leadership and bring people back to the knowledge of God and the gospel among the Nephites was surely a worthwhile endeavor from that spiritual perspective, and obvious one of great learning and stature among the temporal stories we find in the scriptural record.
    These great men came to know what their fathers never seemed to realize—that a righteous people need not follow an unrighteous king, and that if the people are determined to do something, not even a king can stop them, except by persuasion.
    It was a time of hardship and trials for the Nephites that went back to inherit the land of Nephi; however, it was a time requiring greatness in the people, and in some cases they rose to that greatness and achieved the Power of the Lord in return—and in other cases they fell to their avarice, pride and carnality. Some chose everlasting success and victory, others fell to everlasting defeat
    There is a saying among some that hard times produce great people and expose the not-so-great among us. Certainly this return to the Land of Nephi did that among the people of Mosiah, Zeniff, Noah and Limhi.

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