Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Moroni’s Unrecorded 36 Years

We have often been asked what we think Moroni was doing during the time between Cumorah and when he ends his record in 421 A.D. and how old he might have been when he died. In order to do this we need to remember that Mormon was born in 310 A.D., and came south into the Land of Zarahemla in 321 A.D. at the age of eleven (Mormon 1:6). He died at the age of 75 in 385 A.D. at the battle of Cumorah, at least he was wounded in that first wave of Lamanite attacks (Mormon 6:11), and evidently wrote on the plates at least the next day (Mormon 6:11,20), though we assume he died of his wounds shortly after this attack, we do not know exactly when.
Understanding that Mormon took over the army at the age of 15 in 326 A.D. (Mormon 1:15), he was probably heavily engaged in his military work and might not have married until he was older. If he was about 46 years old when Moroni was born, that would be about 356 A.D., which would have been about two years after the treaty had been arranged with the Lamanites (Mormon 2:28).
    If these days are near correct, Moroni would have been about 30 years old when the final battle took place at Cumorah.
    Between 385 and 421 A.D., Moroni finished his father’s record (Mormon 8 and 9), abridged the record of Ether and wrote his own Book of Moroni. He might even have nursed his father for a time before Mormon died, we simply do not know, other than the fact that by the time Moroni began to complete his fathers record, he wrote, “And my father also was killed by them [Lamanites], and I remain alone to write the sad tale of the destruction of my people. But behold, they are gone, and I fulfill the commandment of my father” (Mormon 8:3).
    In some way, Moroni became privy to the fact that the Lamanites had tracked the escaping Nephites at Cumorah into the south countries and that they were all overtaken and killed (Mormon 8:2).

What Moroni’s plan was for his hiding the record when he was completed with it, he did not seem to know. Though he had been at the hill Cumorah, where he was when he finished his father’s record is neither said nor implied, but it must have been some distance away for he says: “Therefore I will write and hide up the records in the earth; and whither I go it mattereth not” (Mormon 8:4). So evidently, he was not near Cumorah at that moment, and was either not planning to hide the records there or did not feel it was feasible. He did understand that he had to hide them in the earth after he was finished with his work on them, for he wrote: “And I am the same who hideth up this record unto the Lord” (Mormon 8:14), and seemed to understand that he would be involved in their eventual discovery as he added, “And whoso shall bring it to light, him will the Lord bless…for it shall be brought out of darkness unto light, according to the word of God; yea, it shall be brought out of the earth, and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and come unto the knowledge of the people; and it shall be done by the power of God” (Mormon 8:16). He also seemed to understand that after the record was retrieved from its hiding place and translated, that it would have numerous critics, “And if there be faults they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault; nevertheless God knoweth all things; therefore, he that condemeth, let him be aware lest he shall be in danger of hell fire” (Mormon 8:17), and “For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be” (Mormon 8:19).
    Of course, this is all speculation since we have no direct evidence of what Moroni thought or knew that he did not write about, but the events seem to have led in this direction.
    Much to Moroni’s surprise, thirty-six years later he was not only still alive, but prompted to write more in the record, and begins  by telling us that the civil wars between the Lamanites are still raging and were exceedingly fierce (Moroni 1:2).
Now Moroni was not stationary, sitting in a cave somewhere like Ether, waiting for the end. First of all, the terrible stench from 230,000 to 300,000 dead bodies decaying over the years at Cumorah would have long before this time driven Moroni far away from the hill Cumorah, as it would have the surviving Lamanites, who were still so strongly taken with the blood lust that as soon as they made sure all the Nephites (men, women and children) were dead, commenced this blood lust against one another—a civil war between them, no doubt tribe against tribe, family against family, that had lasted at this point for 36 years.
    No doubt this led to the tribal mentality that existed a thousand years later when the Europeans arrived, where tribe distrusted anyone not of their own tribe and wars between tribes evidently existed down through the ages into the times of the arrival of the Gentiles.
    Where Moroni went, we have no idea. Fifteen years after Cumorah, Moroni tells us he is wandering around keeping clear of the way of the Lamanites for his own safety. We can guess during this time that he did not go south, where the Lamanites were located and no doubt the strongest in numbers, and where they were then tracking down every Nephite that had escaped in that direction. Nor would he have gone West for he would have been stopped by the ocean (West Sea), and it seems likely he would not have gone east into the deep jungles that had so recently come up out of the water. This leaves his most likely direction of travel would be northward, perhaps into the area of modern day southern Colombia.
    Obviously, he was well aware of the danger to his life from the warring Lamanites, who seemed to be everywhere in their wars for he tells us he “wandered whithersoever he could for the safety of his own life” (Moroni 1:3). Who the wars were against or why is not stated, other Lamanites could have come north and challenged those then residing in the Land Northward, or it could have been between converted Lamanites. In all, Moroni had enough space of the plates after abridging Ether to write his own few pages and then the title page as he kept on the move, keeping a keen eye out for Lamanites, and avoiding known trails and paths where they might be traveling. No doubt hiding by day and perhaps engraving his record by moonlight at night, he finished his work—a lone man, the last survivor of the Nephite nation and people.
Of the title page, Joseph Smith said, “I wish to mention here that the title page of the Book of Mormin is a literal translation taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated (Joseph Smith History of the Church, vol 1 p71).
    What is important here is that Moroni does not tell us where he put the record.  We do not know anything more than he said 36 years before this that “I will write and hide up the records in the earth” (Mormon 8:4).
    If there was ever any question by anyone at the greatness of this man, Moroni, consider his wandering around, hiding everywhere he went, trying to keep out of site of the Lamaniters, knowing they would kill him and destroy the records he carried (Moroni 1:1), yet as he sat down to write this final “few thigns” nearly the first thing he says is but I write a few more things, that perhaps they may be of worth unto my brethren, the lamanites, in some future day, according to the will of the Lord” (Moroni 1:4). Not many of us, I think, would be thinking of the souls of those who sought our life at such a time as this. But Moroni was far above the level to which most men live.
    That people read into this what they want, i.e., burying the plates in the hill Cumorah, is without merit—at least not for many years afterward. First of all, the stench as mentioned would have driven all away from Cumorah for many years—an example of this was the battle at the city of Ammonihah where when it was over, “The smell [of dead bodies] was so powerful that no one was willing to live in Ammonihah for many years” and it was called the “Desolation of Nehors: for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate” (Alma 16:11). And this was one city, with the bodies lightly covered with earth—Cumorah had ten times that many dead or more, and they were not covered with earth.
    The stench would have kept the area free of all people for many, many years.


  1. I would propose another theory about the death of Moroni. I do not believe he died but was translated. Of course there is no record of that, but consider this. Joseph gave Moroni the plates on one occasion because he was moving to a different location. He met Moroni walking along the trail looking like a traveler with a sack on his back which contained the plates. A resurrected person doesn't so these things. Yes some have appeared but they are glorified. Resurrected people do not return and do something like this. Therefore in my opinion he was translated so that he could perform this lastdays mission at the time of the restoration.

    One other point. His mission isn't finished yet because at some point the Lamanites will be gathered. I'm sure Moroni will be well involved with the gathering.

  2. Many brethren have indicated over the years that Moroni is assigned to look over this land and I suspect you are problem correct in your assessment. Whether quickened at the time or resurrected afterward, it certainly stands to reason that he is a resurrected being.

  3. I tend to believe the claim that Moroni came to present day Manti, Utah and dedicated the future temple site there. Also I tend to believe the theory that after depositing the plates in New York that Moroni went and lived among the Mi'kmaq natives in present day Canada-- and that is why they have a written language with many links to Eqyptian. Note this article: http://mathisencorollary.blogspot.com/2011/07/case-of-micmac-hieroglyphs-powerful.html

  4. Del, what are your thoughts on Erichards comment?