Saturday, August 13, 2016

Those Who Went Back

We have been asked several times about the Zeniff, Noah, Limhi group that went back to reclaim the Land of Nephi and when exactly they went and how long they were there. While any figure we come up with likely is little more than an assumption, there are certain events that might lead us to a fairly close figure.
    First of all, Jarom, Jacob’s grandson, ends his record sometime around 361 B.C. (Jarom 1:13) “And I, Jarom, do not write more” (Jarom 1:14). Omni (Jacob’s great grandson) took over from his father, Jarom, and was a warrior, “I am a wicked man and have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord” (Omni 1:2). By 317 B.C., they had many seasons of peace and many seasons of serious wars and bloodshed (Omni 1:3) in the Land of Nephi. Omni gives the plates to his son Amaron (Jacob’s 2nd great grandson) after 317 B.C. (Omni 1:3), and Amaron has the records, and by 280 B.C., 320 years after Lehi left Jerusalem, the more wicked part of the Nephites had been destroyed in the Land of Nephi. The Lord visited the wicked in great judgment but spared the righteous that they should not perish (Omni 1:7). While we do not know what caused this destruction, we might assume it was wars with the Lamanites who were evidently quite successful in battle at this time.
    In any event, the plates were then given by Amaron to his brother, Chemish (who is also Jacob’s 2nd great grandson), who wrote one verse saying he turned the plates over to his son, Abinadom (Jacob’s 3rd great grandson), who wrote of seeing much contention between the Nephites and Lamanites and that he took much life with his sword (Omni 1:10). Amaleki (Jacob’s 4th great grandson, and the 5th great grandson of Lehi), the son of Abinadom, takes over the plates and completes the record of this period on the small plates of Nephi.
    Amaleki, the only somewhat prolific writer besides Jacob, Enos and Jarom, describes Mosiah being told by the Lord to flee the Land of Nephi (Omni 1:12), which we can assume was about 75 years later or around 205 B.C. when he leaves the land of Nephi with Mosiah who eventually is led by the Lord to discover Zarahemla.
Somewhere between 200 B.C., probably around when Mosiah reaches Zarahemla, and 130 BC when Amaleki closes out the record, he writes of his brother going with Zeniff back to reclaim the Land of Nephi 1:27).
    Now during that 70 years or so, it would seem likely that it would have been sooner than later, i.e., Zeniff, who describes himself as being “over zealous to inherit the land of our fathers” (Mosiah 9:3), gathered a large group of the Nephites who came with Mosiah to return to the Land of Nephi and reclaim the lands of their inheritance—it is unlikely that any of the people of Zarahemla (Mulekites) went with Zeniff, since they went back to reclaim the land of their fathers, and this would not have included Mulekites. Zeniff  evidently talked some others into this, one being an austere and bloodthirsty man who took over leadership of the group, which he must have formed into a type of army.
    Why these men went back to reclaims the land of their fathers we are not exactly told. However, it might have had a lot to do with a very large number of Mulekites now becoming Nephites; or that here in Zarahemla the Nephites did not have anything, but had left buildings, homes, and a thriving city that they owned back in Nephi; it might have been due to the muggy, hot weather at the seashore as we have written before; or the sand desert there as opposed to the lush green fields in the Land of Nephi; or the convenience of the roads they had built there; or just that their (unnamed) leader, being “a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man,” was intent on going back to the city of his birth and reclaiming by force that land from the Lamanaites, for he certainly did not want to take back the land peacefully when they got there and would not listen to Zeniff’s plea, who he had sent as a spy to look over the Lamanite  forces “that their army might come upon them and destroy them” to spare the Lamanites because they appeared peaceful and friendly and possibly willing to negotiate with them.
On the other hand, Zeniff, who later would learn he had been deceived by the cunning and craftiness of king Laman had entered into a treaty with the Lamanite king whose later ambition was obvious to bring the Nephites into subjection and bondage and obtain tribute from them (Mosiah 7:21-22). Obviously, the crops did not produce for the not-so-industrious Lamanites the way it did for the hard-working Nephites, so king Laman exacted tribute of one half of their corn and barley and of all their grain of every kind, as well as one one half their flocks and herds, and one half of everything they possessed. However, at the time it was a treaty of peace, and not only did Zeniff agree to it, but he was elected king by the Nephites no doubt for negotiating such a successful and bloodless reclamation of their lands.
    Since it was not the intent of reclaiming their land peacefully, for they had taken an army with them and there were no women and children among them, their hard-nosed leader created a contention among them and a fight broke out that resulted in not only the leader being killed, but all but 50 of their entire group falling beneath the sword. Zeniff, still taken with what he had observed among the Lamanites (Mosiah 9:1), led the party back to Zarahemla where he evidently convinced a large contingency of people, including families, to follow him back to the Land of Nephi where he must have convinced them that he would be able to secure their lands in a peaceful manner and that they could live with the Lamanites in the area peacefully.
    Exactly why Zeniff felt that way we are not told, but it appears he felt completely safe and secure in the land for twelve years; however, in the thirteenth year king Laman led an attack on Zeniff’s people, killing 279 before the Nephites could bring a swift end to the battle by killing three thousand and forty-three in a day and a night and drove them out of the land (Mosiah 9:18-19). After that, Zeniff woke up to their plight and though they began to establish the kingdom and began to possess the land in peace, he caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind and set guards out about the land (Mosiah 10:1-2).
In any event after a period of 22 years in the land, Zeniff describes himself as “in my old age” going up to battle against the Lamanites (Mosiah 10:10). He then conferred the kingdom on Noah, one of his sons, who built many elegant and spacious buildings, great towers, himself a large palace of fine workmanship and expensive materials, all of which would have taken some time, especially since the money was raised through taxes. Noah also had many wives and concubines, eliminated that priesthood of his father’s time and replaced them all with his own cronies as priests, who also gathered together many wives and concubines.
    There are also the stories of Abinadi and Alma, and the rise of the Lamanites against them and wars. Adding it all together, we are probably looking at Noah taking over when he was around 30-35, when his father was probably about 60-65, and spending about 20 to 25 years through Abinadi and Alma, bringing us to his age of about 50 to 60 when he encountered Gideon who sought his life. This also provides time for Alma’s numerous experiences and moves, the story of Amulon teaching the Lamanites, etc.
    If this is about right, then Limhi would have taken over as king when he was about 25, for he sounds on the youngish side in his desiring for his father not to be destroyed, though he knew of his iniquities (Mosiah 19:17).
    So far we have dealt with 22 to 25 years of Zeniff, perhaps about 20 for Noah, and now we are looking at maybne 20 to 25 of Limhi, who seems to have lived pretty much in a quiet time of subjugation to the Lamanties. If all of this is near correct, we can look at the Nephites and Zeniff returning to the Land of Nephi around 200 B.C., and concluding their time there around 130 B.C., according to the dates provided in the footnotes of the scriptural record.

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