Monday, May 15, 2017

Legends of the Book of Mormon – Part IV

Continuing from the previous post regarding looking for Book of Mormon legends and connections within the Western Hemisphere, in which such legends and connections were found in North America and Mesoamerica. Here south of Middle America into the area of Andean South America.South America: Eight early and highly respected historians of Peru and the Andes give us a detailed account of the fundamental legends that came out of the Inca barrios of Cuzco at the time the Spaniards arrived.
Those who wrote about the ancient Peruvian legends included (LtoR) Gamboa, Pachacuti, Cieza de Leon and Balboa

    These early historians who all wrote of a unique legend about four brothers who initially came to Peru and settled there in the beginning, included Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa, Juan de Santa Cruz Pachacuti, Miguel Cabello Balboa, Pedro de Cieza de Leon and Juan de Betanzos, all wrote of these early legends, as did Garcilaso de la Vega, Alonso Ramos Gavilan, and Martin de Moru. In fact, almost every chronicler has some reference to the story of the Wandering and the Four Brothers that settled the Andes.
    These early legends of the beginning, referred to as the mists of pre-Inca history, cover four successive Peruvian epochs, beginning with the people of the First Age (Pacarimoc Runa) who were white, agriculturists, and strong in their religion for they worshipped Viracocha, the Creator God, as the one and only true God.  The descendants of the older and legitimate sons became the people of later epochs, while descendants of other sons became the indigenous natives (Indians).
    This legend, found in the earliest legends of the Andes in South America and, specifically, of the Four Brothers who Settled the Andes, is sometimes referred to as the Wandering. According to the legend, originally there were four sons who were sent by their father to administer in his name and were perceived as propagators of the truth and militant soldiers of a new and exclusive gospel.  
Legend of the Four Brothers and their Sister-Wives, dates back to earliest times among the Andes and has many similarities to the Book of Mormon story of Laman,Lemuel,Sam and Nephi

Each of these original brothers was married to a "sister-wife" and they had a golden staff of "peculiar properties" which "informed them when their mission was at an end" by remaining fixed on an "unknown promised land toward which they were journeying."  En route "difficulties developed with the oldest and most troublesome of the brothers," who had been prevailed upon to return "to the place of origin to retrieve some golden vessels they had failed to bring with them." And when one of the brothers was near death, he designated his grown son as his heir and successor.
    As recorded by these historians, this legend dates to a people who spoke a pre-Quechua language and considered themselves indigenous to the valley of Cuzco, yet pre-dated the Inca Empire by many centuries. They considered themselves unwarlike, but chose leaders who were "war-leaders," and whose services were not hired or paid. The leading brother of the four was elected to be the war-leader and his great successes earned him the coveted title of capac, or chieftan, which was an honorific title of true eminence. Later, this brother moved further away and appointed one of his brothers to be the "field guardian" of the community.
    Three brothers became the leaders of three groups or tribes who called themselves by separate names but were united and had to escape into the Andes with some of their people. There was a brother who did not combine with the league of three, and a long-lasting dualism occurred between the two groups.  Each group cherished a separate history, which carried down even into Inca times.  One brother led his people into the wilderness where the "warlike orientation of these footloose people was evidenced," and became adept at raiding the valley below," and who perfected the ritual huarachicoy or breechcloth ceremony.  One brother was so brave and strong and skilled with weapons that the other two brothers were affronted and humiliated at not being able to match his feats.  They were galled by envy and sought to kill their brother.
    It should be noted that though the earliest repetition of these legends have been badly eroded by time, what remains has been faithfully recorded as early as the 16th century.  Obviously, the legends have been enhanced with exotic additions, had survived more than a thousand years after the demise of the Nephite Nation by the time Sarmiento and others recorded them, yet enough remains to draw some interesting parallels with the Book of Mormon.
    So let’s take each of the 24 points of the Legend one at a time and comparing each with the Book of Mormon:
1) Four  sons left Jerusalem -- Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi (1 Nephi 2:5); 
2) Sent by their father to the place of origin to retrieve some golden vessels they had failed to bring with them - Nephi and his brothers were sent by their father Lehi back to Jerusalem, for the brass plates (1 Nephi 3:4, 9);
3) Propagators of the truth and militant soldiers of a new and exclusive gospel -- obviously, Nephi, Sam, Jacob, and Joseph were teachers of the truth and expounded on the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Nephi, himself, called Jacob and Joseph to be teachers and priests to his people (2 Nephi 5:26); 
4) Each brother was married to a sister-wife -- Laman, Lemuel, Sam, and Nephi each married a daughter of Ishmael (1 Nephi 16:7), thus each wife was a sister to each other wife, or "sister-wife."  In addition, these wives were also descendants of Joseph as were Nephi and his brothers (1 Nephi 5:14; 6:2; 2 Nephi 3:4), thus making the daughters of Ishmael and the sons of Lehi, cousins, or brothers and sisters in the tribe of Joseph;
5) A golden staff of peculiar properties which informed them when their mission was at an end by remaining fixed on an unknown promised land toward which they were journeying -- this part of the legend should be broken down into the following parts;
• Golden Staff – the Liahona was a ball of fine brass of curious workmanship (1 Nephi 16:10); 
Of peculiar properties -- the Liahona had spindles that pointed in directions (1 Nephi 16:10), with words that appeared written on it (1 Nephi 16:27), and worked by the faith of those who used it (1 Nephi 16:28; 18:21).  The instrument also stopped working in the face of wickedness (1 Nephi 18:12);
Fixed on an unknown promised land -- the Liahona was used by Nephi to guide him across the seas to the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:21-23); 
It  showed them when their journey was complete -- the 8 to 10 year journey through the wilderness and across the many waters culminated when the Lehi Colony finally reached the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:23).   
6) The oldest and most troublesome of the brothers -- time and again Laman caused problems from the moment they left Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2:12) to the time they reached the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:11, 18; 2 Nephi 5:2-4), many times threatening to kill Nephi (1 Nephi 7:16; 17:48) and return to Jerusalem (1 Nephi 7:7);
7) Who had prevailed upon to return to the place of origin -- Lehi asked Laman, as his first-born son, to return to Jerusalem  (1 Nephi 3:2-5) which was their place of origin for Lehi had spent all his days at Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4);
8) To retrieve some golden vessels -- the brothers were sent back to retrieve the brass plates (1 Nephi 3:3) and in so doing, they obtained the gold and silver and all manner of riches from their father's house (1 Nephi 3:16, 22) to use in purchasing the brass plates from Laban (1 Nephi 3:24);
9) When one of the brothers was near death, he designated his grown son as his heir and successor -- Nephi, upon getting old and ready to die, appointed his successor (Jacob 1:9), who the people decided to call Second Nephi (Jacob 1:11).  In fact, Nephi appointed his brother, Jacob, to be his religious successor, or prophet (Jacob 1:1-4), to maintain the records and oversee the people.  At the same time, a ruler, or king, was appointed who may have been Nephi's own son.  This parallel is found among the Jaredites, for when the youngest son of Jared was appointed king (Ether 6:27), the record and religious leadership was maintained by the Brother of Jared and his descendants (Ether 1:34; 2:14; 3:25; 4:1).  In fact, the religious record of the Nephites was maintained down through Amaleki (Omni 1:12), a descendant of Jacob, who died without a son, and his brother had gone with Zeniff back to the Land of Nephi (Omni 1:25, 30), so he gave the records to king Benjamin, the political ruler and king (Omni 1:23; Words of Mormon 1:17). Several hundred years later, through this line we come to Mormon who called himself a pure descendant of Lehi through Nephi (3 Nephi 5:20; Mormon 1:5; ).  Thus it might be assumed that Nephi's political leader, the man who became known as Second Nephi, was one of Nephi's own sons;
10) When  people considered themselves indigenous to the land -- The Nephites separated themselves from the Lamanites and settled a new land which they called the Land of Nephi (2 Nephi 5:7-8).  There they spent over 300 years until Mosiah was told to flee and take those Nephites who would go with him to a land further north (Omni 1:12).  For 300 years, the Nephites would have considered themselves indigenous to the Land of Nephi;
(See the next post, “Legends of the Book of Mormon – Part V,” for a look into South America)

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