Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Peoples of the Land of Promise – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding Zoram and his descendants.
    The Zoramites are listed last among this secondary lineage and rightly so, since Zoram was not a son or descendant of Lehi. And while on Zoram, we often see theorists’ comments that Zoram, Laban's servant, agreed “under duress” to join the party of Lehi following the slaying of Laban in Jerusalem (1 Nephi 4:31-37). However, Zoram was a servant of Laban, which in that time, typically meant either he was indentured (sold his freedom to Laban) or was an outright slave.
Zoram was frightened when he realized that Nephi was not Laban; but his fears were calmed when Nephi offered to take Zoram with him as a free man

In either case, he was not a free man. What Nephi offered him was to be free and join their party as a free man (1 Nephi 4:33). As Nephi wrote: “Zoram did take courage at the words which I spake” (1 Nephi 4:35). Why would he not take courage at the prospect of being set free to live among Nephi and his extended family as a free man. Under such circumstances, it is hard to imagine any “under duress” being involved!
    But then theorists seldom think things out to their natural conclusion, nor study the scriptural base that closely. Their intent is to prove their viewpoint and pre-determined location of the Land of Promise—anything not along that direct line of thought and purpose is often discarded or labeled “unimportant.”
    It should be noted, however, that somewhere around 75 B. C., at least some of Zoram’s dissented for a time had joined the Lamanite side (Alma 43:4). As they were then "appointed…chief captains" over the Lamanite armies (Alma 48:5), they may earlier have played a formal military role among the Nephites. In describing the Amalekite, who had "a more wicked and murderous disposition than the Lamanites," Mormon adds the Zoramites to this group of Amalekites who were both appointed chief captains over the Lamanites (Alma 43:6), which might suggest that these were not a majority of the Zoramites, but a small group, branch, or family.
    In any event, we find at least one of them, Ammoron, a descendant of Zoram, who called himself "a bold Lamanite," reciting the same dogma that had angered Laman and Lemuel, i.e., that Nephi had stolen the ancient birthright, the government, and the land from their progenitors of which they claim Zoram was one. "I am…a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem" (Alma 54:23).
    During their dissidence, their worship, characterized as idolatrous yet directed to a God of spirit, was conducted in "synagogues" from which the wealthy drove out the poor (Alma 31:1, 9-11; 32:5). Their practices departed from both Nephite ways and the Law of Moses (Alma 31:9-12). Shortly after the signs marking the birth of Christ and almost eight years after the earliest mention of their separation from the Nephites, these Zoramites were still dissident and were luring naive Nephites to join the Gadianton robbers by means of "lyings" and "flattering words" (3 Nephi 1:29). Yet two centuries later they were back in the Nephite fold (4 Nephi 1:36).
    Finally, there are six other groups, though they are not different lineages. These tertiary units or groups begin with Zeniff and the Nephites he led back to the City of Nephi, “the land of their fathers’ first inheritance” (Mosiah 9:1; 25:5).
    A significant portion of the book of Mosiah (Mosiah 9 - 24) relates their dramatic temporal and spiritual experiences over three generations until they were able to escape their Lamanite rulers and make it back to Zarahemla. There they became Nephites again, although perhaps they retained some residential and religious autonomy as one of the "seven churches" (Mosiah 25:23).
    Two groups splintered off from the people of Zeniff. The first were the people of Alma, those under king Noah who listened to the message of Abinadi as related by Alma after his conversion and flight from oppression and wickedness under the second Zeniffite king (Mosiah 18, 23- 24). Numbering initially just over four hundred, they maintained their independent status for less than twenty-five years before escaping from Lamanite control and reaching the Land of Zarahemla, where they established the "church of God" in Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:18) where they disappeared from the record as an identifiable group, but were thereafter identified simply as Nephites.
    The second splinter group of the Zeniffites were the priests of King Noah, headed by Amulon, who fled into the wilderness to avoid the wrath of their rebellious subjects during an extensive attack by the Lamanites. As a separate, ostracized group secluded from the main body of the Zeniffite Nephites, they kidnapped Lamanite women and took them as wives, which resulted in the beginning of the Amulonites in a land where they established their own version of Nephite culture (Mosiah 24:1). In short order, they joined with the Lamanites, embraced the religious "order of Nehor,” seized first military control, then political leadership, and "stirred up" the Lamanites to attack the Nephites (Alma 21:4; 24:1-2; 25:1-5). Later, along with the Amalekites, and with Lamanite help, built a city in the Land of Nephi. According to the Nephite record (Mosiah 12-13; Alma 21:5-10), both Amulonites and Amalekites viewed themselves as defenders of a belief system based on the Old Testament, which may have been the reason they named their city Jerusalem.
    One of the earliest of the Nephite dissenters under Amlici, a disciple of Nehor who wanted to be king, gathered a large body of followers called Amlicites, and challenged the governing system established by Mosiah II, but when his claim was defeated by "the voice of the people," he plotted an attack coordinated with the Lamanites that nearly succeeded in capturing Zarahemla.
    However, loyal forces under Alma, the son of Alma, finally succeeded in putting down the rebellion and scattering the enemy (Alma 2:1-31). In this battle, Amlici was slain, and the name of Amlicites is not found after that point.
    Another group of dissenters, called the Amalekites, whose origin is mentioned, but not known (Alma 21:2-3; 43:13), may have been wholly or included some of, the surviving Amlicites. These dissenters were far better armed than were generally the Lamanites (Alma 43:20) and, as mentioned above, were made, along with some Zoramites, military leaders within the Lamanite army because of their murderous disposition (Alma 43:6).
    From the record of the Nephite missionaries, we learn that they believed in a God (Alma 22:7). Many of them, like the Amlicites, belonged to the religious order of Nehor and built sanctuaries or synagogues where they worshipped (Alma 21:4, 6). Like the Amulonites, they adamantly resisted accepting Nephite orthodox religion (Alma 23:14). Instead, they believed that God would save all people. The written record covers them through a fifteen-year period.
    Another group, who called themselves the Anti-Lehi-Nephites resulted from a fourteen-year mission in the Land of Nephi by Ammon and his brothers, who gained many Lamanite converts (Alma 17- 26), including the Lamanite king, who ultimately named the group.
    These people were singularly distinguished by their firm commitment to the gospel, including, most prominently, the Savior's injunctions to love one's enemies (3 Nephi 12:39, 44; Matthew 5:39, 44). Ammon claimed that when it came to Christ-like love, they people exceeded that of the Nephites (Alma 26:33). After their conversion, they "had no more desire to do evil" (Alma 19:33) and "did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren" (Alma 23:7).
    Because of their past murders, they covenanted as a people never again to take human life (Alma 24:6), burying all their weapons (Alma 24:17). In fact, they would not defend themselves when attacked by Lamanites, and 1,005 of them were killed as a result (Alma 24:22). Ammon told these Anti-Nephi-Lehies to flee to Nephite territory, where once among the Nephites they became known as the people of Ammon (or Ammonites (Alma 53:10; 56:57).
    Eventually, they were given a separate land for their inheritance within the Nephite region called the Land of Jershon (Alma 27:26). Later, they all moved to the land of Melek (Alma 35:13), where they were joined from time to time by other Lamanite refugees. Years later, so their fathers would not have to break their covenant
    Later, these converted Lamanites, the people of Amulon, wanting to help the beleaguered Nephites, yet not wanting to break their covenant of never taking up arms again, sent 22,000 of their young men, referred to as “the stripling warriors,” or the sons of Helaman, to fight in the Nephite war with the Lamanites (Alma 53:13, 22). These young men, also known as the sons of Helaman, had such great success in battle (Alma 56:56), that none were killed. Though many were wounded, they attributed this remarkable protection to their exceeding faith taught them by their mothers (Alma 57:26; 56:47). A generation later, some of the people of Ammon migrated into "the land northward" (Helaman 3:11), and that is the last mention of them in the scriptural record.
    In addition, other groups mentioned are the secret combinations or “robbers” of Gadianton, though they are not a people as such, but were made up of both defecting Nephites and Lamanites. They were referred to at one point as “the people of Zemnarihah” (3 Nephi 4:22). Also, the “order of Nehor” was another group or cult centered around the ideas that priests should be paid and that God would redeem all people.
    Finally, the inhabitants of separate cities were also sometimes referred to separately, such as the people of Morianton (Alma 50:26), the people of Gideon (Alma 8:1), the people of the city of Lehi (Alma 51:24), the people of Antiparah (Alma 57:4), the people of Nephihah (Alma 59:5, 7-9), and the people of king Jacob (3 Nephi 9:9) who were in the city of Jacobugath. In addition, there were so-called political groups such as the King-Men (Alma 51:5), the people of the city of Ammonihah (Alma 8:9; 16:9), the people of Amalickiah (Alma 46:30), and “the people of liberty” (Alma 51:7, 13), as well as the such military groups as “people of Antipus” (Alma 56:53), the people of Ammon, who were the same as the Stripling Warriors, (Alma 58:39), the people of Moronihah (Alma 63:15); the Zeniffites who were also called the people of Limhi (Alma 1:8; 8:3; 19:28; 28:11), and the people of King Noah (Mosiah 13:5; 23:2; Alma 5:4). To all these, can be added “the people of Mosiah” (Mosiah 1:10; 28:18), and “the people of Lehi” (3 Nephi 4:11).
    These are the main peoples or groups found in the scriptural record called the Book of Mormon.


  1. "22,000 of their young men"

    Del, we are going to pray that you get a good proof-reader to help you!

  2. erichard: Thank you once again. Actually, the number of stripling warriors was 2,060—for some reason, I was thinking 2,200 and the error was in the extra zero—as I’ve gotten older, my typing is not as accurate .
    2,000 warriors (Alma 53:18,22; 56:3,5,9-10,27,49-50); 60 more added (Alma 57:6) for a total of 2,060 (Alma 57:19-20). Unfortunately, I was trusting to memory and not looking it up. Again, my mistake.
    And don't pray for a proof-reader; pray for me to be younger once again.