Saturday, November 2, 2019

The Animals the Nephites Rode

There has been much written about, and speculated upon, the animals in the Land of Promise according to the limited information in the scriptural record. We know of elephants, horses, asses (donkeys), cattle and cows, sheep, goats, swine, cumoms and cureloms (Ether 9:19). We also know they had chariots that were pulled evidently by horses (Alma 18:9). We also know there were both domesticated animals and wild beasts, including the wild goat (1 Nephi 18:25). But the most interesting is the listing of the so-called unknown animals, were the cumoms and cureloms (Ether 9:19).
Nephite riding animals were the elephant, horse, and donkey
Whether the Nephites rode the cumoms and cureloms is unknown; however, since we are talking about animals that could be ridden, it would be prudent to consider that these other two unknown animals, or at least one of them, could in fact, be ridden.
    Of course, as to what animals the Nephites actually rode, three immediately come to mind from this list: the elephant, the horse, and the donkey—though it never states this in clear terms. However, these are three animals that were commonly ridden anciently, as well as being ridden today.
    Much of what we know about the early years of the Smith family and Joseph’s early life comes from his mother, Lucy Mack Smith, who was born on July 8, 1775, in Gilsum, New Hampshire.
Her early years were during an era of political, economic, and social change following the Revolutionary War. The second half of the eighteenth century had seen a slowly evolving shift of responsibilities within the American family, which impetus came from the changing economic scene. According to women's historian Linda Kerber, the growing market economy and "industrial technology reshaped the contours of domestic labor.”
    This shift toward commercialism pushed the father's work farther away from the home, with the result that the mother took over the father's former role of final responsibility for the children's education and for their moral and religious training. Mothers were heralded as "the chief transmitters of religious and moral values.”
    This was especially true in the in rural areas of northern New England, where the Smith family home was located for their move to western New York, the proliferation of evangelical religious sects and the pre-Victorian emphasis on the family as a moral force were especially significant forces in the life of the prophets mother.
    Migrants to this area had taken with them the revolutionary spirit of political independence. They had also encouraged the breakdown of the old order of religious domination. "The grip of colonial religious culture was broken and a new American style of religious diversity came into being." Such a setting became fertile ground for religious experimentation and the birth of indigenous religious sects, some of which "undertook to redefine social and economic order through the model of the extended family."
    Without stable institutional structures, the family thus became the "crucible" for forming "primary identity, socialization, and cultural norms for rural life" (Stephen A. Marini, Radical Sects of Revolutionary New England, Signature Books, Salt Lake City, 2000, p7, 56, 31).
Before receiving the plates, Joseph Smith would tell stories of the Nephites in the evening to his family

While we have no clear-cut mention of Jaredites or Nephites actually riding an animal, it might be of interest to turn to Lucy Mack Smith, who wrote in the biography of her son that before finding the plates: “During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; their religious worship, their dress, their mode of travelings, and the animals upon which they rode. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life among them" (Smith, Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith, and His Progenitors for Many Generations, S.W. Richards, Liverpool, 1853, p92).
    This should suggest at least two things: 1) The Nephites rode on more than one type of animal, and 2) At least one or more of those animals were other than horses. It should also be understood that if the Nephites only rode horses, as was the common use of the horse in Joseph and Lucy’s day, then that type of wording implies it was something other than horses, for it seems a strange way to state that the "ancient inhabitants" were riding horses, which would have been a common practice when she wrote this.
    Based son Lucy’s biographical writing of Joseph Smith, we can say explicably that the Nephites did ride animals. The only question remains is, which animals?
    The scriptural record mentions “horses” 13 times in word form, not counting the two times in Isaiah—Once is a prophecy of the future; 3 times is to mention that these animals exist; 3 more time are in the context of the 3rd Nephi story about gathering flocks and horses together defensively; 4 times it is about Ammon feeding the horses that evidently pulled Lamoni’s chariot (Alma 18:9-10,12).
    In addition, the Standard Works mention horses 203 times; both the OT and the D&C mention riding horses, but there is no mention anywhere in the Book of Mormon of people riding horses or sitting on them or anything like unto it; there is no mention of using horses in any of the battles that occur in the Book of Mormon.
Chariots are either drawn by horses (for speed and agility in battle; or by men where horses did not exist

In 3 Nephi, the mention of horses may suggest the connection with chariots, since the two terms are used together (3 Nephi 3:22). However, as one theorist has stated: “the mention of horses may suggest (but does not say) that they are a food source, which seems more in character for deer-like things than for horses.” The problem with this is found later on in this same event, when it states:
    “And now it came to pass that the people of the Nephites did all return to their own lands in the twenty and sixth year, every man, with his family, his flocks and his herds, his horses and his cattle, and all things whatsoever did belong unto them…they had not eaten up all their provisions; therefore they did take with them all that they had not devoured, of all their grain of every kind, and their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and they did return to their own lands and their possessions, both on the north and on the south, both on the land northward and on the land southward” (3 Nephi 6:1-2).
    In the first reference the Nephites returned from their encounter with the Gaddianton Robbers, bringing their horses, the follows in the next verse that the Nephites “had not eaten up all their provisions,” again suggesting that horses were separate from their food provisions. In addition, we have Lucy Mack Smith claiming that Joseph told the family about the Nephites riding animals.
    Then again, there is the statement found in Enos: “And it came to pass that the people of Nephi did till the land, and raise all manner of grain, and of fruit, and flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats, and also many horses,” which separates horses from all the other animals that could be considered for food.
    In addition, for all those theorists who try to claim horses were used for food, it might be understood that the Nephites lived the law of Moses (2 Nephi 5:10; 25:24) and under that law were laws about eating. As an example, “a land animal is fit for eating if it both has split hooves and chews its cud, which includes cows, sheep, goats, and deer; however, non-fit animals include pigs, rabbits, squirrels, bears, dogs, cats, camels and horses. Thus, both camels (which would include camelids) and horses would not have been eaten by the Nephites, since these laws were commanded by God to the children of Israel in the Sinai Desert and which laws appear in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, laws that were obeyed by Hebrew/Jewish throughout their 4,000-year history and was a hallmark of Jewish identity.
    That leaves horses for two purposes: 1) riding and 2) pulling.
    Whether or not the cumoms and cureloms served the same purpose as the horse has yet to be revealed.


  1. Was Mount Sinai in the Sinai desert of Egypt where the mother of Constantine decided it was? Or is Mount Sinai in the land of Midian in today's Saudi Arabia as the Bible and many historians say?

    Finding the Mountain of Moses: The Real Mount Sinai in Saudi Arabia

    1. I believe that is correct. I also believe that this video shows correctly where Israel crossed the Red Sea.

  2. With regards to the comment that horses could not be used as food, the text of the Book of Mormon in conjunction with the Law of Moses indicate that it is still a possibility. Horses are mentioned in the following places in the Book of Mormon: 1 Nephi 18:25, Enos 1:21, Alma 18:9,10,12, Alma 20:6, 3 Nephi 3:22, 3 Nephi 4:4, and Ether 9:19. 1 Nephi just indicates they were present when they arrived in the New World. The Alma and Ether mentions are among the Lamanites and Jaredites, so no issue there with the Law of Moses. In the Enos and 3 Nephi instances, they both occurred at a time when there were Nephites who were not righteous (See Enos 1:22-23, 3 Nephi 5:1-3). So one cannot rule out the use of horses for food based on the text of the Book of Mormon.