Helaman 1

The Lord Confirms the Covenant Way

      Alma 45 -- 3 Nephi 10


   

 

 

     HELAMAN

 

 

 

Helaman 1:1, 5 Pahoran [the son of Pahoran] was appointed . . . chief judge (Nephite Chief Priests) [Illustration]: Nephite Chief Priests. Adapted from [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S., 1997]

 

Helaman 1:2 Pahoran (Pahoron)?:

 

     In 1999, the Zarahemla Research Foundation (RLDS) finished an exhaustive review of all known manuscripts and editions of the Book of Mormon in order to restore the text "to its purity." The result was the Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon. One of their "restorations" involves the proper name "Pahoran" (Helaman 1:2), which they have changed to read "Pahoron." [Zarahemla Research Foundation, "Selected Concordance" in The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition, p. 940]

     Note* This must be considered tentative subject to the verification of Royal Skousen, director of the Book of Mormon manuscript project, who will not comment at this time relative to such changes. [Personal communication, 11/22/1999]

 

Helaman 1:2 A Serious Contention concerning Who Should Have the Judgment-Seat among the . . . Sons of Pahoran:

 

     In Helaman 1:2 it states that "Pahoran had died, and gone the way of all the earth; therefore there began to be a serious contention concerning who should have the judgment-seat among the brethren, who were the sons of Pahoran." Michael Hobby asks the question, If the system of choosing judges was a total democracy, then how coincidental was it that of all the choices for chief judge among a people dominated by Mulekites, the only three choices were all sons of Pahoran? [The answer obviously being that the system of judges was not a democracy] According to a theory by Hobby, the reason such care was taken by Mosiah2 during the transfer of power from kings to the judges is that the liberty of the Nephites - ultimately the church - was at risk if a Mulekite, a descendant of Judah, should ever consolidate the reigns of power. While the brass plates were early on a symbol of kingship power for the Nephites, they ultimately contained verses which might have been a key source for disputation. If the Mulekites studied the brass plates, they would soon discover that a promise to rule was originally conferred upon the tribe of Judah. "Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be upon the neck of thine enemies; thy father's children shall bow down before thee. . . . The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from beneath his feet, until Shiloh come . . . (Genesis 49:8-12)

     Thus, this contention over the judgment-seat was not necessarily a religious differentiation, but an ethnic one. [Michael H. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, p. 34]

 

Helaman 1:3 Pahoran:

 

     The Book of Mormon speaks of a chief judge named Pahoran, and his son who was also named Pahoran (Helaman 1:1-13). Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that when the name Pahoran is broken down we find that the first syllable peh means "the mouth, speech, appoint or command." The suffix of this name, Haran, is also found in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, where Haran is said to mean "mountain or mountaineer." Combining these two segments results in a name-title that could represent "a ruler [chief judge] who gives commands from high places."53 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 244]

 

Helaman 1:3 Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, the Nephite experiment with government by priestly judges collapsed, largely due to a rivalry for the chief judgeship among three candidates, all sons of the great chief judge, Pahoran. Their names are Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni (Helaman 1:1-3). . . .

     A striking coincidence is the predominance among both Egyptian and Nephite judge names of the prefix Pa-. In late Egyptian this is extremely common, and has simply the force of the definite article. [Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, pp. 22-23]

 

Helaman 1:3 Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, "Paanchi" (Helaman 1:3) is the one indisputable Egyptian name in the Book of Mormon. Nobody can ever dispute that, either that Joseph Smith could have invented it or that it could not be pure, 100% Egyptian, because Paanchi [Pianckhi] was a very important person in Egyptian history, just before Lehi's day. It means "Amon is my life." And Pacumeni and Pahoran mean the person is a Syrian. That's what an Egyptian would call a person from northern Palestine. These are familiar Egyptian names. These are not all of Pahoran's sons; he had other sons. But they did form three divisions among the people.

     Incidently, there's quite a story about Paanchi [in Egypt]. His son was Herihor. His father was Korihor. There's another Book of Mormon name. Paanchi founded a dynasty. His father was a high priest. He wasn't brave enough to take the Pharaoh's title to himself, but he gave the Pharaoh's title to his son, Paanchi. He became the first Pharaoh of that dynasty. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 3, pp. 197-198]

 

Helaman 1:9 Kishkumen:

 

     The name "Kishkumen" (Helaman 1:9) brings up some fascinating questions. The reader should first note that it was Kishkumen, not Gadianton, who was first associated with secret oaths and covenants among the Nephite-Mulekite people. Secondly, we should note that the name "Kishkumen" is built around the root "Kish." Now comes the interesting part. In the history of the Jaredites, the name of the man who was first associated with secret oaths and covenants was named Akish (notice the "kish" root). According to Ether 8:15 it says that "Akish did administer unto them the oaths which were given by them of old who also sought power, which had been handed down even from Cain." It also says that "the secret combinations of Akish and his friends . . . did overthrow the kingdom of Omer" (Ether 9:1). Interestingly, the overthrow of the kingdom was also the ultimate goal of Kishkumen and his band (Helaman 2:3). Did Kishkumen somehow choose or change his name to conform to his status in an ancient Jaredite-Mulekite secret society? Did Mormon purposely choose these "kish" names in his abridgement to convey a message? It might be wise to ponder the connection here. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Helaman 1:9 Kishkumen (Kishcumen)?:

 

     In 1999, the Zarahemla Research Foundation (RLDS) finished an exhaustive review of all known manuscripts and editions of the Book of Mormon in order to restore the text "to its purity." The result was the Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon. One of their "restorations" involves the proper name "Kishkumen" (Helaman 1:9), which they have changed to read "Kishcumen." [Zarahemla Research Foundation, "Selected Concordance" in The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition, p. 918]

     Note* This must be considered tentative subject to the verification of Royal Skousen, director of the Book of Mormon manuscript project, who will not comment at this time relative to such changes. [Personal communication, 11/22/1999]

 

Helaman 1:11 They All Entered into a Covenant (Secret Covenants of Men and the Devil):

 

     In Helaman 1:11-12 we find evidence of ancient wicked secret covenants:

           And he went unto those that sent him, and they all entered into a covenant, yea, swearing by their everlasting Maker, that they would tell no man that Kishkumen had murdered Pahoran.

           Therefore, Kishkumen was not known among the people of Nephi, for he was in disguise at the time that he murdered Pahoran. And Kishkumen and his band, who had covenanted with him, did mingle themselves among the people, in a manner that they all could not be found; but as many as were found were condemned unto death.

 

     Victor Ludlow notes that of the 154 references to "covenant" in the Book of Mormon, 113 of them explain some promises made between God and his children on the earth. Most of the remaining references describe honorable promises made between leaders and individuals, usually to end periods of conflict. But a third and smallest category of passages contains 17 references to evil, secret covenants made between men and the devil. Fifteen of these secret covenant references are found in 12 verses in the book of Helaman and the first chapters of 3 Nephi: Helaman 1:11-12; Helaman 2:3; Helaman 6:21-22; Helaman 6:25-26; Helaman 6:30; 3 Nephi 6:28; 3 Nephi 6:29-30; 3 Nephi 7:11.

     The oldest record we have of covenant making which continues into later dispensations is found in the book of Deuteronomy. This covenant making process can be divided into five steps:

     1. Historical background = Introducing the covenant parties and recounting past relationships and promises.

     2. Stipulations = Listing the general and specific expectations of either party.

     3. Blessings and Curses = Announcing the possible consequences (blessings/rewards and curses/punishments).

     4. Witnesses = Verifying the contract through earthly and heavenly observers.

     5. Remembrance = Recording a review, revision, and renewal process.

 

     These are the same steps that a sovereign ruler would use to establish a covenant or treaty relationship with his vassals in the ancient Near East. These same five steps also exemplify the covenant process between the Heavenly Sovereign of this earth and his children, particularly as demonstrated through baptism and the temple ordinances. We will see that all five of these steps are found among the imitation secret covenants of wicked men as recorded in Helaman and 3 Nephi. Analyzing these specific verses will tell us much about secret, evil vows. . . . The key elements and covenant steps are highlighted in charts (see illustrations). [Victor L. Ludlow, "Secret Covenant Teachings of Men and the Devil," in The Book of Mormon: Helaman through 3 Nephi 8, According to Thy Word, pp. 265-279] [See the commentary and charts for Helaman 6:21-22, 3 Nephi 6:28-30]

 

Helaman 1:11 They all entered into a covenant (Secret Covenants of Men and the Devil) [Illustration]: Secret Covenant Verses 1 & 2 = Helaman 1:11-12. [Victor L. Ludlow, "Secret Covenant Teachings of Men and the Devil," in The Book of Mormon: Helaman through 3 Nephi 8, According to Thy Word, pp. 271-272]

 

Helaman 1:11 Swearing By Their Everlasting Maker:

 

     Daniel Peterson notes that after murdering Pahoran, Kishkumen escaped and returned to those who had sent him. The conspirators then swore an oath of silence. Intriguingly, the Nephite record tells us that it was a religious oath, "swearing by their everlasting Maker." (Helaman 1:11.) This seems odd to those of us unaccustomed to thinking of murder as a religious act. But the very word assassin was given to us by a religious sect of the medieval Near East who bore it as a name. The "Assassins" carried out daring murders for many years from mixed religious and political motives.

     Indeed, the Book of Mormon declares that the origin of such murderous conspiracies can be traced back to Lucifer through Cain, "who was a murderer from the beginning." (Ether 8:15; cf. Helaman 6:26-30) [Daniel C. Peterson, "Their Own Worst Enemies," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 94]

 

Helaman 1:13 Pacumeni was appointed . . . to be a chief judge (Nephite Chief Priests) [Illustration]: Nephite Chief Priests. Adapted from [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S., 1997]

 

Helaman 1:13 It Was according to [Pacumeni's] Right:

 

     According to Michael Hobby, it appears that the sons of Pahoran had a "right" to the judgment-seat by lineal descent. In following the laws instituted by Mosiah2, the people could have a voice in choosing their Chief Judge, but that "voice" was limited to choosing from among the sons of a deceased Chief Judge. The reason such care was taken by Mosiah2 during the transfer of power from kings to the judges is that the liberty of the Nephites - ultimately the church - was at risk if a Mulekite should ever consolidate the reigns of power. [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, p. 34]

 

Helaman 1:15 They Came down Again (to the Land of Zarahemla from the Land of Nephi):

 

     In Helaman 1:15 we find that the Lamanites, led by Coriantumr, "came down again" to battle the Nephites. Once again the Book of Mormon writers are consistent--from the land of Nephi one always has to travel "down" to Zarahemla. The words "down" and "up" seem to be references to elevation.

 

Helaman 1:15 Coriantumr:

 

     According to Michael Hobby, the fact that the Mulekites were deeply involved in Jaredite culture is obvious . . . the fact that they spoke the Jaredite tongue is evidenced by their personal and city names, names of coinage, etc. One direct example is the name Coriantumr [Mulekite] in Helaman 1:15. There is also a Coriantumr [Jaredite] mentioned in Ether 8:6 and also chapters 12-18 of Ether.

     In all likelihood, the people of Zarahemla who were originally found by Mosiah1 might have considered the Jaredite king Coriantumr1 to be their king. Now, many years later, this new Coriantumr2, "a descendant of Zarahemla" and thus a Mulekite, was leading the Lamanite armies against the Nephites at a time of kingship dispute. Was this a continuation of the Mulekite-Nephite, Kingmen-Freemen dispute that had been going on ever since the first recorded Mulekite war of dissent (Amlicite war) mentioned in Alma 2? [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, pp. 21-22,24]

     Going further back in time, was this "Lamanite" (Mulekite) war similar to the "Lamanite" wars during the reign of king Benjamin (Omni 1:24 and Words of Mormon 1:13-14)? After all, the reader should be aware that the Book of Mormon is a written record of Lehi's family, so all recorded events reflect only on family members (Nephite-Lamanite). Mulekite influence has to be gleaned from reading between the lines. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Helaman 12:13-21] [See Geographical Theory Maps]

 

Helaman 1:18 Into the Heart of Their Lands:

 

     It appears that "that great city Zarahemla" was located in the central portion of the general land of the Nephites, or in "the heart of their lands." (See the commentary on Alma 60:19) Helaman 1:18 seems to give us some answer as to how Coriantumr was able to get to the city of Zarahemla so quickly ("so much contention in the land"); however, we have to ask, From where was Coriantumr coming? Was he coming by way of the borders above Manti? If so, according to the geographical theory of John Sorenson, a sighting 75 miles above the capital ought to have given at least a day's warning. (A Source Book, p. 287) [See Geographical Theory Maps]

 

Helaman 1:22 The Strongest Hold in All the Land:

 

     Mormon notes that when Coriantumr had taken possession of the city of Zarahemla, he felt that he "had obtained the possession of the strongest hold in all the land," and "his heart took courage" (Helaman 1:22). However, one should note that in regards to army strength and the general land of Zarahemla, "Moronihah had caused that their strong armies should maintain those parts round about by the borders" [of the general land of Zarahemla] (Helaman 1:26). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Helaman 1:23 [Coriantumr] Did March Forth . . . towards the City of Bountiful:

 

     According to the stratagem of Coriantumr, he "did march forth with a large army, even towards the city of Bountiful; for it was his determination to go forth and cut his way through with the sword, that he might obtain the north parts of the land" (Helaman 1:23). Presumably, if he could take the city of Bountiful, the "north parts" of the general land of the Nephites would be his. (The reader should notice here that the city Bountiful lies in the "north parts of the land.") If the key to Coriantumr's plan was to obtain the city of Bountiful and thus the "north parts of the land," then this correlates very well with what had happened previously. In Alma 50:29, Morianton and his people fled towards "the land which was northward." In that situation, the people of Bountiful and captain Moroni became worried that such an action "would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty" (Alma 50:32). Soon after this, Amalickiah and the Lamanites invaded the east wilderness, with the objective "that he might take possession of the land Bountiful and also the land northward" (Alma 51:30). In response to this invasion, chief captain Moroni sent orders to Teancum that "he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side" (Alma 52:9). As a result of these military actions, we find in Alma 53:5 that the Nephites fortified the city of Bountiful to such a degree that it "became an exceeding stronghold ever after." If Coriantumr were to claim victory, he would definitely need to take the city of Bountiful. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]

 

Helaman 1:24 Supposing That Their Greatest Strength Was in the Center of the Land:

 

     Apparently, the area from the capital city (Zarahemla--the "center of the land"--Helaman 1:24) northward toward Bountiful was considered "the most capital parts of the land" (Helaman 1:27). Possibly for reasons of population and civilization, Coriantumr assumed that this part of the Nephite lands would be the strongest. However, we learn that as far as army strength was concerned, "Moronihah had caused that [the Nephite] strong armies should maintain those parts round about by the borders" [of the general land of Zarahemla] (Helaman 1:26).

 

Helaman 1:27 The Most Capital Parts of the Land:

 

     The Lamanites seized the city of Zarahemla without warning and pushed on through "the most capital parts of the land" (Helaman 1:27). According to the geographical theory of John Sorenson, the geography we are following makes that area ("the capital parts of the land") coincide with the lower central depression of Chiapas, where the speakers of the Zoquean language had long lived.54 They had been in the land long before the Nephites arrived. Their ancestors had been bearers of the Olmec culture in the time of the Jaredites. There is little reason to question that they were of basically the same stock as the folk followers of chief Zarahemla. Their leaders would have lost a great deal of power and privilege when the Nephite intruders took over rulership in Mosiah1's day. . . . The Chiapa de Corzo site, the largest city within the entire central depression at this time and the heart of that downstream sector, was larger and more prosperous than Santa Rosa (the proposed site of Zarahemla). [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 196-197]

 

Helaman 1:28 Lehi:

 

     Helaman 1:28 mentions the military leader Lehi. Lehi had last been heard of at the city of Moroni in Alma 62:32-38 as the Nephites were finishing up driving the Lamanites out of their land at the end of the 31st year. Here, Moronihah orders Lehi to go forth with an army "round about to head [the Lamanites] before they should come to the land Bountiful." This order by Moronihah was done on emergency notice and so Lehi was either very near chief captain Moronihah or in a position to travel "round about" and head Coriantumr before he came to the land Bountiful. Apparently, both Moronihah and Lehi were somewhere near the "center of the land." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Helaman 1:31 Neither . . . nor . . . nor . . . Nor:

 

     According to Donald Parry, often found in scriptural poetry are two or more lines which deliberate and explain what was first said in line one. This is called exergasia (Greek, "working out"), because these subsequent lines "work out" and explain the words introduced in the first line. A good example is found in Helaman 1:31:

     And now, behold, the Lamanites could not retreat either way,

     neither on the north,

     nor on the south,

     nor on the east,

     nor on the west,

     for they were surrounded on every hand by the Nephites.

 [Donald W. Parry, The Book of Mormon Text Reformatted according to Parallelistic Patterns, F.A.R.M.S., p. xxxi]

 

Helaman 1:31 The Lamanites Could Not Retreat . . . for They Were Surrounded on Every Hand By the Nephites:

 

     Daniel Peterson notes that Moronihah, the supreme commander of the Nephite armies, evidently faced with a shortage of troops, had chosen to place those that were available to him on the perimeter of Nephite territory. That is, they were stationed all about the lands of the Nephites, on the borders. Under the circumstances, this was the reasonable thing to do. But it also had its risks, since, as in the case of the notorious Maginot line in World war II, any invader who could get past the initial resistance at the border would find few obstacles from that point on.

     And that is precisely what happened. Coriantumr launched a kind of blitzkrieg, piercing the Nephite border defenses, and seized the capital city of Zarahemla. The conquest was quick and, for the moment, total. Pacumeni, the chief judge, was killed. Perhaps somewhat astonished himself at the scope of his victory, Coriantumr then marched toward the other chief Nephite city, Bountiful. En route, he mopped up what disorganized opposition he encountered--the Nephites having been taken so completely by surprise that they did not even have time to mobilize a challenge to him.

     But Coriantumr would not reach Bountiful. As Hugh Nibley points out, his drive "had been successful because it was completely unexpected; and it had been unexpected because it was utterly foolish." (Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah, p. 367). It was utterly foolish because, having penetrated the Nephite defense on the circumference and seized the center of the land, Coriantumr was now, by the very nature of his own success, surrounded:

           The Lamanites could not retreat either way, neither on the north, nor on the south, nor on the east, nor on the west, for they were surrounded on every hand by the Nephites. And thus had Coriantumr plunged the Lamanites into the midst of the Nephites, insomuch that they were in the power of the Nephites, and he himself was slain, and the Lamanites did yield themselves into the hands of the Nephites. (Helaman 1:31-32)

[Daniel C. Peterson, "Their Own Worst Enemies," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 2, pp. 95-96]

 

Geographical Theory Map: Helaman 1:1-27 Coriantumr Takes the City of Zarahemla--Marches towards Bountiful (41st Year)

 

Helaman 1:28-29 Lehi Heads Coriantumr (41st Year)

 

Helaman 1:30-33 Moronihah & Lehi Defeat Coriantumr (41st Year)