The Lord Redeems His Covenant Children
Alma 1 -- Alma 44
Alma 2:1-2 A Certain Man, Being . . . Being . . . Being:
According to Brian Stubbs, "Book of Mormon language frequently contains lengthy structures of rather awkward English. Some may consider these to be instances of poor grammar, weakness in writing (Ether 12:23-26), or the literary ineptness of a fraudulent author; however, I see them as potentially significant support for a translation from a Near Eastern language in an ancient American setting. Many of these lengths of awkward English parallel Semitic (and Egyptian) patterns, particularly the circumstantial or hal-clause."
Alma 2:1-2 provides a clear example of hal- clauses:
a certain man, being called Amlici, he being a very cunning man, yea, a wise man as to the wisdom of the world, he being after the order of the man that slew Gideon by the sword, who was executed according to the law--Now this Amlici had, by his cunning, drawn away much people after him. (italics added)
The three being participial phrases add background information or accompanying circumstances and are thus a prime language environment for hal- clauses in Semitic . . . The string of hal-clauses evident in Alma 2:1-2 is perfectly acceptable in Hebrew, yet an editor or English teacher would not spare red ink on a similar structure found in written English.
The Book of Mormon is replete with similar examples, the Bible also. John Gee ("La Trahison des Clercs: On the Language and Translation of the Book of Mormon," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, 6/1, pp. 51-120), discloses a choice example from the Jewish Publication Society's translation of Genesis 1:1-3:
"When God began to create heaven and earth--the earth being unformed and void, with darkness [being] over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water--God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light."
In the Hebrew text, everything between the dashes consists of three hal-clauses (also known as circumstantial clauses) that begin with wa- (and) + noun/pronoun; the three nouns heading the three hal-clauses are earth, darkness, and wind/spirit, respectively. Ignoring semantic disagreements, the above is structurally a nice translation of hal-clauses: three verses into one sentence, no less. In stark contrast, the King James Version makes separate sentences or independent and-clauses of the three parenthetical hal-clauses:
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis 1:1-3 KJV)
The fact that the King James translators left many of the Hebrew circumstantial clauses inconspicuous by translating them as and-clauses quite undermines the accusation that Joseph Smith was simply mimicking the King James biblical style, because the Book of Mormon employs -ing participial expressions much more frequently than does the King James Old Testament. [Brian D. Stubbs, "A Lengthier Treatment of Length," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol 5/2, pp. 82-84,96] [See the commentary on Mosiah 7:21-22]
Alma 2:1 Amlici:
As for the name Amlici (commonly pronounced 'Am-lih-sigh), I would tend to pronounce it differently in order to stress some similarities here. By pronouncing this name 'Ama-la-kie, we can consider him, for all intents and purposes, the originator or representative of the Amalekites (pronounced 'Ama-le-kites). By doing this, we solve a major dilemma in the Book of Mormon--the origin of the Amalekites. Let me set out my reasoning here:
(1) Nowhere in the Book of Mormon are we told the source of the name "Amalekites" although they are spoken of in the same context as the Amulonites, who were descendants of the priests of Amulon. The Amulonites originate in the book of Mosiah during the days of King Noah as the people revolted. Later they are geographically located in the wilderness on the path towards the land of Zarahemla. They figure prominently in the persecutions of Alma's people just before Alma's people fled to the land of Zarahemla (only a journey of 13 days away). This flight is recorded in Mosiah 24.
(2) Chronologically, the Amalekites suddenly appear with the Amulonites up in the land of Jerusalem, which is one of the first places the sons of Mosiah go to upon reaching the land of Nephi in their missionary labors. The record of these missionary journeys begins in the 17th chapter of Alma, yet the time frame is parallel to the missionary preachings of Alma, recorded in chapters 5-16.
(3) This leaves a chronological span between Mosiah 24 and Alma 5 in which one might logically look for the origin of the Amalekites. This is precisely the spot where we find the story of Amlici, who is after the order of Nehor, and who leads a rebellion against the Nephite system of judges.
(4) The Amlicites seem to instantly become "powerful," "drawing away much people after them." During this war the Amlicites are (strangely) reinforced with a Lamanite force coming down from the land of Nephi.
(5) Thus the cultural and geographical linkage should be apparent. After their defeat, the Am[a]licites depart from the land of Zarahemla towards the area of Ammonihah, which will be linked not only with the order of Nehor, but with people in the land of Nephi. Apparently, these people migrated up into the land of Nephi--specifically to the land of Jerusalem where we are told the people are after the order of Nehor.
(6) The order of Nehor, as the name implies, derives from the Jaredite culture--a culture of kings. Because of Mulekites had lived among this culture for some 400 years before they met up with the Nephites (led by king Mosiah) it is not hard to imagine their leanings in this regard. The Mulekites were also descendants of Mulek, the heir to the kingship in Jerusalem. According to John Sorenson, Amlilci might have even been a lineal descendant of king Zarahemla (Setting, p. 196).
(7) Thus we apparently have a linkage of both cultures in the names "Amalekites" (Jaredite) and "Jerusalem" (Mulekite) in a correspondingly correct geographical location according to the text, and in a correspondingly correct chronological location in the text, to suggest a connection with Amlici.
[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes].
Alma 2:1 Amlici . . . after the Order of the Man That Slew Gideon (Order of Nehor):
In Alma 2:1 we first encounter the man named "Amlici." This man was "very cunning" and "wise as to the wisdom of the world," and was said to be "after the order of the man that slew Gideon," which man was named Nehor (Alma 1:7-15). Thus Amlici was after the order of Nehor.
According to Michael Hobby, the vote of the people would barely keep Amlici out of power (Alma 2:7-8). The ensuing conflict over that decision would become a tremendous bloodbath in what would continue to be an on-again, off-again Nephite-Mulekite civil war. The Amlicites eventually combined with a Lamanite force, and the battle became such that the number of the slain "were not numbered because of the greatness of their number" (Alma 3:1) [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, pp. 21-22]
Note* As to the background of this man Amlici and to the reasons behind such a tremendous war, the reader might reflect back in time and ask, Was this Amlicite (Mulekite)--"Lamanite" war similar in ideological differences to the "Lamanite" wars that happened during the reign of king Benjamin (Omni 1:24 and Words of Mormon 1:13-14)? In other words, could the "Lamanites" which king Benjamin fought have been directed by the dissident Mulekites who lived near the local land of Zarahemla? The reader should be aware that the Book of Mormon is a written record of Lehi's covenant family, so all recorded events are reflected only in terms of covenant family members. In other words,
whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him. And . . . whosoever would not believe in the tradition of the Lamanites, but believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and also in the tradition of their fathers, which were correct, who believed in the commandments of God and kept them, were called the Nephites, or the people of Nephi, from that time forth--And it is they who have kept the records which are true of their people . . . (Alma 3:10-12).
Thus, a dissident Mulekite-led insurrection would possibly be termed "Lamanite." Perhaps Mulekite influence in Nephite history has to be gleaned from "reading between the lines." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 2:7 The Voice of the People:
According to Brant Gardner, Alma 2:5-7 represents the best example we have of how the "voice of the people" worked:
(1) The first important facet was the assembling into bodies: "the people assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against [the matter], in separate bodies . . ."
(2) Once gathered together into a body, the two opposing bodies had "much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another."
(3) After much debate, they "cast in their voices concerning the matter; and they were laid before the judges."
(4) The decision would be proclaimed to the people.
One should realize here that if the "voice of the people" were a democratic vote, then the majority would carry the day, and there would be no need to bring their vote before the judges. Thus the voice of the people functions as an indicator of the public opinion which the judges might perhaps ignore, but would do so knowing that they were perhaps going contrary to the will of the people. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/Alma2.htm, pp. 11-12]
Alma 2:9 [The Amlicites] Gathered Themselves Together:
According to the thinking of John Sorenson, the Amlicite zone was surely downstream (from the local land of Zarahemla) along the river Sidon. Had it been upstream, the Amlicites could simply have joined the Lamanite army up there (before the battles ever started). . . . Most logically the Amlicites occupied the area down-river from Zarahemla possibly called "the most capital parts of the land" (Helaman 1:27). [John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, F.A.R.M.S., p. 230]
In John Sorenson's Mesoamerican geographical theory, the area down-river--specifically the city of Ammonihah--is associated with the site of Chiapa de Corzo. This was the largest city within the entire central depression at this time and the heart of that downstream sector. It was larger and more prosperous than Santa Rosa, the proposed site for the city of Zarahemla. No wonder it might rebel against overlordship located upstream. Furthermore, at this period of time (the second century B.C.) Chiapa de Corzo maintained clear-cut cultural ties to the Mayan speakers to the south, that is to Lamanite country in our Book of Mormon terms.1 An alliance between Amlicites based in the Chiapa de Corzo area and the Lamanites in Nephi (highland Guatemala) would have formed a vise, putting pressure on the Nephite center. Of course, we cannot say for sure that this geographical arrangement is how things really were. No one knows enough facts yet to be sure, but it very reasonably could have been so. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 197]
According to John Tvedtnes, the contrast between Amlicites and Nephites in Alma 2:11 implies that the Amlicites were, in fact, not Nephites. The leader of the Amlicites was a man named Amlici, who was of the order of Nehor (Alma 2:1). The order of Nehor is most associated with the city of Ammonihah, where the judges, lawyers, priest, and teachers were of this order (see Alma 14:16-18; 15:15: 16:11). If the people comprising the order of Nehor were Mulekites, this would not only explain the phrase "and the remainder were called Nephites," but it would also explain why in the story of Alma's visit to Ammonihah, a man named Amulek, who lived in that city, took pains to specify that he was a Nephite (see Alma 8:20; 10:2-3). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Book of Mormon Tribal Affiliation and Military Castes," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 300]
Note* On the other hand, if all the Amlicites were located strictly downstream, then the reader should wonder why these Amlicites seemed to find no problems in joining an invading Lamanite army upstream at just the right time. Was it just a coincidence that the Lamanite invasion came toward the local land of Zarahemla not only at the right time, but from the right place in order to join with the Amlicites? I think there probably was an already established bond between these Amlicites and "Lamanites." The reader might look to "the order of Nehor" as part of the reason for that bond. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Alma 1:15; 2:15] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:12 Swords:
"Swords" are mentioned in Alma 2:12. According to an article by William Hamblin and Brent Merrill, from the Mesoamerican perspective, the most likely candidate for the Book of Mormon sword is the weapon known in Nahuatl (Aztec) as the macuahuitl or macana. The macuahuitl was constructed from a long staff or large paddle-shaped piece of wood. Sharp obsidian flakes were fixed into the edges of the wooden blade, giving it a deadly cutting edge. There are numerous representations of the macuahuitl in Mesoamerican art, the earliest dating back to the Pre-Classic era. Thus, some type of the macuahuitl sword was known and used in Book of Mormon times.
The cutting power of the obsidian edge of the macuahuitl was renowned at the time of the Spanish Conquest. An obsidian edge was even as sharp as that of surgical steel. In one famous incident, a Maya warrior cut off the head of a Spaniard's horse with one blow of a macuahuitl. [William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill, "Swords in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 338-341]
Geographical theory map: Alma 2:1-20 (Illustration) The Amlicite war begins - an all day battle (5th year)
Alma 2:12 Swords (Illustration): Pre-Classic warrior (before A.D. 200) from sculpture in Cave of Loltun, Yucatan, Mexico. His right hand holds a macuahuitl; his left, a possible scimitar. Note the obsidian blade on the top of the macuahuitl, which gives it a point and makes it useful for thrusting (see Alma 44:13), where a Nephite places the scalp of Zerahemnah on the point of his sword. [William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill, "Swords in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 339]
Alma 2:12 Swords (Illustration): Left drawing is of a late Aztec macuahuitl. Right drawing is of a Maya macuahuitl. [William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill, "Swords in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 340]
Alma 2:12 Cimiter (Scimitar):
Much like in Alma 2:12, all references to "cimeters" except in Enos 1:20 mention them in conjunction with the sword. In the Book of Mormon, there is no detailed indication from the text as to how the cimeter was used or what type of wounds it inflicted, except one instance where it says that "their [the Nephite's] swords and their cimeters . . . brought death almost at every stroke" (Alma 43:37), which could imply that the Book of Mormon cimeter was a cutting weapon. According to an article by William Hamblin and Brent Merrill, there are three characteristics that distinguish the scimitar from an ordinary sword: it is sharp only on one side, its blade is curved, and it is used only to cut. Some of the same characteristics that distinguish a [Near Eastern] scimitar from a sword are shared by several different types of Mesoamerican melee weapons. Indeed, the early Spanish conquistadors and colonists correlated some Mesoamerican weapons with the scimitar. Antonio de Solis y Rivadeneyra relates that the Aztecs "had likewise long Swords, which they used with both Hands, as we do our Scimitars." [William J. Hamblin and A. Brent Merrill, "Notes on the Cimiter (Scimitar) in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 361]
Alma 2:12 Bows:
In Alma 2:12 we find "bows" mentioned. According to William Hamblin, Book of Mormon critics have maintained that the bow was not used in Mesoamerica before the Middle Classic period (after A.D. 500), several centuries after the earliest mention of the weapon in the Book of Mormon. These critics consider the mention of the bow in the Book of Mormon as a significant historical anachronism.
Although it may be true that the bow was not used by every culture or tribe in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica, recent archaeological work and reinterpretation provides good evidence of, as Tolstoy writes, "the limited use of the bow and arrow in central Mexico since early agricultural times" (that is, since well before 600 B.C.). [William J. Hamblin, "The Bow and Arrow in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 379]
Alma 2:12 Arrows:
The use of "arrows" is noted in Alma 2:12. According to an article by William Hamblin, despite the fact that remains of wooden parts of bows or arrows can't be expected to survive over 1,500 years, several cane arrow shafts possibly dating from Book of Mormon times have recently been identified. . . . Moreover, thousands of stone projectile points have been recovered from Mesoamerican archaeological digs dating from the Book of Mormon period, proving that some missile weapons were used in Pre-Classic Mesoamerica. But were these projectile points used on arrows, atlatl darts, javelins, or spears? [William J. Hamblin, "The Bow and Arrow in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 383]
Alma 2:12 Arrows (Illustration): Examples of projectile points with bases of various thickness. Despite their small size, figures A and B were probably attached to thick shafts (javelins and spears) because of the thickness of the base. On the other hand, figures C and D, with narrow bases, were probably attached to thin shafts (most likely arrows). All figures are from Central Mexico. Dates are approximate, but all fall within the Book of Mormon period: A. 600-200 B.C.; B. 500-300 B.C.; C. 600-400 B.C.; D. ca. 300-200 B.C.] [William J. Hamblin, "The Bow and Arrow in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 385]
Alma 2:13 Captains, and Higher Captains, and Chief Captains:
According to Brent Merrill, perhaps the best single description of Nephite military organization during the reign of the judges is found in Alma 2:13. This verse states that the Nephites "appointed captains, and high captains, and chief captains, according to their numbers"-meaning according to the number of men each type of captain commanded. This all sounds very similar to the statements reported by Ixtlilxochitl and other sixteenth-century writers about Mesoamerican captains. These accounts speak of "captains," "five minor leaders or captains," and "great" captains or "chiefs." [A. Brent Merrill, "Nephite Captains and Armies" in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, pp. 268-269]
Alma 2:15 The River Sidon:
According to Verneil Simmons, a study of the historical situation at the fall of Jerusalem quickly reveals that the only part of the country not under control of Nebuchadnezzar were the two Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon. They were still free, but not to remain at liberty for long. The prophet Isaiah, more than a century earlier, had foreseen the time when Tyre should be destroyed and he spoke of those who should flee their cities to the western colonies by ship (see Isaiah 23:1,2,5-7). The merchants of Tyre and Sidon, the two great cities of Phoenicia, referred to themselves as Sidonians. These merchant-ships were capable of circumnavigating the continent of Africa, as described by the historian, Herodotus. Today's scholars are beginning to accept the suggestion that they possibly even reached the Western World in their colonizing attempts.2 . . . It takes little imagination to tell us that when the siege machines moved up to attack the wall of Tyre, many of the inhabitants fled aboard ships headed for the western colonies on the Atlantic shores. Did a little group of people fleeing from Jerusalem find their way westward in such a colony? . . . Knowing that the sailors of Phoenicia called themselves Sidonians, it is difficult to escape the conclusion that this river running by where the people of Zarahemla had settled came by its name because colonists from Tyre or Sidon had originally been part of the first group of settlers of the people of Zarahemla that arrived in the New World.
Once the Sidonian sailors had sailed the length of the Mediterranean, the westward drifting warm equatorial currents, aided by the prevailing northeast and southeast tradewinds, make the crossing of the Atlantic an easy matter at this latitude. The celebrated voyages of the Ra 1 and Ra 2 from the tip of Morocco in Northern Africa across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, as carried out by Thor Heyerdahl in 1970 and 1971, demonstrate that the currents will carry a primitive boat from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean basin in less than sixty days [see illustration--Omni 1:16].
Whatever lingering doubts we might have about the origin of the name "Sidon" and about the presence of Phoenicians in Mesoamerica disappear when we discover that the ancient art of dyeing cloth with the famous purple dye of the Tyrians was well known in Mesoamerica.3 In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec the Indians know how to extract the dye from the sea snail, in the same process developed in Phoenicia centuries ago, and they obtain the same royal purple color. An excretion is taken from tiny sea snails at just certain times of the year. It is then applied to hanks of yarn, which are next dipped in sea water and then spread out in the sun to wait for the yarn to turn the color of imperial purple. The very complicated process is a most unlikely candidate for independent invention. Examples of such dyed cloth can be viewed today in Mexico City's anthropological Museum. It is said that one can always identify the genuine article by the fishy smell that clings to the cloth for years. Incidentally, the name Sidon meant "fishing" or "fishery." [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 97-98]
Alma 2:15 Sidon:
John Welch notes that the use of the name "Sidon" in the Book of Mormon (without any mention of the name "Tyre") is in complete harmony with the Old World time period for Lehi (and those who might have accompanied Mulek--the "Mulekites"). During this time, Israel's rulers formed an alliance with Egypt against their traditional enemy, Babylon. Jeremiah vehemently criticized this choice, and there seems to be evidence that Lehi's political sympathies were as unpopular as Jeremiah's. One of Babylon's allies was Sidon; but Sidon's twin city, Tyre, had sided with Egypt. It is worthy of note that the name Tyre never appears in any form in the Book of Mormon, whereas in the Old Testament the two names are constantly linked; one hardly ever appears without the other. This apparent preference for Sidon over Tyre in the Book of Mormon fits perfectly into the world situation that Lehi knew. (Approach to the Book of Mormon, Melchizedek Priesthood Course, 1957, p. 52.) [John W. Welch, "A Book You Can Respect," in The Ensign, September 1977, p. 47.] [See the commentary on Mormon 6:13].
Alma 2:15 The River Sidon Ran by the Land of Zarahemla:
In Alma 2:15 we find the first mention of the river Sidon. The river ran "by" the local land of Zarahemla. This might infer that the local land of Zarahemla lay essentially on one side of the river. For most readers, it seems logical that the River Sidon would have passed by somewhat on the east of the local land of Zarahemla at this time. In Alma 2:25-27 we are informed that the Amlicite battles were first fought on the Hill Amnihu east of the river Sidon. Later, the Amlicites joined up with some Lamanites and marched towards Zarahemla. The Nephites rushed to get to Zarahemla before them; however, before the Nephites got to Zarahemla, and as they crossed the river Sidon, they were attacked by the Amlicites who had already crossed the river and were on the "west side" (Alma 2:26-35).
On the other hand, according to the models of Hauck and Mask, the local land of Zarahemla might have been situated between two branches of the river Sidon. In Alma 8:3 there is a verse that could be interpreted to mean that the local land of Zarahemla was also on the east of the river Sidon. The text had previously mentioned that "Alma returned to his own house at Zarahemla to rest" (Alma 8:1). Then, in verse 3 it says "that Alma departed from thence and took his journey over into the land of Melek, on the west of the river Sidon. Although the phrase "over into" can be interpreted relative to elevations, it also might be associated with bodies of water. If Alma was already in Zarahemla (presumably on the west of the river Sidon) one might wonder why the text would not simply say, "that Alma departed from thence and took his journey over into the land of Melek, on the west of Zarahemla."
We know from Alma 22:27,29 (if our interpretation is correct) that the head of the river Sidon was "by" the narrow strip of wilderness that separated the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla, and that the head was close to the land of Manti. In Alma 3:3, bodies were thrown into the river "and behold their bones are in the depths of the sea"; thus, apparently the river Sidon flowed into a sea. We are not told, however, which sea; and nothing is ever mentioned in the future stories of the Book of Mormon when there are battles in the east "in the borders by the sea" (Alma 51, 52) or battles "by the west sea" (Alma 53, 56, 57, 58) of armies crossing any "river Sidon"; neither is there any mention of a river Sidon in the land of Bountiful, which was "north" of the land of Zarahemla (Alma 51, 52; Helaman 4). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:15 The River Sidon:
According to John Hilton, the river Sidon was the only American river identified by name in the Book of Mormon. Yet we have no description of the river downstream farther than Zarahemla other than that it empties into the sea.
A description of the geographical locations on the river Sidon, starting from its highest headwaters and moving downstream follows:
1. "Away above Manti" in the south wilderness the river can still be called Sidon. (Alma 16:6)
2. "Away above Manti" the river still has an east (and a west) side. (Alma 16:6)
3. There is a northward-flowing river identifiable as the Sidon comparatively near to the west sea coast. (Alma 16:7; 53:22; 56:31)
4. Just upstream from the land Manti, there is an east and a west side of the river. (Alma 43:31-32)
5. Just upstream from the land Manti, open valleys flank either side of the river. (Alma 43:31-32)
6. Just upstream from the land Manti, the river was readily fordable by a large army fleeing under enemy attack, yet it was also [capable of washing away an "exceedingly great" number] of dead bodies. (Alma 44:21-22)
7. Near Zarahemla, it has an east and a west side. (Alma 2:34)
8. Near Zarahemla, the river could be crossed by an army of tens of thousands of men to engage the enemy immediately, while it could also wash away a multitude of dead bodies. (Alma 2, 3:3)
9. The river generally flows northward. (Alma 17:1)
10. The river Sidon empties into the sea downstream from Zarahemla. (Alma 3:3, 44:22)
Therefore, the text describes the river Sidon as flowing northward with its high headwaters relatively near to the west sea. Assuming a Mesoamerican location, the Sidon must then flow inland from near the Continental Divide, which is relatively near the Pacific Ocean. Then, as a good-sized river, it flows past Manti, down past Zarahemla, and with unknown variations continues on to the sea. [John L. and Janet F. Hilton, "A Correlation of the Sidon River and the Lands of Manti and Zarahemla with the Southern End of the Rio Grijalva (San Miguel)," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Fall, 1992, F.A.R.M.S., p 151]
According to a Mesoamerican setting and the models of Sorenson and Allen, the land of Zarahemla is placed in the Chiapas valley of Mexico. Coursing through this valley in a "northerly" (northwest) direction is the fifth largest river in Mexico, and it reaches the "northern" (northwestern) part of the valley depression, it turns "east" (north) through the mountains to empty into the Gulf of Mexico (Sorenson's East Sea or Allen's North Sea). Another Mesoamerican river considered on many models as the Sidon is the Usumacinta River (see Hauck, Norman, etc.). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:15 The Amlicites Came:
According to Alma 2:9, the Amlicites first "gathered" to supposedly one area in order to elect a king, then in verse 2:15 they "came" to the hill Amnihu. The question arises, from what territories did they "gather," and where did they gather to? It is my opinion that the Amlicites came towards the local land of Zarahemla from downstream (from the direction of Ammonihah). However, I believe that there might have been some strong ties to what eventually was called the land of Manti upstream from Zarahemla (Alma 16:6). These ties might explain the ability of a Lamanite army to easily negotiate the general borders of the Nephite land. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary for Alma 2:15; 16:11; 24:28]
Alma 2:15 The Hill Amnihu:
Although the "hill Amnihu," first mentioned in Alma 2:15, was "east of Sidon" we don't know at this point how far east of the river Sidon it was, or how far away from the local land of Zarahemla it was, or in what exact direction (northeast, east, southeast) from the local land of Zarahemla it was located. According to Alma 2:19, apparently from the start of the battle on the hill Amnihu, the Nephites pursued the Amlicites all day before coming to the valley of Gideon and "pitching their tents" (Alma 2:20). Since the beginning of the battle was "upon the hill" (Alma 2:17), that "hill" was apparently part of the same topography that produced the "valley" of Gideon within one day's march. It is hard to tell at this time whether the Nephites had to march any big distance from the local land of Zarahemla before they reached the hill Amnihu to start the "day" mentioned in verse 2:19. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [For a comparable battle that might have been close to this location, see Alma 3:20-23]
Alma 2:16 Alma, Being the Chief Judge and the Governor of the People of Nephi:
According to John Tvedtnes, the Hebrew word shophet, rendered "judge" does not necessarily denote one who "judges," though this may have been one of the minor duties, but more rightly denotes one who governs. The Book of Mormon reader will note that the judges replaced the Nephite king, so that when Mosiah2 declared to the people that, "I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law" (Mosiah 29:11), he obviously meant more than to have these judges only sitting in a court of law. Indeed, Mosiah 29:41 states that "it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land." (cf. Alma 4:17) In Alma 2:16 we find that the chief judge was also called "the governor of the people of Nephi." Moreover, in the same verse (Alma 2:16) we find that Alma, as "chief judge and the governor of the people of Nephi" also "went up with his people, yea, with his captains, and chief captains, yea, at the head of his armies, against the Amlicites to battle." Thus the judges were leaders of the people in many ways. [John A. Tvedtnes, Book Review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4 1992, pp. 225-226]
Alma 2:16 Alma, being the chief judge and the governor of the people of Nephi (Major Nephite Leaders) [Illustration]: The Major Leaders During Nephite History. [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 160]
Alma 2:19 (12,532 + 6,562 Souls):
Here in Alma 2:19 we have record of 19,094 men killed in one day of civil war. This might suggest that the land of Zarahemla was somewhat populated at this time. At least it was apparently much more populated than the land of Lehi-Nephi at the time of Zeniff in which 3043 + 279 men were killed in one day of battle (Mosiah 9:18). For those who assume that the land of Zarahemla was located in the Chiapas valley of southern Mexico, there are over 400 archaeological sites in the region that date to this time period.
According to John Sorenson, all these people were "Nephites" politically speaking; the account does not talk about Lamanites at all. . . . It is reasonable that not over half the combatants were slain, which means that at least 40,000 warriors were involved, and perhaps somewhat more. Various studies of ancient warfare suggest how to translate that figure to total population. The ratio usually believed to apply is one soldier to about five total inhabitants. Using that figure, we may conclude that the total population of those "who were called Nephites" was 200,000 or more. Certain peoples in highland Guatemala shortly before the time of the Spanish conquest are reported in traditions to have fought with armies of 60,000, 80,000, and even up to 200,000 on one side, for decade after decade. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 193, 195]
Note* To those who propose a geographical setting anywhere else in the Americas, providing evidence for this kind of population density at this period in time can be a problem. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 2:19-20 All That Day . . . [They Did] Pitch Their Tents for the Night:
Alma 2:19-20 says that, "the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter . . . And it came to pass that when Alma could pursue the Amlicites no longer he caused that his people should pitch their tents in the valley of Gideon . . . for the night." The logical assumption in reading these two verses is probably that the battle began at the hill Amnihu and progressed to the valley of Gideon all in the same day. (Maybe from sunrise to a little before sunset. It usually takes a little light to pitch a tent for the night and get organized.) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 2:20 Valley of Gideon:
The Nephites probably pursued the Amlicites from the hill Amnihu to the valley of Gideon in one day (Alma 2:19); however, during this time of battle over 19,000 soldiers lost their lives.
According to John Sorenson, they traveled uphill, for they went "in[to]" the valley, so the pace and distance was less than expectable for normal battle travel, or about 20 miles [John Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 231]
Note* As far as the direction, it might have been somewhat "southeast" for the following reason. If the "valley of Gideon" Alma 2:20) was named after the Gideon that was slain (being possibly the place where he first settled after coming from the land of Lehi-Nephi), and this valley was close to the land of Minon (within a night's travel and return) and the land of Minon was "in the course of the land of Nephi" (in the path towards the land of Nephi), then this might also put the location of the valley of Gideon somewhat in the direction, route, or pathway towards Manti which was "by the head of the river Sidon". Notice, however, that the land of Manti is not mentioned until later on in Alma 16:6. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Alma 2:25-27; 3:20; 6:7] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:20 Valley of Gideon:
According to Joseph Allen (River Grijalva = Sidon River), the "valley of Gideon" (Alma 2:20) may have been the beautiful valley area located along the Chiapas mountains between Comitan and San Cristobal de las Casas, both modern cities in the State of Chiapas, Mexico. This pleasant valley rises to about 6,000 feet above sea level. It is located east of the Central Depression area of Chiapas. Hence, it is east of the River Grijalva (Sidon). The nearby town is called Villa Las Rosas. It is about 112 miles from the Mexican-Guatemalan border. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 355,380]
Alma 2:20 The Nephites Did Pitch Their Tents for the Night:
According to John Sorenson, even though Bernal Diaz and other Spanish historians have mentioned that the Aztec soldiers "erected their huts" in the field,4 critics still complain that for the Book of Mormon the comparison is inadequate because the Aztecs were of central Mexico rather than southern Mexico. In reality the Aztecs fought or had garrisons in many parts of Mesoamerica, including Chiapas. No groups who interacted with them could have failed to know about their tents (or vice versa). If the Aztecs, who were great cultural copycats, were smart enough to figure out field shelter for their soldiers, were other Mesoamericans so benighted that they had never solved the same problem over millennia of warfare? Hassig's answer is self-evidently correct: "Given Mesoamerican technology, any material innovation in warfare could diffuse rapidly and come within the grasp of every group."5
Critics respond by saying that the Aztec "tiendas" were known only at the time of the Conquest, about one thousand years after the end of the Nephite civilization. The reader must understand that even for the Aztec tents, the only evidence we have is in the historical documents written by the Spanish historians; the evidence is not in archaeological findings. So if archaeological evidence is lacking for the temporary overnight "tiendas," "chozas," or "jacales," of the Aztecs less than five centuries ago, then what hope has an archaeologist of finding the still slimmer traces of a temporary encampment dated two thousand years before that? Until archaeologists come up with an operational solution to this dilemma, it seems sensible to accept the Book of Mormon as documentary evidence of tents in the first century B.C. on a par with historical testimonies for the sixteenth century A.D. [John L. Sorenson, "Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe! in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, pp. 333-335] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 5:7; Mosiah 2:6; Mosiah 18:34; Alma 46:31; Mormon 6:4]
Note* John Tvedtnes mentions that he knows of only one instance (Timna) where remnants of an ancient tent have been found in the territory of ancient Israel, despite the frequent mention of tents in the Bible. In this light, the discussion of the lack of evidence for tents in ancient Mesoamerica loses some of its impact. [John Tvedtnes, "Review" of Brent Lee Metcalfe, ed., New Approaches to the Book of Mormon: Explorations in Critical Methodology in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, p. 30]
Geographical Theory Map: Alma 2:15-20 The Amlicite War Begins--An All Day Battle (5th Year)
Alma 2:21-34 (Illustration) The Amlicites &* Lamanites march to the west bank of Sidon
Alma 2:22 Zeram, and Amnor, and Manti, and Limher:
In Alma 2:22 we find that those whom Alma set out to watch the camp of the Amlicites were called Zeram, and Amnor, and Manti, and Limher. This is the only time in the Book of Mormon that these names appear as personal names. Why then did Mormon put their names in the text?
It is interesting that these names might have some linguistic tie-in to the lands in which these battles were being fought. If this is the case, then these men collectively had the cultural and geographical knowledge to best track the Amlicites through these lands. This proposed linguistic tie-in can be represented as follows:
Zera-m = a representative of the area or land of Zera-hemla
Amn-or = a representative of the area or land surrounding the hill Amn-ihu
Manti = a representative of the area or land of Manti
Limh-er = a representative of the area where the followers of Limh-i settled--near Gideon east of the river Sidon.
[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Note* the name "Amnor" appears in Alma 11:6 as a value unit of silver.
Alma 2:24 Land of Minon, above the Land of Zarahemla:
The land of Minon sat "above" the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:24), so it might have been located in the same mountain range where the valley of Gideon was located. It is not mentioned as to what side of the river the land of Minon was on. John Sorenson believes that Minon was on the west of the river Sidon because Zarahemla was on the west and Minon was "above the land of Zarahemla" (A Source Book, p. 232). However, the meaning could also be that Minon was above the land of Zarahemla on the east of the river Sidon and going along the general trail upward ("above") and southward toward the land of Nephi. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:24 Land of Minon . . . in the Course of the Land of Nephi:
According to Alma 2:24 the land of Minon was "in the course of the land of Nephi," but what does the phrase "in the course of" mean? And what is the reference point? One possible definition of "in the course of" might be that from where a person was, if he looked forward along a pathway towards a destination point, anything along that path would be termed "in the course of." That is, when the spies returned to Gideon, they said that "Minon was in the course of the land of Nephi" (possibly along the general pathway that one would travel from the local land of Zarahemla [or from the valley of Gideon] up to the land of Nephi). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 2:24 Land of Minon:
In Alma 2:20, the Nephites did "pitch their tents" in the valley of Gideon. In verse 21, Alma "sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites." In verse 23, the spies returned to the Nephite camp in great haste "on the morrow." Therefore, we might assume that these spies, after a day long battle, traveled in pursuit of the Amlicite army and returned to Alma's camp in the valley of Gideon (without rest, and in the dark) in somewhere around 12-24 hours.
According to John Sorenson, the distance from the valley of Gideon to the land of Minon could not have been more than 15 miles to allow all this. [John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, pp. 231-232]
Alma 2:24 Minon:
According to the geographical theory of Joseph Allen (Chiapas depression = the general land of Zarahemla), the area of Comitan, Chiapas, Mexico and the surrounding archaeological zone meets the requirement for the land of Minon. Comitan (Minon) is 5200 ft. in elevation and the valley of Chiapas (the local land of Zarahemla) is 1200 feet above sea level. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 329]
Alma 2:24 Numerous Host of the Lamanites:
To the Nephite spies great astonishment, they saw a "numerous host of the Lamanites" in the land of Minon (Alma 2:24). Presumably, these Lamanites had come from the land of Nephi; however, nothing is mentioned about the land of Manti. According to Alma 22:27, the land of Manti was by the head of the river Sidon in the narrow strip which separated the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla, and presumably would have had to have been traversed by invading Lamanites. [See Geographical Theory Maps] [See the commentary on Alma 3:23]
Alma 2:25 Except We Make Haste (Distance from Minon or Gideon to Zarahemla):
Alma learned from spies that the Amlicites and the Lamanites were advancing "towards our city; and except we make hast they obtain possession of our city" (Alma 2:25). The "astonished" spies had returned "in great haste" "on the morrow" after learning this (Alma 2:23-25), and it says in verse 26 that the "people of Nephi took their tents and departed." Thus, the spies' mission had apparently lasted through the night until daybreak, when they probably would have seen their brethren "fleeing before the Lamanites with their flocks" (Alma 2:25). At this point the spies probably would have returned to the valley of Gideon. I get the feeling that the local land of Zarahemla ("our city") might have been within the distance of a day or two or three by the reaction of the "astonished" spies who returned in "great haste," and by the seemingly immediate action of the Nephites to "take up their tents." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 2:27 As They Were Crossing the River the Lamanites and Amlicites . . . Came upon Them:
If, according to the text, the Lamanites and Amlicites attacked the Nephites "as they were crossing the river Sidon" (Alma 2:27), then the implication is that the Lamanites could not only view the advancing armies, but that there might have been some main crossing point(s). Alma 2:34 apparently says that the Lamanites and the Amlicites were now on the west side of the river. It is not clear whether they crossed over from a land of Minon on the east side of the river (option 1), or whether they just came downstream from a land of Minon on the west side of the river (option 2). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:29 Alma Fought with Amlici with the Sword, Face to Face:
Brant Gardner notes that in Alma 2:27 we are told that the Lamanites were "as numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea." Thus Alma has an entire army that must ford a river to reach a battlefield on the other side where a vastly larger army was waiting. In conditions such as these, one might suppose a simple and overwhelming Lamanite victory, yet that is not what happens. We are told that "Alma fought with Amlici with the sword face to face" (Alma 2:29) and "slew Amlici with the sword" (v. 31). Then "he also contended with the king of the Lamanites" (v. 32). Then in verses 34-35 we learn that Alma's actions clear the way for his army to cross. In other words, the entire Lamanite army does not clash with the entire Nephite army. The Lamanite numerical superiority is not even brought to bear.
What we have in these verses is a description of an individual battle of kings as representatives of their armies rather than the battle between the armies themselves. Alma fights with the leaders of the two factions of the Lamanite army, Amlici as leader to the Amlicites, and the king of the Lamanites. Such a mode of battle is relatively rare, but certainly not without precedence. In the Old Testament we have the story of David and Goliath. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/ ~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/Alma2.htm, pp. 37-38]
Alma 2:29 Alma Fought with Amlici with the Sword, Face to Face:
Karl von Clausewitz's great work Vom Kriege, or On War, has been the Bible of the military for 150 years. According to Hugh Nibley, the Book of Mormon reads as if it were written by a diligent student of this work.
In this work, one of the principal maxims says the following: "War is thus an act of force to compel our adversary to do our will. . . . War is nothing but a duel on a larger scale." Alma fights Amlici "face to face" (Alma 2:29); that's the duel, but they represent the forces . . . . We still do the same today -- we try to destabilize governments which do not favor us or which we do not favor, and we personify them in their leaders. The leader or whoever is in charge becomes the villain, and it becomes a personal duel between this president and that president, whoever they might be. [Hugh Nibley, "Warfare in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, pp. 130-131]
Geographical Theory Map: Alma 2:26-27 The Amlicites & Lamanites March to the West Bank of Sidon (5th Year).
Alma 2:15-38 The Amlicites came . . . to make war (Illustration): Rio Grijalva (Sidon); Santa Rosa (Zarahemla); Comitan (Minon); and Las Rosas (Gideon). Projection of the Coast and Highlands of Chiapas indicating Modern and Ancient Routes of Communication. [Gareth Lowe, Thomas Lee, and Eduardo Martinez, Izapa: An Introduction to the Ruins and Monuments, N.W.A.F., p. 73]
Alma 2:32 The King of the Lamanites:
Who was this "king of the Lamanites" mentioned in Alma 2:32? Was it either of the two kings which the sons of Mosiah would convert on their mission to the Lamanites--(1) king Lamoni (Alma 17:21) or (2) king Lamoni's father (Alma 20:8)? It is my opinion that Lamoni and his father were not this king who fought with Amlici. In order to understand who this unnamed king might logically have been, we must review the following information:
1. When Alma1 fled from the local land of Lehi-Nephi and eventually found his way to the local land of Zarahemla, the sequence of places where he stayed were: (1) the waters of Mormon, (2) land of Helam, (3) valley of Alma. We might assume that this sequence led one to the land of Zarahemla.
2. When the Lamanite armies and the priests of Amulon returning from the land of Amulon to the local land of Nephi stumbled upon Alma and his followers in the land Helam, they became rulers over them and over the land of Helam (Mosiah 23:35--24:1).
3. The Lamanites took possession of all these lands and the king of the Lamanites appointed kings over all these lands (Mosiah 24:2).
4. The sons of Mosiah began their mission to the Lamanites in the first year of the reign of the judges (Alma 17:6).
5. The Amlicite wars were all fought in the fifth year of the reign of the judges (Alma 3:25).
6. There is no mention or reference to any wars fought by either Lamoni or his father immediately prior to their conversions.
7. Aaron went to the city of Jerusalem which was "joining the borders of Mormon" (Alma 21:1). The Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built the city of Jerusalem (Alma 21:2). The Amalekites and Amulonites were hardened and caused the Lamanites they lived with to become more hardened than normal (Alma 21:3).
8. The Amalekites and the Amulonites "were after the order of the Nehors" (Alma 21:4).
9. "The Amalekites were not converted, save only one; neither were any of the Amulonites; but they did harden their hearts, and also the hearts of the Lamanites in that part of the land wheresoever they dwelt" (Alma 23:14).
10. Amlici was after the order of the Nehors (Alma 2:1).
11. The armies of Amlici gathered before they came to the hill Amnihu (Alma 2:9, 15). This gathering place was presumably downstream (northward from the local land of Zarahemla).
12. The armies of Amlici met the Lamanites "in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi" (Alma 2:24).
13. When the Amlicites and Lamanites fled the Nephites armies near the local land of Zarahemla, they fled "west and north" (Alma 2:36).
14. The city of Ammonihah was "west" and "north" of the local land of Zarahemla according to the travels of Alma (Alma 8:3, 6).
15. Some of the rulers in Ammonihah belonged to the order of Nehors (Alma 14:16, see also Alma 16:11).
Thus, it is more probable that the Amlicite wars involved Lamanites (and their local king) who (1) were associated with the order of Nehors, and (2) lived between the land of Minon and the city of Jerusalem--presumably near the land of Helam or lands closer to the Nephites (near the land of Manti?--Alma 22:27). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 2:32 From Before:
[See the commentary on 1 Nephi 4:28]
Alma 2:36-37 The Wilderness Which Was West and North:
Apparently the Nephites intercepted the Amlicites before they reached the city of Zarahemla because there is no mention made of the city. The Amlicites then fled "towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land" (Alma 2:36-37). In relating these directional terms we must conclude that either the wilderness was "north and west" of where the Amlicites were located (on the west bank of the Sidon just short of the city of Zarahemla), or the wilderness was "north and west" of the city of Zarahemla. Whatever the case it would seem to make little difference. Although no mention is made of the distance involved, it might have been within a full day's journey from Minon (but perhaps longer). Whatever the distance, one might wonder why the Amlicites and Lamanites would flee "west and north" in the first place? How did this fit into their plans to reach safety, or return to their own homelands?
According to John Sorenson, the Lamanites might have wanted to head back to the land of Nephi, but veered west to gain the cover of "wilderness" before circling fully southward toward their homelands. However, if the Amlicites were originally coming from the area of Ammonihah like some have proposed, then the Amlicites would have fled north towards their homeland through the wilderness. [John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Event: A Source Book, p. 232]
Note* We might find some perspective to this "wilderness which was west and north" in the geographic descriptions of Lamanite and Nephite lands found in Alma 22:27-34. Verse 29 says that "the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful." If we interpret this verse correctly, it might be speaking about the same wilderness area mentioned in Alma 2:36. This wilderness "on the west and on the north" (v. 36) might have gone "round about" from the wilderness at the head of the river Sidon (the narrow strip of wilderness) towards the "north, even till it came to the land Bountiful" (v. 29). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary and illustrations for Alma 22:28-29] [See Geographical Theory Maps]
Alma 2:35 - 3-3 Fig.3-9 Wilderness of Tehuantepec
Geographical Theory Map: Alma 2:37 Lamanites & Amlicites Are Scattered to the West and North (5th Year)
Alma 2:37 The Wilderness Which Was Called Hermounts . . . Wild and Ravenous Beasts:
In Alma 2:37 it says that the Lamanites were scattered until "they reached the wilderness which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts." According to the geographical theory of Joseph Allen, on the Mesoamerican map we find a very rugged mountainous region northwest of the ruins of Santa Rosa (the local land of Zarahemla). It is this wilderness or mountainous region that forms the eastern border of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Not only does the geography match the account in the Book of Mormon, but there is also a noteworthy word association. The word "hermounts" is associated with "wild and ravenous beasts." In addition, in the Aztec or Nahuatl language, the word "Tehuantepec" also means "wilderness or wild and ravenous beasts." The word "Tecuani" means "wild tiger or ferocious beasts." [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 40]
Alma 2:37 Hermounts:
Where does the word "Hermounts" (Alma 2:37) come from? According to Hugh Nibley, this is certainly not a Latin word. It's not a Greek word, a Hebrew word, or a Semitic word. Where was Hermounts? It was the land on the borders that was infested at times by wild beasts, at certain seasons of the year. It was way up in the borders. The Nephites and Lamanites went way up there. So it is the Egyptian word hr-Mntw, obviously. Month or Monthis was the Egyptian Pan; he was the god of wild places, wild animals, and the wild country. Hr-Mntw was the outmost part of Egypt where the land was sometimes visited by lions and crocodiles and things like that. It was under cultivation, but it was a place that was in danger from animals. They called it hr-Mntw because it was Month's country, wild animal country. Hr [Mntw] means "under the rule of Month, who was the beneficent lord of wild animals. Hr-Mntw was that ground in Egypt which was the part far removed and yet was visited by animals. So they called this area Hermounts, and no other word could match it so perfectly because it was infested at times by wild beasts. Is that a coincidence? Hermounts is the most fantastic word in the Book of Mormon because it has no philogical connections until you recognize hr-Mntw. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 243]
Alma 2:38 Vultures:
If one were to follow the geographical theory of Sorenson, Palmer, or Allen, then the general land of Zarahemla would have been located in the Chiapas depression. It is an interesting sensation for one to drop down from the cool, crisp, clean air of the Mexican and Guatemalan highlands into the heavy, humid, stagnant air of the Chiapas depression. One of the first things that catches your eye is the sight of vultures circling high in the air at various spots above the valley floor, which stretches out before you. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Alma 16:11]