Mormon 5


Covenant Obedience Brings Peace -

 3 Nephi 11 -- Mormon 7      Disobedience Brings Destruction



Mormon 5:3 City of Jordan [Jashon]:


     On page 1082 of the FARMS publication of the Printers Manuscript, it says that the word Jordan should be "Jashon". [Royal Skousen, Book of Mormon Critical Text, F.A.R.M.S., p. 1082]


Geographical Theory Map: Mormon 5:3-5 The Nephites Flee to Jordan (Jashon?) (375 A.S.)


Mormon 5:4 Which Strongholds Did Cut Them Off That They Could Not Get into the Country Which Lay Before Us:


     The Nephites apparently positioned themselves so that the Lamanites could not get beyond them into "the country which lay before us" (Mormon 5:4). By assuming a Mesoamerican setting, this phrase fits quite nicely. The travel corridor through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mesoamerica is situated such that when travelers get to that area wanting to go northward to Mexico City, they only have two choices: (1) a major highway through fertile, easy terrain that goes through what is now the state of Veracruz; and (2) a very rugged route through desolate mountain terrain up to what is now the state of Oaxaca. Apparently the Nephites had been blocking one or both major trade routes which connected the two major trading centers at the time, Kaminaljuyu (Guatemala City) and Teotihuacan (Mexico City). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mormon 5:5 Whatsoever Lands We Had Passed By . . . the Inhabitants Were Destroyed:


     In writing about the Nephite retreat in Mormon 5:5, Mormon states that "whatsoever lands we had passed by, and the inhabitants therof were not gathered in, were destroyed by the Lamanites, and their towns, and villages, and cities were burned with fire." The fact that the Lamanites chose to destroy people and villages apart from the main Nephite armies might mean that there were still quite a number of "Nephites" or people associated with the Nephites that hadn't been involved in battles yet, and that they were living between the city of Boaz and where the Nephites made a stand at the city of Jordan (Jashon). The reader should note that in this retreat, the lands of Joshua (Mormon 2:6), and Jashon (Mormon 2:16-17) are not mentioned. One has to wonder if Mormon was retreating over the same path as before.

     From the perspective of a hemispheric model, if the Nephites gathered in all their people as they moved great distances (from Panama to New York), one has to wonder first how the Nephites could logistically sustain their numbers, and secondly why the Lamanites would keep advancing in the face of such increasing numbers for the opposition. Moreover, the farther northward the Lamanites came after the treaty of 350 A.S. (which gave all the land northward to the Nephites), the more they would be surrounded by Nephites, and the more precarious their position. Why would the Lamanites move deep into enemy territory if it took them far into North America? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Geographical Theory Map: Mormon 5:6-7 The Lamanites Overwhelm the Nephites--the Nephites Flee (380 A.S.)


[Moroni 8 & 9] [Note* Mormon's Epistles to Moroni (Chronology)]:


     Although Chapters 8 & 9 of the book of Moroni (Mormon's epistles to Moroni) were placed with the Plates of Mormon sometime between the years 401 A.S. and 421 A.S., these chapters of the book of Moroni most probably relate to a time period around 375 A.S. to 376 A.S. (chapter 5 in the book of Mormon) because of the following subtle bits of information contained within those chapters:

     1. Moroni was old enough (24-30?) to be called to the ministry (Moroni 8:1).

     2. Mormon was personally involved in battles (Moroni 9:2).

     3. The battles were "sore battles" (Moroni 9:2).

     4. The battles were ones in which the Nephites "did not conquer" (Moroni 9:2).

     5. The Lamanites at this time "have many prisoners" (Moroni 9:7).

     6. The prisoners are slain and treated inhumanely (Moroni 9:8).

     7. The Nephites are making inhumane sacrifices of their own (Moroni 9:9-10).

     8. Aaron is in charge of a Lamanite army (Moroni 9:17).

     9. Mormon "cannot any longer enforce my commands" (Moroni 9:18).

     10. Mormon has "sacred records that I would deliver up unto thee" (Moroni 9:24).


[Alan C. Miner, "A Chronological Setting for the Epistles of Mormon to Moroni, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 3/2 Fall 1994, pp 95-96] [See the commentary and chart on Moroni 8-9]


Mormon 5:6 So Great Were Their Numbers:


     According to David Palmer, Mormon emphasizes the importance of "numbers" of people in winning the battles (Mormon 4;17, 5:6) in his statements concerning the last battles. In view of this, Mormon probably chose an area for the last battle that not only was familiar to the people, but he chose it on the basis of potential for food production. The best way to attract people to his side was to have plenty of food. Choice of a particularly productive area in which to concentrate his people would help him to gather in the largest possible army. This approach stands in contrast to the idea of taking his people on a great march into unfamiliar territory where provision of food would be the single greatest problem. In fact, it would have been suicide. [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, p. 44]


Mormon 5:8,9,12-13 Therefore I Write a Small Abridgment (Mormon's Abridgement):


     Mormon had the time between the years 362 and 375 (about 13 years) in which he "did utterly refuse" to fight, and instead "stood as an idle witness." In addition, at least the last seven of those 13 years that he refused to fight (367-375 A.S.) were peaceful between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Thus, Mormon had peaceful access to all the records in the hill Shim until the year 375 A.S. when he took all the sacred records from the hill Shim and retreated from the advancing Lamanite armies (Mormon 4:23). I don't think we can know when Mormon started his abridgement, but the phrases in Mormon 5:8,9,13 seem to be referring to that process in a time period just after Mormon had 13 years to devote himself to a complete understanding of the Nephite records:

           "But, I, knowing that these things must surely be made known, and that all things which are hid must be revealed upon the house-tops--" (Mormon 5:8)

           "And also that a knowledge of these things must come unto the remnant of these people, and also unto the Gentiles . . . therefore I write a small abridgment . . . " (Mormon 5:9)

            "And this is the commandment which I have received . . . " (Mormon 5:13)


     In the year 375 A.S., Mormon returned to his command of the Nephite armies (Mormon 5:1). After a five year period of Lamanite devastation upon his people, and a four year period of gathering, Mormon makes the statement:

           Knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi. (Mormon 6:6)


     It is hard to tell by Mormon's phrase "I made this record" whether he was just completing a record already started (maybe during his 13 year interval of standing as an "idle witness") or whether Mormon's 13 year period of standing as an "idle witness" allowed the time for him to sufficiently acquaint himself with the Nephite records that he was able to make his abridgment after he had gathered in his people and before the final battles (Mormon 6:6). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mormon 5:9 I Write a Small Abridgment:


     In Mormon 5:9, Mormon comments: "Therefore I write a small abridgment, daring not to give a full account of the things which I have seen, because of the commandment which I have received . . ." According to John Tvedtnes, although Mormon's abridgment comprises some sixty-four percent of the Book of Mormon (Mosiah through Mormon 7), Mormon uses the word "abridgment" only twice within the record (Words of Mormon 1:3; Mormon 5:9), with a third mention of his "abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi" occurring in the title page. Yet Mormon was not the first Nephite to have abridged records. In the beginning, Nephi had "abridged the record of [his] father" (1 Nephi 1:17). But neither Mormon nor Nephi invented the concept of abridging records. It was already a common phenomenon evidenced in the Bible.

     Specific phrases and anachronisms, as well as reference to earlier writings containing greater detail, provide evidence for the abridgment of earlier records to produce our current Bible. For example, the phrase "unto this day" refers to an historical event marking the establishment of something that remained in place at the time of the individual who made the final record. We find the expression in works attributed to Moses and to Joshua, as well as various historical books (Judges through 2 Chronicles). The book of Judges, for example, covers such a long period of time that it must have been compiled from earlier records or oral traditions. That it was composed by a single historian is suggested by the fact that the book, as a whole, describes what the author saw as a cycle of sin, followed by captivity, then the cry of the people for assistance, and their delivery by a judge called by God. The perspective is clearly ex post facto rather than contemporary. [John A. Tvedtnes, "I Make This Small Abridgment," in The Most Correct Book, pp. 1-3]


Mormon 5:11 In the Arms of Jesus:


     According to David Seely, many of the images of God touching man with his hand in the Old Testament denote sickness, plague, judgment, destruction, and so forth. . . . . The Book of Mormon has a significantly different set of imagery regarding God's positive contacts with man. This set is consistent and well developed throughout the book. Central to it is the image of an embrace, of being circled about by the arms of Christ. The Book of Mormon invites all to "come unto Christ" (1 Nephi 6:4; Moroni 10:32). A profound picture of what this means is frequently given of Christ waiting to embrace -- to encircle with his arms -- his children who come to him . . . Mormon, at the end of his ministry, is saddened by the final destruction of his people because "this people had not repented that they might have been clasped in the arms of Jesus." (Mormon 5:11). "O ye fair ones," he exclaimed, "how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!" (Mormon 6:17).

     Hugh Nibley has traced the origins of this atonement imagery to a Semitic word that in the Bible is usually translated "atonement." Nibley finds one of the primary meanings of this term to be encircling or surrounding. This means that the embrace imagery in the Book of Mormon is a continuation or variant of a Near Eastern way of speaking. [David Rolph Seely, "The Image of the Hand of God," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, p. 149]


Mormon 5:14 Jesus Is the Christ, the Son of the Living God:


     Mormon, in prophesying about the coming forth of the words of the Book of Mormon, declares the doctrine that the Father and the Son are separate beings yet both are Gods:

           And behold, they shall go unto the unbelieving of the Jews; and for this intent shall they go--that they may be persuaded that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God; that the Father may bring about, through his most Beloved, his great and eternal purpose, in restoring the Jews, or all the house of Israel, to the land of their inheritance, which the Lord their God hath given them, unto the fulfilling of his covenant. (Mormon 5:14)


     According the Richard Hopkins, the earliest apologetic writing of which a clearly genuine copy is available today is the Epistle to Diognetus, written in about A.D. 130. The author and addressee of this letter are completely unknown. Internal evidence suggests that it was written by someone who lived at the beginning of the second century. He describes himself as follows: "having been a disciple of the Apostles, I am become a teacher of the Gentiles." If this is true, the writer would be properly included among the Apostolic Fathers. . . . The Epistle contains statements that are completely consistent with biblical Mormonism. The author repeatedly refers to the Father and the Son as entirely separate individuals and at one point describes their relationship as follows: "As a king sends his son, who is also a king, so sent He Him; as God."82 This understanding of the relationship between the Father and the Son--as of a King and His Prince--is a clear and accurate expression of biblical theology. It recognizes the complete separation of the individual who is King from the individual who is Prince, while it explains the filial relationship between the two that allows the Son to be called God without violating the authority of His Father, the King. [Richard R. Hopkins, How Greek Philosophy Corrupted the Christian Concept of God, p. 126]


Mormon 5:15 This People Shall . . . Become a Dark, a Filthy, and a Loathsome People:


     [See the commentary on Moroni 9:20]



Mormon 5:20 Then Will the Lord Remember the Covenant Which He Made unto Abraham and unto All the House of Israel:


     [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 15:18, 22:9; Helaman 8:18; 3 Nephi 20:25, 20:27; Ether 13:11]