Mormon 6


Covenant Obedience Brings Peace -

 3 Nephi 11 -- Mormon 7      Disobedience Brings Destruction




Mormon 6:1 And Now I Finish My Record:


     In the year 380, the Lamanites came down against the Nephites and "so great were their numbers that they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet" (Mormon 5:6). The Nephites were forced to flee for their lives. Mormon records that "those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites' did escape, and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites' were swept down and destroyed" (Mormon 5:7). Mormon's comments on these scenes of carnage (Mormon 5) may have been his final recorded comments before the last battle at Cumorah. Starting in Mormon 6:1, in words apparently recorded after the battle of Cumorah but describing the events before the battle, Mormon says, "And now I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites." [Alan C. Miner, The Chronology and Compilation of the Writings of Mormon and Moroni," p. 4]


Mormon 6:1 And Now I Finish My Record Concerning the Destruction of My People, the Nephites:


     Jerry Ainsworth notes that at the beginning of the sixth chapter of the book of Mormon, Mormon undertakes to "finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites" (Mormon 6:1). In other words, he has witnessed the complete or almost complete destruction of his people, so that he can now tell about it. According the Ainsworth, Mormon 6 corresponds with, and in some ways parallels, Mormon's words near the beginning of the Words of Mormon. There, he says that he has "witnessed almost all the destruction of my people, the Nephites" and he is "about to deliver up the record which I have been making into the hands of my son Moroni" (Words of Mormon 1:1; emphasis added). It appears that both of these writings--Mormon 6 and the Words of Mormon--were written about the same time.

     Mormon also says that he has added the small plates of Nephi to his own abridgment or record, which record he takes from the large plates of Nephi (see Words of Mormon 1:6, 9). He again says, after witnessing "almost all the destruction" of his people, that he will now "finish out my record" of the history of the Nephites (Words of Mormon 1:9; emphasis added). His language in the two writings is thus virtually identical.

     The "destruction" of the Nephites, of which Mormon speaks in Mormon 6 and the Words of Mormon, almost certainly refers to that at Cumorah.

     Additionally, in Mormon 6:16, Mormon says, "My soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people." Had Mormon written this immediately after the battle at Cumorah, he would probably have said, "My soul is rent."

     These things mean that Mormon had time to "finish [his] record" after Cumorah, both his account of Nephite history on the large plates of Nephi and his abridgment of that history. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 196]


Mormon 6:2 I Mormon, Wrote an Epistle unto the King of the Lamanites:


     In Mormon 6:2, Mormon records that "I Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites." According to Hunter and Ferguson, there is an interesting comment from Ixtlilxochitl relating to an event which occurred nearly 500 years after Mormon's time [but which correlates with Mormon's statement]. Topiltzin (king of Tula - near what is now Mexico city), seeing himself so oppressed and that there was no way out (of military confrontation), asked for time, for it was a law among them that before a battle they would notify each other some years in advance so that on both sides they would be warned and prepared. (xcl) [Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 361]


Geographical Theory Map: Mormon 6:1-5 Mormon Writes to the Lamanite King--the Nephites Will Gather to Cumorah (381 A.S.)


Mormon 6:2 That We Might Gather . . . and There We Could Give Them Battle:


     Mormon notes:

           And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites. And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle. And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired. (Mormon 6:1-3)


     According to John Sorenson, a valid question is, Why didn't the Nephites continue retreating farther and farther north and so escape the Lamanites altogether? [rather than gather at one location for a final battle] In the first place, we must realize that rarely if ever is there any decent land that does not already contain a sizeable population, so the Nephites would have had to dispossess other people first. Besides, moving farther on, the Nephites would have entered ecologically new territory, and the prospects would be slim that they could successfully feed their numbers in a new environment with no time to learn how to exploit the land. Assuming a Mesoamerican setting, farther north of the Nephites' position lay another military threat. Beyond the big swamps [of present day Veracruz] they would come nearer and nearer to the territory of Teotihuacan proper, the powerful state allied culturally if not militarily with the Lamanites (i.e. Kaminaljuyu). The Teotihuacan domain of control apparently did not extend quite as far as the Tuxtlas (land of Cumorah) by A.D. 380, but any move farther north by Mormon's people would have encountered this great power, standing in the wings but uninvolved directly in the present conflict. Yet the real key to the Nephites' standing fast could simply be that the lands they were defending were their own already; they felt they had a right to them and were motivated to defend them if at all possible. . . So, caught between the millstones of Lamanite powers and Teotihuacan itself, the Nephites willingly defended their shrunken core of lands because they had to. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 348]


Mormon 6:2 That We Might Gather . . . and There We Could Give Them Battle:


     If the Nephite retreat was continental (from Panama to New York), one would have to ask why the Lamanite king would allow the Nephites to gather (from all over what is now the United States and Mexico) when many of the Nephites would have needed to bypass the Lamanite king's armies to do so? Moreover, how could a Lamanite king stay 5000 miles away from his people (in South America) for so long (up to 4 years) without the Lamanite society at home becoming chaotic? And if the Lamanite king wasn't with his army but was at home (in South America), would the Nephites think of reaching him with a message (Mormon 6:2-3) which required 12,000 miles round trip? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mormon 6:2 The Land of Cumorah:


     According to John Sorenson's Mesoamerican theory, the "land of Cumorah" (Mormon 6:2) must be part of the northern or western extremity of the Tuxtla Mountains, some 90 miles from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec (narrow pass), and near the huge site of Tres Zapotes. The Tuxtla ("place of the macaws") region has been described by artist-author Miguel Covarrubias as "a land of unprecedented fertility, watered in all directions by streams, water falls, and lakes."83 Mormon called it "a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains" (Mormon 6:4). A thousand years before, that area had been key in the late Olmec (Jaredite) settlement system, no doubt for the same reason. This zone, exceedingly fertile because of rich volcanic soil and abundant rainfall, could probably supply by itself the food needs of the concentrated Nephite forces. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 347]


Mormon 6:2 A Hill Which Was Called Cumorah:


     The hill Ramah was a major site in the final battles of the Jaredites. Moroni says that the hill Ramah "was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred" (Ether 15:11). In Mormon 6:2 this hill is identified as the "hill which was called Cumorah."

     According to Hunter and Ferguson, careful study of the Nephite account discloses that Cumorah was a place of considerable elevation. The fact that it was prominent and conspicuous enough to bear a name in both Jaredite and Hebrew-Nephite geographical terminology suggests the idea of a prominent elevation. . . . Also, the place was known to their historians for many hundreds of years as has been shown.

     The question arises, if Ramah-Cumorah were an elevation of considerable height, as suggested, why then do the Book of Mormon writers refer to it as a "hill"? The interesting fact is that all mountains, regardless of size, are referred to as "hills" in the Book of Mormon. The Hebrew term "harar" is translated "hill or mountain." It is the term used for referring to large elevations. The translators of the Old Testament have sometimes rendered the term "hill" and sometimes as "mountain." Apparently Joseph Smith saw fit to render it "hill" in all instances where an elevation was referred to by name in the Nephite account. In doing so he was doing an excellent job of translating.

     Thus, the expression found in the Nephite account, "hill Cumorah" would seem to refer to a mount or mountain of considerable prominence in the area where it was located. The reader should also keep in mind that the hill Cumorah was near another hill, the "hill Shim" (Ether 9:3). [Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, pp. 364-365]


Mormon 6:2 A Hill Which Was Called Cumorah:


     According to Hunter and Ferguson, the name "Cumorah" (Mormon 6:2) appears to be Hebrew. The Hebrew is written out in our script as Komaw or Qowmah, meaning "height, high, tall." The suffix at the end of Cumorah may be derived from the Hebrew term sounded out as rah-mah, the latter term also meaning "height, high." As has been pointed out, the early Jaredites used the name Ramah in referring to the Cumorah area (Ether 15:11). Thus, the two terms, Ramah and Cumorah -- one a Jaredite term for the elevation and the other a Nephite term for the same place -- are consistently descriptive of the place. In both instances the meaning is "height' or "high." [Milton R. Hunter and Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 364]


Mormon 6:2 Cumorah:


     Concerning different meanings suggested for the name "Cumorah" (Mormon 6:2), John Tvedtnes notes that for a meaning of "arise, o light," one would expect the Hebrew form qumi or, though qumi orah would not be impossible.84 The suggested etymology kum orah, "mound of light/revelation,"85 is a better explanation. . . . A more plausible etymology for Cumorah is Hebrew kamorah, "priesthood," an abstract noun based on the word komer, "priest." . . .

     Some have privately objected that this explanation is unlikely because the term komer is always used in the Old Testament in reference to false priests (2 Kings 23:5; Hosea 10:5; Zephaniah 1:4), while the word kohen is used to denote Israelite priests.86 But this objection fails to note that both terms are used together in the Zephaniah passage. It seems more likely to us that the term komer was simply used to denote a priest who was not of the tribe of Levi, while kohen in all cases refers to a Levitical priest. Since Lehi's party did not include descendants of Levi, they probably used komer wherever the Book of Mormon speaks of priests.87 [Stephen D. Ricks and John A Tvedtnes, "The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place Names," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 6/2 1997, pp. 256-257]


Mormon 6:2 A hill which was called Cumorah (Illustration): Cerro Vigia on the western edge of the Tuxtla Mountains, a plausible candidate for the hill Ramah-Cumorah. [F.A.R.M.S. Staff, "Lands Of The Book Of Mormon," Slide #103]


Mormon 6:4 We Did Pitch Our Tents Round About the Hill Cumorah:


     According to John Sorenson, the famous historian Fr. Diego Duran arrived in New Spain in 1542, only twenty-one years after the Conquest. Duran lived amidst Indians and had access to many native manuscripts. He read reams of Spanish reports of visits and administration. From these he synthesized a history of the Aztecs which was completed in 1581.88

     Duran notes that in preparation for war, Motecuzoma ordered surrounding cities to furnish stores of food and "sleeping mats ('petates') to make tents ('tiendas') and houses ('casas') of those mats ('esterase') in which they would dwell [while] in the field."89 When they didn't stay in the towns, they pitched their tents and shelters made with mats ('tiendas y casas de petates') in spots arranged by the advance party."90

     A number of types of field military shelters are distinguished here, and several of them were labelled 'tiendas," tents, by the Spaniards:

     1. "casas pajizas," houses of straw;

     2. "chozas," huts, sometimes of unspecified material but suitable for leaders to occupy;

     3. "jacales" (from Nahuatl xahcalli) huts; the material utilized is not clear, for at least some were collapsible and movable; some leaders occupied these; mats were probably the usual material. It is unclear how these differed from "chozas," perhaps the latter were made from materials such as brush scrounged in the field;

     4. "tiendas," tents; of unspecified material but perhaps of (ixtle or henequen?) cloth, given the normal Spanish sense of "tiendas"; some were good enough to house leaders;

     5. "casas de petates," houses of mats; the cheap, light readily portable mats could be combined with, say, spears, to make a simple "tent" for ordinary soldiers, or anybody in an emergency;

     6. "cuarteles," quarters, barracks; these may refer to commandeered housing in communities along the road, or they might have been collapsible multi-person shelters.


[John L. Sorenson, "Viva Zapato! Hurray for the Shoe! in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, Num. 1, pp. 332-335] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 5:7; Mosiah 2:6; Mosiah 18:34; Alma 2:20; Alma 46:31]


Mormon 6:4 The Hill Cumorah (Geographical Setting--New York):


     According to David Palmer, a more traditional belief concerning the hill Cumorah among Latter-day Saints is that it refers to the hill near present-day Palmyra and Manchester, New York, where the plates from which the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon were found. B. H. Roberts writes the following:

           Encouraged by this repetition of the vision of the previous night, and strengthened by the assurances of his father that the visitation was of God, Joseph repaired that same day to the hill he had seen in vision, the place where the sacred record was concealed, some two miles distant from the Smith home. The hill is about four miles south of the town of Palmyra, in Wayne county. It stands on the east side of the Canandaigua road, and is the most conspicuous land mark in all that section of New York. In the Book of Mormon the hill is known as Ramah, and Cumorah, referred to more frequently, however, by the latter name. Approaching Cumorah from the north, you are confronted by the bold fact of the hill, which rise quite abruptly from the common level of the surrounding country; and as the east and west slopes of the hill, as viewed form the north, are about equal and regular, it looks from a distance as if it might be a huge conical shaped mound. Ascending its steep north side to the summit dispels the illusion, for one finds that he has but climbed the abrupt north end of a ridge of hill having its greatest extent from north to south, and which from its very narrow summit broadens and slopes gently to the southward until it sinks to the level of the common country. The east side of the hill is now ploughed, but the west side is untouched by the husbandman; and about two or three hundred yards from the north end there is on the west side a small, scattered grove of young trees, with here and there a decaying stump of a large tree to bear witness that the hill was once covered with a heavy growth of timber. Unquestionably Cumorah is the most distinct land mark in all that section of country, the highest hill, and the most commanding in what I should describe as an extensive plain sloping northward, filled with numerous irregular hills, but which in the main have their greatest extent, like Cumorah, from north to south; and which, also like Cumorah, are generally highest at the north end. [B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ,Vol. 1, pp. 75-76]


      In 1928 the Church purchased the western New York hill land in 1935 erected a monument recognizing the visit of the angel Moroni. A visitors' center was later built at the base of the hill. Each summer since 1937, the Church has staged the Cumorah pageant at this site. Entitled America's Witness for Christ, it depicts important events from Book of Mormon history. This annual pageant has reinforced the common assumption that Moroni buried the plates of Mormon in the same hill where his father had buried the other plates, thus equating this New York hill with the Book of Mormon Cumorah. Because the New York site does not readily fit the Book of Mormon description of Book of Mormon geography, some Latter-day Saints have looked for other possible explanations and locations, including Mesoamerica. [David A. Palmer, "Cumorah" in Daniel H. Ludlow, S. Kent Brown, and John W. Welch selection eds., To All the World: The Book of Mormon Articles from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, F.A.R.M.S., p. 82]


Mormon 6:4 The Hill Cumorah (Geographical Setting--New York) [Illustration]: The north end of the hill Cumorah, near Palmyra, New York, as it appeared in 1904 in this single view from an Underwood and Underwood stereo view. Courtesy Rare Books and Manuscripts, Brigham Young University. [David A. Palmer, "Cumorah" in Daniel H. Ludlow, S. Kent Brown, and John W. Welch selection eds., To All the World: The Book of Mormon Articles from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, F.A.R.M.S., p. 81]


Mormon 6:4 The Hill Cumorah (Geographical Setting):


     According to David Palmer, there is not one single directional statement given, from the time of the battles at the city of Desolation to the battle at Cumorah. There is nothing to suggest that the Nephites were not still within a few hundred kilometers of the Isthmus. . . . Based on direct statements from the text of the Book of Mormon, and in a few cases, strong inferences drawn from statements in the text, a list of topographic and geographic criteria for Mormon's Cumorah has been developed. These criteria are as follows:

     1. It was near an eastern seacoast (Ether 9:3).

     2. It was near a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:29-32, Mormon 2:29, Mormon 3:5) (Alma 43) (Alma 56) Alma 50:33-34, 52:9) (Mormon 2:29, 3:5-7, Alma 63:5) (Ether 10:22-28).

     3. It was on a coastal plain, and possibly near other mountains and valleys (Ether 14:12-15).

     4. It was one day's journey south (east-south-east in modern coordinates) of a large body of water (Ether 15:8-11).

     5. It was in an area of many rivers and waters (Mormon 6:4).

     6. It was in the presence of fountains (Mormon 6:4).

     7. The abundance of water apparently provided a military advantage (Mormon 6:4).

     8. There was an escape route to the land ("country") southward (Mormon 8:2).

     9. The hill was large enough to provide a view of hundreds of thousands of bodies (Mormon 6:11).      10. The hill was apparently a significant landmark (Ether 9:3; Mormon 6:6).

     11. The hill was apparently free standing so people could camp around it (Mormon 6:2, 6:11).

     12. The climate was apparently temperate with no cold or snow (No record of cold or snow) (Enos 1:20) (Alma 46:40)

     13. The hill was located in a volcanic zone susceptible to earthquakes (3 Nephi 8:6-23)


[David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, pp. 42, 53]


Mormon 6:4 The Hill Cumorah (Geographical Setting):


     David Palmer and Joseph Allen have listed the following reasons for labeling the Cerro Vigia located in the state of Veracruz, Mexico as the Hill Cumorah:

     1. Near an Eastern seacoast: The Gulf of Mexico constitutes an eastern seacoast 30-40 miles from the Hill Vigia.

     2. Near the Narrow Neck of Land (Narrow Pass): The Hill Vigia is about 60 miles from the top of a pass that runs through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

     3. On a Coastal Plain and Possibly Near Other Mountains (hill Shim?) and Valleys: The Hill Vigia is situated so it overlooks a coastal plain. Looking inland, there is another expansive plain. Towards the Gulf of Mexico and stretching down towards the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, lies the heart of the volcanic Tuxtla mountain chain.

     4. One Day's Journey South of a Large Body of Water: About 20 kilometers "north" of Cerro (Hill) Vigia is the beginning of the vast expanse of water known as the Papaloapan lagoon system. Large oceangoing vessels are used to fish those waters. . . . Since this area is neither a lake nor a river it is a good candidate for "Ripliancum" which was interpreted as "large, or to exceed all."

     5. In an Area of Many Rivers and Waters: The Tuxtla mountain range is encompassed by two great drainage systems, the Papaloapan, and the Coatzacoalcos. The general area of the Cerro (Hill) Vigia was known anciently as "nonohualco," which means "place where water is everywhere."

     6. Presence of Fountains: The Hill Vigia is located in a land of pure water where streams of underground water spring forth.

     7. The Abundance of Water Must Provide a Military Advantage: The Tuxtla Mountain area is the Hawaii of Mexico. What does all this information about climate and water have to do with a military advantage? Palmer postulates that the military advantage sought was attraction of people. The battle was basically a numbers game. People could only be attracted to an army if they were fed, and how does one go about providing food for an army of a quarter million people? The way Mormon chose to provide food for his peopled during the four year gathering period was to choose as the place of his last stand one of the most fertile areas of the Western Hemisphere.

     8. Escape Route to the Land Southward: Those escaping to the "south countries" would have followed the route . . . skirting the northern flank of the Tuxtlas and approaching the sea. From there they would have been able to travel down to the isthmus virtually undetected, having a mountain range between them and the Lamanites.

     9. Hill Must Be Large Enough to Provide a View of Hundreds of Thousands of Bodies: The Hill Vigia is about 2,400 feet high. A person can make a round trip to the top in 3-4 hours.

     10. The Hill Must be a Significant Landmark: Cerro Vigia is easily distinguishable since it sits on the plain out of the main line of the Tuxtla chain. Friedlander found in 1922 that the Indians considered Cerro Vigia sacred. This may be related to the fact that a number of the Olmec monuments were carved from basalt taken from Cerro Vigia. This hill also appears to have been used for astronomical sightings. . . . These were important for maintenance of the calendar which was used for a guide in the planting of crops.

     11. The Hill Should be Free Standing so People Can Camp Around it: Cerro Vigia stands apart from the rest of the Tuxtla Mountain chain, separated from it by the city of Santiago Tuxtla.

     12 The Hill Should be in a Temperate Climate with no Cold or Snow: The Tuxtlas are a year-round resort for the Mexican tourists. The area is the Hawaii of Mexico.

     13. The hill is in a Volcanic Zone Subject to Earthquakes: Mesoamerica has been an area of very heavy volcanic activity. Mexico has about 37 recent volcanoes, twelve currently active. In Central America there are 67 recent volcanoes, 32 presently active. Both Mexico and Central American countries are plagued by earthquakes.

     From a purely logical point of view, the Latter-day Saint "Hill Cumorah" in New York meets only partially the above Book of Mormon requirements for the Nephite Hill Cumorah. [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, pp. 96-101; and Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 343-344]

     The Book of Mormon itself must stand as the best witness of the criteria necessary to locate the Jaredite, Nephite, Lamanite, and Mulekite cultures. Therefore, thirteen geographic/topographic criteria were determined from the text. A discussion of the specific references from the Book of Mormon is given in the book, In Search of Cumorah by David Palmer (pp. 28-72).

     The hill in New York meets criteria 2 (minimally), 4, 5, and 11. It does not meet the others. The hill Vigia in Mexico, proposed by Palmer (In Search of Cumorah, pp. 89-123) and Sorenson (An Ancient American Setting, p. 350) meets all of them. [David A. Palmer, Book Review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, 1990, pp. 69-71]


Mormon 6:4 The Hill Cumorah (Cultural Setting):


     The Book of Mormon itself must stand as the best witness of the criteria necessary to locate the Nephite, Lamanite, and Mulekite cultures. Therefore, fifteen cultural criteria were determined from the text:

     1. cities in the vicinity of the hill: 3 Nephi 8:8-14; 9:3-10;

     2. towers or stepped pyramids for religious purposes: Mosiah 2:7; 11:12-13; 20:8; Helaman 7:10

     3. efficient agriculture: Mosiah 7:22; 9:9; 9:14

     4. metallurgy: 1 Nephi 18:25; 2 Nephi 5:15; Jarom 1:8; Mosiah 22:12

     5. formal political states with centralized law enforcement: Mosiah 29:38-42; Alma 10:14-15; 3 Nephi 1:1

     6. organized religion: 2 Nephi 5:18; Alma 4:4-5; 3 Nephi 11-28; 4 Nephi 1:26-41

     7. idolatry at certain times:

     8. craft specialization such as textiles:

     9. trade and commerce: Alma 63:5-8; Helaman 3:10; Helaman 6:7-8; 3 Nephi 3:24; 4 Nephi 1:46

     10. writing: Alma 63:12; Mormon 9:32

     11. weaponry in the immediate vicinity of the hill:


     Criteria applicable only for the Nephites. (However, the absence of mention of these four traits for the Jaredites does not preclude their presence during those times.)      


     12. astronomy: Alma 30:44; Helaman 12:15; 3 Nephi 1:21;

     13. calendar systems:

     14. cement: Helaman 3:9-11;

     15. wheels: Alma 19:6; 3 Nephi 3:22


     The Cerro Vigia in Mexico meets all of these cultural criteria. The hill in New York meets none of them. Modern archaeological research shows that there was little culture there until A.D. 1100. [David A. Palmer, Book Review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, 1990, pp. 69-71]



Mormon 6:4 The Hill Cumorah (Cultural Setting):


     According to David Palmer, fifteen traits and types of archaeological information are required for any candidate hill to be called the "hill Cumorah" (Mormon 6:4). The following is an evaluation of Cerro Vigia ("Lookout Hill") in Mesoamerica:


     1. Cities in the Vicinity of the Hill: The Cerro Vigia is surrounded by ruins dating to the Jaredite and Nephite times. . . . The more ancient ruins are found in southern Veracruz, where the Cerro Vigia is located.

     2. Towers or stepped Pyramids for Religious Purposes: In the Nephite period there were large pyramids located in the following archaeological sites: in Guatemala (Kaminaljuyu), in the state of Chiapas, Mexico (Izapa, Chiapa de Corzo, etc.), in the state of Oaxaca (Dainzu) and in the valley of Mexico (Cuicuilco, Teotihuacan, Tlapacoya, and Cholula).

     The pyramid at La Venta, in the state of Tabasco, Mexico is entirely manmade. It apparently served as a focal point for the Olmec religion from about 1000 B.C. to 600 B.C. Another Jaredite time period pyramid is seen at the site of San Jose Mogote, in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico.

     3. Efficient Agriculture: Stantley (1982) has found strong evidence for intensive early Preclassic (400-600 B.C.) farming in the Tuxtla mountains of southern Veracruz, Mexico. Work by Flannery in Oaxaca, Mexico has shown that the people exploited the high water table by digging wells and carrying water to irrigate their crops. As many as ten wells would be located in a one-acre plot. This technological advance allowed such efficient food production that at least half the population was able to turn to craft manufacture and mining. (Flannery, 1967) Three crops per year are possible using intensive irrigation. The use of canal systems for irrigation can be firmly dated to at least 400 B.C. in Oaxaca, with some village runoff canals going back to 1000 B.C. (Flannery, 1976)

     4. Metallurgy: In Nephite times the presence of iron is found at the archaeological site of Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala City (a proposed site for the city of Nephi). . . . However, the antiquity of use of ancient metals in Mesoamerica is placed at 1500 B.C. This is based on language studies called glotto-chronology (Campbell and Kaufman, 1976).

     5. Formal Political States: Mesoamerica offers the best examples of organized political states in America during Jaredite and Nephite times. The Olmec (Jaredite time period) centers of San Lorenzo and La Venta, with their monumental sculptures [of the heads of their leaders] are the best examples. During Nephite times the centers of Kaminaljuyu, Izapa, Chiapa de Corzo, Monte Alban, Dainzu, Santa rosa, and Teotihuacan are just a few examples.

     6. Organized Religion: No one seriously questions the fact that organized religion was a very important cultural and historical factor in Mesoamerica from the very earliest times. This is documented in the accounts of ancient Mesoamerican history, such as the writings of Ixtlilxochitl.

     7. Idolatry at Certain Times: From Mesoamerican archaeology we have been able to learn quite specifically what types of idols were worshipped in Lamanite-Nephite times and even in Jaredite times. The reason is that many of the idols were made in either stone or ceramic, and have survived.

     8. Craft Specialization: Professions which can be archaeologically documented in Mesoamerica developed in Jaredite and Nephite time periods. These include spinners, weavers, architects, rock quarryers, sculptors, transportation experts, paper makers, artists, and workers of obsidian. In Teotihuacan alone, over five hundred craft workshops have been found.

     9. Trade: Long distance trade developed in Mesoamerica at least by 1500 B.C. and was an important factor thereafter.

     10. Writing: The earliest Mesoamerican writing system of which we have evidence appeared about 600 B.C. in Oaxaca, Mexico. Secondary evidence suggest strongly the use of writing on paper in early times. Scripts are found on cylinder seals as well as monuments. Such seals, which are similar to those in use in Mesopotamia, have been found in a number of places in Mesoamerica, including the Cerro Vigia.

     11. Weaponry in Immediate Vicinity of Hill: The museum in Santiago Tuxtla at the base of the Cerro Vigia has on display only a few artifacts from the vicinity of the hill. Yet not only are there arrowheads and spear points, but also a variety of axe heads and other fearsome stone weapons.

     12 & 13. Astronomy and Calendar: Observation of the heavenly bodies was intimately tied to the development of an accurate calendar. So accurate were the observations recorded that the Maya possessed a calendar superior to that of the Europeans who came to "civilize" them.

     14. Cement: The use of cement and concrete spread throughout Mesoamerica in a time span from at least as early as 100 B.C. through A.D. 400. The tourist sees it in great abundance at Teotihuacan. At Kaminaljuyu the concrete mix was similar.

     15. Wheels: The only direct evidence thus far encountered for wheels in Mesoamerica is on toys. About thirty examples of wheeled toys have been found, the earliest of which were discovered at the archaeological site of Tres Zapotes, near the Cerro Vigia.


     In summary, though the Cerro Vigia passes all the criteria set down in the pages of the Book of Mormon, that does not necessarily prove that the correct hill has been identified. Any proposed alternative, however, must be subjected to the same stringent tests and pass them all. [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, pp. 106-123]


Mormon 6:4 We did pitch our tents round about the hill Cumorah (Illustration): The information in Mormon's record about the final battle area matches in detail the characteristics of this hill, Cerro El Vigia, in southern Veracruz state and the region around it. this view of 2600-foot El Vigia is from the plains to its southwest, where the final battle likely took place. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 211]


Mormon 6:4 And [the hill Cumorah] was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Illustration): The land of Cumorah was an area with many streams and lakes, like this zone at the foot of Cerro El Vigia in south-central Veracruz state. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 210]


Mormon 6:4 And [the hill Cumorah] was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Illustration): Lago de Catemaco in the Tuxtlas Mountains of southern Veracruz qualifies as part of the complex of "many waters, rivers, and fountains" in the area of Cumorah (Mormon 6:4). [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 202]


Mormon 6:4 It was a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Illustration): Eyipantla waterfalls near San Andreas Tuxtla may be part of the "land of many waters, rivers, and fountains" where Mormon had all the Nephites gather for the "last struggle" with the Lamanites. Mormon states that "here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites." It was the same place the Jaredites had come for their last, great battle, likely for the same reason. There were Jaredite fortifications already in place that could be rebuilt. What does Mormon's statement mean? Possible explanations are that, according to legend, this area was associated with ritualistic and spiritual power. It may have also been considered an entrance into the underworld. Here natural terrain could be used to form a strong, defensive stance. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 194]


Mormon 6:4 Here We Had Hope to Gain Advantage Over the Lamanites:


     Mormon notes that "we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites" (Mormon 6:4). According to John Sorenson, the "advantage" the Nephites thought they might enjoy at the hill Cumorah could have been due to the broken terrain, which Mormon must have known intimately. Or possibly the Nephites thought the place would be fateful for the Lamanites because of superstitious beliefs or traditions concerning the end of the Jaredites on that very spot. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 347-348]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): Morning sun sends streams of light through low-lying, misty valleys in the Tuxtla Mountains of Mexico. From the number of early fortifications that fill this naturally protected basin, it is clear that large scale, ancient battles took place here. It could very well be the site of the last battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites. Artifacts in this small basin date to two time periods: 300 to 400 B.C. and A.D. 300 to 400. Archaeologically it appears that large groups came here, not building extensive dwellings but only fortifications, then mysteriously disappeared, leaving huge amounts of artifacts behind. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, pp. 188-189]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): Ceiba tree stands over 100 feet tall as a lone sentinel on a more than 2,000 foot-long, man-made ridge of dirt in a protected basin in the Tuxtla Mountains of Mexico. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 190]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): Lower battle complex in a basin area of the Tuxtla Mountains of southern Mexico. Line after line of artificial defensive mounds, hills, and ridges have been discovered in this area, with artifacts dating to the times of the last battles of the Jaredites and the Nephites. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 195]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): Defensive and ceremonial complex in the lower battle area of this protected basin in the Tuxtla Mountains of Mexico. If this was the place of the final battle, the Lamanites would have come from the south, which horizon is seen in the right of this picture. For a site to qualify as the last battle area, it must have massive fortification. The Nephites did not sit down at Cumorah and wait for four years for the appointed day of the battle. Out of love for his people, Mormon would surely have caused fortifications to be erected, as he had in all previous strongholds, with large heaps of earth to be thrown up, and strategies planned to defend themselves against the onslaught of the Lamanites. Sixteen centuries would not have completely hidden these fortifications. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 195]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): View from the top of a strategic hill at the north end of this basin in the Tuxtla Mountains. The fog in the middle of the picture outlines a man-made ridge that rims this hill, averaging 30 to 40 feet high and running over 2,000 feet long. On the right is a giant sinkhole that measures about 500 feet across and 200 feet deep with only one natural entry. This could have been used to protect the women and children of the Nephites. The number of women and children who were killed, with the soldiers, could have easily brought the total Nephite dead to over one million. Given a defensive position like this, it is clear that the Lamanites massively outnumbered the Nephites, so the dead Lamanites likely numbered in the millions. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, pp. 196-197]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): Morning light touches a strategic hill in the north center of the basin complex of the Tuxtla Mountains. From atop this hill, part of which is man-made, the two mile by two and one-half mile basin can easily be seen. Mormon might not have wanted to retreat any farther north from here because of the mighty Teotihuacani people who were militarily the most powerful group in Mesoamerica. Mormon speaks remorsefully "that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land." This area still attracts these evils and is a world center for witchcraft. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 198]


Mormon 6:4 Here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites (Illustration): First light touches gnarled and weather-worn tree anchored to the side of a strategic hill in the Tuxtla Mountains of southern Mexico. . . . From internal clues in the Book of Mormon and from all that scholarship can teach us, it appears that the great and last battle of the Nephites may have taken place somewhere in these verdant mountains rather than in western New York as tradition has taught us for generations. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 203]


Mormon 6:5 When [384] Years Had Passed Away, We Had Gathered (Time Period for Gathering):


     The last recorded reference to time before the Nephite gathering was when Mormon recorded in Mormon 5:6 that "in the three hundred eightieth year the Lamanites did come again against us to battle, . . . and they did tread the people of the Nephites under their feet. And it came to pass that we did again take to flight, and those whose flight was swifter than the Lamanites did escape, and those whose flight did not exceed the Lamanites' were swept down and destroyed." How long it took after these battles began for the Nephites to begin gathering to Cumorah is not mentioned. It seems probable that the gathering, or plans to gather, started immediately with the flight of the Nephites in the year 380, especially in light of the hill Cumorah's apparent strategic military value. Whatever the case, Mormon records that "when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah" (Mormon 6:5). It is interesting to note that if the Nephite gathering took four years (which the chronological data supports), then this time period would be the exact time period that the Jaredites took to gather at the hill Ramah for their final battle (see Ether 15:14). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


     One might ask, Why would the Lamanites allow a period of up to four years for the Nephites to get ready? According to John Sorenson's theory, in the first place, the Lamanites would understand from their knowledge of the regional geography that the Nephites had no place to retreat to beyond Cumorah, for behind them lay only the huge estuary of Alvarado (the Ripliancum of the Jaredites) and the tangle of rivers and swamps known in modern times as "La Mixtequilla."91 So both sides knew this would be a decisive battle between the ancient rivals. Another reason the Lamanites would be agreeable to this place and appointed time may have been that they needed a period to build up their own forces for the climactic clash, for they were a long distance from their home base. In any case, the agreed site was deeper into the now-limited territory under Nephite control so the Lamanites had nothing to lose. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 348]


Mormon 6:5 We Had Gathered in All the Remainder of Our People:


     If Mormon "gathered in all the remainder of [his] people" (Mormon 6:5), then the total number of Nephites gathered was between a quarter million and a million, based on the casualty figures in Mormon 6:10-15. Most of these people probably lived in the land of Cumorah for a good part of the four years. To support so many, the land must have been extremely bountiful in wildlife, and extremely fertile.

     Assuming a continental geographical model, one might wonder, How could so many people survive the winters of 4 years in New York? And why are the winters not mentioned? Even if by some miraculous circumstances there was enough food to sustain these millions in New York, how and why would the Lamanites coexist with the Nephites for years at a location 5000 miles from their home? Would fresh supplies be shipped from the lands south of the narrow pass (South America)? And without fresh supplies, why would the Lamanites refrain from fighting the Nephites over the rights to the available food and shelter? In addition, when Mormon states that he had gathered in ALL the remainder of his people (Mormon 6:5), does this also mean the Lamanites wiped clean the whole North American continent except at the "Hill Cumorah" in New York? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Geographical Theory Map: Mormon 6:5 All the Nephites Have Gathered to Cumorah (385 A.S.)


Mormon 6:6 Mormon (Similarities with "Hueman"):


     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that Ixtlilxochitl describes a man named Hueman who fits the Book of Mormon profile of Mormon in a surprising number of details:

     1. Their names are similar---each having two syllables and ending with the suffix "mon" or "man."

     2. Both lived during the same period of time.

     3. Both were prophets (Mormon 1:15).

     4. Both were historians (Mormon 2:17-18).

     5. Both were generals (Mormon 2:1).

     6. Both led a great army into battle in A.D. 326 (Mormon 2:1-7).

     7. Both led their people in a great exodus from the land called Bountiful (Mormon 6:5-6). (The word Bountiful is not given in the Works of Ixtlilxochitl, but the English equivalent of the ancient name means the same thing.)

     8. Both negotiated an important treaty in A.D. 350 (Mormon 2:28-29).

     9. Both were forced to lead their people into the northern countries (Mormon 2:29).

     10. Both had temporary hope and optimism for their people (see Mormon 2:10-12).

     11. Each were notified by the enemy of plans to attack, according to the law of the land (Mormon 3:4).

     12. Mormon was given 10 years of peace (Mormon 3:4; Hueman was given 3 years.

     13. Each led his army into a final battle of extermination in which all but a few were killed (Moroni 1:2).

     14. The Book of Mormon Lamanites were ancestral relatives of the Nephites---Ixtlilxochitl describes the enemy as "their own fierce kindred" (see Moroni 1:4)

     15. Each wrote a sacred book shortly before death (Mormon 1:1-5; 6:5-6; Words of Mormon 1:11). Ixtlilxochitl's book was called Teoamoxtli, which means Various Things of God and Divine Book.

     16. Each abridged the ancient records that contained history from the creation to their day (Introduction to the Book of Mormon). Ixtlilxochitl called his a resume.

(Sources from the Works of Ixtlilxochitl are found in Hunter and Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, pp. 337-343.) [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, pp. 143-144]


Mormon 6:6 I Made This Record Out of the Plates of Nephi:


     When Mormon states that "I made this record out of the plates of Nephi" (Mormon 6:6), he seems to be refering to his abridgment of the Large Plates of Nephi (the Plates of Mormon). Even if our assumption is correct, however, it is hard to tell by Mormon's words whether he was just completing a record already started (maybe during his 13 year interval of standing as an "idle witness") or if he made his abridgment after he had gathered in his people and before the final battles (Mormon 6:6).

     In view of the many records that Mormon used as source material (Helaman 3:13, Words of Mormon 1:3-5, Moroni 9:23), if Mormon attempted to make his abridgement after the gathering was completed (as the order of the text seems to imply, then in less than a year he would have needed to abridge the messages contained in what amounted to over 100 times the material contained within our present Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 5:8). Perhaps Mormon did much of his abridging previously during the 13 year interval in which he stood as an "idle witness." Or perhaps Mormon made his abridgement during the four years of gathering. Whatever the case, Mormon "made this record" by first abridging the Large Plates. He then apparently added the small plates of Nephi (Words of Mormon 1:5). Next, Mormon attached to the small plates of Nephi an explanatory note detailing what the Small Plates were (Words of Mormon 1:1-7). Mormon then proceeded to "finish" his record (Words of Mormon 1:9) by first completing his Words of Mormon with a historical summary (Words of Mormon 1:10-18) of king Benjamin's reign, designed to bridge from where the message of the small plates stopped to the proper historical spot in Mormon's abridgment of the Large Plates. Finally, Mormon filled in the Title Page to his "record," and "gave" Moroni the responsibility to complete what he had started if he (Mormon) were not to survive the last battle (Mormon 8:1). Thus, Mormon's statement in the year 385 that he "made this record out of the plates of Nephi" (Large and Small Plates) can be fully justified. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Alan C. Miner, "The Chronology and Compilation of the Writings of Mormon and Moroni"] [For alternative insights, see also the articles from the Book of Mormon Symposium #9 entitled "Why is 4 Nephi So Short?" by Steven L. Olsen, and "Mormon's Greatest Work Came After Cumorah" by Donald L. Enders, Sr.] [See Appendix B--Records]


Mormon 6:6 [I] Hid up in the Hill Cumorah All the Records Which Had Been Entrusted to Me:


     In Mormon 6:6 we find some types and shadows that might have a precedent in the Old World. Mormon says he was,

           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, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.


     Jeremiah was the Lord's prophet who was given the responsibility to testify of the fulfillment of many prophecies concerning the destruction of a Jewish nation that had forsaken their covenants with the Lord. Apparently, during the initial sacking of Jerusalem, Jeremiah, as the prophet of the people, was given some authority over the sacred items in the temple. Glenn Scott quotes the following details from 2 Maccabees:

           Now it is found in the descriptions of Jeremiah, the prophet, that he commanded them that went into captivity, to take the fire [of the Temple], as it hath been signified, and how he gave charge to them that were carried away into captivity.

           And how he gave them the law that they should not forget the commandments of the Lord, and that they should not err in their minds, seeing the idols of gold and silver, and the ornaments of them. And with other such like speeches, he exhorted them that they would not remove the law from their heart.

           It was also contained in the same writing, how the prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the mountain where Moses went up, and saw the inheritance of God.

           And when Jeremiah came thither he found a hollow cave, and he carried in thither the tabernacle, and the ark, and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.

           Then some of them that followed him, came up to mark the place, but they could not find it, and when Jeremiah perceived it, he blamed them, saying: the place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive them to mercy.

           And then the Lord will show these things, and the majesty of the Lord shall appear, and there shall be a cloud as it was also showed to Moses, and he showed it when Solomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God. --( II Maccabees 1:1-8)

Scott A. Glenn, Voices from the Dust, p.32]


     Could the prophet Mormon be a type and shadow of Jeremiah? In addition to having him hide the tabernacle and the ark, did the Lord command Jeremiah to hide up sacred records? And if Jeremiah did have access to those records, did he compile an abridgement detailing the rise and fall of his people because of disobedience to their covenants? Consider the following commentary from The Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

           The book of Kings consists of an account of the Israelite monarchy written from a theological perspective and taking the history from its high point in the united monarchy to its low point in the [destruction and] Exile. . . The book of Kings is the closing part of the narrative which begins in Genesis and focuses on the story of Israel from her origins in Egypt [from which Israel was led by Moses through the wilderness to the Promised Land] to the ending of her political independence by the Babylonians. . . . We do not know the name of the author(s) of Kings, though the group which was responsible for the work is often described as the "Deuteronomists." This description reflects the view that Kings is not merely the last part of the story begun in Genesis; it is more specifically the last part of the "Deuteronomistic history," which begins with the book of Deuteronomy. On this view, the story from Joshua to Kings, known in the Hebrew Bible as the "Former Prophets," has been written or edited as a whole to show how principles declared in Deuteronomy worked out in Israel's history from the conquest, via the period of the judges and the united monarchy, to the Exile. (emphasis added) (The Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 2, pp. 856-857)


     Note: It is also an interesting coincidence that one of the theories regarding the location of Mount Sinai (Horeb) places it in the proposed location of the Valley of Lemuel (the ancient land of Midian). And that in addition to Moses, this sacred mountain could have been visited by Nephi, Jeremiah, Elijah, Paul, and others. (See the illustrations below) [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 4:2; Helaman 6:10]


Mormon 6:6 (Types and Shadows: The Hill Cumorah and Horeb ) (Illustrations): The correlation of Mount Horeb (Mount Sinai) and its hidden treasures with a Mount Lawz near the northeastern shores of the ancient land of Midian (now Saudi Arabia) is the subject of a fascinating book entitled "The Gold of Exodus." The following are illustrations from that book:

     (a) The Path of the Exodus

     (b) Jabal al Lawz. Using the Bible as their guide, Williams and Cornuke found the visual proof they had been searching for--Jabal al Lawz was Mount Sinai.

[Howard Blum, The Gold of Exodus, pages not numbered]


Mormon 6:6 I . . . Hid Up in the Hill Cumorah All the Records Which Had Been Entrusted to Me:


     If Mormon "hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted" to him (Mormon 6:6), and in view of the many records that Mormon and Moroni used as source material (see Helaman 3:13, Words of Mormon 1:2-5, Moroni 9:23), one might reason that this repository was a cave not only because of size but because of continual access. The reader might also note that the last Jaredite prophet, Ether, also wrote his history from a "cavity of a rock" (see Ether 13:13-14, 18).

     According to Ben Olsen, who has some geological experience in Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, caves most frequently visited in the world are those within limestones, which form by dissolving action of groundwater circulating along the partings in the rocks. Caves formed in this manner take thousands to millions of years to develop large underground connecting rooms. . . Smaller cavities in limestones can occur more quickly when the limestone beds are exposed in canyons to fast moving river currents, where they are not only dissolved, but cut by water erosion as well. . . . Another quickly-formed type of cave is that associated with volcanism. Volcanic vents and fissures on the flanks of volcanoes are natural openings extending into the volcano which could develop into large cavities. Lava flows may, on cooling, develop a stiff upper crust over still molten rock which, continuing to flow after supply at the source has ceased, may leave caves or lava tubes. . . .

     While there are many caves in and around the proposed site of the hill Cumorah (Cerro Vigia) in Veracruz, Mexico, there is a geological problem with caves in New York. Ben Olsen relates the following:

           As a young person I had heard and assumed it was factual, that the prophet Joseph and others had physically walked into a cave in the hill Cumorah and observed the plates, sword, etc. (see the related commentary on Mormon 6:6). I grew up assuming that this hill was in New York.

           In the course of my geological studies I learned about the geology of New York, of the formation of the elongate, rounded hills in the Finger Lakes area, and I became a bit alarmed at the thought of a naturally-formed room being inside the New York hill now called Cumorah.

           This hill, and others like it in the region, are called drumlins and are composed of rock debris originally incorporated within the continental ice sheet that covered the area during the last ice age. As the ice melted, this debris accumulated on the earth's surface. This loose unconsolidated debris, consisting of sands, silts, muds and gravels, was then molded into drumlin-shaped hills as the frontal lobes of the ice advanced and receded during the waning stages of glacial time, about 10 to 13 thousand years ago.

           Though nothing is impossible with God, I found it difficult to imagine a naturally-formed room in a hill composed primarily of unconsolidated material.


 [Ben L. Olsen, Some Earthly Treasures of the Book of Mormon, pp. 54-55, Unpublished]


Mormon 6:6 [Mormon] Hid up in the Hill Cumorah All the Records Which Had Been Entrusted to [Him] (Mesoamerican Records Repositories):


     In Mormon 6:6, Mormon records that he "hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to [him]." In the book of Ether, Moroni records that as the prophet Ether "dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of his record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people, by night." (Ether 13:14). Assuming a Mesoamerican setting, the following information might be of interest:

           The disaster-migration theme is repeated in the Maya' Popol Vuh , The Book of Consul. It tells of an ancestral race arriving by sea after the Hun yecil (the Aztec Hun-Esil, or the Drowning of the Trees, a catastrophic deluge and earthquake), to build a temple at the Huehuhuetan River in memory of their escape. Known as the House of Darkness for its subterranean caverns, it was used as a depository for written records carried from the drowned homeland.

           In 1691, just such an underground temple was found near the city of Saconusco, and its precious library burned on orders of church officials as the incomprehensible works of Satan. (Frank Joseph, "Latest Discoveries Show the Maya in a New Light," in Ancient American, Vol. 6, Issue #41, p. 38)

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Ether 13:14]


Mormon 6:6 [Mormon] Hid up in the Hill Cumorah All the Records Which Had Been Entrusted to [Him] (Possible Caves or Caverns in New York):


     Oliver Cowdery writes:

           Soon after this visit to Cumorah, a gentleman from the south part of the state, (Chenango County), employed our brother [Joseph Smith] as a common laborer and accordingly he visited that section of the country; and had he not been accused of digging down all, or nearly so, the mountains of Susquehanna, or causing others to do it by some art of necromancy, I should leave this for the present unnoticed. You will remember, in the meantime, that those who seek to vilify his character, say that he has always been notorious for his idleness. This gentleman whose name is Stoal, resided in the town of Bainbridge, on or near the head-waters of the Susquehanna river. Some forty miles south, or down the river, in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pa., is said to be a cave or subterraneous recess, whether entirely formed by art or not, I am uninformed, neither does this matter; but such is said to be the case--where a company of Spaniards, a long time since, when the county was uninhabited by white settlers, excavated from the bowels of the earth ore, and coined a large quantity of money, after which they secured the cavity and evacuated, leaving a part still in the cave, purposing to return at some distant period. A long time elapsed, and this account came from one of the individuals who was first engaged in this mining business. The country was pointed out, and the spot minutely described. This, I believe is the substance, so far as my memory serves, though I shall not pledge my veracity for the correctness of the account as I have given it. Enough, however, was credited of the Spaniard's story, to excite the belief of many that there was a fine sum of precious metal lying coined in this subterraneous vault, among whom was the employer; and accordingly our brother [Joseph] was required to spend a few months with some others in excavating the earth in pursuit of this treasure. While employed here he became acquainted with the family of Isaac Hale, of whom you read in several of the productions of those who have sought to destroy the validity of the Book of Mormon. (Messenger and Advocate, October, 1835)

[As quoted in Francis W. Kirkham, A New Witness for Christ in America, vol. 1, pp. 104-105]


Mormon 6:6 The Records Which Had Been Handed down by Our Fathers [Were] Hid up in the Hill Cumorah:


     John Tvedtnes writes that Elder Orson Pratt suggested that the records of the Nephites had been hidden up and kept "under the charge of holy angels, until the day should come for them to be transferred to the sacred temple; of Zion."92 His brother, Elder Parley P. Pratt, wrote of a room inside the New Jerusalem temple that would be set aside to hold these and other sacred records.93 [John Tvedtnes, The Book of Mormon and Other Hidden Books: Out of Darkness unto Light, p. 160]


Mormon 6:6 All the Records Which Had Been Entrusted to Me:


     [For a comprehensive listing of all records referred to in the Book of Mormon, see Appendix B--Records]


Mormon 6:6 I . . . Hid Up in the Hill Cumorah All the Records Which Had Been Entrusted to Me:


     In Mormon 6:6 it says:

           And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and 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, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni. (emphasis added)


     According to Joseph Allen, the question is often asked, "How did the records that Mormon gave to Moroni about 385 AD and that the Angel Moroni gave to Joseph Smith in 1827 AD get to the Hill Cumorah in New York?"

     If the last battle was fought at the hill Vigia in Veracruz, Mexico, then Moroni must have carried the records to New York after the final battle at Ramah/Cumorah in Mesoamerica. The final battle was 385 AD; Moroni's last entry was 421 AD. That makes 36 years from the time of the last battle to Moroni's last dated entry. During that 36 years, he abridged the Jaredite record that we know as the book of Ether; he finished the record of his father, Mormon; and he wrote material under his own name, which is the last book in the Book of Mormon.

     Furthermore, he tells us that he did not make himself known to the Lamanites because they killed everyone who did not deny Christ; and he refused to deny Christ. After abridging the Book of Ether, Moroni very probably hid up, in the Mesoamerica Cumorah, the 24 gold plates from which he abridged the Jaredite record and then carried the abridged portion of the record to New York. He had ample time. His motivation to distance himself from the Lamanites is adequate.

     One evidence of Moroni's wandering comes from a story quoted by Elder Franklin D. Richards of the Council of the Twelve in an Ensign article. The incident he spoke of occurred at the temple-site dedication of the Manti Temple on April 25, 1877. Early that morning, Brigham Young had asked Warren S. Snow to go with him to the temple hill. According to Snow:

           We two were alone; President Young took me to a spot where the temple was to stand; we went to the southeast corner, and President Young said: "Here is the spot where the Prophet Moroni stood and dedicated this piece of land for a temple site, and that is the reason why the location is made here, and we can't move it from this spot." (Ensign, January 1972, p. 33)


     Other possible evidences of Moroni's wanderings might come from the knowledge of gospel principles and legends about Christ which were told to the new American settlers by native North American Indians (Moroni might have spread the gospel as he wandered). In any event, the guiding hand of the Lord played a major role in Moroni's depositing the Book of Mormon record in New York.

     Another issue in regards to the location of the hill Cumorah has arisen from a talk given by Brigham Young after the saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. This talk has been used as an argument on occasion to suggest that the Nephite Hill Cumorah was in New York. The rationale for the statement is that the Latter-day Saint Hill Cumorah in New York opened up and a number of the brethren went inside where they saw wagon loads of records. A follow-up visit included a statement dealing with the sword of Laban that had been unsheathed. The conclusion of the story is that if the Latter-day Saint Hill Cumorah in New York opened up, then the last battles must have been fought around that hill.

     The statement of Brigham Young was printed in mainstream Latter-day Saint literature. However, a statement about the same experience, given by Heber C. Kimball, has not been included in the literature, and perhaps sheds some important light on the issue. In his talk, Brigham Young said that Oliver Cowdery and others went "into the hill." However, Heber C. Kimball said that the incident was a "vision" that the brethren had of the hill. Thus, those who might try to support a particular geographical point of view would be on inconclusive grounds. The Book of Mormon itself records a vision of Nephi concerning the history of the house of Israel (1 Nephi) in which he was carried to an exceedingly high mountain "in spirit."

     For the benefit of the Book of Mormon student, the statements of Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball are written here as follows:

           Oliver Cowdery went with the prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates. Joseph did not translate all of the plates; there was a portion of them sealed, which you can learn from the book of Doctrine and Covenants. When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: "This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ." I tell you this as coming not only from Oliver Cowdery, but others who were familiar with it, and who understood it just as well as we understand coming to this meeting enjoying the day, and by and by we separate and go away, forgetting most of what is said, but remembering some things. (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 19:38)


           Brother Mills mentioned in his song, that crossing the Plains with hand-carts was one of the greatest events that ever transpired in this Church. I will admit that it is an important event, successfully testing another method for gathering Israel, but its importance is small in comparison with the visitation of the angel of God to the Prophet Joseph, and with the reception of the sacred records from the hand of Moroni at the hill Cumorah. How does it compare with the vision that Joseph and others had, when they went into a cave in the hill Cumorah, and saw more records than ten men could carry? There were books piled upon tables, book upon book. Those records this people will yet have, if they accept of the Book of Mormon and observe its precepts, and keep the commandments. (Heber C. Kimball, Journal of Discourses, 4:104--italics added)


[Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, pp. 351-352] [For a comprehensive compilation of all known authoritative statements regarding the New York hill Cumorah as it relates to Book of Mormon geography, see Appendix D]


Mormon 6:6 Which I Gave unto My Son Moroni:


     Mormon says, "I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the and of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni" (Mormon 6:6). Normally people have taken the phrase "I gave" to mean that Mormon physically gave up the total possession of the abridgment records to Moroni. However, the reader will find that Mormon continues to write his history through the end of Chapter 7, which covers a period of time after the battle of Cumorah had taken place. In addition, the reader should notice that Moroni does not actually take over any part of the writing until Mormon is dead, which could have been up to 16 years after these words "I gave unto my son Moroni" were written (Mormon 8:1-3).

     Before the final battle at Cumorah, Mormon might have been thinking that he would die and that Moroni would survive (see Moroni 9:22). Under those circumstances, Mormon might have physically turned over the plates to Moroni. However if he did, he must have taken them back after surviving the battle. But whether Mormon did or didn't actually turn the record over to Moroni physically, in the overall view of Nephite recordkeeping, the word "gave" reflects more than just taking possession, it involved Moroni's responsibility of filling the remaining space on the plates with the things that Mormon wanted him to record if and when Mormon died and couldn't finish. [Alan C. Miner, "The Chronology and Compilation of the Writings of Mormon and Moroni," p. 6, unpublished]


Mormon 6:9 They did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war (Illustration): Drawing of the final battle at Cumorah, A.D. 385, by Terry Rutledge. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 180]


Mormon 6:10 My Ten Thousand Who Were with Me:


     We find in Mormon's account of the final battle at Cumorah that he organized his men into groups of ten thousand (see Mormon 6:10-15). According to Jerry Ainsworth, it appears that the Lamanites may have also organized their armies in regiments of ten thousand, as Mexico a Traves de los Siglos states: "The lance with a large obsidian point seems to have been the weapon of the most noble and distinguished people of the south. The Chief of the warrior class was the Hunictok; he was the Chief of ten thousand lances."94 This statement tends to show that the Lamanite as well as the Nephite armies were organized by groups of ten thousand. It also might imply that each regiment of ten thousand specialized in a specific weapon (ten thousand archers, ten thousand lancers, etc.). [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 181]


Mormon 6:11 All My People Save It Were Twenty and Four of Us:


     In Mormon 6:11 we find that "they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow . . . [the destruction of] . . . all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me . . .

     One might ask, Are the numbers which appear in the Book of Mormon in any way symbolic? David Ridges notes that understanding symbolism can help one understand the scriptures and gives the following list as an aid to the reader:


Number      Symbolism

   1            unity; God

   3            God; Godhead; A word repeated 3 times means superlative, "the most," "the best"

                 (see Isaiah 6:3)

   4            man; earth

   7            perfection; perfect; When man lets God help, it leads to perfection.

                 man (4) + God (3) = perfection (7)

  10            numerical perfection; well-organized (see Rev. 13:1--Satan is well organized)

  12            divine government; God's organization (see JST Rev. 5:6)

  40 days      literal; sometimes means "a long time" (as in 1 Samuel 17:16)

  forever      a specific period or age; not endless (see BYU Studies Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 3, May 1994)


[David J. Ridges, The Book of Revelation Made Easier, preface]


     According to John Welch, certain numbers were clearly meaningful in antiquity: seven was the number of spiritual perfection (as in the seven seals in the book of Revelation); twelve was a governmental number (as with the twelve tribes, twelve apostles). The number twenty-four, being a multiple of twelve, was associated with heavenly government, especially priestly judgment and temple service.95. . . In the New Testament apocalyptic book of Revelation, not only do twenty-four elders judge the world but these twenty-four elders are mentioned twelve times in the book.

     Turning to other places in the Book of Mormon, we see that twenty-four has remarkably similar significance :

     1. Apparently there were twenty-four judges on King Noah's court, since Noah and his priests kidnapped twenty-four Lamanite daughters (see Mosiah 20:5).

     2. The twenty-four plates of Ether were seen as a record of the "judgment of God" upon those people (Alma 37:30).

     3. Like the twelve apostles of the Old World, the twelve Nephite disciples (for a total of twenty-four) will act as judges in the final judgment of the world (see 3 Nephi 27:27).

     4. There were "twenty and four" survivors of the final destruction of the Nephites who witnessed the judgment of God upon this people (see Mormon 6:11,15,22). There were other survivors (see Mormon 6:15), but the twenty-four apparently stood as a body of special witnesses. This number may have been coincidental, but nevertheless it was significant enough to be specifically mentioned.

(Note* The above are only 4 of 8 listed by Welch.)

[John W. Welch, "Number 24," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 272-273]      


Mormon 6:8 [The Lamanites] came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror (Illustration): The Nephite's Last Battle [Gary E. Smith, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 3]


Mormon 6:11 And We . . . Did Behold on the Morrow:


     According to Daniel Ludlow, the Book of Mormon is not absolutely clear on how long the battle at Cumorah lasted. It states that the battle of Cumorah started when "three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away," that is, A.D. 385. (Mormon 6:5). After the battle was completed and the Lamanites had killed most of the Nephites, Mormon took the Nephite survivors with him and they "did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps," the terrible scene of destruction (Mormon 6:11, 15). This could mean "on the morrow" after the battle was completed, regardless of how long the battle lasted. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 173]


Mormon 6:11 From the Top of the Hill Cumorah:


     One consideration in determining the site of the hill Cumorah has to do with height. In Mormon 6:11, Mormon says that "we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me." Another consideration has to do with the fact that a "wounded" Mormon would have had to climb the mountain sometime during or after the battle. Just what height was sufficient to provide Mormon a hiding place, a viewpoint, and an acceptable climb is debatable.      As far as "Mormon hill" in western New York state is concerned, Orson F. Whitney states that it "about equals in height the Salt Lake Assembly Hall, exclusive of the towers. [Orson F. Whitney, "Some Historical and Prophetic Phases of the Book of Mormon," in A Book of Mormon Treasury, p. 217]


Mormon 6:11 From the top of the hill Cumorah (Illustration): This view from the top of Cerro El Vigia looks down on the plains to the west. If this is the correct hill, Mormon and the handful of survivors with him had this same view on the morning after their climactic battle, with hundreds of thousands of the dead and dying in their view (see Mormon 6:11-15). [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 211]


Mormon 6:11 We having survived . . . did behold . . . from the top of the hill Cumorah (Illustration): Mormon Bids Farewell to a Once Great Nation. Artist: Arnold Friberg. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #319]

     Note* In an interview with Margot Butler,96 Arnold Friberg, the artist who did the painting Mormon Bids Farewell to a Once Great Nation, had some interesting comments concerning it's creation: "In my painting, you notice this flag [behind Moroni on the pole] is the same flag raised long ago by Captain Moroni when he rallied the Nephites to fight for freedom. I think they would have preserved . . . that flag of Captain Moroni's, the old Title of Liberty." [Vern Swanson, "The Book of Mormon Art of Arnold Friberg: "Painter of Scripture," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies , vol. 10, num. 1, 2001, p. 35]


Mormon 6:11 From the Top of the hill Cumorah (Illustration): Hill Cumorah, Manchester, New York. Photographer: George Edward Anderson. This 1907 view shows the land around the hill which, at the time of the photograph, was used predominantly for farming. [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, The Ensign, February 1993, inside back cover]


Mormon 6:11-15 The Ten Thousand . . . Ten Thousand . . . Ten Thousand . . .:


     From Mormon's description of the destruction of the Nephite armies, we find that they were organized into groups of "ten thousand" (Mormon 6:11-15). According to John Sorenson, at the time of the Spanish conquest, Bernal Diaz used similar language regarding the organization of the Tlascalan armies that faced Cortez. Five captains appeared on the battlefield, each with his ten thousand men -- "Of the followers of the old Xicotenga . . . there were ten thousand; of another great chief named Moseescaci there were another ten thousand; of a third, who was called Chichimecatecle, there were as many more," and so on. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting For the Book of Mormon, pp. 263-264]


Mormon 6:11-15 [The Lamanites] Had Hewn Down All [230,000 of] My People:


     After the final battle, Mormon notes:

           [the Lamanites] had gone through and hewn down all my peopple save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah:

           the ten thousand . . . who were hewn down, being led in the front of me;

           the ten thousand . . . led by my son Moroni;

           the ten thousand of Gidgidonnah;

           Lamah . . . with his ten thousand;

           Gilgal . . . with his ten thousand;

           Limhah . . . with his ten thousand;

           Joneam . . . with his ten thousand;

           Camenihah . . .

           Moronihah . . .

           Antionum . . .

           Shiblom . . .

           Shem . . .

           Josh . . . with their ten thousand;

           ten more . . . with their ten thousand each (Mormon 6:11-15)


     According to Joseph Allen, the battle at Cumorah was devastating to the Nephite nation, as 230,000 Nephite soldiers were killed. Why do we not see that statistical number showing up in the records of the Maya chronology? At least three reasons stand out. First, the archaeological data can only show that which transpired in the area researched. Maya territory was probably the same area that is called the land southward in the Book of Mormon. Although that area does indeed show a decline in population in some sites, as discussed earlier. The last battle was fought on the northern side of the narrow neck of land. Second, the distance in time from 385 AD, the last Nephite battle, is far removed from our day, or even the 16th Century when the Spanish arrived. In Maya history, many wars had transpired over those 1,200 years, many of which appear to be just as devastating in numbers as was the last Nephite-Lamanite war in the Book of Mormon. Finally, we should mention that the last chapter has not been written about the Maya. Further evidence may be forthcoming. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 83]


Mormon 6:11-15 [The Lamanites] Had Hewn Down All [230,000 of] My People:


     According to John Sorenson, twenty-three 10,000-man armies made up the Nephite force. All were wiped out on that one grim day. Could Mesoamerica have been the scene for a war on the impressive scale the Book of Mormon relates? The central Mexican chronicler, Ixtlilxochitl, reported of the Tultecas around A.D. 1060 that in a three-year war, 5,600,000 were slain on both sides.97 Even allowing him considerable room for exaggeration, we are left with little doubt that the battle at Cumorah was within the realm of the plausible in Mesoamerican terms. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 350]


Mormon 6:11-15 [The Lamanites] Had Hewn Down All [230,000 of] My People:


     According to John Tvedtnes, it seems obvious that the 230,000 was a total population figure for the remaining Nephites and not just a count of the warriors. Mormon noted that the people with him at the last battle comprised "my people, with their wives and their children" (Mormon 6:7). When, after the battle, Mormon mourned those who had fallen, he spoke of the "fair sons and daughters . . . fathers and mothers . . . husbands and wives" (Mormon 6:19). [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. 27]


Mormon 6:11-15 [The Lamanites] Had Hewn down All [230,000 of] My People:


     All told, the Nephite account tells of 92 battles between Lamanties and Nephites,98 but only near the end did annihilation of the enemy become a realistic goal (see Mormon 4:23; 5:2; 6:6). Clearly by the time of the Cumorah battle, conditions had set the stage for armed conflict and social chaos at a new, more terrifying level.

     After the renewal of war early in the fourth century A.D., wholesale destruction, not just conquest and exploitation, became the aim of the Lamanite aggressors. At that point the victims had to either flee or die (see Mormon 2:3-8), whereas a few centuries before they only had to subject themselves to new rules to be left relatively undisturbed so long as they paid up. Nearing the final conflict at Cumorah, the wars became even more decimating and merciless (see Moroni 9:7-19). At length, around A.D. 380, the Nephites as a sociopolitical group were exterminated in one climactic battle wherein hundreds of thousands died in a single day (see Mormon 6:11-15).

     We must note carefully, however, that the extermination of the Nephite group was only one episode in a widespread pattern of social and political collapse that was going on around them. Soon after the renewal of the Nephite-Lamanite wars, around A.D. 330, Mormon reported that "the land was filled with robbers and with Lamanites; . . . therefore there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land, both on the part of the Nephites and also on the part of the Lamanties; and it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land" (Mormon 2:8). Seventy years later, Moroni2, the last custodian of the Nephite record, reported that his extinct people's enemies were engaged in fighting that was "exceedingly fierce among themselves" (Moroni 1:2). "The Lamanites [and, he implies, independent robber groups] are at war one with another; and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war" (Mormon 8:8-9). So the Nephite retreat and defeat constituted only one episode within a more general pattern of widespread social and political degeneration quite unlike the less sharp conflicts of earlier times.

     For much of the 20th century the Book of Mormon account appeared to contradict the picture of warfare in the culture of ancient Mesoamerica, the apparent area where the Nephites dwelt. The common view of the experts at that time was that the Maya and other peoples in that isthmus zone lived particularly peaceful lives. Armed conflict on a sizeable scale was supposed to have been a development that took place only long after the Nephites were exterminated. But during the final three decades of the 20th century, archaeologists found it necessary to revise that view.

     In the last 15 years point after point has emerged on which the archaeologists' findings concerning Mesoamerican combat agree with Book of Mormon statements about military action.99 Angel Garcia Cook demonstrated in the 1970's that the territory of the modern states of Tlaxcala and Puebla, east of Mexico City, displayed many fortified sites and other evidence of wide political disruption, particularly after A.D. 100.100

     By the second century A.D., a military confrontation is indicated between some unlabeled group from the western Guatemalan highlands and the people at Kaminaljuyu, the political and demographic center of the area (and considered by many Latter-day Saints to have been the city of Nephi).101 Fortifications were erected at the big capital site against the threat of armed attack from some (presumably nearby) neighbor. All told, Juan Antonio Valdes concludes, "Around A.D. 200, the principal center of the highlands was passing through one of the worst socioeconomic moments of its history, a factor that resulted in a cultural decline of the sites in the Central Highlands area"102

     In 1976 at the site of Becan in the heart of the Yucatan Peninsula,103 David L. Webster not only demonstrated that a large city had been extensively fortified during the supposedly peaceful Classic era, but he also determined that the date when the protective deep ditch and wall had first been constructed was far earlier. Becan's defenses were probably built between A.D. 250 and 300, though Webster could not rule out the possibility that the true date was between A.D. 100 and 250.104

     The effects of the collapse in southern Mesoamerica around A.D. 200-400 "were almost as calamitous as those resulting form the [more famous] collapse of Late Classic Maya civilization" centuries later.105 Dahlin thinks this revolutionary destruction of the old cultures resulted from climatic change, which in turn provoked extensive movements of population from place to place, as well as to warfare, plagues, shifts in trade routes, and so on.106 Researchers have indeed found evidence for changes in climate; drought afflicted parts of the area beginning as early as the first century B.C. and grew worse until A.D. 300-400 before starting to reverse itself around A.D. 500.107

     It has now been discovered that the center of the great metropolis Teotihuacan, in the Valley of Mexico, appears to have been torched around A.D. 475-500, in some sort of revolution or invasion at that time rather than in the eighth century, as most archaeologists had believed.108

     In summary, the new research shows that the chaotic, violent milieu depicted by Mormon for the fourth century actually did prevail on a wide scale in southern Mesoamerica. Secondly, archaeological evidence now shows that peoples or ethnic groups were not only subject to the uncomfortable consequences of war that we normally expect, but they, like other Mesoamericans of their time, faced ultimate extermination by their enemies. Research signifies for the history of the Nephites that the final fate depicted for that people in Mormon's record need not be considered fictional nor a mere case of overdrawn military rhetoric. Instead it has the earmarks of genuine Mesoamerican history. What happened to the Nephites was not a unique occurrence. [John L. Sorenson, "Last-Ditch Warfare in Ancient Mesoamerica Recalls the Book of Mormon, in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 9, Num. 2, 2000, pp. 46-53]


Mormon 6:11-15 [The Lamanites] Had Hewn Down All [230,000 of] My People (Illustration): United States Casualties in Major Wars [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 173]


Mormon 6:13 Gidgidonnah:


     John Welch notes some interesting background relative to the name "Gidgidonnah" (Mormon 6:13). At the beginning of Nephite history, during the time period that the prophet and patriarch Lehi lived at Jerusalem, 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. The reader should note that the people of the Book of Mormon frequently used the name Sidon. There was a city named Sido(n), a river named Sidon and, even more intriguingly, here in Mormon 6:13, a man named Gidgidonnah. Why is this intriguing? Dr. Hugh Nibley points out that the name "Gidgiddonah" is the Egyptian name for Sidon.

     Also worthy of note is the fact 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 Alma 2:15].

     Could it be that Phoenician sailors from the port of Sidon were among the Jewish group that sailed with Mulek, the son of Zedekiah, in their travels to the New World? [See the commentary on Omni 1:16; Alma 2:15]


Mormon 6:14 Josh:


     According to John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, in recent years, ancient sites in and around Israel have yielded numerous ancient writings, many of which contain proper names. Although many of the names are known from the Bible and other ancient texts, others were unattested in ancient sources until recently. Included in the latter group are several Semitic names that appear in the Book of Mormon, one of which is the name "Josh," mentioned as both a name of a city (3 Nephi 9:10) and a man (Mormon 6:14). While critics claim that this name is merely the American diminutive form of Joshua, many ancient bullae (seal impressions) and ostraca (inscribed pottery fragments) indicate otherwise. These artifacts, which date to around 600 B.C. (the time of Lehi), bear the name Y's (s is the sh sound in English), which Hugh Nibley has suggested was identical to Josh. Evidence shows that the Semitic versions of Josiah and Josh were in use in Jerusalem during Lehi's time. [John A. Tvedtnes and Matthew Roper, "FARMS Update," Num. 131, in Insights: A Window on the Ancient World, December 1999, p. 2]


Mormon 6:15 Those Twenty-four Who Were with Me:


     Jerry Ainsworth writes that he observed two references to twenty-four survivors which seemed to be inconsistent. In the first reference, Mormon says, "When they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us" (Mormon 6:11; emphasis added). This statement implies that Mormon was one of twenty-four survivors of the battle at Cumorah. However, in the second reference, a few verses later, he excludes himself from the twenty-four survivors. He says, "Yea, and even all my people, save it were those twenty-four who were with me" (Mormon 6:15; emphasis added). This second statement implies that Mormon was not one of the twenty-four survivors.

     While trying to resolve the disparity between these two statements, Ainsworth observed other references to twenty-four in the Book of Mormon. On further investigation, he concluded that the issue Mormon was trying to convey was not the precise number of survivors but the number twenty-four. The discrepancy over the twenty-four survivors of Cumorah, therefore, didn't mean that there was not actually that number. It did mean that the number twenty-four contained a message. That number itself conveyed a meaning that was more important than whether Mormon himself was one of the twenty-four.

     As a note of interest, Joseph Smith was twenty-four years old when he founded the Church--the same age as Mormon when he retrieved the Nephite records from the Hill Shim. From the time Joseph Smith received the First Vision to his death was twenty-four years. Christ promised nine of the twelve disciples that they would live to the age of seventy-two. Seventy-two is three times twenty-four. [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 237-238] [See the commentary on Mormon 6:11]

     Question: What is the symbolic meaning of the number 24? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mormon 6:15 Mother Earth:


     There are three Book of Mormon occurrences of the term "mother earth" (2 Nephi 9:7; Mosiah 2:26; Mormon 6;15). In order to explore the possible religious and cultural background behind the use of such language, Kevin and Shauna Christensen note the words of Northrop Frye:

           No principle is without many exceptions in mythology, but one very frequent mythical formulation of this attitude to nature is an earth-mother, from whom everything is born and to whom everything returns at death. Such an earth-mother is the most easily understood image of natura naturans, and she acquires its moral ambivalence. As the womb of all forms of life, she has a cherishing and nourishing aspect; as the tomb of all forms of life, she has a menacing and sinister aspect; as the manifestation of an unending cycle of life and death, she has an inscrutable and elusive aspect. Hence, she is often a dive triformis, a goddess of a threefold form of some kind, usually birth, death, and renewal in time; or heaven, earth, and hell in space.109


     The references to "mother earth" in the Book of Mormon are subtle but neatly spread across the entire history arguing for a long-standing tradition. Also, it is clear that these references, in connection with other archetypal feminine images, contain the essentials of the mythic formulation. The presence of these essential elements of the picture in the text invites our further exploration of the Old land New World contexts.

     Some have expressed concern that the three passages cited all refer to mother earth in the context of death. While this is strictly correct, other passages in the Book of Mormon suggest the life-giving aspects of mother earth (for example, see Helaman 11:13, 17). [Kevin and Shauna Christensen, "Nephite Feminism Revisited: Thoughts on Carol Lynn Pearson's View of Women in the Book of Mormon," in FARMS Review of Books, Volume 10, Number 2, 1998, pp. 27-28]


 Mormon 6:16-20 And My Soul Was Rent with Anguish (Mormon's Lamentation):


     After the destruction of his people, Mormon mourned their passing. His lament is, of course, characterized by intense grief and sorrow. Sidney Sperry has arranged it in poetic form:

     Mormon's Lamentation


O ye fair ones,

     how could ye have departed

     from the ways of the Lord!

O ye fair ones,

     how could ye have rejected

     that Jesus, who stood with open arms

     to receive you!

Behold, if ye had not done this,

     ye would not have fallen.

But behold, ye are fallen,

     and I mourn your loss.

O ye fair sons and daughters,

     ye fathers and mothers,

     ye husbands and wives,

     ye fair ones,

     how is it

     that ye could have fallen!

But behold, ye are gone,

     and my sorrows

     cannot bring your return.

[Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 452]


Mormon 6:16 My Soul Was Rent with Anguish, Because of the Slain of My People:


     [See the commentary on Mormon 6:1]