Moroni 9

 

A Confirming Covenant Witness

      Mormon 8 -- Moroni


 

Moroni 9: Subscript The Second Epistle of Mormon to His Son, Moroni:

 

     The subscript of the 9th chapter of Moroni was part of the original manuscript and was not added at a later date as with many other chapter headings. It reads, "The second epistle of Mormon to his son, Moroni." If the ninth chapter of the book of Moroni is considered "the second epistle," then this subscript seems imply that chapter 8 of the book of Moroni is the first epistle.

Moroni 9:2 Luram (Laram)?:

 

     In 1999, the Zarahemla Research Foundation (RLDS) finished an exhaustive review of all known manuscripts and editions of the Book of Mormon in order to restore the text "to its purity." The result was the Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon. One of their "restorations" involves the proper name "Luram" (Moroni 9:2), which they have changed to read "Laram." [Zarahemla Research Foundation, "Selected Concordance" in The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition, p. 921]

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

Moroni 9:4 And . . . But:

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, a difference between Hebrew and English conjunctions is that in Hebrew the same conjunction can carry both the meaning and also the opposite meaning but. . . . Evidence for Hebraism in the Book of Mormon lies in the fact that some passages use the conjunction and when but is expected. Moroni 9:4 is a good example: "And when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and (= but) when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it." [John A. Tvedtnes, "The Hebrew Background of the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, pp. 83-84]

Moroni 9:7 Amoron:

 

     According to Jerry Ainsworth, the name of Mormon's apparent intelligence officer, A-moron, reflects a possible association with the land of Moron. Moroni's name (Moron-i) also suggests he may have been born in the land or city of Moron. In Semitic languages, the name Moroni means a person from Moron. Thus it is possible that Amoron and Moroni came from the same area and if so, then Amoron even may have been related in some way to Mormon. If such was the case, then it might explain how Mormon could trust him with so important a task (see Moroni 9:7) [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, p. 162]

Moroni 9:9-10 They Devour Their Flesh Like unto Wild Beasts (Cannibalism):

 

     Moroni quotes Mormon as making a gruesome statement in Moroni 9. Mormon says that after the Nephites had raped and tortured the young Lamanite girls they had taken as prisoners, "they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they had done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts" (Moroni 9:9-10). According to John Sorenson, among the Aztecs at the time of the Spanish conquest, "ceremonial cannibalism was sometimes practiced in the belief that the eater could absorb the virtues of the eaten." For late Teotihuacan times (around A.D. 600), excavation has revealed clear evidence of human sacrifice, with a meal made of the victims. Sanders has reported earlier data on the same practice from a site near Teotihuacan dating between A.D. 450 and 550. If Teotihuacan culture elements were as deeply involved in the life of the Guatemalan Lamanites as it appears, these despicable rites are not surprising among the Lamanites. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 346]

 

Moroni 9:9-10 They devour their flesh like unto wild beasts (Cannibalism) [Illustration]: The Aztecs carried the earlier, occasional rituals of human sacrifice and cannibalism to levels of depravity never equaled. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 212]

Moroni 9:16 The Army of Zenephi Has Carried Away [the Provisions]:

 

     According to the theory of Jerry Ainsworth, the number 24 was significant to Mormon. It was a reoccurring and symbolic number in Nephite and Jaredite history. (See the commentary on Mormon 6:15.) If one keeps to that concept, one must contemplate why there were only 23 divisions of 10,000 soldiers who fought at the final battle at Cumorah. Where was the twenty-fourth division?

     According to Ainsworth, a possible answer is that once all the Nephites had gathered to Cumorah, Mormon sent a regiment of soldiers northward with the unfit for battle. The lands northward had been colonized by the Nephites and people of Ammon for over four hundred years. These were kindred peoples to the Nephites, people who understood conditions in the land southward--conditions from which they themselves had fled. Surely, these migrants would provide refuge to any retreating and surviving Nephites. Perhaps Mormon also felt responsible for defending such migrant communities in the north countries from the Lamanites, especially those who were "peaceable followers of Christ" (Moroni 7:3).

     The army Mormon may have sent to protect these people most likely was comprised of a commander, with "ten thousand" soldiers. They would have made up the twenty-fourth regiment of Nephites that had gathered at Cumorah. It seems unlikely that those soldiers would have been Mormon's elite troops. In all probability, they would have been inferior, less trained, and possibly aged and less capable. It was a practice in ancient Israel to send away from the battle the faint hearted and any who would hinder the fight (see Deuteronomy 20:8).

     Mormon refers to such inferior troops when he writes to his son Moroni after the battle at Cumorah. He says, "The army which is with me is weak. . . . They are without order and without mercy. Behold, I am but a man, and I have but the strength of a man, and I cannot any longer enforce my commands" (Moroni 9:17-18)

     Another possible example involves one of Mormon's commanders (possibly the commander of the twenty-fourth division) who had taken provisions intended for those unfit for battle. His army had begun to run from the Lamanites without concern for those whom they were charged to protect:

           There are many widows and their daughters who remain in Sherrizah; and that part of the provisions which the Lamanites did not carry away, behold, the army of Zenephi has carried away, and left them to wander withersoever they can for food; and many old women do faint by the way and die. (Moroni 9:16).

[Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 185-186, 189] [See the commentary on Helaman 3:12]

Moroni 9:17 As Many As Have Fled to the Army of Aaron Have Fallen Victims to Their Awful Brutality:

 

     In Moroni 9:17, Moroni quotes Mormon as stating that "as many [of the Nephites] as have fled to the army of Aaron have fallen victims to their awful brutality." Apparently because these people were traitors in the thick of battle rather than peacetime "dissenters" (Moroni 9:24) the Lamanites had very little respect for them and treated them with "awful brutality." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Moroni 9:17 The Army of Aaron:

 

     In the ninth chapter of the book of Moroni, Mormon's epistle to his son Moroni speaks about the circumstances of the war between the Nephite armies and the Lamanite armies. Mormon mentions a Lamanite commander by the name of "Aaron" (Moroni 9:17). This might be a chronological clue as to the time period in which Mormon wrote his epistle. According to Mormon 2:9, the Lamanites in the year 330 A.S. (45 years previous according to my chronology) had a king and his name was "Aaron." At that time he commanded an army of 44,000 against Mormon's 42,000 and Mormon's army beat the Lamanites. However, Mormon was only 20 years of age at that time and now he would have been 65 years old. Therefore, depending on the age and longevity of the Lamanite king Aaron mentioned in Mormon 2:9, the "Aaron" in Moroni 9:17 could possibly have been the same person. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Moroni 8-9 (Chronology)]

Moroni 9:20 [The Nephites'] Wickedness Doth Exceed That of the Lamanites:

 

     According to John Sorenson, many Latter-day Saints have been fascinated over the years with "white Indians." They have interpreted sensationalistic reports of such rumored groups as referring to remnants of the Nephites. When we examine the Book of Mormon, we find no hint that any "white Nephites" were to be preserved. Mormon and Moroni repeatedly made clear before the Cumorah battle took place that there was no significant difference in the degree of unrighteousness of Nephites and Lamanites, unless it was that their own people's "wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites" (Moroni 9:20). [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 351]

     Note* In the book of Fourth Nephi, we find the following: "Therefore the true believers in Christ, and the true worshipers of Christ . . . were called Nephites . . . they who rejected the gospel were called Lamanites" (4 Nephi 1:37-38)

 

Moroni 9:20 [The Nephites'] Wickedness Doth Exceed That of the Lamanites:

 

     In reading statements such as, "their wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites" (Moroni 9:20) and "they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts" (v. 10) and "they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death" (v. 10), it is difficult to contemplate that the people of Lehi could have degenerated to such an extent. Such deplorable conditions however were seen in vision by Nephi from the very beginnings of Nephite civilization. He saw that these conditions would prevail until a Restoration would occur (1 Nephi 13).

     In the Spanish Conquest of these same lands of the Americas, we see a reflection of the conditions that Mormon might have been trying to describe here. The following is extracted from the work of Bartolome' de Las Casas entitled A Brief Story of the Destruction of the Indies, written in 1540 and published in Seville in 1552. Las Casas accompanied his father on one of the expeditions of Columbus to the West Indies and there received holy orders, being the first priest ordained in America. He became convinced that the treatment of the Indians was wrong and tried to minister to their needs. He was referred to as the "Apostle of the Indies." In fifty years he visited most of the countries conquered by Spain. He first visited Guatemala in 1532 on his way to Peru. Returning in 1534, he remained for five years, travelling in different parts of the country and preaching to the Indians. His historical account thus becomes a very important document pertaining to the Conquest. He writes:

     The Province and Kingdom of Guatemala

 

           Let us again speak of the great tyrant captain (Pedro de Alvarado) who went to the kingdom of Guatemala, who, as has been said, surpassed all past and equaled all present tyrants. . . .

           When he reached this kingdom he began with a great massacre. Nevertheless the principal lord, accompanied by many other lords of Utatlan, the chief town of all the kingdom, went forth with trumpets, tambourines and great festivity to receive him and litters; they served him with all they possessed, and especially by giving him ample food and everything else they could.

           The Spaniards lodged outside the town that night because it seemed to them to be strong, and that they might run some risk inside it. The following day the captain called the principal lord and many others, and when they came like tame lambs, he seized them and demanded so many loads of gold. They replied that they had none, because that country does not produce it. Guiltless of no other fault and without trial or sentence, he immediately ordered them to be burned alive.

           When the rulers throughout all those provinces saw that the Spaniards had burnt that one and all those chief lords, only because they gave them no gold, they all fled from their towns and hid in the mountains; they commanded all their people to go to the Spaniards and serve them as their lords, but that they should not, however, reveal to them their hiding place.

           All the inhabitants came to offer themselves to his men and to serve them as their lords. This compassionate captain replied that he would not receive them; on the contrary, he would kill them all if they did not disclose the whereabouts of their chiefs. The Indians answered that they knew nothing about them but that the Spaniards should make use of them, of their wives and children whom they would find in their houses, where they could kill them or do with them what they wished. And this the Indians declared and offered many times.

           Stupefying to relate, the Spaniards went to the houses where they found the poor people working in safety at their occupations with their wives and children, and where they wounded them with their lances and cut them to pieces. They also went to a quiet, large and important town, where the people were ignorant of what had happened to the others and were safe in their innocence; within barely two hours they destroyed it, putting women, children and the aged to the sword, and killing all who did not save themselves by flight. . . .

           He advanced killing, ravaging, burning, robbing and destroying all the country wherever he came, under the above mentioned pretext, namely, that the Indians should subject themselves to such inhuman, unjust and cruel men, in the name of the unknown King of Spain, of whom they had never heard and whom they considered to be much more unjust and cruel than his representatives. He also gave them no time to deliberate but would fall upon them killing and burning almost at the same instant that his envoy arrived. . . .

           [The Indians], seeing that with such humility, submission, patience and suffering they could not break nor soften hearts so inhuman and brutal, and that they were thus cut to pieces contrary to every show or shadow of right, and that they must inevitably perish, the[y] determined to summon all their people together and to die fighting, avenging themselves as best they could on such cruel and infernal enemies; they well knew, however, that being not only unarmed but also naked and on foot, they could not prevail against such fierce people, mounted and so well armed, but must in the end be destroyed.

           They constructed some pits in the middle of the streets, covered over with broken boughs of trees and grass, completely concealing them; they were filled with sharp stakes hardened by fire, which would be driven into the horses bellies if they fell into the pits. Once or twice did some horses fall in, but not often, because the Spaniards knew how to avoid them. In revenge, the Spaniards made a law that all Indians of whatsoever age and rank whom they captured alive, they would throw into the pits. And so they threw in pregnant and confined women, children, old men, and as many as they could capture, who were left stuck on the stakes, until the pits were filled. It excited great compassion to see them, particularly the women with their children.

           [Alvarado's men] killed all the others with lances and knives; they threw them to savage dogs that tore them to pieces and ate them; and when they came across some lord they accorded him the honor of burning in live flames. . . .

           It was [Alvarado's] custom when he went to make war on some town or province, to take with him as many of the Indians as he could, to fight against the others; and as he led ten or twenty thousand and gave them nothing to eat, he allowed them to eat the Indians they captured. And so a solemn butchery of human flesh took place in his army, where, in his presence, children were killed and roasted; and they would kill a man only to eat his hands and feet, which were esteemed the best bits. And all the people of the other countries hearing of these villainies, were so terror stricken that they knew not where to hide themselves. . . .

           Having thus killed all the lords and the men who could have made war, they put all the others into the aforesaid infernal slavery; they demanded slaves as tribute, so the Indians gave their sons and daughters as they have no other slaves, all of whom they loaded into ships and sent to be sold in Peru. . . .

           They deprived the husbands of their wives and daughters, and gave them to the sailors and soldiers, to keep them contented, and bring them on board the ships. They crowded Indians into the ships where they all perished of hunger and thirst. And in truth, were I to recount his cruelties one by one I could make a big book that would astonish the world. . . .

           They killed numberless people with the labour of building boats. From the South Sea to the North, a distance of 130 leagues [abt. 390 miles], they led the Indians loaded with anchors weighing seventy and eighty pounds each, some of which wore into their shoulders and loins. They also carried much artillery in this way on the shoulders of those poor naked creatures; and I saw many of them loaded with artillery, suffering along the roads. . . .

           By other massacres and murders besides the above, they have destroyed and devastated a kingdom more than a hundred leagues [abt. 300 miles] square, one of the happiest in the way of fertility and population in the world. This same tyrant wrote that it was more populous than the kingdom of Mexico; and he told the truth.

           He and his brothers, together with the others, have killed more than four or five million people in fifteen or sixteen years, from the year 1524 until 1540, and they continue to kill and destroy those who are still left; and so they will kill the remainder.

           Of how many did he make orphans! Of how many did he take away the children! How many did he deprive of their wives! How many wives did he leave without husbands! Of what adulteries, rapes and violence was he the cause! How many did he deprive of liberty!153 What anguish and calamity were suffered by many people because of him!

(The Cortes Society, Documents and Narratives concerning the Discovery and Conquest of Latin America, New York, 1924, pp. 125-134)

[See the commentary on 1 Nephi 13:14]

 

Moroni 9:20 [The Nephites'] wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites (Illustration): A Portrait of Bartolome' de Las Casas in the Biblioteque Nationale, Paris. Hutton Webster, History of Latin America, New York: D. C. Heath and Company, 1924, p. 89)

 

Moroni 9:20 [The Nephites'] wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites (Illustration): Portrait of Pedro de Alvarado from the Painting in the Cabildo [Municipal Council Center] of Guatemala. Drawn by William Baake. (The Cortes Society, Documents and Narratives concerning the Discovery and Conquest of Latin America, New York, 1924, p. 4)

Moroni 9:22 I Recommend Thee unto God, and I Trust in Christ That Thou Wilt Be Saved:

 

     Avraham Gileadi notes that although Moroni, at Cumorah, leads ten thousand of his people to their destruction, the Lord miraculously spares his life (Mormon 6:11-12). A letter Mormon wrote before the final Nephite destruction reveals Mormon's conviction that the Lord will spare Moroni. While describing the atrocities that his people committed daily, Mormon tells Moroni:

           Behold my son, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me. But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare thy life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their utter destruction . . . (Moroni 9:21-22)

 

     Although Mormon's request might seem presumptuous to us, it was according to the desires of a righteous covenant father for his loyal son, and was not beyond the terms of ancient Near East suzerain-vassal covenant relationships. King David, another covenant leader and vassal/servant to an Almighty suzerain Lord, penned the following words which remarkably fit Moroni's situation of protection under the righteous covenant proxy role of his father Mormon, and under his Lord Jesus Christ:

           He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. Surely he shall deliver thee . . . He shall cover thee with his feathers and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee. Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked. Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angel's charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands . . . Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation. (Psalm 91: 1-16)

 

[Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, p. 233]

Moroni 9:24 Many of Our Brethren Have Deserted over unto the Lamanites:

 

     [See commentary on Mormon 6:15]