Mosiah 10


Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah



Mosiah 10:5: Thus We Did Have Continual Peace in the Land for the Space of Twenty and Two Years:


     In the Record of Zeniff, he makes the statement that "we did inherit the land of our fathers for many years, yea, for the space of twenty and two years" (Mosiah 10:3). He then proceeds to tell how he caused the men to work the ground to raise food, and how he caused to women to work cloth for clothing, and how they prospered in the land. Then he states: thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years" (Mosiah 10:5). Thus Zeniff is using a Hebrew writing device called epanalepsis, or resumptive repetition, wherein the writer makes a statement, reflects on that statement, then resumes with the same statement. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 10:7 I Had Sent My Spies out round about the Land of Shemlon:


     That Zeniff "had sent my spies out round about the land of Shemlon" (Mosiah 10:7) to warn of an invasion out of the land of Shemlon implies that the land of Shemlon was close. Zeniff's use of spies at this point in time is significant because it is reported directly after Mosiah 10:6, which says that "king Laman died . . . and [his son] began to stir his people up in rebellion against my people [the people of Zeniff]." Perhaps Shemlon was the name Zeniff gave to that portion of the original "land of Nephi" that had been taken over by the Lamanites. It seems that Shemlon was the place from which a Lamanite king ruled. At this time, there is not one passage indicating that the Lamanite king resided in any city or land called Nephi. Later on, however, the city of Nephi is the location of the king of the Lamanites (compare Mosiah 24:2; Alma 20:8; Alma 22:1; Alma 47:20-21). Also, why would the Nephites keep referring to a "land of Nephi" that as time goes on apparently becomes much larger and almost completely populated and dominated by Lamanites? I doubt that the Lamanites would have used the term "land of Nephi" to describe any of their own lands. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 10:7 The Land of Shemlon:


     According to John Sorenson, the land of Shemlon was clearly the Lamanite base in the times of Zeniff, Noah, and Limhi; attacks on the Zeniffites always came from or through Shemlon. Supposing that the city of Lehi-Nephi was Kaminaljuyu, at present-day Guatemala City, the land of Shemlon would be the present-day Amatitlan lake-side gateway to the Valley of Guatemala through which forces from the lush piedmont area would have approached the city. Shemlon's attractiveness to the Lamanite elite would have included its climate, significantly warmer than at Kaminaljuyu which was 1,600 feet higher, yet not so oppressively hot as the adjacent lowlands, the old Lamanite base. The border between the land of Shilom and the land of Shemlon would obviously be the sharp bluff overlooking what is now lake Amatitlan and the curving Villalobos River. Near the river the Lamanite poachers could conveniently have got at the Nephite flocks, while the bluff would have been an ideal spot for Zeniff's watchmen. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 169-171]


Mosiah 10:8 They Came up upon the North of the Land of Shilom:


     From Shemlon, the Lamanites apparently had to travel "up" in elevation to reach the north of Shilom (Mosiah 10:8). Zeniff's army also comes "up" to this spot (Mosiah 10:10), which was not such difficult terrain that the Lamanites would not choose it for battle. Thus, we might assume they went to some nearby foothills. [Adapted from John Sorenson, Source Book, p. 223]


Mosiah 10:9 I Caused That the Women and Children . . . Should Be Hid in the Wilderness:


     Zeniff's people lived near a wilderness that was probably located away from the northern approach of the Lamanite army (Mosiah 10:8), for women and children were hidden there even while their men were mustering to go meet the Lamanite threat (Mosiah 10:9). In other words, the Lamanites were presumably coming from a direction opposite to the wilderness where the women and children were hiding. [Adapted from John Sorenson, Source Book, p. 223]


Mosiah 10:9 I Did Place Them in Their Ranks, Every Man according to His Age:


     Zeniff describes placing his men "in their ranks, every man according to his age" (Mosiah 10:9). According to Brant Gardner, the "ranks" would be the battle ranks, and would consist of multiple lines of warriors. In ancient hand to hand battle, the force of numbers organized could easily overwhelm numbers unorganized. Similarly, depth of lines provided for reinforcement of the lines as the fighters in the front fell (these tactics were polished by the Romans and adapted to military strategies up through at least the Revolutionary War). Mesoamerican warfare would be less stringent for tactics, but the conception of ranks was similar, with similar purpose.

     The likely scenario was that there were multiple lines behind each other, and the lines increased in age, with the old men in the last row as the final defense rather than the initial brunt of the fighting. This uses the body of the old, man, but preserves their strength. The final "rank" in the military line was probably king Zeniff himself. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," ~nahualli/ LDStopics/Mosiah/Mosiah10.htm, pp. 7-8]


Mosiah 10:9 In Their Ranks, Every Man according to His Age:


     In their battles against king Laman and the Lamanites, Zeniff "caused that all my old men that could bear arms, and also all my young men that were able to bear arms, should gather themselves together to go to battle against the Lamanites; and I did place them in their ranks, every man according to his age" (Mosiah 10:9). According to Hugh Nibley, Zeniff's troops were mobilized and organized according to the pattern of Israel, as we read in the Milhamah Scroll, the Battle Scroll. By age is the easiest, the most obvious, and the most natural and workable way--people of the same age groups working together. So that's what he did; "and I did place them in their ranks, every man according to his age." so they went up to battle against the Lamanites, and they went up "in the strength of the Lord" (Mosiah 10:10). [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 45]


Mosiah 10:10 We Did Go Up to Battle against the Lamanites:


     From the city of Nephi, the people of Zeniff had to travel "up" to reach the north of Shilom. Thus, the terrain from the city of Nephi to the north of Shilom went up into mountains.


Mosiah 10:12-13 [The Lamanites] Were Wronged While in the Land of Their First Inheritance:

     According to the Lamanite traditions listed in Mosiah 10:12-13, the Lamanites believed that they were wronged by their brethren (1) "in the wilderness" after being "driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers," (2) "while crossing the sea," and (3) "while in the land of their first inheritance after they had crossed the sea." From this order of travel, one can assume that the Lamanites' "land of first inheritance" was near where Lehi first landed. The geographical description of Lamanite lands mentioned in Alma 22:28 further locates this land "on the west in the land of Nephi." Thus, the sea which Lehi crossed in order to get to the Americas was probably the Pacific Ocean because the landing site was "on the west" of the Americas. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Alma 22:28]


Mosiah 10:20 Slew Them with a Great Slaughter, Even So Many That We Did Not Number Them:


     When Zeniff uses the phrase "so many that we did not number them" (Mosiah 10:20) in reference to the Lamanite dead, we can probably assume that this number was much greater than the 3,043 Lamanites which Zeniff's people slew 22 years before (Mosiah 9:18). No mention is made here of the number of Zeniff’s men who died, but 22 years earlier only 279 were lost. That battle yielded an astounding fatality ratio of eleven Lamanites to only one Nephite. In Mosiah 10:11 it says that the Lamanites "were a strong people, as to the strength of men," so in order to avoid a tremendous loss of men in this battle, the people of Zeniff would have needed overwhelmingly superior military tactics. Strategic positioning might prove to be the most critical geographical requirement for the selection of any site to be the city of Lehi-Nephi. One might also wonder how much of a population increase there had been in 22 years for Zeniff's people to not only make up for the 279 men that had been killed in the first battle, but to accommodate for the men of Zeniff's colony lost in this battle. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 10:20 We Slew Them with a Great Slaughter:


     According to Roy Weldon, the Book of Mormon is replete with Hebraic phrases. One classification of these Hebraisms involves verbs with cognate nouns. In the Bible some examples are found in Job 3:25 ("Feared a fear") and Jeremiah 46:5 ("Fled a flight"). One good example in the Book of Mormon is found in Mosiah 10:20: "we slew them with a great slaughter . . ." [Roy E. Weldon, Book of Mormon Deeps, Vol. III, p. 275] [See the commentary on Alma 1:1]      


Mosiah 10:22 I [Zeniff] . . . did confer the kingdom upon one of my sons [Noah] (Major Nephite Leaders) [Illustration]: The Major Leaders During Nephite History. [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 160]