Mosiah 24

 

Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah


 

 

Mosiah 24:1 Amulon Did Gain Favor in the Eyes of the King of the Lamanites:

 

     How much time did it take for Amulon and his priests to "gain favor in the eyes of the king of the Lamanites" (Mosiah 24:1)? According to the chronology in Appendix A, Amulon possibly gained acceptance within a few months.

 

Mosiah 24:1-2 They Should Be Appointed Teachers over His People . . . in the Land of Shemlon . . . Shilom, and . . . Amulon:

 

     The Amulonites were appointed teachers over the lands of Shemlon, Shilom, and Amulon. It might appear that all of these places were close to one another (see Mosiah 24:2, 4) because the priests would have to travel from one land to another. However, some of the priests may have moved from the land of Amulon to the lands of Shemlon and Shilom, thus eliminating the need to travel. Given the time frame of one to two years and the expanded travel back and forth because of the Lamanite occupation of the lands of Amulon and Helam, the distance of eight or more days between the lands of Helam and Amulon and the lands of Shilom and Shemlon would not have been a problem. Notice also that in Mosiah 24:3 it says that king Laman was king over a numerous people. Maybe the lands of Shemlon, Shilom, Helam and Amulon represented just a few of the lands of the Lamanites. Maybe they are specified only because they are the lands which related to this story. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:1 The King of the Lamanites Granted unto [Amulon] . . . That They Should Be Appointed Teachers over His People:

 

     In Mosiah 24:1 we find that "Amulon did gain favor in the eyes of the king of the Lamanites; therefore, the king of the Lamanites granted unto him and his brethren that they should be appointed teachers over his people." In fact, "he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people" (Mosiah 24:4). According to Monte Nyman, one cannot help but wonder if the Lord's hand was not involved in this assignment. While they did not teach the law of Moses or the words of Abinadi (they were not qualified anyway), did they not prepare the way for the future Nephite missionaries, the sons of Mosiah, to proclaim the gospel among the Lamanites? Such seems very plausible to me. [Monte S. Nyman, "Bondage and Deliverance," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 264]

 

Mosiah 24:1 The People Who Were in the Land of Shilom:

 

     It is interesting that although the priests of Amulon were appointed teachers over "the people in the land of Shilom" (Mosiah 24:1), no mention is made of the land of Nephi-Lehi. Why did the Lamanites inhabit the land of Shilom and not the land of Lehi-Nephi? Perhaps the city of Shilom had been abandoned during the wars between the people of Limhi and the Lamanites (Mosiah 20). The text indicates that after each battle, the people of Limhi returned to the city of Nephi, but the text does not mention their returning to the city of Shilom (Mosiah 21:1, 12). In addition, in Mosiah 21:18 it says that "the people of Limhi kept together as much as possible." Perhaps Lehi-Nephi was more heavily fortified, and thus more valuable to the people of Limhi than the land of Shilom. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:2 The Lamanites Had Taken Possession of All These Lands:

 

     According to the chronological chart in Appendix A, Alma1 could have lived in the wilderness at the waters of Mormon or at the city of Helam for between 19 and 34 years. Because of the searches made by the Lamanite army, the territory between the land of Shemlon, the place Mormon and the land of Helam had apparently become more and more familiar to the Lamanites over time, and thus "the Lamanites had taken possession of all these lands" (Mosiah 24:2). In Alma 22:27-34, the land of Nephi described seems much more extensive than that described in the Book of Mosiah. Perhaps the small local land that the Nephites previously referred to as the "land of Nephi" had become much larger by Alma 22 because of Lamanite expansion. (Hence, the description of a more extensive land of Nephi in Alma 22:27-34.) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:2 The King of the Lamanites Had Appointed Kings over All These Lands:

   

     Mormon notes that "the king of the Lamanites had appointed kings over all these lands" (Mosiah 24:2) apparently meaning the lands of Helam, Shemlon, Shilom, and Amulon referred to in the preceding verse. The idea that there were different Lamanite kings in all these lands brings up some interesting cultural questions. How many Lamanite kings and subkings were there in the general land of Nephi? Did the Lamanite system of kings differ from the Nephite system? Where did the Lamanites learn this system of kings? Perhaps we are talking about people of many cultures or tribes being governed by their own subking, but being subject to a powerful "Lamanite" king. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:3 The King of the Lamanites Was Laman:

 

     In addition to commenting on the many subkings who ruled under the king of the Lamanites, Mormon further notes that "the name of the king of the Lamanites was Laman, being called after the name of his father; and therefore he was called king Laman. And he was king over a numerous people" (Mosiah 24:3). Did the Lamanites name their kings after their prime hereditary authority figure (Laman), just as the Nephites named their kings after Nephi? (see Jacob 1:11) Or is Mormon oversimplifying his story much in the same way as Jacob did. Notice in Jacob 1:13, Jacob simply states that "the people which were not Lamanites were Nephites." Perhaps the Lamanite king's name, "Laman," is simply a result of Mormon’s editorial use of metonymic naming in his abridgement.

     According to comments by Gordon Thomasson mentioned previously in the commentary on Laban (see 1 Nephi 3:3), metonymy or metonymic naming involves "naming by association," a metophoric process of linking two concepts or persons together in such a way as to tell us more about the latter by means of what we already know about the former. . . . For example, while David was in flight, he sought food from a man the biblical text names as Nabal, (which means "fool"). It stretches credibility to believe that a man, as an affluent adult Israelite, would carry with him the name of Mr. Fool. But that is his name, according to the text, and his actions are indeed foolish--refusing food to the anointed king and consistently successful warrior, David (1 Samuel 25:25). Nabal is, I believe, a clear example of inspired editorial, after-the-fact, metonymic naming in the Old Testament. [Gordon C. Thomasson, "What's in a Name? Book of Mormon Language, Names, and [Metonymic] Naming" in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Spring 1994, F.A.R.M.S., p. 15] [See the commentary in Alma 22:27-34]

 

Mosiah 24:4 He Appointed Teachers in Every Land Possessed by His People:

 

     In Mosiah 24:4 we find that the king of the Lamanites "appointed teachers in every land possessed by his people." This leads us to wonder just how many lands were actually possessed by the people of this Lamanite king. How far did these lands stretch? And how many teachers were appointed? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary in Alma 22:27-34]

 

Mosiah 24:4 Thus the Language of Nephi Began to Be Taught among all the People of the Lamanites:

 

     In Mosiah 24:4 we are informed that "the language of Nephi began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites." What does this mean? Had the Lamanites so quickly forgotten the language of Lehi? Does this mean that many native American people were included under Lamanite control? According to John Sorenson, the "language of Nephi" was a writing system, not a tongue as such, which verse six makes clear. Whether speakers of "other" languages were present or involved we simply cannot say on the basis of the brief record. [John Sorenson, "When Lehi's Party Arrived, Did They Find Others in the Land?," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies , Fall 1992, F.A.R.M.S. p. 32]

 

Mosiah 24:7 The Lamanites Began to Increase in Riches and Began to Trade One with Another:

   

     The mention that "the Lamanites began to increase in riches and began to trade one with another" (Mosiah 24:7) enhances the meaning and purpose of the "language of Nephi" which was being taught. We learn in Mosiah 24:6 that "they taught them that they should keep their record, and that they might write one to another." The institution of a common writing system must have been the key to commerce between many different cultures because trade and riches increased thereafter. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:7 The Lamanites . . . Began to Trade with One Another:

 

     In Mosiah 24:7 Mormon writes that "the Lamanites . . . began to trade with one another." However, Brant Gardner notes that trade is a part of virtually all societies. Donald E. Brown has examined multiple populations of the world to attempt to extract those things that we, as humans, hold in common. Among those things so prevalent among virtually all societies that may be deemed a "human universal" is trade.194 That the Lamanites may have become even better at trade due to some of the knowledge from the Amulonites is quite possible. That they had never traded before this time is not at all possible. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/ LDStopics/ Mosiah/Mosiah24.htm, p. 9]

 

Mosiah 24:7 Except It Were among Their Own Brethren:

 

     Who were those among the Lamanites not considered "their own brethren" (Mosiah 24:7)? According to John Sorenson, "it seems to me that plunderable 'others' of non-Lehite stock may have been at odds with the (real) Lamanites and thus had come into conflict with them" (compare Mormon 8:8). [John Sorenson, "When Lehi's Party Arrived, Did They Find Others in the Land?," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies , Fall 1992, F.A.R.M.S. p. 31]

 

Mosiah 24:13 I Know of the Covenant . . . and I Will . . . Ease the Burdens:

 

     Dennis and Sandra Packard note that at the waters of Mormon, Alma explains the baptismal covenant, saying, in part, "as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light" (Mosiah 18:8). Later when Alma's people are in bondage, the Lord tells them, "I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me. . . . And I will . . . ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs" (Mosiah 24:13-14). What does the Lord imply here by referring to the baptismal covenant and then alluding to Alma's explanation of that covenant? The Lord seems to be telling his people that as they have covenanted to bear each other's burdens, so he, as one with them, will also bear their burdens. That is what he did in Gethsemane. [Dennis and Sandra Packard, "Pondering the Word," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, FARMS, Vol 8, Num 2, 1999, p. 56]

 

Mosiah 24:18 Even All the Night-Time Were They Gathering Their Flocks Together:

 

     The people of Alma prepared to flee from their bondage in the land of Helam by spending "even all the night-time . . . gathering their flocks together" (Mosiah 24:18). Either the land of Helam was small enough that in one night all the flocks could be gathered in, or the "flocks" referred to here were only those pertinent to a safe flight by the people of Alma. It is hard to imagine the people of Alma traversing a great amount of territory because of (1) the darkness, (2) the wilderness terrain, and (3) the apparent full day's flight which lay ahead of them at daybreak. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:14 I Will Ease the Burdens . . . That Even You Cannot Feel Them upon Your Backs:

 

     [See the commentary on Mosiah 21:3]

 

Mosiah 24:19 In the Morning:

 

     Alma's escape started "in the morning" (Mosiah 24:19), but Limhi's escape started in the evening (see Mosiah 22:6). Perhaps this was due to terrain: it might have been impossible for Alma's group to travel in the dark because of mountainous terrain, whereas Limhi's group might have had a stretch of relatively flat land to negotiate before entering the mountains. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:20 They Called the Valley Alma:

 

     The text does not indicate whether the "valley Alma" (Mosiah 24:20) was populated at the time of Alma's departure or was ever permanently settled. Perhaps it became a part of Lamanite lands, though with what name we are not told.

     According to Joseph Allen, the Valley of Alma may be the crossroads in the highlands of Guatemala where a traveler can go in one of four directions. East takes you to Totonicapan, west carries you to Quetzaltenango, south leads to Guatemala City, and north is the road to Huehuetenango and on to the Mexican border. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 354]

 

Mosiah 24:20 When They Had Traveled All Day:

 

     If the people of Alma "traveled all day" (Mosiah 24:20), how long was that day? How far away was the valley of Alma from the city of Helam? The "day" would have probably been a very long day, perhaps from dawn till dark with as much speed as they could handle. Thus they would have probably traveled more than a normal day's journey. So the valley of Alma would have been somewhat more than 8 to 11 mountainous miles from the city of Helam. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 24:25]

 

Mosiah 24:23 I Will Stop the Lamanites in This Valley:

 

     The Lord told Alma that "I will stop the Lamanites in this valley [of Alma] that they come no further in pursuit of this people" (Mosiah 24:23). What was so significant about the valley of Alma that the Lamanites would choose to turn back? When the Lamanites came to the valley of Alma, did they find evidence of an overnight stay by Alma's people? If so, why wouldn't they continue? Perhaps the valley of Alma lay at a crossroads and the Lamanites did not know which way Alma's group went. Or perhaps the Lamanites knew in which direction Alma and his people had gone but were fearful because Alma's group were heading into Nephite-controlled lands (see Words of Mormon 1:13-14). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:24 They Departed out of the Valley, and Took Their Journey into the Wilderness:

 

     When the people "departed out of the valley of Alma" (Mosiah 24:25), how did Alma1 know the exact way to the land of Zarahemla? Alma left the city of Lehi-Nephi before Ammon came and before Limhi's party was sent. Did Alma have some general set of directions as to how to get to the land of Zarahemla, and then by the use of a little scouting eventually find the way? If wars had been fought between the Lamanites and the people of King Benjamin in the land of Zarahemla (Words of Mormon 1:13-14) during the time that Alma was in the land of Helam, then perhaps the Lamanites or Amulonites might have related some information to Alma about directions. Perhaps Alma received his directions through talking with the Lord (see Mosiah 23:1; 24:23). Whatever the case, we are not told the specifics of how Alma knew the way to the land of Zarahemla. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 24:25 After They Had Been in the Wilderness Twelve Days:

 

     According to Joseph Allen, from Quetzaltenango, Guatemala [his proposed valley of Alma] if one is traveling toward the Chiapas Depression, Mexico [his proposed general land of Zarahemla], they travel north for 77 kilometers, stopping at Huehuetenango, an area that people refer to as "no-man's land." The traveler descends through a gorge for another 50 miles (82 kilometers) until they come to the border of La Mesilla, Guatemala and Ciudad Cuahtemoc, Mexico [the proposed border of the general land of Zarahemla]. At the rate of 10 miles a day, this distance is in the neighborhood of the 12-day journey as recorded by Alma. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 354]

 

Mosiah 24:25 After They Had Been in the Wilderness Twelve Days:

 

     According to John Sorenson, in Guatemala it takes drovers eight days to herd pigs 90 miles through mountainous terrain to market -- an average of a little more than 11 miles a day. If we assume that Alma's people and animals went at ordinary speeds, they could plausibly have traveled about 11 miles a day. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, pp. 8-9]

     Thus, Sorenson might be assuming that Alma's group traveled for about 13 days covering 11 miles each day, or about 143 miles, from Malacatancito (his proposed land of Helam) to the area of Santa Rosa (his local land of Zarahemla).

 

Mosiah 24:25 They Arrived in the Land of Zarahemla (Travel Time to Zarahemla):

 

     The story of the flight of Alma and his people gives us the best clue in the Book of Mormon to the distance between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla. Alma first fled to the land of Mormon, a place at most a few days away from Lehi-Nephi. It took Alma and his group eight days to travel from the waters of Mormon (in the borders of the land of Nephi--Mosiah 18:4) to the land of Helam (Mosiah 23:3). When they finally left the land of Helam, they traveled one day to the valley of Alma (Mosiah 24:20) and then an additional twelve days to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:25). Alma and his group spent a little over twenty-one days in travel, going from the borders of the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla.

     Let's suppose that Alma's total trip represented the quickest and most direct way to get to the land of Zarahemla. Let's also be overly generous and allow Alma 5 days to reach the place of Mormon when he originally fled from king Noah in Lehi-Nephi. Let's also suppose that Alma's group averaged ten miles a day, which for Alma's group of at least 450 souls (Mosiah 18:35) and their "flocks and herds” (Mosiah 22:8) might include stops for sickness, exhaustion, mountains, rivers, swamps, jungle, hostile people, going off course, getting lost, injuries, accidents, and stops for food, game and supplies. The total distance would have been 260 miles from Lehi-Nephi to the land of Zarahemla.

 

Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 24:1--25:13 Amulon Oppresses Alma--Alma Escapes to Zarahemla (Year 481)

Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 24:1--25:13 Amulon Oppresses Alma--Alma Escapes to Zarahemla 2 (Year 481) Nephi to Zarahemla

Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 24:1--25:13 Amulon Oppresses Alma--Alma Escapes to Zarahemla (Year 481)

 

Mosiah 24:25 They Arrived in the Land of Zarahemla (Twenty-One Total Days of Travel from Mormon to Zarahemla):

 

     According to David Lamb, Hebrew people attached special significance to individual numbers. Knowing the significance of the numbers serves as an emphasis for points which might otherwise go unnoticed. The total number of days traveled from the land of Mormon to Zarahemla was 21 days. It is interesting to note that 21 is a number of "divine completion" (Bullinger 1894:262). This helps to emphasize the fact that it was by divine means that Alma's people were delivered from bondage in order to travel to Zarahemla, the designated land of promise. The arrival of Alma's people in Zarahemla not only marked the completion of their journey but it also marked the completion of the ingathering of God's people to Zarahemla. [David Lamb, "What's in a Number?," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 41]

Mosiah 25:1-6, 14, 19-20, 23 All the People of Nephi Were Assembled Together . . . There Were So Many People That They Could Not . . . All Hear the Word of God in One Assembly:

 

     At the beginning of Mosiah 25:1-23, the reader assumes that "all the people of Nephi were assembled together" (Mosiah 25:1) in one body at one meeting. However, in Mosiah 25:20 we realize that the assembly consisted of multiple meetings, that "there were so many people that they could not all . . . hear the word of God in one assembly." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]