Omni

 

Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah


 

 

 

 

     OMNI

 

Omni 1:1-3 I . . . I . . . I . . .:

 

     Monte Nyman relates the following:

     "I sometimes ask my students . . . did Omni wear glasses? Now, that gets their attention--got yours I notice, some of you looked up. I suggest to you that I don't know whether he wore glasses, but he did have I trouble! Now, if you analyze those three verses that Omni writes, he says "I did this," "I did that," ten times! The only reason I emphasize that is to show you that it is a different style of writing. The others don't write that way. Why is that important? Because there are four different writers in this one little chapter that is a little more than two pages long. . . . Could Joseph Smith have put together this, and made it look different? I suppose that is possible, but highly improbable. You might copy someone's style, but for Joseph Smith, the mere lad that he was when he translated the Book of Mormon, this is a great evidence of the book." [Monte S. Nyman, "Is the Book of Mormon a History?," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 9-10]

 

Omni 1:2 I of Myself Am a Wicked Man:

 

     Even though Omni comments that "I of myself am a wicked man" (Omni 1:2), one should be careful not to classify all the recordkeepers and all the Nephites wicked during the time covered by the book of Omni. Jarom, the father of Omni, noted that "there are many among us who have many revelations" (Jarom 1:4). Amaron, the son of Omni, will later comment that, "the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed" (Omni 1:5) and that the Lord "did spare the righteous" (Omni 1:7). Although Abinadom, the nephew of Amaron, will mention that "I know of no revelation save that which has been written" (Omni 1:11), it is possible that he might have been referring to the fact that the prophecies known to him had already been recorded on the large plates or other records such that Abinadom did not feel obligated to record them again on the small plates. Finally Amaleki, the son of Abinadom, will exhort "all men to come unto God" (Omni 1:25). Therefore, we have to wonder if Omni's "wickedness" was only in comparison with the other prophets and not with the people in general. Perhaps Omni felt unworthy because he had "fought much with the sword" (Omni 1:2) and possibly had shed much blood, as the Jewish king David had. David received the revelations on how to build a temple to the Lord but was not allowed to build it because he had seen too much war and bloodshed (see 1 Chronicles 22:8). [See the commentary on Omni 1:13]

 

Omni 1:3 I [Omni] conferred them upon my son Amaron (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

Omni 1:8-9 I [Amaron] did deliver the [small] plates unto my brother Chemish (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

Omni 1:8 Chemish:

 

     The name Chemish is mentioned as a Nephite record keeper in the Book of Omni 1:8-10. Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that not only is this name found to be of ancient Hebrew origin, but also the meaning of the name is fitting for the calling of the individual who bore that name. The Hebrew equivalent shem-ash can be found in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, which means "to serve, minister"--a possible name-title that symbolized the calling to serve as a record keeper for his Nephite brethren.11 [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, p. 226]

 

Omni 1:10 Abinadom:

 

     According to John Tvedtnes, despite the paucity of genealogical details in the Book of Mormon, clearly the people were very concerned about their tribal affiliation. For example, Book of Mormon personal names containing such Semitic patronymic elements as Abi- ("father") and Ami- ("paternal kinsman/clan") fit the biblical pattern and are evidence for a strong patrilineal kinship system. Note the names "Abinadi" (Mosiah 11:20), "Abinadom" (Omni 1:10), "Aminadab" (Helaman 5:39), and "Aminadi" (Alma 10:2). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Book of Mormon Tribal Affiliation and Military Castes," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 297]

 

Omni 1:10 Behold, I, Abinadom, am the son of Chemish (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

Omni 1:10 I [Abinadom] Saw Much War and Contention between My People, the Nephites, and the Lamanites:

 

     According the Brant Gardner, the increasing pressure from the Lamanites suggests two plausible scenarios that would ultimately lead to the Lord's command for Mosiah1 to flee the land of Nephi:

     (1) The city of Nephi would come under threat of a Lamanite attack that the Lord knew would be more effective than previous attacks either because of decreased ability of Nephite resistance. Either the Lamanites got stronger or the Nephites got weaker. Thus Mosiah1 and the righteous would be asked to flee the destruction.

     (2) The need for the Lamanites to directly attack the city of Nephi might have slowly disappeared as the Nephites accomodated to the Lamanite culture. This would have been an official capitulation by the rulers (not the prophets), and although the city would have continued, the environment would have been untenable for the righteous.

[Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 15]

 

Omni 1:11-12 I [Abinadom] Make an End. Behold, I Am Amaleki, the Son of Abinadom:

 

     Brant Gardner notes that Abinadom does not specifically mention passing the plates to his son (see Omni 1:10-11), and yet his son, who introduces himself as Amaleki, does have them (see Omni 1:12). Perhaps this is not necessarily an oversight, but rather a recognition of the fact that Amaleki was very young at the time, and could not receive them directly from his father. I will presume that Amaleki was very young, and traveled with his mother (but not his father) on the trip to Zarahemla. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/Omni1.htm, pp. 12-13]

 

Omni 1:12 Amaleki:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, the name Amaleki simply means "my king." [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 428]

     Note* Could the Amalekites who are to appear in the book of Alma have been part of the "king-men" movement found in that book also? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:12 Behold, I am Amaleki, the son of Abinadom (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

Omni 1:12 Amaleki:

 

     When was Amaleki born? Amaleki was born "in the days of Mosiah1 (Omni 1:24), which we might assume means that he was born during the reign of Mosiah1. Thus, Amaleki might have been at least 30 years younger than Mosiah1 if Mosiah1 became king at age 30 (see Mosiah 6:4). If Mosiah1 was born between the years 367 and 387, and began to reign between the years 397 and 417, then Amaleki would have had to be born sometime after 397. If Mosiah2 was born between the years 446 and 447, we have assumed that the reign of Mosiah1 would have ended soon after (30-year reign), or at the most his reign would have ended in the year 457 (40-year reign). Therefore, our targeted range for the birth of Amaleki is between the years 397-457.

 

Year 397-457 Amaleki is born [Reasoning #1]

 

     We can also approximate the birth of Amaleki by tracing the dated lineage of the small plates recordkeepers from Nephi to Amaleki. According to 2 Nephi 5:28-34, Nephi was commanded to make and keep the small plates between 30 to 40 years after he left Jerusalem. It was probably closer to 40 because of 1 Nephi 19:4 & 2 Nephi 5:34; however, we will assume 36 years. Nephi was then 52 years old (16 + 36 = 52) and was to keep the plates for 20 years before he turned them over to Jacob.

     According to Jacob 1:1, when "55 years had passed away from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem" (Year 56), Jacob was given charge of the small plates by Nephi. Nephi was now approximately 72 years old and Jacob was approximately 52 [Assuming Jacob was born 3 years after Lehi left Jerusalem would make (-3 + 55 = 52)]

     No date is given for the transfer of plates from Jacob to Enos, only the words that Jacob "began to be old" (Jacob 7:26-27).

     According to Enos 1:25, Enos transferred the plates to Jarom when "179 years had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem" (Year 180). Therefore, between Jacob and Enos, the plates were taken care of for approximately 124 years (180 - 56 = 124). According to our culture, in an older father/younger son relationship, a father would be between 40 and 50 when the son was born. This would mean that if a 20 year old Enos got the plates from a 70 year old Jacob, and if Enos kept them to age 70, we would have the following time spans:

     Jacob 52 to 70 = 18 years as recordkeeper

     Enos 20 to 70 = 50 years as recordkeeper

Total = 68 years = This is 56 years short of the above mentioned 124 years.

     Therefore, the following might have to change:

     1. Jacob might have been born a little later than the supposed three years after Lehi left Jerusalem.[see discussion on 1 Nephi 2:16]

     2. Jacob and Enos might have had to keep the plates to an older age.

     3. Enos might have been born when Jacob was much older. (See the commentary on Enos 1:25)

     4. The plates might have been turned over before Enos was 24 (much like happened when Ammaron gave charge of the plates to 10 year old Mormon--Mormon 1:2-3), but with a commandment for him to attain the age of 24 before taking possession of them. [Note* At least with Enos, he was old enough to say that "[Jacob] taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Enos 1:1).]

     5. Jacob and Enos might have had their first wives die and taken a younger second wife, thus allowing the birth of a son at an advanced age for the father. [Note* Jacob preached against plural marriages (Jacob 2:27,34)]

     Therefore, this plausible scenario can be made:

Year      (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)

56      Jacob obtained the plates at age 52.

81      Enos was born when Jacob was 77.

101      Jacob gave the plates to Enos (age 20) just before he died (age 97).

     (Jacob has had the plates 45 years (97 - 52 = 45). (Enos is now age 20.)

180      Enos lives to age 99 (Enos 1:25).

           According to Enos 1:25-27 and Jarom 1:1, Enos never does mention giving the plates to Jarom      when "179 years had passed away" (Year 180), he only mentions that he "began to be old." Jarom      mentions that he writes "according to the commandment of my father." Now, if Enos is 99, then Jarom could have been born when Enos was 79 and would be age 20. Thus:

Year      (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)

160      Jarom was born when Enos was 79.

180      Jarom received the plates at age 20.

239      Jarom gave the plates to Omni (assume age 24) when 238 years had passed away since Lehi left Jerusalem (Jarom 1:13, 15).

     Jarom has had the plates 59 years (239 - 180 = 59).

     Jarom is 79 years old (20 + 59 = 79).

215      Thus, Omni was born when Jarom was 55.

           According to Omni 1:3, Omni gave the plates to Amaron "when 282 years had passed away" (Year 283). Thus: Omni has the plates 283 - 239 = 44 years, and lived to age 68 (44 + 24 = 68).

283      Omni (age 68) gave the plates to Amaron (assume Amaron is 24).

259      Amaron was born when Omni was 44 (68 - 24 = 44).

           According to Omni 1:5,8, Amaron gave the plates to his brother Chemish when "320 years had passed away" (Year 321). Thus, Amaron has the plates 321 - 283 = 38 years, and lives to age      62 (24 + 38 = 62).

 

     We will assume that Omni (the father) was 44 at the birth of Amaron. We will assume that Amaron's brother Chemish was born 15-20 years later. (Omni's first wife would probably have died and he would have married a younger second wife.) We will assume Chemish was born 20 years after Amaron (Year 279), with the maximum limit of 30 years after Amaron (Year 289). Thus:

Year      (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)

259      Amaron was born (Omni is 44).

279      Chemish was born (Omni is 64).

283      Omni (68) gave the plates to Amaron (age 24).

321      Amaron (62) gave the plates to his brother Chemish (42).

 

     By living to age 85, Chemish would have had the plates 43 years (85 - 42 = 43). If Abinadom was born when Chemish was 65, then he would be 20 at Chemish's death. Abinadom could have waited four years to age 24 before he took over keeping the plates. We will also assume that he took care of the plates until age 86. If we apply the maximum limits as stated above for the birth of Chemish, then Abinadom could have been born when Chemish was 55. However, we will assume the following:

Year      (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)

344      Abinadom was born when Chemish was 65.

364      Chemish (85) gave the plates to Abinadom (20).

430      Abinadom (86) gave the plates to Amaleki (24).

 

Thus:

 

(406)      Amaleki was born about the year 406 when Abinadom was 62 [Reasoning #2]

 

     Although it is very apparent that many assumptions and approximations have been used to construct this chronology, we do have a date for the birth of Amaleki which falls within the limits established. The reader should note, however, that although we have come to this date by approximation, there are circumstances which limit the range of this approximation. For example, the later the birth of Amaleki, the older Abinadom would have been. On the other hand, the earlier the birthdate of Amaleki, the more we extend beyond the year 397 (the earliest possible projected beginning of Mosiah1's reign). Thus,

 

Year 397-406 An approximate range of years for the birth of Amaleki.

 

     In this scenario, Amaleki might have been at most only nine years old when Mosiah1 left the land of Nephi and traveled to Zarahemla. On the other hand, Abinadom might have accompanied Mosiah1 on his exodus a few years before the birth of Amaleki.

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Appendix A]

 

Omni 1:12 I Will Speak unto You Somewhat concerning Mosiah:

 

     According to original research by John Sawyer and John Welch, the term mosiah was an ancient Hebrew term, like go'el ("redeemer, or avenger of blood"), or sedeq ("victor, savior"). Such terms originally had meaning in Hebrew daily life and culture but came to be used among their titles for God. The word mosia (pronounced moe-shee-ah) is a word peculiar to Hebrew, a "word invariably implying a champion of justice in a situation of controversy, battle or oppression."

     Apparently the form of the word Mosiah is a "hiphil participle" in Hebrew. It occurs in the Hebrew in Deuteronomy 22:27, 28:29; Judges 12:3; Psalms 18:41; and Isaiah 5:29--texts that in all probability were on the Plates of Brass. This word, however, was not transliterated into the English by the King James translators, and thus the Hebrew would not have been known to Joseph Smith. It was, however, known and used as a personal name in the Book of Mormon, as well as by people in the Jewish colony at Elephantine in the fifth century B.C. . . .

     King "Mosiah"(1) (Omni 1:12) was a God-appointed hero who delivered the chosen people of Nephi from serious wars and contentions by leading them in an escape from the land of Nephi (see Omni 1:12-14). It is unknown whether he was called Mosiah before he functioned as a mosia of his people or whether he gained this well-earned title afterward, perhaps as a royal title, but either is possible. [John Sawyer and John Welch, "What Was a 'Mosiah'?," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 105-107]

 

Omni 1:12-14 Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]

 

Omni 1:12 Mosiah:

 

     When was Mosiah1 born and when did he depart for the land of Zarahemla? We can approximate those years by tracing backward from the dated death of Mosiah2 to Mosiah1:

Year      (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)

510      Mosiah2 dies in the 33rd year of his reign (Mosiah 29:46).

     Mosiah2 is about 63 years old at his death (64th year of his age) (Mosiah 29:46).

     It is in the whole 509 years from when Lehi left Jerusalem (Year 510) (Mosiah 29:46).

Thus:

 

477      This was the first year of Mosiah2's reign.

446-7      Mosiah2 was born.

           Let's allow for an average age of the father king at the time of birth of his successor son to be within the age period of from 30-40 years old. We will first assume that Benjamin was 40 years      old when Mosiah2 was born and had been reigning since about age 30. According to Mosiah 6:4,

     Mosiah2 began to reign "in the thirtieth year of his age" (age 29-30). Thus:

407      Benjamin was born.

           We will next assume Mosiah1 was near 40 years old when Benjamin was born and had been reigning for 10 years since his thirtieth year (for ease of calculation we will say age 30). Then:

367      Mosiah1 was born close to the year 367 [40-year option].

           If both fathers (Benjamin and Mosiah1) had been 30 at the birth of their heirs, then Mosiah1 would have been born in the year 387. Thus:

 

Year 367-387      The range of years for the birth of Mosiah1.

 

     If we use Mosiah2's age (29-30) at his ascension as a standard for every king (Mosiah 6:4), Mosiah1 would have been close to 30 and ascended to the throne between the years 397-417. If we allow a 30 year time period before the end of that reign, then whatever the age of Mosiah1 when he left the land of Nephi for Zarahemla, that departure would have been sometime between the years 397 and 447 (since Lehi left Jerusalem). Because an older less vigorous man might not be accepted by the people of Zarahemla as "king Mosiah," I would tend to put the departure of Mosiah1 towards the beginning of the period of years 397-447 (since Lehi left Jerusalem).

 

Year 397-447 Mosiah1 departs for the land of Zarahemla.

[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Appendix A]

 

Omni 1:12 As Many As Would Hearken unto the Voice of the Lord:

 

     The flight of Mosiah1 seems to have involved a number of Nephites, maybe a few or maybe many. However, we have to wonder why there aren't any references made by Amaleki, Mosiah1, Mormon or Zeniff about those Nephites who might have stayed behind? Were they automatically classified as Lamanites (see 2 Nephi 5:6,9)? Were they classified as dissenters (see Alma 47:35)?

     One other option, according to Sidney Sperry, is that they might have been destroyed according to Jacob's prophecy:

           "But wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction. And the time speedily cometh that except ye repent they shall possess the land of your inheritance and the Lord God will lead away the righteous out from among you" (Jacob 3:3-4).

 

     A fact indicating that it might apply is that when the expedition of Zeniff and his followers made its way to the land of their forefathers, it was found that Lamanites were in control and that the cities were in a bad state of disrepair (Mosiah 9:6-8). There were no Nephites living there. [Sidney Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 276]

 

Geographical Theory Map: Omni 1:12-14 Mosiah Flees from Nephi to Zarahemla (Year 398)

 

Omni 1:13 [Mosiah and His Followers] Departed out of the Land:

 

     When and why did Mosiah1 leave the land of Nephi? Using the reasoning established previously, we can say that if Amaleki was "born in the days of Mosiah" (Omni 1:24), then Mosiah1 might have departed the land of Nephi and established himself as king over all the people in Zarahemla sometime between the years 397 and 406 (since Lehi left Jerusalem). [See Appendix A].

     The reason that Mosiah1 left the land of Nephi might have been over a royal dispute regarding inheritance or politics. Although we only have record that Mosiah1 reigned as king over the people in the land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:12,19), there might be more to the picture. There had to have been grave political ramifications surrounding Mosiah1's ultimate possession of the sacred items associated with Nephite kings (Mosiah 1:15-6, 2 Nephi 5:14, Jacob 1:10). Some scholars have assumed that Mosiah1 smuggled these items away from the king of Nephi at the time; however, one has to wonder if Zarahemla and the Mulekites would have graciously accepted an imposter to the throne, especially after Zeniff as a scout (Mosiah 9:15), Limhi and his people (Mosiah 22:11-14), and Alma1's group (Mosiah 24:24-25) had a chance to set the record straight upon their return to Zarahemla. If we ignore the idea of symbols of kingship as a reason for Mosiah1 being established as king in Zarahemla, we are left to ponder other reasons that seem to be negated by the scriptural account:

     1. Righteousness--but the Mulekites denied the being of their creator (Omni 1:17).

     2. Numerical superiority--but the Nephites weren't half as numerous as the people of Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:2).

     3. Influence of ideas--but the Nephites could not understand the people of Zarahemla (Omni 1:17).

     Whatever the case, whether Mosiah1 had already ascended to kingship in the land of Nephi or not, he was probably the rightful heir because it is unlikely that he would or could take the large plates (kept by the kings--Omni 1:11, Words of Mormon 1:10-11), the Liahona, the Brass Plates, and the Sword of Laban (see Mosiah 1:15-16) under any other circumstances. In addition, it is unlikely that Zeniff would be allowed to muster support to return to "the land of our father's inheritance" (Mosiah 9:1) unless it was clear that Mosiah1 had a solid claim to the throne (see Mosiah 9:3). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:13 [Mosiah and His Followers] Departed out of the Land:

 

     Brant Gardner writes that since Mosiah1 was made king in the land of Zarahemla, we might want to assume that he was also king in the land of Nephi, but that would be an unsupported assumption. In fact, strong inference may be made that Mosiah1 was not the king. In Jacob 1:11 we find that the kings of Nephi took upon themselves the name Nephi. Not only do we have Mosiah1 named as Mosiah (and not Nephi the X), but the tradition of naming the ruler of the people of Nephi after Nephi completely disappears from the Book of Mormon from this point on. The easiest explanation is that Mosiah1 was a prophet, but not the king. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/ Omni/ Omni1.htm, pp. 14-15]

 

Omni 1:13 They Departed out of the Land:

 

     Why does Amaleki not make any reference to his father Abinadom when he notes Mosiah1's departure to the land of Zarahemla? He just says, "they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord" (Omni 1:13). Chronologically, Amaleki's father should have been part of that group (Omni 1:23 -- "I [Amaleki] was born in the days of Mosiah"). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:13: They Were Led by Many Preachings and Prophesyings:

 

     If Mosiah1's group were led by "many preachings and prophesyings" (Omni 1:13), their apparent righteousness seems like a radical departure from the words of Abinadom, who was most probably part of the group. Abinadom said, "I know of no revelation save that which has been written, neither prophecy" (Omni 1:11). Perhaps Abinadom knew of prophecies, but these prophesies might have been made by Mosiah1, who wrote them down in the large plates. This would make Abinadom's statement very accurate. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Omni 1:2]

 

Omni 1:13 They Departed out of the Land (of Nephi) into the Wilderness . . . Until They Came down into the Land . . . of Zarahemla:

 

     While we know that Mosiah1 and his group had to flee out of the land of Nephi, we are not told in what direction (other than "down"); however, from the geographic description given in Alma 22:27-29, we learn that at that time, the more expanded general land of Zarahemla was somewhat north of the more expanded general land of Nephi, and that they were separated by a "narrow strip of wilderness." We are also not told specifically how long the journey was; however, from the journey of Alma1 when he fled from king Noah and eventually found his way to Zarahemla, we can calculate the general distance between the City/Land of Nephi and the City/Land of Zarahemla as totalling a little more than 21 days. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 24:25]

 

Omni 1:13 They Departed out of the Land [of Nephi] into the Wilderness . . . Until They Came down into the Land . . . of Zarahemla:

 

     Brant Gardner notes that upon reading that Mosiah "departed out of the land into the wilderness" (Omni 1:13), the reader might rightfully ask why he chose to go in the direction he did. Of course the Lord was leading him, but it seems as though the direction he went in was natural for him. Could it be that he was following a trade route? Trade routes are difficult to trace archaeologically, but they may be presumed when an identifiable trade good moves from one location to another.

     In the case of Kaminaljuyu (a proposed site for the city of Nephi) a major export was obsidian. The creation of obsidian leaves sufficient traces of its location that pieces of obsidian found long distances away can be accurately traced to their source. The Kaminaljuyu obsidian is known as El Chayal. The trade in El Chayal obsidian in the early years of the Book of Mormon would have been down through the coast, but at the time period we are examining, it appears that a primary distribution channel had been developed whereby El Chayal obsidian was traded into what is now Veracruz, Mexico, which is in a direction generally northwest of Kaminaljuyu.12

     Thus there were already cultural predispositions to move north, and the sure knowledge that there were friendly towns in that direction.

     Additionally, in the time period in which Mosiah and his followers would have arrived at Santa Rosa, Chiapas Mexico (a proposed site for the local land of Zarahemla), certain pottery shows ties to Kaminaljuyu--ties sufficient to be termed "perhaps the closest linkage of our material to other regions."13 Thus Mosiah's flight northward has a plausible setting. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http:// www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/Omni1.htm, pp. 16, 38]

 

Omni 1:13 Down:

 

     The land of Zarahemla was down from the land Nephi. Up and down refer to elevation. The reader will notice in future reading that the river Sidon had its head in the wilderness dividing the land of Zarahemla from the land of Nephi; however, the direction of flow was right through the land of Zarahemla (see Alma 16:6-7, 22:27-29).

     According to Joseph Allen, as a person travels from the high point of 9,800 feet elevation near the Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, lookout to about 2,300 feet elevation at the Mexico border, to say the least there is clearly a feeling of traveling downward. The elevation in the Chiapas valley reaches its low point at 1100 feet. Guatemala city (the local land of Nephi) is about 4,800 feet in elevation. The Book of Mormon is always consistent in the fact that travelers from the land of Nephi always go down to Zarahemla, and travelers from Zarahemla always go up to the land of Nephi. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 372]

 

Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla:

 

     According to Joseph Allen [and the theories of David Palmer and John Sorenson], the ruins of Santa Rosa appear to be the most reliable site for the City of Zarahemla today; and the Chiapas Depression, a valley large enough to place Israel inside of, is ideal for the Land of Zarahemla. The site of Santa Rosa is now under a man-made reservoir along the Grijalva River. However, prior to the area's inundation, the New World Archaeological Foundation conducted archaeological studies of Santa Rosa during the 1958 and 1959 seasons. A reconnaissance of the Upper Grijalva River in the winter of 1956 showed the site of Santa Rosa to be the largest Preclassic center in the region (the Preclassic time period is the time of the Book of Mormon). Several statements comparing the City of Zarahemla with Santa Rosa seem appropriate:

     1. It fits the directional and distance requirements for Mosiah1 to have led a group of people from the city of Nephi (Kaminaljuyu).

     2. It fits the directional and distance requirements for the people of Mulek (people of Zarahemla) to come from the land of desolation/land northward up into the south wilderness (Alma 22:30).

     3. It allows for an East Wilderness.

     4. It allows the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area to play its proper role in Book of Mormon geography as the Narrow Neck of Land.

     5. It provides a major river running by it on the east (the Grijalva), with its headwaters in the proper direction (towards Kaminaljuyu), and its mouth emptying into a sea (the Gulf of Mexico), all of which are Book of Mormon requirements.

     6. It permits the Limhi Expedition to bypass Zarahemla and wander through the State of Tabasco in the area proposed as the "land of many waters" to get into the land northward.

     7. It is in an adequate location for Alma1 and Limhi to return to Zarahemla through a "strip of wilderness," or mountain range.

     8. Ample archaeological population centers are found in the Chiapas Valley during the 180 B.C.-- A.D. 350 period when the bulk of the Nephite history in the Land of Zarahemla occurred. Also, a manifest decline in the population in the area occurred around A.D. 350, the period when the Nephites were forced to leave the Land Southward. Zarahemla was in the Land Southward.

     9. It is in the proper general area for language development. That is, from 600 B.C.--A.D. 200, we witness a written language in use that was adopted by the later A.D. 350 culture.

     10. Archaeological sites are found whose dating and culture patterns coincide precisely with Mosiah1's people and the people of Zarahemla.

     11. The elevation is 1,100 feet. Kaminaljuyu (the local land of Nephi) is 4800 feet. People always go from Zarahemla up to the land of Nephi. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 372]

 

Omni 1:13 They came down into the land . . . of Zarahemla (Illustration): A view descending down into the Chiapas Depression. Santa Rosa, Chiapas, Mexico has been proposed as the land of Zarahemla. [Merrill Oaks, "Some Perspectives on Book of Mormon Geography," slide # ]

 

Omni 1:13 They came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla (Illustration): (a) [According to John Sorenson] the site of Santa Rosa, in the upper Central Depression, qualifies in important ways as the city of Zarahemla. Part of the archaeological site is seen in the foreground of this aerial view, with the Grijalva river adjacent. . . . (b) An area a few miles from Santa Rosa shows the relatively open, unforested landscape, in contrast to the jungle-type vegetation of many lowland areas. These two photos at the top of the page are over forty years old. For the past quarter century the area has been covered by the waters of a lake impounded by a major dam built thirty miles downstream. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 197]

 

Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla:

 

     The reader should note that another major Book of Mormon geographical model situated in Mesoamerica has been proposed by F. Richard Hauck. He locates the city or local land of Zarahemla on the Usumacinta River, Guatemala, in the area of Nine Hills. [F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, pp. 7-8]

     Richard Hauck is "convinced that Zarahemla is hidden within the incredibly humid, high-canopy rain forest of the Guatemalan tropical lowlands. . . . " Hauck suspects that Mulek and his Near Eastern refugees arrived at Zarahemla by boat, and that the Sidon river must have been navigable from the Gulf of Mexico, at least as far inland as the settlement at Zarahemla. Having assumed this is true, then for Mesoamerica, the Usumacinta River is the most logical candidate for the river Sidon because it is navigable far into the interior.

     According to Hauck, the most probable locality for a major capital like Zarahemla is in the large valley where the Maya site of Nueve Cerros, or Nine Hills, is located. It is thirty-five miles directly north, down-slope from the Coban (proposed Manti) location and is crossed by the Usumacinta River (proposed Sidon). The difficult limestone karst terrain has restricted access south, up into the highlands where Manti would be located. To the north, Nueve Cerros is readily accessible to the Gulf of Mexico, or North Sea (see Helaman 3:8) via the river. To the east, it is accessible to the Caribbean, or East Sea. Finally, this valley is the only agriculturally productive locality that could sustain the large Nephite populations anciently living within the civilization's capital city. What's more, even the time frame of occupations at this site fit the Zarahemla model. Limited archaeological investigations at Nueve Cerros have documented that people lived here between 300 B.C. and A.D. 900. (See Dillon, Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Guatemala, 1977.)

     Salt is another factor that makes the Nueve Cerros valley complex most attractive as a location for ancient Zarahemla. Nueve Cerros was a most important source for salt in ancient Central America. The site is located at the only source of salt in all the interior of south-eastern Mesoamerica. Salt was being extracted from a saline creek at that site long before the arrival of the Spanish in this region. Why is salt such a big deal? Not only is salt necessary in our diet, especially for those living in the torrid tropics, but salt was anciently used as a primary means of food preservation. . . . Perhaps more vital than salt's secular value, however, was its sacred use. The ancient Hebrews had the salt sacrifice as stated in the Old Testament; they used salt in sacred rituals in the tabernacle and the temple. . . .

     One final factor is that satellite and aerial photography have revealed the outline of an ancient city at this site measuring at least eighteen miles across. [F. Richard Hauck, "The Trail to Zarahemla," in This People, Holiday 1994, pp. 64-70]

 

Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla (Illustration): Late afternoon light hits the shores of the upper reaches of the Usumacinta River in Guatemala near "Nine Hills" archaeological site. The river is a startling deep green. Surprisingly, the Hebrew root of Sidon is sid, meaning "lime." It may be more than coincidence that this river flows over limestone and is the color of a lime. [F. Richard Hauck, "The Trail to Zarahemla," in This People, Holiday 1994, p. 65. Photography by Scot F. Proctor]

 

Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla (Illustration): Enormous salt dome forms this jungle-covered hillside in the lowland area at the site of Nueve Cerros (Nine Hills). A creek that flows out of the north side of this hill has been used by the Maya for centuries to obtain salt. This place has the only inland salt source in the region, and if this is the area of Zarahemla, it is interesting to note how often the Lord leads his people to an area of salt. [F. Richard Hauck, "The Trail to Zarahemla," in This People, Holiday 1994, p. 65. Photography by Scot F. Proctor]

 

Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla (Illustration): Enormous salt dome forms this jungle-covered hillside in the lowland area at the area of Nueve Cerros (Nine Hills). Lush forest shelters abundant wildlife, including howler monkeys, jaguars, snakes, and colorful birds. . . . Zarahemla would turn away from the Lord and be destroyed by fire at the time of the crucifixion (which indicates that much of the city was built of wood) but be rebuilt again to last at least another 300 years. [Scot F. Proctor and Maurine J. Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 152]

 

Omni 1:13: The Land of Zarahemla:

 

     The naming of the land where Mosiah1 arrived as the "land of Zarahemla" (Omni 1:13) could have come from the Mulekites and been in use at the time Mosiah1 arrived. Zarahemla, or a previous Mulekite leader, apparently led the people of Zarahemla "into the land where Mosiah1 discovered them" (Omni 1:16). On the other hand, the name "the land of Zarahemla" could have come entirely from the Nephites according to their custom, which was "to call their lands, and their cities, and their villages, yea, even all their small villages, after the name of him who first possessed them" (Alma 8:7). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla:

 

     According to Brant Gardner, if the land of Zarahemla was named after Zarahemla (or his father), then his group would not have been in that spot for very long, although they might have lived in the general locale for some time. Although Omni 1:16 states that they were brought by the hand of the Lord "into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth," the "land" referred to might be referring to a larger territory and not the specific local land where Mosiah found them.14 [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 23]

 

Omni 1:13 Zarahemla:

 

     According to Ricks and Tvedtnes, Zarahemla was the Nephite capital for longer than any other city, yet it was actually named from Zarahemla, a descendant of Mulek (Omni 1:12-15; Mosiah 25:2). Mulek, the son of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, had come to the New World with other immigrants not long after Lehi's departure from Jerusalem (Helaman 6:10; 8:21).

     The name Zarahemla probably derives from the Hebrew zer hemlah, which has been variously translated as "seed of compassion"15 or "child of grace, pity, or compassion."16 It may be that the Mulekite leader was given that name because his ancestor had been rescued when the other sons of King Zedekiah were slain during the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. To subsequent Nephite generations, it may even have suggested the deliverance of their own ancestors from Jerusalem prior to its destruction or the anticipation of Christ's coming. [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. 258-259]

 

Omni 1:13 Zarahemla:

 

     According to Russell M. Nelson, the Old Testament is replete with prophecies that relate to the scattering of Israel. One such comes from the book of First Kings: "For the Lord shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them" (1 Kings 22:17). In this citation, the word "scatter" was translated from the Hebrew verb zarah, which means "to scatter, cast away, winnow, or disperse." [Russell M. Nelson, "Remnants Gathered, Covenants Fulfilled," in Voices of Old Testament Prophets: The 26th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, p. 10]

     In a personal communication with Paul Hoskisson, director of The Book of Mormon Onomasticon Project, I asked if there were any meanings for the root "hemla" or hemlah in the Near Eastern languages. He responded by saying that finding any meaning for such a root was difficult, however, a possible interpretation might be found from the participial form of the verb "to look on with pity" or "to pity." I then read him the above quote by Elder Nelson and asked him if there was any chance that I could combine the two meanings in defining the name "Zarahemla" as something like "taking pity on the scattered [of Israel]." He said that, in fact, Robert Smith had already proposed such a meaning, but whether that meaning has merit is hard to determine. I asked him about the meaning for Zarahemla proposed by Ricks and Tvedtnes. He said that he doubted those two roots could be combined in such a way as to produce such a meaning. [Paul Hoskisson, Director of The Book of Mormon Onomasticon Project, November 21, 2000]

 

Omni 1:14 A People Who Were Called the People of Zarahemla:

 

     There are very few direct scriptural references in the Book of Mormon concerning the "people of Zarahemla" (Omni 1:14). However, by piecing them together, a picture of these people starts to unfold. According to Omni 1:15, the people of Zarahemla "came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon." No direct mention is made concerning the geographical aspects of how the people of Zarahemla reached the Americas and especially the location where the people of Mosiah1 found them, only that "they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them" (Omni 1:16). In Alma 22:30-31 we find a description of their landing and migration in a set of geographical passages describing Nephite and Lamanite lands: "And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing. And they came from there up into the south wilderness."

     Concerning the chronology of the people of Zarahemla after they left Jerusalem, Amaleki only mentions that "they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted" (Omni 1:17). Amaleki also records that their leader Zarahemla "gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates" (Omni 1:18). That Mormon had access to this genealogy is confirmed in Mosiah 25:2, where Mormon asserts that Zarahemla "was a descendant of Mulek, and those who came with him into the wilderness." This is confirmed in Helaman 8:21 where Nephi, the son of Helaman, is quoted as saying: "Will ye say that the sons of Zedekiah were not slain, all except it were Mulek? Yea, and do ye not behold that the seed of Zedekiah are with us?"

     Thus, the people of Zarahemla not only came to be with the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla, but according to Omni 1:17 they had become "exceedingly numerous." Mormon notes that by the time of Mosiah2, "there were not so many of the children of Nephi, or so many of those who were descendants of Nephi, as there were of the people of Zarahemla" (Mosiah 25:2). So why doesn't Mormon say more about them? I believe he does, but because the Book of Mormon is a Nephite record, information on the Mulekites must be gleaned from indirect references and historical references. By doing so, the reader will find that one can piece together some amazing ideas concerning the Mulekites and their part in the story of the Book of Mormon. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:14,18,19 Zarahemla:

 

     Although nothing is said directly about the future of the Mulekite leader Zarahemla, apparently there was enough prestige or power associated with his family so that future reference is made. First, Ammon, who was sent by Mosiah2 to find the descendants of Zeniff, declared himself to be "a descendant of Zarahemla" (Mosiah 7:13). Another descendant of Zarahemla was a man named Coriantumr (see Helaman 1:15). This man was a "dissenter from among the Nephites." He would have been either a great-grandson or a great-great-grandson of Zarahemla. That he is mentioned as a dissenter gives the impression that although the other royal members of the Mulekite family went along primarily with the Nephite kingship, there could have been a lingering disaffection by some of the people of Zarahemla with respect to the transfer of power from Mosiah1 to Benjamin, and from Benjamin to Mosiah2, especially when "the people of Zarahemla were much more numerous than the Nephites" (Mosiah 25:2). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:14 Zarahemla Did Rejoice Exceedingly:

 

     The text says that "Zarahemla did rejoice exceedingly" (Omni 1:14). When and why did this happen if, according to verse 17, the people of Zarahemla "denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah[1], nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them"? According to Michael Hobby, this rejoicing happened much later, after Zarahemla was "taught" to read and speak Mosiah's language (Omni 1:18). Apparently, when Zarahemla came to understand the story of the Brass Plates, he found that he was descended from the lineage of the kings--the Tribe of Judah. To this Mulekite ruler, coming from a background associated with Jaredite kings, the linkage to Jewish kingship might indeed have been a cause for rejoicing. [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, p. 25]

 

Omni 1:15 The People of Zarahemla Came out from Jerusalem at the Time That Zedekiah, King of Judah, Was Carried Away Captive into Babylon:

 

     In Omni 1:16 it says that, "The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon." In Mosiah 25:2, Mormon notes that Zarahemla was "a descendant of Mulek." According to John Sorenson, in order to understand the people of Zarahemla, we must understand the origins of Mulek; and in order to picture the origin of Mulek's group . . . we must understand Zedekiah's background.

     In the years before Nephi begins his account, the small kingdom of Judah and her kings were tossed about by the winds and currents of politics and war among her three major neighbors, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia. Egypt and Assyria were allied against the newly resurgent Babylonians. The Assyrian power was soon destroyed and so by the year 605 B.C., the Egyptian army alone faced the Babylonians. By the year 601 B.C., although the Babylonians battled the Egyptians in Palestine and Egypt without decisive results, they did maintain dominance over Judah. So when Judah rebelled against Babylon in 598 B.C., a Babylonian army soon besieged Jerusalem. In 597 B.C., the Babylonians replaced the king of Judah with his 21 year old uncle named Zedekiah (earlier called Mattaniah--2 Kings 24:17). As time went on, however, the Babylonian forces withdrew to their country and Egypt seemed to gain strength. Contrary to the warnings of the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 21; 28), Zedekiah made foolish political alliances with Egypt, and as a result the Babylonian army under King Nebuchadrezzar besieged Jerusalem. The walls of Jerusalem were breached in 586 B.C. (2 Kings 25:8-9). Massive looting followed and most of the population was deported to Babylonia. The temple was destroyed in mid-August (2 Kings 25:8-9). [For a more complete structure of events, see the commentary on 1 Nephi 1:4]

     During the fall of the city or soon afterward, some Jews escaped (2 Kings 25:4, 26), particularly to Egypt (Jeremiah was among the refugees--Jeremiah 40:2-5; 43:7-8; 44:1), while others reached nearby Moab, Ammon, and Edom (Jeremiah 40:11). Zedekiah attempted to escape but was captured, and taken before Nebuchadrezzar. "And they slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes, and put out the eyes of Zedekiah, and bound him with fetters of brass, and carried him to Babylon" (2 Kings 25:7).

     Zedekiah was twenty-one on his accession to the throne. Being a noble, he already had the economic resources to have possessed a wife and children at that time. After his accession, he took multiple wives in the manner of the kings of Judah before him (Jeremiah, in 38:22-23, refers to Zedekiah's "wives") so that when he was captured at age thirty-two, he might have had a considerable progeny. Nowhere in the Bible are the children of Zedekiah enumerated, let alone named, although we are told that he had daughters as well as sons (Jeremiah 43:6; 52:10). [John L. Sorenson, "The 'Mulekites'," in Brigham Young University Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990): pp. 6-8]

     Ariel Crowley states that according to Jewish tradition (Ginzberg, Leg. IV:292; VI:382-383) the number of Zedekiah's sons who were slain by the order of Nebuchadnezzar was ten. . . . However, in view of the total number of his children, there is a high probability that there were other male infants at the time he escaped. This probability is strongly supported by the quite uniform habit of distinguishing between sons and male infants in biblical accounts ("sons" as opposed to "little ones"). Examples are numerous: Numbers 16:27; 2 Samuel 15:22; 2 Chronicles 31:18; Esther 3:13; Deuteronomy 20:13-14. While instances might be multiplied, it seems thoroughly settled in the samples given that male babies were not counted among the sons or men of Israel as such and where the subjects of a special immunity, along with women and girls.

     It is also important that the word sons in the notices of the death of the sons of Zedekiah excludes "the little ones" on biblical precedent. In other words, it is a common thing in the Bible for historians to use all-inclusive terms ("the sons of Zedekiah") without intending in the least to mislead the reader into thinking that this term included every son. Many examples closely paralleling the case of the sons of Zedekiah are easily found: 2 Kings 11;1,3,2; Jeremiah 39:6, 41:1; Numbers 31:7-18; Judges 6:1-6; 1 Samuel 15:20,3, 27:8-9, 30:5,17. etc. . . . It can also be shown that there are many instances in which even the word all must be construed to mean something less than "totality." (For a few examples, see 1 Kings 8:65,63; Jeremiah 33:34; 2 Chronicles 36:17; 1 Chronicles 10:6; etc.) It is apparent then, that where the word all is not used in regards to the slaying of the sons of Zedekiah (the expression being " . . . they slew the sons of Zedekiah . . ." -- 2 Kings 25:7), the narrative is even weaker, and it is perfectly proper to reach the true sense by inferring "they slew the sons of Zedekiah who did not escape."

     Having seen, therefore, that the existence of an exception in the escape of Mulek is within the proper sense of the record, it remains to be seen whether or not the mechanics of the escape are in any way indicated.

     Little children . . . are universally the charge of their mothers and sisters. At the escape of Zedekiah from Jerusalem, his wives and daughters went with him. The historian Josephus details it thus: "When the city was taken about midnight, and the enemy's generals were entered into the temple, and when Zedekiah was sensible of it, he took his wives and his children, and his captains and friends, through the desert" (Josephus, Ant. X:VIII:2). When the pursuing soldiers caught up with the fugitives near Jericho, many of those who fled the city with Zedekiah "left him and dispersed themselves, some one way and some another, and every one resolved to save himself" (Josephus, Ant., X:VIII:2). Those were, as Dr. Clark said in his commentary on the passage (Clarke, Commentary) "most probably persons who belonged to the palace and harem of Zedekiah, some of them his own concubines and children."

     The women with whom, as before demonstrated, would be found the "little ones" were remanded into the custody of Nebuzar-adan, the Chaldean general, and by him turned over to Gedaliah as puppet governor (Josephus, Ant. X:IX:4). When Ishmael, kinsman of the dead king, treacherously killed Gedaliah, he carried away with him the daughters of Zedekiah, toward the land of the Ammonites (Jeremiah 41:10), with "all the residue of the people." Johanan followed quickly in pursuit, whereupon the people who had gone with Ishmael joined forces with Johanan, and it is written that "the mighty men of war, and the women and the children" fearing to return to Jerusalem, departed to go into Egypt (Jeremiah 41:16-17).

     It is made eminently clear therefore, that whether with the women who were turned over to Nebuzaradan, or behind in Jerusalem, or at Mizpah, the way was open for escape of one of Zedekiah's "little ones." Indeed the narrative of the escape of the "women and children" among whom were the daughters of Zedekiah, furnishes a probable record of the way it was accomplished.

     There is a strange and mysterious passage of scripture which says, "A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in his time" (Isaiah 60:22). Ariel L. Crowley, About the Book of Mormon, pp. 86-90]

     According to research primarily by Robert Smith and Benjamin Urrutia which has been edited by John Welch, biblical scholars have recently had interesting things to say about a person named Malchiah. Jeremiah 38:6 speaks of a "dungeon of Malchiah the son of Hammelech . . . in the court of the prison." But the Hebrew name here, MalkiYahu ben-hamMelek, should be translated "MalkiYahu, son of the king," the Hebrew work melek meaning "king."

     Was this MalkiYahu a son of King Zedekiah? Several factors indicate that he was. For one thing, the title "son of the king" was used throughout the ancient Near East to refer to actual sons of kings who served as high officers of imperial administration. The same is certainly true of the Bible, in which kings' sons ran prisons (see 1 Kings 22:26-27; Jeremiah 36:26; 38:6) or performed other official functions (see 2 Kings 15:5; 2 Chronicles 28:7). Moreover, in view of the fact that the name MalkiYahu has been found on two ostraca from Arad (in southern Judah), the late head of the Department of Archaeology at Tel Aviv University, Yohanan Aharoni, said that "Malkiyahu is a common name and was even borne by a contemporary son of King Zedekiah."

     But was this MalkiYahu the same person as "Mulek" referred to in Mosiah 25:2? Study of these names tells us he may very well be. In the case of Baruch, scribe of Jeremiah, for example, the long form of his name, BerekYahu, has been discovered on a seal impression by Nahman Avigad of the Hebrews University in Jerusalem. The full name has been shortened in Jeremiah's record to Baruch. . . .

     A prominent non-Mormon ancient Near Eastern specialist declared recently of the Book of Mormon's naming "Mulek" as a son of Zedekiah, "If Joseph Smith came up with that one, he did pretty good!" He added that the vowels in the name could be accounted for as the Phoenician style of pronunciation. He found himself in general agreement that "MalkiYahu, son of the King" might very well be a son of King Zedekiah, and that the short-form of the name could indeed be Mulek. [Robert F. Smith, Benjamin Urrutia, and John W. Welch, "New Information about Mulek, Son of the King," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 143-144] [See the commentary on Mosiah 25:2 for additional information]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): King Jehu's Stocking-Cap: This is an artist's drawing of King Jehu of Israel, depicting the type of caps which were worn by the people in Jerusalem about the time that Lehi and his associates migrated to America. Jehu dates approximately 200 years earlier than Lehi. Drawing by Ralph Harding. [Milton Hunter and Thomas Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, pp. 318-319]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): An Ancient American's Stocking Cap: Compare the stocking-cap and beard of the man of ancient Middle America, above with the stocking-cap of King Jehu of ancient Israel, p. 318. This Ulmec piece, dating about the time of Christ, is now in the National Museum, Mexico City. It was uncovered by Matthew W. Stirling in 1939-1940. etc. [Milton Hunter and Thomas Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, pp. 318-319]

 

Omni 1:15 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem (Illustration): Cyrus Gordon, one of the great scholars on the Near East, sees Jewish features in this stela from the state of Veracruz. It dates perhaps a bit before Mormon's day. Gordon claims that the cord wrapped around the forearm of the major figure is arranged precisely like the ritual wrapping of the Judaic phylactery of medieval times. However most Mesoamericanist scholars, unacquainted with the Old World material, consider the scene simply to show preparation for a ritual Mesoamerican ball game. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 225]

 

Omni 1:15 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem (Illustration): Art historians apply principles derived from studies of art in other parts of the world to interpret pieces from Mesoamerica, place them in orderly sequences, and establish interconnections between styles. This famous ceramic disk, which shows a few Near Eastern features, comes from central Veracruz and dates between the seventh and tenth centuries. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 223]

 

Omni 1:15 The People of Zarahemla Came out from Jerusalem:

 

     T.J. O'Brien notes the many cultural similarities between the ancient American Indians and the Jews. These seemingly endless similarities include the use of unleavened bread, reverence for sacred mountain tops, punishing of adultery by stoning, corresponding holy days, frequent bathing even in cold weather, a 52- or 50-year cycle along with a 360-day calendar and five additional unlucky days, flowing water from both sides of a sacred vase, use of the lion and jaguar as symbols of rain and power, belief in Satan (called Mictlantecuhtli in Mexico), the depiction of the five- and six-pointed stars of Israel, and a strong expectations of a coming Messiah. . . .

     Kingsborough sees great similarities between the Aztecs, Incas and Jews in the traditions of their kings. Although similar practices can be found among other people of the world as well, he is certain that these, found in the Americas, were modeled after the Jews; the presiding of royalty at sacrifices, dancing at religious festivals, royal consecration at the hands of the high priest, the wearing of crowns and bracelets, many royal wives and concubines, removal of royal sandals upon approaching a temple, the practice of not looking the king in the face upon speaking to him, and elegant burials with incense and perfumes. . . .

     If the above parallels weren't quite enough, Thomas Stuart Ferguson, in One Fold and One Shepherd, provides over 300 additional American similarities to Bible land cultures. His listings, along with those which have been summarized from Kingsborough (Chapters. VI-VII), Bancroft (Vol. V), Huddleston (1967), DeVaux (1965) and Dimont (1962), taken as a whole, are quite overwhelming--more so than for any other civilization yet examined herein. Many of these resemblances can clearly be supported by anthropological studies; others seem overly general, a few seem somewhat distorted or thin. Over the years the attempt to prove Israelite characteristics in ancient America has been so ambitious that in searching the vast literature it is difficult to discern even one missing trait. . . .

     A stone (Phylactery Stela Tepatlaxco, A.D. 100-300, see illustration) now sitting in the Veracruz wing of the National Museum of Mexico displays two native men--near life size, wearing what appear to be false beards. One figure bows before the other. The taller figure wears some kind of cord, "Tefillin," wound around his arm seven times; it then surrounds his fingers. This strange practice was also used by the Hebrews. The author Von Wuthenau in Unexpected Faces in Ancient America (1975, 42), translates an entry from the Mexican Judaic Encyclopedia (1958) describing a similar performance by Jewish priests at early morning prayers: "A cord is wound around the arm seven times and three times around the middle finger." Above the head of the Veracruz figure, like the Jewish priest, can be seen a possible phylactery, or scroll upon which the Israelites wrote words from their law. [T.J. O'Brien, Fair Gods and Feathered Serpents, pp. 198-199]

 

Omni 1:15 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem (Illustration): Phylactery Stela Tepatlaxco, Veracruz (National Museum Mexico City, A.D. 100-300) [T.J. O'Brien, Fair Gods and Feathered Serpents, p. 199]

 

Omni 1:15 Mosiah Discovered That the People of Zarahemla Came out from Jerusalem:

 

     According to Jeff Lindsay, genetic data are just becoming available to allow us to examine the relationships of Native Americans to other peoples in the world. The picture is far more complex than was previously thought. Interestingly, recent scientific research points to a possible link between Eurasians, including some Israelis, and Native Americans (See Virginia Morell, "Genes May Link Ancient Eurasians, Native Americans" in Science, vol. 280, April 24, 1998, p. 520.) For the benefit of the reader, the following are a few excerpts from that April '98 Science publication:

           The new data, from a genetic marker appropriately called Lineage X, suggest a "definite--if ancient--link between Eurasians and Native Americans," says Theodore Schurr, a molecular anthropologist from Emory University. . . . A team, led by Emory researchers Michael Brown and Douglas Wallace, and including Antonio Torroni from the University of Rome and Hans-Jurgen Bandelt from the University of Hamburg in Germany, was searching for the source population of a puzzling marker known as X. This marker is found at low frequencies throughout modern Native Americans and has also turned up in the remains of ancient Americans. Identified as a unique suite of genetic variations, X is found on the DNA in the cellular organelle called the mitochondrion, which is inherited only from the mother.

           Researchers had already identified four common genetic variants, called haplogroups A, B, C, and D, in the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of living Native Americans (Science, 4 October 1996, p. 31). These haplogroups turned up in various Asian populations, lending genetic support for the leading theory that Native Americans descended primarily from these peoples. But researchers also found a handful of other less common variants one of which was later identified as X.

           Haplogroup X was different. It was spotted by Torroni in a small number of European populations. So the Emory group set out to explore the marker's source. They analyzed blood samples from Native American, European, and Asian populations and reviewed published studies. "We fully expected to find it in Asia," like the other four Native American markers, says Brown.

           To their surprise, however, haplogroup X was only confirmed in the genes of a smattering of living people in Europe and Asia Minor, including Italians, Finns, and certain Israelis.

 

     Now this doesn't prove the Book of Mormon is true. The haplogroup X which links "certain Israelis" and Europeans with Native Americans may have no relation to the Nephites, the Jaredites, or the Mulekites. But this new study does much to eliminate a common allegation of Book of Mormon critics. They claim that there are no scientific reasons and particularly no genetic evidence to accept the possibility of ancient migrations from the Middle East to the Americas. Based on the latest findings in science, they are wrong.

     Note* Dr. Theodore G. Schurr has published further work in the highly respected publication, American Scientist. His article, "Mitochondrial DNA and the Peopling of the New World" (Vol. 88, No. 3, May-June 2000, pp. 246-253) discusses the wide diversity of Native American genotypes and provides many intriguing photographs showing great diversity. He demonstrates that the distribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) groups in the New World is much more complicated than previously thought, and cannot be explained solely by Siberian genes arriving via the Bering Strait. [Jeff Lindsay, "Book of Mormon Evidences," www.jefflindsay.com]

 

Omni 1:15 Mosiah Discovered That the People of Zarahemla Came out from Jerusalem:

 

     According to an article in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, edited by John Sorenson, for decades immediately after World War II, blood group data seemed to provide a magic key to open up the history of the world's populations. But critics soon gave reasons to backtrack from those hasty conclusions. The notion had been held that scientist could draw their sample for blood group studies from all who spoke a particular "native" language, on the assumption that common language would mean common biology.17 Eventually this assumption was recognized as unrealistic and misleading.18 In fact, this criticism called into question the whole concept of trying to compare the biology of say "Polynesians" with American Indians." The genetic makeup of speakers of the same language turned out to be highly variable19 and the basis for an American Indian sample might be as much geographical as biological.20

     So doing historical reconstruction today using blood group comparisons is essentially passe. D. Allbrook felt that studies have shown but little historically sensible patterning when viewed against linguistic and archaeological date.21

     The DNA studies concluded that any comprehensive solution to questions about the relationships among and origins of the American Indians must await a substantially larger, and more costly suite of tests on DNA than those now in use.22 Clearly the DNA technique is not the ultimate answer to the problems of ancient population movements that lay people (and some experts) have hoped it might be. [John L. Sorenson, "New Light: The Problematic Role of DNA Testing in Unraveling Human History," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 9, Num. 2, pp. 67, 70] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 28:10]

 

Omni 1:16 They . . . Were Brought . . . across the Great Waters:

 

     According to John Sorenson, since the Babylonians controlled the ports of Israel and Phoenicia at the time, going south to Egypt (among his father's allies) would be about the only possibility for Mulek. . . . The premier sailors of that era were the Phoenicians, who frequented Egyptian ports and were familiar with the waters of the entire Mediterranean. Since the Phoenicians possessed the finest seafaring vessels and the widest knowledge of sailing conditions, it is reasonable for us to suppose that one or more of their vessels became the means by which Mulek and those with him were "brought . . . across the great waters" (Omni 1:16). Perhaps travel through the desert to reach Egypt constituted the journeying "in the wilderness" spoken of in Omni 1:16 (evidently prior to the voyage), or perhaps a longer, more arduous trip was required to reach Carthage or other Phoenician cities of the western Mediterranean from which the actual voyage may have departed for America. It should be noted that Israel had only a minor seafaring tradition of its own, and there is no hint that the Mulek party received divine guidance in constructing a ship of their own as Nephi did.

     If we suppose that Phoenician or other experienced voyagers were involved, we can inquire why such sailors would be willing to sail off into "the unknown." In the first place, as professional seamen, they would normally be willing to undertake whatever voyage promised them sufficient compensation (Mulek's party of refugees from the royal court could well have had substantial wealth with them). Furthermore, the Phoenicians had confidence in their nautical abilities; where they were told to sail may not have seemed as dauntingly "unknown" to them as the term implies to us. Herodotus tells that a few years earlier Necho II, Egypt's pharaoh in Mulek's day, had sent an expedition of Phoenicians by ship from Ezion-Geber on the Red Sea completely around the continent of Africa (Herodotus, The History, trans. David Grene, IV:42). [John L. Sorenson, "The 'Mulekites'," in BYU Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990): pp. 6-8]

 

Omni 1:16 They . . . were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters (Illustration): Model ships in a museum in Haifa, Israel, illustrate types of vessels that could have been available to make an early crossing of the ocean to America. On the left is a Phoenician vessel of about 700 B.C. The ship on the right was used by Jews in the eastern Mediterranean in the third century A.D. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 225]

 

Omni 1:16 Across the Great Waters:

 

     Was a transoceanic journey by Mulek's group feasible? According to an article by Stephen Jett, many of us have been falsely led to believe that Columbus was the first to conceive the idea of a spherical earth, that everybody else up to his time thought the earth was flat. That was not at all the case. In fact, the Greeks and the Chinese had already developed the spherical-earth theory, the Greeks having done so by the sixth century B.C. The Greeks had even developed a system of coordinates to describe locations on the earth, similar to latitude and longitude. As far as navigational abilities, we are not talking about finding tiny specks of land or one particular small harbor. We are talking about sailing across the ocean and hitting a continent. As one sixteenth-century Spanish navigator put it, "The most stupid can go in their embarkations . . . to seek a large country--since if they do not hit one part they will hit another."

     The prevailing winds and currents of the globe also have a great deal to do with the possibilities of transoceanic voyaging. Figure 1 points out ocean surface currents. These currents are generated by major prevailing wind systems that are approximately parallel, so if sailors were aware of the existence of these persistent winds and currents, they could locate an appropriate channel and thus greatly facilitate traversing the ocean. In the Atlantic, there is a major current from Africa to the New World that comes down through the Canary Islands and then flows westward to hit the Caribbean region. [Stephen C. Jett, "Before Columbus: The Question of Early Transoceanic Interinfluences," reprinted by F.A.R.M.S. from BYU Studies, 33/2 (1993), pp. 253-4]

 

Omni 1:16 Across the great waters (Illustration): Figure 1. Generalized map of the principal ocean currents: (a) Japan-North Pacific Current; (b) California-North Equatorial Current; (c) Equatorial Countercurrent; (d) Peru-South Equatorial Current; (e) Antarctic Drift; (f) Irminger Current; (g) Gulf Stream-North Atlantic Current; (h) Canaries-North Equatorial Current; (i) Benguela-South Equatorial Current. {Stephen C. Jett, "Before Columbus: The Question of Early Transoceanic Interinfluences," reprinted by F.A.R.M.S. from BYU Studies, 33/2 (1993), p. 255]

 

Omni 1:16 Across the Great Waters:

 

     Amaleki records that the people of Zarahemla "came across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them" (Omni 1:16). What were these "great waters"? Assuming a Mesoamerican setting, reason tends to favor the Atlantic Ocean. According to an article by George F. Carter, the Atlantic Ocean is small when compared to the Pacific. The winds and currents from the Strait of Gibraltar drive directly to America with great steadiness. Any mariner venturing out to sea beyond the ancient Pillars of Hercules and not having any mishap would arrive in America in a very short time. If he were making a deliberate voyage, then he would arrive even more quickly. We know that by the early Bronze Age, say about 3,000 B.C., there was a lively trade with Britain to obtain Cornish tin and Irish gold, among other things. We also know that some of this shipping went by sea around Spain. It may have been about this time that the Madeiras and the Canaries were occupied, though perhaps earlier. But certainly by that time there was sufficient shipping exposed to the perils of the sea that contact with America was certain to occur, even if only by drift voyages.

     The usual criticism of this view is that a drifter would have been unable to get back. But that is a mere assumption. Who can really say that after landing on a Caribbean island, mariners could not repair their ship and return? If they attempted a return and the Gulf Stream swept them northward and they caught the westerlies, they could return rather easily. . . . One of the Latin scholars called my attention to a book on the centenary of the discovery of Pompeii. In it was a chapter by a botanist who identified the plants in the mural art at Pompeii. One of the things that he noted was the pineapple. He was fully aware that it is an American plant and, of course, that it cannot be grown in the vicinity of Naples. I noted this, and the usual furor erupted. When the smoke cleared, it was admitted that the pineapples were indeed portrayed at Pompeii, a city which was buried at the end of the first century AD. [George F. Carter, "Before Columbus," in The Book of Mormon: The Keystone Scripture, pp. 176-177]

 

Omni 1:16 They journeyed . . . across the great waters (Illustration): Did Phoenicians Bring Mulec to the New World? (1) Phoenician-type ceramic head found in a mound at Tres Zapotes. (2) Stela from Campeche Mexico, now in the National Museum. Note the Star of David with waves on the ear spool, and the ship-like headdress. (3) A Ceramic head found in Guerrero state, Mexico. (4) Phoenician-type head carved in slate, found in southeast Veracruz. (5) Statue of Phoenician god Melkarth from Palestine. (6) The famous Stone of Paraiba found in Brazil. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust, p. 121]

 

Omni 1:16 Across the Great Waters:

 

     According to Verneil Simmons, the celebrated voyages of the Ra 1 and Ra 2 from the tip of Morocco in Northern Africa across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, as carried out by Thor Heyerdahl in 1970 and 1971, demonstrate that the currents will carry a primitive boat from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean basin in less than sixty days. The westward drifting warm equatorial currents, aided by the prevailing northeast and southeast tradewinds, make the crossing of the Atlantic an easy matter at this latitude. (See illustration)

     When the Spaniards arrived in the New World and began their explorations in the areas of the Gulf Coast of Mesoamerica, they discovered a city where great markets similar to the trade fairs of the ancient Near East were held annually, located at the mouth of the Usumacinta River. This was the city of Xicalanco. Here the Aztecs of Central Mexico met the traders of the Maya country and exchanged their goods for salt and slaves. Thompson has called the Chontal Maya Indians of this area the Phoenicians of Mesoamerica, because they built ships and traded to the distant islands as well as all along their coastline. In the Mayan tongue, "Chontal" means "foreigner." [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 99]

 

Omni 1:16 Across the great waters (Illustration): Voyage of the Ra. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 98]

Omni 1:16 The Mulekites had crossed the great waters. (Illustration): Plausible locations in Mesoamerica for Book of Mormon Placaes [John L. Sorenson]

Omni 1:16 The Mulekites had come into the land where Mosiah discovered them. (Illustration): Plausible locations in Mesoamerica for Book of Mormon places. [John L Sorenson]

Omni 1 16 The mulekites had come into the Land where Mosiah discovered them. Proposed Mulekige Landing site and migrations

 

Omni 1:16 They . . . Were Brought . . . across the Great Waters, into the Land Where Mosiah Discovered Them:

 

     According to John Sorenson, German scientists have examined nine Egyptian mummies by radioimmunoassay and gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. Cocaine and hashish were found in all nine and nicotine in eight in the hair, soft tissue, and bones. The specimens dated from approximately 1070 B.C. to A.D. 395. (see S. Balabanova, F. Parshe, and W. Pirsig, "First Identification of Drugs in Egyptian Mummies," Natur Wissenshaften 79/8 (1992): 358.) The presence of those substances in the tissues of the mummies can only mean that the Egyptian royalty were active drug-users. Since coca and tobacco plants are American, the question has now become not just of an Egyptian voyage to America but surely of at least one ship returning, with coca and tobacco seeds aboard, and those plants must have been grown where the pharaohs could utilize them over many centuries. Why those plants have not previously been identified by botanists studying Egyptian crops is a good question in itself. [John L. Sorenson, "New Technology and Ancient Questions (part 2)," in Insights, February 1997, F.A.R.M.S., p. 2]

 

Omni 1:16 They . . . Were Brought . . . across the Great Waters, into the Land Where Mosiah Discovered Them:

 

     Where did the Mulekites land in the promised land of the Americas? If we follow the theories of John Sorenson and Joseph Allen, the Mulekites' discovery of the last Jaredite leader to survive was probably near the location of the final Jaredite battleground, the hill Ramah (also called the hill Cumorah), which was near the sea (Ether 9:3). Sorenson says that there is a city named "Mulek" in the Book of Mormon story that might be a clue to where the Mulekites landed: "the 'city of Mulek' was located only a few miles from the east sea (Alma 51:26), and we may suppose that this was where the newcomers [the Mulekites] settled first (compare Alma 8:7)" (Mulekites, p. 10).

     Clate Mask gives a small note of caution, however, in regards to this clue: "some have reasoned that this landing of the Mulekites was near the city of Mulek, which was a city of the Nephites near the city of Bountiful, and was near a seashore. Although we can't rule out this name association, we should be very careful and open to other possibilities because the city of Lehi was also in this general area of the east wilderness (51:26); yet that was not the location of Lehi's landing. The Lamanite land of first inheritance was "on the west in the land of Nephi" (Alma 22:28). (Clate Mask, personal correspondence).

     According to Sorenson, another clue in establishing the landing site of the Mulekites is found in the Sidon river, which "ran by" the local land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:15) where Mosiah found the people of Mosiah. The Sidon river suggests a plausible route along which the ancestors of Zarahemla and his people 'came . . . up into the south wilderness' (Alma 22:31) to their city on the upper river where the Nephites later found them" (Mulekites, p. 10). It is interesting that Sidon, along with Tyre, were two of the major ports of the Phoenicians.

 

Geographical Theory Map: Omni 1:16 The Mulekites Had Crossed the Great Waters (Year ???)

 

Omni 1:16 [The Mulekites] Were Brought . . . across the Great Waters, into the Land Where Mosiah Discovered Them:

 

     According to Joseph Allen, if the Olmec culture was in reality the Jaredite culture, the Jaredites established themselves along the Gulf of Mexico. We would then conclude that the Mulekites landed in this region.

1. Sixteenth Century Historians:

     a. If we assume a Mesoamerican setting, we could refer to the writings of a sixteenth century native-born scholar of Mexico named Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. The writings of Ixtlilxochitl tell of a group of people called Ulmecas and Xicalancas (Mulekites?) who settled among the first settlers (Jaredites?). The new settlers landed on the coast of Veracruz and migrated. The Ulmecas and Xicalancas were put under bondage by the first settlers, who were called giants or Quinametzin. Also, according to the history of the Quiche Maya, in a document entitled The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, they believed that they came from where the sun rises, descendants of Israel, of the same language and customs. After tarrying for a time on the shores of a lake, they eventually made their way to what appears to be the regions of the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. From there, they went up the Usumacinta and the Grijalva Rivers into what is now Chiapas, Mexico and the Peten area of Guatemala. [See the commentary on Alma 22:30-31]

     b. The sixteenth century Catholic writer, Sahagun, records the following regarding the landing of a particular group of people in Mesoamerica:

           "Countless years ago these first settlers arrived in these parts of New Spain (Mexico), and they came in ships by sea approaching this northern port; and because they disembarked there it was called Panutla, or Panoayan, 'place where they arrived who came by sea,' now corruptly called Pantlan (Panuco)." (Sahagun, Book Nine)

     Panuco is near the present day city of Tampico, Mexico. The settlers traveled along the Gulf Coast of Mexico and eventually settled in the areas of Campeche and Chiapas on the southeast side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.

     c. Torquemada also talked about the same people.

 

2. Native American Documents:

     a. Title of the Lords of Totonicapan: This native Quiche Maya document describes a group of people who were descendants of Abraham and Jacob and who crossed the ocean and settled in the area of the Bay of Campeche. They were an agriculture-based people who lived in houses made of sticks. They had things in common. (Chonay, Title of the Lords of Totonicapan)

     b. The Annals of the Cakchiquels: A native Mesoamerican document similar to the one above describes what was apparently the same group of people and states,

     1. they came from the north (Tampico),

     2. they arrived at the Gulf of Mexico (Veracruz and Tabasco),

     3. they lived many years in the region of the lagoons of Terminos (Campeche). (Recinos and Goetz) (Note* the Bay of Campeche is the area of Allen's "land of many waters" through which the Limhi expedition traveled -- see the commentary on Mosiah 8:7-11; Mosiah 21:25-27)

 

Omni 1:16/Alma 22:30 [The land of Desolation] was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing (Illustration): Proposed Landing Site of the Mulekites: Location of Potonchan. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 144]

 

3. Archaeological Data:

     We often establish the departure date of the Mulekites from Jerusalem immediately following, or simultaneously with, the burning of Jerusalem at 586 B.C. However, the Book of Mormon is silent on both the departure date and the arrival date of the Mulekites to America. When the Mulekites arrived in the Promised Land, the Jaredites constituted a high majority of the people. The Mulekites, or at least a branch of the Mulekites, may have lived among the Jaredites from the Mulekites' arrival in the New World in the sixth century B.C. up to the Jaredite destruction, estimated to be between 400 B.C. and 250 B.C.

     The archaeological data from the area in and around the states of Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico, depict a small group of settlers who moved out of the area north of the Isthmus (Tabasco-Veracruz) to the shores of the Bay of Campeche (see Ochoa and Castro). In addition, between 600 B.C. and 400 B.C. there were migrations of a people from the Olmec zone into the Oaxaca Valley, into the area of the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers, and into the Yucatan peninsula. The Zapotec culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, seems to have had Hebrew influence. At the ruins of Monte Alban is a four-horned incense burner, now on display at a small museum in Mitla, Oaxaca. The urn dates to Monte Alban Period I, 500 B.C. to 100 B.C., and is similar to the types of urns from Jerusalem dating to the same time period. In addition, the ruins of Monte Alban give us an idea of how King Benjamin must have addressed his people. The walls of the city and the temple platforms form a natural acoustic setting. The large central plaza is the size of seven football fields, which is adequate space for people to gather with their tents. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 55]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Illustration showing what has been labeled the "Dancers" at the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban in the State of Oaxaca (Mexico). According to Joseph Allen, because some of the figures appear to be represented in ballerina-type dancing positions, the group of monuments has been called the danzantes, or dancers. . . Allen personally favors the conclusion of Julia Marcos, a student of the Zapotec culture. She suggests that whoever the settlers were of Monte Alban Period I (500 B.C.-100 B.C.), their nudeness reflects some relationship to captivity. The custom of parading nude captive victims is both a sign of complete dominance as well as a sign of security for the oppressors." [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 89] [See Alma 22:31]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Picture of Monte Alban, a Zapotec ruin dating from 500 B.C. to A.D. 750. The site is located on a hill in the center of the Oaxaca Valley. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 87]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Four-horned incense burner from Monte Alban Period I. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 88]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Collector Howard Leigh of Mitla, Oaxaca (Mexico) holding a four-horned incense burner found in Oaxaca. It may relate to observance of the Law of Moses in Ancient Mexico. [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, p. 169]

 

     The geographical correlation of Book of Mormon and American landscape features which John Sorenson follows tentatively places the city of Mulek at the site of La Venta in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. (Setting, pp. 120, 249-250, map 5, 12) Most of this spectacular ruined place dates to Olmec times, but evidence also exists of later (re)inhabitation. One of the most interesting items found there is Stela 3, a huge carved basalt slab. It is not clear when the piece was executed, but likely it was at the very end of the Olmec era or very soon after the site was abandoned not long after 600 B.C. Some see it as a new style more than a continuation of the old "Olmec" one. Stela 3 has carved on it a scene in which a person of evident high status, whose facial features find parallels in surviving people in the area as well as in Olmec art, is shown facing another prominent man who looks to a number of art historians like "a Jew." His striking beard and beaked nose are so prominent that he has been dubbed "Uncle Sam" by some observers. This scene has been viewed as a formal encounter between the leaders of two sharply different ethnic groups, one seemingly "Semitic." Although a long shot, it is possible that we are viewing a Mulekite leader (even Mulek) together with a local chief from a group of old survivors after the Jaredite debacle. [John L. Sorenson, "The 'Mulekites'," in BYU Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990): p. 12]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Altar 3 in La Venta Park: The heavily bearded individual could represent a Mulekite immigrant. ["Lands of the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., Slide #80]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): "Uncle Sam" Figurine from La Venta Stela : This picture is an artist's representation of the "Uncle Sam" aristocratic figuring on the La Venta stela. The clothing and shoes are the type worn by the ancients of America and also of the Near East. [Milton R. Hunter and Thomas S. Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 133]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): La Venta Monument and "Uncle Sam" Figurine: This fourteen-feet high monument was discovered by Matthew W. Stirling at La Venta, Tabasco (southern Gulf Coast of Mexico), in 1939-1940. The picture was taken from the National Geographic Magazine, September, 1940, p. 327. The following was printed under the picture: Worth Digging For Was The Face of the Largest Stela. The lower figure with flowing beard was nicknamed "Uncle Sam" by the staff. His aquiline nose and aristocratic features were different from all other faces depicted at the site. The monument was found in the center of a large stone enclosure at La Venta . . . The face of one of the standing figures has unfortunately been broken off, but that of the other shows a remarkably handsome individual with upturned toes. Over these two figures, apparently floating through the air, are a number of others in human form, which may represent deities. [Milton Hunter and Thomas Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 134]

 

Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Bearded Man Of Ancient Vera Cruz, Mexico: This unusual work of art shows two important things: (1) the physical characteristics of the early settlers of Vera Cruz, Mexico; (2) the high artistic sense and skills of the ancients. Note the aquiline nose, the eye form and the beard. This portrays a white man and it was fashioned by a highly skilled artisan--the type described in our documentary sources--and not by an ordinary North American or South American Indian. [Milton Hunter and Thomas Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 242]

 

     According to Verneil Simmons, whatever lingering doubts we might have about the presence of Phoenicians in Mesoamerica disappear when we discover that the ancient art of dyeing cloth with the famous purple dye of the Tyrians was well known in Mesoamerica (Covarrubias, Mexico South, pp. 253-256). In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec the Indians know how to extract the dye from the sea snail, in the same process developed in Phoenicia centuries ago, and they obtain the same royal purple color. An excretion is taken from tiny sea snails at just certain times of the year. It is then applied to hanks of yarn, which are next dipped in sea water and then spread out in the sun to wait for the yarn to turn the color of imperial purple. The very complicated process is a most unlikely candidate for independent invention. (The Phoenicians were noted for carefully guarding the destinations of their shipping. They were also secretive about how they produced the famous purple dye.) Examples of such dyed cloth can be viewed today in Mexico City's anthropological Museum. It is said that one can always identify the genuine article by the fishy smell that clings to the cloth for years.

     The prophets of old well knew that the sailors of Phoenicia were traveling to far places, and Isaiah clearly states that some of those from Tyre would travel "afar off to sojourn" (Isaiah 23:1, 2, 5-7) [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 99]

 

Geographical Theory Map: Omni 1:16 The Mulekites Had Come into the Land Where Mosiah Discovered Them (Year ???)

Omni 1:17 They Had Become Exceeding Numerous:

 

     Brant Gardner notes that if we suppose that the Mulekites entered into an area speaking common Zoquean, and that the people of Zarahemla ended up at the local land of Zarahemla because it was an area to which those speakers gravitated, then it is perhaps this linguistic affinity with others in the surrounding area that created Amaleki's description as "exceeding numerous"" in reference to the numbers of people speaking that language rather than specifically to those in residence in the local land of Zarahemla area. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 34]

 

Omni 1:17 They Had Had Many Wars and Serious Contentions:

 

     After the Mulekites arrived, they "had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time" (Omni 1:17). If the Mulekites arrived a short time after Lehi, and they were discovered by Mosiah1 in about the year 397, that is a difference of roughly 380 years. If the land of Zarahemla was a little more than 21 days away from the land of Nephi according to the travels of Alma1, or 40 days away from the local land of Nephi according to the travels of Ammon, how come we don't hear about those Mulekite wars affecting life among the Nephites or Lamanites in the Nephite records? One possibility might come in the sparsity of the historical record itself. In view of the fact that even the Nephite history of 400 years is covered in only a few pages, the non-mention of the people of Zarahemla might not be so hard to understand.

     John Sorenson notes that one might wonder why the Nephite historians didn't mention "other" people more explicitly in their record? . . . This lack of concern has to do with the fact that the focus of the Nephite record is the Nephites. [John Sorenson, "When Lehi's Party Arrived, Did They Find Others in the Land?", F.A.R.M.S., p. 24] [See the commentary on Omni 1:15]

     As far as the "wars and serious contentions" mentioned by Amaleki, they might have had something to do with the Jaredite people. According to John Sorenson, in the course of amalgamation, the newcomers probably adopted the local tongue . . . The subsequent wars among the immigrants reported in Omni 1:17 could well have been complicated by historical quarrels among the local [Jaredites] with whom they had become involved.

     Nothing is said about how much time passed before the people of Zarahemla left their landing place to move "up into the south wilderness" (Alma 22:31), perhaps along the Sidon river, for they settled beside it. . . . Nowhere do we get a hint that the descendants of the people of the ship(s) that brought Mulek constituted a single political/ethnic unit prior to Zarahemla's day. No comprehensive term such as Mulekite is used to embrace them, suggesting that not all of those descended from those immigrants recognized Zedekiah's son as their head, nor perhaps any other one person. There may have been differences among the group over authority from the first, resulting ultimately in political fragmentation, with Zarahemla's group just one tribelet among a number tied chiefly by economic links. . . .

     When the forefathers of Zarahemla's people reached the area that would become the land of Zarahemla, they likely had left others of their tradition behind in the lowlands where they originated. But at least by the time the stone of Coriantumr was fetched (Omni 1:20), these folks on the upper river must have had peaceful relations with those others. . . . [John L. Sorenson, "The Mulekites," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 12, 14-16]

 

Omni 1:17 Their Language Had Become Corrupted:

 

     How did the Mulekite language become "corrupted" (Omni 1:17)? According to John Sorenson, based on what historical linguists know about language change, it is highly unlikely that if Hebrew had been the exclusive tongue of Mulek's party, their idiom would have changed in three hundred years so as to be unintelligible to Mosiah. If a Phoenician vessel was used, those aboard it quite surely would have been socially and culturally diverse. . . .

     The size of the party accompanying Mulek is not even hinted at. However, we are justified in making some fairly firm inferences. Even if only a single vessel made the trip--and there might have been more than one--a substantial crew would have been involved (Phoenician ships could be large as those used by Columbus). The number of crew members would likely have been more than twenty. A ship with a predominantly Israelite crew probably could not have been found; the people of Judah were largely landlubbers, with minor exceptions. In terms of culture, ethnicity, and language, the crew would likely have been a heterogeneous, mixed-Mediterranean lot, for the term Phoenician often did not signify an ethnically uniform group. And since we know nothing of who might have been passengers (Mulek was one, though clearly he must have had attendants along, in view of his relative youth), we cannot tell if women were brought. There could have been some, but the common crewmen would have been single. Their genes would have continued only by their finding native women in the new land. Nibley saw Greek names in the Nephite record (An Approach, p. 290). It would not be surprising for certain Greek (or Egyptian, for that matter) influences to have reached America via men in the crew of Mulek's ship. [John Sorenson, "The Mulekites," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 10, 11]

     In addition, about 200 languages were spoken in Mesoamerica alone, and seven times that many were used throughout the Americas at the time the European discoverers reached America." . . . The Hebrew and Egyptian tongues were not found among them. These facts warn us that we had better read with extreme care the few Book of Mormon statements about language, particularly those that might refer to Hebrew or Egyptian. . . .

     In the south-central Mexico and isthmus area, localized cultures are shown by archaeology to have persisted across the Jaredite-Nephite time boundary despite the spectacular collapse of the main "Olmec" (Jaredite) civilization. The people of Zarahemla must have been involved in one of those bridging groups (making Omni 1:17 understandable.) [John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 74, 87]

 

Omni 1:17 Their language had become corrupted (Illustration): Distribution of Mesoamerican Words for Corn. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 25]

 

Omni 1:17 Their Language Had Become Corrupted:

 

     According to Brant Gardner, a strong connection to Mesoamerican cultural conditions comes with the flight of Mosiah1 and his followers into the land of Zarahemla. There they found the people of Zarahemla whose "language had become corrupted" (Omni 1:17). In the ethnohistory of Mesoamerica, the Olmec, with their heartland in Veracruz, Mexico, were the dominant politico-cultural influence prior to the rise of the Maya city-states. The transition from Olmec to Maya was not abrupt in either time or space. There was land that lay between the homeland of the Olmec and the Maya and which created a buffer zone between the two major cultural groups. This buffer zone is precisely the area where the Limited Tehuantepec Theory places the land of Zarahemla.

     The Nephites arrived there from the land of Nephi. The Mulekites had apparently recently arrived, traveling away from their more ancestral homeland.23 From the approximate time of the Mulekite landing to the founding of Zarahemla we have on the order of three hundred years24 during which the ancestors of the Zarahemlaites were somewhere in between their landing area and the location of Zarahemla. The land through which they passed matches well with the Olmec homelands in the Gulf of Mexico. These are the same lands that match well with the homeland of the Book of Mormon Jaredites. The sojourn of the people of Zarahemla in the Olmec/Jaredite lands provides ample explanation for the corruption of their language and the loss of their God reported in Omni. (Omni 1:17)

     New research on the linguistics of this area may have interesting implications for the Book of Mormon. The best candidate for the language of the Olmecs is Mixe-Zoque, a reconstructed language that fits the geographical distribution of Olmec culture, and the glotto-chronological time depth.25 After the time of the Olmecs, the proto-language split into two branches, the Mixe and the Zoque, each of which still occupies the greater geographic area of the Olmec homeland. So it is of interest that recently a stela was found dating to approximately A.D. 160. It contained over 540 glyphs representing a glyphic writing system separate from the Maya. Although it is classified as "epi" because the texts post-date the archaeological Olmec,26 it reads in Zoquean, and is the largest single text of a geographical location of the texts.

     The implication for Book of Mormon studies is the geography and cultural associations of this separate glyphic system. A shard with the Epi-Olmec writing system was found in Chiapa de Corzo.27 Chiapa de Corzo is located in the Chiapas Depression. The Chiapas Depression is the area in which are found the ruins of Santa Rosa, a candidate for the local land of Zarahemla in the theories of both John Sorenson and Joseph Allen. Of course that location fits with Zarahemla as a site with Olmec/Jaredite influences. This suggests that the land of Zarahemla should have cultural associations with the Olmec area. [Brant Gardner, "A Social History of the Early Nephites," delivered at the FAIR Conference, August 17, 2001, pp. 7-9]

 

Omni 1:17 Their language had become corrupted (Illustration): The Mixe-Zoque/Maya Interaction Zone. Map showing distribution of major culture areas in Mesoamerica as related to Izapa and a highly idealized zone of Mixe-Zoque/Maya interaction; in Preclassic times the zone of interaction may have curved closer to the Usumacinta River and its tributaries (compare Map of the Greater Isthmus Area and Linguistic Map of Eastern Mesoamerica). [Gareth W. Lowe, Thomas Lee Jr., and Eduardo Martinez Espinoza, Izapa: An Introduction to the Ruins and Monuments, p. 306]

 

Omni 1:17 Their language had become corrupted (Illustration): Map of the Greater Isthmus Area. Relating Izapa to some other major southern Mesoamerica archaeological sites, indicated by triangles. Shaded zone indicates the Soconusco district or region, famous for commerce . . . [Gareth W. Lowe, Thomas Lee Jr., and Eduardo Martinez Espinoza, Izapa: An Introduction to the Ruins and Monuments, Frontispiece]

 

Omni 1:17 Their language had become corrupted (Illustration): Linguistic Map of Eastern Mesoamerica. Showing approximate distribution of the Mixe-Zoquean and Mayan language groups at the time of the Conquest. . . . [Gareth W. Lowe, Thomas Lee Jr., and Eduardo Martinez Espinoza, Izapa: An Introduction to the Ruins and Monuments, p. 9]

 

Omni 1:17 Their Language Had Become Corrupted:

 

     John Sorenson notes that "the largest archaeological site on the upper Grijalva in an appropriate position to qualify as Zarahemla is Santa Rosa." [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 153]

     According to Brant Gardner, linguistic research tells us that the upper Grijalva lay at the juncture of two major areas where long-established peoples and their languages existed. A couple of thousand years ago the Mayan languages probably extended throughout much of Guatemala to about the mountainous wilderness strip that separates the highlands of that nation from the Grijalva River valley (Chiapas Depression). Downstream, from near Chiapa de Corzo and extending north and westward, were speakers of Zoque dialects; in the isthmus proper was the closely related Mixe language. Both blocs, the Mayan speakers on the Guatemalan side and groups using tongues of the Mixe-Zoquean family on the isthmian side of Santa Rosa (the proposed site for Zarahemla), had been there for a long time.

     Ancestral Mixe-Zoquean has been shown to be the probable language of the Olmecs of the Gulf Coast, while Mayan speakers likely had been in the Cuchumatanes Mountains of northern Guatemala since well before 1000 B.C. (Evidence is uncertain, however, whether Mayan languages were spoken until post-Book of Mormon times in the actual areas of the southern Guatemala highlands where the Nephite and Lamanite settlements are best placed.) But neither major language group seems to have been established on the upper Grijalva, at least not until well into A.D. times. That intermediate zone seems to have been a linguistic frontier. Zarahemla's people had apparently moved into the area from the Gulf Coast through lands occupied by Zoque speakers for centuries. Zarahemla's local followers in Mosiah's day likely spoke a language like Zoquean. Mosiah and his party, coming from the opposite direction, were among the first of a long series of groups who drifted out of Guatemala into this valley over the next thousand years.

     So in this context we can better understand Amaleki's statement concerning the people of Zarahemla that "their language had become corrupted" (Omni 1:17). [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, pp. 19-20]

 

Omni 1:17 They Had Brought No Records with Them:

 

     According to Brant Gardner, even without records, the three hundred years of separation between the Nephites and Zarahemlaites is not likely to be sufficient for mutual unintelligibility as long as they kept speaking the same language. What is more probable is that without records, and in the midst of another culture, there was no reason for the Mulekites (and thus the people of Zarahemla) to hold to a language that was not a benefit to communicate. If the Mulekites landed among the Olmecs, they would have learned common Zoquean or common Mixean.28 Given the probable location of the local land of Zarahemla in the Grijalva river basin, this ultimately places the people of Zarahemla in the territory historically associated with Zoque speakers.29 [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/ LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 34]

 

Omni 1:17 They Denied the Being of Their Creator:

 

     Brant Gardner notes that without the tie of the scriptures, the people of Zarahemla were less tied to the conceptions of the Old World, and more susceptible to changes relating to the deities of the New World. It is most likely that they adopted to a certain degree the deities of the people among whom they had lived. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/ Omni/Omni1.htm, p. 35]

 

Omni 1:17 They Denied the Being of Their Creator:

 

     According to John Sorenson, if a Phoenician vessel was used, those aboard it quite surely would have been socially and culturally diverse. In the first place, those surrounding Mulek would have been from Zedekiah's court, the very crowd whom the Lord, speaking through Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Lehi, frequently attacked as wayward, disobedient, and semipagan. Many of the elite of Jerusalem were worshippers of alien gods, as shown for example by the condemnation heaped on their heretical rites in Jeremiah 7 (compare 2 Kings 23). Likely no Levitical priests were among them, "and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator" (Omni 1:17). We can suppose that beliefs and ways of worship contrary to the words of the prophets and the law of Moses brought along by any sample of Judahites from Zedekiah's circle who managed to get away would contribute to their heretical condition. There could have been even more divergent practices among the crew of the vessel. [John Sorenson, "The Mulekites," F.A.R.M.S., p. 11]

     Note* I would have to wonder, referring to the specific phrasing: "they denied the being of their Creator," if the people of Zarahemla, rather than being totally devoid of religion, were just specifically denying that Christ was the Creator. This idea was apparently one of the very things that they persecuted Lehi and Jeremiah in the Old World. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the Personal Notes after the commentary on Alma 13:16]

 

Omni 1:18 After They Were Taught in the Language of Mosiah:

 

     Reference is made to the fact that the people of Zarahemla "were taught in the language of Mosiah" (Omni 1:18). Nothing is said about how long it took Mosiah to teach the people of Zarahemla his language, or how many succeeded in mastering the new language. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla Gave a Genealogy . . . Written, But Not in These Plates:

 

     Amaleki records that "after they were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates" (Omni 1:18). We have to wonder how detailed this record was. Was the genealogy of Zarahemla written on the large plates or was it a record in itself? If it was on the large plates, it might have been part of the lost 116 pages of manuscript. Whatever the case, this record of Zarahemla is not known to us. However, the fact that Mormon lists Zarahemla as a "descendant of Mulek" in Mosiah 25:2 confirms its existence. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla Gave a Genealogy of His Fathers, according to His Memory:

 

     Brant Gardner comments, How is it that these two peoples (of Mosiah and of Zarahemla) get to know so much about each others genealogy so quickly? Why is it so important for Zarahemla to give "a genealogy of his fathers" (Omni 1:18)? And why does Amaleki mention this fact just before noting that the two groups united? It has to do with the principle of kin interactions. John Sorenson notes that a Mayan practice at the time of the Spanish conquest shows the same principle governing how to get along in strange territory: "When anyone finds himself in a strange region and in need, he has recourse to those of his name [kin group]; and if there are any, they receive him and treat him with all kindness."30

     It is therefore quite understandable that one of the first "orders of business" with the newcomers straggling in out of the wilderness would be to examine genealogies to see if there were any kinship obligations between them. What they found was not only a kinship, but one of utmost importance as the tie returned to the origins of both groups in Jerusalem, which by now must have been nearly the stuff of legend and myth. Having thus established an important bond linking them both to a common sacred origin, the ties of kinship took over, they "did rejoice exceedingly" (Omni 1:14), and eventually "did unite together" (Omni 1:19) [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 24]

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla Gave a Genealogy of His Fathers:

 

     According to Brant Gardner, it is interesting that even though Zarahemla's leadership is apparent over "the people of Zarahemla," and even though he "gave a genealogy of his fathers" (Omni 1:18), we note that Zarahemla is not called a king. This might imply some cultural conditions with respect to these people. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 39]

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla Gave a Genealogy:

 

     The simple phrase that "Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates" might have more cultural background to it than one might suppose. Amaleki, the record keeper of the small plates of Nephi notes that when Mosiah1 fled the land of Nephi, he eventually came to a new land where he found a people led by a man named Zarahemla (Omni 1:12-14). Amaleki records that "after [the people of Zarahemla] were taught in the language of Mosiah, Zarahemla gave a genealogy of his fathers, according to his memory; and they are written, but not in these plates" (Omni 1:18). Thus without citing Zarahemla's genealogy, Amaleki adds only that "the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon" (Omni 1:15-16). However, further on in the text (abridged from the large plates of Nephi) we find that Zarahemla was "a descendant of Mulek" (Mosiah 25:2), and that Mulek was "the son of Zedekiah" (Helaman 6:10). Thus we find evidence of Zarahemla's genealogy from a source "not on these plates" just as Amaleki says. But there is another point worth discussing here. Zarahemla had apparently remembered his genealogy perfectly, implying that his genealogy was of such importance that it had been handed down from one generation to another. Certainly it was important because it showed that Zarahemla descended from Zedekiah the king of Judah. There are, however, some biblical references that point to the possibility that Zarahemla could have also been an elite descendant of the Priests of Levi and Aaron.

     When the lands of Israel were originally split up among the twelve tribes, special privilege was given to the tribe of Levi because of their priestly role. The House of Kohath (the son of Levi) was given the city of Libnah (along with 12 other cities and their suburbs--see Joshua 21:8-19). This geographical association of the city of Libnah to priesthood lineage might be implied in some verses of scripture which speak of Zedekiah's genealogy. In the historical book of 2 Kings we find that "Zedekiah [a son of king Josiah] was twenty and one years old when he began to reign . . . And his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah" (2 Kings 24:18).

     Apparently Zedekiah's father-in-law was "Jeremiah of Libnah"--the title "of Libnah" indicating that his rights of inheritance were at the city of Libnah, and that most probably he was part of the priesthood elite and a direct descendant of Aaron through the loins of Levi. Thus Zarahemla would have descended not only from the royal family of the tribe of Judah through Zedekiah, but through a Levitical priesthood line through Hamutal, Zedekiah's mother.31 And with both descendancies would have come an inherent responsibility to pass on an oral genealogy from one generation to another.32

 

     Additionally, and apparently not realized by anyone at the time, Zarahemla's genealogy possibly represented evidence of a literal fulfillment of revelatory words given by the Lord through the prophet Ezekiel and the prophet Jeremiah. Ezekiel was a prophet of the Diaspora, that is, he was taken to Babylonia just before the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians about 586 B.C. The Lord used Ezekiel to add his testimony to the fact that Jerusalem would indeed be destroyed. Among the many words Ezekiel recorded concerning the ramifications of this destruction are the following:

           Thus saith the Lord God; I will also take of the highest branch of the high cedar, and will set it; I will crop off from the top of his young twigs a tender one, and will plant it upon a high mountain and eminent:

           In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it: and it shall bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a goodly cedar: and under it shall dwell all fowl of every wing; in the shadow of the branches thereof shall they dwell.

           And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have brought down the high tree, have exalted the low tree, have dried up the green tree, and have made the dry tree to flourish: I the Lord have spoken and have done it. (Ezekiel 17:22-24; emphasis added)

 

     The mention of "high cedar" associated with "the highest branch" is clearly symbolic. According to The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, the cedars of Lebanon were large spreading coniferous trees whose wood was highly valued for its durability. This cedar wood was brought to Jerusalem, for example, for building David's house (2 Samuel 5:11, etc.), Solomon's Temple (1 Kings 5:6-10, etc.), and the new Temple built after the Babylonian Exile (Ezra 3:7).33 Thus the idea that someone would take from "the highest branch of the high cedar" might imply royal lineage related to the mention of the house of David, but it also might imply priesthood lineage related to the High Priests who ruled at the temple of Solomon. It is also interesting to note relative to the phrase, "In the mountain of the height of Israel will I plant it," that the name "Israel" might have truly been applicable to the Nephites. "Israel" was a covenant name given to Jacob, and it also applied to his covenant descendants. "Israel" was also another name for the Northern Kingdom which split away from Judah. Ephraim was the head of this kingdom. Thus Ezekiel's prophecy could have, in part, been applicable to Mulek, an heir to both royalty and priesthood who was cut from the Old World and planted in the New World, and whose descendant, Zarahemla, was found by Mosiah and "flourished" in the sacred "mountain" of the Nephites, a people descended from Ephraim and Mannaseh, the sons of Joseph and birthright heirs to lead the children of Israel.

     The prophet Jeremiah was a contemporary of Ezekiel at the time of the Diaspora, but his mission was not only to warn the Jews of their impending destruction, but to personally witness that destruction and dispersion from Jerusalem itself. Interestingly, Jeremiah was told in his initial call that part of his prophetic mission would also be to "plant" (Jeremiah 1:10). Like Ezekiel, this "planting" might have had at least a partial fulfillment in Mulek and ultimately Zarahemla. Some, however, some have gone so far as to propose that Mulek was of Jeremiah's literal "seed"--thus giving more emphasis to the idea of "planting." That is, they have proposed that Mulek was the actual grandson of Jeremiah. Though the reasoning to this connection is highly speculative, I would like to at least leave the reader with a few of the more pertinent proposed connections in the hope that someday more substantive information might come to light.

     The prophet Jeremiah was "the son of Hilkiah, of the priests that were in Anathoth in the land of Benjamin: To whom the word of the Lord came in the days of Josiah. (Jeremiah 1:1-3). As mentioned before, anciently when the lands of Israel were split up among the twelve tribes, special privilege was given to the tribe of Levi because of their priestly role. The House of Kohath (the son of Levi) was given the cities of Libnah and Anathoth (along with 11 other cities and their suburbs--see Joshua 21:8-19). It is important to note that the scriptures here do not say that Jeremiah the prophet was born in Anathoth or that he lived there all his life. They simply state that either he or his father Hilkiah was "of the priests that were in Anathoth." As stated, the Levitical line had also been given the city of Libnah and other cities for their inheritance. Thus one might postulate that Jeremiah the prophet might have had some links to Libnah as well as Anathoth (and the other cities as well).

     What we can say with certainty is that Jeremiah was "the son of Hilkiah the priest." Unfortunately there seems to be some confusion in the Bible about any more details concerning Hilkiah, even though the name Hilkiah crops up in a number of other places during this time period. For example there are references to:

     (1) Hilkiah the son of Shallum of the priestly line of the tribe of Levi: The priesthood descended from Levi to Shallum and his son Hilkiah, who lived at a time just before king Zedekiah, which would have probably been during the reign of Josiah (see 1 Chronicles 6:1-13; see also the charts below). Because of this descent, this Hilkiah would be considered the chief heir to the Levitical and Aaronic Priesthood.

     (2) Hilkiah the High Priest who discovered the book of the law in the temple and worked with king Josiah to bring about religious reform: When God called Jeremiah as a prophet, king Josiah (638-608 B.C.) had been on the throne of Judah for 12 years and had already introduced religious reforms (2 Chronicles 34:4-17). But it was not until 621 B.C., the 18th year of his reign, that he initiated a systematic reformation in Judah's religion and morals (2 Kings 23). The impulse to reform was generated by the momentous discovery in the Temple of "the book of the law" by "Hilkiah the high priest" (2 Kings 22:8-9). Thus, this Hilkiah would have been a High Priest and been a little older than Jeremiah.

 

     As I mentioned before, the reasoning here is highly speculative, but for a moment let's assume that Hilkiah the father of Jeremiah, Hilkiah the son of Shallum of the priestly line of the tribe of Levi, and Hilkiah the High Priest who discovered the book of the law in the temple and worked with king Josiah to bring about religious reform were the same person. This means that he would have had lands of inheritance at Anathoth (and/or one of the other cities of the Levites), and that he would have associated closely with king Josiah. Now king Josiah happened to marry a woman named Hamutal, who was the daughter of one "Jeremiah of Libnah" (2 Kings 23:31 and 24:18). If "Jeremiah of Libnah" (Libnah being a priestly city) and Jeremiah the prophet ("son of Hilkiah of the priests that were in Anathoth") turn out to be the same person, then the son of Zedekiah (Mulek) would have been Jeremiah's grandson (or Jeremiah's seed). This is an exciting idea, but we need to examine things a bit closer.

     From a chronological point of view, Zedekiah was age 21 in 597 B.C. when he was placed on the throne by Nebuchadrezzar (2 Kings 24:18). This would mean that he was born in about the year 618 B.C. If we made a reasonable guess that his mother Hamutal was near 22 at the time, having married king Josiah around the age of 18 in 622 B.C., then this would place her birth in the year 640 B.C. We will make a reasonable guess that her father Jeremiah of Libnah was 24 at her birth, resulting in a birthdate for him in the year 664 B.C. Jeremiah the prophet, "the son of Hilkiah of the priests that were in Anathoth" received his call in the 13th year of king Josiah (626 B.C.) Had he been born in 664 B.C. he would have been 38 at the time, and his father Hilkiah would have been possibly 62. This chronology would coincide very nicely.

     If we assume that Jeremiah the prophet's father was Hilkiah the high priestly son of Shallum, then once Hilkiah was dead, Jeremiah the prophet could have become rightful heir to the title of High Priest over the entire House of Kohath (tribe of Levi and Aaron), which entitled him to make intercession for buying land for family and extended family members. In Jeremiah 32:7-12, Jeremiah the prophet was petitioned by his cousin Hanameel to buy a field at Anathoth for him, because it was Jeremiah's right to redeem such land; that is, apparently Jeremiah possessed the rights of inheritance of land at Anathoth (This does not preclude him from having land at Libnah). Under the Israelitish system of land purchase and ownership, the inheritance fell to the eldest son in the family. In order for Jeremiah the prophet to possess that right, he had to be the eldest son. Jeremiah 32:6-8 speaks of Jeremiah the prophet's cousin (Hanameel) as "the son of Shallum" and that Shallum was Jeremiah's uncle. Now according to 1 Chronicles 6:13, the father of Hilkiah was also named Shallum. Jehoahaz, the son of king Josiah and Hamutal was also called Shallum by the prophet Jeremiah (see 1 Chronicles 3:15; Jeremiah 22:11-12). So if Jeremiah's father, who was named Hilkiah, was the Hilkiah who was the son of Shallum mentioned in 1 Chronicles 6:13, then we would have another correlation.

     Now some might say that 1 Chronicles 6:13-15 does not mention Jeremiah in the line of succession to the high priesthood. But if Jeremiah was called as a prophet, then the assignment of chief priest at the temple in Jerusalem would have been given to another (Azariah). From Azariah the title of High Priest went to Jehozadak, but 1 Chronicles 6:15 states that "Jehozadak went into captivity, when the Lord carried away Judah and Jerusalem by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar." With the line of Azariah (Jehozadak) gone, Jeremiah the prophet, who stayed in Jerusalem, could have been the unquestionable birthright heir to the house of Kohath. If this was true, then what follows becomes quite interesting.      

     According to Verneil Simmons (Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 94-95), although there were many at Jerusalem who sought after the life of Jeremiah the prophet, King Zedekiah (his grandson?) would not allow him to be put to death, and so he was shut up in prison, which helped appease certain members of the Sarim who wanted Jeremiah killed.

     After Jerusalem was sacked by the Babylonians, Jeremiah was not only freed but given complete freedom to move about the country at will (Jeremiah 39:11-15; 40:1-6).34 Later we find him living with a group of people that included the daughters of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 41:10). One might ask, Why would Jeremiah be concerned about the daughters of Zedekiah? One answer might be that some of these daughters of Zedekiah were his granddaughters. So is it possible that part of the fulfillment of Jeremiah's call to "plant" occurred when Jeremiah preserved an infant son (or "a tender young twig" cared for by the daughters of king Zedekiah) and arranged for his escape from the country? And was that infant indeed the grandson of Jeremiah and heir to the priesthood? Is it fair to say that Jeremiah not only "planted," but planted with the "seed" of his own family? And was the genealogy which Zarahemla recited a testimony to the fulfillment of this commandment--a royal branch from the kingship line of Judah and an elite branch from the High Priests of the tribe of Levi? From reasoning loaded with supposition, one might say, Yes! [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes based upon ideas and correspondence from Bruce Sutton and his book, Lehi, Father of Polynesia: Polynesians Are Nephites and also on Verneil Simmon's book Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 94-95 . Sutton's material was based on material from Seeking after Our Dead: Our Greatest Responsibility. Salt Lake City: Genealogical Society of Utah, 1928.] [See the commentary on Omni 1:20; see also the commentary by Richard Anthony on 2 Nephi 7]

     Note* In view of the speculation above concerning priesthood lineage, and the fact that the city of Libnah was in the land of Benjamin, one might ask if these facts might be connected at all with the idea that the son of Mosiah1 was named Benjamin? and whether the sons of Mosiah2 (specifically Ammon and Aaron) were part of a marriage between Mosiah2 and a granddaughter of Zarahemla or whether Benjamin had previously married into Zarahemla's family? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Words of Mormon 1:3]

 

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla gave a genealogy (Illustration): Chart showing the royal genealogy of Zedekiah and the other sons of Josiah. [Adapted from Universities and Colleges Christian Fellowship, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 739]

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla gave a genealogy (Illustration): The Priestly Genealogical Lineage of Mulek Back to Levi. [Bruce S. Sutton, Lehi, Father of Polynesia: Polynesians Are Nephites, p. 45]

 

Omni 1:18 Zarahemla gave a genealogy (Illustration): The Line of High Priests After the Order of Kohath. [Bruce Sutton, Personal Communication]

 

     

Omni 1:19 The People of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah Did Unite Together:

 

     Jerry Ainsworth notes that in the lowlands of Mesoamerica, king Mosiah discovered the people of Zarahemla--the Mulekites. These Mulekites then united with the Nephites (see Omni 1:19), both groups being of Hebrew origin. Maya scholars Linda Schele and Mary Ellen Miller discuss what appears to be the effects of that merger:

           The lowland Maya dramatically and suddenly (in the sense of archaeological time) reversed their attitudes toward public art in the second half of the Late Pre-classic period. Sometime between 200 and 50 B.C., the lowland Maya exploded with a massive building program that altered forever their landscape. Remains of this construction have been found in Tikal, Uaxactun and El Mirador in Guatemala, and at Cerros and Lamanai in northern Belize.

           Why did such a transformation occur? Why was it so sudden, if not in its cause, unquestionably in its effect? (Blood of Kings, p. 105)

 

     It is certain something happened to the lowland "Maya" (the Mulekites) after 200 B.C. that dramatically changed their society. The obvious answer to readers of the Book of Mormon is that the migrating Nephites, who were highly civilized, interfaced with the Mulekites, who had lost much of their Hebrew culture and religion.

     Speaking of a new epoch in Mayan history that commenced in 236 B.C., Sylvanus Morley observes in The Ancient Maya that "with the introduction of the calendar, chronology, and hieroglyphic writings, all three of priestly invention, Maya religion underwent important modification."35 This statement makes most sense against the backdrop of king Mosiah's role as the Nephites' priest-king and his new role as leader of the Nephite-Mulekite coalition.

     Morley again notes that "the Maya probably developed their agricultural system, upon which their whole civilization was based, in the Guatemala highlands . . .[whereas] their highly specialized culture originated in the interior drainage basin and reached its most brilliant esthetic expression in the lush Usumacinta Valley"36 [Jerry L. Ainsworth, The Lives and Travels of Mormon and Moroni, pp. 88-89]

 

Omni 1:19 Mosiah Was Appointed to Be Their King:

 

     Why would an established people such as the Mulekites allow Mosiah1 to come into their midst and become their king (Omni 1:19)? According to John Sorenson, it is difficult to interpret the extremely brief and one-side account we have in Omni 1:13-19 of the joining of Mosiah's group with the people of Zarahemla. The story from the Nephite side represents the event as not only peaceful but enthusiastically welcomed by the locals. From the point of view of some of the resident people, however, the transition may not have seemed so pleasant. The key reason why there was "great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla" (Omni 1:14) is said to be that Mosiah brought sacred records when they had none. The impressive fact of literacy itself could indeed have combined with possession of the mysterious sacred relics in Mosiah's possession--the plates of Nephi, the brass plates, Laban's sword, the Liahona--to confer an almost magical aura on Mosiah that validated his deserving the kingship. Besides, he may well have had the right of kingship by descent from the royal "Nephi" line among the original Nephites (Jacob 1:11); I doubt that he would have presumed to accept the kingship in Zarahemla--he was a sober man, not an opportunist--unless he qualified for the king role as a (the senior?) direct descendant of Nephi. Without a strong leadership mantle of such a sort, the people in his party might well not have accompanied him out of the land of Nephi, nor would he have had possession of the large plates, the official history of the kings (Omni 1:11; Words of Mormon 1:10). In terms of the Old World tradition of the Judahite fathers of the "Mulekites," while Mosiah was not of the preferred royal line through Judah, at least he had major appurtenances of kingship that Zarahemla lacked. Zarahemla had only two qualifications, his current chiefly role and descent from Mulek (Mosiah 25:2), who, though of Judah and a descendant of David, was never actually king of Judah. Those qualifications apparently were not enough to prevail against Mosiah's strengths. . . .

     The initial political amalgamation reported in Omni seemingly did not lead to genuine cultural integration but masked a diversity in lifeways that sometimes came forth as conflict in beliefs and behavior. Non-Nephite ways seem to have kept bubbling up from beneath the ideal social and cultural surface depicted by the Nephite elite record keepers. After all, the descendants of the people of Zarahemla probably always constituted a majority of the people in the land of Zarahemla. [John Sorenson, "The Mulekites," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 16, 18] [See the commentary on Omni 1:12]

 

Omni 1:20 A Large Stone Brought unto [Mosiah] with Engravings on It:

 

     Amaleki tells how "there was a large stone brought unto [Mosiah] with engravings on it" (Omni 1:20). The details of this record are not related anywhere else in the Book of Mormon. The stone gave an account of "one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people" (v. 21). Coriantumr was the name of the Jaredite king who survived the final battles of his people, the Jaredites (Ether 12-15). Assuming that these separate verses refer to the same man, then Coriantumr was most likely the one who wrote his own history on this large stone. The people of Zarahemla "had brought no records with them” (Omni 1:17); however, even if some Mulekites could write, this stone had to be translated, and so could not have been in the tongue of the Mulekites. It is not known to what degree this record taken from the stone duplicated or enhanced Moroni's abridgement of the 24 plates found by the people of Limhi and translated by Mosiah2. The following logic might be followed regarding the stone:

     1. If the stone was large, then it would have been difficult to transport and thus might have been found not too far distant from the local land of Zarahemla. Thus, a Mesoamerican setting seems more plausible than a Hemispheric.

     2. Coriantumr had been severely wounded in the final battles (Ether 15:1, 28-32). He probably wouldn't have been able to leave such a monument in a land so distant from the final battles. In addition, he probably wouldn't travel far from the Jaredite capital of Moron, which was mentioned from the beginning (Ether 7:6) to the end (Ether 14:6) of the Jaredite records of Ether.

     Thus, we might presume that the local land of Zarahemla wasn’t far from the location of the Jaredite lands. These Jaredite lands might have been known and visited by the people of Zarahemla. One might wonder whatever happened to this large stone? Are there any places other than Mesoamerica where large stones are found with writing on them? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Alma 22:30-31]

 

Omni 1:20 A Large Stone Brought unto Him With Engravings on It:

 

     According to John Sorenson, in the spring of 1988, the Associated Press and New York Times, among other outlets, reported the discovery of a stone slab from the state of Veracruz in Mexico. It contained "inscriptions in an unknown language," supposedly by some "mysterious people." In reality, the actual discovery was in 1986, and the glyphs on the new find are in the same system used on the Tuxtla (Veracruz) Statuette, first published in 1907, which is related to other finds analyzed at length in a 1987 article by S. Meluzin. One important lesson from this is that although we live in an interesting time, when information about ancient American civilizations is expanding notably, and although we should learn all about these civilizations, we should be patient and refrain from commenting until those finds are proved genuine and until all the information is in.

     Nevertheless, the Veracruz find indeed promises to be of major importance because of the length of its text (577 characters), its date (second century A.D.), and its location (in or near what many Latter-day Saints believe to have been a Nephite land at the time). [John L. Sorenson, "Latest Discoveries," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 111-112]

     Note* The geographical area of this find (the Tuxtla Mountains of Veracruz, Mexico) happens to be the same area where most major Mesoamerican Book of Mormon models place the Jaredite hill Ramah (also the Nephite hill Cumorah), which was situated in the Nephite land northward. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:20 A large stone brought unto him with engravings on it (Illustration): Monument No. 12 at La Venta Museum, Villahermosa, Tabasco. Joseph Allen correlates this stone somewhat with the idea of the large stone mentioned in Omni. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 57]

 

Omni 1:20: He Did Interpret the Engravings by the Gift and Power of God:

 

     According to Amaleki, Mosiah1 interpreted the engravings on the large stone "by the gift and power of God" (Omni 1:22). This phrase, "the gift and power of God," is very similar to the wording that Ammon used in telling king Limhi that "king Mosiah[2] had 'a gift from God,' whereby he could interpret" the engravings on the 24 plates (Mosiah 21:28). Was Mosiah1's interpretation of the large stone accomplished with or without the use of the Urim and Thummim? The Printer's Manuscript and the first edition (page 200 -- now Mosiah 21:28) mention that Benjamin had the gift of interpretation. Was this a gift apart from the Urim and Thummim which eventually came into the hands of Mosiah2?

     According to John Sorenson, we cannot be certain [the instrument had by either Benjamin or Mosiah] was the Jaredite instrument . . . Perhaps "Mulekite" explorers had found the Jaredite interpreters on the battlefield near the hill Ramah (while missing the twenty-four gold plates found by the Limhi expedition?) There was some early exploration because they found Coriantumr. Another possibility is that King Mosiah (I) might have received the Urim and Thummim that originated with Moses from the people of Zarahemla, who had retained it as a sacred relic since Mulek's time without being able to make it work. Perhaps someone in Mulek's party had been inspired to carry it from the temple in Jerusalem immediately before that structure was destroyed by the Babylonians ("T.W.B." in the Millennial Star [76:552-571] speculated that Mulek's party took the Urim and Thummim from the temple and brought it to America.) [John L. Sorenson, "The 'Mulekites'," in Brigham Young University Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990): p. 20]

     According to Cleon Skousen, following the return of the Jews from Babylon (538 B.C.) the sacred instruments [Urim & Thummim] appear to have been lost from among the Jews: "And the Tirshatha [Governor] said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, til there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim." (Nehemiah 7:65; Ezra 2:63) However, they appear to have been very familiar with these instruments so their disappearance may have been just before the captivity. [W. Cleon Skousen, The Third Thousand Years, pp. 643-645]

     According to Sidney Sperry, there is a Jewish tradition found in the Babylonian Talmud, Sota, 48, a, to the effect that the Urim and Thummim were lost at the time of the destruction of the temple. [Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 28]

     Verneil Simmons fills in some details. . . . While the biblical account is garbled as to time and place, it is certain that at Ramah, north on the road to Riblah where the king of Babylon awaited the captives, Jeremiah was not only freed but also given food and money and permission to travel where he chose. He was invited to Babylon where he would have been treated honorably, but if he did not wish to accept the king's invitation, then he was to do whatever seemed good to him. In other words, he had complete freedom to move about the country at will (Jeremiah 39:11-15; 40:1-6). . . .

     Included in the captives that went to Babylon was the chief priest of the Temple, as well as the second priest and the three keepers of the door. With the captives out of the city, the conquering army was left in control and probably began gathering up the riches of the wealthy from their abandoned palaces, as well as removing the fabulous vessels from the Temple itself. Even the pillars of brass before the doors of the Temple proper and the twelve bronze bulls were broken up and carried away (Jeremiah 32:17-23). . . .

     But what happened to the most sacred objects of the Jewish people, the Ark of the Covenant and the Urim and Thummim? When the period of captivity was fulfilled and Cyrus, king of Persia, restored the Jews to Jerusalem, he went to the treasure-house and ordered the return of as many of the Temple vessels as still remained. In the book of Ezra it is recorded that all the vessels of gold and silver that were taken back to Jerusalem numbered 5,400. But neither in the account of the stripping of the Temple, nor in the record of what was restored many years later, is there any mention of the Ark of the Covenant or the Urim and Thummim, the objects of the innermost sanctuary of the Temple! It has been supposed that both objects were carried away as booty to Babylon and there destroyed. But according to II Maccabees and the Jews of Jerusalem in 175 B.C., Jeremiah served the Lord in preserving the Ark of the Covenant. He had been commanded of the Lord to Preserve the Ark of the Covenant as a witness against Israel in times to come. But what happened to the Urim and Thummim? The writers of the Book of Mormon tell us that Mosiah had them after he came into the land of Zarahemla, which Zarahemla was a descendant of Zedekiah through his son, Mulek. The king of Babylon had ordered his captain, Nebuzaradan, to grant any request made by Jeremiah. If the prophet had wanted access to the Temple during the time the city's wealth was being removed, no one would have opposed him. The priests of the Temple had been taken captive and killed and undoubtedly lesser attendants had fled for safety. Jeremiah had the authority to order the taking forth of the Ark of the Covenant, that he might hide it. Only Jeremiah, and Gedaliah the new governor appointed by the king, had any real authority after the armies left. . . . Zedekiah's daughters were not considered valuable as marriage pawns and were not even taken to Babylon but sent back to remain in the care of Gedaliah. . . . Was it possible that a "little one," or an infant son was among those sent back? (see the commentary on Omni 1:16) Were these children returned to Gedaliah in the care of Jeremiah? Jeremiah had been told in his initial call that part of his work would be to "plant." Ezekiel said the Lord would take an heir of the king of Judah and "plant" him in an eminent "mountain," or nation. Is it possible that the fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophetic statement occurred when Jeremiah preserved an infant son of King Zedekiah by arranging for his escape from the country. (see the commentary on Mosiah 25:2) [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, pp. 94-95] [See the commentary on Omni 1:16; Mosiah 25:2]

     Thus, it is also possible that the Urim and Thummim of the Jews eventually ended up in the hands of Mosiah1.

     David Palmer cites an interesting history of the Cakchiquel indians of Guatemala. He says that the Cakchiquels had a sacred object called the "rock of obsidian," which was associated with their legendary migration across the sea. Their legend states:

           Go my sons and daughters, these will be your obligations and the work which we give you to do. Thus speaks the rock of obsidian. Go where you see mountains and valleys. Oh my sons, there your countenances will become happy. These are the presents which I will give you, your riches and dominion over all. (Recinos, 1950:52).

[David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, p. 157]

     These ideas certainly provide at least some options in explaining how the "interpreters" came to be in the hands of the king of the land of Zarahemla before he had the 24 plates of Ether. [See the commentary on Mosiah 8:11; 28:20; Ether 3:22-28; 4:5]

 

Omni 1:20 He Did Interpret the Engravings by the Gift and Power of God:

 

     In Omni 1:20-22, we find the following:

     And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. And they gave an account of one Coriantumr, and the slain of his people. And Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. It also spake a few words concerning his fathers. And his first parents came out from the tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people; and the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward. (Omni 1:20-22)

 

     As far as these verses are concerned, rather than focus on a "royal descent," I would tend to focus on the idea that a Nephite king and man of God was able to give an interpretation "by the gift and power of God" to a Jaredite monument, and that this sculpted monument was presumably not understood by the people of Zarahemla, who, as we have just established, were Mulekites heavily influenced by Jaredite language and culture. Why weren't the people of Zarahemla able to understand the Jaredite monument themselves? A possible answer is alluded to in some comments by Garth Norman:

           In its strictest sense Izapa sculpture is not art but language, because it was created to be read. We tend to think that to really understand an ancient language we have to have a phonetic script to translate so we can get the actual words of texts, then we can really know what they were saying and understand it. That is not the case with Izapa.37

 

Thus Coriantumr's stone might have been one of symbols, not words. Moreover, the true message of these symbols could have been a "mystery" understood only "by the gift and power of God." Of what did the monument testify? It testified that "the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward." This is covenant language and implies that the Jaredites (and more especially Coriantumr and all his household) had rejected Jesus Christ and his plan of salvation (read Ether 12:1---13:22; 15:1-4). Now I ask the reader, Could the Izapan monuments, especially Stela 5, be looked at in a similar way? In other words, does Stela 5 contain a "hidden" symbolic message of Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation? Although the full answer to that question is not to be found within the scope of this paper, I can say here that such a concept would not be without support in the text of the Book of Mormon. [Alan C. Miner, "Izapa: A Response to the Question of Geography," Unpublished]

 

Omni 1:21 [The Engravings] Gave an Account of One Coriantumr, and the Slain of His People:

 

     From the book of Ether, we know that Coriantumr was the last surviving king of the Jaredites (see Ether 12-15). Now we have a report of a stone (or stela) with "engravings" that purportedly tell of Coriantumr "and the slain of his people" (Omni 1:21), and how "the severity of the Lord fell upon them according to his judgments, which are just; and their bones lay scattered in the land northward" (Omni 1:21).

     Brant Gardner asks, What kind of king would cerate a stone monument to the defeat of his people? Carving a stela takes time and the dedication of resources to support the carvers, so who carved the stone if the people of Coriantumr had been vanquished? Would Coriantumr have had the skills and the desire to leave a memorialization of his defeat? There is only one explanation--perhaps Mosiah's inspired (perhaps not exactly literal?) reading of the stone was an expanded interpretation of the engravings. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, pp. 41-42]

 

 

Omni 1:21 Coriantumr Was Discovered by the People of Zarahemla:

 

     According to John Sorenson, the newcomers are said to have discovered Coriantumr, not vice versa. Where might that contact have taken place? He could not have been a young man (note Ether 13:16-17), he had been very severely wounded in the final battle (Ether 15:28-32), and he had earlier suffered at least one serious injury in war (Ether 15:1) as well as probably others. With such physical limitations as these scriptures imply, it would be remarkable if he had made more than a partial recovery from his near death at Ramah. Ether's prophecy to the king had indicated only that he would "receive a burial" (Ether 13:21) by the new people. This statement, together with the fact that he lived only "nine moons" with the new group before passing away (Omni 1:21), can be seen as supporting the view that he was infirm when found. Thus he is not likely to have traveled far on his own from the hill Ramah. Yet he would surely have moved some distance, for the effects of the carnage in the final battle area would have been unbearable for him.

     Coriantumr might have been discovered by the Mulek group on or near the battleground during a Mulekite exploratory probe inland as they paused briefly while coasting southward toward their final destination. . . . Other possibilities come to mind, however. One is that Coriantumr did travel by himself toward a location where he thought he might find some remnant population to give him succor. According to Sorenson, the site of the city of Mulek geographically correlates with La Venta, which was or had been one of the major centers of Jaredite era settlement at this time, yet it was in a peripheral position in relation to most of the Olmec (Jaredite?) areas. . . . Sorenson estimates the distance at ninety beeline miles from Ramah (the Tuxtla Mountains), but at least double that on the ground. . . . It is no more than barely possible that La Venta Stela 3 was intended to picture the meeting of Mulek and Coriantumr. [John Sorenson, "The Mulekites", F.A.R.M.S., p. 14]

 

Omni 1:21 For the Space of:

 

     Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon often symbolize the passage of time and space by proceeding a measurement of time with the phrase "for the space of . . ." (such as in Genesis 29:14 and Omni 1:21). Twenty such occurrences appear in the Bible and eighty-seven in the Book of Mormon. [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, p. 254] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]

 

Omni 1:21 The Space of Nine Moons:

 

     In Omni 1:21 we find the term "moon" used to denote time:

           And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it . . . and they gave an account of one Coriantumr . . . and Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. (Omni 1:20-21)

 

     Because this is the only time the term "moons" appears in the Book of Mormon as a unit of time measurement, it is hard to tell whether it was part of the Mulekite calendar (used only by the people of Zarahemla) or whether the Nephites also used a "lunar" calendar.

     However, according to Randall Spackman, the fact that Amaleki used this term "moons" around 200 B.C., which was about four centuries after Lehi left Jerusalem, is evidence that both the Nephites and the people of Zarahemla shared a basic understanding of lunar observation, dividing time into moons, and adding moons to mark off longer periods of time.

     Mormon, the Nephite abridger of the Book of Mormon record, used the words "month" and "months" when he wrote the books of Alma and 3 Nephi after about A.D. 350. Although neither author (Amaleki or Mormon) defined the calendrical terms "moons" and "months," the appearance of the two English cognate terms in the book of Mormon translation implies that the underlying Nephite words had different meanings, however slight.

     Although the terms "moons" and "months" might be referring to essentially similar periods, we might some subtle reasons for using two different terms. [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 7/1 , November 1, 1998, p. 55]

     Note* While Amaleki does not state specifically whether the Nephites used a lunar calendar, it is quite probable that the people of Zarahemla who reported the find of Coriantumr at least reported something related to "lunar" time in order for Amaleki to record the term "moons."

     It is also an oddity that the terms "month" and "months" only occur in the books of Alma and 3 Nephi (Alma = 10; 3 Nephi = 4). It is also very significant that in at least one instance (3 Nephi 8:5) mention of the term "month" is not only made with the term "years," but the exact years after the sign of Christ's birth in which the great destruction happened. In this instance, the years and months cannot be accounted for by a strictly lunar calendar (A twelve-moon calendar averages only 354.367 days per year, eleven days fewer than a solar calendar year, which averages 365.2422. By the time Christ reached the passover beginning his 34th year, having completed 33 years, he would be 33 X 11 days, or 363 days, or almost 1 solar year behind. Mormon distinctly mentions that after the sign of Christ was given, "the Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ" (3 Nephi 2:8), however nothing at all is said relative to the a different length for the months or years.

 

Omni 1:21 The Space of Nine Moons:

 

     According to Warren and Palmer, the reference to "nine moons" (Omni 1:21) is in harmony with our knowledge concerning the ancient calendar systems in Mesoamerica. Lowe et.al. (1982) make clear that in each of the sixteen Maya languages in the lists of Stoll (1958:77-78):

           . . . the word for moon is also the word for month; the same is true of the Popoluca, Zoque and Mixe lists in Bom and La Farge (1926-1927, 2:461). Such consistency in linguistic parallelism over so wide an area (when included with Central Mexico) not only confirms that "moon" and "month" are indistinguishable but establishes the additional fact that this indistinguishability is very ancient.

[Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, unpublished]

 

Omni 1:23 I, Amaleki, Was Born in the Days of Mosiah:

 

     Amaleki was born "in the days of Mosiah" (Omni 1:23), which probably means that he was born during the reign of Mosiah1. [See the commentary on Omni 1:12]

 

Omni 1:23 I [Amaleki] have lived to see [Benjamin's] death (Illustration): Book of Mormon Structure. The span of years from Jacob to the last days of Amaleki amount to roughly 400 years; which means that in just a few pages the reader has covered nearly 40 percent of the time frame for the history of the people of Lehi. With this in mind, we should be wary of calling the Book of Mormon a "history of the people who lived on the American Continent before Columbus." [Gerald Lund - personal file]

 

Omni 1:23 And Benjamin, his [Mosiah's son] reigneth in his stead (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]

 

Omni 1:23 Benjamin:

 

     In the Book of Mormon story, we encounter a king named "Benjamin" (Omni 1:23), who would rule over both the Nephites (descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh) and the Mulekites (descendants of Judah), and led his people into "a serious war" against the Lamanites (Omni 1:24).

     It is interesting that in ancient Israel, the tribe of Benjamin occupied a strip of land between the tribe of Judah and the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Under the Divided Monarchy, "Ephraim" (the Northern kingdom) occupied part of the lands of Benjamin, while "Judah" occupied the rest of the land. However, the tribe of Benjamin remained part of the kingdom of Judah (1 Kings 12:19-24). The tribe of Benjamin earned a high reputation for bravery and skill in war. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, p. 185]

     Does the historical significance of the name "Benjamin" in Old Testament times have anything to do with king Benjamin in the Book of Mormon? Perhaps the name "Benjamin" and the role the character plays in the Book of Mormon is a coincidence; perhaps there was foreknowledge and expectation of Benjamin's accomplishments by his father Mosiah1; or perhaps this is an example of Metonymic naming (after-the fact editorial naming) by Mormon. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Metonymic naming in 1 Nephi 3:3]

 

Omni 1:23 Benjamin (Illustration): The land occupied by the tribe of Benjamin. [Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 1, p. 185]

 

Omni 1:24 A Serious War:

 

      In Omni 1:24, Amaleki mentions a "serious war" in the days of King Benjamin. Mormon also alludes to a war by noting that "the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against [King Benjamin's] people" (Words of Mormon 1:13). Was this "serious war" mentioned by Amaleki referring to the same series of battles noted by Mormon? If Amaleki tells his story in chronological order, then his war was fought before he handed the small plates over to King Benjamin (Omni 1:25). Mormon also talks about Amaleki handing over the plates to King Benjamin in the Words of Mormon (1:10, 13, 14), but he has a war being fought after he writes that Amaleki handed over the small plates. Both wars end with the Lamanites being driven out of the land. Were these wars the same? Where exactly did these Lamanites come from? How and why could a war be fought when the story of Zeniff’s account seems to paint a picture of a approximately 21- or 40-day distance of wilderness between Zarahemla and the land of Nephi through which the Lamanites never seem to travel through very easily? Let us first list the references to war in the Zeniff story:

     1. Zeniff was originally a "spy" who went with a Nephite army to the land of Nephi to destroy the Lamanites but chose not to ( Mosiah 9:1-2). If this was the "serious war" then Zeniff would have had to leave during the reign of Benjamin, which seems doubtful. [If Zeniff left in the year 407 (481-73), and if Mosiah1 ruled from 397--437, from age 30 to 70, then the "serious war" of King Benjamin would not start at least until the first year of his reign (437), which corresponds to the 30th year of the reign of Zeniff (437)]

     2. In the "thirteenth year" of Zeniff's reign the Lamanites attacked (Mosiah 9:14); however, the battles seemed to be over in days (v. 18), with Zeniff's group conquering at a rate of about 12 to 1. Thus, this war seems to be only a local conflict.

     3. The Lamanites attacked Shilom from Shemlon after 22 years of peace (Mosiah 10:8,20), but were overwhelmingly defeated by the people of Zeniff. Again this appears to be a local conflict.

     4. The Lamanites attacked the people of Noah but were driven back (Mosiah 11:17-18). Again a local conflict seems to be implied.

     5. When the Lamanites attacked a divided people of Noah, Noah's group fled, but those who remained behind with Limhi submitted (Mosiah 19:6-15). Again, a quick uncontested war. Nevertheless, the reason why they attacked is not clearly given. Perhaps they attacked because Noah had sent an army beyond the local limits of the land towards the waters of Mormon.

     6. The Lamanites attacked because their daughters were stolen by the priests of Noah (Mosiah 20:7). The Lamanites seem to be totally committed to the war because it says that even their king went before his people; however, Limhi's people managed to hold their own and eventually captured the king. Limhi’s people were able to convince the Lamanites of their innocence; they seemed to be safe; however, the Lamanites at this time could have taken their revenge upon the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla. However, it wasn't many years before Limhi escaped and the Lamanites got lost in trying to track Limhi on his way to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:15).

     7. Limhi's people initiated a fight for their freedom on three successive occasions (Mosiah 21:7,11,12) but were beaten back each time. This seems to be only a local conflict.

     

     Conclusion: Although some think that Benjamin's war was part of those just listed, it is the opinion of the author that Benjamin’s "serious war" seems to be correlated with the same localities, peoples, and ideas that Alma2 continues to chronicle after the return of Zeniff's group. These dissensions were over the right to rule, and apparently came from Mulekite regions. Therefore, I believe that the serious war that Benjamin fought was initially correlated with his ascension to the kingship of the land of Zarahemla and involved only "Lamanites" living immediately around the land of Zarahemla and not the Lamanites that battled with the people of Zeniff. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:24 A Serious War:

 

     Amaleki mentions that "I have seen in the days of king Benjamin a serious war" (Omni 1:24). According to John Welch, this war correlates with a war which began about thirty-four years after Zeniff had arrived in the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 9:11; 10:3-5). It was apparently fought by Noah's father Zeniff, a contemporary of Benjamin's father Mosiah, at a time when Zeniff was old (see Mosiah 9;11; 10:22). This war also apparently came during the life-time of Amaleki, born in the days of Mosiah1 (see Omni 1:23-24). If Benjamin was born between 195 and 187 B.C. and acceded to the throne like his own son Mosiah at the age of thirty38, then the first year of Benjamin's reign would have come between 165 and 157 B.C.--right around the time of this major Lamanite unrest.39 [John W. Welch, "Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History," in King Benjamin's Speech, pp. 28-29] [See Appendix A--Chronology]

 

Omni 1:25: I [Amaleki] Began to Be Old:

 

     Perhaps the phrase, "I (Amaleki) began to be old" (Omni 1:25) refers to a the span of quite a few years from the time of Benjamin's war until the time Amaleki turned the plates over to the king. Notice that Amaleki writes in the past tense ("I began to be old"), then he changes to the present ("having no seed"), and ultimately finishes in the future tense ("I shall deliver up these plates unto him"). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:25 I [Amaleki] shall deliver up these plates unto him [King Benjamin] (Illustration): Chart of Nephite Record Keepers [Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, p. 155]

 

Omni 1:25 The Gift of Speaking with Tongues, and in the Gift of Interpreting Languages:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, the Book of Mormon student should notice that in Omni 1:25 Amaleki exhorts all men to believe in "the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages . . ." If they had these gifts among them, such things indicate that they had more than one language, and they might have had quite a number of languages or dialects. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 434]

 

Omni 1:26 I Would That Ye Should Come unto Christ:

 

     According to Rodney Turner, a clear understanding of Christ was had by the prophets who wrote the small plates. For example, Amaleki--the last writer on those plates--said: "I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption." (Omni 1:26) [Rodney Turner, "The Great Conversion," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 227]

 

Omni 1:26 Offer Your Whole Souls As an Offering:

 

     According to McConkie and Millet, when Amaleki says, "offer your whole souls as an offering," (Omni 1:26) his imagery is well chosen. His allusion is to the burnt offering, it being the only sacrificial offering which was entirely consumed. This ordinance, which was had from the days of Adam, was "a type connoting the necessity of complete submission to the will of God, with the attendant idea of total dedication to his service. [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. II, p. 116]

 

Omni 1:26 Yea, Come unto [Christ], and Offer Your Whole Souls As an Offering unto Him:

 

     At the end of the book of Omni which record includes a flight from the land of Nephi to a new "promised land," in the land of Zarahemla, the Nephite record keeper Amaleki leaves his readers with some words of advice before turning over the small plates of Nephi to king Benjamin. These Small Plates consisted mostly of the writings of Nephi, in which he also chronicled his covenant experiences in being inspired by the Lord to flee destruction and travel through the wilderness to a promised land. In Omni 1:26 we find some definite covenant language: "Yea, come unto [Christ], and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him . . ." Raymond Treat offers a very informative cultural story illustrating these covenant words of Amaleki. The following is an adaptation:

     Most of us belong to what is called "western civilization." People in this category know less about the concept of a covenant than any other category. Every native tribe and most third-world peoples understand covenants and use them in their daily lives. We do not. We hire lawyers instead. The true story of Stanley and Livingstone is a good example. Henry Morton Stanley arrived in the United States at the age of 15, after suffering through a miserable childhood in England. He had been born illegitimately and his relatives sent him to a poorhouse where he was brutally mistreated. Once in America he began to work for a businessman who soon adopted him and whose name he took. After serving on both sides during the Civil War, he traveled west. His career as a newspaperman began with the publication in eastern newspapers of accounts of his travels in the West. In 1869 his employer, James Gordon Bennett of the sensation-seeking New York Herald, sent the 28 year-old to Africa in order to find a Scottish explorer named Livingstone who had vanished while searching for the headwaters of the Nile.

     David Livingstone was a Scottish medical missionary. He devoted his life to exploring the uncharted regions of central Africa. His outstanding work brought him international fame, and his book Missionary Travels and Researches in South Africa was widely read. In his travels he had realized the necessity of abolishing the slave trade. On a major expedition he was cut off from the world, in constant danger from Arab slave traders, and left with no means of controlling a terrible fever because of the theft of his medicines.

     As part of his plan to find Livingstone, Stanley organized human caravans to escort him through the jungles of Africa. In the 1800s Africa was a closed continent. It was not easy to travel. Every attempt that Stanley made met with failure. His cargo bearers would disappear into the bush, taking with them his supplies. One day, after several failures, his right-hand man, a native who had lived for a while in England and knew the language and customs, told Stanley that the only way he could travel successfully through Africa was to make covenants with the heads of the various chiefdoms or tribes through whose territory he was passing. Stanley did not like this idea because, being a proper Englishman, (and therefore part of the same western civilization as most of us are) he thought that the native customs were primitive, barbaric and certainly beneath him. However, he finally consented to make a covenant because he had no other alternative.

     Part of the covenant procedure required that Stanley give a gift to the chief. The chief wanted Stanley's goat so Stanley had to give it to him. Stanley had stomach trouble and thought that the only way he could survive was on goat's milk. Stanley did not want to part with his goat but he had to. In exchange, the chief gave Stanley a wooden staff decorated with strips of copper. This did not mean anything to Stanley. He did not understand covenants. Nevertheless, Stanley continued on to the next village with the staff in hand.

     Although Stanley did not know the meaning of the staff, the people in the next village did. It meant that Stanley had a covenant with the chief in the previous village and that all the resources of that chief, which were extensive, would be used against them if they did not treat Stanley as a friend (a covenant term). Having no doubt as to the consequences if they mistreated Stanley, they treated him like a king. Stanley's eyes were opened. He began to understand his covenant relationship with the chief. If Stanley had desired, every goat in the village would have been given to him for milk. The cargo bearers no longer disappeared into the bush with his supplies; the bearers knew the judgments that would come upon them.

     Two years later, in what is currently Tanzania, Stanley's hunt ended with "Dr. Livingstone, I presume?" In the course of his journeys, Stanley had made covenants with over fifty chiefs and tribal leaders. Needless to say, Stanley's journey was not only a success, but it was just the first of many exploits. He returned to Africa in 1874 and stayed until 1884. During this time he became the first explorer to travel the circumference of Lake Victoria and to travel the length of the Congo River. These years in Africa convinced him that more missionaries should be sent to Africa and that England should step in to stop the Arab trade in African slaves. Afterward he retired to England, where he was knighted.

     Like Stanley, if we give ourselves fully to the Lord according to the covenant relationship then the Lord will make available to us all of the direction and resources needed to accomplish our stewardship and complete our journey to the Promised Land. [Adapted from Raymond Treat, "Lesson #1: What Is the Covenant Relationship?", Zarahemla Research Foundation, www.restoredcovenant.org, pp. 1-2; see also The Golden Home and High School Encyclopedia, Vol. 17. New York: Golden Press, 1961, p. 2412; see also vol. 10, p. 1488.]

 

     Note* One might wonder if both Nephi and Mosiah1 (in whose days Amaleki was born) experienced the same circumstances in the course of their travels. It is certain that Nephi would have had to make covenants with tribal chiefs all along the course of the Frankincense trail. We are left to speculate, however, concerning Mosiah's travels from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the covenant commentary on 1 Nephi 2:22, 3:7. See the travel commentary on 1 Nephi 16:10. Notice the headings and covenant markings in The Covenant Story from 1 Nephi 2:16-5:22]

 

Omni 1:26 Yea, come unto [Christ], and offer your whole soul as an offering unto him (Illustration--Stanley Livingstone): An artist reconstructs Henry Stanley's dramatic meeting with missionary David Livingstone. [The Golden Home and High School Encyclopedia, Vol. 17. New York: Golden Press, 1961, p. 2412]

 

Omni 1:27 A Certain Number Who Went up into the Wilderness to Return to the Land of Nephi:

     At the very last of his writings, Amaleki speaks "somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi" (Omni 1:27). I will assume that Amaleki is referring to the same group (Zeniff's group) mentioned in the record of Zeniff found in the ninth chapter of Mosiah (Mosiah 9:1-6). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:27: There Was a Large Number Who Were Desirous to Possess the Land of Their Inheritance:

 

     If "there was a large number (from the land of Zarahemla) who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance" in the land of Nephi, did they all go with Zeniff (Mosiah 9:1-6)? If some remained behind, did they plan to follow Zeniff's group later on? And if so, why didn't they maintain communication with the group?

     Despite the "large number" of people included in Zeniff's group, could Zeniff's group even hope to regain the "land of their inheritance" by force in view of the vast population of Lamanites discussed in Mosiah 9:18? And what about maintaining that land? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Note] [See the commentary on Mosiah 9:1-6]

 

Omni 1:28: He Caused a Contention among Them:

 

     Amaleki mentions that during the first attempt to regain the land of inheritance, "their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were all slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they all returned again to the land of Zarahemla" (Omni 1:28). Why or how would a leader cause a contention? Perhaps the contention was based on how this stiffnecked leader planned to accomplish the main goal of the mission. A big clue is found in Zeniff's report of the second mission. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 9:1-6]

 

Omni 1:29 A Considerable Number:

 

     If Amaleki says that "a considerable number" went with the second group that desired to inherit the land of their inheritance (Omni 1:29), then how many would this be since many were killed in the first group? Did they take any Mulekites with them? Can we compare this "considerable number" with the number of people who originally came with Mosiah down to the land of Zarahemla? After all, there might only be a lapse of something like nine years between the two migrations. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Omni 1:30 I, Amaleki, Had a Brother, Who Also Went with Them:

 

     In speaking about the second group that went up to inherit the land of their inheritance, Amaleki records that he "had a brother who also went with them" (Omni 1:30). Nevertheless, Amaleki never does express any hope of seeing his brother, or of hearing news of his brother's circumstances. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 9:1]