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Mosiah 21


Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah



Mosiah 21:2 After Many Days the Lamanites Began Again to Be Stirred Up in Anger:


     In Mosiah 21:2 it says that "after many days the Lamanites began again to be stirred up in anger." How long was this "many days"? According to the chronology in Appendix A, some 4 to 8 years could have passed since the Lamanites had come against the people of Limhi for presumably stealing their daughters (see Mosiah 20:1-11). [See Appendix A]


Mosiah 21:2 Began Again To:


     Occasionally the Nephites or Lamanites discontinued an action and later returned to the same activity. In eleven separate sections Mormon described this recommencing of an activity. In all but one instance he used the word combination "began again to" (Mosiah 21:2; 26:37; 27:6; Alma 1:28; 11:46; 27:2; 55:28; 59:4; Helaman 8:10; 11:36; 3 Nephi 1:23; 6:4; 4 Nephi 1:42) The exception was when he described a certain mental instead of physical activity. . . . it was only his son and companion [Moroni] who used the phrase "began again to" (Ether 9:16, 26; 10:4) . . .

     Here is a small but significant fact; other authors described the same renewal of action but reversed the word combination. For example, Nephi wrote "again began to" (1 Nephi 3:31). And Zeniff also wrote "again began to" (Mosiah 10:1, 21). Some other Nephite writers just said "again" to report the return to activity. [C. Wade Brown, The First Page of the Golden Plates, p. 28]


Mosiah 21:3 (They) Began to Put Heavy Burdens upon Their Backs:


     In Mesoamerica men, women, and children all carry "heavy burdens upon their backs" (Mosiah 21:3). According to Joseph Allen, we can assume that Alma and his party carried their grain in the same manner in which the native Indians of Mesoamerica carry their grain today. A strap about 2 inches wide is placed on the forehead and is attached to the load, which is carried on the back. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 293]


Mosiah 21:3 They put heavy burdens upon their backs (Illustration): Carrying heavy burdens on their backs is common practice in Guatemala. The Lamanites put heavy burdens on the backs of Limhi's people. [Merrill Oaks, "Some Perspectives on Book of Mormon Geography," Slide #53]


Mosiah 21:3 They . . . began to put heavy burdens upon their backs (Illustration): Human bearers routinely carried from sixty to one hundred pounds of all sorts of goods on their bent backs. The load was held in place by a band across the forehead. They often traveled at a near trot and for up to ten hours a day. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 56]


Mosiah 21:7 To Drive Them out of Their Lands:


     Apparently, the purpose of the Nephite rebellion under king Limhi was not to escape the land of Lehi-Nephi, but just "to drive them [the Lamanites] out of their land" (Mosiah 21:7). Limhi's people wanted at the very least to avoid persecution at the hands of the Lamanites, and perhaps to rid themselves of the tribute of "one half of all they possessed" (Mosiah 19:26).


Mosiah 21:11 Suffering Much Loss:


     The men of Limhi went to battle three times against the Lamanites "suffering much loss" (Mosiah 21:11), so that "there was a great number of women, more than there was of men" (Mosiah 21:17). "Therefore king Limhi commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger; and this they did because of the greatness of their number that had been slain" (Mosiah 21:17). If: (1) Alma and his at least 450 followers had fled, (2) Noah and his priests (and possibly many of his supporters) had been eliminated, and (3) Limhi's people had "kept together" (Mosiah 21:18); then the city of Lehi-Nephi (assuming that was the place where they gathered to) could well have been large enough to house the whole population of Limhi's people. Apparently Shilom ceased to be a Nephite possession at this time. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 21:12 Returned Again to the City of Nephi:


     The place of refuge for Limhi's people is termed the "city of Nephi" (Mosiah 21:12), and not the city of Lehi-Nephi. Why? [For possible explanations, see the commentary on Mosiah 9:6]


Mosiah 21:2-14 People of Limhi battle Lamanites three times for freedom (Year 466-476) (Illustration) Proposed details in the Land of Nephi (Valley of Guatamala) (John L. Sorenson)

Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 21:2-14 People of Limhi Battle Lamanites Three Times for Freedom (Year 466-476)


Mosiah 21:15 The Lord Was Slow to Hear Their Cry:


     In Mosiah 21:15 it says that the Lord "began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites that they began to ease their burdens; yet the Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage." How long of a time period was this? Or in other words, how "slow to hear their cry" (Mosiah 21:15) was the Lord? According to the chronology in Appendix A, from the time that Limhi made an oath that put his people in bondage to the Lamanite king (see Mosiah 19:25-26), it would be somewhere close to 18 years before Limhi, with the help of Ammon, would lead his people to freedom. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Appendix A]


Mosiah 21:16 They Began to Prosper by Degrees:


     How many months or how many years would it take for the people of Limhi to "prosper by degrees" (Mosiah 21:16)? The text makes mention that "they began to raise grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds" (Mosiah 21:16). Prosperity apparently required a number of seasons. [See the commentary on Mosiah 21:21] [See Appendix A]


Mosiah 21:18-19 Walls of the City:


     Mosiah 21:19 says that the king didn't "trust his person without the walls of the city, unless he took his guards with him." Did these walls completely surround the city? Apparently they provided the king with some sense of safety. How were they constructed to aid in defense? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 9:8]


Mosiah 21:21 [The Priests of Noah] Had Come into the Land of Nephi by Night:


     [See the commentary on Mosiah 20:5 and on Mosiah 23:25-35]


Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 21:23; 1:1--8:4 Ammon and 15 Men Travel to Lehi-Nephi (Year 480)

Mosiah 21:23; 1:1--8: 4 Ammon and 15 men travel to Lehi-Lehi (Illustration)

Mosiah 21 23 11 8-4 Ammon and 16 men travel to Lehi-Nephi (Illustration) Search for Land of Nephi

Mosiah 21 25 43 Men hs been sent to find Zarahemla (Illustration) Limhi Expedition

Mosiah 22 1 13 Mosiah and Limhi Escape from Lehi-Nephi to Zarahemla (Illustration) proposed route from Nephi to Zarahemla.

Mosiah 21:25: 43 Men had been sent to find Zarahemla. (Illustration): Journeys indicating distances [John L.Sorenson].


Mosiah 21:23 Supposing Them to Be Priests of Noah:


     If the people of Limhi were "supposing" that Ammon and his brethren were priests of Noah (Mosiah 21:23), then presumably enough time had elapsed that either young people had grown up not knowing about the priests or the priests had grown older and thus were not recognizable, or both. It is not clear whether Limhi himself immediately knew that Ammon and his brethren were not the priests of Noah when they were first brought before him, or whether the realization of that fact came to him because of their story that they were sent from the land of Zarahemla. According to the chronology in Appendix A, about 18 years had elapsed since the death of King Noah and the flight of his priests. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 21:25 King Limhi Had Sent . . . a Small Number of Men to Search for the Land of Zarahemla:


     [See the commentary on Mosiah 8:7]


Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 21:25; 8:7 43 Men Had Been Sent to Find Zarahemla (Year 479-480)


Mosiah 21:26 Dry Bones:


     The Limhi Expedition found "dry bones" which covered the land through which they traveled, obviously of a people "which had been destroyed" (Mosiah 21:26). For how many years would bones "as numerous as the hosts of Israel" (Mosiah 8:8) be preserved in a humid climate such as exists along the Veracruz and Tabasco coasts of the Gulf of Mexico (the proposed lands of the Jaredites)? How many years would "dry bones" continue to cover the land -- 50 years? 100 years? 200 years? 400 years? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Appendix A]


Mosiah 21:28 King Mosiah [Benjamin] Had a Gift from God, Whereby He could Interpret Such Engravings:


     [See the commentary on Ether 4:1]


Mosiah 21:33 There Was None in the Land That Had Authority from God. And Ammon Declined Doing This Thing, Considering Himself an Unworthy Servant:


     After the arrival of Ammon we find in Mosiah 21:32-33 that king Limhi and many of his people had "entered into a covenant with God" and "were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God." Furthermore, "Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself an unworthy servant." One might ask, What was going on?

     According to Monte Nyman, Ammon's reasons for feeling unworthy are not specified. Perhaps Mosiah chose Ammon and his companions after Mosiah had been teased to the point of weariness. (Mosiah 7:1) Though they felt themselves unworthy to baptize, they were indeed capable of leading the people back to Zarahemla. The Lord uses people according to their abilities. Another possibility is that Ammon was worthy but the Lord inspired him to decline lest the captive Nephites lose their incentive to return following their baptism. [Monte S. Nyman, "Bondage and Deliverance," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 266]


Mosiah 21:35 An Account of Their Baptism Shall Be Given Hereafter:


     According to John Tvedtnes, an author may promise in the course of writing to return to a subject later to supply further details. Actually keeping such a promise can prove difficult. Even with modern writing aids, memory can betray a person into failing to tuck in the corners of plot or information. Mormon, the editor of much of the Book of Mormon as we have it, made these types of promises at least seven times. In each case, he or his son Moroni followed through perfectly.

     Mormon speaks in Mosiah 21:35 of Limhi's people, saying that "an account of their baptism shall be given hereafter." Almost a hundred verses follow before he recounts the performance of that ordinance (see Mosiah 25:17-18). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Mormon's Editorial Promises," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, p. 29]