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Warfare in Mesoamerica: Battles in the Book of Mormon

Warfare in Mesoamerica: Battles in the Book of Mormon

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Warfare in Mesoamerica: Battles in the Book of Mormon

Longueur:
485 pages
6 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Apr 13, 2012
ISBN:
9781452467832
Format:
Livre

Description

Book of Mormon warfare can be defined on about three levels, from general to specific:
—It’s real warfare, as experienced by real people and recorded by a professional military observer.
—It’s real Iron Age warfare, based on technology and tactics.
—It’s real Mesoamerican warfare, based on cultural details in the text, modified by a heavy Old Testament influence on the Nephites.
We begin to Book of Mormon military commanders on a human level; not as giants bestriding the earth, but as humans coping with shifting and unpredictable circumstances. They were men, and had the strength of men; sometimes their leadership was really good, sometimes rather indifferent. Moroni was a brilliant soldier, but he couldn’t be everywhere, nor control everything around him; nor did all of his plans pan out. Nothing is foolproof. We see in the Book of Mormon Clausewitz’s trinity of chance, rationality and raw emotion, and also see the interface between the people, the government and the military. It’s all completely realistic.
This book focuses on the half-dozen most important commanders in the Book of Mormon. We study their options, and the decisions based on those options, and the consequences of these choices.
Gideon, Alma the Younger, Moroni, Helaman, Gidgiddoni, Mormon. What makes them unique in the history of warfare? Why did Mormon focus on these men? Because they were men of God. While they were experienced and well trained, Nephite commanders were as prone to mistakes as any mortals and apt to get lost in the fog of war. What makes them different are the elements of faith, and revelation, the seamless fusion of the spiritual with the temporal. We begin to see that a righteous people can never be completely or permanently defeated.

Éditeur:
Sortie:
Apr 13, 2012
ISBN:
9781452467832
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Former Mormon missionary Former reserve Army officer Totally Believing Mormon recovering lawyer doting father


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Warfare in Mesoamerica - John Kammeyer

Warfare in Mesoamerica:

Battles in the Book of Mormon

by

John E. Kammeyer, BA, JD.

Published by Far West Publications at Smashwords.

Copyright 2012 John E. Kammeyer

Revised Edition 2014

Smashwords License Notes:

This e-book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This e-book may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.

(Siegfried Sassoon)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Illustrations

Preface

Introduction: Covenant Warfare

Part 1: The Book of Mosiah

Essay: Gideon: C. 150 BC to C. 90 BC

Chapter 1: The Zeniffite Wars—C. 200 BC to 120 BC

Part 2: The Book of Alma

Essay: Alma the Younger: C. 130 BC to C. 72 BC

Chapter 2: The Amlicite Campaign—86 BC

Essay: Moroni: C. 105 BC to 56 BC

Chapter 3: The Ammonihah Campaign—81 BC

Chapter 4: The Battle of the River Sidon—74 BC

Chapter 5: The Noah Campaign—72 BC

Essay: Amalickiah, C. 120 BC to 62 BC

Chapter 6: The Lowland Campaign—66 BC to 62 BC

Chapter 7: The Battle of Gid—62 BC

Essay: Helaman, C. 100 BC to 57 BC

Chapter 8: The Battle of Antiparah—63 BC

Chapter 9: The Battle of Manti—62 BC

Essay: Moroni Finishes the War—61 BC to 60 BC

Chapter 10: The King Men Campaign—61 BC

Chapter 11: The End of the War—60 BC

Essay: Ernie Pyle on Victory—AD 1945

Part 3: The Book of Helaman

Essay: Moronihah, C. 85 BC to 20 BC

Chapter 12: Coriantumr—50 BC

Chapter 13: The Zarahemla War—37 BC to 31 BC

Part 4: The Book of 3rd Nephi

Essay: Gidgiddoni, C. 30 BC to AD 30

Chapter 14: The Gadianton Wars—51 BC to AD 21

Chapter 15: The Battle of Gideon—AD 19

Part 5: The Books of 4th Nephi and Mormon

Essay: Mormon, AD 311 to AD 386

Chapter 16: The Road to Cumorah—AD 300 to AD 385

Interlude: Mesoamerican Warfare

Chapter 17: The Battle of Cumorah—AD 385

Essay: The Second Jewish Revolt—AD 132 to AD 136

Conclusion: War and the Latter-day Saints

For Further Reading

Bibliography

Smashwords Books by this Author

Illustrations

Cover illustration found at http://www.authenticmaya.com/maya_warfare.htm, and is within the scope of fair use. Graphic design by Mary V. Kammeyer. Ms. Kammeyer’s website can be found at http://www.kammeyerdesigns.com.

The maps were scanned from An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, John L. Sorenson, (Salt Lake City: Deseret, 1985). Used with permission of Professor Sorenson.

Chapter 2: The Amlicite Campaign: US troops street-fighting in Koblenz, Germany, 18 March 1945. Photo US Army Signal Corps. In the public domain.

Picture of Grijalva River taken from page 220 of An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Sorenson.

Photo of Troops in the front line, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Essay on Moroni: Picture of Mayan warrior taken from page 411 of Warfare in the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Ricks.

Chapter 3: The Ammonihah Campaign: Photo of Hauling an 18 pounder, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Chapter 4: The Battle of the River Sidon: Picture of Grijalva River taken from page 220 of An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Sorenson.

Chapter 6: The Lowland Campaign: US field artillery, Erp, Germany, 6 March 1945. Photo US Army Signal Corps. In the public domain.

Terracotta of Aztec Eagle warrior from the Templo Major, in Mexico City. Found at website http://www.nowpublic.com/culture/ceramic-figure-eagle-man. © Michel Zabé / AZA. Reproduction authorized by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

Chapter 7: The Battle of Gid: US troops guarding German prisoners, Normandy, June 1944. Photo Imperial War Museum. In the public domain.

Chapter 8: The Battle of Antiparah: Photo of A tired battalion marching out of the line, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Chapter 9: The Battle of Manti: US troops in Cerisy-la-Salle, France, 25 July 1944. Photo US Signal Corps. In the public domain.

Photo of Infantry moving forward to take over the front at evening, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Chapter 10: The King Men Campaign: Photos of Front line supply dump, and Infantry marching ahead in a single file to the front, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Chapter 11: the End of the War: Photo of swamp taken from page 243 of An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Sorenson.

Photo of Australian pioneers salving a 4.5 howitzer, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War," at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Photo of US soldiers courtesy US Army Signal Corps, 1918. In the public domain.

Essay on Ernie Pyle: Excerpt within the bounds of fair use.

Chapter 12: Coriantumr: Photo of Troops in the trenches, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Jewish Forces on the March, 1948, found at the Jerusalem Post website, http://info.jpost.com/2000/Supplements/Haatzmaut/photos/general/2.html, in the public domain.

Chapter 13: The Zarahemla Campaign: "Davidka Mortar Crew, Israel, 1948. http://info.jpost.com/2000/Supplements/Haatzmaut/photos/jerusalem/9.html, Jerusalem Post, in the public domain.

Chapter 14: The Gadianton Wars: Photo of troops of the US 2nd Division, 23rd regiment, firing a 37mm mountain howitzer, summer 1918, courtesy US Army Signal Corps. In the public domain.

Photo of Australian siege artillery in action, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Chapter 15: The Battle of Gideon: Mayan warrior from page 413 of Warfare in the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Ricks.

Photo of German prisoners, March 1945. Photo US Army Signal Corps. In the public domain.

Photo of US soldiers courtesy US Army Signal Corps, 1918. In the public domain.

Chapter 16: The Road to Cumorah: Photo of Dawn at Passchendaele, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Chapter 17: The Battle of Cumorah: Photo of Ypres: ruins of the Cloth Hall, Cathedral and Bishop’s Palace, by Frank Hurley, found at website: The Heritage of the Great War, at http://www.greatwar.nl. In the public domain.

Picture of Aztec jaguar warrior taken from the Codex Magliabechiano and is in the public domain, image found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aztec.

Map of Tuxtla Mountains falls under fair use and is found at: http://encarta.msn.com/map_701517375/Veracruz_(city_Mexico).html,

Tuxtla Mountains found on page 349 of An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Sorenson.

Back cover: Drawing taken from page 402 of Warfare in the Book of Mormon. Used with permission of Professor Ricks.

Dedication

For my father, Fred T. Kammeyer

(1922-2011)

(USAAF, 1942-1946, USAF Reserve 1949-1952)

Fly low and slow, Dad

For my brother, Karl H. Kammeyer

(1949-2011)

(USAF, 1974-1979)

hazak v'ematz, bro

Preface

This book derives from The Nephite Art of War, and attempts to show how Nephite military doctrine was put into practice.

The organization of this book derives from the Book of Mormon itself. Mormon apparently made a list of the people he thought were the most important through Nephite history, and laced together a chronicle extracted from their writings. This pattern shows up in Nephite warfare as well, because most of the battles and campaigns center around the half-dozen commanders he thought were the most significant.

This gave my narrative a natural outline; all I had to do was list the commanders, and then analyze their battles. Mormon’s focus on these individuals provided enough biographical detail that we can usually also say something about the commanders themselves. We begin to Nephite commanders on a human level; not as giants bestriding the earth, sweeping the Lamanites aside, but humans coping with shifting and unpredictable circumstances. We tend to view the Nephites versus Lamanites like Elves versus the Orcs, but I gained more respect for Lamanite commanders as I studied the matter. They were men, and had the strength of men; sometimes their leadership was really good, most of the time rather indifferent. At the same time, Moroni was a brilliant soldier, but he couldn’t be everywhere, nor control everything around him; nor did all of his plans pan out. His frontier defense system was ingenious, but in operation had its vulnerabilities. A clever commander, such as Amalickiah, could bypass it, or intrigue with the settlers to subvert it. Nothing is foolproof.

The questions we must address are: Why did the Nephites succeed? and: Why did they ultimately fail? What lessons do these have for us in the Latter Days?

Introduction: Covenant Warfare

Covenant Warfare: Like the ancient Israelites, the Nephites lived in a covenant relationship with God. In such a relationship, friendships give way to the patron-client tie, and the recipient becomes subservient to the giver, giving honor, loyalty and gratitude. It involved a formal and legally binding oath, [an]…explicit reference to obligations, and…are entered into [by] parties of unequal status, for example king and subject. (1) Compare Mosiah 2:22—

And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.

This covenant relationship ties the entire Book of Mormon together and gave the Nephites a common identity and set of ideals. (2) According to Mario L Aguilar:

Within the Old Testament war is both a human and a divine activity, because in order to live in peace, Israel needs the protection of God, and needs to be able to show strength toward other nations, foreign armies, other gods….Indeed the God who has made a covenant with Israel withdraws his military protection when his people forget such covenants. (3)

According to Aguilar: Throughout the Old Testament men were recruited in order to guard Israel from her enemies, who in turn became Yahweh’s’ enemies as well. (4)

There were two layers to this covenant, (1) the duties of the people toward God, and (2) God’s promises in return.

The Duties of the People to God: The rules of war given in the Book of Mormon were shaped to their Iron Age culture and resources, and were suitable for their needs. They understood war in terms of the milchamah mitzvah, -reshut, and –cherem, wars of defense, expansion and extermination. Modern international law recognizes only wars of self-defense. This was also Nephite practice, which makes them sound surprisingly modern. No Western country fights wars on these ancient terms, but there are some principals that may be derived from Book of Mormon warfare, and define the duties of the people to God under the Covenant:

(1) Wars come as a result of sin. Either the Nephites sinned, or their enemies sinned, or both. When the Nephites sinned, they were left to their own strength and wisdom. In righteousness, they could not be defeated. Professor William Hamblin writes that:

The Book of Mormon teaches that war is a result of iniquity. Wars and destructions were brought upon the Nephites because of the contentions, murderings, idolatry, whoredoms, and abominations which were among themselves, while those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times from captivity, death, or unbelief (Alma 50:21-22). The Book of Mormon implicitly condemns wars of aggression.

Until their final calamity, all Nephite military objectives were strictly defensive. It was a mandatory, sacred obligation of all able-bodied Nephite men to defend their families, country, and religious freedoms (Alma 43:47; 46:12), but only as God commanded them. (5)

(2) There are only a few times in scriptural history when God’s people were authorized to make offensive war against anyone. One of these was the Children of Israel against the Canaanites. The reason for this war was that the Canaanites had gone into terminal apostasy, killed or cast out all the prophets, and were (1 Nephi 17:41) ripe in iniquity for destruction. Otherwise, the people of God—or at least the Nephites—fought wars only in defense, and until the enemy was driven away. War is not to be declared without divine authorization, and without first making an offer of peace.

(3) Wars of revenge are not allowed. (6) That is, the milchamah reshut. Fighting to avenge a wrong violates the conditions under which God will offer his protection. God is not the author of war, and wishes to see them ended as quickly and neatly as possible. If any nations are to be smitten into extinction, it will be by God’s command, and not by human initiative.

(4) Victory comes from obedience to God. Obedience comes in several forms. One is in simply keeping the commandments. Another is in following the promptings of the Spirit while conducting war. Another form of obedience is in not letting one’s heart become hardened with anger, in becoming a tool of the Devil.

(5) Give credit to God for everything, we are simply his tools in the victory. It is God’s purposes that are fulfilled in the war, not ours.

(Mormon 3:9) And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies…. (14) And …behold the voice of the Lord came unto me, saying: (15) Vengeance is mine, and I will repay; and because this people repented not after I had delivered them, behold, they shall be cut off from the face of the earth.

(6) Winning isn’t everything. Victory is when the bloodshed stops, and everyone goes home and minds his own business. It is what Steven Covey would define as a win-win situation. Victory does not come by hoisting one’s flag over the enemy capital and making a new colony. It comes from teaching them to be good, and then leaving them with their liberty. This is what made victory in Europe in 1945 so different from victory in 1918.

(7) The biggest difference between righteous and unrighteous wars is that righteous wars are not fought for reasons of policy, whether economic, geographic, religious, or racial, in and of themselves. They are fought because (a) the enemy is upon us and there is no choice, the milchamah mitzvah, or (b) God, through his prophet, gives an express order. That is, the milchamah cherem.

The Book of Mormon is written on such an intercontinental scale that, aside from the Ammonites and a few Nephite leaders, we see the effects of obeying the Covenant on only the broader Nephite society.

Gideon, Alma the Younger, Moroni, Helaman, Gidgiddoni, Mormon. What makes them unique in the history of warfare? Why did Mormon focus on these men? Because they were men of God. While they were experienced and well trained, Nephite commanders were as prone to mistakes as any mortals and apt to get lost in the fog of war. What makes them different are the elements of faith, and revelation, the seamless fusion of the spiritual with the temporal. By obedience to God, they were able to surmount their human limitations and bring victory.

The Duties of God to the People: The result of keeping the Covenant is an extraordinary degree of national and personal protection. Yet war comes at a cost, God will deliver us only after we have made all possible material and professional preparations. There will still be death, destruction, and post-traumatic-stress, Pahoran, Moroni and Helaman were all dead within three years of the end of the Amalickiah War.

In each of the Nephite wars, Mormon concludes with commentary as to how Nephite righteousness influenced the outcome.

(Alma 50:21) And we see that these promises have been verified to the people of Nephi; for it has been their quarrellings and their contentions, yea, their murderings, and their plunderings, their idolatry, their whoredoms, and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions. (22) And those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times, whilst thousands of their wicked brethren have been consigned to bondage, or to perish by the sword, or to dwindle in unbelief, and mingle with the Lamanites.

Endnotes:

(1) Philip Esler, ed, Ancient Israel: The Old Testament in its Social Context, (Augsburg Fortress Press: Minneapolis, 2006), 85.

(2) T.R., Hobbs, A Time for War, A Study of Warfare in the Old Testament, (Michael Glazier: Wilmington, 1989), 36.

(3) Esler, 241.

(4) Esler, 252.

(5) Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, (New York: MacMillan, 1992), Book of Mormon, History of Warfare in.

(6) Ricks and Hamblin, 49.

Part 1: The Book of Mosiah

Essay: Gideon: C. 150 BC to C. 90 BC.

Mormon’s purpose in telling the story of the Zeniffites was to show the mercies of God in delivering His people out of bondage. But in the process, he also told the story of the two remarkable men who were the instrumentalities of that deliverance, Limhi and Gideon.

Limhi was a son, presumably the eldest, of King Noah, the Book of Mormon’s poster-boy for bad behavior, and makes his first appearance in Mosiah chapter 19.

(Mosiah 19:16) And now there was one of the sons of the king among those that were taken captive, whose name was Limhi. (17) And now Limhi was desirous that his father should not be destroyed; nevertheless, Limhi was not ignorant of the iniquities of his father, he himself being a just man.

Gideon himself makes a somewhat abrupt entrance into the story in the beginning of Mosiah chapter 19.

(Mosiah 19:1) And…the army of the king returned, having searched in vain for the people of the Lord.

Apparently Alma’s departure shattered King Noah’s appearance of being in control.

(Mosiah 19:2) And now behold, the forces of the king were small, having been reduced, and there began to be a division among the remainder of the people.

He didn’t have a police force sufficient to keep control over everyone, and unrest spread rapidly.

(Mosiah 19:3) And the lesser part began to breathe out threatenings against the king, and there began to be a great contention among them.

Mosiah 7:25 illuminates that what happened in 19:3 was civil war.

(7:25a) For if this people had not fallen into transgression the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them. But behold, they would not hearken unto his words;

(Whose words? Abinadi', or Almas'?)

(7:25b) but there arose contentions among them, even so much that they did shed blood among themselves.

It sounds like part of the people rebelled, and Noah’s forces came to suppress them.

(Mosiah 19:4a) And now there was a man among them whose name was Gideon, and he being a strong man and an enemy to the king,

Strong man, if this is the same phrase we find in the Bible, is a transliteration of the Hebrew word gibbor, or warrior/knight. It means he was a nobleman. Surely he was a member of the Senate and a prominent landowner. Not the kind of man the King would wish to antagonize.

(Mosiah 19:4b) therefore he drew his sword, and swore in his wrath that he would slay the king.

An austere man of action like Gideon would have despised a fop like Noah. It doesn’t sound like Gideon was committed to rebellion until he saw Noah attacking his own people, and then the fat was truly in the fire. With Gideon leading the revolt, the tide shifted to the rebels.

(Mosiah 19:5) And…he fought with the king; and when the king saw that he was about to overpower him, he fled and ran and got upon the tower which was near the temple. (6) And Gideon pursued after him and was about to get upon the tower to slay the king, and the king cast his eyes round about towards the land of Shemlon, and behold, the army of the Lamanites were within the borders of the land. (7) And now the king cried out in the anguish of his soul, saying: Gideon, spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people.

While Gideon ran back to rally the troops, Noah ran for his life.

(Mosiah 19:8) And now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life; nevertheless, Gideon did spare his life. (9) And the king commanded the people that they should flee before the Lamanites, and he himself did go before them, and they did flee into the wilderness, with their women and their children.

So far, so good, if Noah had been simply leading the people to refuge.

(Mosiah 19:10) And…the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them.

Alas, he was fleeing solely to save his own skin, and this immediately alienated him from most of the people.

(Mosiah 19:11) Now… the king commanded them that all the men should leave their wives and their children, and flee before the Lamanites.

Now this was really odd, normally the men would make a rearguard defense while the women and children fled for cover. But to sacrifice the women and children to save the men? They must have looked at him and said: Did we hear that right? You’ve got to be out of your mind. Now everyone was certain Noah was a cold, unfeeling coward.

(Mosiah 19:12) Now there were many that would not leave them, but had rather stay and perish with them. And the rest left their wives and their children and fled. (13) And….those who tarried with their wives and their children caused that their fair daughters should stand forth and plead with the Lamanites that they would not slay them.

Read, Gideon, he did the same sort of thing again in Mosiah 20:25 where it was a choice between groveling and getting massacred. This pacified the Lamanites, who took everyone back to the city, where Limhi was appointed king in his father’s place.

(Mosiah 19:18) And…Gideon sent men into the wilderness secretly, to search for the king and those that were with him. And…they met the people in the wilderness, all save the king and his priests.

No one seems to have questioned Gideon’s authority, so he was plainly already high in the government. Apparently it took some time, days or maybe weeks, before the rest of the male population straggled home to announce that Noah was dead. It didn’t much matter, the new government, under Limhi and directed by Gideon, had already been established.

(Mosiah 19:29) And now king Limhi did have continual peace in his kingdom for the space of two years, that the Lamanites did not molest them nor seek to destroy them.

In chapter 20 we get a glimpse of the relationship between Gideon and King Limhi. The Priests of Noah kidnapped 24 Lamanite women and the Lamanites came up to the city of Nephi bent on revenge. The Zeniffites bushwhacked the Lamanite vanguard and captured their king.

(Mosiah 20:13) And they took him and bound up his wounds, and brought him before Limhi, and said: Behold, here is the king of the Lamanites; he having received a wound has fallen among their dead, and they have left him; and behold, we have brought him before you; and now let us slay him.

Limhi vetoed this idea and questioned him as to why he had come up to battle, and learned it was on account of the missing women. Gideon urged Limhi to blame it on the Priests and grovel for peace, because the Lamanites were regrouping and coming back for another round. There seems to have been a good working relationship between the two men, a sort of mutual respect. Neither was, in Moroni’s phrase, a man of blood, and both seemed to possess an innate good sense. It is essential for a commander to remain calm and not get caught up in the passions of the battle. Both Limhi and Gideon possessed this cool-headedness, and managed to defuse the crisis.

Their mutual respect is shown by how Gideon proposed a solution to Limhi, trusting the King’s good judgment to see the wisdom of the advice. He didn’t have to argue or bully Limhi. I don’t think it’s too strong to suggest a kind of David and Jonathon relationship. Or since Gideon was somewhat older than Limhi, a big brother-little brother relationship marked by mutual respect and affection.

We begin to get a feel for Gideon’s personality. He was very competitive, and not someone to refuse a challenge. In battle, he was extremely aggressive. We see this in his personal attack on King Noah, in his attack on the Lamanites during the affair of the missing women, and in his three attacks on the Lamanite squatters. It even shows up in the way he died, not backing down from a man (Nehor) half his age. He was an excellent diplomat and administrator, but a devil for the fight; put him in front of the troops and he turned into the Grim Reaper. A classic heroic commander, with more courage than good sense.

Sometime after this, Limhi relieved him as King’s Captain, he had other used for Gideon. This shows, first of all, Limhi’s independence, he was not Gideon’s puppet. Second, it shows the trust the two men had for each other, and Limhi' faith in Gideon’s humility that the man would not take offense and start plotting against him.

Sometime later (Mosiah 22:3) Gideon was serving as the King’s chief adviser, the Zeniffite equivalent of the Greek Archon, or the Muslim Grand Vizier, the powerful and wily prime minister so familiar from the Arabian Nights, who was often more powerful than the king himself. (1) He was the counterpart to the Israelite Mazkir, or recorder, of 1 Kings 4. According to Easton’s Bible Dictionary:

The recorder was the chancellor or vizier of the kingdom. He brought all weighty matters under the notice of the king, such as complaints, petitions, and wishes of subjects or foreigners. He also drew up papers for the king's guidance, and prepared drafts of the royal will for the scribes. All treaties came under his oversight; and he had the care of the national archives or records, to which, as royal historiographer, like the same state officer in Assyria and Egypt, he added the current annals of the kingdom. (2)

Compare Gideon’s words to the king in Mosiah 22:3—

Now…Gideon went forth and stood before the king, and said unto him… (4)…if thou hast not found me to be an unprofitable servant, or if thou hast hitherto listened to my words in any degree…

He was unquestionably the Mazkir. His plot to deliver the people out of bondage (22:3-9) was a masterpiece of conniving. He was a more successful diplomat than soldier.

The land of Gideon (Alma 2:20, 6:7 and 8:7) was named after him, which indicates he was the first person to settle it and served as its first governor, under King Mosiah II. With his gift for political infighting, his term of office must have been extremely successful. He had a distinguished career, and by the establishment of the Reign of the Judges appears to have been retired. Alas, his hot temper overtook him one last time, in Alma chapter 1, when he encountered the anti-Christ Nehor.

(Alma 1:7a) And it came to pass as [Nehor] was going, to preach to those who believed on his word, he met a man who belonged to the church of God, yea, even one of their teachers;

Note that Gideon wasn’t one of the Elders presiding over the church; he was operating on a local level, as a Teacher, proclaiming the gospel.

(Alma 1:7b) and [Nehor] began to contend with him sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but the man withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.

As a Teacher, this was his calling, to proclaim the word of God, and he was unquestionably good at it. This was a public debate, with the members of the church looking on as Gideon tied Nehor in knots.

(Alma 1:8) Now the name of the man was Gideon; and it was he who was an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage. (9a) Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him.

Gideon didn’t care how Nehor felt, he didn’t expect to convert him. He wanted to make Nehor look like an idiot in public so no one would believe him. This was a humiliation Nehor couldn’t endure. In some ways, Gideon hadn’t changed a bit in thirty years—still a warrior; lean, ramrod straight, assertive, the glint of authority still in his eye, not someone to tolerate fools. But if his mind had not aged, his arms certainly had.

(Alma 1:9b) Now Gideon being stricken with many years, therefore he was not able to withstand his blows, therefore he was slain by the sword.

It was a tragedy for everyone. A good man lost his life because he wouldn’t control his big mouth; and a bad man became a martyr for his apostate followers. The argument was not worth the lives of the two men.

Endnotes:

Hugh W. Nibley,An Approach to the Book of Mormon, (SLC: Deseret, 1964), 104.

(2) Matthew George Easton, ed., Easton’s Bible Dictionary, (NY: Cosimo, 2005, first printed in 1893), 575, Recorder.

Chapter 1: The Zeniffite Wars—c. 200 BC to 120 BC

Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war!

(Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, Act 3, scene 1)

Based on what we know about Nephite warfare, we can roughly reconstruct several early Zeniffite battles.

The Battle of South Shilom: Zeniff writes of this battle, which took place perhaps between 170 and 160 BC:

(Mosiah 9: 11) Therefore…after we had dwelt in the land for the space of twelve years that king Laman began to grow uneasy, lest by any means my people should wax strong in the land, and that they could not overpower them and bring them into bondage…. (13) Therefore ... king Laman began to stir up his people that they should contend with my people; therefore there began to be wars and contentions in the land. (14) For, in the thirteenth year of my reign in the land of Nephi, away on the south of the land of Shilom, when my people were watering and feeding their flocks, and tilling their lands, a numerous host of Lamanites came upon them and began to slay them, and to take off their flocks, and the corn of their fields.

This would mark the battle as taking place in the fall, after the crops had been harvested. Fall through spring were prime seasons for warfare, between plantings when men and supplies were available.

(Mosiah 9:15) Yea, and ... they fled, all that were not overtaken, even into the city of Nephi, and did call upon me for protection.

Zeniff would have closeted himself with his chief captain and commanders to form a plan of action based on the witness reports of scouts and border guards. Initial defense would have been provided by the Gibborim, the professional soldiers, the forces of the king of Mosiah 19:2.

While they did this, the Sar Machane, the Commander of the Camp, went out to muster the people. Under the best of conditions it would take hours to get everyone assembled. By the time this was accomplished, the King would have his plan ready, and would have composed his pre-battle speech.

(Mosiah 9:16) And ... that I did arm them with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and

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