16 July 2015

Alma 50: The People of Morianton

In the last chapter, the Lamanites unsuccessfully tried break through the city walls in the city of Noah in the land of Noah. Not a single Nephite was killed, and pretty much all of the Lamanites either died or they fled into the wilderness.

You'd think that Moroni would be pretty pleased with himself at this point, but he didn't rest. He continued preparing for war and fortifying his cities. He kept digging trenches and putting barricades on top of the mounds of dirt, and putting towers on top of the barricades, and pickets on top of the barricades. It gets pretty confusing, but it probably looked like this:

Amazing we've never found evidence of one, isn't it? 

And now it came to pass that Moroni did not stop making preparations for war, or to defend his people against the Lamanites; for he caused that his armies should commence in the commencement of the twentieth year of the reign of the judges, that they should commence in digging up heaps of earth round about all the cities, throughout all the land which was possessed by the Nephites. Alma 50:1 
And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities. 50:2 
And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high. 50:3 
And he caused towers to be erected that overlooked those works of pickets, and he caused places of security to be built upon those towers, that the stones and the arrows of the Lamanites could not hurt them. 50:4 
And they were prepared that they could cast stones from the top thereof, according to their pleasure and their strength, and slay him who should attempt to approach near the walls of the city. 50:5
Apparently Moroni put these same amazing defensive towers in every city in the land. Nice!
Thus Moroni did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies, round about every city in all the land. 50:6
Moroni also then sent his armies out and drove the Lamanites, who were in the wilderness, back to their homeland south of the land of Zarahemla. He then sent the inhabitants of Zarahemla to take over the newly cleared land, and he sent some troops to protect the southern border. He also built the same fortifications around the new land.
And it came to pass that Moroni caused that his armies should go forth into the east wilderness; yea, and they went forth and drove all the Lamanites who were in the east wilderness into their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla. 50:7 
And the land of Nephi did run in a straight course from the east sea to the west. 50:8 
And it came to pass that when Moroni had driven all the Lamanites out of the east wilderness, which was north of the lands of their own possessions, he caused that the inhabitants who were in the land of Zarahemla and in the land round about should go forth into the east wilderness, even to the borders by the seashore, and possess the land. 50:9 
And he also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies. 50:10 
Moroni had successfully isolated the Lamanites, and protected his people. His people flourished and his army grew, and they even founded a new city, which they called Moroni.
And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon -- the Nephites possessing all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful, according to their pleasure. 50:11 
Thus Moroni, with his armies, which did increase daily because of the assurance of protection which his works did bring forth unto them, did seek to cut off the strength and the power of the Lamanites from off the lands of their possessions, that they should have no power upon the lands of their possession. 50:12 
And it came to pass that the Nephites began the foundation of a city, and they called the name of the city Moroni; and it was by the east sea; and it was on the south by the line of the possessions of the Lamanites. 50:13
They also founded another city between the cities of Aaron and Nephi. They called it Nephihah.
And they also began a foundation for a city between the city of Moroni and the city of Aaron, joining the borders of Aaron and Moroni; and they called the name of the city, or the land, Nephihah. 50:14
And, you know, they founded a bunch of other cities in the north. One of them they called "Lehi". But those don't really matter very much. The point is, it was a really good time for the Nephites.
And they also began in that same year to build many cities on the north, one in a particular manner which they called Lehi, which was in the north by the borders of the seashore. 50:15
And in these prosperous circumstances were the people of Nephi in the commencement of the twenty and first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi. 50:17
And they did prosper exceedingly, and they became exceedingly rich; yea, and they did multiply and wax strong in the land. 50:18
And here comes the time when we get to use our favorite phrase: "Dwindling in Unbelief". You see, it was a good time for the Nephites because they were faithful, and they kept the commandments of the Lord. Their wicked brethren, who didn't have faith and/or didn't keep the commandments of the Lord, were either enslaved, killed, 'Dwindled in Unbelief', or mingled with the Lamanites. As you can see, these threats just get progressively worse. What could be worse than mingling with the Lamanites?

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. 50:22
There was peace for two more years (the 22nd and 23rd year of the reign of the judges), and there WOULD have been peace in the 24th year, too, but those jerks up in the land of Morianton screwed it up. They started fighting with the people in the land of Lehi over a border dispute.

And it came to pass that the twenty and second year of the reign of the judges also ended in peace; yea, and also the twenty and third year. 50:24 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the twenty and fourth year of the reign of the judges, there would also have been peace among the people of Nephi had it not been for a contention which took place among them concerning the land of Lehi, and the land of Morianton, which joined upon the borders of Lehi; both of which were on the borders by the seashore. 50:25 
For behold, the people who possessed the land of Morianton did claim a part of the land of Lehi; therefore there began to be a warm contention between them, insomuch that the people of Morianton took up arms against their brethren, and they were determined by the sword to slay them. 50:26
The people in the land of Lehi came to Moroni for assistance. When Morianton's leader (Morianton) heard that the people of Lehi went to Moroni, he was scared that Moroni might lend his army to help them. Since Moroni's army was so strong, they would be easily defeated. So he came up with a plan to flee into the north to live in the land 'O lakes. It seems as if a diplomatic solution would have been more reasonable, but for some reason he wanted to run up north.

But behold, the people who possessed the land of Lehi fled to the camp of Moroni, and appealed unto him for assistance; for behold they were not in the wrong. 50:27
And it came to pass that when the people of Morianton, who were led by a man whose name was Morianton, found that the people of Lehi had fled to the camp of Moroni, they were exceedingly fearful lest the army of Moroni should come upon them and destroy them. 50:28 
Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward, which was covered with large bodies of water, and take possession of the land which was northward. 50:29
Here is where it gets weird. For some reason, it would have been really bad if Morianton and his crew headed up north. The author of Alma thinks it's pretty self evident that that would be a terrible thing, and that somehow a colony up north would inevitably lead to the destruction of the Nephites. It's never really explained, but before Morianton can flee north Moroni sent an army to stop them.

And behold, they would have carried this plan into effect, (which would have been a cause to have been lamented) but behold, Morianton being a man of much passion, therefore he was angry with one of his maid servants, and he fell upon her and beat her much. 50:30 
And it came to pass that she fled, and came over to the camp of Moroni, and told Moroni all things concerning the matter, and also concerning their intentions to flee into the land northward. 50:31 
Now behold, the people who were in the land Bountiful, or rather Moroni, feared that they would hearken to the words of Morianton and unite with his people, and thus he would obtain possession of those parts of the land, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty. 50:32 
Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward. 50:33
Moroni was clever about sending his army, though. He waited until they came to a narrow pass, by the sea, and then they had a furious battle. Pretty much their very own battle of Thermoplae.

Except in this case Leonidas is kills Xerces in hand-to-hand combat, and the Spartans win. Nice! Our hero's name is Teancum, and he killed Morianton and enslaved his army.
And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east. 50:34 
And it came to pass that the army which was sent by Moroni, which was led by a man whose name was Teancum, did meet the people of Morianton; and so stubborn were the people of Morianton, (being inspired by his wickedness and his flattering words) that a battle commenced between them, in the which Teancum did slay Morianton and defeat his army, and took them prisoners, and returned to the camp of Moroni. And thus ended the twenty and fourth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi. 50:35
Then Nephihah, the second chief judge, suddenly dies. The records went to Alma's son, Helaman, and Nephihah's son, Pahoran, filled his seat. Nephihah was a good judge, apparently, so Poharan had some big shoes to fill.
And it came to pass that in the same year that the people of Nephi had peace restored unto them, that Nephihah, the second chief judge, died, having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God. 50:37 
Nevertheless, he had refused Alma to take possession of those records and those things which were esteemed by Alma and his fathers to be most sacred; therefore Alma had conferred them upon his son, Helaman. 50:38 
Behold, it came to pass that the son of Nephihah was appointed to fill the judgment-seat, in the stead of his father; yea, he was appointed chief judge and governor over the people, with an oath and sacred ordinance to judge righteously, and to keep the peace and the freedom of the people, and to grant unto them their sacred privileges to worship the Lord their God, yea, to support and maintain the cause of God all his days, and to bring the wicked to justice according to their crime. 50:39 
Now behold, his name was Pahoran. And Pahoran did fill the seat of his father, and did commence his reign in the end of the twenty and fourth year, over the people of Nephi. 50:40
I guess we'll see how he does in the next few chapters!


Stephen said...

Yeah, really... where is the archeological evidence for such robust structures? Sort of stretches the credibility, don't it? I wonder why the Mor(m)on church, with all its money, hasn't funded research expeditions to find the remains of these impressive fortified cities.
Oh... right.
Steve Weeks

likeuntoammon said...

There is all sorts of documentation of exactly this kind of fortification in ancient Mesoamerica. Please refer to pages 405-410 of Mormon's Codex where Cortez, among others offers a description that sounds like it came out of the Book of Mormon.