Friday, April 6, 2012

Other Peoples in the Promised Land

Other Peoples in the Promised Land
            The Book of Mormon never states or even infers that the various groups of people mentioned in its pages were the only peoples living in the Americas during the time period of approximately 2500 BC to 300 BC during the Jaredite period; or from 590 BC to 421 AD during the Nephite/Lamanite period.  On the contrary, there are numerous suggestions and indications that there were other groups of people with which the main Lehite colony, or its sub-parts, came in contact.  Following are the scriptural references of many passages that suggest or infer the existence of other groups of indigenous peoples.

2 Nep. 1:5-11 - Other peoples would be led to the Americas.  These could have preceded the Book of Mormon people.

2 Nep. 5:6-9 - All those who would go with Nephi: inferring that there were others besides his own family and those mentioned by name.

2 Nep. 5:15-16 - Within barely 30 years after leaving Jerusalem, the Nephites had built a large temple.  In that short period of time there probably weren’t more than 100 Nephites, many of whom would have been children or teenagers, so the inference is that there must have been many other able-bodied men enough to construct the temple in addition to their own homes.

2 Nep. 5:34 - After only 30 years in the New World (essentially only 40 years since leaving Jerusalem) the Nephites had already had wars with the Lamanites (in only 2 generations); and there would have been only approximately 150 people on each side, hardly enough to be considered having a war unless thousands of indigenous peoples were also involved.

2 Nep. 10:20-22 - Jacob says the Nephites “are upon an isle of the sea.”  (At least it appears to be an island to the Nephites, being surrounded by water.) There are multiple “isles of the sea . . . and they are inhabited also by our brethren.” (Again, not necessarily actual islands.) The Lord has led these other Israelites away from Jerusalem (or Israel/Palestine), possibly to other parts of the New World.
2 Nep. 29:7, 12-14 - Lord remembers the seed of Abraham and will give his word to them. (Wherever they may be.)

Jacob 1:14 - People friendly to Nephi are called Nephites; those who want to destroy the people of Nephi are called Lamanites, not necessarily blood descendants on either side.

Jacob 3:13 - Nephites had become numerous.  This is a general statement but there is a suggestion that more than direct descendants of the Lehite colony were involved.

Jacob 7:1-6 - Sherem had never met Jacob even though the direct descendants of Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, and Joseph were very few in number, ~ less than 80-100.

Jarom 1:6 - Lamanites were more numerous than Nephites.  Why?  Initially, Laman, Lemuel, 2 sons of Ishmael became Lamanites - 4 groups. Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Jacob, Joseph became Nephites - 4-5 groups. Possibly the Lamanite families were joined by more of the indigenous peoples than were the Nephites.

Mosiah 24:5-7 - Groups of Lamanites friendly with each other, yet occasionally fought among themselves except with their own tribes.

Mosiah 25:3 - Lamanites more numerous than Nephites and people of Zarahemla combined. They might have commandeered other indigenous groups south of the narrow strip of wilderness.

Mosiah 25:12 - Whenever outsiders joined with Nephites they were called Nephites.

Mosiah 29:44 - Reign of judges were established among all the people who were called the Nephites. Inference is that there were other peoples besides the descendants of the Lehite colony.

Alma 3:11 - Whoever didn’t believe in the Lamanite traditions were Nephites, inferring there were others than direct descendants of the Lehite colony.

Alma 3:17 - Nephi’s seed is whomever follows him (regardless of lineage).

Alma 7:1, 6 - Alma speaks to the people of Gideon “in my language;” possibly inferring that the people of Gideon were of a different lineage and who had learned the Nephite language so he could communicate with them, but that he didn’t know their specific language or dialect. Verse 6 - the Gideonites were not prideful and set upon riches and vain things. They may have been a completely different people than those in Zarahemla, who were prideful and concerned about worldly things, yet all in the Nephite nation.

Alma 17:26 - Lamanitish servants - why this designation if they were not true Lamanites?

Alma 19:16 - Abish (secret Church convert) was one of the Lamanitish women.  What is a Lamanitish woman compared to a true Lamanite woman?

Alma 21:2-5; 22:7; 24:1, 28; 27:12; 43:6, 17 - Amalekites. This is a hard-hearted, wicked group of otherwise unidentified people living among the Lamanites in the land of Nephi.  Some LDS scholars (Royal Skousen) think their name was misspelled by Oliver Cowdery when penning the printer's manuscript and they are actually the Amlicites, followers of a Nephite dissenter named Amlici. Amlici himself and many of his followers may also have been other than pure Nephites (See Alma 2:1-38; 3:1-18). The Amalekites were definitly of a different lineage than the Lamanites (See Alma 24:29).

Alma 30:6 - Korihor came into the land of Zarahemla. If the “land of Zarahemla” means the entire land, which is the nation of the Nephites, it means that he was a non-Nephite coming from another group of people who were not Nephites.  Some LDS researchers have shown that Korihor is actually a Jaredite name and that he may have been a descendant of some Jaredites who were not involved with the great war that ended the Jaredites as a people.  If the “land of Zarahemla” means the local county-like area immediately around the city of Zarahemla, then Korihor could have been a Nephite (still possibly with Jaredite ancestry) from another land within the greater land of Zarahemla.

Alma 31:35 - Many of the Zoramites were brethren of Alma and his missionary group.  This infers that others of the Zoramites, possibly the majority, may have been of a different lineage from the original Lehite colony.  The Zoramites, in general, were dissenters from the Nephites - Alma 31:8.

Alma 43:17 - Amalekites are mentioned as dissenters from the Nephites, yet nowhere previously is it mentioned when they dissented, unless they are the Amlicites who did defect and join the Lamanites (See Alma 21:2-5, etc., above).

Alma 50:32 - Why was Moroni concerned that the people in the land Bountiful would join with the             rebellious people of the land of Morianton unless they were of a different stock, and prone to be more rebellious themselves than regular (pure) Nephites?

Alma 51:8, 21 - The king-men were of high birth.  Where did they come from?  Were they descendants from the people of Zarahemla, thus from Mulek who was of high birth; or were they a completely separate group of people assimilated earlier into the Nephites from a culture that had nobility and high births, and were now becoming disaffected?

Helaman 1:15 - Coriantumr2, a defector to the Lamanites, was a direct descendant of the Mulekites. Some of this lineage may not have been happy that their ancestors joined with the Nephites and became subject to subsequent kings who were all pure descendants of Nephi.

3 Nephi 3:9-10 - somewhat nebulous - The leaders of the Gadianton band may have been part of the dissenters, like the Amlicites, who felt they should have had more privileges being of noble birth, etc.          

3 Nephi 3:14, 24 - “... all them who were numbered among the Nephites....” (possibly inferring that there were other peoples besides the Nephites and converted Lamanites who were friendly to the Nephite leadership).

3 Nephi 5:20 - Mormon announces to his future readers that he is a pure descendant of Lehi, implying that others in his environment were of mixed ancestry.

3 Nephi 7:2-4, 14 - During the anarchy and the formation of numerous tribal associations before Christ’s coming to America - it would be interesting to know if the tribes that developed were based on prior ethnicity.

4 Nephi 1:10, 23 - The Nephites “multiplied exceedingly fast” - could this have been augmented by many converts from other nearby peoples as well as those who were already Nephites?

Mormon 1:7 - Nephites were extremely numerous.  See question immediately above.

Mormon 4:17 - “... greatness of number....” - Again, question of natural increase or conscription of other indigenous or other non-Nephite peoples.

Ether 7:11 - “...for the people had become exceeding numerous.”    The time period appears to be between 75 and 150 years after arrival in the new world.  Jared’s and Mahonri’s descendants, along with the other 22 people or couples’ descendants, probably wouldn’t amount to more than 1000 people.  It is difficult to say what “exceeding numerous” means, of course, but if they had assimilated thousands of locals (Olmecs) then there could easily have been a numerous people under the heading of Jaredites.

Ether 7:23 - Prophets were sent by the Lord among them.  Were these prophets literal descendants of the original Jaredite colony who came across the ocean, or were they raised up from indigenous peoples?

Ether 10:1-4 - Apparently the famine that came destroyed most of the Jaredites, but in a short time during Shez1's reign “the people began again to spread over all the face of the land.”  Again, this is very general but it could be accounted for by combining with indigenous people.

Ether 10:21 - Within 200 - 300 years after Shez’s reign, “the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants.”  Whether this could have been accomplished by direct descendants of  the Jaredite colony alone is questionable, but it could easily have been done by assimilating indigenous (Olmec) peoples.