There are 17 thoughts on “In His Footsteps: Ammon₁ and Ammon₂”.

  1. What a fascinating article. I have often thought that there was a great deal going on “between the lines” in the Book of Mormon, especially during the conflicts with the Amalekites and “king-men” where by all rights there really shouldn’t be anything. But I wonder if there might be more to the conflict than just competition between the Nephite and Mulekite branches of government.

    First, if I understand correctly Hugh Nibley suggested that the people of Zarahemla included a Jaredite remnant, and if so, another layer of assumed prestige could have been part of Mulekite claims. The Jaredites had up to that point been the most impressive culture in the area, and they and their history were certainly a matter of interest to the larger Nephite group. The Nephites fought to the bitter end to keep the lands of the Jaredites as theirs, against both internal dissidents and external antagonists trying to take them away from them. So it is not hard to imagine the people of Zarahemla claiming continuity with the Jaredites such that the Amalekites could point to the glory of their forebears as another indication of their assumed right to preeminence. By the way, it is interesting to note that, considering the possibility that the Jaredites correlate with the Olmec culture, Mesoamerican rulers do seem to have looked to the lost glory of the Olmecs (and later to that of their geographical neighbor Teotihuacan) for that same sort of preeminence.

    A second point of contention would have been religion. You can assume that the Mulekites/Amalekites/Amulonites etc. had the same religion as the Nephites originally, with the order of the Nehors being some sort of apostate group, but would it really have been? It has been pointed out elsewhere that the general religion of the Jaredites (them again) was not overtly Christian, and the people of Zarahemla had centuries to drift off into who knows where before joining with the Nephites. Religious differences may have been much greater than we imagine, and I wonder if the order of the Nehors was part of an attempted return to religious forms existing prior to the alliance. In that case it would have constituted a rebellion against the religious innovations (as they could have been seen) imposed by the Nephite kings. As a parallel I think of Egypt’s Tutankhamun and his return from his father Akhenaten’s worship of the god Aten to the worship of the god Amun (interesting connection there…).

    Both of these factors, the force of the memory of another ruling tradition with vast cultural weight among the majority of the populace and of long-standing cultural and religious norms would have made it very difficult for the Nephite kings and judges to hold it all together. It is no surprise that they ultimately failed to do so.

  2. thnx much
    the xplanation of the oddities in the waters of sebus makes total sense
    also the parrallel between ammon n Christ was gr8

  3. In the article I confidently assert that Mosiah would have married a Mulekite descendant of Zarahemla. To a modern reader, this claim may seem speculative. It isn’t. Readers may see it as speculative because we moderns think personal preference dictates the choice of a marriage partner. And personal preference is fickle. It doesn’t always correspond with political necessty. But as Adam S. Miller points out, citing Stephanie Coontz, in his book Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology, people haven’t always thought this way: “In her excellent and comprehensive study, Marriage, a History, Stephanie Coontz explains that ‘for centuries, marriage did much of the work that markets and governments do today. It organized the production and distribution of goods and people. It set up political, economic, and military alliances….’ In this sense, marriage was traditionally not a private affair of primarily personal interest. Rather, marriage served as a social, political, and economic hub for the production of goods and the distribution of social roles. ‘Certainly,’ Coontz continues, ‘people fell in love during those thousands of years, sometimes even with their own spouses. But marriage was not fundamentally about love. It was too vital an economic and political institution to be entered into solely on the basis of something as irrational as love'” (Kindle Edition, loc 1852). Miller further explores this traditional view of marriage and explains how the modern emphasis on personal preference has destabilized marriage. Benjamin and Mosiah weren’t modern men. They would have understood the primacy of the social role of marriage, especially, the marriage of a prospective king. Being responsible men, they would have arranged for a marriage that would bind the Nephites to the Mulekites and visa versa. If I had seen it before submitting the article, I would have incorporated this citation in the footnotes. Better late, and here, than never.

  4. Thanks for an insightful article. I had not previously considered how the two Ammons could be connected in terms of familial relationship. Another connection I once heard proposed concerns Helaman (son of King Benjamin, Mosiah 1:2), and Helaman the son of Alma.

    Alma is hanging out with the sons of Mosiah, and probably knows their Uncle Helaman. Perhaps Alma marries ones of his friends’ cousins (a daughter of Helaman) and winds up naming his son Helaman.

    In context of this article, I wonder what implications this (admittedly speculative possibility) would have for Alma. If Mosiah2 is half Mulekite, so is Helaman1, and depending on who he married Alma could have married a woman anywhere from 1/4-3/4 Mulekite. If he did, does that alter the argument that “Bloodlines probably explain, in part, the explosion of unrest that occurs when Alma2, a pure blooded Nephite with Zeniffite roots, is appointed as first chief judge”?

    • Your speculation on Helaman the uncle is very interesting and quite plausible. The probability that Alma knew uncle Helaman is very high, and both being part of an elite political circle, a marriage of the kind you propose is quite possible. Indeed, the fact that Alma becomes Chief Judge substantially increases the probability that the speculation is true. If Alma’s wife was a daughter of Mosiah’s brother, Helaman, making her, if Mosiah had no daughters of his own (and none are mentioned), his closest female relative of that generation, Mosiah would have been more likely to push Alma’s candidacy which he seems to have done, and the people would have been more likely to accept the apointment of Alma. The name Helaman has high incidence in the Book of Mormon, but apart from this uncle, the Helaman’s are all in Alma’s direct line so we have no reason to think the name was especially common in the larger culture. Your idea that Alma’s wife could have been part or wholly Mulekite is very plausible. And her being so would have helped Alma the politician meet the challenges he faced, though he himself was pure Nephite which was most likely a big problem, his wife notwithstanding, as discussed in the article. I think it virtually certain that the Alma line did at some point intermarry with prominent Mulekites because they become one of the two most prominent political families in the realm with multiple chief judges after Alma. They could hardly have achieved that prominence without a measure of ethnic appeal to the Mulekite part of the population. Mosiah’s influence could explain Alma the Younger’s appointment. The subsequent appointments of Helaman and Nephi must reflect the political prominence of the family itself and probably, as you speculate, marital and blood relationships with the Mulekites.

  5. Great article!!! The insights although speculative are some of my favorite types of insights. You’ve apparently taken a lot of time to study and ponder the surrounding scenarios. I never would have thought of the correlations between the two Ammons in the Book of Mormon but it does make sense. I applaud you and your efforts! Keep them coming!

  6. Great article. As to above comment by Calvin D Tolman: wow. I am glad that there are people like all of you that understand what is being said, going on, etc. and that you take time to explain it to others, like me. I am studying the Scriptures again and these articles help. One day I hope to not need anything to help me understand what I am reading when it comes to the Scriptures. I will never have the knowledge all of you have but I am working on gaining some knowledge.

  7. This is a fascinating article. I appreciate the insights.

    I had long believed that the Amlicites and the Amalekites were the same people and was gratified to see others make that connection recently. But, there is an issue about this that I have struggled with over the past decades. The sons of Mosiah left before Mosiah died (at least that is how I read Mosiah 29:3). Aaron immediately went to the Jerusalem where he attempts to teach the Amalekites. In the fifth year of the reign of judges, Amlici begins his rebellion and when defeated his people move off to the Lamanites. But, this is approximately five years after Aaron’s abortive attempt to teach the Amalekites in the city of Jerusalem. It would appear that the Amalekites had already come under the jurisdiction of the High King of the Lamanites well before Amlici tried to take over Zarahemla.

    The 14-year mission to the Lamanites seems to take only a few months in the narrative. This article’s discussion of Mormon selectively choosing events to highlight events that teach about the Atonement makes a lot of sense in this regard. Trying to reconstruct the timelines of Alma (to Alma 16) on the one hand and the sons of Mosiah on the other is kind of hard–the attack on Ammonihah being a point of correlation. Alma had done quite a bit by that time. It is possible that once the Lamanite high king is converted, that may have been a catalyst for Amlici’s attack on Zarahemla in the 5th year of the reign of judges. Amlicites near Zarahemla and Amalekites near Nephi apparently being the same people, may have greatly feared Alma at Zarahemla and the high king in Nephi becoming allies.

    I appreciate the comments on plausible intermarriage between Mosiah’s and Zarahemla’s families. I had never put that together, but it makes sense. Now, if Benjamin had married a daughter of Zarahemla, that would make Mosiah2 a grandson of Zarahemla and likely a cousin of Ammon1–not just his wife, but himself. That Mosiah1 would become king of the combined people is something worth thinking about. I have often heard that the smaller group takes the leadership because of some superior technology or something. But, that argument doesn’t make sense. Clearly, the city of Zarahemla is much stronger than the city of Nephi at the time. In perhaps 150 years, 3 kings led their people from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla escaping significant pressure on them and gaining refuge around Zarahemla. Not long after the first group arrived, some part of that group presumably with additions from the Mulekites went back to Nephi and had the strength to secure control of the city by negotiation and that after the first attempt had resulted in near destruction of the group because of an inability to decide between destroying the Lamanites in Nephi or simply asking them to give the land to them–either way both the groups for which Zeniff was a spy and the second group that Zeniff led were undoubtedly stronger than what Mosiah1 had before leaving Nephi or the Lamanites that then occupied Nephi. I use these are arguments that Zarahemla was stronger than Nephi. Mosiah1 had the scriptures–something that would have been very important to the Mulekites. But, I can’t imagine he and his party were seen as the stronger. It is possible that they arrived in a civil war–certainly civil wars had occurred among the Mulekites–and if so, their arrival might have been to Zarahemla’s favor against rivals in the possible civil war at the time Mosiah1 arrived. But, the most logical answer in my mind has to do with intermarriage between the two dynastic lines. Not only could Benjamin have married a Mulekite princess, it is possible that Mosiah1 did as well, perhaps marrying a daughter or sister of Zarahemla. In fact, that the throne transferred from Zarahemla to Mosiah1–given any Mulekite belief in the Davidic throne that would not pass out of their line–a Mosiah1 married to a daughter of Zarahemla seems plausible to have allowed Mosiah1 to ascend the throne.

    I loved the interpretation of the events at the Waters of Sebus and the plausible backstory, which makes perhaps sense. I had always wondered why Lamoni–who was considering executing Ammon2 in one moment suddenly offers him his daughter when he announced he wanted to stay in Ishmael. Mormon clearly left out any mention that Ammon2 indicted that he was a prince, but that is exactly the kind of disclosure that could have led to such an offer of marriage into the Lamanite kingly line. I agree with the description of Lamoni’s father and his probable role in the back story. It does make the back story as told here to be very plausible.

    Final comment. A little later, we have another Nephite dissenter group–the Zoramites. These claimed descent from Zoram. I have wondered how they ended up where they were. Did their ancestors travel with Mosiah1 from Nephi to Zarahemla or did they leave Nephi independently –perhaps some point before Mosiah1. I have yet to detect any clue about how the Zoramites ended up were they were when Alma, Ammon, and others went to preach to them. Later Ammoron stated he was a Zoramite who became a Lamanite. Ammoron’s brother Amalekiah would have been a Zoramite. Amalekiah seems to have been somewhat of a parallel to Amlici–he was in a group that apparently had ties to both the Nephites in Zarahemla and the Lamanites in Nephi. And he attempted to establish himself as a king in Zarahemla and when that failed he was able to become the Lamanite high king. Zoramites presumably were not Mulekites, but it appears that the Zoramites behaved like the people of Amlici before them, so not all the kingmen threatening the reign of judges were Mulekites. We do know that the kingmen in the days of Pahoran and Moroni were also in league with the Lamanites, but we know nothing of their ethnic makeup. Clearly patterns of conflicting allegiances existed and among more than one group.

    • You make some interesting points. It didn’t occur to me that Mosiah2 and Ammon1 could easily have been blood relatives, not just relatives by marriage, though of course, they could also be both. Standard political practice would make Mosiah’s wife a Mulekite, but he would also prefer to have a blood connection with Ammon1, his important military aid.
      With respect to why Mosiah1 was made king, you were right to wonder about technology but perhaps mistaken to think Mosiah didn’t have an important technology to offer the Mulekites. I made this point in the original draft of the paper but the reviewers had me take it out to reduce the length. The greatest technological development of all time is writing. We often don’t recognize writing as a technology, but it is. Mosiah1 could write and read; Zarahemla couldn’t. The Brass Plates explain this difference between the two groups. In that difficult first generation following the migration, the Nephites had the plates so preserved the ability to read and write, and preserved their knowledge of their original language and culture. Lacking something important to read or to use as a teaching tool, the Mulekites ceased to be literate after their first generation. (Writing like any other technology can be lost in one generation if neglected.) Omni 1: 14, 17-19 demonstrates that he Mulekites were mightily impressed by the Nephites’ ability to write and read. But not just that. The Brass Plates were a part of the package. The Nephites had preserved the heritage and language they shared with the Mulekites because they had a written record. Using the plates, the Nephites could reveal to the Mulekites an impressive past that would have been in substantial measure lost to them before the arrival of Mosiah1. The Nephites could reveal that their language was closer than the Mulekites language to the Hebrew the two peoples shared as a common language heritage. So the Mulekites learned and used the language of the Nephites, a clear reflection of their sense that, owing to the Brass Plates, the Nephite culture was more authentic and valid than their own. In Omni 19, Mosiah1 is named king immediately following the mention of the plates and the change in language. It is clearly implied that the Brass Plates and associated prestige culture were what caused Zarahemla to select Mosiah1 as his successor. This idea is strongly backed up in Mosiah 1: 2-7 where Benjamin emphasizes to his sons the importance of the plates in a political context, the coronation of Mosiah2. The clear implication is that the plates and what they taught are the base of the political power Benjamin will now pass on to Mosiah2. See Mosiah 1: 9 and following verses.

      The timing issues you raise are important. I attempted to address them in Footnote 18. I also discuss there the connection between Amlici and Amalekiah which seems to parallel linguistically the connection between Moroni and Moronihah. Thanks for providing a great comment on the article.

      • Thank you for your response, Dr. Larsen.

        Also, thank you for referring me to your footnotes. A wealth of interesting information and conjecture resides in them. I had listened to the podcast while commuting to work and then went back and listened to it again because the ideas you raised in the article were fascinating. I should have looked in your footnotes before posting; I might have adjusted my initial comments if I had done so.

        I spent some time developing the idea in my initial comments that the Mulekites were clearly much more powerful than Mosiah1’s party, raising the issue of why Mosiah1 became king after Zarahemla. I didn’t raise the issue so much to prove anything, but the image of Mosiah1 potentially marrying a daughter of Zarahemla came into my mind while I listened to the podcast. If he had married into the royal family, that would have strengthened his right to rule that came. Your point about ability to read and having the scriptures is the point I have usually heard trying to explain why Mosiah1 was able to become king over the combined peoples. That also means that Mosiah1 brought direct evidence that only the descendents of King David should be on the throne and thus in some ways this contribution to the combined people perhaps would have made it less likely for Mosiah1 to have become king. The main point is that the idea of intermarriage–something I can’t believe I hadn’t considered before as it is so obvious–is also a possibility for why the throne passed to Mosiah1, especially if a younger Mosiah1 had encountered an older King Zarahemla and the two families merged into a single royal family.

        • Mike,

          You make some good points. We don’t know the age of Mosiah1, so it is possible that marriage with a daughter of Zarahemla (along with his possession of the plates) was a factor in his coronation as leader of the combined peoples. Such a marriage would certainly have strengthened his claim. You correctly note that the Brass Plates could be read as supporting the right of David’s descendants to rule. And they almost certainly were read that way once the Mulekites learned to read and became more familiar with their content. As I note in the paper, the book of Alma opens with the thesis that laws established by Mosiah2 are the only legitimate foundation for governance of the people who live in Zarahemla. But clearly implied is a powerful, unstated antithesis of that thesis: when Mosiah2 died without a successor, the right to rule reverted to the Davidic royal line. Almost the entire Book of Alma is devoted to conflicts that seem to have arisen once the descendants of David who had “the blood of nobility” (Alma 51: 21) reasserted their right to rule based on the Davidic covenant they found enscribed in the Brass Plates. So the Brass Plates were a double edged sword politically. It is clear from the opening of Mosiah that they were the most important pillar supporting the dynasty of Mosiah1. But it is also quite clear in the book of Alma that they became the most important pillar undergirding the attempt of the Kingmen to reclaim a throne that they viewed as being theirs by right. Initially, the mere possession of the plates was the most important political fact. Later, the content of the plates became a critically important political fact. Since Mormon didn’t agree with the Kingmen’s political claims, he didn’t report that Mulek was a son of David until Helaman 6: 10, when the descent from David was moot insofar as it related to dynastic claims.

  8. Here are some of my thoughts on the political situation with the Lamanites at the time of Ammon and Lamoni. The Lamanites had a king that was called Laman at the time of Zeniff (Mosiah 9:5, 10, 13) and his son became king after him and was also named Laman (Mosiah 10:6; 24:3, 9). If we assume that the Lamanite king was always called Laman as the Nephite king was always called Nephi (Jacob 1:9-11) and that the Lamanite king had to be a descendant of Laman then we find that a change had occurred in the lineage of the Lamanite king at the time of Ammon for Lamoni was a descendant of Ishmael (Alma 17:21) and his father who was king over all the land of the Lamanites (Alma 18:9; 20:8) must also have been a descendant of Ishmael. If this is the case then the true descendants of Laman who had the right to the ruler ship had been dispossessed of their rights to the government. This may also explain why Ammon was accepted in the royal household and served with other “Lamanitish” servants (Alma 17:26). Abish is also called “Lamanitish” (Alma 19:16), which may indicate political allegiance rather than tribal or bloodline affiliation. The true bloodline Lamanites were probably closely associated with the royal household but had been put in a subordinate role, as they were close to the affairs of the court (Alma 19:17-21). The usurpation of power from the true descendants of Laman may also help explain why the “Lamanite robbers” were harassing the king and trying to take his flocks, which Ammon so successfully defended (Alma 17:27). They were secretly trying to undermine the Ishmaelite ruler Lamoni by stealing his flocks and harassing his servants.

    The process of becoming a king over the Lamanites was no longer determined by royal descent from Laman, but was determined by military rank and strength as Lamoni’s father had apparently conquered the royal house of Laman and set up his sons as rulers over various areas of the land. The unconverted Lamanites along with the Amalekites attempted to overthrow the righteous king Anti-Lehi-Nephi by military means (Alma 24:20; 27:2) and set up a new king. The record does not say who became the next king of the Lamanites but it was likely the military commander of their armies. A short time later Amalickiah dissented over to the Lamanites and convinced the king of the Lamanites to fight against the Nephites again, but many of his people refused to go to battle (Alma 47:1-3). The angry king put Amalickiah in charge of his army and Amalickiah hatched up a plan to dethrone the king of the Lamanites (Alma 47:4) and set himself up as king. He did this by deceiving Lehonti, the chief commander of the disobedient Lamanite army, into appointing him as second in command to Lehonti and the armies would be combined into one (Alma 47:13-16). The custom was to appoint the second commander as chief commander if the chief commander was killed (Alma 47:17). Amalickiah had Lehonti killed and thus became the chief commander of the army; he then returned to the king of the Lamanites and had him killed as well and then set himself up as the new king of the Lamanites (Alma 47:19-31). He married the queen and had the support of the people (Alma 47:35). The right to rule among the Lamanites was no longer determined by birthright but by military power. With the death of king Amalickiah his brother Ammoron, who was probably the chief commander of the Lamanite army, was appointed as the new king (Alma 52:3-4).

    • Since Laman’s wife was a daughter of Ishmael, all of Laman’s descendants were also descendants of Ishmael. So I gather that your argument on Lamanite succession assumes descent was scored based on the father, not the mother, that Lamoni was descended on the male line from one of Ishmael’s sons who married Lehi’s daughters. Patrilineal descent appears to have been Nephite practice since Nephi was also married to a daughter of Ishmael but his descendants were known as Nephites. So your conjecture about a change in the royal line seems plausible.

      • Great article and comments. I have always assumed more of a legal relationship between Lamoni and his ‘father’ as proposed by Avraham Gileadi 30 years ago. Along the lines of a Suzerain/Vassal covenant relationship. The Sezerain being the ‘father’ and the Vassal being the ‘son.’ Did that not catch on generally?

        • Do you have a citation for the Gileadi interpretation? Sounds interesting. But the father’s role as Suzerain and Lamoni’s role as Vassel does not preclude their being literal father and son. It is quite clear they do, in fact, have a Suzerain/Vassel relationship, but a father of many sons who is overall king could have that relationship with sons and other relatives. That was the supposition in the article.

          • Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows… (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1991) p.214-215

            Thanks again for such a great piece. I don’t think this matters to your argument. I only brought it up because of this comment, it seeming like a simpler explanation of Lamoni’s relationship with his ‘father.’

            I thoroughly enjoyed your article and found it fascinating. What a wealth of information is the Book of Mormon when you take the time… thanks again.

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