Was the Book of Mormon inspired by “The Late War Between the United States and Great Britain”?

Some suggest that “The Late War between the United States and Great Britain” written by Gilbert J. Hunt (1816) serves as source material for the Book of Mormon (http://wordtree.org/thelatewar/). FAIR Mormon has already done a pretty thorough job of answering this argument, but I would like to expand upon some their responses. The purpose of this post is to show that the themes that are similar between the Late War and the Book of Mormon are found in other ancient sources, and that these similarities to the Late War do not provide a compelling case that it served as source material for the Book of Mormon.

BATTLES AT FORTS

The authors suggest the Late War (29:20-23) serves as inspiration for battles in the Book of Mormon involving forts and ditches (Alma 48:7-8, 49:20-25). The authors state “some may argue that this structure is a scène a faire—that this is a basic structure common to many battles; however, there are distinctive elements to these descriptions that raise the question, how could two battles separated by nearly 2,000 years be described by two different people in so similar a manner?” The records of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus suggest that this is indeed a scène a faire. He provides many examples of siege warfare which includes building walls, building towers, casting up banks, and digging trenches around the walls. The sieging forces try to fill up the ditches so they can use their engines of war to pull down the walls of the fort:

  • “At this Pompey was very angry, and put Aristobulus into prison, and came himself to the city, which was strong on every side, excepting the north, which was not so well fortified, for there was a broad and deep ditch, that encompassed the city, and included within it the temple, which was itself encompassed about with a very strong stone wall” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 4:1)
  • “Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towers in order to hinder any sudden approaches; but still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, Chapter 4:7)
  • “the outward circumference hath the resemblance of a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances…The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall all round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 5:1-2)
  • “and when he was come to the city he looked about where he might make his attack; for he saw the walls were so firm that it would be hard to overcome them, and that the valley before the walls was terrible; and that the temple, which was within that valley, was itself encompassed with a very strong wall…But Pompey himself filled up the ditch that was on the north side of the temple, and the entire valley also, the army itself being obliged to carry the materials for that purpose. And indeed it was a hard thing to fill up that valley, by reason of its immense depth, especially as the Jews used all the means possible to repel them from their superior station” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book I, Chapter 7:1, 3… On a side note, it is interesting to me how an ancient war strategy was to fill up an enemy’s ditch surrounding their fort, and the Book of Mormon states, in what I think is an example of dark humor, “and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies” (Alma 49:22))
  • “As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines underground…And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 1:2-3)
  • “As for those that were within it, no one had the courage to sally out, because those that assaulted them were so numerous; but they distributed themselves into breastworks and turrets, and shot at the besiegers, whereby many of the robbers fell under the walls” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book II, 17:7)

The first Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha extensively describes siege warfare similar to that found in the Book of Mormon:

  • “Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein” (I Maccabees 1:33-34)
  • “he consulted with them about building strong holds in Judea, and making the walls of Jerusalem higher, and raising a great mount between the tower and the city…Upon this they came together to build up the city, forasmuch as part of the wall toward the brook on the east side was fallen down, and they repaired that which was called Caphenatha” (I Maccabees 12:35-37)
  • “Then Simon built up the strong holds in Judea, and fenced them about with high towers, and great walls, and gates, and bars, and laid up victuals therein” (I Maccabees 13:33)
  • “and gave commandment to pull down the wall round about” (I Maccabees 6:62)

The Bible also describes the building and besieging of strongholds:

  • “Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance” (2 Chronicles 32:5)
  • “Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 6:6)
  • “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

BATTLES AT RIVERS

The authors claim that battles near rivers in the Book of Mormon (Alma 2:34) were inspired by battles in the Late War (47:2-5). Below is an example in the records of Josephus of a battle at a river that sounds much closer to the Book of Mormon account than what is found in the Late War:

  • “and he slew all that he overtook, as far as Jordan; and when he had driven the whole multitude to the river side, where they were stopped by the current, (for it had been augmented lately by rains, and was not fordable,) he put his soldiers in array over against them; so the necessity the others were in provoked them to hazard a battle, because there was no place whither they could flee. They then extended themselves a very great way along the banks of the river, and sustained the darts that were thrown at them as well as the attacks of the horsemen, who beat many of them, and pushed them into the current. At which fight, hand to hand, fifteen thousand of them were slain, while the number of those that were unwillingly forced to leap into Jordan was prodigious…Now this destruction that fell upon the Jews, as it was not inferior to any of the rest in itself, so did it still appear greater than it really was; and this, because not only the whole of the country through which they had fled was filled with slaughter, and Jordan could not be passed over, by reason of the dead bodies that were in it, but because the lake Asphaltitis was also full of dead bodies, that were carried down into it by the river” (Wars of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 7:5-6…On a side note, it is interesting how the Nephites also run into the problem of not being able to cross a river because they are blocked by too many slain Lamanites. They cast the bodies of the slain Lamanites into the river so they can cross (Alma 2:34))

The first book of Maccabees and the book of Judith also contains battles near rivers:

  • “Now when Bacchides heard hereof, he came on the Sabbath day unto the banks of Jordan with a great power. Then Jonathan said to his company, Let us go up now and fight for our lives, for it standeth not with us today, as in time past: For, behold, the battle is before us and behind us, and the water of Jordan on this side and that side, the marsh likewise and wood, neither is there place for us to turn aside. Wherefore cry ye now unto heaven…With that they joined the battle, and Jonathan stretched forth his hand to smite Bacchides, but he turned back from him. Then Jonathan and they that were with him leapt into Jordan, and swam over unto the farther bank: howbeit the other passed not over Jordan unto them. So there were slain of Bacchides’ side that day about a thousand men” (I Maccabees 9:43-49)
  • “And thou shalt declare unto them, that they prepare for me earth and water: for I will go forth in my wrath against them and will cover the whole face of the earth with the feet of mine army, and I will give them for a spoil unto them: So that their slain shall fill their valleys and brooks and the river shall be filled with their dead, till it overflow” (Judith 2:7-8)

BATTLE CASUALTIES

The authors suggest that reporting the number of soldiers slain after a battle is somehow unique to the Late War (8:18-19/49:18-20/54:24) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 9:18-19/Alma 57:25-26/Alma 62:26). They also argue that the fact that smaller righteous armies defeat larger wicked armies is a parallel between the two works. One contributor on the site states “The righteous protagonists triumph over the more numerous foe, and the enemy army consistently outnumbers the righteous protagonists. — Ryan Thomas, Direct Literary Dependence?” These themes are so common in all literature that I don’t know why they included it in their analysis:

  • “And the Lord said unto Gideon, By the three hundred men that lapped will I save you, and deliver the Midianites into thine hand: and let all the other people go every man unto his place” (Judges 7:7)
  • “And when he came near to the going up of Beth-horon, Judas went forth to meet him with a small company: who, when they saw the host coming to meet them, said unto Judas, How shall we be able, being so few, to fight against so great a multitude and so strong…Unto whom Judas answered, It is no hard matter for many to be shut up in the hands of a few; and with the God of heaven it is all one, to deliver with a great multitude, or a small company” (I Maccabees 3:16-18)
  • “bringing with him an army that had received no harm, and a great deal of prey” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter 7:1)

Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” (translated by Lionel Giles) states:

  • “Though according to my estimate the soldiers of Yueh exceed our own in number, that shall advantage them nothing in the matter of victory. I say then that victory can be achieved. Though the enemy be stronger in numbers, we may prevent him from fighting. Scheme so as to discover his plans and the likelihood of their success” (VI:21-23)

Battle casualties are listed in the Apocrypha and the Old Testament:

  • “so that there were slain of them upon a three thousand men” (I Maccabees 4:15)
  • “So they joined battle; and there were slain of the host of Lysias about five thousand men, even before them were they slain” (I Maccabees 4:34)
  • “and there were slain of the heathen about three thousand men, whose spoils he took” (I Maccabees 5:22)
  • “so that there were killed of them that day about eight thousand men” (I Maccabees 5:34)
  • “and there were slain that day of the people of Israel about two thousand men” (I Maccabees 5:60)
  • “and slew of the army in the field about four thousand men” (I Samuel 4:2)
  • “And in Shushan the palace the Jews slew and destroyed five hundred men” (Esther 9:6)
  • “for there fell an hundred and twenty thousand men that drew sword” (Judges 8:10)

BAND OF ROBBERS

The authors claim that the description of a “band of sea-robbers” in the Late War (1:18/49:37-38) served as inspiration for the “band of robbers” in the Book of Mormon (Helaman 6:37/11:28, 30), although the authors admit that “robbers” are found in other sources. Unlike the Late War, Josephus and the Bible describe robbers who more closely match the description of those found in the Book of Mormon:

  • “he presently met with an opportunity of signalising his courage; for, finding there was one Hezekias, a captain of a band of robbers, who overran the neighboring ports of Syria with a great troop of them, he seized him and slew him, as well as a great number of the other robbers that were with him; for which action he was greatly beloved by the Syrians; for when they were very desirous to have their country freed from this nest of robbers, he purged it of them: so they sung songs in his commendation in their villages and cities, as having procured them peace and the secure enjoyment of their possessions” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 9:2)
  • “that there might be no want of a supply for the soldiers for the time to come. Antigonus was sensible of this, and sent presently over the country such as might restrain and lie in ambush for those that went out for provisions. So these men obeyed the orders of Antigonus, and got together a great number of armed men about Jericho, and sat upon the mountains, and watched those that brought the provisions…He also went thence and resolved to destroy those robbers that dwelt in the caves, and did much mischief in the country…These caves were in mountains that were exceedingly abrupt, and in their middle were no other than precipices, with certain entrances into the caves, and those caves were encompassed with sharp rocks, and in these did the robbers lie concealed, with all their families about them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 15:3-5).
  • “And the men of Shechem set liers in wait for him in the top of the mountains, and they robbed all that came along that way by them: and it was told Abimelech” (Judges 9:25)
  • “And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness” (Hosea 6:9)
  • “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without” (Hosea 7:1)

Gangs of robbers are also described cross-culturally. In the commentary on the Art of War, Chang Yu describes how a gang of robbers which hid in the mountains was defeated:

  • “Wu-tu Ch’iang was a robber captain in the time of the Later Han, and Ma Yuan was sent to exterminate his gang. Ch’iang having found refuge in the hills, Ma Yuan made no attempt to force a battle, but seized all the favorable positions commanding supplies of water and forage. Ch’iang was soon in such a desperate plight for want of provisions that he was forced to make a total surrender.” (Chang Yu’s commentary in Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” IX:1, p. 137)

PITCHED TENTS ON THE BORDERS

The authors argue that pitching tents on the borders near water is a similarity between the two works (Late War 11:17/Alma 51:32). The Bible and the Apocrypha describe armies pitching their tents in the borders and also near water:

  • “Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab” (Judges 11:18)
  • “And when all these kings were met together, they came and pitched together at the waters of Merom, to fight against Israel” (Joshua 11:5)
  • “and pitched their tents by the water of the pool Asphar” (I Maccabees 9:33)

BURNED MARTYRS

The authors claim that there is a parallel between the Late War and the Book of Mormon with regard to martyrs being burned. The Late War describes a battle in the snow where Native Americans commissioned by the British kill all the wounded colonizers with a blow to the head from a Tomahawk. The wounded and sick who hide in houses to escape the cold are burned alive in their homes by the natives. The Late War states that this deed will be recorded in heaven until judgment day (14:39-41). In the Book of Mormon, the wicked people of Ammonihah find out who believe the words of Alma and Amulek, and cast the believing men out of the city. The believing women and children are then burned alive in a pit along with their scriptures (Alma 14:10-11). Burning believers and having innocent blood testify against sinners is common in the Bible:

  • “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace…if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?” (Daniel 3:6, 15)
  • “And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10)
  • “And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of Judgment, than for that city” (Mark 6:11)
  • “And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground” (Genesis 4:10)

MOURNING THE DEAD

The authors claim that there is a similarity between the Late War and the Book of Mormon in mourning the dead. The Late War laments the many fathers who are killed who leave behind wives and children. The children want to see their fathers come home, but they will never return (19:57-60). The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, quotes Mormon who asks in pain how his people could have rejected Jesus, and how they have all been exterminated by the Lamanites (Mormon 6:16-20). The Prophet Jeremiah laments the fall of Jerusalem using similar language:

  • “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1)
  • “And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not from their ways. Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas” (Jeremiah 15:7-8)
  • “The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. For thus saith the Lord concerning the sons and concerning the daughters that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bare them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land; They shall die of grievous deaths; they shall not be lamented; neither shall they be buried; but they shall be as dung upon the face of the earth: and they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine” (Jeremiah 16:4)
  • “For these things I weep; mine eye, mine eye runneth down with water, because the comforter that should relieve my soul is far from me: my children are desolate, because the enemy prevailed” (Lamentations 1:16)
  • “Mine eyes do fail with tears, my bowels are troubled, my liver is poured upon the earth, for the destruction of the daughter of my people; because the children and the sucklings swoon in the streets of the city” (Lamentations 2:11)
  • “The young and the old lie on the ground in the streets: my virgins and my young men are fallen by the sword; thou hast slain them in the day of thine anger; thou hast killed, and not pitied” (Lamentations 2:21)
  • “Mine eye runneth down with rivers of water for the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Lamentations 3:48)
  • “Her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire” (Lamentations 4:7)
  • They hunt our steps, that we cannot go in our streets: our end is near, our days are fulfilled; for our end is come” (Lamentations 4:18)
  • “We are orphans and fatherless, our mothers are as widows” (Lamentations 5:3)
  • “he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more. Therefore I will not refrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul” (Job 7:9-11)

Josephus also describes the mournings of the Jewish people:

  • “In every house also, and among all to whom any of the slain were allied, there was a lamentation for them; but the mourning for the commander was a public one; and some mourned for those that had lived with them, others for their kindred, others for their friends, and others for their brethren, but all mourned for Josephus” (Wars, Book III, 9:5)

ANTI-NEPHI-LEHIS

The authors suggest that the Late War’s description of a group of Native Americans who do not murder their prisoners or mutilate their dead (26:22-28) are reminiscent of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis in the Book of Mormon (Alma 24:6, 17, 19). A more compelling parallel can be found in the Apocrypha:

  • “But they said, We will not come forth, neither will we do the king’s commandment, to profane the Sabbath day. So then they gave them the battle with all speed. Howbeit they answered them not, neither cast they a stone at them, nor stopped the places where they lay hid; But said, Let us die in our innocency: heaven and earth shall testify for us, that ye put us to death wrongfully. So they rose up against them in battle on the Sabbath, and they slew them, with their wives and children, and their cattle, to the number of a thousand people. Now when Mattathias and his friends understood hereof, they mourned for them right sore” (I Maccabees 2:34-39)

CATACLYSMS

The Late War describes a massive explosion that occurs when black powder kegs catch fire in a fort (19:37-44). The authors argue that the description is similar to the great earthquakes, fires, and storms that destroy many Nephite cities after Christ’s death (Helaman 14:7/3 Nephi 8:6). All of the Book of Mormon descriptions of the “cataclysmic event” have Biblical roots that are much more similar to the Book of Mormon than are the Late War’s descriptions:

  • “The people were all affrighted; and the ground that was about their tents sunk down at the great noise, with a terrible sound, and carried whatsoever was dear to the seditious, into itself, who so entirely perished, that there was not the least appearance that any man had ever been seen there, the earth that had opened itself about them closing again, and becoming entire as it was before, insomuch that such as saw it afterward did not perceive that any such accident had happened to it. Thus did these men perish, and become a demonstration of the power of God” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, 3:3)
  • “God disturbed their enemies with an earthquake, and moved the ground under them to such a degree, that he caused it to tremble, and made them to shake, insomuch that by its trembling, he made some unable to keep their feet, and made them fall down, and, by opening its chasms, he caused that others should be hurried down into them; after which he caused such a noise of thunder to come among them, and made fiery lightning shine so terribly round about them, that it was ready to burn their faces” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VI, Chapter 2:2)
  • “Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire” (Isaiah 29:6)
  • “The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram” (Psalm 106:17)
  • “And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel” (Deuteronomy 11:6)
  • “And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days” (Exodus 10:22-23)
  • “And it came to pass, as they fled from before Israel, and were in the going down to Beth-horon, that the Lord cast down great stones from heaven upon them unto Azeka, and they died: they were more which died with hailstones than they whom the children of Israel slew with the sword” (Joshua 10:11)
  • “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea. The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone” (Exodus 15:4-5)
  • “And, behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the Lord; but the Lord was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the Lord was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
  • “Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:2)

 

LIBERTY AND FREEDOM

The Book of Mormon and the Late War both describe fighting for liberty from kings (Late War p. 184, 2nd edition/24:15/54:13 and Mosiah 23:36/Alma 51:17/46:12, 36). While religious freedom and freedom from tyranny are aspects of American history, the KJV Apocrypha and Flavius Josephus are just some of the ancient sources where these same themes are also found:

  • “Then Darius the king stood up, and kissed him, and wrote letters for him unto all the treasurers and lieutenants and captains and governors, that they should safely convey on their way both him, and all those that go up with him to build Jerusalem. He wrote letters also unto the lieutenants that were in Celosyria and Phenice, and unto them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus unto Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him. Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no office, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors; And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held…And other ten talents yearly, to maintain the burnt offerings upon the altar every day…And that all they that went from Babylon to build the city should have free liberty. As well they as their posterity, and all the priests that went away” (I Esdras 4:47-50, 52-53)
  • “And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty to go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments and music and gladness seven days” (I Esdras 4:62-63)
  • “It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one; of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich” (I Esdras 3:19)
  • Let Jerusalem also be holy and free, with the borders thereof, both from tenths and tributes…Moreover I freely set at liberty every one of the Jews, that were carried captives out of the land of Judea into any part of my kingdom, and I will that all my officers remit the tributes even of their cattle. Furthermore I will that all the feasts, and the Sabbaths…shall be all days of immunity and freedom for all the Jews in my realm. Also no man shall have authority to meddle with them, or to molest any of them in any matter” (I Maccabees 10:31, 33-35)
  • “Whereof when the people heard, they said, What thanks shall we give to Simon and his sons? For he and his brethren and the house of his father have established Israel, and chased away in fight their enemies from them, and confirmed their liberty” (I Maccabees 14:25-26)
  • “Then Mattathias answered and spake with a loud voice, Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments: Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left” (I Maccabees 2:21-22)
  • “So they recovered the law out of the hand of the Gentiles, and out of the hand of kings, neither suffered they the sinner to triumph” (I Maccabees 2:48)
  • “and there it was that he heard the causes of the Jews, and of their governors Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were at difference one with another, as also of the nation against them both, which did not desire to be under kingly government, because the form of government they received from their forefathers was that of subjection to the priests of that God whom they worshipped; and [they complained,] that though these two were the posterity of priests, yet did they seek to change the government of their nation to another form, in order to enslave them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 3:2)
  • “Now the occasions of this misery which came upon Jerusalem were Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, by raising a sedition one against the other; for now we lost our liberty, and became subject to the Romans, and were deprived of that country which we had gained by our arms from the Syrians, and were compelled to restore it to the Syrians” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 4:5)
  • “and when he had ordained five councils, he distributed the nation into the same number of parts: so these councils governed the people; the first was at Jerusalem, the second at Gadara, the third at Amathus, the fourth at Jericho, and the fifth at Sepphoris, in Galilee. So the Jews were now freed from monarchic authority, and were governed by an aristocracy” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, Chapter 5:4)

Both the Late War (54:13) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 23:36) refer to “lives and liberties”. The Apocrypha describes the Jews fighting for “our lives and our laws.”

  • “And one of them said to another, If we all do as our brethren have done, and fight not for our lives and laws against the heathen, they will now quickly root us out of the earth” (I Maccabees 2:40)
  • “They come against us in much pride and iniquity to destroy us, and our wives and children, and to spoil us: But we fight for our lives and our laws” (I Maccabees 3:20-21)

THE CAUSE OF LIBERTY

Both the Late War (24:15) and the Book of Mormon (Alma 51:17) refer to the “cause of liberty.” Josephus also uses this phrase:

  • “For we had arms, and walls, and fortresses so prepared as not to be easily taken, and courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:7)

Both the Late War (54:13) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 23:36) use variations of the phrase “life and liberty.” This phrase is also used in Richard Crawley’s translation of Thucydides’ “The History of the Peloponnesian War” written in 431 B.C.:

  • “even if you escape without personal loss of liberty or life, your bondage will be on harsher terms than before, and you will also hinder the liberation of the rest of the Hellenes” (Thucydides, Book V, Chapter XV)

SYMBOL OF LIBERTY

Both the Late War and the Book of Mormon refer to armies flocking to “banners” or “standards” (Late War 6:14/p. 184 2nd edition and Alma 61:6/62:5/46:12, 36). The American flag is essentially the equivalent to the Title of Liberty found in the Book of Mormon. Setting up flags in war, however, is commonly referenced in the Bible:

  • “In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab” (Numbers 10:14)
  • Set up the standard upon the walls of Babylon, make the watch strong, set up the watchmen, prepare the ambushes” (Jeremiah 51:12)
  • “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him” (Isaiah 59:19)
  • “Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken” (Jeremiah 50:2)

Sun Tzu in “The Art of War” states that banners and flags are used for communication and unite the army into a single body. Sun Tzu also says that an army must be united in a single moral purpose to prevail. The Title of Liberty accomplishes both of these functions:

  • “On the field of battle, the spoken word does not carry far enough: hence the institution of gongs and drums. Nor can ordinary objects be seen clearly enough: hence the institution of banners and flags. Gongs and drums, banners and flags, are means whereby the ears and eyes of the host may be focused on one particular point. The host thus forming a single united body, is it impossible either for the brace to advance alone, or for the cowardly to retreat alone. This is the art of handling large masses of men” (VII:23-25)
  • “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks” (III:17)
  • “The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger…The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success” (I:5-6)/(IV:16)
  • “Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose” (XI:46)

REIGN OF THE JUDGES

See the section on “Liberty and Freedom” and “Freemen vs. Kingmen” since there is much overlap with this section. In the Apocrypha, the Jews fight for freedom from kings and there are factions of Jews who decide to support the heathen kings. The “reign of the judges” bears more similarity with the Bible than the Late War. The Bible and Josephus describe the reign of judges over their districts and Samuel’s disdain for a government ruled by kings:

  • “Make use of the method I suggest to you, as to human affairs; and take a review of the army, and appoint chosen rulers over tens of thousands, and then over thousands; then divide them into five hundreds, and again into hundreds, and into fifties; and set rulers over each of them, who may distinguish them into thirties, and keep them in order; and at last number them by twenties and by tens: and let there be one commander over each number, to be denominated from the number of those over whom they are rulers, but such as the whole multitude have tried, and do approve of, as being good and righteous men; and let those rulers decide the controversies they have one with another. But if any great cause arise, let them bring the cognisance of it before the rulers of a higher dignity; but if any great difficulty arise that is too hard for even their determination, let them send it to thee” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book III, 4:1)
  • “Let there be seven men to judge in every city, and these such as have been before most zealous in the exercise of virtue and righteousness…But if these judges be unable to give a just sentence about the causes that come before them, (which case is not unfrequent in human affairs,) let them send the causes undetermined to the holy city, and there let the high priest, the prophet, and the sanhedrim, determine as it shall seem good to them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 8:14)
  • he committed the government and the care of the multitude to his sons, –the elder of whom was called Joel, and the name of the younger was Abiah. He also enjoined them to reside and judge the people, the one at the city of Bethel, and the other at Beersheba, and divided the people into districts that should be under the jurisdiction of each of them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book VI, 3:2)
  • “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them…And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself…And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries…and he will take your fields…And he will take a tenth of your seed” (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9, 11, 13, 14-15)

COUNTING THE YEARS OF FREEDOM FROM KINGS

The authors argue that there is a parallel between the Late War reckoning their dates from when they declared independence from Britain (1:1/21:8) and the Nephites reckoning their time from the reign of the judges (Alma 1:1). This is not compelling for three reasons. First, a system of judges was used in the Bible (I Samuel 1:1) and is not used in the Late War. Second, the Nephites change the reckoning of their time in several instances. For example, they start by counting how many years have passed since they left Jerusalem (Enos 1:25), then from the beginning of the reign of the judges (Alma 1:1), and then from when the sign of Christ’s birth was given (3 Nephi 2:8). Third, the Bible also calculates time based on when the Israelites were made free from kings:

  • “And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Zif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord” (I Kings 6:1)

BRASS PLATES

The authors argue that Joseph Smith got the idea of engraving in metal plates (1 Nephi 19:1) from the Late war (31:33/36:26). The Apocrypha describes writing in brass:

  • So then they wrote it in tables of brass, which they set upon pillars in mount Sion…So they commanded that this writing should be put in tables of brass, and that they should be set up within the compass of the sanctuary in a conspicuous place” (I Maccabees 14:27)

FALSE PROPHETS

The authors argue that a false prophet being “smitten in the mouth, and slain” (35:29) is a parallel to Korihor being struck dumb and trampled to death (Alma 30:50, 59). A much stronger parallel is found in the Apocrypha:

  • “Moreover in the hundred fifty and third year, in the second month, Alcimus commanded that the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary should be pulled down; he pulled down also the works of the prophets. And as he began to pull down, even at that time was Alcimus plagued, and his enterprises hindered: for his mouth was stopped, and he was taken with a palsy, so that he could no more speak any thing, nor give order concerning his house. So alcimus died at that time with great torment” (I Maccabees 9:54-55)

Others are struck dumb or stricken on the mouth in the Bible:

  • “And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprove: for they are a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 3:26)
  • “And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season” (Luke 1:20)

FREEMEN VS. KINGMEN

The authors claim that colonizers who supported the king of Britain (3:15-18/38:18) are similar to the king-men who want to be ruled by kings (Alma 51:5, 17). They also point out that Nephites (Alma 51:6/60:25) and the colonizers (51:7/38:26-27/48:12) were referred to as “freemen.” In the Apocrypha, the Jews also had their own version of “king-men,” or those wicked people who decided to make covenants with the Greek king and forsake their religion. The word “freeman” is also used in the Apocrypha and Josephus, and the Israelites ask to be ruled by a king multiple times:

  • “So both Hyrcanus and Phasaelus went on the embassage; but Pacorus left with Herod two hundred horsemen, and ten men, who were called the freemen” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIV, 13:5)
  • “In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying “Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen” (I Maccabees 1:11-13)
  • “It maketh the mind of the king and of the fatherless child to be all one; of the bondman and of the freeman, of the poor man and of the rich” (I Esdras 3:19)
  • “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them…And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself…And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries…and he will take your fields…And he will take a tenth of your seed” (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9, 11, 13, 14-15)

TENDER WOMEN

Both the Late War (21:4, 40-43/35:28) and the Book of Mormon (Mosiah 19:13/Jacob 2:7) refer to women as “tender” and “fair.” Women in the Bible are also described as “fair” and “tender.” In addition, the Book of Mormon uses the phrase “tender and chaste and delicate” which is more similar to Isaiah 47:1, where the women are called “tender and delicate” than it is to the Late War:

  • “Come down, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground: there is no throne, O daughter of the Chaldeans: for thou shalt no more be called tender and delicate” (Isaiah 47:1)
  • “And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job” (Job 42:15)
  • “he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee” (Genesis 12:11-14)

 

 

Does the Book of Mormon Copy Themes of Liberty and Warfare from American History?

Critics of the Book of Mormon often point to similarities between the Nephites’ struggle for freedom from tyranny and the American Revolution as evidence of it being 19th century American fiction. The purpose of this article is to show that similar themes exist in other ancient records such as the Apocrypha and from Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, and that similarities between the Book of Mormon and American history are not sufficient evidence for claiming the Book of Mormon is a work of fiction.

LIBERTY AND FREEDOM

The Nephites in the Book of Mormon are constantly fighting to maintain their liberty to practice their religion and be free from kings (Mosiah 23:36/Alma 46:12. 36/Alma 51:17). While religious and political freedom are both integral to the Book of Mormon and to the founding of the United States, fighting for freedom is a universal and ancient struggle. The King James Version of the Apocrypha is just one ancient source which describes the Jews’ struggle for freedom from kings. In 1 Esdras, the Jews are granted liberty by king Darius to return to Jerusalem and to practice their religion:

  • “Then Darius the king…wrote letters also unto the lieutenants that were in Celosyria and Phenice, and unto them in Libanus, that they should bring cedar wood from Libanus unto Jerusalem, and that they should build the city with him. Moreover he wrote for all the Jews that went out of his realm up into Jewry, concerning their freedom, that no office, no ruler, no lieutenant, nor treasurer, should forcibly enter into their doors; And that all the country which they hold should be free without tribute; and that the Edomites should give over the villages of the Jews which then they held…And other ten talents yearly, to maintain the burnt offerings upon the altar every day…And that all they that went from Babylon to build the city should have free liberty. As well they as their posterity, and all the priests that went away” (I Esdras 4:47-50, 52-53)

 

  • “And they praised the God of their fathers, because he had given them freedom and liberty to go up, and to build Jerusalem, and the temple which is called by his name: and they feasted with instruments and music and gladness seven days” (I Esdras 4:62-63)

In 1 Maccabees, the Jews fight for freedom from Greek kings and the imposition of the Greek religion:

  • “Whereof when the people heard, they said, What thanks shall we give to Simon and his sons? For he and his brethren and the house of his father have established Israel, and chased away in fight their enemies from them, and confirmed their liberty” (I Maccabees 14:25-26)

 

  • “Then Mattathias answered and spake with  a loud voice, Though all the nations that are under the king’s dominion obey him, and fall away every one from the religion of their fathers, and give consent to his commandments: Yet will I and my sons and my brethren walk in the covenant of our fathers. God forbid that we should forsake the law and the ordinances. We will not hearken to the king’s words, to go from our religion, either on the right hand, or the left” (I Maccabees 2:21-22)

 

  • “So they recovered the law out of the hand of the Gentiles, and out of the hand of kings, neither suffered they the sinner to triumph” (I Maccabees 2:48)

 

  • Let Jerusalem also be holy and free, with the borders thereof, both from tenths and tributes…Moreover I freely set at liberty every one of the Jews, that were carried captives out of the land of Judea into any part of my kingdom, and I will that all my officers remit the tributes even of their cattle. Furthermore I will that all the feasts, and the Sabbaths…shall be all days of immunity and freedom for all the Jews in my realm. Also no man shall have authority to meddle with them, or to molest any of them in any matter” (I Maccabees 10:31, 33-35)

Some of the wicked people decide to forsake their religion and join with the heathen kings:

  • “In those days went there out of Israel wicked men, who persuaded many, saying “Let us go and make a covenant with the heathen that are round about us: for since we departed from them we have had much sorrow. So this device pleased them well. Then certain of the people were so forward herein, that they went to the king, who gave them license to do after the ordinances of the heathen” (I Maccabees 1:11-13)

The Old Testament also warns the Israelites of the dangers of having kings as their rulers:

  • “Then the men of Israel said unto Gideon, Rule thou over us, both thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son also: for thou hast delivered us from the hand of Midian. And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: The Lord shall rule over you” (Judges 8:22-23)

 

  • “But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people…howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them…And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself…And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries…and he will take your fields…And he will take a tenth of your seed” (1 Samuel 8:6-7, 9, 11, 13, 14-15)

Josephus speaks about the liberty and freedom of the Jews frequently:

  • “Let there be seven men to judge in every city, and these such as have been before most zealous in the exercise of virtue and righteousness…But if these judges be unable to give a just sentence about the causes that come before them, (which case is not unfrequent in human affairs,) let them send the causes undetermined to the holy city, and there let the high priest, the prophet, and the sanhedrim, determine as it shall seem good to them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 4, 8:14)

 

  • he committed the government and the care of the multitude to his sons, –the elder of whom was called Joel, and the name of the younger was Abiah. He also enjoined them to reside and judge the people, the one at the city of Bethel, and the other at Beersheba, and divided the people into districts that should be under the jurisdiction of each of them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 6, 3:2)

 

  • “and there it was that he heard the causes of the Jews, and of their governors Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, who were at difference one with another, as also of the nation against them both, which did not desire to be under kingly government, because the form of government they received from their forefathers was that of subjection to the priests of that God whom they worshipped; and [they complained,] that though these two were the posterity of priests, yet did they seek to change the government of their nation to another form, in order to enslave them” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, 3:2)

 

  • “Accordingly, the Jews have places assigned them in Egypt, wherein they inhabit, besides what is peculiarly allotted to this nation at Alexandria, which is a large part of that city. There is also an ethnarch allowed them, who governs the nation, and distributes justice to them, and takes care of their contracts, and of the laws to them belonging, as if he were the ruler of a free republic” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book 14, 7:2)

 

  • “For we had arms, and walls, and fortresses so prepared as not to be easily taken, and courage not to be moved by any dangers in the cause of liberty, which encouraged us all to revolt from the Romans” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book VII, 8:7)

BATTLES AT FORTS

Readers of history may notice that some battle tactics in the Book of Mormon are reminiscent of warfare used in the War of 1812; specifically, building forts with mounds of earth and digging ditches around them (Alma 48:8/49:2, 4, 18). The records of Flavius Josephus are just one source which suggest that this form of warfare is ancient. He provides many examples of siege warfare which includes building walls, building towers, casting up banks of dirt, and digging trenches around the walls. The besieging forces try to fill up the ditches so they can use their engines of war to pull down the walls of the fort:

  • “Alexander was afraid of him, when he was marching against the Arabians; so he cut a deep trench between Antipatris, which was near the mountains, and the shores of Joppa; he also erected a high wall before the trench, and built wooden towers in order to hinder any sudden approaches; but still he was not able to exclude Antiochus, for he burnt the towers, and filled up the trenches, and marched on with his army” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 4, v. 7….On a side note, it is interesting to me how an ancient war strategy was to fill up an enemy’s ditch surrounding their fort, and the Book of Mormon states, in what I think is an example of dark humor, “and instead of filling up their ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a measure with their dead and wounded bodies” – Alma 49:22)

 

  • “the outward circumference hath the resemblance of a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal distances…The camp, and all that is in it, is encompassed with a wall all round about, and that sooner than one would imagine, and this by the multitude and the skill of the laborers; and, if occasion require, a trench is drawn round the whole, whose depth is four cubits, and its breadth equal” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book III, Chapter 5, v. 1-2)

 

  • “and when he was come to the city he looked about where he might make his attack; for he saw the walls were so firm that it would be hard to overcome them, and that the valley before the walls was terrible; and that the temple, which was within that valley, was itself encompassed with a very strong wall…But Pompey himself filled up the ditch that was on the north side of the temple, and the entire valley also, the army itself being obliged to carry the materials for that purpose. And indeed it was a hard thing to fill up that valley, by reason of its immense depth, especially as the Jews used all the means possible to repel them from their superior station” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 1, Chapter 7, v. 1 and 3)

 

  • “As this city was naturally hard to be taken, so had Josephus, by building a wall about it, made it still stronger, as also by ditches and mines underground…And as the legions, according to their usual custom, were fortifying their camp upon that mountain, he began to cast up banks at the bottom, at the part towards the east, where the highest tower of the whole city was, and where the fifteenth legion pitched their camp; while the fifth legion did duty over against the midst of the city, and whilst the tenth legion filled up the ditches and the valleys” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 4, Chapter 1, v. 2-3)

 

  • “As for those that were within it, no one had the courage to sally out, because those that assaulted them were so numerous; but they distributed themselves into breastworks and turrets, and shot at the besiegers, whereby many of the robbers fell under the walls” (Book 2, 17:7)

Sun Tzu mentions fortifications of walls and ditches in “The Art of War” (Translated by Lionel Giles):

  • “If we wish to fight, the enemy can be forced to an engagement even though he be sheltered behind a high rampart and a deep ditch” (VI:11)

The first Book of Maccabees in the Apocrypha extensively describes siege warfare similar to that found in the Book of Mormon:

  • “Then builded they the city of David with a great and strong wall, and with mighty towers, and made it a strong hold for them. And they put therein a sinful nation, wicked men, and fortified themselves therein” (I Maccabees 1:33-34)

 

  • “he consulted with them about building strong holds in Judea, and making the walls of Jerusalem higher, and raising a great mount between the tower and the city…Upon this they came together to build up the city, forasmuch as part of the wall toward the brook on the east side was fallen down, and they repaired that which was called Caphenatha” (I Maccabees 12:35-37)

 

  • “Then Simon built up the strong holds in Judea, and fenced them about with high towers, and great walls, and gates, and bars, and laid up victuals therein” (I Maccabees 13:33)

 

  • “and gave commandment to pull down the wall round about” (I Maccabees 6:62)

The Bible also describes the besieging of strongholds:

  • “Also he strengthened himself, and built up all the wall that was broken, and raised it up to the towers, and another wall without, and repaired Millo in the city of David, and made darts and shields in abundance” (2 Chronicles 32:5)

 

  • “Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem” (Jeremiah 6:6)

 

  • “(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

Comparing Book of Mormon Warfare to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”

Warfare strategies in the Book of Mormon have been studied extensively (see John Kammeyer’s “The Nephite Art of War”…although I have not read it). However, I recently read Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” (translated by Lionel Giles, edited by Dallas Galvin, 2003) and based on my personal study I have decided to list some similarities in tactics described in this book and The Book of Mormon. This comparison should help to cement the realistic nature of the strategies used in Book of Mormon warfare.

  1. DEFEAT YOUR ENEMY THROUGH DECEPTION

Sun Tzu:

  • All warfare is based on deception. Hence, when able to attack, we must seem unable; when using our forces, we must seem inactive; when we are near, we must make the enemy believe we are far away; when far away, we must make him believe we are near. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him...Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected (I:18-20, 24)
  • “Thus one who is skillful at keeping the enemy on the move maintains deceitful appearances, according to which the enemy will act. He sacrifices something, that the enemy may snatch at it. By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him” (V:19-20)

The Book of Mormon describes several instances where the outnumbered Nephites use decoys and feign weakness to lure the Lamanites out of their strongholds and into an ambush:

  • “And in the commencement of the twenty and eighth year, Moroni and Teancum and many of the chief captains held a council of war—what they should do to cause the Lamanites to come out against them to battle …therefore, [Moroni] resolved upon a plan that he might decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds. Therefore he caused that Teancum should take a small number of men and march down near the seashore…And it came to pass that the armies of the Lamanites did march forth against Teancum, supposing by their numbers to overpower Teancum… Now the Lamanites did not know that Moroni had been in their rear with his army; and all they feared was Lehi and his men” (Alma 52:19,21-23, 29)
  • “when they saw that we were not strong, according to our numbers…and also supposing that they could easily destroy us…they began to make preparations to come out against us to battle…behold, I caused that Gid, with a small number of men, should secrete himself in the wilderness…And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had passed by…Gid and Teomner did rise up from their secret places, and did cut off the spies of the Lamanites…And it came to pass that when they had cut them off, they ran to the city and fell upon the guards” (Alma 58:15, 16, 20)

Joshua uses similar strategies in the Old Testament:

  • “Behold, ye shall lie in wait against the city…And I, and all the people that are with me, will approach unto the city: and it shall come to pass, when they come out against us, as at the first, that we will flee before them, (For they will come out after us) till we have drawn them from the city…Then ye shall rise up from the ambush, and seize upon the city” (Joshua 8:4-7)

 

  1. SEEK TO CONQUER WITHOUT FIGHTING

Sun Tzu:

  • “In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to capture an enemy entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them” (III:1)
  • “Therefore the skillful leader subdues the enemy’s troops without any fighting; he captures their cities without laying siege to them; he overthrows their kingdom without lengthy operations in the field. With his forces intact he will dispute the mastery of the Empire, and thus, without losing a man, his triumph will be complete. This is the method of attacking by stratagem” (III:6-7)
  • “He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared” (III:17(4))

There are many ways the Nephites use stratagem to capture armies and cities without fighting. One example is when the Lamanites become drunk in their stronghold and Moroni sneaks weapons to the Nephite prisoners inside. Instead of killing the drunken Lamanites, he surrounds them and they surrender upon awakening.

  • “And Moroni had prepared his men with weapons of war; and he went to the city of Gid, while the Lamanites were in a deep sleep and drunken, and cast in weapons of war unto the prisoners, insomuch that they were all armed…had they awakened the Lamanites, behold they were drunken and the Nephites could have slain them. But behold, this was not the desire of Moroni; he did not delight in murder or bloodshed…when the Lamanites awoke in the morning they beheld that they were surrounded by the Nephites without, and that their prisoners were armed within. And thus they saw that the Nephites had power over them; and in these circumstances they found that it was not expedient that they should fight with the Nephites; therefore their chief captains demanded their weapons of war, and they brought them forth and cast them at the feet of the Nephties, pleading for mercy” (Alma 55:16, 18-19, 22-23)

A second example is where Helaman divides his forces and lures the Lamanites out of their stronghold. One part of his forces lies in wait and conquers the stronghold while Helaman is being pursued. Helaman then has his troops march in the night to return to the city before the Lamanites.

  • “And behold, it was night and they did pitch their tents, for the chief captains of the Lamanites had supposed that the Nephites were weary because of their march…Now it came to pass that when it was night, I caused that my men should not sleep, but that they should march forward by another way towards the land of Manti. And because of this our march in the night-time, behold, on the morrow we were beyond the Lamanites, insomuch that we did arrive before them at the city of Manti. And thus it came to pass, that by this stratagem we did take possession of the city of Manti without the shedding of blood…[the Lamanites] were astonished exceedingly and struck with great fear, insomuch that they did flee into the wilderness” (Alma 58:27)

 

  1. AVOID LAYING SIEGE TO CITIES

Sun Tzu:

  • “If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength” (II:2)
  • the worst policy of all is to besiege walled cities. The rule is, not to besiege walled cities if it can possibly be avoided. The preparation of mantlets, movable shelters, and various implements of war, will take up three whole months; and the piling up of mounds over against the walls will take three months more” (III:3-4)
  • The general, unable to control his irritation, will launch his men to assault like swarming ants, with the result that one-third of his men are slain, while the town still remains untaken. Such are the disastrous effects of a siege” (III:5)

Siege warfare is commonly described in the Bible (Isaiah 29:3/Ezekiel 4:2) and the Apocrypha (I Maccabees 6:48-57/10:75-76/13:42-47). The Nephites rarely besiege a city by attempting to break down or climb over walls, but they will camp around a city to cut off its supplies and starve the occupants.

  • “with a part of our strong force, we did surround, by night, the city Cumeni, a little before they were to receive a supply of provisions…and it came to pass that not many days had passed away before the Lamanites began to lose all hopes of succor; therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands” (Alma 57:8, 12)

The Nephites usually avoided attacking strongholds directly:

  • “And it came to pass that [Ammoron] did command that his people should maintain those cities, which they had taken by the shedding of blood; for they had not taken any cities save they had lost much blood. And now, Teancum saw that the Lamanites were determined to maintain those cities which they had taken…and also seeing the enormity of their number, Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts” (Alma 52:4-5)
  • “And it came to pass that Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and march forth with his army against the Lamanites; but he saw that it was impossible that he could overpower them while they were in their fortifications; therefore he abandoned his designs” (Alma 52:17)

When the Lamanites attempt to overwhelm the Nephite strongholds with their superior numbers, the results are disastrous for the Lamanites:

  • “they feared Lehi exceedingly; nevertheless their chief captains had sworn with an oath to attack the city; therefore, they brought up their armies…And it came to pass that the captains of the Lamanites brought up their armies before the place of entrance, and began to contend with the Nephites, to get into their place of security; but behold, they were driven back from time to time, insomuch that they were slain with an immense slaughter…and more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand, there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain” (Alma 49:17, 21, 23)

The Nephites are also able to outlast a siege by the Gadianton robbers by centralizing all their people and storing sufficient supplies so that the robbers cannot starve them out. Sun Tzu: “If the enemy is taking his ease, he can harass him; if well supplied with food, he can starve him out; if quietly encamped, he can force him to move. Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected” (VI:4-5)

  • “But behold, this was an advantage to the Nephites; for it was impossible for the robbers to lay siege sufficiently long to have any effect upon the Nephites, because of their much provision which they had laid up in store…And the Nephites were continually marching out by day and by night, and falling upon their armies, and cutting them off by thousands…And it came to pass that Zemnariha did give command unto his people that they should withdraw themselves from the siege, and march into the furthermost parts of the land northward. And now, Gidgiddoni being aware of their design, and knowing of their weakness because of the want of food…therefore he did send out his armies in the night-time, and did cut off the way of their retreat” (3 Nephi 4:18, 21, 23-24)

 

  1. UNITE YOUR ARMY WITH A SINGLE MORAL PURPOSE

Sun Tzu:

  • “He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks” (III:17(3))
  • “The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger…The consummate leader cultivates the moral law, and strictly adheres to method and discipline; thus it is in his power to control success” (I:5-6)/(IV:16)
  • “Therefore, on dispersive ground, I would inspire my men with unity of purpose” (XI:46)

Both the Lamanites and the Nephites seek to inspire their soldiers to fight for their ideals. The Lamanites were inspired by hatred and a desire to rule over the Nephites, while the Nephites sought to preserve their freedom. The Book of Mormon states that the ideals unifying the Nephites were superior to those of the Lamanites:

  • “Now in this case the Lamanites did fight exceedingly…And they were inspired by the Zoramites and the Amalekites…and thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger” (Alma 43:43-44)
  • “Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children…And they were doing that which they felt was the duty which they owed to their God” (Alma 43:45-46)
  • “when the men of Moroni saw the fierceness and the anger of the Lamanites, they were about to shrink and flee from them. And Moroni, perceiving their intent, sent forth and inspired their hearts with these thoughts—yea, the thoughts of their lands, their liberty, yea, their freedom from bondage” (Alma 43:48)
  • “And when Moroni had said these words, he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, that all might see the writing which he had written upon the rent part, and crying with a loud voice, saying: Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them” (Alma 46:18-19)
  • “And it came to pass that I did speak unto my people, and did urge them with great energy, that they would stand boldly before the Lamanites and fight for their wives, and their children, and their houses, and their homes. And my words did arouse them somewhat to vigor, insomuch that they…did stand with boldness against them” (Mormon 2:23-24)

It is difficult to succeed when your people are not unified in purpose.

  • “And it came to pass that when Amalickiah saw that the people of Moroni were more numerous than the Amalickiahites—and he also saw that his people were doubtful concerning the justice of the cause in which they had undertaken—therefore, fearing that he should not gain the point, he took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi” (Alma 46:29)
  • “And it came to pass that when the proclamation had gone forth among them they were exceedingly afraid; yea, they feared to displease the king, and they also feared to go to battle against the Nephites lest they should lose their lives. And it came to pass that they would not, or the more part of them would not, obey the commandments of the king” (Alma 47:2)

 

  1. SOLDIERS IN DANGER WILL FIGHT HARDER FOR THEIR LIVES

Sun Tzu:

  • “Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength. Soldiers when in desperate straits lose the sense of fear. If there is no place of refuge, they will stand firm. If they are in the heart of a hostile country, they will show a stubborn front. If there is no help for it, they will fight hard” (XI:23-24)

When the Lamanites are in a desperate situation and there is no hope for escape, they fight harder and slay many Nephites:

  • “Now in this case the Lamanites did fight exceedingly; yea, never had the Lamanites been known to fight with such exceedingly great strength and courage…and they did pierce many of their breastplates, and they did smite off many of their arms; and thus the Lamanites did smite in their fierce anger” (Alma 43:43-44)

 

  1. USE PRISONERS TO AUGMENT YOUR OWN STRENGTH

Sun Tzu:

  • “Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy, and the chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept. This is called, using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength” (II:17-18)

The Nephites used their prisoners to build their fortifications and thus augment their own strength:

  • “And it came to pass that they did set guards over the prisoners of the Lamanites, and did compel them to go forth and bury their dead…And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land” (Alma 53:1, 3)
  • “And it came to pass that he did cause the Lamanites, whom he had taken prisoners, that they should commence a labor in strengthening the fortifications round about the city of Gid” (Alma 55:25)

 

  1. PREVENT THE ENEMY FROM GATHERING THEIR FORCES TOGETHER

Sun Tzu:

  • “Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy’s plans, the next best is to prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces” (III:3)

Two examples of this in the Book of Mormon are Moroni trying to prevent Amalickiah and his people from joining the Lamanites, and Moroni preventing Morianton from gaining greater forces in the land northward.

  • “[Amalickiah] took those of his people who would and departed into the land of Nephi. Now Moroni thought it was not expedient that the Lamanites should have any more strength; therefore he thought to cut off the people of Amalickiah…and it came to pass that he took his army and marched out with his tents into the wilderness, to cut off the course of Amalickiah in the wilderness” (Alma 46:29, 31)
  • “Therefore, Morianton put it into their hearts that they should flee to the land which was northward…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…Therefore Moroni sent an army, with their camp, to head the people of Morianton, to stop their flight into the land northward” (Alma 50:29, 32-33)

 

  1. ARMIES ON A HILL HAVE THE ADVANTAGE

Sun Tzu:

  • It is a military axiom not to advance uphill against the enemy, nor to oppose him when he comes downhill” (VII:33)
  • “Camp in high places, facing the sun. Do not climb heights in order to fight. So much for mountain warfare” (IX:2)
  • “In dry, level country, take up an easily accessible position with rising ground to your right and on your rear, so that the danger may be in front, and safety lie behind…All armies prefer high ground to low, and sunny places to dark…When you come to a hill or a bank, occupy the sunny side, with the slope on your right rear” (IX:9, 11, 13)

Armies in the Book of Mormon frequently camp on hills. The Nephites are warned against attacking the Gadianton robbers in their mountain strongholds:

  • “he went forward to the place which was called Onidah, for thither had all the Lamanites fled…And it came to pass that they had gathered themselves together upon the top of the mount which was called Antipas, in preparation to battle. Now it was not Amalickiah’s intention to give them battle…And behold, it came to pass that he caused his army to pitch their tents in the valley which was near the mount Antipas” (Alma 47:5, 7-9)
  • “Now the people said unto Gidgiddoni: Pray unto the Lord, and let us go up upon the mountains and into the wilderness, that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands. But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us” (3 Nephi 3:20-21)
  • “And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people…by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle…and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah…and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:2, 4)
  • “And they pitched their tents in the valley of Corihor…wherefore, Coriantumr did gather his armies together upon the hill Comnor, and did sound a trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle. And it came to pass that they came forth, but were driven again; and they came the second time, and they were driven again the second time. And it came to pass that they came again the third time” (Ether 14:28-29, 31).

 

  1. TRUCES REQUIRE SWORN COVENANTS

Sun Tzu:

  • “Peace proposals unaccompanied by a sworn covenant indicate a plot” (IX:26)

In the Book of Mormon, Zerahemnah agrees to give up his weapons but will not swear an oath to leave the Nephites alone. Moroni does not accept his conditions:

  • “Behold, here are our weapons of war; we will deliver them up unto you, but we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break…And now when Zerahemnah had made an end of speaking these words, Moroni returned the sword and the weapons of war, which he had received, unto Zerahemnah, saying: Behold, we will end the conflict…therefore as the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return again against us to war” (Alma 44:8, 10-11)

 

  1. TREAT YOUR SOLDIERS AS YOUR OWN CHILDREN

Sun Tzu:

  • Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death” (X:25)

Helaman frequently refers to his band of young Ammonite soldiers as “his sons” and they refer to him as their “father”:

  • “And I did join my two thousand sons, (for they are worthy to be called sons) to the army of Antipus, in which strength Antipus did rejoice exceedingly” (Alma 56:10)
  • “Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?…For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall…Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death” (Alma 56:44, 46-47)

 

  1. VARY YOUR STRATEGY

Sun Tzu:

  • Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances…He who can modify his tactics in relation to his opponent and thereby succeed in winning, may be called a heaven-born captain” (VI:28, 33)

The Book of Mormon chronicles the progression of Nephite and Lamanite warfare over the centuries. One of the first advances in warfare was the Nephites making armor for themselves to take advantage of the Lamanite’s nakedness. The Lamanites then make their own armor to match the Nephites. In response, the Nephites build forts to once again give them the advantage. Once the Lamanites begin obtaining their own fortifications, the Nephites decoy the Lamanites out of their strongholds. The Lamanites become increasingly more difficult to deceive, so the Nephites wait until the Lamanites are drunk and they arm the Nephite prisoners within and surround the Lamanites. These are just a few examples of the Nephites and Lamanites varying their tactics:

  • “We do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands; but we believe that it is your cunning that has preserved you from our swords. Behold, it is your breastplates and your shields that have preserved you…behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites” (Alma 44:9, 18)
  • “His chief captains durst not attack the Nephites at the city of Ammonihah, for Moroni had altered the management of affairs among the Nephites, insomuch that the Lamanites were disappointed in their places of retreat and they could not come upon them” (Alma 49:11)
  • “Many times did the Lamanites attempt to encircle them about by night, but in these attempts they did lose many prisoners. And many times did they attempt to administer of their wine to the Nephites, that they might destroy them with poison or with drunkenness. But behold, the Nephites were not slow to remember the Lord their God…They could not be taken in their snares” (Alma 55:29-30)
  • “there was no way that we could lead them out of the city by our small bands. For behold, they remembered that which we had hitherto done; therefore we could not decoy them away from their strongholds” (Alma 58:1)

 

  1. USE SPIES TO DISCOVER ENEMY MOVEMENTS

Sun Tzu:

  • “Thus, what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer, and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge…Surviving spies, finally, are those who bring back news from the enemy’s camp…Spies are a most important element in war, because on them depends an army’s ability to move” (XIII:4, 13, 27)

The Nephites frequently use spies to predict the enemy’s position and respond accordingly:

  • “But I had sent my spies out round about the land of Shemlon, that I might discover their preparations, that I might guard against them” (Mosiah 10:7)
  • “And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots” (Alma 2:21)
  • “the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people” (Alma 43:24)
  • “we kept spies out round about, to watch the movements of the Lamanites, that they might not pass us by night nor by day to make an attack upon our other cities” (Alma 56:22)
  • “And Moroni placed spies round about, that he might know when the camp of the Lamanites should come…therefore, he found by his spies which course the Lamanites were to take” (Alma 43:28, 30)

 

  1. ENEMIES WANTING A TRUCE WILL SPEAK WITH FLATTERY

Sun Tzu:

  • “When envoys are sent with compliments in their mouths, it is a sign that the enemy wishes for a truce” (IX:38)

Giddianhi asks Lachoneus to surrender his forces while complimenting him for his bravery and determination:

  • “I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people…yea, ye do stand well…yield yourselves up unto us, and unite with us and become acquainted with our secret works” (3 Nephi 3:2, 3, 7)

 

  1. PREPARE FOR WAR AND DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE YOUR ENEMY

Sun Tzu:

  • The art of war teaches us to rely not on the likelihood of the enemy’s not coming, but on our own readiness to receive him; not on the chance of his not attacking, but rather on the fact that we have made our position unassailable” (VIII:12)
  • “He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them” (IX:41)

The Nephites succeed when they are prepared for war:

  • “And it came to pass that we again began to establish the kingdom and we again began to possess the land in peace. And I caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind, that thereby I might have weapons for my people against the time the Lamanites should come up again to war against my people” (Mosiah 10:1)
  • “while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand…had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort” (Alma 48:7-8)

The Nephites fail when they do not prepare their armies and underestimate their enemies:

  • “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…And the king commanded the people that they should flee before the Lamanites, and he himself did go before them…And it came to pass that the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them” (Mosiah 19:2, 9-10).
  • “the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah…And now it came to pass, before the Nephites could raise a sufficient army to drive them out of the land, they had destroyed the people who were in the city of Ammonihah…yea, every living soul of the Ammonihahites was destroyed, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness” (Alma 16:2-3, 9)
  • they had not kept sufficient guards in the land of Zarahemla; for they had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the heart of their lands to attack that great city Zarahemla. But it came to pass that Coriantumr did march forth…with such exceedingly great speed that there was no time for the Nephites to gather together their armies” (Helaman 1:18-19)
  • “And now, because of this great victory they were lifted up in the pride of their hearts; they did boast in their own strength, saying that their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites… And it came to pass that the Lamanites did pursue them, and did overtake them, and began to slay them” (Mosiah 11:19/Mosiah 19:10)
  • “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…And it was because the armies of the Nephites went up unto the Lamanites that they began to be smitten; for were it not for that, the Lamanites could have had no power over them” (Mormon 3:9/Mormon 4:4)

 

  1. SECURE NARROW PASSAGES

Sun Tzu:

  • “With regard to narrow passes, if you can occupy them first, let them be strongly garrisoned and await the advent of the enemy” (X:8)

The Nephites were constantly trying to secure the narrow pass that leads to the land northward so that they were never surrounded by the Lamanites:

  • “And he also sent orders unto him that he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9)
  • “thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north” (Alma 22:32-33)

 

16. LEADERS SHOULD BE EXAMPLES OF WISDOM AND VIRTUE

Sun Tzu:

  • “The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerity, benevolence, courage and strictness” (I:9)

Moroni is described as an ideal commander because he personifies similar virtues. This is in contrast to the fraud and deceit of Amalickiah:

  • “while Amalickiah had thus been obtaining power by fraud and deceit, Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God…And Moroni was a strong and a mighty man; he was a man of a perfect understanding; yea, a man that did not delight in bloodshed; a man whose soul did joy in the liberty and the freedom of his country…a man who did labor exceedingly for the welfare and safety of is people…and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood” (Alma 48:7, 11-13)

Why the Translation Process is the Best Evidence in Favor of the Book of Mormon

Many critics argue that the translation of the Book of Mormon as described by many witnesses is evidence that Joseph Smith was a fraud. A good summary of eye-witness testimony of the translation process can be found here. It is generally accepted by critics and apologists that Joseph Smith placed his own seer stone or the Nephite interpreters into a hat, looked inside, and dictated to his scribes what was revealed to him. It is my argument, however, that if it can be proved that Joseph Smith did in fact dictate the entire Book of Mormon in the way described by witnesses, that this is in fact the best evidence of Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. Below is a list of some of the reasons why I believe this:

  1. The Number of Biblical References

There are hundreds of references to the Bible found in the Book of Mormon (I have counted over 1000 so far). These references include direct quotes, modified quotes, themes, doctrines, symbols, and names. Many of these references are seamlessly interwoven into the narrative with such subtlety as to go unnoticed by the casual reader. Joseph Smith would have needed to be familiar with the entire Bible and have memorized a lexicon of hundreds of Biblical phrases to repeat off the top of his head, and possibly review chapters of the Bible the night before translating so that he could memorize a few more to be used the next day. Some examples of Biblical references in the Book of Mormon can be found in my examination of 2 Nephi 9, Jacob 5, and Alma 5. Consistently using such a large number of Biblical references would make the dictation process extremely difficult and it is remarkable that the use of so many references was maintained for over 500 pages.

  1. The Genealogy of Ether

Moroni provides the genealogy of the prophet Ether, which is comprised of 30 names (Ether 1:6-32). This genealogy includes names from the Bible (i.e., Seth, Levi, Ether, Omer) and names modified from the Bible (i.e., Riplakish, Lib, Hearthom). Joseph Smith would have needed to memorize this list of 30 names or at least list them off the top of his head and then be committed to use them for the rest of his narrative in the Book of Ether. He then repeats this genealogy in reverse order over the 30+ pages of the Book of Ether, including the names and storylines of characters not found in the original genealogy. This would have been an arduous process for Joseph to have to repeatedly review the genealogy and dictate the stories of each of these individuals over the course of several days. Click here for a more in-depth analysis of the genealogy of Ether.

  1. Chiasmus

While I do not believe that the existence of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon is definitive proof of its authenticity (critics point out that other contemporary sources have used chiasmus), I do believe that within the context of the translation process it does provide strong evidence for Joseph Smith’s prophetic calling. Alma 36 is the prime example of chiasmus in the Book of Mormon, and a break-down of its structure can be found here. If Joseph had been dictating with his head buried in an empty hat while only stopping every 30 or so words for the scribe to repeat back what he had written, he would have had to memorize at least 15 themes to be repeated in reverse order over 30 verses when Alma is describing his conversion. It is unlikely that the chiasmus in Alma 36 appeared accidentally, and dictating it intentionally without notes would be an incredible feat.

  1. Unique Language of the Book of Mormon Authors

I do not know much about the science behind identifying an author’s written works based on analyzing the frequency of phrases unique to that author. Regardless, there are many phrases that are found exclusively in the writings of specific Book of Mormon authors that are not found in other authors’ writings. For example, the prophet Zenos uses phrases like “turn their hearts aside” and “in the midst of thy congregations,” which are phrases found in the Old Testament but not anywhere else in the Book of Mormon (click here for more examples). Not only are some of these phrases unique to certain prophets, but they are also found across several books (i.e., Jacob using unique phrases in 2 Nephi 9, and then using these phrases again in the Book of Jacob) suggesting Joseph Smith would have been cognizant that people would analyze whether his Book of Mormon characters had unique writing styles and would have intentionally varied their writing style to make sure it would stand up to scrutiny. This is a level of attention to detail that seems unlikely.

  1. The Structure of Jacob 5

Jacob 5 is a chapter in the Book of Mormon that is layered with complexity that suggests it was meticulously planned and not the product of a man who had a general idea of what he wanted to say and then dictated using his natural ability to speak off the top of his head. First, the length of the allegory of the olive tree is an impressive 77 verses. Second, it uses a variety of references to other Biblical doctrines and phrases and some are modified to fit specifically with the imagery of olive trees. Third, the phrasing of the chapter is structured so that over 20 phrases are repeated over the course of the 77 verses, suggesting Joseph would have needed to memorize these phrases to be repeated systematically and then incorporate them to reflect Biblical doctrines using the unique symbol of an olive tree.

  1. Names in the Book of Mormon

There are a few hundred names of people and places in the Book of Mormon. Many of these names are not found in the Bible. Many of these names, however, seem to be modified from certain root words in the Bible. Click here for a list of many of the names found in the Book of Mormon and their Biblical correlates. Joseph would have needed to identify names scattered across the Bible and then come up with creative ways of modifying and combining them (i.e., “Zarahemla” is a composite of “Zarah” and “Imla”). This would have been a complicated process which he would have needed to do while steeped in the translation. In addition, he would have to be familiar with the meaning of some Hebrew names such as “Ram” and “Zif” in order to use them correctly in the Book of Mormon (see references to “Ziff” and “Rameumptom” in the previously mentioned list of Book of Mormon names).

  1. Consistency in Geography

Whoever wrote the Book of Mormon had a clear picture of the locations where the events of the Book of Mormon took place. For instance, Nephi always describes traveling to Jerusalem as “going up to” Jerusalem, suggesting the author knew Jerusalem was on a hill (this is also consistent with the Bible). Another example is that the Nephites live in the land northward, but they always say they “go up” to the land southward, suggesting that author knew visually that the land southward was a higher physical elevation than the land northward. Click here for a closer look at some of the geographical consistencies in the Book of Mormon. Joseph would have needed to memorize the names and locations of Book of Mormon cities as well as the events that occurred in the narrative or at least be able to regularly reference a map while dictating in order to produce the consistency found in the Book of Mormon.

  1. Translating beginning with Mosiah

After Joseph and Martin Harris lost the first 116 pages of the Book of Mormon, there is strong evidence that they picked up the translation process from where they left off in the Book of Mosiah. They continued through the end of the Book of Moroni, and then returned and translated 1 Nephi through Words of Mormon. This would have been difficult because Joseph makes many references to events that happened to characters in the lost portion of the Book of Mormon that are referenced after the Book of Mosiah. The most cited example is Alma quoting Lehi in Alma 36:22 before Lehi’s quote had been written. Joseph would have needed to remember that he had quoted Lehi and then remember to review the manuscript when he dictated 1 Nephi 1:8 so he could create the exact original quote that Alma was citing. Again, this would have been a remarkable example of Joseph’s attention to detail.

Comparing Names in the Book of Mormon and the Bible

Much has been said about the origin of the unique names found in the Book of Mormon (BOM). Mormon apologists identify ancient correlates to these names that are not found in the Bible and suggest it is evidence of the BOM’s authenticity (see https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Names), while critics argue that Joseph Smith simply stole names from the Bible and made a few minor changes to make them sound unique. For me, either argument isn’t particularly important. It could be argued that Joseph simply borrowed names from the Bible and changed them, but the fact that the names in the BOM are similar to other Semitic names is exactly what you would expect from an ancient record written by a people whose entire civilization is built upon the words contained in the brass plates. It would be easier to prove Joseph’s fraud if the names found in the BOM had no Semitic roots whatsoever.

I argue that it would have been easier for Joseph to either copy all names from the Bible or to make them up off the top of his head than to create some of the very creative names in the BOM which utilize various roots of other Biblical names. The following are some examples of BOM names and their Biblical correlates, based on my perusal of the Old and New Testaments. This is not intended to be a thorough review of all names found in the scriptures:

  1. Aaron (Mosiah 27:34)/(1 Chronicles 20:1)
  2. Abish (Alma 19:16)
    • Abishai (2 Samuel 19:21)
    • Achish (1 Samuel 29:2)
  3. Abinadi (Mosiah 12:1)
    • Abinadab (2 Samuel 6:3)
  4. Abinadom (Omni 1:10)
    • Abinadab (2 Samuel 6:3)
  5. Agosh (Ether 14:15)
    • Abishai (2 Samuel 19:21)
    • Goshen (Joshua 10:41)
  6. Ahah (Ether 1:9)
    • Ahi (1 Chronicles 7:34)
    • Aharah (1 Chronicles 8:1)
    • Ahava (Ezra 8:21)
    • Ahiah (1 Samuel 14:3)
  7. Akish (Ether 8:17)
    • Achish (1 Samuel 29:2)
    • Kish (1 Samuel 14:51)
  8. Alma (Alma 1:2)
    • Almon (Joshua 21:18)
  9. Amaleki (Omni 1:12)
    • Amalek (Exodus 17:8)
  10. Amalickiah (Alma 46:3)
    • Amalek (Exodus 17:8)
    • Zedekiah (Jeremiah 21:1)
  11. Amaron (Omni 1:3) / Ammaron (4 Nephi 1:49)
    • Amariah (Nehemiah 10:3)
    • Ammah (2 Samuel 2:24)
    • Beth-horon (Joshua 16:3)
  12. Amgid (Ether 10:32)
    • Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2)
    • Giddalti (1 Chronicles 25:29)
    • Gideon (Judges 7:1)
  13. Aminadab (Helaman 5:39)/(Numbers 7:12)
  14. Ammon (Mosiah 7:6)/(Joshua 13:25)
  15. Ammonihah (Alma 8:7)
    • Ammon (Joshua 13:25)
    • Ahiah (1 Samuel 14:3)
  16. Ammoron (Alma 52:3)
    • Ammon (Joshua 13:25)
    • Beth-horon (Joshua 16:3)
  17. Amnigaddah (Ether 1:15)
    • Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2)
    • Gad (2 Samuel 24:5)
    • Ammihud (1 Chronicles 7:26)
  18. Amnihu (Alma 2:15)
    • Ammihud (1 Chronicles 7:26)
    • Abihu (Exodus 24:1)
    • Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2)
  19. Amnor (Alma 11:6)
    • Amnon (2 Samuel 3:2)
    • Amorites (Exodus 3:17)
  20. Amos (4 Nephi 1:19)/(Amos 1:1)
  21. Amulek (Alma 10:2)
    • Amalek (Exodus 17:8)
  22. Amulon (Mosiah 23:31)
    • Ammon (Joshua 13:25)
    • Helon (Numbers 7:24)
  23. Antiparah (Alma 56:14)
    • Antioch (Acts 6:5)
    • Paran (Numbers 10:12)
  24. Archeantus (Moroni 9:2)
    • Archturus (Job 38:32)
    • Archite (2 Samuel 17:14)
  25. Boaz (Mormon 4:20)/(Ruth 4:13)
  26. Cezoram (Helaman 5:1)
    • Jehoram (2 Chroinicles 21:4)
    • Zorah (Judges 18:11)
  27. Chemish (Omni 1:9)
    • Carchemish (2 Chronicles 35:20)
  28. Cohor (Ether 7:20)
    • Kohath (1 Chronicles 23:6)
    • Hor (Numbers 20:22)
    • Nahor (Genesis 11:22)
  29. Com (Ether 1:13)
    • Milcom (2 Kings 23:13)
    • Coz (1 Chronicles 4:8)
  30. Corihor (Ether 7:3)
    1. Korah (Genesis 36:5)
    2. Hor (Numbers 20:22)
    3. Sihor (Jeremiah 2:18)
  31. Corom (Ether 1:20)
    • Horam (Joshua 10:33)
    • Beth-horon (Joshua 16:3)
  32. Cumeni (Alma 56:14)
    • Cuth (2 Kings 17:30)
    • Temeni (1 Chronicles 4:6)
  33. Cumorah (Mormon 6:2)
    • Gomorrah (Zephaniah 2:9)
    • Cuth (2 Kings 17:30)
    • Cushi (Zephaniah 1:1)
    • Cushan (Habukkuk 3:7)
    • Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1)
  34. Emron (Moroni 9:2)
    • Shimron (Joshua 11:1)
  35. Etham (Ether 1:8)
    • Ethem (Numbers 33:6)
  36. Ezias (Helaman 8:20)
    • Ezion-Geber (1 Kings 22:48)
    • Esaias (Romans 10:16)
  37. Ezrom (Alma 11:6)
    • Ezra (Ezra 7:1)
    • Hezron (Genesis 46:9)
  38. Gad (3 Nephi 9:10)/(Joshua 13:24)
  39. Gadiandi (3 Nephi 9:8)
    • Gad (Joshua 22:9)
    • Gideon (Judges 7:1)
    • Giddalti (1 Chronicles 25:29)
  40. Gadianton (4 Nephi 1:42)
    • Gad (Joshua 22:9)
    • Gideon (Judges 7:1)
    • Eshton (1 Chronicles 4:12)
  41. Gadiomnah (3 Nephi 9:8)
    • Gad (Joshua 22:9)
    • Gideon (Judges 7:1)
    • Dimnah (Joshua 21:35)
  42. Gazelem (Alma 37:23)
    • Gazez (1 Chronicles 2:46)
    • Jerusalem (Matthew 2:1)
    • Gerizim (Judges 9:7)
  43. Gidgiddoni (3 Nephi 3:20) / Gidgiddonah (Mormon 6:13)
    • Iddo (2 Chronicles 13:22)
    • Hachmoni (1 Chronicles 27:32)
    • Megiddo (1 Kings 9:15)
    • Gideon (Judges 7:1)
    • Gudgodah (Deuteronomy 10:7)
  44. Giddianhi (3 Nephi 3:12)
    • Giddalti (1 Chronicles 25:29)
    • Gideon (Judges 7:1)
  45. Gilgah (Ether 6:14)
    • Bilgah (1 Chronicles 24:14)
    • Gilgal (1 Samuel 13:4)
  46. Gilgal (3 Nephi 9:7)/(Deuteronomy 11:30)
  47. Gimgimno (3 Nephi 9:8)
    • Nimrim (Isaiah 15:6)
  48. Hagoth (Alma 63:5)
    • Havoth (Numbers 32:41)
    • Haggith (1 Kings 1:11)
  49. Hearthom (Ether 10:30)
    • Hotham (1 Chronicles 7:32)
  50. Helam (Mosiah 18:12)/(2 Samuel 10:16)
  51. Helaman (Alma 36:3)
    • Heman (1 Chronicles 2:6)
    • Helam (2 Samuel 10:16)
  52. Hermounts (Alma 2:37)
    • Mount Hermon (Psalm 133:3)/(Deuteronomy 3:8)
  53. Heshlon (Ether 13:28)
    • Heshbon (Deuteronomy 3:6)
    • Helon (Numbers 7:24)
  54. Himni (Alma 23:1)
    • Hinnom (Joshua 17:2)
    • Temeni (1 Chronicles 4:6)
    • Timnah (Joshua 15:57)
  55. Jacobugath (3 Nephi 9:9) (I find this one funny because some critics point to city names in the region where Joseph grew up such as “Jacobsburg” as evidence that the Book of Mormon was made up based on his personal experience. Jacobugath’s connection to the Bible, however, is much more compelling than believing Joseph based the name “Jacobugath” on the name “Jacobsburg”)
    • Jacob (Genesis 25:26)
    • Gath (2 Chronicles 11:8)
    • Jotbath (Deuteronomy 10:7)
  56. Jacom (Ether 6:14)
    • Jacob (Genesis 25:26)
    • Milcom (2 Kings 23:13)
  57. Jared (Ether 1:32)/(Genesis 5:15)
  58. Jashon (Mormon 2:16)
    • Jashen (2 Samuel 23:32)
    • Jasher (Joshua 10:13)
  59. Jershon (Alma 27:22) (My Speculation: It is interesting to me that Gershom is the name given to Moses’ son because he said “I have been a stranger in a strange land.” The Anti-Nephi-Lehis were also strangers when they were forced out of their own lands and came as refugees to inherit the land given to them by the Nephites, which was called Jershon. Other speculation on the name Jershon can be found here: https://www.mormoninterpreter.com/a-nickname-and-a-slam-dunk-notes-on-the-book-of-mormon-names-zeezrom-and-jershon/)
    • Gershom (Exodus 2:22)
    • Gershon (1 Chronicles 6:1)
  60. Jordan (1 Nephi 10:9)/(Joshua 4:16)
  61. Judah (1 Nephi 1:4)/(2 Chronicles 25:10)
  62. Kib (Ether 7:3)
    • Kibzaim (Joshua 21:22)
    • Kibroth-hataavah (Numbers 3:16)
  63. Kishkumen (Helaman 2:3)
    • Kish (1 Samuel 14:51)
    • Temeni (1 Chronicles 4:6) (See “Cumeni”)
  64. Korihor (Alma 30:12)
    • Korah (Genesis 36:5)
    • Shihor (1 Chronicles 13:5)
    • Nahor (Genesis 11:22)
  65. Laban (1 Nephi 3:3)/(Genesis 24:29)
  66. Lachoneus (3 Nephi 6:6)
    • Lachish (Joshua 10:3)
  67. Lamoni (Alma 19:33)
    • Lamech (Genesis 5:28)
    • Hachmoni (1 Chronicles 27:32)
    • Hamonah (Ezekiel 39:16)
  68. Leah (Alma 11:17)/(Genesis 29:24)
  69. Levi (Ether 1:20)/(Genesis 46:11)
  70. Lib (Ether 1:18)
    • Libni (1 Chronicles 6:17)
    • Libnah (Joshua 15:42)
  71. Limhi (Mosiah 7:9)
    • Libni (1 Chronicles 6:17)
  72. Limnah (Alma 11:10)
    • Libnah (Joshua 15:42)
    • Dimnah (Joshua 21:35)
  73. Luram (Moroni 9:2)
    • Ludim (Genesis 10:13)
  74. Mahah (Ether 6:14)
    • Mahath (1 Chronicles 6:35)
    • Mahazioth (1 Chronicles 25:4)
    • Mahalaleel (Genesis 5:12)
  75. Mathonihah (3 Nephi 19:4)
    • Mattaniah (1 Chronicles 9:15)
    • Matthias (Acts 1:23)
  76. Melek (Alma 8:3)
    • Melech (1 Chronicles 8:35)
    • Helek (Joshua 17:2)
  77. Middoni (Alma 22:1)
    • Middin (Joshua 15:61)
    • Iddo (2 Chronicles 13:22)
    • Hachmoni (1 Chronicles 27:32)
  78. Minon (Alma 2:24)
    • Pinon (Genesis 36:41)
  79. Mocum (3 Nephi 9:7)
    • Milcom (2 Kings 23:13)
    • Memucan (Esther 1:16)
  80. Morianton (Alma 59:5) / Moriancumer (Ether 2:13) (Morianton is another name critics like to point to, claiming it sounds similar to a place in the region where Joseph lived called Moravian Town. Once again, the Biblical connection seems much more plausible
    • Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1)
    • Eshton (1 Chronicles 4:12)
  81. Moron (Ether 11:14)
    • Beth-horon (Joshua 16:3)
    • Merom (Joshua 11:5)
    • Shimron-meron (Joshua 12:20)
  82. Moroni (3 Nephi 8:9)
    • Moriah (2 Chronicles 3:1)
    • Hachmoni (1 Chronicles 27:32)
    • Beth-horon (Joshua 16:3)
    • Shiloni (Nehemiah 11:5)
    • Gideoni (Numbers 10:24)
  83. Mosiah (Omni 1:18)
    • Josiah (2 Chronicles 34:1)
  84. Neas (Mosiah 9:9)
    • Neah (Joshua 19:13)
  85. Nehor (Alma 1:15) / Nahom (1 Nephi 16:34)
    • Nahor (Genesis 11:22)
  86. Nimrah (Ether 9:8)/(Numbers 32:3)
  87. Nimrod (Ether 2:1)/(Genesis 10:8)
  88. Ogath (Ether 15:10)
    • Oboth (Numbers 33:43)
    • Gath (1 Chronicles 7:21)
  89. Omer (Ether 1:30)/(Exodus 16:36)
  90. Omner (Mosiah 27:34)
    • Omer (Exodus 16:32)
  91. Omni (Omni 1:1)
    • Omri (2 Chronicles 22:2)
  92. Paanchi (Helaman 1:3)
    • Maachah (1 Chronicles 9:35)
    • Malchi-shua (1 Chronicles 9:39)
    • Paran (Numbers 10:12)
  93. Pacumeni (Helaman 1:3)
    • Paran (Numbers 10:12)
    • Temeni (1 Chronicles 4:6)
  94. Pagag (Ether 6:25)
    • Agag (1 Samuel 15:32)
    • Magog (1 Chronicles 1:5)
    • Paran (Numbers 10:12)
  95. Pahoran (Alma 60:1)
    • Paran (Numbers 10:12)
    • Nahor (Genesis 11:22)
  96. Rabbanah (Alma 18:13) (The Book of Mormon says this name means “powerful or great king.” The name “Rabbah” in the Bible means “great,” and Rabboni means “Master.” This connection is identified in the footnotes of Alma 18:13) 
    • Rabboni (John 20:16)
    • Rabbah (1 Chronicles 20:1)
  97. Rameumptom (Alma 31:21) [abarim-publications.com states the following about the name “Ram:” “The name Ram comes from the verb רום (rum), meaning to be high.” The name Rameumptom is the name given to a stand which is described as “high above the head” (Alma 31:13). See also https://onoma.lib.byu.edu/index.php/RAMEUMPTOM for a deeper analysis)
    • Ram (1 Chronicles 2:9)
  98. Riplah (Alma 43:35)
    • Riblah (Numbers 34:11)
  99. Riplakish (Ether 1:23) (Once again, critics point to Riplakish and Ripliancum (Ether 15:8) as being similar to a place near Joseph called Ripple Lake. The Biblical basis of the name is much more plausible
    • Riblah (Numbers 34:11)
    • Kish (1 Samuel 14:51)
  100. Sam (1 Nephi 2:5)
    • Samson (Judges 15:16)
    • Samuel (1 Samuel 4:1)
    • Samlah (1 Chronicles 1:47)
  101. Sariah (1 Nephi 5:1)
    • Seraiah (Nehemiah 10:2)
  102. Senum (Alma 11:3)
    • Senuah (Nehemiah 11:9)
    • Shunem (Joshua 19:18)
  103. Seth (Ether 1:10)/(Genesis 4:25)
  104. Shazer (1 Nephi 16:13)
    • Jazer (Numbers 32:1)
    • Shamer (1 Chronicles 6:46)
  105. Shelem (Ether 3:1)
    • Helem (1 Chronicles 7:35)
    • Shelah (Genesis 46:12)
    • Shechem (Judges 21:19)
  106. Shem (Mormon 2:20)/(Genesis 9:18)
  107. Shemlon (Mosiah 10:7)
    • Shem (Genesis 9:18)
    • Helon (Numbers 7:24)
  108. Shemnon (3 Nephi 19:4)
    • Shem (Genesis 9:18)
    • Amnon (1 Chronicles 3:1)
  109. Sherem (Jacob 7:1)
    • Sherebiah (Nehemiah 10:12)
    • Sheresh (1 Chronicles 7:16)
    • Shechem (Judges 21:19)
  110. Sherrizah (Moroni 9:7)
    • Sheresh (1 Chronicles 7:16)
    • Mizzah (Genesis 36:13)
  111. Sheum (Mosiah 9:9)
    • Shunem (Joshua 19:18)
  112. Shez (Ether 1:25)
    • Shem (1 Chronicles 1:4)
  113. Shilom (Mosiah 9:6)
    • Shiloh (Judges 21:12)
    • Shillem (Genesis 46:24)
  114. Shim (Mormon 1:3)
    • Shimeath (2 Chronicles 24:26)
    • Shimi (Exodus 6:17)
    • Shimrith (2 Chronicles 24:26)
  115. Shiz (Ether 14:17)
    • Shiza (1 Chronicles 11:42)
  116. Sidom (Alma 15:1)
    • Sodom (Genesis 19:24)
    • Sidon (Genesis 10:15)
  117. Sidon (Alma 2:15)/(Genesis 10:15)
  118. Siron (Alma 39:3)
    • Sihon (Joshua 9:10)
    • Sirah (2 Samuel 3:26)
    • Sirion (Deuteronomy 3:9)
  119. Teomner (Alma 58:16)
    • Temeni (1 Chronicles 4:6)
    • Omer (Exodus 16:32)
  120. Tubaloth (Helaman 1:16)
    • Tubal (1 Chronicles 1:5)
    • Geliloth (Joshua 18:17)
    • Mikloth (1 Chronicles 9:37)
  121. Zarahemla (Omni 1:14)
    • Zerah (1 Chronicles 4:24)
    • Imla (2 Chronicles 18:8)
  122. Zeezrom (Alma 10:31)
    • Zeeb (Judges 7:25)
    • Hezron (Genesis 46:9)
    • See “Ezrom”
  123. Zemnarihah (3 Nephi 4:17)
    • Zemaraim (Joshua 18:22)
    • Ahiah (1 Samuel 14:3)
  124. Zenock (Alma 33:15)
    • Zadok (Ezekiel 44:15)
    • Enoch (Genesis 5:19)
  125. Zenos (Jacob 5:1)
    • Enos (Genesis 5:7)
  126. Zenephi (Moroni 9:16)
    • Zepheniah (Zepheniah 1:1)
  127. Zerahemnah (Alma 43:5)
    • Zerah (1 Chronicles 1:44)
    • Imnah (1 Chronicles 7:30)
  128. Zeram (Alma 2:22)
    • Zerah (1 Chronicles 1:44)
  129. Zerin (Ether 12:30)
    • Zeri (1 Chronicles 23:10)
  130. Ziff (Mosiah 11:3) = (What is interesting about this word is that it is an unknown substance that is part of a list of valuable metals such as gold, silver, and copper, that were taxed by King Noah. Alma says that metal plates upon which historical records were written must “retain their brightness” (Alma 37:5). The Biblical correlate “Zif” means “brightness” (biblehub.com). This connection is mentioned in the Topical Guide of the Book of Mormon)
    • Ziph (Joshua 15:24)
    • Zif (1 Kings 6:1)
  131. Zoram (1 Nephi 4:35)
    • Zorah (Judges 13:25)
    • Joram (1 Chronicles 26:25)
    • Horam (Joshua 10:33)

Consistência Interna no Livro de Mórmon: A Árvore de Vida e a Fonte de Águas Vivas

No Livro de Mórmon, o profeta Leí é mostrado uma visão onde ele vê pessoas segurando a uma barra de ferro ao tentar chegar à árvore de vida (1 Néfi 8). O filho de Leí, Néfi, deseja ver a visão de seu pai, e ao ponderar o que ouviu ele é mostrado a mesma visão e uma interpretaҫão de seu simbolismo (1 Néfi 11-14)

Néfi é mostrado a árvore de vida e descreve o seguinte:

  • “E eu olhei e vi uma árvore; e era semelhante à árvore que meu pai tinha visto; e sua beleza era tão grande, sim, que excedia toda beleza” (1 Néfi 11:8)

Néfi vê uma visão de Maria dando a luz ao Jesus Cristo, e depois o anjo que serve como guia para Néfi na visão pergunta-lo se ele soubesse o significado da árvore:

  • “Sabes tu o significado da árvore que teu pai viu?” (1 Néfi 11:21)
  • “E respondi-lhe, dizendo: Sim, é o amor de Deus, que se derrama no coração dos filhos dos homens” (1 Néfi 11:22)

Por alguma razão, porém, algúns versículos depois, ele refere à árvore de vida como “a fonte de águas vivas:”

  • “E aconteceu que vi que a barra de ferro que meu pai tinha visto era a palavra de Deus, que conduzia à fonte de águas vivas, ou seja, à árvore da vida; águas essas que eram um símbolo do amor de Deus; e também vi que a árvore da vida era um símbolo do amor de Deus” (1 Néfi 11:25)

Esta referência à “fonte de águas vivas” de repente aparece sem ser mencionado explícito na descriҫão da visão. Enquanto não sei o significado de usar os símbolos da fonte de águas vivas e a árvore de vida indiferentemenete, o que é mais interessante para mim é que talvez este relacionamento seja aludido centenas de páginas depois em Alma 32.

Alma explica aos Zoramitas que se eles exercerem fé e experimentarem em suas palavras, sua fé no evangelho podiam crescer a conhecimento perfeito que vai tornar-se uma árvore de video de qual fruto pode comer.

Alma diz:

  • “E assim, se não cultivardes a palavra, esperando com os olhos da fé o seu fruto, nunca podereis colher o fruto da árvore da vida. Se, porém, cultivardes a palavra, sim, cultivardes a árvore quando ela começar a crescer, com vossa fé, com grande esforço e com paciência, esperando o fruto, ela criará raiz; e eis que será uma árvore que brotará para a vida eterna.” (Alma 32:40-41)

Aqui não há menҫão à fonte de águas vivas. Porém, a frase “uma árvore que brotará para a vida eternal” é muito semelhante à frase usada por Jesus Cristo ao falar com a mulher de Samaria no fonte de Jacó e ele diz que pode dar-lhe águas vivas, de qual se ela bebesse jamais ter sede:

  • “Mas aquele que beber da água que eu lhe der nunca terá sede, porque a água que eu lhe der se fará nele uma fonte de água que salte para a vida eternal” (João 4:14)

Alma, não fazendo nenhuma menҫão comparando a árvore de vida à fonte de águas vivas, se usa a mesma frase para descrever a árvore de vida como foi usado pelo Salvador para descrever águas vivas. Enquanto esta conexão entre Néfi, Alma, e Jesus Cristo podia ocorrer por chance, creio que é uma chance peqeuninha que Joseph Smith usou as palavras do Salvador arbitrariamente pelo discurso feito por Alma sobre a fé para apoiar a comparaҫão feito por Néfi da árvore de vida e a fonte de águas vivas.

Para mim, é incrível que este relactionamento sinônimo entre a árvore de vida e a fonte de águas vivas, descrito casualmente em 1 Néfi 11, é também encontrado centenas de páginas depois em Alma 32. Para mim, esta conexão é mais um pedaҫo de uma grande colecҫão de evidência confirmando o Livro de Mórmon é a palavra de Deus.

Internal Consistency in the Book of Mormon: The Tree of Life and the Fountain of Living Waters

In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Lehi is shown a vision where he sees people holding to a rod of iron while trying to reach the tree of life (1 Nephi 8). Lehi’s son, Nephi, desires to see his father’s vision, and while pondering what he heard he is shown the same vision and an interpretation of its symbolism (1 Nephi 11-14).

Nephi is shown the tree of life and describes the following:

  • And I looked and beheld a tree; and it was like unto the tree which my father had seen; and the beauty thereof was far beyond, yea, exceeding of all beauty” (1 Nephi 11:8)

Nephi sees a vision of Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ, and then the angel who is guiding Nephi in the vision asks if he knows the meaning of the tree:

  • Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?” (1 Nephi 11:21)
  • And I answered him, saying: Yea, it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 11:22)

For some reason, however, a few verses later he refers to the tree of life as “the fountain of living waters”:

  • I beheld that the rod of iron, which my father had seen, was the word of God, which led to the fountain of living waters, or to the tree of life; which waters are a representation of the love of God; and I also beheld that the tree of life was a representation of the love of God” (1 Nephi 11:25)

This reference to the “fountain of living waters” seems to come out of nowhere since it is not mentioned explicitly in the description of the vision. While I do not know the significance of using the symbols of the fountain of living waters and the tree of life interchangeably, what is most interesting to me is that this casually alluded to relationship may also be found hundreds of pages later in Alma 32.

Alma explains to the Zoramites that if they exercise faith and experiment upon his words, their faith in the gospel can grow into knowledge which will become a tree of life from which fruit they will be able to partake.

Alma states:

  • And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life” (Alma 32:40-41)

Here, there is no mention of the fountain of living waters. However, the phrase “a tree springing up unto everlasting life” is strikingly similar to a phrase used by Jesus Christ when talking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well and he tells her that he can give her living waters, from which if she drinks she will never thirst again:

  • But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14)

Alma, making no overt reference comparing the tree of life to the fountain of living waters, uses the same phrase to describe the “tree of life” as the Savior does in describing “living waters.” While this connection between Nephi, Alma, and Jesus Christ may have occurred by chance, I believe it is nonetheless an extremely small chance that Joseph Smith arbitrarily used the Savior’s words for Alma’s discourse on faith to support Nephi’s comparison of the fountain of living waters and the tree of life.

To me, it is rather incredible that this synonymous relationship between the tree of life and the fountain of living waters, described almost in passing in 1 Nephi 11, is also found hundreds of pages away in Alma 32. For me, this is one more piece of a larger body of evidence confirming the Book of Mormon is the word of God.