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)