This is one of (what I hope will be) many posts on my notes from the Alma 19 study group nights.
One of the words that confused and interested us was “Lamanitish.” We couldn’t find that word used anywhere else besides this story. We realized that Nephite and Lamanite themselves were very rarely used as adjectives. But they were on occasion, so that didn’t leave any reason for Mormon to have to use the word “Lamanitish.” We played around with a few possibilities:
- people who don’t follow all of the Lamanite customs and traditions, but who are still Lamanite by birth?
- people who aren’t Lamanite by birth, but do follow the customs and traditions?
- perhaps these are Nephite dissenters?
- perhaps these are non-Lehite peoples who lived in the area?
- people who have been captured by the Lamanites during war?
- descendants of Ishmael rather than Laman? (but elsewhere always lumped in with Lamanites…) Perhaps descendants of Ishmael who were trying to be more like Laman’s people in order to be higher up in some political structure?
- (My personal favorite:) People who married a Lamanite or children of a Lamanite/non-Lamanite couple. “Lamanite-in-law” was one term we floated around.
- note that the term is only applied to servants. So maybe these were captured, maybe dissenters finding their place in a foreign culture, maybe married in and left to live separately, maybe children of married-in parent, maybe local tribes who had been subjected — maybe any of these, but what is clear is that these are people who are servants to the king and queen.
Each of these ideas could shift the meaning of the story slightly. Think of how they would affect these questions: Why is Ammon sent to work among the Lamantish servants? Why is Abish (Lamanitish) converted? Why was her father receiving visions of Nephite religion? Why do the Lamanitish women servants work so closely with the queen? Why does the king feel like he can kill off the Lamantish men who watch his sheep? Why are the other sheep-watchers who scatter the king’s sheep called “Lamanite” and why aren’t they the ones being killed?