Tag Archives: Lamanites

Jacob and the Lamanites

Last Friday’s study group was on Jacob 6:9. I could record a hundred little insights, but mostly I want to focus on what we learned about the book of Jacob and how it relates to the Lamanites.

We were looking at why Jacob is talking about “shame” as well as “guilt.” Joe’s philosophical reading defines shame as something you are responsible for, but you aren’t in control of (your mere mortality, weakness, etc., or something you inherited from previous generations, etc.). We came to a point where we wondered if all of chapter 6 was aimed at the (future) Lamanites, rather than his current Nephite brethren. We looked before Chapter 5’s allegory of the olive tree, and found that chapter 4 could be read as written to the future Lamanites. This would mean that chapter 5, though about the Jews, could be “likened” to the Lamanites specifically. That led us to read Chapter 6 as also directed to future Lamanites, so we could read 6:9 as Jacob trying to help the Lamanites not be ashamed of their fathers (and the curse that they inherited from them for a time) and rather receive the covenant that God is extending to them (also because of their fathers). (See Jacob 4:3.)

Beyond this, I suggested that perhaps all of Jacob’s writings could be aimed at softening the blow to the Lamanites so that they would read and accept this book. Joe is often pointing out how Jacob, in chapters 2-3, is criticizing the Nephites for how they are treating the Lamanites. Jacob explains that the Nephites are not keeping certain commandments that the Lamanites are keeping; the Nephites don’t treat their families well and that will have future consequences; the Lamanites behavior was taught them by their parents and they aren’t responsible for much of their tradition, etc. So what if we read all of that as Jacob’s attempt to invite the Lamanites into this book where their people will so often be described in a negative light? What if Jacob is trying to reach out to them through his contribution to this book? What if he wants them to know that the Nephites were often wrong in how they viewed their people? But, none the less, there was a curse brought on by their first parents that did affect them, and necessitated a book being written and brought to them?

We all liked that idea a lot, and thought it made good sense of Jacob 4:2-3:

“but we can write a few words upon plates, which will give our children, and also our beloved brethren, a small degree of knowledge concerning us, or concerning their fathers—

Now in this thing we do rejoice; and we labor diligently to engraven these words upon plates, hoping that our beloved brethren and our children will receive them with thankful hearts, and look upon them that they may learn with joy and not with sorrow, neither with contempt, concerning their first parents.”

Joe and I summed it up yesterday by saying it’s as if Jacob and Nephi are playing “good cop bad cop” with the Lamanites. 🙂






Ammon, Aaron, and forsaking kingdoms

This round through Alma 17-22, I thought a lot about how each interaction that Aaron and Ammon have with the Lamanites could be being affected by the fact that Ammon and Aaron are princes who have given up their position. Or, maybe they were seen as being dethroned? Maybe they were seen as impostors? (not the real princes). When King Lamoni offers his daughter as a wife for Ammon, it could very well be because he is a prince. It could be setting up alliances between the Nephites and Lamanites. It could be that he thinks Ammon has defected to the Lamanites for real, but a prince would still make a good match for his daughter. It could be that he thinks he’s defected and that he’s a wise, impressive guy, and he wants to have someone like that in his family and ready to take up his place someday. All of these are possibilities if King Lamoni recognizes him as the son of King Mosiah (and I can’t tell how likely that would be or not).

The father of King Lamoni is less impressed with Ammon. Does his distrust and outrage go beyond the simple fact that Ammon is a Nephite and therefore “is one of the children of a liar”? If the father of King Lamoni recognizes Ammon as a prince, why else might he be upset? Does he suspect that this prince is here to trick his son out of his land?

Later, when Ammon is in the position to slay the father of Lamoni, he pleads “If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom.” Does he think that this is really why Ammon is here?

This same language comes up later still, after he realizes that Ammon is only here on honest goodwill efforts. When Aaron is teaching him, the father of Lamoni says that he will give up all his possessions to be filled with the joy that comes from the Spirit — “yea, I will forsake my kingdom that I may receive this great joy.” Note here that he’s not offering his kingdom to Aaron, as he did to Ammon, but simply says he will “forsake.” That is exactly what Aaron and Ammon did! If he is aware of this, then he’s listening to a man who forsook his kingdom because of the joy he felt in preaching this gospel, and here the father of Lamoni is saying “I will give up my own kingdom, like this man, in order to have the joy that he has.”

What an interesting thread woven into this story!

Lots of insights from MSH! (updated as I have time to add more notes)

There will be a whole ton, and they’ll be somewhat randomly ordered, but they will be tagged so I can find them again!

  • Ether 12: faith doesn’t always need to be quantified, or turned into something economic
  • Goal is to focus on Christ, not focus on faith.
    • Faith will come along the way, as a gift, as you seek for Christ. Seeking = open, ready to receive, looking,
  • “Faith is things” ??
    • Things are things AND more than things
    • Faith changes things?
    • Faith is in those very things around you but you see them differently, or you use them differently, or God uses them to teach you, etc.
    • Things = Christ’s body that he showed the Nephites?
  • “We receive the gift of faith by seeking Christ, not by seeking faith” (quoting Jenny here)
  • Ether 12:41 and Alma 32? similarities and differences…
    • faith is assumed, trust you can do things when faith is exercised. Not seeking faith, using faith.
    • Seek Christ/ plant word(Christ)
    • But Alma does see faith increasing. But then again, it’s a gift, and not what you were seeking after.


  • This is my description, after listening to Joe’s paper:
    • Sacred time= cyclical, Messianic time= future changes present (oriented to future, so linear), Secular time= just linear (no orientation)


  • word “history” only used 5 times in the Book of Mormon, and all are in small plates.
  • 2 Nephi 5, Nephi is very interested in boundaries of all kinds
  • (boundaries, history, these are secular questions)
  • First Nephi says history, then later more history part, then more particular
  • Maybe he sees that it’s tricky to separate secular and sacred
    • even when he separates them into two separate books it’s still hard to keep them a part!
  • Secular is supposedly neutral, but really, based on our discussions, we could say that secular = history+religion-religion?
  • That version is subtractive, but Nephi is additive (more history)
  • v. 32/33 pleased vs. desiring
    • admits there is a lack (of history) so some might desire history
  • Desire can disrupt sacred?
  • Lamanites have words like “seek” “toward” associated with them
    • v 19 disrupts sacred teaching
    • (note when Nephi desires something in ch 5 it is that he desires NOT to have kings)
  • Laman and Lemuel often a topic on large plates! During times when they are being lectured Nephi will stop and say that the rest of the lecture is on the large plates (Brilliant, brilliant insight by Kim!)
  • Plates sort of parallel the two groups (Lamanties/large plates and Nephitites/small plates)
  • But these divisions are overcome:
    • Book of Mormon is addressed to Lamanites
    • small/large plates are together now
  • Does a division of sacred and secular open up a space for us to do work of covenant, so we can seal it all back together in a better way?


  • BYU has a vision that Elder Holland talks about, where our spiritual life should make us better scholars, and our scholarship should make us grow in our spiritual life.
    • But, it’s hard to tell who has the vision and who doesn’t, and who can make that vision emerge in students and who can’t
    • Everyone has their own qualifications or clues
    • But maybe it’s more like Kierkegaard’s “Knight of Faith” – you can’t tell. Eats dinner the same, walks home the same, can’t tell that someone does the same things but in a different way, with a different heart, a different orientation


  • Maybe priesthood assignment itself is a circle of power for men? Given a huge task and told to figure it out!
  • Could be true too for all callings of course. Hmm


  • King Follett discourse is an example of the appeal to low/common Church mixed with High Church.
  • Introduced as if academic. Here are some thoughts, not here is doctrine or here is how to live your life
  • But rhetoric style is plain
  • but “refutes” ideas, like a paper
  • paragraph 12 has a hugely amazing doctrine, but the sentence structure treats it like it’s equal to the other things in the sentence!
  • Plain container fill it with radical ideas?
    • Family proclamation feels that way to me. Looks plain but full of radical ideas 🙂

Alma 19:15-36: Another bunch of notes

Some more notes from our month-long study group on the Abish story:

  • v. 15 The servants are praying because “the fear of the Lord had come upon them also.” Is this fear spiritual or physical? Have they understood enough of what has happened to be praying for mercy, like the King did? Or is this a different sort of fear? Are they afraid for their physical lives, since they had seen that Ammon could not be killed, and yet now they see him falling because of the power of God?
  • v. 15-16 We assumed that the people watching sheep were all men, but here it says all the servants fell except one woman. Does that imply that the group of servants watching sheep included women? children?
    • Are there men who serve the King and women who serve the Queen? Later it appears that Abish is specifically the Queen’s servant
    • Ammon does call the people watching sheep his brethren
  • v. 15-16 Another possibility is that all the servants were gathered, both those who were with Ammon and others who happened to be in the palace that day.
  • One clue that Abish and other women are connected to the sheep-watching servants is that they are both called “Lamanitish.” We searched and couldn’t find that word elsewhere. (We noted that Lamanite and Nephite are rarely used as adjectives at all.) Where did this word come from?
    • Perhaps inventing an adjective. But why here? Why not used again?
    • On original plates? Mormon is borrowing the term for this story?
    • Are they only kind-of Lamanites?
      • They are in the Land of Ishmael. Is Mormon pointing out that they aren’t literally Lamanites? But elsewhere Ishmaelites are grouped together with Lamanites for simplicity, so why would that change here? Could it be that true-Lamanites have more power and they are trying to set themselves up as true Lamanites (through proving loyalty, through certain customs) to join the power structure?
      • Are they children of marriages of one Lamanite and one not-Lamanite? An Ishmaelite or a Lemuelite marrying a Lamanite?
      • Are they actually from neighboring tribes? (Not Lehi’s children at all?) Are they from other tribes but have chosen to live with the Lamanites? Are they from other tribes but have been captured or forced to live with the Lamanites and that’s why they are servants?
      • Are they children of a marriage between a Lamanite and a person from another tribe?
      • Are they the spouse of in a marriage of a Lamanite and non-Lamanite? A “Lamanite-in-law” as it were?
      • Could they be Nephite dissenters who have chosen to live with the Lamanites? They are Lamanitish because of how they have chosen to live rather than because of mixed lineage?
      • Are they children of Nephites who dissented at some point? Perhaps several generations back? Is this part of why they are servants? They are the lesser race in this culture?
      • Are they perhaps children of a Nephite and a Lamanite?
  • v. 16 Depending on which one of the above readings of “Lamanitish” we pick, it changes the story of Abish. She was Lamanitish. What did that imply about her social status in the palace? In the community? About her relationship to the Queen?
  • v. 16 What does it tell us about her vision? She has a “remarkable” vision of her father. (We discussed the ambiguity here: is it a vision he had or a vision she had about him?) Is he/she having visions because they are actually Nephites?
  • v. 17 This vision has converted her, but it also seems to prompt her to go about taking the “opportunity” to show others God’s power. Someone suggested that her vision (or her father’s vision) included the promise of the Lamanites and Nephites being reconciled, or at least of the Lamanites being converted. Perhaps she was waiting for this opportunity for a long time.
  • v. 23 Ammon is saved on account of his father, while Abish is converted on account of her father
  • v. 22-23 perhaps allusions to David & Saul (Also someone named Abishai in David’s time – interesting!) and/or Nephi & Laban
  • v. 28 it seems to me that their contentions happened so fast and so sharp because they have already been thinking about these things for some time (distrust in their king, or in the Nephites, or in Ammon’s arrival, etc.)
  • v. 28 If Abish’s vision/her father’s vision had shown the Lamanites converting, then would add to the reasons why she was so distraught
  • v. 29 “perhaps” – similar to “opportunity” – she is not being told by God what to do, but using her faith and mind to try and see what can be done. Similar to righteous women elsewhere
  • v. 29 King blesses name of God, she blesses Jesus (gives a name)
  • v. 29 King wakes up and talks about Queen as blessed because God will be born of a woman, she wakes up and blesses the childhood name “Jesus” (she continues her position as the typological mother-figure) (beautiful, really)
  • v. 29 she prays that God will bless her people, also a maternal cry
  • v. 29 But her cry is similar to the King’s cry before he passes out. Both of them are concerned about their people. A father/mother, Adam/Eve, Lehi/Sariah kind of pair.
  • v. 30 it’s of course interesting that servant raises Queen, and Queen raises King. Again, this story undoes all sorts of hierarchies, or at least ones that we have, or that perhaps the Nephites had, and we expect that the Lamanites had too.
    • remember though that the Lamanites were known for treating women better than the Nephites did (See Jacob 2-3 for example)

Deep Sleep

I have been reading 2 Nephi 27 this week. I noticed something in verse 5 that I hadn’t caught before: so, God pours on the people deep sleep, “for” they have closed their eyes and rejected the prophets.

I think there’s a lot to think about there. Isaiah is told to preach in such a way that the people won’t understand and repent. But, I think that comes after decisions that the people have made. They have look beyond the mark, wanted things they couldn’t understand, etc. God tried plainness and they closed their eyes. So, if they’re going to sleep, God’s going to make them sleep deeply.

Is that actually a merciful thing? If they are only half-sleeping, knowing what’s going on but keeping their eyes closed, then they are knowingly rejecting what’s in front of them. But, if they are sound asleep, then they would be less responsible for understanding what is going on around them. Is this deeper sleep, or Isaiah’s preaching, a way of saving them from further condemnation?

I think of the Lamanites in this way, too. Laman and Lemuel could see what they were rejecting; they closed their eyes and pretended to be asleep. But their children didn’t have that same sort of chance. They were taught to ignore. It was sad and horrible that so many generations passed by without contact with God, but, it did mean that all those generations were not held responsible for what they didn’t know. It was as if a deep sleep passed on Laman and Lemuel’s kids, so that they were not responsible for the closed eyes of their parents.

At least, that is how I am inclined to read those situations.