The Book of Mormon Chapter 4 Critique
Setting: War and carnage
continue—The wicked punish the wicked—Greater wickedness prevails than
ever before in all Israel—Women and children are sacrificed to
idols—The Lamanites begin to sweep the Nephites before them. About A.D.
Verses 1-9: And now it came to
pass that in the three hundred and sixty and third year the Nephites
did go up with their armies to battle against the Lamanites, out of the
land Desolation. And it came to pass that the armies of the Nephites
were driven back again to the land of Desolation. And while they were
yet weary, a fresh army of the Lamanites did come upon them; and they
had a sore battle, insomuch that the Lamanites did take possession of
the city Desolation, and did slay many of the Nephites, and did take
many prisoners. And the remainder did flee and join the inhabitants of
the city Teancum. Now the city Teancum lay in the borders by the
seashore; and it was also near the city Desolation. 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. But, behold, the judgments of God will overtake the
wicked; and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished; for it is
the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto
bloodshed. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did make preparations
to come against the city Teancum. And it came to pass in the three
hundred and sixty and fourth year the Lamanites did come against the
city Teancum, that they might take possession of the city Teancum also.
And it came to pass that they were repulsed and driven back by the
Nephites. And when the Nephites saw that they had driven the Lamanites
they did again boast of their own strength; and they went forth in
their own might, and took possession again of the city Desolation. And
now all these things had been done, and there had been thousands slain
on both sides, both the Nephites and the Lamanites.
Note: The only battle to occur in the area happened in 378 AD.
During the Early Classic, cities throughout the Maya region were
influenced by the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley
of Mexico. In AD 378, Teotihuacan decisively intervened at Tikal and
other nearby cities, deposed their rulers, and installed a new
Teotihuacan-backed dynasty. This intervention was led by Siyaj K'ak'
("Born of Fire"), who arrived at Tikal in early 378. The king of Tikal,
Chak Tok Ich'aak I, died on the same day, suggesting a violent
takeover. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 10-12: And it came to
pass that the three hundred and sixty and sixth year had passed away,
and the Lamanites came again upon the Nephites to battle; and yet the
Nephites repented not of the evil they had done, but persisted in their
wickedness continually. And it is impossible for the tongue to
describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible
scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the
Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that
they delighted in the shedding of blood continually. And there never
had been so great wickedness among all the children of Lehi, nor even
among all the house of Israel, according to the words of the Lord, as
was among this people.
Note: Israel’s inheritance was in the Middle East not America.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the children of Israel,
and say to them: ‘When you come into the land of Canaan, this is the
land that shall fall to you as an inheritance—the land of Canaan to its
boundaries.’” Numbers 34:1-2.
Verses 13-14: And it came to
pass that the Lamanites did take possession of the city Desolation, and
this because their number did exceed the number of the Nephites. And
they did also march forward against the city Teancum, and did drive the
inhabitants forth out of her, and did take many prisoners both women
and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods.
Note: Solomon Spalding did not know that animals were generally sacrificed.
Mesoamerica lacked domesticated food animals such as sheep, cows and
pigs, so animal protein and byproducts could only be obtained by
hunting. Montero-Lopez argues that on the basis of analysis of the
distribution of deer parts in Classical Maya sites (white-tailed deer
were the most common sacrificial and festive food animal), the
archeological record does not support a clear distinction between the
secular and sacred uses of animals. After deer, the next most common
sacrificial animals were dogs and various birds (whose heads were
offered to the idols), followed by a wide range of more exotic
creatures, from jaguars to alligators. Animal sacrifice also seems to
have been a common ritual before the commencement of any important task
or undertaking. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 15-18: And it came to
pass that in the three hundred and sixty and seventh year, the Nephites
being angry because the Lamanites had sacrificed their women and their
children, that they did go against the Lamanites with exceedingly great
anger, insomuch that they did beat again the Lamanites, and drive them
out of their lands. And the Lamanites did not come again against the
Nephites until the three hundred and seventy and fifth year. And in
this year they did come down against the Nephites with all their
powers; and they were not numbered because of the greatness of their
number. And from this time forth did the Nephites gain no power over
the Lamanites, but began to be swept off by them even as a dew before
Note: Mass migration did not occur until 900 AD in this area.
Urban centers of the southern lowlands, among them Palenque, Copán,
Tikal, Calakmul, went into decline during the 8th and 9th centuries and
were abandoned shortly thereafter. Archaeologically, this decline is
indicated by the cessation of monumental inscriptions and the reduction
of large-scale architectural construction at the primary urban centers
of the classic period. Although termed a 'collapse', it did not mark
the end of the Maya civilization; Northern Yucatán in particular
prospered afterwards, although with very different artistic and
architectural styles, and with much less use of monumental hieroglyphic
writing. In the post-classic period following the collapse, the state
of Chichén Itzá built an empire that briefly united much of the Maya
region, and centers such as Mayapán and Uxmal flourished, as did the
Highland states of the K'iche' and Kaqchikel Maya. Wikipedia
Verses 19-21: And it came to
pass that the Lamanites did come down against the city Desolation; and
there was an exceedingly sore battle fought in the land Desolation, in
the which they did beat the Nephites. And they fled again from before
them, and they came to the city Boaz; and there they did stand against
the Lamanites with exceeding boldness, insomuch that the Lamanites did
not beat them until they had come again the second time. And when they
had come the second time, the Nephites were driven and slaughtered with
an exceedingly great slaughter; their women and their children were
again sacrificed unto idols.
Note: How can their women and children be killed multiple times?
Sacrifice was a religious activity in Maya culture, involving either
the killing of animals or the bloodletting by members of the community,
in rituals superintended by priests. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 22-23: And it came to
pass that the Nephites did again flee from before them, taking all the
inhabitants with them, both in towns and villages. And now I, Mormon,
seeing that the Lamanites were about to overthrow the land, therefore I
did go to the hill Shim, and did take up all the records which Ammaron
had hid up unto the Lord.
Note: Solomon Spalding did not know about Teotihuacan.
The city reached its peak in AD 450, when it was the center of a
powerful culture whose influence extended through much of the
Mesoamerican region. At its peak, the city covered over 30 km² (over
111⁄2 square miles), and perhaps housed a population of 150,000 people,
with one estimate reaching as high as 250,000. Various districts in the
city housed people from across the Teotihuacano region of influence,
which spread south as far as Guatemala. Notably absent from the city
are fortifications and military structures.
Note: Teotihuacan would have defeated the fictional Lamanites once and for all.
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