Storyline Summary of
the Book of Mormon
For those who are unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon, I offer the following synopsis of its main storyline. This synopsis will focus on the factual matter of who's who and what they did. It will not focus on the spiritual messages these people shared with each other. Those messages can best be read and appreciated by reading them in their original text. No synopsis can do justice to a sermon, or even to a brief thoughtful insight. It simply can't convey the same spirit.
The Book of Mormon is broken up into 16 sections generally referred to as "books." The books are segmented into chapters and verses similar to the way the King James version of the Holy Bible is segmented. The first few books deal with the origins of the Book of Mormon people, and a restatement of the scriptures they brought with them from the Old World. The middle section is a more detailed history of their people and the preaching they did among themselves. It also covers some of the contentions and wars they had among themselves.
The historical portion climaxes with an account of how, after His resurrection, Jesus Christ visited these people and taught and ministered to them. The last portions deal with how their society eventually fell into moral decay and imploded. The final authors of the book, a father and son duo, included letters they had written to each other as well as predictions about the book being found and translated many years in the future. There are other subsections, but the above covers the gist of the main content.
There are several groups of people discussed in the Book of Mormon, but two main societies. The one was a God-fearing people called the Nephites. The other was a fierce godless people called the Lamanites. The terms "God-fearing" and "godless" are extremely relative and stereotypical, however. A careful study of the events in the book reveals that the majority of the conflicts were not actually instigated by the Lamanites, but by apostate Nephites. The two societies are named after two brothers who went two very different directions in life, named Nephi and his oldest brother, Laman.
The following is the synopsis of their stories, broken up according to the books contained in the Book of Mormon. Because the rest of the story hinges on understanding the origins of the people in the Book, more time will be spent on that portion of the story than on the succeeding portions.
Around 600 BC, a man named Lehi, living in Jerusalem, has a series of visions in which he is warned that if the people of Jerusalem do not repent their city will be destroyed and the survivors will be carried off captive to Babylon. He also learns that he is to be one of many prophets called to preach repentance to the people.
He preaches very enthusiastically, as he has a vested interest in not wanting his city destroyed. The people, have already killed off other prophets, and aren't interested in Lehi's message either. The Lord tells Lehi that the people have been given enough chances to repent, and warns him that they now intend to kill him. Lehi is divinely directed to take his family and their belongings and head off into the wilderness. Lehi is told that if they are righteous, they will be led to a land of promise.
They journey for a few weeks until they come to the Red Sea, where they make camp. Lehi tells his two oldest sons, Laman and Lemuel, that he wishes they were more interested in spiritual matters and in being obedient to the word of God. Not much is said of his third son, Sam. His fourth and youngest son, Nephi, is much more faithful, but still concerned about their sudden journey into the wilderness.
He prays for some sort of assurance that his father is truly inspired. He is blessed with a powerful vision in which he is indeed assured that his father is a prophet; that they are doing what the Lord wants them to do; and that if he is personally valiant he will become the father of a great nation. Nephi is an unwavering supporter of Lehi from that point forward.
After camping for a time, the Lord tells Lehi that he needs to send his sons back to Jerusalem to retrieve a record simply called the "Brass Plates" from Laban, a powerful and dishonest man who is the keeper of the records. This proves to be a severe test of the sons' faith, and, hence, an opportunity for spiritual growth.
When they get back to Jerusalem, the brothers draw lots to see who should go ask Laban for the plates. The lot falls to Laman, who, surprisingly, is willing to go. He asks Laban for the plates, probably assuming that they will be handed to him. Instead, Laban gets upset and kicks him out of his home calling him a thief and a robber.
Laman tells this to his brothers and probably suggests that they just return empty-handed to where Lehi is camped out in the wilderness. Nephi, however, suggests that since Laban had called him a "thief" and a "robber" he must be willing to sell the plates. He suggests that they go back to their abandoned home and retrieve their valuables and use them to buy the plates.
This seems reasonable enough to the brothers, so they agree to try it. They all fail to realize the greedy, evil nature of Laban, and are shocked and scared as Laban decides to keep the goods and kill the brothers. He sends his servants after them, but the brothers manage to escape. They hide out in a small cave.
While in the cave, there is a severe argument that is probably instigated by Laman demanding to give up on getting the plates, while Nephi insists on trying once more. Lemuel obviously sides with his older brother, and Sam apparently sides with Nephi, as Laman and Lemuel begin to beat on both Nephi and Sam, with sticks. They must beat them hard enough to either kill them, or dissuade them from going back to Laban, because an angel appears and chastises the two older brothers warning them that Nephi is inspired and they had better heed his words.
After the angel leaves, Laman and Lemuel grumble about the impossibility of getting the plates. Nephi tells them to just wait for him outside the city wall and he will get the plates. He reenters the city going by faith and prayer and finds Laban passed out drunk, probably from celebrating his newly-found riches. The Spirit has to admonish Nephi three times to kill Laban, before he agrees to do it. He only agrees when he is made to understand that the Brass Plates contain the scriptures and if Nephi is going to be the father of a great nation, they will need to have the word of God. Laban is keeping them from having the word of God by withholding the plates. It is made clear that it is a matter of letting his descendants dwindle in unbelief, or to take out this evil man.
He kills Laban, disguises himself as Laban and goes to the record chamber. There he convinces Laban's servant, Zoram, to bring the plates with him to the outskirts of the city. When the brothers see Nephi, they believe he is Laban and begin to run. Nephi reveals himself to the brothers, which causes Zoram to run. Nephi catches and restrains Zoram. The two swear oaths of allegiance to each other. Zoram agrees to go with them into the wilderness.
They return to Lehi and their mother, Sariah, and find that the Brass Plates contain what we, today, would call portions of the Old Testament. The brothers later return to the area of Jerusalem once more to convince Ishmael and his extended family to go with them into the wilderness. Ishmael's family is significant because in addition to married sons, he also has several single daughters who end up marrying Lehi's sons.
The extended clan eventually begins its journey farther into the wilderness. The Lord directs them by means of a curious-looking ball or director, that they call a "Liahona," that works according to their faith. The families have trouble exhibiting faith as it takes them eight years to get to the shores of the ocean. On the way, they suffer from hunger, thirst, fatigue, and heated arguments among themselves in which Nephi's life is repeatedly threatened. Ishmael is overcome and dies, which adds to their troubles. On the journey, Lehi and Sariah have two more sons, Jacob and Joseph.
When the family finally makes camp on the shores of the ocean, Nephi is directed to build a ship to cross the sea. His brothers call him a fool and vow that they again want to kill him and return to Jerusalem. They, especially Laman, are highly jealous and suspicious of Nephi, believing that he wants to make himself king over them. Nephi calls on the power of God to reprimand his brothers and save his life.
They agree to help build the ship and sail with Nephi. During the voyage, the older boys again forget who is guiding them and tie up Nephi, ready to kill him. A terrible storm rages for four days before they humble themselves enough to untie Nephi. They eventually land somewhere in the Americas, presumably around Central America.
After landing in the Americas, they begin settling the Promised Land. Lehi dies, which puts Nephi in the awkward position of doing exactly what his older brothers have been accusing him of: he must become their spiritual and governmental leader. Laman wants to circumvent this by simply killing Nephi. The Lord warns Nephi about this and Nephi secretly takes all of those who will follow him, deeper into the jungles. This includes Sam, Jacob, Joseph, Zoram and their families. Laman, Lemuel, the sons of Ishmael, and their families all stay put and are initially oblivious to the exodus.
Nephi has his people build a city in what they call the land of Lehi-Nephi. They also build a temple. Nephi's people love him, make him their king and call themselves "Nephites." Laman and his followers are cursed by God for their evil behavior, both spiritually and physically. The physical cursing manifests itself through a darker, "red" skin. Nephi is told that if any of his descendants choose to join and marry the Lamanites their offspring will also have a darker skin.
The rest of this book contains the prophecies of Nephi and a reprinting of his favorite scriptures culled from the Brass Plates, particularly the writings of Isaiah. Nephi also tells of keeping the record of his people on plates he made of gold. He says he wants to keep two sets of records: one for spiritual matters, and one for a history of his people. He concludes by admonishing all mankind to look for and believe in the coming of the Savior.
Jacob, the younger brother of Nephi, is given the plates by Nephi and is made the next record keeper for the Nephites. He tells of Nephi dying and how the Nephites and Lamanites have already begun to have wars with each other. He also writes several of his prophecies and teachings. He tells of the first apostate Nephite, Sherem, who preaches that there is no God, but he is dramatically and tragically proved wrong.
Enos, the son of Jacob, tells of becoming converted during a solo hunting trip when he starts giving serious thought to the things his father has taught him about the mercies of God. He prays long and hard and has his prayer answered and his sins forgiven. He is so impressed that he prays for his family, friends, the Nephites in general, and then for his enemies, the Lamanites. He becomes the next record keeper, but does not include very many other details.
A series of record keepers, passing the plates mostly from fathers to sons, keep the records for a few hundred years without including very many details other than that they still believe in God, while the Lamanites have become fierce and godless. They refer to wars with the Lamanites, but give few details.
This is a small book, which is often overlooked, but it references some significant events without giving too many details. (Because this book is often skimmed and the details are scant, it is not uncommon for some readers to become confused over some of these event included in it and in the next book, which builds on the foundation of events given in this book.) Besides identifying the succession of record-keepers, it tells of king Mosiah who is forced to leave the land of Lehi-Nephi because of Lamanite persecutions. He takes only those Nephites who are willing to follow him and travel north. This means that some Nephites remain behind and eventually join with the Lamanites. Mosiah and his people come across a city, Zarahemla, that had been built by a previously-unknown society that had also crossed the ocean from the Old World.
This other society, called Mulekites, has lost their ability to read and write because they had brought no records or scriptures with them. They tell of the destruction of Jerusalem that Lehi (and others) had predicted. Their society has degraded to the point that they very willingly merge with Mosiah's Nephites and take on Mosiah as their own king. The Mulekites tell Mosiah of having come across an old man named Coriantumr who was the sole survivor from an even more ancient society whose story is eventually told toward the end of the Book of Mormon.
Mosiah grows old and is succeeded as king by his son, Benjamin. During Benjamin's reign, the Lamanites find out where the Nephites have gone and Benjamin leads his people to repeated defensive victories in battles against them. Meanwhile, the Nephites begin to spread out and develop many cities, while Zarahemla is established as the Nephite capital city.
Words of Mormon
This book isn't listed as a "book" but as a section of commentary. It was written much later than the previous portions by Mormon, who compiled all of the Nephite records many centuries after Nephi lived, and put them together in a format similar to what was eventually translated and named the Book of Mormon. (After Mormon's death, his son, Moroni, later added more text.) Mormon inserted this commentary here to explain why there was a shift in the content of the records. He explains that Nephi's spiritual records had become full and so he was going to start including the historical record along with the spiritual. From this point on, there will be a lot more details included in the accounts.
This book begins with the aging king Benjamin declaring that he will be abdicating the throne to his son, Mosiah (grandson of the first Mosiah). He also asks his sons to build a special tower from which he wants to give a final address to his people. He teaches and preaches of the importance of service, faith and obedience, and in the coming of the promised Messiah. He leaves a significant impact of good on his people.
The next section is complicated, so more time will be spent on it. Part of what makes it confusing is that it is often viewed as several separate stories, rather than one long one with several plot twists. When viewed as a whole, it is easier to see how the separate stories build on each other.
During this Mosiah's reign, there are several Nephites who decide that they want to return to "the land of their first inheritance," the land of Lehi-Nephi. Mosiah agrees to let them try. They journey southward until they spy the city. They send men into the city clandestinely to gather information. These Nephites are able to roam a Lamanite city undetected because there had been some Nephites who had stayed behind when the first king Mosiah left, making it routine to have people with "pale" Nephite skin in the area.
Zeniff, the apparent sub-leader of those who spied out Lehi-Nephi, return to give his leader the report that the people seem reasonable and they should negotiate with them. His leader wants vengeance and insists on a sneak attack. Zeniff and other disagree with their leader and a terrible skirmish ensues in which most of the men are killed. Zeniff leads the survivors back to Zarahemla and convinces king Mosiah that he should lead a settlement down to Lehi-Nephi.
Zeniff approaches the Lamanite king, Laman, about Nephites moving back into Lehi-Nephi. King Laman agrees and moves his people out of the city and back to the city Shemlon. Zeniff's followers crown him their king. After a dozen years in the land, the Lamanites grow suspicious that the Nephites are growing too prosperous and will become a threat. They go to battle against them, but Zeniff leads his people to victory. More than a dozen years later, king Laman dies and his son, also named king Laman, is also envious of the Nephites and again goes to battle against them.
Zeniff is again victorious, in spite of his old age. His parting act is to pass his throne to his son, Noah. This was perhaps the worst decision in Nephite history, as Noah's atrocities and drunken extravagancies nearly ruin his immediate kingdom and later play a key role in nearly bringing the downfall of the main Nephite group. The prophet, Abinadi, is sent to call Noah to repentance, but is put to death.
Abinadi's mission isn't a total waste, since he manages to convert Alma, one of Noah's priests. Alma flees for his life after vainly trying to speak up for Abinadi. He goes into hiding and secretly preaches to the people. Eventually, he and his followers sneak out of Lehi-Nephi for good and settle in an area far away.
Meanwhile, Noah lets the defenses of his city drop while angering other citizens over the injustice of killing Abinadi. Gideon decides to rid the land of the evil king, but just as he is about to kill him, the Lamanites attack. Rather than defend themselves, Noah commands everyone to flee into the jungle. He, his priests, and a few other men make a clean break. The rest of the city's populace are slowed down by the women and children and are captured by the Lamanites and taken back to the city. There they are put in bondage to the Lamanites and taxed and guarded from that point on.
The men who had fled with Noah and his priests decide that they were cowards. They attack and kill the king, but his priests escape.
Limhi, Noah's son, is made king over the captive Nephites. They try repeatedly to free themselves via battles and escape, but always fail. To make matters worse, Noah's priests, now led by Amulon, kidnap Lamanite women and cause yet another skirmish.
Of particular note is an attempt to sneak out of the land and find Zarahemla. None of their people living at that time have ever been to Zarahemla. They only know it is north of them. Their search party fails to find Zarahemla, but instead find a land that has been ravaged by war and laid waste. They find twenty-four plates with some sort of writing on them, when they correctly assume will give the history of the people who have been destroyed. They bring the plates back to Limhi, but are unable to read them. Meanwhile, they incorrectly assume that the desolate land is Zarahemla.
As Limhi and his people fall into despair, a group of men led by a man named Ammon show up. It turns out that several of the Nephites back in Zarahemla had become anxious to find out what had become of Zeniff and his people. Ammon has been sent to find them.
With Ammon's help, Limhi and his people manage to escape and return to Zarahemla. They permanently reunite with the people of king Mosiah.
Discovering that Limhi is gone, the Lamanites send guards to find them. The guards get lost and happen upon the priests of Noah. These groups unite to find their way back to Lehi-Nephi, but happen upon the people of Alma. The Lamanites trick Alma into showing them the way back to Lehi-Nephi and then post guards on Alma's people. Amulon persecutes Alma and his people, but eventually, they escape and are divinely led to the land of Zarahemla where they also merge with king Mosiah's Nephites. Alma is recognized as the prophet for the Nephites as a whole. Abinadi's sacrifice has borne great fruit in Alma's lasting conversion.
Things seem to go well until Alma's son, Alma, and king Mosiah's sons reach the end of their teenage years. They are rambunctious and rebellious and the cause of many significant problems for the Nephites. Their rebellion is finally halted when an angel appears and calls them to repentance.
Meanwhile, Limhi shows king Mosiah the plates his men had found in the land of Desolation and asks him if he can translate the text. Mosiah is able to translate them with the gift and power of God. The plates tell the story of an ancient group of people who had been led to the area from the Old World, long before Nephi. They had done well for a period, until men started vying to be king. Lust for the crown eventually led to the entire society's annihilation in a massive civil war. The only survivor was Coriantumr, whom the Mulekites had found when they first arrived.
Having read this horrible tale, and recently seen what the evil king Noah has done to corrupt an otherwise happy society, the aging king Mosiah decides it's time to stop having kings over the Nephites. He proposes a system of judges with one chief judge, several high judges, and other lower judges. Alma's son, Alma, is made the first chief judge over the Nephites. When the elder Alma dies, his repentant son is also recognized as the Nephites' prophet.
This is the longest book in the Book of Mormon. It has several stories that, like the stories in Mosiah, are often mistaken for being unrelated and scattered over a long period of time. In reality, several of the stories occurred simultaneously. They appear to be serial only because in several instances they are told in their entirety before moving on to the next.
The stories in this book are among the most popular to read as they have a lot of action and detail. They also have a lot of poignant messages interwoven with them. Some of them are interspersed in the middle of stories, which makes the stories seem separate.
Alma's reign as chief judge is quickly interrupted by a man named Amlici who vies to return to the concept of kings, with him being made king. A civil war breaks out, with Amlici joining the Lamanites and inciting them to fight as well. Alma defeats Amlici and restores order.
His serving as prophet is also tested when an apostate Nephite is captured after having killed a man, Gideon, who defended the Nephite religion. The killer, Nehor, is brought before Alma, tried, and convicted of treason against both God and the land. He is executed.
Meanwhile, Alma is concerned about Nehor's attitude and teachings and decides to set aside the position of chief judge and focus on missionary labors. Nephihah is made chief judge and Alma visits several cities to see how they are doing in spiritual matters. Initially, all seems well, until he arrives in Ammonihah, which was Nehor's hometown. Here Alma is beaten and spit upon and driven out of the city.
Discouraged, he intends to return to Zarahemla. The same angel who had previously called him to repent appears, and congratulates him on his change in attitude. He is instructed to return to Ammonihah and find a man named Amulek. He returns eagerly and finds Amulek.
After spending time with Amulek, the two preach to the people of Ammonihah. Alma warns them that it is only the prayers of the faithful among them that are saving them from destruction. The people scoff at this, claiming that they are a powerful people who cannot be destroyed. Alma and Amulek have several converts, but the wicked element of the town grow more angry. They stone and cast out the converted men and then burn the women and children to death.
Alma and Amulek are questioned by an arrogant Nephite named Zeezrom who is made to see the error of his ways. Zeezrom is unable to convince his brethren and the missionaries are beaten and thrown into prison. They are miraculously freed when the prison walls crumble, killing their persecutors. Alma and Amulek leave the city. They learn that Zeezrom has become deathly ill of guilt and grief and heal him before they return to Zarahemla.
While all this has taken place, the repentant sons of Mosiah have convinced their father to let them go south to preach the gospel to the Lamanites. The sons split up, with Ammon (unrelated to the Ammon who rescued Limhi) going to the land of Lehi-Nephi. Ammon is captured and taken before the Lamanite king Lamoni. Ammon swears allegiance to king Lamoni and his people. He impresses the king and is offered a daughter to wife. Ammon declines and is made a servant and sent out on the hazardous duty of tending sheep.
Tending sheep is hazardous because it was a common practice for renegade Lamanites to rustle sheep, and for the king to kill whichever servants were posted when the sheep were rustled. When the rustlers come, Ammon sees it as an opportunity to impress the king, prays for strength and literally disarms his foes. The other servants are so impressed, they tell the king. He is so impressed, he asks Ammon to come before him, but is so flabbergasted, he doesn't know what to ask of Ammon.
Ammon discerns the king's thoughts and proceeds to teach the king about God and His ways. King Lamoni and his household are converted. Ammon learns that his brothers are being held captive by a neighboring Lamanite king. He and king Lamoni go off to rescue them. On the way, they meet king Lamoni's father (probably the same king Laman who had reigned in Lehi-Nephi when Limhi escaped).
Lamoni's father attacks Ammon, but is overpowered by Ammon and persuaded to let him live. He becomes impressed with Ammon's character and interested in his message. They go and free Aaron and Ammon's other brothers. Aaron teaches king Lamoni's father of God and the gospel and converts him and his household, while Ammon continues to teach Lamoni's people.
The priests of Noah, now known as Amulonites, stir up trouble for the converted Lamanites by instigating animosity among the other Lamanites. They come to battle against them, but the converted Lamanites have sworn an oath of peace and allow themselves to be slaughtered, rather than fight back.
The attacking Lamanites become so angered and ashamed that the Amulonites egg them onto battle against the Nephites. They attack a Nephite city and kill every man, woman, and child in that city. It turns out that this is the city of Ammonihah that Alma had predicted would be wiped out if they didn't repent. Having killed off everyone who was praying for their safety, the city was without protection.
After the battle, it becomes clear that if the converted Lamanites stay in their own lands, the Amulonites will continue to harass them. Ammon prays for guidance and learns that he needs to move the people to a safer place. He contacts the chief judge Nephihah and receives permission to move them all to the Nephite-owned land of Jershon, north of Zarahemla. They become known as the People of Ammon.
As things start settling down, an anti-Christ named Korihor arrives and creates dissent in the church. Korihor is defiant and is struck dumb when he demands to see a sign from God. Alma gets word that Korihor was trampled to death in the city of a group of Nephites who have broken away from their society and now call themselves Zoramites, after Zoram, Laban's servant who had traveled with Nephi. Alma wonders what sort of people would kill a deaf mute and decides to find out.
He takes his sons, some of the sons of Mosiah, and Amulek on a mission to the Zoramites. They find an arrogant people who pride themselves on being better than their fellowman and oppressing the poor among them. Unable to persuade the well-off Zoramites to listen, they successfully preach to the poor Zoramites. Several impressive sermons about faith and the Atonement are taught.
The apostate Zoramites kick the converted Zoramites out of their land. The Nephites welcome the poor and allow them to live with the Ammonites in the land of Jershon. The other Zoramites hear of this and prepare to go to battle with the Nephites. They join with the Lamanites and Amulonites, placing their own people as chief captains.
Zerahemnah, a leader of the Zoramites, goes to battle against Captain Moroni, who was appointed chief captain over the Nephite army. They have a bitter battle, but the Nephites prevail.
Peace is restored until a Nephite named Amalickiah decides he wants to become king. He stirs up unrest among the Nephites while Helaman, who has succeeded his father, Alma, as the Nephite's prophet, tries to calm the people down. Captain Moroni is called back into service and is disgusted with Amalickiah's motives. He tears his coat and writes a creed to defend the rights of his family, land, liberty and God, which becomes known as the "Title of Liberty" and posts the coat-turned-flag on a pole and gathers men who are willing to defend their liberty. A prolonged war takes place between Moroni and Amalickiah in which Amalickiah flees from the Nephites, joins the Lamanites, and through deception and murder becomes king of the Lamanites.
While Moroni and his men fight the Lamanites, other Nephites cause more problems, such as Morianton, who captures a neighboring Nephite city. Moroni learns of Morianton's treachery from Morianton's maid servant who has escaped. Moroni sends Teancum and an army to successfully capture Morianton. Nephihah dies of natural causes and is succeeded as chief judge by his son, Pahoran.
After several battles with the Lamanites, Teancum succeeds at killing Amalickiah, but Amalickiah's brother, Ammoron, continues the war. At one point, the Nephites are in need of more forces and the Ammonites pledge to fight. Helaman reminds them of their oath of peace and encourages them to not break their oath. Their teenage sons have not sworn the oath and demand to be allowed to fight. Helaman agrees to lead them into battle where they head south to help a Nephite named Antipus fight for freedom down there.
Teancum manages to kill Ammoron, but is killed himself during his flight out of the Lamanite camp. The Lamanite army is disrupted and confused and Moroni succeeds at stopping the war. Peace is restored.
Other than mentioning the peaceful passing of Moroni and Helaman, the last portion of the book has a brief mention of a man named Hagoth who builds ships and eventually sails away with a group of people, in search of new lands.
This book was begun by Helaman, the son of Helaman, who was the son of Alma, the son of Alma. There is about as much action in the first chapter of this book as there was in the latter third of the book of Alma, as the sons of Ammoron and Captain Moroni also engage in battle. However, there is far less detail about their engagement, making the account brief and often overlooked. The important lesson is not what happened, but why. Strife continued because of men turning away from the ways of the Lord and their societies suffered as a result.
When the chief judge Pahoran dies, his sons contend for the position. The people are split three ways among three of his sons: Pahoran, Pacumeni, and Paanchi. After a vote is held and Pahoran is chosen, Pacumeni agrees to support him, but Paanchi spreads discord. When Paanchi is sentenced to death for insurrection, a secret band sends Kishkumen to kill Pahoran. Pacumeni succeeds his brother as chief judge.
Meanwhile, the Lamanite king Tubaloth, son of Ammoron, sends his army to attack the Nephites. The army is led by Coriantumr, an apostatized Nephite. Because of political unrest, the Nephites are taken off-guard. Coriantumr succeeds at capturing the capital city, Zarahemla, and kills Pacumeni by chasing him down and slamming him into a wall. Captain Moroni's son, Moronihah, leads the Nephites in a counter-attack. After a lengthy series of battles, Coriantumr is killed and peace is restored with the Lamanites.
As per a vote, the position of chief judge is filled by Helaman (son of Helaman), who also keeps the Nephite records. Gadianton, the leader of an evil band of murderers and robbers that had sent Kishkumen to kill Pahoran, again sends him to kill Helaman. Helaman's servant learns of the plot and lures Kishkumen into the meeting building, where he kills Kishkumen before the judge can be injured. The servant runs to tell the authorities, but by this time, Gadianton, gets skittish and he and his gang flee.
Helaman has two sons that he names Nephi and Lehi (and eventually transitions the records to Nephi). His hope is that their names will remind them of their righteous heritage. The two grow up to be faithful. They serve several missions, going to the northern Nephite cities, and then to the south among the Lamanites.
At first, they are captured by the Lamanites and thrown into prison. They are miraculously freed from prison and convert several Lamanites in the process. They begin preaching to the other Lamanites and have tremendous success, converting thousands.
Upon returning to Zarahemla and Nephite territory, they are distressed to learn that the Nephites are less righteous than the Lamanites. Nephi prays while in his garden and laments over the Nephites' wickedness. Passersby hear him and wonder what he is lamenting over. By the time he finishes his prayer, a crowd has gathered. He quizzes them on what they're so surprised about and accuses them of being so wicked that they have killed their current chief judge. People run off to verify his words and after some confusion, he is proved right.
Time passes and the people grow more wicked and begin yet another massive war. Nephi prays for a famine, to humble the people and stop the war. It works.
A Lamanite named Samuel comes to the city to preach repentance. He is cast out, so he climbs on the city wall and preaches from there. While people shoot arrows and throw rocks at him, he predicts that the Savior of mankind will be born in Jerusalem in five years and that the sign of His birth will be a day and a night and a day of continuous sunlight.
This book was begun by Nephi, the son of Nephi, the son of Helaman, son of Helaman, who was the son of Alma, the son of Alma. This is perhaps the most important book in the Book of Mormon, because it contains the account of the Savior's visit and His teachings to the people, following His crucifixion and resurrection.
The elder Nephi bequeaths the records to his son, Nephi. The people prosper for a time, but then grow evil again. They plan to put to death all of the people who continue to believe in the prophesies of Samuel the Lamanite about the birth of the Savior. Nephi prays, wondering what to do and hears the Lord tell him that He will be born on the morrow. The sign of His birth occurs that night and several people are impressed, but not all.
Nephi preaches and baptizes many. Converted Lamanites join and live among the Nephites. But a faction of the people grow wicked again and resurrect the evil deeds of Gadianton's robbers. There are several skirmishes. At one point, the band, led by Giddianhi, grows so bold as to write a letter to Lachoneus, the current Nephite chief judge, and demands that they simply surrender all Nephite territories or risk extinction. Lachoneus refuses. He gathers all of the Nephites to Zarahemla and gathers weapons of defense and seven years' worth of food and supplies, then burns their remaining crops.
When Gadianton's band lays siege to Zarahemla, they can't possibly have it last long enough to be successful. The people are safe and well fed. The thieves must subsist on hunting the animals in the near area, as there are no crops. Game grows scarce, and the thieves are hard up for sustenance. Meanwhile, the Nephites sneak out and harass the thieves by day and night. Eventually, the thieves are defeated and their leader is hanged.
Over the next thirty years the people grow wicked again until there is only a small minority that are righteous. On the night that the Savior is crucified in the Old World, a terrible storm occurs in the New World. Hurricanes, lightning, earthquakes, floods, and fire destroy many cities. Mountains fall onto some cities, while others sink into the sea. Thousands of people, presumably all wicked, are killed. Only righteous people are spared.
After the storm, a vast darkness covers the land that is so deep and thick, that it is a like a mist and it prevents the people from even lighting a fire. The darkness lasts for three days, after which a voice is heard in the heavens declaring the arrival of the Resurrected Savior.
The avior descends, full of light, and the darkness recedes. The people gather from all over the land to come and see and hear the much-prophesied Savior. He heals their sick and injured, blesses their children and teaches them His gospel. He asks to see the records they have kept, and Nephi, their prophet, brings the records to Him. He asks why certain events are not recorded and admonishes Nephi to record them.
He establishes a branch of His church among them and calls twelve disciples to serve as the church's leaders. He confers the priesthood on the twelve and instructs them in how to administer the church's affairs. He explains how this church compares with the original, main church in the Old World. He spends several days with the people and promises to return one day. As He prepares to leave, He asks the Twelve want they would like from Him. Nine say they want to be able to return to live with Him in Heaven after serving on earth. Three are hesitant to respond. Jesus discerns that they want to remain on the earth permanently, serving mankind, just as John the Beloved requested. The Twelve's desires are granted and the Savior returns to Heaven.
The people are united and no longer call each other "-ites" as in "Nephites" or "Lamanites." They live in prolonged peace.
This is a very brief book that covers about 400 years without giving too much detail. It speaks of the people being the happiest people who had ever been created by the hand of God. There is no poor among them, or contentions. The adults and children who had lived to see the Savior's visit teach their children of the marvelous experience, and they teach their children and so forth. After about 400 years the impact of the event and the ability to pass its significance on to succeeding generations begins to wane. People start labeling themselves as Nephites and Lamanites again, as a result, contentions begin.
This book was written by the man who took all of the Nephite records and abridged and compiled them into the basis of the work that was later named after him, the Book of Mormon. (It can be assumed that had Mormon had his way, the work would have been called the Book of Nephi.) This book is split into two sections. The one part is a brief account of Mormon's history, and the majority is a series of letters to his son, Moroni. (Mormon lived in a dreadful time of senseless warfare. While he read and abridged the account of the righteous Captain Moroni, he wrote of how impressed he was of the man. It is not surprising that he named his own son after him.)
When Mormon is ten years old, the Nephite record keeper, Ammaron, meets with him and tells him about the records. There are so few righteous men at this time, that Ammaron selects Mormon to be the next record keeper. He instructs Mormon that when he turns sixteen, he should go to the hill Shim and collect the records.
Mormon also tells of the downfall of the Nephite nation. At a young age, he, like Captain Moroni centuries earlier, is selected to be the leader of the Nephite armies. He eagerly leads them to victories against the Lamanites. However, he begins to see them grow proud in their own might. This bothers him to the point that he refuses to lead them any longer. When they begin to lose battles, he thinks it will humble them, so he agrees to lead them again. It doesn't humble them, instead they curse God. He again refuses to lead them to battle.
The Nephite begin to degrade into a heathen society mangling their enemies and torturing captured women. Mormon loses all hope for them, but agrees to lead them into a final battle. He writes to his son, Moroni, whom he has probably already transferred the records to and charged with keeping them safe. He tells Moroni of how poorly the war is going. The Nephites have enlisted every man, woman and child to fight. Each day, their numbers are cut in half, until there are less than a few hundred left, at the close of his last letter. Somehow, during all this, Mormon manages to write encouraging, spiritual letters to Moroni as well.
This book is an abridgement of the twenty-four plates that Limhi's people found in the land of Desolation. This is the account that Mosiah originally translated and became so concerned over that he opted to cease having kings established for the Nephites. Moroni, the son of Mormon, made the abridgement and also added several pieces of commentary and spiritual encouragement.
Moroni indicates that the plates began with the creation of the world, but his abridgement skips ahead to the time that the Tower of Babel was being constructed. While all the world was growing wicked and seeking ways to sneak into Heaven, a man named Jared and his extended family are striving to be righteous. He has his brother pray that the Lord will not confound their language. The prayer is answered and the extended family is eventually guided to the promised land (in the Americas).
The people are called the "Jaredites" after Jared. However, the brother of Jared (who remains unnamed in the Book) is the people's spiritual leader. He strongly advises them not to seek for a king, but the people demand one. He insists that it will lead to captivity, but they choose the youngest son of Jared to be their king - after all of the other brothers refused. While this son proves to be a righteous king, his successors soon prove to be much less stellar.
Several generations of the Jaredites live through battles for the kingdom. Some kings are good, others wholly evil. Men kill their fathers-in-law or other relatives, in secret combinations to gain power or prestige. A prophet named Ether rises in the last days of the Jaredites and warns the king, Coriantumr, that unless he repents, their entire nation will be wiped out with Coriantumr being the sole survivor who will live to see another society take over the land.
Coriantumr refuses to listen and goes into battle against a fierce contender, whom he beats. The brother of that man, Shiz, swears vengeance on Coriantumr and writes to and demand his surrender. Coriantumr refuses to surrender and both sides spend considerable time rounding up every man, woman, and child of their nations to gather in a massive war. The two sides fight until only Shiz and Coriantumr survive. Coriantumr kills Shiz and then collapses. We learned in the book of Omni that Coriantumr did indeed survive to see another society, the Mulekites, inhabit his land. We learned in the book of Mosiah that the land the Jaredites had inhabited became the land of Desolation.
This book is the last book in the collection, and was not originally intended to be written. Moroni had intended his father's book to be the last account of the Nephites. He had finished that book for him, prior to including his abridgement of the book of Ether. The book of Ether was probably placed after the book of Mormon because it allowed Moroni to keep the records of the two societies separate. Twenty years or more after finishing and burying the records, Moroni returned to them and added this book.
Moroni has been roaming the land, keeping in hiding from Lamanites who will kill him if they find him. He is alone and lonely. He writes his record knowing that it will be for a people not yet born, and will be brought to light in a time when people will need spiritual enlightenment, in spite of their many advances. He provides several pieces of information about how the church that Jesus Christ had established among the Nephites functioned, including the prayers for the Sacrament, and the methodology for ordaining men to the priesthood.
He also includes a few more letters from his father, Mormon. He concludes his record with an admonition to those who will have the opportunity to read the record to ensure that they read it with faith in Jesus Christ and that if they do so and pray about it, the Holy Ghost will testify of the truth of the book. He then buried the plates in the ground, waiting for the time that the Lord would direct someone to uncover them and translate the record they contain.
©2003 by Douglas V. Nufer
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