“I Behold Many Nations and Kingdoms”

Brant Gardner

The shift in context from Nephi’s descendants to the world underscores that the vision took place outside geography. Although Nephi later sees “many waters” between these Gentiles and his descendants (v. 10), their location is still not clear. The modern reader can easily interpret this passage as the Europeans, separated from America by the Atlantic Ocean. However, the prophecy may have been fulfilled in other ways. From the Nephite perspective, the Teotihuacanos and Mexica might be seen as coming from across many waters (near the lake that used to be in the current location of Mexico City), and the effect of those cultures on Nephite territory fits the pattern of conquest suggested in this vision. I argue later that Teotihuacan may be the land associated with “many waters” described in Helaman 3:4–7. (See commentary accompanying those verses.)

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1