strtoupper('“F')or the Space of Nine Moons”

Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon often symbolize the passage of time and space by proceeding a measurement of time with the phrase "for the space of . . ." (such as in Genesis 29:14 and Omni 1:21). Twenty such occurrences appear in the Bible and eighty-seven in the Book of Mormon. [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 254] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]

“Curiantumr Dwelt With the People of Zarahemla For the Space of Nine Moons”

Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that both the Bible and the Book of Mormon often symbolize the passage of time and space by proceeding a measurement of time with the phrase "for the space of . . ." (such as in Genesis 29:14 and Omni 1:21). Twenty such occurrences appear in the Bible and eighty-seven in the Book of Mormon. [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 254] [See Vol. 6, Appendix C]

“Coriantumr Dwelt with Them for the Space of Nine Moons”

According to Warren and Palmer, the reference to "nine moons" (Omni 1:21) is in harmony with our knowledge concerning the ancient calendar systems in Mesoamerica. Lowe et.al. (1982) make clear that in each of the sixteen Maya languages in the lists of Stoll (1958:77-78):

. . . the word for moon is also the word for month; the same is true of the Popoluca, Zoque and Mixe lists in Bom and La Farge (1926-1927, 2:461). Such consistency in linguistic parallelism over so wide an area (when included with Central Mexico) not only confirms that "moon" and "month" are indistinguishable but establishes the additional fact that this indistinguishability is very ancient.

[Bruce W. Warren and David A. Palmer, The Jaredite Saga, unpublished]

“He Dwelt with Them for the Space of Nine Moons”

According to John Sorenson, the newcomers are said to have discovered Coriantumr, not vice versa. Where might that contact have taken place? He could not have been a young man (note Ether 13:16-17), he had been very severely wounded in the final battle (Ether 15:28-32), and he had earlier suffered at least one serious injury in war (Ether 15:1) as well as probably others. With such physical limitations as these scriptures imply, it would be remarkable if he had made more than a partial recovery from his near death at Ramah. Ether's prophecy to the king had indicated only that he would "receive a burial" (Ether 13:21) by the new people. This statement, together with the fact that he lived only "nine moons" with the new group before passing away (Omni 1:21), can be seen as supporting the view that he was infirm when found. Thus he is not likely to have traveled far on his own from the hill Ramah. Yet he would surely have moved some distance, for the effects of the carnage in the final battle area would have been unbearable for him.

Coriantumr might have been discovered by the Mulek group on or near the battleground during a Mulekite exploratory probe inland as they paused briefly while coasting southward toward their final destination. . . . Other possibilities come to mind, however. One is that Coriantumr did travel by himself toward a location where he thought he might find some remnant population to give him succor. According to Sorenson, the site of the city of Mulek geographically correlates with La Venta, which was or had been one of the major centers of Jaredite era settlement at this time, yet it was in a peripheral position in relation to most of the Olmec (Jaredite?) areas. . . . Sorenson estimates the distance at ninety beeline miles from Ramah (the Tuxtla Mountains), but at least double that on the ground. . . . It is no more than barely possible that La Venta Stela 3 was intended to picture the meeting of Mulek and Coriantumr. [John Sorenson, "The Mulekites", F.A.R.M.S., p. 14]

“Space of Nine Moons”

In Omni 1:21 we find the term "moon" used to denote time:

And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it . . . and they gave an account of one Coriantumr . . . and Coriantumr was discovered by the people of Zarahemla; and he dwelt with them for the space of nine moons. (Omni 1:20-21)

Because this is the only time the term "moons" appears in the Book of Mormon as a unit of time measurement, it is hard to tell whether it was part of the Mulekite calendar (used only by the people of Zarahemla) or whether the Nephites also used a "lunar" calendar.

However, according to Randall Spackman, the fact that Amaleki used this term "moons" around 200 B.C., which was about four centuries after Lehi left Jerusalem, is evidence that both the Nephites and the people of Zarahemla shared a basic understanding of lunar observation, dividing time into moons, and adding moons to mark off longer periods of time.

Mormon, the Nephite abridger of the Book of Mormon record, used the words "month" and "months" when he wrote the books of Alma and 3 Nephi after about A.D. 350. Although neither author (Amaleki or Mormon) defined the calendrical terms "moons" and "months," the appearance of the two English cognate terms in the book of Mormon translation implies that the underlying Nephite words had different meanings, however slight.

Although the terms "moons" and "months" might be referring to essentially similar periods, we might some subtle reasons for using two different terms. [Randall P. Spackman, "The Jewish/Nephite Lunar Calendar," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 7/1 , November 1, 1998, p. 55]

Note* While Amaleki does not state specifically whether the Nephites used a lunar calendar, it is quite probable that the people of Zarahemla who reported the find of Coriantumr at least reported something related to "lunar" time in order for Amaleki to record the term "moons."

It is also an oddity that the terms "month" and "months" only occur in the books of Alma and 3 Nephi (Alma = 10; 3 Nephi = 4). It is also very significant that in at least one instance (3 Nephi 8:5) mention of the term "month" is not only made with the term "years," but the exact years after the sign of Christ's birth in which the great destruction happened. In this instance, the years and months cannot be accounted for by a strictly lunar calendar (A twelve-moon calendar averages only 354.367 days per year, eleven days fewer than a solar calendar year, which averages 365.2422. By the time Christ reached the passover beginning his 34th year, having completed 33 years, he would be 33 X 11 days, or 363 days, or almost 1 solar year behind. Mormon distinctly mentions that after the sign of Christ was given, "the Nephites began to reckon their time from this period when the sign was given, or from the coming of Christ" (3 Nephi 2:8), however nothing at all is said relative to the a different length for the months or years.

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary

References