strtoupper('“I') Have Seen in the Days of King Benjamin, a Serious War”

Amaleki mentions that “I have seen in the days of king Benjamin a serious war” (Omni 1:24). According to John Welch, this war correlates with a war which began about thirty-four years after Zeniff had arrived in the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 9:11; 10:3-5). It was apparently fought by Noah’s father Zeniff, a contemporary of Benjamin’s father Mosiah, at a time when Zeniff was old (see Mosiah 9;11; 10:22). This war also apparently came during the life-time of Amaleki, born in the days of Mosiah1 (see Omni 1:23-24). If Benjamin was born between 195 and 187 B.C. and acceded to the throne like his own son Mosiah at the age of thirty, then the first year of Benjamin’s reign would have come between 165 and 157 B.C.--right around the time of this major Lamanite unrest. [John W. Welch, “Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History,” in King Benjamin’s Speech, pp. 28-29] [See Appendix A--Chronology]

[Omni 1:25]: I [Amaleki] Began to Be Old:

Perhaps the phrase, “I (Amaleki) began to be old” (Omni 1:25) refers to a the span of quite a few years from the time of Benjamin’s war until the time Amaleki turned the plates over to the king. Notice that Amaleki writes in the past tense (“I began to be old”), then he changes to the present (“having no seed”), and ultimately finishes in the future tense (“I shall deliver up these plates unto him”). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Omni 1:25 I [Amaleki] shall deliver up these plates unto him [King Benjamin] ([Illustration] Chart of Nephite Record Keepers [Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, p. 155]

“A Serious War”

Amaleki mentions that “I have seen in the days of king Benjamin a serious war” (Omni 1:24). According to John Welch, this war correlates with a war which began about thirty-four years after Zeniff had arrived in the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 9:11; 10:3-5). It was apparently fought by Noah’s father Zeniff, a contemporary of Benjamin’s father Mosiah, at a time when Zeniff was old (see Mosiah 9;11; 10:22). This war also apparently came during the life-time of Amaleki, born in the days of Mosiah1 (see Omni 1:23-24). If Benjamin was born between 195 and 187 B.C. and acceded to the throne like his own son Mosiah at the age of thirty, then the first year of Benjamin’s reign would have come between 165 and 157 B.C.--right around the time of this major Lamanite unrest. [John W. Welch, “Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History,” in King Benjamin’s Speech, pp. 28-29] [See Appendix A--Chronology]

[Omni 1:25]: I [Amaleki] Began to Be Old:

Perhaps the phrase, “I (Amaleki) began to be old” (Omni 1:25) refers to a the span of quite a few years from the time of Benjamin’s war until the time Amaleki turned the plates over to the king. Notice that Amaleki writes in the past tense (“I began to be old”), then he changes to the present (“having no seed”), and ultimately finishes in the future tense (“I shall deliver up these plates unto him”). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Omni 1:25 I [Amaleki] shall deliver up these plates unto him [King Benjamin] ([Illustration] Chart of Nephite Record Keepers [Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, p. 155]

“A Serious War”

In Omni 1:24, Amaleki mentions a “serious war” in the days of King Benjamin. Mormon also alludes to a war by noting that “the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against [King Benjamin’s] people” (Words of Mormon 1:13). Was this “serious war” mentioned by Amaleki referring to the same series of battles noted by Mormon? If Amaleki tells his story in chronological order, then his war was fought before he handed the small plates over to King Benjamin (Omni 1:25). Mormon also talks about Amaleki handing over the plates to King Benjamin in the Words of Mormon (1:10, 13, 14), but he has a war being fought after he writes that Amaleki handed over the small plates. Both wars end with the Lamanites being driven out of the land. Were these wars the same? Where exactly did these Lamanites come from? How and why could a war be fought when the story of Zeniff’s account seems to paint a picture of a approximately 21- or 40-day distance of wilderness between Zarahemla and the land of Nephi through which the Lamanites never seem to travel through very easily? Let us first list the references to war in the Zeniff story:

1. Zeniff was originally a “spy” who went with a Nephite army to the land of Nephi to destroy the Lamanites but chose not to ( Mosiah 9:1-2). If this was the “serious war” then Zeniff would have had to leave during the reign of Benjamin, which seems doubtful. [If Zeniff left in the year 407 (481-73), and if Mosiah1 ruled from 397--437, from age 30 to 70, then the “serious war” of King Benjamin would not start at least until the first year of his reign (437), which corresponds to the 30th year of the reign of Zeniff (437)]

2. In the “thirteenth year” of Zeniff’s reign the Lamanites attacked (Mosiah 9:14); however, the battles seemed to be over in days (v. 18), with Zeniff’s group conquering at a rate of about 12 to 1. Thus, this war seems to be only a local conflict.

3. The Lamanites attacked Shilom from Shemlon after 22 years of peace (Mosiah 10:8,20), but were overwhelmingly defeated by the people of Zeniff. Again this appears to be a local conflict.

4. The Lamanites attacked the people of Noah but were driven back (Mosiah 11:17-18). Again a local conflict seems to be implied.

5. When the Lamanites attacked a divided people of Noah, Noah’s group fled, but those who remained behind with Limhi submitted (Mosiah 19:6-15). Again, a quick uncontested war. Nevertheless, the reason why they attacked is not clearly given. Perhaps they attacked because Noah had sent an army beyond the local limits of the land towards the waters of Mormon.

6. The Lamanites attacked because their daughters were stolen by the priests of Noah (Mosiah 20:7). The Lamanites seem to be totally committed to the war because it says that even their king went before his people; however, Limhi’s people managed to hold their own and eventually captured the king. Limhi’s people were able to convince the Lamanites of their innocence; they seemed to be safe; however, the Lamanites at this time could have taken their revenge upon the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla. However, it wasn’t many years before Limhi escaped and the Lamanites got lost in trying to track Limhi on his way to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:15).

7. Limhi’s people initiated a fight for their freedom on three successive occasions (Mosiah 21:7,11,12) but were beaten back each time. This seems to be only a local conflict.

Conclusion: Although some think that Benjamin’s war was part of those just listed, it is the opinion of the author that Benjamin’s “serious war” seems to be correlated with the same localities, peoples, and ideas that Alma2 continues to chronicle after the return of Zeniff’s group. These dissensions were over the right to rule, and apparently came from Mulekite regions. Therefore, I believe that the serious war that Benjamin fought was initially correlated with his ascension to the kingship of the land of Zarahemla and involved only “Lamanites” living immediately around the land of Zarahemla and not the Lamanites that battled with the people of Zeniff. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

“A Serious War and Much Bloodshed”

In Omni 1:24, Amaleki mentions a “serious war” in the days of King Benjamin. Mormon also alludes to a war by noting that “the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against [King Benjamin’s] people” (Words of Mormon 1:13). Was this “serious war” mentioned by Amaleki referring to the same series of battles noted by Mormon? If Amaleki tells his story in chronological order, then his war was fought before he handed the small plates over to King Benjamin (Omni 1:25). Mormon also talks about Amaleki handing over the plates to King Benjamin in the Words of Mormon (1:10, 13, 14), but he has a war being fought after he writes that Amaleki handed over the small plates. Both wars end with the Lamanites being driven out of the land. Were these wars the same? Where exactly did these Lamanites come from? How and why could a war be fought when the story of Zeniff’s account seems to paint a picture of a approximately 21- or 40-day distance of wilderness between Zarahemla and the land of Nephi through which the Lamanites never seem to travel through very easily? Let us first list the references to war in the Zeniff story:

1. Zeniff was originally a “spy” who went with a Nephite army to the land of Nephi to destroy the Lamanites but chose not to ( Mosiah 9:1-2). If this was the “serious war” then Zeniff would have had to leave during the reign of Benjamin, which seems doubtful. [If Zeniff left in the year 407 (481-73), and if Mosiah1 ruled from 397--437, from age 30 to 70, then the “serious war” of King Benjamin would not start at least until the first year of his reign (437), which corresponds to the 30th year of the reign of Zeniff (437)]

2. In the “thirteenth year” of Zeniff’s reign the Lamanites attacked (Mosiah 9:14); however, the battles seemed to be over in days (v. 18), with Zeniff’s group conquering at a rate of about 12 to 1. Thus, this war seems to be only a local conflict.

3. The Lamanites attacked Shilom from Shemlon after 22 years of peace (Mosiah 10:8,20), but were overwhelmingly defeated by the people of Zeniff. Again this appears to be a local conflict.

4. The Lamanites attacked the people of Noah but were driven back (Mosiah 11:17-18). Again a local conflict seems to be implied.

5. When the Lamanites attacked a divided people of Noah, Noah’s group fled, but those who remained behind with Limhi submitted (Mosiah 19:6-15). Again, a quick uncontested war. Nevertheless, the reason why they attacked is not clearly given. Perhaps they attacked because Noah had sent an army beyond the local limits of the land towards the waters of Mormon.

6. The Lamanites attacked because their daughters were stolen by the priests of Noah (Mosiah 20:7). The Lamanites seem to be totally committed to the war because it says that even their king went before his people; however, Limhi’s people managed to hold their own and eventually captured the king. Limhi’s people were able to convince the Lamanites of their innocence; they seemed to be safe; however, the Lamanites at this time could have taken their revenge upon the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla. However, it wasn’t many years before Limhi escaped and the Lamanites got lost in trying to track Limhi on his way to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:15).

7. Limhi’s people initiated a fight for their freedom on three successive occasions (Mosiah 21:7,11,12) but were beaten back each time. This seems to be only a local conflict.

Conclusion: Although some think that Benjamin’s war was part of those just listed, it is the opinion of the author that Benjamin’s “serious war” seems to be correlated with the same localities, peoples, and ideas that Alma2 continues to chronicle after the return of Zeniff’s group. These dissensions were over the right to rule, and apparently came from Mulekite regions. Therefore, I believe that the serious war that Benjamin fought was initially correlated with his ascension to the kingship of the land of Zarahemla and involved only “Lamanites” living immediately around the land of Zarahemla and not the Lamanites that battled with the people of Zeniff. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

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

References