“In the Strength of the Lord They Did Contend Against Their Enemies”

Brant Gardner

There seems to be no connection between the internal contentions and the battle with the Lamanites except, possibly, the inference that internal contentions were temporarily resolved by the need to meet the greater external threat. (See commentary accompanying Jacob 3:13 for the conceptual difference between contentions and wars.) It is significant that Benjamin participated in the actual fighting and also that he used Laban’s sword. This sword, now more than three hundred years old, was a sacred/political relic. Even with care, three centuries of maintaining an edge would have diminished the blade’s strength, since sharpening and filing removes tiny amounts of metal. Although Nephi had also wielded it in battle—and no doubt his successors had as well—it is possible to read this reference as a ceremonial function more than a military one, a visual symbol of union, and a reminder of the Lord’s promises and watch-care.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3