“An Account of the People Who Were Destroyed”

Brant Gardner

These three verses close the section concerning the translation of the records obtained from the Limhites. As a conclusion, they are quite disappointing. Only verse 17 describes the longed-for content of the record. While Mormon obviously thinks that the content was important, because he will include it later (v. 19, i.e., the book of Ether), he here gives only the barest of synopses. Moroni’s later description informs us that Yahweh commanded that a section of the translation be withheld until after the Messiah had been born (Ether 4:5–6). Mormon apparently honored that wish chronologically in his account, even though Mormon was clearly writing after the Messiah’s birth.

Text: What is also missing from our current edition of the Book of Mormon is the complete finality of these short verses. These verses end a chapter in the 1830 edition. Thus, original Book of Mormon readers must have felt a great anticipation that Mosiah, the seer-translator, had at last translated the precious record. Then the chapter closes, with only the promise that the text would come later. While it is true that it does come later, it comes only after Mormon had finished absolutely everything else he had to say and given his record to Moroni, who finally included this translated text (Ether 1:1). The implication is that Mormon might have been content to omit this text entirely, despite the obvious significance attached to the translation.

Variant: The 1920 edition added “back” into a phrase in verse 17: “upon the face of the earth yea and even from that time back until the creation of Adam.” This was probably done to parallel the similar phrase earlier in the verse, but it was a late addition.

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