“Behold the Lamanites Have I Cursed, and I Will Set a Mark on Them That They and Their Seed May Be Separated from Thee and Thy Seed”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

In the preceding verses of this chapter we have seen wherein the Lamanites were cursed by God's holy decree. A dark skin came over the descendants of Laman and Lemuel warning of His displeasure in their intents and actions. God placed certain restrictions to the limits He therein imposed, and affixed penalties on those who violated His injunction.

Now, what about the Amlicites who marked themselves? We have already noted that they, too, bore a mark when they went into battle against the Nephites. They painted their foreheads with red. The Sacred Record says, "Thus the word of God is fulfilled, for these are the words which he said unto Nephi." The abridger, Mormon, then quoted the Lords' stern warning, (Vv. 14-17)

We have searched every reference that is made to God's warning that is recorded upon the Smaller Plates of Nephi, wherein the followers of the older brothers were cursed, and do not find them. Yet, we presume Mormon's quote was word-for-word. Our conclusion is that they were first written upon the larger plates, and that Mormon copied them direct from the original source. We also conclude that these words were part of the translation of the Book of Lehi which was lost through the misadventure of Martin Harris. (See COMMENTARY ON THE BOOK OF MORMON, Volume II, pp. 2ff., see footnote p. 21, ibid.)

Although we failed to find the exact words the Lord spoke to Nephi on this occasion we do find other similar utterances, and we hereby draw particular attention to what is said in verse 16, "I will set a mark upon him that fighteth against thee and thy seed." Although the Amlicites did not realize that they were bringing to pass the words of God in the painting of their foreheads, yet His words were fully fulfilled when they did so. This must have been a sign to the greatly harassed Nephites that the Lord was on their side and was bringing the terms of His authoritative command into fulfillment.

Nephi's vision, wherein he saw the Land of Promise, the future appearing of the Savior to his descendants, their righteousness, iniquity, and downfall (I Nephi 12), was explained to him by an angel who accompanied him on the journey he therein made. He tells what he saw: (about 590 B.C.)

And while the angel spake these words, I beheld and saw that the seed of my brethren did contend against my seed, according to the word of the angel; and because of the pride of my seed, and the temptations of the devil, I beheld that the seed of my brethren did overpower the people of my seed.

And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land.

And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away.

And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall dwindle in unbelief.

And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations. (I Nephi 12:19:23)

About ten or fifteen years later Nephi records a fuller account of the Lamanites' cursing when he recites the words of the Lord concerning their iniquities and filthiness:

And behold, the words of the Lord had been fulfilled unto my brethren, which he spake concerning them, that I should be their ruler and their teacher. Wherefore, I had been their ruler and their teacher, according to the commandments of the Lord, until the time they sought to take away my life.

Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become and idle people, full of mischief and sublety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.

And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction. (II Nephi 5:19-25)

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3