“And Ammon Went to the Land of Ishmael”

Brant Gardner

Geography: The land of Ishmael was the hereditary holding of Ishmael’s descendants. Sorenson suggests the area around Chimaltenango, Guatemala, as a plausible location for the land of Ishmael. Although Mormon provides few details, it was a kingdom with dependent lands and was part of an even larger polity, referred to collectively as Lamanite territory.

Culture: This verse offers further confirmation that Lamanite is a collective rather than a genealogical term. If the land of Ishmael is “called after the sons of Ishmael, who also became Lamanites,” then “Lamanite” cannot be confined to the descendants of Laman. Clearly the name, at a minimum, described Lamanites (as a clan), Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites. As a collective name for the polity, nothing hinders “Lamanite” from also including “others” who might have joined with those original clans, just “others” arguably joined very early with the Nephites. (See commentary accompanying 2 Nephi 5:4–6.)

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4