“He Was a Descendant of Ishmael”

Brant Gardner

Culture: This verse confirms the clan association between land and rulership, at least in the land of Ishmael. Lamoni declares (or someone declares for him) his descent from his most illustrious ancestor, Ishmael. This particular dynasty has lasted nearly six hundred years, although we should not expect unbroken father-to-son descent. Mesoamerican inheritance patterns could easily move among brothers. New (genealogical) dynasties would readily find ways to connect to the illustrious lineage to validate their own claim to the authority of accepted history. The clan connection between the rulership and the land tells us that clan structures are as important among the Lamanites as among the Nephites.

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