“Brethren of Thieves were Angry with Ammon”

Brant Gardner

This aspect of the narrative provides near-conclusive evidence that the “thieves” at Sebus were not random Lamanite bandits as Mormon had too quickly dismissed them. Rather, Abish’s alarm summons them quickly to Lamoni’s chamber. They are nearby, entitled to information about Lamoni, and not in danger of being captured or punished if they showed their faces in public. The earlier groups of servants who returned from Sebus to report the scattered flocks and to face execution would have been able to identify their assailants. In Mesoamerican terms, therefore, these “thieves” were among the Ishmaelite elite and probably of a rival lineage to Lamoni’s, attempting to weaken his power under circumstances in which Lamoni was required to tolerate their actions. But because Mormon was oblivious to those internal politics, he essentially made up a reason.

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