“Why Did Ye Not Come to the Feast?”

Brant Gardner

Lamoni’s father fully shares his people’s stereotyped prejudices about Nephites, whom he calls “children of a liar.” This hatred is not personal—he does not know Ammon—but it matches the ritualized perception that Nephites held of Lamanites. (See commentary accompanying Enos 1:20 and Alma 17:14.)

Culture: The feast is first mentioned in Alma 18:9, when Ammon is feeding Lamoni’s horses in preparation for the “great feast appointed at the land of Nephi, by the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land” (Alma 18:9). The father’s angry reaction makes it plain that Lamoni’s absence was a serious breach of etiquette and, in fact, may be the reason the father is on the road in the first place—coming for an accounting. Later Classic Maya sites provide glyphic evidence of royal visits from subordinate rulers to their overlords. In Maya culture, such visits could cement a relationship, or, in the breach, lead to war. Thus, a subordinate king who refused to come to the overlord’s feast would have been considered in rebellion. Lamoni’s father, who is not, apparently, accompanied by an army or even a significant guard, has not yet drawn this conclusion about his son but obviously feels that Lamoni owes him a convincing explanation about his absence.

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