They Buried Their Weapons of Peace or Rather Than Commit Sin

Alan C. Miner

According to Daniel Ludlow, Mormon wrote his abridgment of the Large Plates of Nephi on "plates of ore" which he had made with his own hands. He does not mention the technique used in writing the language characters on the metal plates (etching, embossing, etc.), but students have sometimes wondered how Mormon could correct something he had already written. Alma 24:19 might give us some clue to this matter. Concerning the converted Lamanites, Mormon had written that "they buried their weapons of peace." Then, evidently realizing that he had not intended exactly what he had written, he added "or they buried the weapons of war, for peace."

Other examples of similar changes in the Book of Mormon are found in Mosiah 7:8, Alma 50:32, Helaman 3:33, and 3 Nephi 16:4. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p. 210]

On the other hand, Mormon might have been deliberately stressing the peace covenant aspect of this act through the repetition of his phrases. According to Richard Rust, imagery in a literal sense is "a picture made out of words." . . . Though imprecise, Longman says, images are vivid and memorable, and present old truths in new ways, and speak directly to the heart. . . . King Lamoni advises his followers to keep their swords bright by hiding them deep in the earth and refusing to stain them with the blood of their brethren. [By means of this covenant ritual] these swords then become "weapons of peace" as their burial keeps the repentant people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi from using them [and thus renders them dependent on the Lord's might to fight their battles]. . . . In this respect we may think of other scriptural statements that "the sword of the Spirit . . . is the word of God" (Ephesians 6:17) and "the word of God is . . . sharper than any two-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12).

Another play on word and sword is found in the confrontation between Nehor and Gideon. Because Gideon withstood Nehor "with the words of God," Nehor "drew his sword and began to smite him" (Alma 1:15). For this action, Nehor was condemned to death, and he acknowledged that what he taught was "contrary to the word of God" (Alma 1:15). After that, the people of Nehor did not dare to murder but still persecuted the people of the church of God "and did afflict them with all manner of words" (Alma 1:20).

Word and sword are connected in Alma's experience. Mormon observes that the preaching of the word "had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them--therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God" (Alma 31:5). [Richard D. Rust, Feasting on the Word, pp. 188-189]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary