“Destroying the People of Anti–nephi–lehi”

Brant Gardner

Culture: Mormon’s summary is a military analysis of motives for the Lamanite attack. Although modern readers might see it as motivated by religious prejudice (and certainly there were no friendly feelings about the religion), the real reason was to “destroy… the king.” With the conversion of, first Lamoni’s father, then the accession of his converted brother, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, the political coalition dissolved into disorder. In such a setting, ambitious men can attempt to sway the situation to their own benefit.

The attack centers on Nephi, not Middoni or Ishmael, because Nephi is the capital city. This political coup is an attempt to replace the king and recapture some of the former members of the polity. Mormon recognizes this political reality; but he also stresses the Lamanite vendetta against the Anti-Nephi-Lehies because it is the story he is most anxious to tell. His motive becomes clearest when we see his concluding moral (vv. 27–30).

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