“Because of the Many Murders and Sins We Have Committed Against Them”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

You will remember that the king, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, was only recently born to a new life in Christ, and with this new life came new ideals. He was now about to learn the meaning of just one of those ideals. For centuries the Lamanites had been brought up in hatred of the Nephites. On every hand they had sought to destroy what their white brethren had laboriously made. Their spite of the Nephites was keen and inexhaustible. Murder, robbery, rapine, and all manner of vicious crimes gave shape and form to the method the Lamanites used to lay waste the peaceful pursuits of the Nephites. Raid after raid, assault upon assault, especially in the outlying districts, kept the Nephites in a constant dread of open warfare. True, many of the Christian Nephites often resorted to reprisal. Ill will, and a desire to get even, guided their actions. Thus we find retaliatory measures were used by both in seeking to subdue each other's ambitions whether good or bad.

The king now came into direct opposition to this age-old practice. Ammon and his brethren taught him the great truth that Christian people do not harbor the idea of reprisal. Neither do they long remember the past. Forgiveness is a Christian virtue. It was taught by the Lord, Himself, and was graven upon the Brass Plates of Laban and therefore was familiar to Ammon and the other missionaries because King Mosiah, the father of four of the missionaries, had them in his possession, and the study of them was the greatest part of his sons' education. The Lord in remonstrating with His people, Israel, said through the prophet: " . . . thou hast wearied Me with thine iniquities." But He continued, "I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins." (Isa. 43:24-25) This promise to ancient Israel included, we may be sure, that branch of the tree that was transplanted in the Western Hemisphere.

The Nephites at this time were full of the spirit of forgiveness, they loved the Lord and sought to do His bidding. Having taken upon themselves the Name of Christ, and having truly repented of their sins, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, nevertheless thought that the Nephites would destroy them for past sins which they had committed if they settled in their midst. This afforded a rare example to the king of Christian forgiveness. He needed not to have expected the Christian Nephites to meet out to his people the penalties of savage warfare, but, instead, the Christian Law of love which both peoples had espoused. He was further assured that the Nephites would not attempt to right a wrong by committing another wrong. Imbued with the Spirit of Christ men do not return evil for evil. Neither do they fight error with evil intentions. Therefore, King Anti-Nephi-Lehi was mistaken when he supposed that the Nephites in Zarahemla would destroy his people because of deeds perpetrated by them in the past, and of which they had now fully repented.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4