The Nephite-Lamanite wars of 74-61 B.C.

Daniel H. Ludlow

One of the most difficult aspects of the reading of this part of the book of Alma is to keep in mind the battlefronts, cities, and leaders involved in each war. The first skirmish in the long struggle took place between Zerahemnah (the Lamanite leader) and Moroni and Lehi (two of the chief Nephite leaders). The account of this struggle is recorded in Alma 43-44. The second phase of the battle occurred when the new Lamanite king, Amalickiah, sent his armies down to attack the Nephite cities of Noah and Ammonihah; however, the Lamanites were quickly and decisively defeated.

The main war started when “Amalickiah did himself come down, at the head of the Lamanites.” (Alma 51:12.) There are two major fronts in this war. The battle on the eastern front (chapters 51-52, 53:1-7, 54-55, 59-62) concerns the cities of Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, Mulek, Nephihah, and Bountiful. The Nephite leaders are Teancum, Lehi, and Moroni (after he helps fortify the land in the south and the west); the Lamanite leaders are Amalickiah, Jacob, and Ammoron (who soon leaves for the west front for several years and then returns). The battle on the west sea coast (chapters 53:8-23; 56-58) involves the cities of Zeezrom, Cumeni, Antiparah, Judea, Manti, and the “city by the sea.” The Nephite leaders here are Helaman, Antipus, Gid, and Teomner; the only Lamanite leader named is Ammoron.

It is well to keep in mind that you are not reading about the battles in chronological order. Many of the battles on the eastern front that you read about first actually occurred after some of the major battles on the western front. For example, the “decoy method” of capturing cities was employed by Helaman and Antipus in their attempt to recapture the city of Antiparah on the western front (Alma 56:20, 27-57) before it was used successfully by Moroni and Teancum in recapturing the city of Mulek on the eastern front (Alma 52:19-26).

Mormon inserted a series of letters that help to keep us informed of the proceedings on the two fronts. Note particularly (1) Moroni‘s letter to Ammoron and Ammoron’s angry reply—chapter 54; (2) Helaman’s lengthy letter to Moroni—chapters 56-58; (3) Moroni’s two letters to Pahoran—chapters 59:3 and 60; and (4) Pahoran’s answer to Moroni— chapter 61.

A Companion To Your Study of The Book of Mormon