“The Zoramites Became Lamanites”

Alan C. Miner

In Alma 43:4 we find that "the Zoramites became Lamanites." One might wonder just how often a portion of the Nephites became Lamanites. Did this change result in the shifting of Nephite borders? And how often did Nephite or Lamanite borders shift? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

“The Zoramites Became Lamanites”

Brant Gardner notes that in Alma 43:4 we have the remarkable statement that once the Zoramites became Lamanties, therefore they were at war with the Nephites. This not only suggests ongoing tensions between the Nephties and the Lamanites, but also the definition that Jacob gave: "But I, Jacob . . . shall call them Lamanites that seek to destroy the people of Nephi" (Jacob 1:14). It would appear that one of the fundamental aspects of the conceptual usage of the term Lamanite was that they should "seek to destroy the people of Nephi." [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," at [http://www.frontpage2k]. nmia.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/ Alma43.htm, p. 6]

“The Zoramites Became Lamanites”

According to Brant Gardner, we have the very simple yet very informative statement that the Zoramites became Lamanites. This should put to rest all presumptions that the term Lamanite has anything to do with genetics at this point in the Book of Mormon. The only way that the Zoramites could become Lamanites was to shift their political alliances. Surely they did no more. Surely they did not alter their genetic makeup. What they did was alter an allegiance. Lamanite is clearly a political term here.

The next point is subtler because it is not stated at all. It concerns the curse on the Lamanites--the dark skins. Here we have an entire city who became Lamanites, and as Lamanites, they were subject to the curse, but there is certainly no indication of any consternation on the part of these people or reference to the fact that they awoke one morning to find that all of them had changed the skin color. As has been noted before, the skin of blackness is symbolic, not physiological. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," at [http://www.frontpage2k.nmia.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/] Alma43.htm, p. 6]

Note* It is Ironic here that the Zoramites (Nephites who had become Lamanites) lived in a land which bordered the land of Jershon, a land given as an inheritance to the people of Ammon--Lamanites who had become Nephites. This is another subtle part of the story line that Joseph Smith, had he been the author of the Book of Mormon, would have had to weave together. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

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