“Kishkumen Murdered Pahoran on the Judgment-seat”

Monte S. Nyman

The second problem to emerge at this period of time was the organization of a secret combination. Kishkumen and his band followed Satan as well. Secret combinations originated in the world with Satan’s covenant with Cain to slay his brother Abel (see Helaman 6:26–27; Moses 5:29–33; Genesis 4:8–15). For the Nephite conspirators to swear “by their everlasting Maker” (Helaman 1:11) was not only ironic but blasphemous. Such are the tactics of Satan. Dr. Daniel C. Peterson, Professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University, has noted:

“Intriguingly, the Nephites record tells us it was a religious oath ‘swearing by their everlasting Maker’ (Helaman 1:11). This seems odd to those of us unaccustomed to thinking of murder as a religious act. But the very word assassin was given to us by a religious sect of the medieval Near East who bore it as a name. The ‘Assassin’ carried out daring murders for many years from mixed religious and political motives.”

That those who were found were put to death again emphasizes the seriousness of their sins towards the freedom of the people.

The appointment of Pacumeni was another evidence of his character. His previous actions had apparently earned their trust. “According to his right” (v. 13) suggests further a patriarchal order of government in the reign of the judges. There were exceptions at times, but those exceptions came by revelation. Alma was the first judge, and the selection of Nephihah as the second judge was implied to be by revelation (see Alma 46:15–17) The third judge was Pahoran, who was the son of Nephihah, and his two sons, Pahoran and Pacumeni, were his successors. Helaman, son of Helaman, was the next judge. There is no record of why he was appointed other than by the voice of the people (Helaman 2:2). Since he was the record keeper and apparently the high priest of the church, we assume he was appointed through revelation. Helaman was succeeded by his son, Nephi, another patriarchal succession (Helaman 3:36–37). Nephi appointed Cezoram, who was not in the family line but must have been a righteous man. It was probably revealed to Nephi that Cezoram should be his successor (Helaman 5:1–4).

Book of Mormon Commentary: The Record of Helaman