“Gadianton Who Was Exceedingly Expert in Many Words”

Brant Gardner

The band of men who begin with Kishkumen is presented in a relatively rounded perspective by Mormon, though it is certain that Mormon considered them with disdain. Mormon tells us enough to understand that the band of Kishkumen was one of convenience at first, and was turned into a more formal organization by the ascendancy of a single charismatic leader, Gadianton. Gadianton is certainly a member of the Kishkumen’s society. How does he become the focal point of the group such that the modern designation for this group will be Gadianton robbers rather than Kishkumen robbers?

We may assume that Gadianton was charismatic, as Mormon describes him as using flattery to gain his position. Reading as much as we can into that word, we would have Gadianton as the charismatic leader who is able to sway men with his words and presence. Though Mormon does not tell us more than that Gadianton desired to sit on the judgment seat, that information may suggest that Gadianton also has clan credentials behind him. Kishkumen may have been a man taking action, but it does not appear that he had any legitimate claim to the seat, only that he was willing to use his nefarious talents to keep the seat open for someone with whom he agreed. Gadianton seems to have become that one, with his probable legitimate ability to make a claim on the seat, and his personal charisma to induce a following. Position and person would have conspired to have Gadianton supercede Kishkumen in Kishkumen’s own band.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon