Helaman 6:10 implies that "Mulek" was the name of "the son of Zedekiah." Zedekiah was the king of Judah at the time Lehi and his colony fled from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4). A few years later when the Babylonians besieged Jerusalem, they "slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes" (2 Kings 25:7). Most people have assumed that all of the sons of Zedekiah were killed at that time; however, the Book of Mormon records that the sons of Zedekiah were slain "all except it were Mulek" (Helaman 8:21). [See the commentary on Mosiah 25:2; Omni 1:15]
“The Seed of Zedekiah Are with Us”
According to Joseph Allen, if the Olmec culture was in reality the Jaredite culture, the Jaredites established themselves along the Gulf of Mexico. We would then conclude that the Mulekites landed in this region.
1. Sixteenth Century Historians:
a. If we assume a Mesoamerican setting, we could refer to the writings of a sixteenth century native-born scholar of Mexico named Fernando de Alva Ixtlilxochitl. The writings of Ixtlilxochitl tell of a group of people called Ulmecas and Xicalancas (Mulekites?) who settled among the first settlers (Jaredites?). The new settlers landed on the coast of Veracruz and migrated. The Ulmecas and Xicalancas were put under bondage by the first settlers, who were called giants or Quinametzin. Also, according to the history of the Quiche Maya, in a document entitled The Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, they believed that they came from where the sun rises, descendants of Israel, of the same language and customs. After tarrying for a time on the shores of a lake, they eventually made their way to what appears to be the regions of the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. From there, they went up the Usumacinta and the Grijalva Rivers into what is now Chiapas, Mexico and the Peten area of Guatemala. [See the commentary on Alma 22:30-31]
b. The sixteenth century Catholic writer, Sahagun, records the following regarding the landing of a particular group of people in Mesoamerica:
"Countless years ago these first settlers arrived in these parts of New Spain (Mexico), and they came in ships by sea approaching this northern port; and because they disembarked there it was called Panutla, or Panoayan, 'place where they arrived who came by sea,' now corruptly called Pantlan (Panuco)." (Sahagun, Book Nine)
Panuco is near the present day city of Tampico, Mexico. The settlers traveled along the Gulf Coast of Mexico and eventually settled in the areas of Campeche and Chiapas on the southeast side of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.
c. Torquemada also talked about the same people.
2. Native American Documents:
a. Title of the Lords of Totonicapan: This native Quiche Maya document describes a group of people who were descendants of Abraham and Jacob and who crossed the ocean and settled in the area of the Bay of Campeche. They were an agriculture-based people who lived in houses made of sticks. They had things in common. (Chonay, Title of the Lords of Totonicapan)
b. The Annals of the Cakchiquels: A native Mesoamerican document similar to the one above describes what was apparently the same group of people and states,
1. they came from the north (Tampico),
2. they arrived at the Gulf of Mexico (Veracruz and Tabasco),
3. they lived many years in the region of the lagoons of Terminos (Campeche). (Recinos and Goetz) (Note* the Bay of Campeche is the area of Allen's "land of many waters" through which the Limhi expedition traveled -- see the commentary on Mosiah 8:7-11; Mosiah 21:25-27)
Omni 1:16/Alma 22:30 [The land of Desolation] was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing ([Illustration]): Proposed Landing Site of the Mulekites: Location of Potonchan. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 144]
3. Archaeological Data:
We often establish the departure date of the Mulekites from Jerusalem immediately following, or simultaneously with, the burning of Jerusalem at 586 B.C. However, the Book of Mormon is silent on both the departure date and the arrival date of the Mulekites to America. When the Mulekites arrived in the Promised Land, the Jaredites constituted a high majority of the people. The Mulekites, or at least a branch of the Mulekites, may have lived among the Jaredites from the Mulekites' arrival in the New World in the sixth century B.C. up to the Jaredite destruction, estimated to be between 400 B.C. and 250 B.C.
The archaeological data from the area in and around the states of Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico, depict a small group of settlers who moved out of the area north of the Isthmus (Tabasco-Veracruz) to the shores of the Bay of Campeche (see Ochoa and Castro). In addition, between 600 B.C. and 400 B.C. there were migrations of a people from the Olmec zone into the Oaxaca Valley, into the area of the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers, and into the Yucatan peninsula. The Zapotec culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, seems to have had Hebrew influence. At the ruins of Monte Alban is a four-horned incense burner, now on display at a small museum in Mitla, Oaxaca. The urn dates to Monte Alban Period I, 500 B.C. to 100 B.C., and is similar to the types of urns from Jerusalem dating to the same time period. In addition, the ruins of Monte Alban give us an idea of how King Benjamin must have addressed his people. The walls of the city and the temple platforms form a natural acoustic setting. The large central plaza is the size of seven football fields, which is adequate space for people to gather with their tents. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 55]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): Illustration showing what has been labeled the "Dancers" at the Zapotec ruins of Monte Alban in the State of Oaxaca (Mexico). According to Joseph Allen, because some of the figures appear to be represented in ballerina-type dancing positions, the group of monuments has been called the danzantes, or dancers. . . Allen personally favors the conclusion of Julia Marcos, a student of the Zapotec culture. She suggests that whoever the settlers were of Monte Alban Period I (500 B.C.-100 B.C.), their nudeness reflects some relationship to captivity. The custom of parading nude captive victims is both a sign of complete dominance as well as a sign of security for the oppressors." [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 89] [See Alma 22:31]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): Picture of Monte Alban, a Zapotec ruin dating from 500 B.C. to A.D. 750. The site is located on a hill in the center of the Oaxaca Valley. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 87]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): Four-horned incense burner from Monte Alban Period I. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 88]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): Collector Howard Leigh of Mitla, Oaxaca (Mexico) holding a four-horned incense burner found in Oaxaca. It may relate to observance of the Law of Moses in Ancient Mexico. [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, p. 169]
The geographical correlation of Book of Mormon and American landscape features which John Sorenson follows tentatively places the city of Mulek at the site of La Venta in the southern Mexican state of Tabasco. (Setting, pp. 120, 249-250, map 5, 12) Most of this spectacular ruined place dates to Olmec times, but evidence also exists of later (re)inhabitation. One of the most interesting items found there is Stela 3, a huge carved basalt slab. It is not clear when the piece was executed, but likely it was at the very end of the Olmec era or very soon after the site was abandoned not long after 600 B.C. Some see it as a new style more than a continuation of the old "Olmec" one. Stela 3 has carved on it a scene in which a person of evident high status, whose facial features find parallels in surviving people in the area as well as in Olmec art, is shown facing another prominent man who looks to a number of art historians like "a Jew." His striking beard and beaked nose are so prominent that he has been dubbed "Uncle Sam" by some observers. This scene has been viewed as a formal encounter between the leaders of two sharply different ethnic groups, one seemingly "Semitic." Although a long shot, it is possible that we are viewing a Mulekite leader (even Mulek) together with a local chief from a group of old survivors after the Jaredite debacle. [John L. Sorenson, "The 'Mulekites'," in BYU Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990): p. 12]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them (Illustration): Altar 3 in La Venta Park: The heavily bearded individual could represent a Mulekite immigrant. ["Lands of the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., Slide #80]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): "Uncle Sam" Figurine from La Venta Stela : This picture is an artist's representation of the "Uncle Sam" aristocratic figuring on the La Venta stela. The clothing and shoes are the type worn by the ancients of America and also of the Near East. [Milton R. Hunter and Thomas S. Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 133]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): La Venta Monument and "Uncle Sam" Figurine: This fourteen-feet high monument was discovered by Matthew W. Stirling at La Venta, Tabasco (southern Gulf Coast of Mexico), in 1939-1940. The picture was taken from the National Geographic Magazine, September, 1940, p. 327. The following was printed under the picture: Worth Digging For Was The Face of the Largest Stela. The lower figure with flowing beard was nicknamed "Uncle Sam" by the staff. His aquiline nose and aristocratic features were different from all other faces depicted at the site. The monument was found in the center of a large stone enclosure at La Venta . . . The face of one of the standing figures has unfortunately been broken off, but that of the other shows a remarkably handsome individual with upturned toes. Over these two figures, apparently floating through the air, are a number of others in human form, which may represent deities. [Milton Hunter and Thomas Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 134]
Omni 1:15-16 The people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem . . . into the land where Mosiah discovered them ([Illustration]): Bearded Man Of Ancient Vera Cruz, Mexico: This unusual work of art shows two important things: (1) the physical characteristics of the early settlers of Vera Cruz, Mexico; (2) the high artistic sense and skills of the ancients. Note the aquiline nose, the eye form and the beard. This portrays a white man and it was fashioned by a highly skilled artisan--the type described in our documentary sources--and not by an ordinary North American or South American Indian. [Milton Hunter and Thomas Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, p. 242]
According to Verneil Simmons, whatever lingering doubts we might have about the presence of Phoenicians in Mesoamerica disappear when we discover that the ancient art of dyeing cloth with the famous purple dye of the Tyrians was well known in Mesoamerica (Covarrubias, Mexico South, pp. 253-256). In the Isthmus of Tehuantepec the Indians know how to extract the dye from the sea snail, in the same process developed in Phoenicia centuries ago, and they obtain the same royal purple color. An excretion is taken from tiny sea snails at just certain times of the year. It is then applied to hanks of yarn, which are next dipped in sea water and then spread out in the sun to wait for the yarn to turn the color of imperial purple. The very complicated process is a most unlikely candidate for independent invention. (The Phoenicians were noted for carefully guarding the destinations of their shipping. They were also secretive about how they produced the famous purple dye.) Examples of such dyed cloth can be viewed today in Mexico City's anthropological Museum. It is said that one can always identify the genuine article by the fishy smell that clings to the cloth for years.
The prophets of old well knew that the sailors of Phoenicia were traveling to far places, and Isaiah clearly states that some of those from Tyre would travel "afar off to sojourn" (Isaiah 23:1, 2, 5-7) [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 99]
Geographical Theory Map: Omni 1:16 The Mulekites Had Come into the Land Where Mosiah Discovered Them (Year ???)