“Lachoneus the Governor, Was a Just Man”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

So great was the misery entailed by the repeated incursions of the robbers, that the Chief Judge, Lachoneus, at last determined to gather all the people into one place, and by a policy of masterly inactivity wear out or starve out the invaders. We can scarcely understand how terrible must have been the misery endured by the Nephites at this time, to have caused the conception and execution of such a measure. Can we picture to ourselves the scenes that must have occurred as the people, near and far, converged to the gathering places? Zarahemla and Bountiful, were the gathering places. They came with their flocks and herds, their grain and provisions, leaving nothing behind that would help to sustain the robber bands while they continued their unhallowed war.

Now when the people had all gathered as Lachoneus had directed them, he caused that they should fortify the land, making it impregnable to their enemies, and at the same time he called upon them to "repent of all your iniquities and cry unto the Lord." Unless you do this in full measure, he commented, "ye will in nowise be delivered out of the hands of those Gadianton Robbers." The people believed his warnings insomuch that they did cast aside their evil ways, "and they did exert themselves in their might to do according to the words of Lachoneus."

As a further defense, and as a greater means to protect their women and children and their store of grain and other commodities, including their horses, cattle and flocks of domestic animals, Lachoneus appointed captains with full military authority to command the new army he had formed of all the able-bodied men, both Nephite and Lamanite, to guard them from the robbers both day and night.

Among them was one Gidgiddoni, who was a stalwart in not only obeying the word of God, but by example he taught righteousness. It was the custom, Mormon the abridger of Nephi's record of these events, informs us, for, except in times of wickedness, the Nephites to appoint such a man as Commander-in-Chief of their armies.

The people were quick to see in Gidgiddoni a proper man to command, and knowing this, implored him to pray unto the Lord for success in the event they should go up in the mountains and into the wilderness, "that we may fall upon the robbers and destroy them in their own lands."

"But Gidgiddoni saith unto them: The Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands; therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands, and we will gather all our armies together, and we will not go against them, but we will wait till they shall come against us; therefore as the Lord liveth, if we do this He will deliver them into our hands."

At the end of almost one more year, Lachoneus' proclamation had reached the most distant parts of the Nephite domain. The people obeyed his word, and with their entire substance migrated to the place previously chosen for gathering. The Nephites came by the thousands and tens of thousands. In their wake they left nothing the robbers might subsist upon.

As we have already noted, the land appointed as a gathering place was the Land of Zarahemla and the Land Bountiful which lay south of the Land Desolation. Into this inviting land, Lachoneus caused the people to congregate because a curse had been placed upon the land northward, which was the Land Desolation. A great many thousands of Nephites gathered there.

The Sacred Record says that "they did fortify themselves against their enemies; and they did dwell in one land, and in one body, and they did fear the words of Lachoneus, insomuch that they did repent of all their sins; and they did put up their prayers unto the Lord their God, that He would deliver them in the time that their enemies should come down against them to battle."

Under Gidgiddoni's instructions his soldiers made themselves strong armor and shields to protect their bodies, as well as all kinds of weapons, so that they might be fully prepared for the day of battle. Lachoneus, in the meantime, continued to preach to them in great power, so much so, that they feared his denunciations of their wickedness. They therefore forsook all their sins and turned to the Lord in great humility and devotion.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7