“To Plunder and to Obtain Food”

Brant Gardner

The Gadiantons count on obtaining food by “plunder,” or taking goods by force. It accurately describes the method the Gadianton army would have used to supply itself among the deserted villages and towns, parallel to the later Aztec practice. While the Gadiantons would certainly have known of the large population movements, the extent of the removal was either not anticipated or not considered to create an insurmountable difficulty.

This verse again mentions “horses.” In this particular case, the context even more directly suggests food that was denied to the Gadiantons (i.e., “cattle and flocks”). “Horses” appears in association with these two food animals and right after “provisions.” This association strongly suggests that whatever a “horse” was, it was considered food, even though it also appears with the equally enigmatic “chariot.” While these associations do not clarify what word may have been on the plates, it does suggest that “horse” in our English Book of Mormon comes from Joseph Smith’s translation yet not from Joseph’s time period, since it would be highly unusual for an 1820s American to classify a horse as food.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5