“Great Mourning, Howling and Weeping Among All the People”

Brant Gardner

Literature: This verse focuses away from the natural phenomena and toward their effect on the survivors. Nephi uses sound as the transitional element. Natural sounds had been thunderings and, doubtless, the crash of the explosions and falling buildings; now the people howl, weep, and groan. These sounds are terrible laments. Such sorrowings conform to grief rituals in the ancient world which typically included visible and audible manifestations. (See commentary accompanying 1 Nephi 16:33–35.) Literarily, Nephi suggests that the earth itself mourns. He may be expanding upon Zenos’s prophecy: “And all these things must surely come, saith the prophet Zenos. And the rocks of the earth must rend; and because of the groanings of the earth, many of the kings of the isles of the sea shall be wrought upon by the Spirit of God, to exclaim: The God of nature suffers” (1 Ne. 19:12).

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