The Lamanites Had Hewn Down All 230000 of My People

Alan C. Miner

According to John Sorenson, twenty-three 10,000-man armies made up the Nephite force. All were wiped out on that one grim day. Could Mesoamerica have been the scene for a war on the impressive scale the Book of Mormon relates? The central Mexican chronicler, Ixtlilxochitl, reported of the Tultecas around A.D. 1060 that in a three-year war, 5,600,000 were slain on both sides. Even allowing him considerable room for exaggeration, we are left with little doubt that the battle at Cumorah was within the realm of the plausible in Mesoamerican terms. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 350]

“Gone Through and Hewn Down All My People”

After the final battle, Mormon notes:

[the Lamanites] had gone through and hewn down all my peopple save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah:

the ten thousand . . . who were hewn down, being led in the front of me;

the ten thousand . . . led by my son Moroni;

the ten thousand of Gidgidonnah;

Lamah . . . with his ten thousand;

Gilgal . . . with his ten thousand;

Limhah . . . with his ten thousand;

Joneam . . . with his ten thousand;

Camenihah . . .

Moronihah . . .

Antionum . . .

Shiblom . . .

Shem . . .

Josh . . . with their ten thousand;

ten more . . . with their ten thousand each (Mormon 6:11-15)

According to Joseph Allen, the battle at Cumorah was devastating to the Nephite nation, as 230,000 Nephite soldiers were killed. Why do we not see that statistical number showing up in the records of the Maya chronology? At least three reasons stand out. First, the archaeological data can only show that which transpired in the area researched. Maya territory was probably the same area that is called the land southward in the Book of Mormon. Although that area does indeed show a decline in population in some sites, as discussed earlier. The last battle was fought on the northern side of the narrow neck of land. Second, the distance in time from 385 AD, the last Nephite battle, is far removed from our day, or even the 16th Century when the Spanish arrived. In Maya history, many wars had transpired over those 1,200 years, many of which appear to be just as devastating in numbers as was the last Nephite-Lamanite war in the Book of Mormon. Finally, we should mention that the last chapter has not been written about the Maya. Further evidence may be forthcoming. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 83]

“All My People Save It Were”

In Mormon 6:11 we find that "they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow . . . [the destruction of] . . . all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me . . .

One might ask, Are the numbers which appear in the Book of Mormon in any way symbolic? David Ridges notes that understanding symbolism can help one understand the scriptures and gives the following list as an aid to the reader:

Number Symbolism

1 unity; God

3 God; Godhead; A word repeated 3 times means superlative, "the most," "the best"

(see Isaiah 6:3)

4 man; earth

7 perfection; perfect; When man lets God help, it leads to perfection.

man (4) + God (3) = perfection (7)

10 numerical perfection; well-organized (see Rev. 13:1--Satan is well organized)

12 divine government; God's organization (see JST Rev. 5:6)

40 days literal; sometimes means "a long time" (as in 1 Samuel 17:16)

forever a specific period or age; not endless (see BYU Studies Newsletter, Vol. 8, No. 3, May 1994)

[David J. Ridges, The Book of Revelation Made Easier, preface]

According to John Welch, certain numbers were clearly meaningful in antiquity: seven was the number of spiritual perfection (as in the seven seals in the book of Revelation); twelve was a governmental number (as with the twelve tribes, twelve apostles). The number twenty-four, being a multiple of twelve, was associated with heavenly government, especially priestly judgment and temple service.. . . In the New Testament apocalyptic book of Revelation, not only do twenty-four elders judge the world but these twenty-four elders are mentioned twelve times in the book.

Turning to other places in the Book of Mormon, we see that twenty-four has remarkably similar significance :

1. Apparently there were twenty-four judges on King Noah's court, since Noah and his priests kidnapped twenty-four Lamanite daughters (see Mosiah 20:5).

2. The twenty-four plates of Ether were seen as a record of the "judgment of God" upon those people (Alma 37:30).

3. Like the twelve apostles of the Old World, the twelve Nephite disciples (for a total of twenty-four) will act as judges in the final judgment of the world (see 3 Nephi 27:27).

4. There were "twenty and four" survivors of the final destruction of the Nephites who witnessed the judgment of God upon this people (see Mormon 6:11,15,22). There were other survivors (see Mormon 6:15), but the twenty-four apparently stood as a body of special witnesses. This number may have been coincidental, but nevertheless it was significant enough to be specifically mentioned.

(Note* The above are only 4 of 8 listed by Welch.)

[John W. Welch, "Number 24," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 272-273]

Mormon 6:8 [The Lamanites] came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror ([Illustration]): The Nephite's Last Battle [Gary E. Smith, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 3]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary