“Omer Departed Out of the Land with His Family”

Alan C. Miner

Moroni writes that,

Omer . . . departed out of the land with his family, and traveled many days, and came over and passed by the hill of Shim, and cam over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed, and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent. (Ether 9:3)

Because of the terms and places that are mentioned here, it might be a good time to review some geographical relationships not only between the hill Shim and the hill Cumorah, but between those locations and other geographical landmarks.

1. The terms "came" and "over": What does it mean when it says that Omer "came over" by the hill Shim, and from there "came over" by to the place where the Nephites were destroyed (the hill Cumorah), and from there "came to a place called Ablom by the seashore"? If we assume that the term "came" implies the location of the writer, then Moroni might have been writing from a location near "the seashore" and not too far from "the place where the Nephites were destroyed." This leads to the next question: Does "over" imply elevation? Omer was apparently coming from the land of Moron. If the land of Moron was "up" (Ether 7:5), and if the "place where the Nephites were destroyed" was near "the seashore," then perhaps the term "over" is appropriate (although one might wonder why the term "down" is not used).

2. The last Jaredite Battles: In fleeing "southward" from the waters of Ripliancum, the armies of Shiz came to "a place which was called Ogath" (Ether 15:10) while the armies of Coriantumr pitched their tents by the hill Ramah, "and it was that same hill where my father Mormon did hide up the records unto the Lord, which were sacred." (Ether 15:11). Mormon hid the records up in the hill Cumorah (see Mormon 6:6). No mention is made of the Jaredite armies passing by the hill Shim, which Omer did in his flight. The text says that after passing by the hill of Shim, Omer "came over by the place where the Nephites were destroyed (Cumorah), and from thence eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore" (Ether 9:3). If the armies of Shiz and Coriantumr came from the north (they were fleeing "southward"), and if they were apparently near an "eastern" seashore, then Omer's path would probably have come from the west or from the south. Thus one might conclude that from the hill Ramah/Cumorah, one would travel either west or south to reach the hill Shim.

However, assuming this is true, one would still have to correlate this geography with the land of Heth because there is also no mention of the hill Shim or the hill Cumorah when Nimrah flees the land of Heth and comes over and dwells with Omer at Ablom. (Ether 9:9)

3. Other Jaredite References: In the context of the Jaredite account to this point, all flights to other lands have been of a distance such that the rebel could "draw away" people in the original land of Moron through "cunning words" (see Ether 7:4; Ether 8:2). Thus, the hill Shim and the hill Ramah/Cumorah might not be an extended distance apart.

4. Ammaron and Mormon: Ammaron directed a ten year old Mormon to a hill Shim in the land Antum where the Nephite records were deposited (Mormon 1:2-3). At age eleven, Mormon went "into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla," which implies that Mormon and Ammaron were earlier in the land northward. If, during the final Nephite battles, the Nephites were driven northward, and if it was necessary to transfer the records from the hill Shim to the hill Cumorah, then we might assume that the hill Shim was closer to the land southward than the hill Cumorah, otherwise, there would have been no need to transfer the records.

5. The Final Nephite Battles (Chronology): A total of five to six years passed from the time Mormon went to the hill Shim to retrieve the records (375 A.S.), and when Mormon wrote to the Lamanite king about the possibility of the Nephites gathering at the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:2). At the time Mormon retrieved the records from the hill Shim, the Nephite-Lamanite wars of extinction had started in Zarahemla and had been going on for 54 years. The final 26 of those years can definitely be located by the narrow pass. Once again, if the Nephites didn't move much beyond the narrow pass in 26 years, how far were they going to move in the 6 years from the hill Shim to the hill Cumorah (Ramah)? Thus, the hill Shim and the hill Cumorah were probably not that far from the narrow pass.

The last land that Mormon makes mention of in the Nephite retreat before the hill Shim is the land of Desolation (Mormon 4:2) If the hill Shim is in or near the land of Desolation; and the land of Desolation is near the land Bountiful (Alma 22:31) and also near the small neck of land (Alma 22:32) and also near the narrow pass (Mormon 3:5) and also near where the Jaredites were destroyed (Ramah-Cumorah)(Alma 22:30), then the hill Shim and the hill Cumorah were probably not far from the narrow pass or small neck of land which was between the land northward and the land southward, and which was between the land of Desolation and the land Bountiful. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

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