Hill Cumorah (Malay geography model)

Meeting place for battle, record depository; also known as Hill Ramah

Hill Cumorah (Malay geography model)

The Hill Cumorah is the site where the last battle between the Nephites and Lamanites occurred, culminating in the near annihilation of the Nephites around AD 385 (Mormon 6:2–6; 8:2). In an earlier era, the hill, then known as Ramah, was the scene of a similar catastrophic conflict that ended the Jaredite civilization, establishing the hill as a recurring site of collective memory in Book of Mormon history (Ether 15:11).

Mormon, the Nephite military commander and record keeper, chose Cumorah as the repository for the sacred records of his people. Before the final battle where he met his death, Mormon hid his source material (including the large plates of Nephi) in the hill, but gave his own record (the plates of Mormon) to his son Moroni (Mormon 6:6). Moroni completed his father’s record and added his own writings before concealing and “sealing up” the completed record, known as the gold plates, or plates of Mormon.

The Hill Cumorah has traditionally been linked with the location where Joseph Smith obtained the plates: a drumlin in Manchester, New York near where the Smiths lived in 1823. However, Joseph Smith simply referred to it as “a hill,”1 and the site was known by locals as the “Gold Bible Hill.”2 In 1835, Oliver Cowdery made the first explicit on-record association of the Manchester drumlin with the Hill Cumorah from the Book of Mormon.3 In 1844, Lucy Mack Smith retold Joseph’s story and referred to the drumlin as “Cumorah”.4 Church authorities have traditionally upheld this association. The discrepancy between what was reportedly placed in the hill (the large plates of Nephi, cf. Mormon 6:6) and what Joseph extracted (the plates of Mormon, cf. Book of Mormon Title Page) is generally solved with extra-textual presumption that Moroni chose the Hill Cumorah as the hiding place for his father’s record, but selected a slightly different location on the hill, thus explaining why Joseph did not encounter the large plates of Nephi in the stone box.5 Others have hypothesized that the Manchester drumlin and the Hill Cumorah are discrete locations.

  1. Joseph Smith-History 1:51
  2. "Mormonism." Broome County Courier, 22 December 1831.
  3. Oliver Cowdery to W. W. Phelps. Latter Day Saints’ Messenger and Advocate (Kirtland, Ohio) 1, no. 10 (July 1835): 155–59.
  4. Lucy Mack Smith, History, 1844–1845, Page [11], bk. 3, p. [11], bk. 3
  5. Joseph Smith-History 1:52

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