Limhi was the last of the Nephite kings in the colony established by Zeniff among the Lamanites in the land of Nephi beginning around 200 BC. The aging Zeniff had conferred the kingdom upon his son, Noah, around 160 BC. However, Noah’s wickedness had propelled the people into a state of bondage and oppression at the hands of their Lamanite hosts. With the death of Noah, the people conferred the kingdom upon his son, Limhi. Limhi’s leadership included a three-fold agenda: (1) to remind the people continually that wickedness leads to enslavement, both physical and spiritual—“and behold, it is because of our iniquities and abominations that he [the Lord] has brought us into bondage” (Mosiah 7:20); (2) to preserve peace, order, and a prevailing attitude of trust in God and hope for deliverance—“Therefore, lift up your heads, and rejoice, and put your trust in God, in that God who was the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob; and also, that God who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt” (Mosiah 7:19); and (3) to seek an effective means to escape from the Lamanites and return to their homeland of Zarahemla.
By serving as a spiritual guide for his people, Limhi was at last able to bring about a positive change among them. “And they did humble themselves even in the depths of humility; and they did cry mightily to God; yea, even all the day long did they cry unto their God that he would deliver them out of their afflictions” (Mosiah 21:14). Signifying their commitment to righteousness, Limhi and many of his people entered into a covenant with God “to serve him and keep his commandments”. The Lord heard their pleas. Eventually, using the advice of Gideon.
History: Limhi had been appointed king by the voice of the people around 145 BC, but his ascension to power began around 150 BC. It was then that the Lord sent the prophet Abinadi to the court of King Noah to preach repentance and warn the people against their inevitable destruction if they continued in their wickedness. Abinadi was forced to flee for his life, returning in disguise two years later to deliver the Lord’s ultimate message of judgment and certain destruction. When Abinadi was martyred, chaos ensued. The Lamanites invaded the colony. Noah fled and was later executed by his people in fulfillment of Abinadi’s prophecy. Limhi came to power shortly thereafter and ruled a number of years in an atmosphere of constant fear of Lamanite attack or retribution—fueled at first chiefly by Lamanite anger over the abduction of a group of their maidens by the wayward priests of King Noah —who could interpret the twenty-four plates of gold discovered and retrieved by Limhi’s search party while on a quest to find Zarahemla. Limhi himself, being a Nephite wanderer separated from the place of his origins at Zarahemla, felt a kinship.
O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom, neither do they desire that she should rule over them!
Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest.
Like the Jaredites, the people of the Nephite colonies, through their pride and lack of faith, had been scattered and driven from time to time by their captors, coming face to face finally with the prospect of utter destruction. But unlike the Jaredites, the people of Limhi had turned themselves about spiritually and were prepared for a mass exodus. “And after being many days in the wilderness they arrived in the land of Zarahemla, and joined Mosiah’s people, and became his subjects. And it came to pass that Mosiah received them with joy; and he also received their records, and also the records which had been found by the people of Limhi”.
In this manner, invaluable treasures of truth were preserved for this day by the hand of the Lord—the record of the Jaredites, the testimony of Abinadi, the account of the founding of the Church by Alma, and evidence (the chronicle of Limhi and his people) that the Lord does indeed liberate those who follow His word with honor and faith.