The people of Jacob were a group of Nephite dissenters who, around 29-30 B.C., followed an apostate Nephite named Jacob who is distinguished in the text as Jacob4. These followers engaged in secretive and wicked practices that led them to form what is described as a “secret combination,” an organized group defined by their oaths and covenants to protect each other’s wrongful deeds, which included robbery, murder, and the destruction of the peace and governance established among the Nephites. This group, defying the justice and societal norms of their time, appointed Jacob4 as their king, signaling a complete departure from their righteous beginnings and further entrenching themselves in iniquity (3 Nephi 7:9-14).
Their wickedness escalated to such a degree that it was deemed greater than any other on the Earth, as they committed secret murders and sought to subvert and destroy the peace of the land. Their actions incurred divine justice at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. This is evidenced by a devastating judgment articulated by the voice of the Lord following the great destruction that came upon the land at the time of Christ’s death. The great city Jacobugath, where the people of King Jacob resided, was set aflame as an act of God’s retribution for their sins. The Lord specifically cited their secret combinations and murders as the primary causes for this fierce judgment, aiming to end their wicked practices and the resulting outcry of innocent blood (3 Nephi 9:9). Their destruction served as a stark admonition against the consequences of secret covenants and the widespread moral decay within a society.