Friday, October 29, 2010

The Army of Alma Chapter Two

Alma 2 contains an account of a rebellion against the Nephite nation. What I found interesting was the Nephite armies limited capability in Alma 2:25-

And they are upon our brethren in that land; and they are fleeing before them with their flocks, and their wives, and their children, towards our city; and except we make haste they obtain possession of our city, and our fathers, and our wives, and our children be slain.

In later accounts we read of multiple armies stationed far from the capital city of Zarahemla. That's why I was surprised to read that one army had to fight the Amlicites North of the city and then fight the combined armies East of the city. Not only did one army have to maneuver in defense of the city. But the city itself could not field any additional forces to defend themselves.

This highlights the transformation of Nephite society between Alma 1 and Helaman 1. The former had a single army personally led by the Chief Judge, stationed in the capital, with duels between army leaders, Alma 2:29, 33. The latter army was led by a separate military figure. The Chief Judge died trying to flee the city and no duels are recorded between rival leaders.

Its important to recognize the nature of ancient historians. They were often ethno centric and more concerned with moral messages than writing objective history. This results in a narrative that makes the ethnic group appear more powerful than they really are. Or as historian William Hamblin once said, you will never find a monument built by a Pharaoh to commemorate his defeat. Hence the shallow reader and over eager critic argue that the Nephites were a nation equal in size, strength, and longevity as the Roman Empire. But as he have seen, and as I will show in the future, a careful reading of The Book of Mormon suggests otherwise. That is also one reason why I believe Elder Nelson said that The Book of Mormon is not a history book.

Thanks for reading.


Michaela Stephens said...

Good point. It also shows how much Captain Moroni had changed the management of the affairs of the land in relation to how wars were managed.

Morgan Deane said...

Thanks Michaela. I probably have enough material to write an entire paper on the changes in Nephite society with Moroni as the pivot point.