Critique of Alma Chapter 44


Setting: Moroni completely defeats the Lamanites in 73 BCE South America.


Verses 1-2: AND it came to pass that they did stop and withdrew a pace from them. And Moroni said unto Zerahemnah: Behold, Zerahemnah, that we do not desire to be men of blood. Ye know that ye are in our hands, yet we do not desire to slay you. Behold, we have not come out to battle against you that we might shed your blood for power; neither do we desire to bring any one to the yoke of bondage. But this is the very cause for which ye have come against us; yea, and ye are angry with us because of our religion.

Note: Solomon Spalding did not understand the history of American Indians.

The Aztec fought not only to enlarge their territory but also to take captives for sacrifice to the gods. Human sacrifice was a major part of the Aztec religion. Only the Aztec and the Inca had full-time armies. In other tribes, warriors went back to hunting or farming after their battles. Some tribes, particularly the Northwest tribes and the Iroquois, made slaves of their captives. The Witoto and Tupinamba tribes of the Tropical Forest tortured war captives and then ate them. But the victims were not eaten as a source of food. The Indians believed the dead person's strength and bravery would be passed on to the person who ate the flesh. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verse 3: But now, ye behold that the Lord is with us; and ye behold that he has delivered you into our hands. And now I would that ye should understand that this is done unto us because of our religion and our faith in Christ. And now ye see that ye cannot destroy this our faith.

Note: The BOM author mixes New Testament theology into a Old Testament setting.

Webster's Dictionary: Christ from the Middle English Crist, from the Greek Christos.


Verse 4: Now ye see that this is the true faith of God; yea, ye see that God will support, and keep, and preserve us, so long as we are faithful unto him, and unto our faith, and our religion; and never will the Lord suffer that we shall be destroyed except we should fall into transgression and deny our faith.

Note: Sidney Rigdon did not know that Indians were pagan polytheists.

The peoples of Middle America and the Andes had whole families of gods. The Aztec, for example, worshiped hundreds of gods. The Inca believed that their ruler was also a god-a god-king-and they worshiped him along with their other gods. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verse 5: And now, Zerahemnah, I command you, in the name of that all-powerful God, who has strengthened our arms that we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country; yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness; and by all that is most dear unto us--

Note: Sidney Rigdon did not know that Indians were pagan polytheists.

The most elaborate ceremonies were those of the Aztec and Maya in Middle America and the Inca in the Andes Mountains. Priests directed these great public celebrations. Some lasted for several days. Major Aztec ceremonies included human sacrifices to the gods. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 6-7: Yea, and this is not all; I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us. And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage.

Note: Swords and cimeters were not American Indian weapons of war.

The bow and arrow was probably the most common Indian weapon throughout North and South America. Some South American tribes put poison on their arrowheads. Many Indians fought with spears and war clubs. The Indians of eastern North America developed a special type of club known as the tomahawk. A weapon of the Aztec consisted of pieces of obsidian (volcanic glass) stuck into a wooden club. South American Indians used blowguns and slings. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verse 8: And now it came to pass that when Zerahemnah had heard these sayings he came forth and delivered up his sword and his cimeter, and his bow into the hands of Moroni, and said unto him: Behold, here are our weapons of war; we will deliver them up unto you, but we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break, and also our children; but take our weapons of war, and suffer that we may depart into the wilderness; otherwise we will retain our swords, and we will perish or conquer.

Note: Cimeter or scimitar was a Middle Eastern weapon or war.

Webster's Dictionary: Scimitar: sword used by Turks, Persians, Arabs, etc.


Verse 9: Behold, we are not of your faith; we do not believe that it is God that has delivered us into your hands; but we believe that it is your cunning that has preserved you from our swords. Behold, it is your breastplates and your shields that have preserved you.

Note: Solomon Spalding did not know the culture of South American Indians.

The Tropical Forest people wore only breechcloths and short, apronlike skirts. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 10-11: And now when Zerahemnah had made an end of speaking these words, Moroni returned the sword and the weapons of war, which he had received, unto Zerahemnah, saying: Behold, we will end the conflict. Now I cannot recall the words which I have spoken, therefore as the Lord liveth, ye shall not depart except ye depart with an oath that ye will not return again against us to war. Now as ye are in our hands we will spill your blood upon the ground, or ye shall submit to the conditions which I have proposed.

Note: Solomon Spalding did not know the culture of South American Indians.

Hunters in the jungles used spears, bows and arrows, and blowguns. They fished with nets, hooks, and drugs that stunned fish. Warfare occurred frequently between tribes. The Witoto and Tupinamba were cannibals, and the Jivaro shrunk the heads of captives as trophies. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verse 12: And now when Moroni had said these words, Zerahemnah retained his sword, and he was angry with Moroni, and he rushed forward that he might slay Moroni; but as he raised his sword, behold, one of Moroni's soldiers smote it even to the earth, and it broke by the hilt; and he also smote Zerahemnah that he took off his scalp and it fell to the earth. And Zerahemnah withdrew from before them into the midst of his soldiers.

Note: Swords were not important weapons until the Middle Ages in Europe and Japan.

During the Middle Ages, sword makers in Europe and Japan perfected the long sword. Long swords ranged from 3 to 6 feet (0.9 to 1.8 meters) in length, and could be swung with either one or two hands. They were extremely deadly, and they were among the most important weapons in warfare of the time. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 13-16: And it came to pass that the soldier who stood by, who smote off the scalp of Zerahemnah, took up the scalp from off the ground by the hair, and laid it upon the point of his sword, and stretched it forth unto them, saying unto them with a loud voice: Even as this scalp has fallen to the earth, which is the scalp of your chief, so shall ye fall to the earth except ye will deliver up your weapons of war and depart with a covenant of peace. Now there were many, when they heard these words and saw the scalp which was upon the sword, that were struck with fear; and many came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and entered into a covenant of peace. And as many as entered into a covenant they suffered to depart into the wilderness. Now it came to pass that Zerahemnah was exceedingly wroth, and he did stir up the remainder of his soldiers to anger, to contend more powerfully against the Nephites.

Note: When someone was scalped they were dead.

The scalp of an enemy was a war trophy in parts of North America. Some Europeans encouraged scalp hunting in North America by paying Indians who were friendly to the newcomers for the scalps of enemies. The Caribbean and Tropical Forest Indians fought for war honors and trophies that included skulls and shrunken heads as well as scalps. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 17-18: And now Moroni was angry, because of the stubbornness of the Lamanites; therefore he commanded his people that they should fall upon them and slay them. And it came to pass that they began to slay them; yea, and the Lamanites did contend with their swords and their might. But behold, their naked skins and their bare heads were exposed to the sharp swords of the Nephites; yea, behold they were pierced and smitten, yea, and did fall exceedingly fast before the swords of the Nephites; and they began to be swept down, even as the soldier of Moroni had prophesied.

Note: Indian prophets didn't start prophesying until after the arrival of Europeans.

A new type of religious leader appeared among the Indians after the Europeans arrived. Most of the new leaders urged their followers to give up European goods-especially liquor-and return to the old ways of the Indians. Because these leaders predicted future events, the Europeans called them prophets. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 19-20: Now Zerahemnah, when he saw that they were all about to be destroyed, cried mightily unto Moroni, promising that he would covenant and also his people with them, if they would spare the remainder of their lives, that they never would come to war again against them. And it came to pass that Moroni caused that the work of death should cease again among the people. And he took the weapons of war from the Lamanites; and after they had entered into a covenant with him of peace they were suffered to depart into the wilderness.

Note: South American Indians generally did not make peace treaties.

The Witoto and Tupinamba tribes of the Tropical Forest tortured war captives and then ate them. But the victims were not eaten as a source of food. The Indians believed the dead person's strength and bravery would be passed on to the person who ate the flesh. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 21-22: Now the number of their dead was not numbered because of the greatness of the number; yea, the number of their dead was exceedingly great, both on the Nephites and on the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did cast their dead into the waters of Sidon, and they have gone forth and are buried in the depths of the sea.

Note: Solomon Spalding did not know South American geography.

The Orinoco River, which begins in the Guiana Highlands, flows from west to east along the southern border of the Llanos. The river and its tributaries drain most of Venezuela. The Orinoco extends 1,284 miles and is the longest river in the country. World Book Encyclopedia.


Verses 23-24: And the armies of the Nephites, or of Moroni, returned and came to their houses and their lands. And thus ended the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi. And thus ended the record of Alma, which was written upon the plates of Nephi.

Note: No Indian writing system existed in South America.

The most highly developed Indian writing systems included those of the Maya, the Aztec, and some of their neighbors in Middle America. Maya writing consisted of symbols called glyphs, which were carved in stone. The Maya also wrote on bark paper and deer hide. Scholars have translated most of the known glyphs. World Book Encyclopedia.