Alma Chapter 55 Critique
Setting: Moroni refuses to
exchange prisoners—The Lamanite guards are enticed to become drunk, and
the Nephite prisoners are freed—The city of Gid is taken without
bloodshed. About 63–62 B.C.
Verses 1-3: Now it came to pass
that when Moroni had received this epistle he was more angry, because
he knew that Ammoron had a perfect knowledge of his fraud; yea, he knew
that Ammoron knew that it was not a just cause that had caused him to
wage a war against the people of Nephi. And he said: Behold, I will not
exchange prisoners with Ammoron save he will withdraw his purpose, as I
have stated in my epistle; for I will not grant unto him that he shall
have any more power than what he hath got. Behold, I know the place
where the Lamanites do guard my people whom they have taken prisoners;
and as Ammoron would not grant unto me mine epistle, behold, I will
give unto him according to my words; yea, I will seek death among them
until they shall sue for peace.
Note: Pre-Columbian South American Indians did not have a writing system.
Aztec codices (singular codex) are books written by pre-Columbian and
colonial-era Aztecs. These codices provide some of the best primary
sources for Aztec culture. The pre-Columbian codices differ from
European codices in that they are largely pictorial; they were not
meant to symbolize spoken or written narratives. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 4-7: And now it came to
pass that when Moroni had said these words, he caused that a search
should be made among his men, that perhaps he might find a man who was
a descendant of Laman among them. And it came to pass that they found
one, whose name was Laman; and he was one of the servants of the king
who was murdered by Amalickiah. Now Moroni caused that Laman and a
small number of his men should go forth unto the guards who were over
the Nephites. Now the Nephites were guarded in the city of Gid;
therefore Moroni appointed Laman and caused that a small number of men
should go with him.
Note: The city of Gid never existed.
Guyana has one of the largest unspoiled rainforests in South America,
some parts of which are almost inaccessible by humans. The rich natural
history of Guyana was described by early explorers Sir Walter Raleigh
and Charles Waterton and later by naturalists Sir David Attenborough
and Gerald Durrell. In 2008, the BBC ran a three-part programme called
Lost Land of the Jaguar which highlighted the huge diversity of
wildlife, including undiscovered species and rare species such as the
giant otter and harpy eagle. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 8-15: And when it was
evening Laman went to the guards who were over the Nephites, and
behold, they saw him coming and they hailed him; but he saith unto
them: Fear not; behold, I am a Lamanite. Behold, we have escaped from
the Nephites, and they sleep; and behold we have taken of their wine
and brought with us. Now when the Lamanites heard these words they
received him with joy; and they said unto him: Give us of your wine,
that we may drink; we are glad that ye have thus taken wine with you
for we are weary. But Laman said unto them: Let us keep of our wine
till we go against the Nephites to battle. But this saying only made
them more desirous to drink of the wine; For, said they: We are weary,
therefore let us take of the wine, and by and by we shall receive wine
for our rations, which will strengthen us to go against the Nephites.
And Laman said unto them: You may do according to your desires. And it
came to pass that they did take of the wine freely; and it was pleasant
to their taste, therefore they took of it more freely; and it was
strong, having been prepared in its strength. And it came to pass they
did drink and were merry, and by and by they were all drunken. And now
when Laman and his men saw that they were all drunken, and were in a
deep sleep, they returned to Moroni and told him all the things that
Note: Wine from grapes did not exist in Pre-Columbia America.
Grapes followed European colonies around the world, coming to North
America around the 17th century, and to Africa, South America and
Australia. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 16-22: And now this was
according to the design of Moroni. And Moroni had prepared his men with
weapons of war; and he went to the city Gid, while the Lamanites were
in a deep sleep and drunken, and cast in weapons of war unto the
prisoners, insomuch that they were all armed; Yea, even to their women,
and all those of their children, as many as were able to use a weapon
of war, when Moroni had armed all those prisoners; and all those things
were done in a profound silence. But had they awakened the Lamanites,
behold they were drunken and the Nephites could have slain them. But
behold, this was not the desire of Moroni; he did not delight in murder
or bloodshed, but he delighted in the saving of his people from
destruction; and for this cause he might not bring upon him injustice,
he would not fall upon the Lamanites and destroy them in their
drunkenness. But he had obtained his desires; for he had armed those
prisoners of the Nephites who were within the wall of the city, and had
given them power to gain possession of those parts which were within
the walls. And then he caused the men who were with him to withdraw a
pace from them, and surround the armies of the Lamanites. Now behold
this was done in the night-time, so that when the Lamanites awoke in
the morning they beheld that they were surrounded by the Nephites
without, and that their prisoners were armed within.
Note: Walled cities and swords did not exist in the South American tropics.
Spears were used by the Native Americans to thrust and strike their
enemies or the animals they were hunting. The spears were made of a
short blade or tip, made from stone, and attached to the end of long
wooden handle or shaft. Some variations did not even have a stone tip.
Instead the shaft was simply sharpened at one end. Spears could also be
thrown as ranged weapons. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 23-27: And thus they saw
that the Nephites had power over them; and in these circumstances they
found that it was not expedient that they should fight with the
Nephites; therefore their chief captains demanded their weapons of war,
and they brought them forth and cast them at the feet of the Nephites,
pleading for mercy. Now behold, this was the desire of Moroni. He took
them prisoners of war, and took possession of the city, and caused that
all the prisoners should be liberated, who were Nephites; and they did
join the army of Moroni, and were a great strength to his army. And it
came to pass that he did cause the Lamanites, whom he had taken
prisoners, that they should commence a labor in strengthening the
fortifications round about the city Gid. And it came to pass that when
he had fortified the city Gid, according to his desires, he caused that
his prisoners should be taken to the city Bountiful; and he also
guarded that city with an exceedingly strong force. And it came to pass
that they did, notwithstanding all the intrigues of the Lamanites, keep
and protect all the prisoners whom they had taken, and also maintain
all the ground and the advantage which they had retaken.
Note: Solomon Spalding did not understand Pre-Columbian use of prisoners.
Before the arrival of Europeans, the boundaries between these groups
and their subgroups were marked by wars that arose from differences in
culture, language and moral beliefs. These wars also involved
large-scale military actions on land and water, with cannibalistic
rituals on POWs. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 28-32: And it came to
pass that the Nephites began again to be victorious, and to reclaim
their rights and their privileges. Many times did the Lamanites attempt
to encircle them about by night, but in these attempts they did lose
many prisoners. And many times did they attempt to administer of their
wine to the Nephites, that they might destroy them with poison or with
drunkenness. But behold, the Nephites were not slow to remember the
Lord their God in this their time of affliction. They could not be
taken in their snares; yea, they would not partake of their wine, save
they had first given to some of the Lamanite prisoners. And they were
thus cautious that no poison should be administered among them; for if
their wine would poison a Lamanite it would also poison a Nephite; and
thus they did try all their liquors.
Note: Wine was unknown in Pre-Columbian America.
The natives of South America produced a beer-like beverage from cassava
or maize, which had to be chewed before fermentation in order to turn
the starch into sugar. (Beverages of this kind are known today as cauim
or chicha.) This chewing technique was also used in ancient Japan to
make sake from rice and other starchy crops. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 33-35: And now it came
to pass that it was expedient for Moroni to make preparations to attack
the city Morianton; for behold, the Lamanites had, by their labors,
fortified the city Morianton until it had become an exceeding
stronghold. And they were continually bringing new forces into that
city, and also new supplies of provisions. And thus ended the twenty
and ninth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
Note: Pre-Columbian Indians were semi-nomadic and not city builders along the Atlantic Ocean.
The Andes and the mountain ranges of northern South America created a
rather sharp cultural boundary between the settled agrarian
civilizations of the west coast and the semi-nomadic tribes of the
east, who never developed written records or permanent monumental
architecture. For this reason, very little is known about the history
of Brazil before 1500. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
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