Royal Skousen postulates that the words Amlicite and Amalekite found in the Book of Mormon are speaking of the same group of people, but just spelled differently by Oliver Cowdery, because of the different way that this term can be, and was, pronounced by Joseph Smith when he dictated the text to Oliver: [AM-uh-luh-kite] and [AM-luh-kite].
If this is the truth—and it does, to my ears, sound like a reasonable assumption—then we end up with an apparent anachronism in the Book of Mormon, for Amlici is first mentioned as being among the Nephites in 87 B.C., and he was a follower of Nehor, who himself is first mentioned as being among the Nephites in 91 B.C., and who died that very same year; but later on the Book of Mormon mentions that Aaron, a Nephite missionary, started preaching the gospel in Lamanite territory in about 90 B.C., which is one year before Nehor is mentioned as preaching among the Nephites, yet the text says that Jerusalem, which was the city that Aaron started preaching in, was built by the Lamanites and Amalekites (Amlicites) and Amulonites, and that most of these Amalekites (Amlicites) and Amulonites were of the order of Nehors.
We need not assume anarchronism
Keeping in mind that the Book of Mormon is an abridgment, here is a possible backstory:
Noah and his priests were preaching, essentially, the same doctrine that Nehor was found preaching later on:
And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.
And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. (Alma 1:3-4)
The doctrine of the priests of Noah was based upon the scripture they quoted to Abinadi, which they interpreted as meaning “salvation for all”:
And it came to pass that one of them said unto him:
What meaneth the words which are written, and which have been taught by our fathers, saying:
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings; that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good; that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth;
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing; for they shall see eye to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion;
Break forth into joy; sing together ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem;
The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God? (Mosiah 12:20-24)
(See King Noah and the Redemption of Zion for more on this scripture and the priests’ false understanding of it.)
The doctrine of Nehor and that of the priests of Noah was virtually identical because Nehor’s doctrine was based upon the doctrine of the priests. It was merely a modification of the priests’ doctrine, Nehor himself being a Nephite dissenter living among the Lamanites, who ended up becoming a disciple of the priests of Noah, and later their main teacher, having altered their doctrine just a little to fit their current circumstances among the Lamanites. Here are some similarities:
Both taught vain doctrines and flattered the people.
Yea, and they also became idolatrous, because they were deceived by the vain and flattering words of the king and priests; for they did speak flattering things unto them. (Mosiah 11:7)
Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor. (Alma 1:16)
And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. (Alma 1:4)
Both taught that the pastors of the people ought to become popular and be lazy and be supported by the people.
For he put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts. (Mosiah 11:5)
Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity. (Mosiah 11:6)
And the seats which were set apart for the high priests, which were above all the other seats, he did ornament with pure gold; and he caused a breastwork to be built before them, that they might rest their bodies and their arms upon while they should speak lying and vain words to his people. (Mosiah 11:11)
And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people. (Alma 1:3)
Enforced, as opposed to non-enforced, priestcraft
The main difference between the doctrine of Nehor and the priests of Noah was in how the money was obtained. In the case of the wicked priests of Noah, they were practicing enforced priestcraft, being enforced by king Noah’s law and army, and supported by king Noah’s taxation of the people. This was, in effect, a money machine, but it was eventually broken up after king Noah was burned at the stake. Nevertheless, his priests escaped and later became Lamanites, and the Lamanite king ended up making them the teachers of his people. As teachers, they had no way to tax the Lamanites and restore the former order, (which was that priestcraft money machine.) So, Nehor, the new disciple-turned-main teacher, altered the order by making it a cash-for-preaching affair. This was, admittedly, an inferior mechanism for generating a profit, but it was the best they could do among the Lamanites.
Where the Amulonites and Amalekites (Amlicites) came from
The Amulonites were descendants and followers of Amulon, the leader of king Noah’s priests, who were now Lamanite teachers, and this is why they were found among the Lamanites. The Amalekites (Amlicites), on the other hand, were followers of Amaleki (Amlici), all of whom were Nephite dissenters living among the Lamanites, and most of whom were now followers of the new order of Nehor.
Now when Ammon and his brethren separated themselves in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, behold Aaron took his journey towards the land which was called by the Lamanites, Jerusalem, calling it after the land of their fathers’ nativity; and it was away joining the borders of Mormon.
Now the Lamanites and the Amalekites and the people of Amulon had built a great city, which was called Jerusalem.
Now the Lamanites of themselves were sufficiently hardened, but the Amalekites and the Amulonites were still harder; therefore they did cause the Lamanites that they should harden their hearts, that they should wax strong in wickedness and their abominations.
And it came to pass that Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the Amalekites. And he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of the Nehors; for many of the Amalekites and the Amulonites were after the order of the Nehors. (Alma 21:1-4)
All of these wicked men practiced, (or continued to practice, in the case of the Amulonites), priestcraft in Lamanite territory.
And Aaron answered him and said unto him:
Believest thou that there is a God?
And the king said:
I know that the Amalekites say that there is a God, and I have granted unto them that they should build sanctuaries, that they may assemble themselves together to worship him. (Alma 22:7)
Back in Nephite territory, then, in 91 B.C., when Alma says the following to Nehor about this being the first time priestcraft has been practiced among the people, he is speaking strictly about the people of the Nephites of the land of Zarahemla, for priestcraft was first initiated in all its full-blown “glory” with Noah and his priests in the land of Lehi-Nephi and the land of Shilom, and then transferred in a less efficient mode to the Lamanite-controlled lands:
But Alma said unto him:
Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction. (Alma 1:12)
Everything that Alma says here is entirely prophetic, for this was the very plan of both Nehor and Amlici, as I will show in a moment.
Nehor and Amlici among the Lamanites
Nehor and Amlici, who were Nephite dissenters living in Lamanite territory, could not turn the profit that they wanted to make, so they, as the chief dissenters among the Lamanites, thought to transfer the operation into Nephite lands. The plan was to have Nehor and Amlici, and many of the Amlicites (Amalekites) cross the border and relocate back into Zarahemla and surrounding regions. Nehor would then start preaching his doctrine, and instantly get many “converts” (the Amlicites/Amalekites who had crossed over), which would generate a great deal of interest among the people, for whatever was prospered was assumed to be the hand of the Lord bestowing His prosperity miracle. When enough real converts were gained, Nehor or Amlici would make a call to change the laws to install a king in the land. There were many reasons for this, but one of the main ones was so that they could re-establish the enforced priestcraft of king Noah’s reign, through taxation, and make a ton of money.
Fortunately, though, Nehor’s life was cut short by his meeting with Gideon and his subsequent execution in 91 B.C. But that didn’t deter Amlici and the rest of the Amlicites/Amalekites of their plan—for the Nephites were never deterred in anything they put their mind to—it merely delayed them for about 4 or 5 years. In 87 B.C., Amlici decided that it was time to call for a vote. Now, the plan was that even if the vote went sour, Amlici would call to be anointed king anyway and the fake converts (the dissenters who crossed the border) would support him, and then the real converts would also support them, so that he would have an army of Amlicites/Amalekites to oppose the Nephites by force of arms on the Zarahemla side of the border.
On the other side of the border, the Amalekites/Amlicites and other Nephite dissenters, had, according to their secret plan, already stirred up the Lamanites to yet another invasion. The one force would join the other force, at just the right time, and voila!, the Nephites would finally be defeated and the Amlicites would get their king. This is why, oh coincidence of all coincidences!, there just happened to be an army of the Lamanites armed and ready to invade when the Amlicites made their move:
And it came to pass that on the morrow they returned into the camp of the Nephites in great haste, being greatly astonished, and struck with much fear, saying:
Behold, we followed the camp of the Amlicites, and to our great astonishment, in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi, we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites; and behold, the Amlicites have joined them; 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. (Alma 2:23-25)
This was no coincidence. This was the secret plan of Nehor and Amlici and the other dissenters who had crossed the border from the Lamanite lands into the Nephite lands. The meeting of Lamanites and Amlicites was a scheduled meeting. Everything was going more or less according to plan. If it weren’t for that pesky strength of the Lord miracle that the Lord kept bestowing upon the Nephites, they would have succeeded.
There need not be any anachronism if Skousen is correct about Amlicite and Amalekite being one and the same word. Hopefully this will silence all those who constantly look for any dang thing to show that the Book of Mormon is wrong; at the very least, on this one point. But I ain’t gonna hold my breath on that.