Nehor’s and Amlici’s origin and plan


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:

Nehor’s doctrine

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.

In conclusion

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.

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist

Advertisements

2 Comments

  1. Here is an article written and posted online some years ago that supports the general theory of this post:

    LDS Caucus: Alma’s Enemies: The Case of the Lamanites, Amlicites, and Mysterious Amalekites by J. Christopher Conkling

    Here is an excerpt:

    Textual Evidence

    This new description of the Amlicites and Amalekites as identical groups gained further credibility when Royal Skousen, editor of the long-term Book of Mormon critical text project, presented early textual support for the same conclusion. In 2002 he explained that the apostate groups in the book of Alma currently spelled Amlicites and Amalekites are most likely the same group of dissenters, founded by Amlici, and that the names should be spelled identically.[8] Skousen noticed that these types of errors in the original and printer’s manuscripts were due to the inconsistencies of Oliver Cowdery’s spelling style.

    Skousen’s careful analysis of the original, dictated manuscript shows how such errors might have crept in. Often when a name was first introduced, Joseph Smith would apparently pause to spell it out. Thus we find words crossed out in the original manuscript with corrected spellings above. Joseph apparently did not respell the name when spoken later, for we find Cowdery spelling certain names in many different ways, despite their original correction. After Cowdery prepared the manuscript, the printer was told to refer to the original spelling of names for all subsequent instances of names. In the case of Amlicites/Amalekites, there was no mention of either group by name between Alma 3:20 and 21:2. Thus when the printer came across the name again in what is now Alma 21:2, he likely supposed this was a new group and, rather than referring back to the spelling in what is now Alma 3:20, followed the spelling Amalekite rather than Amlicite. The Amalekite spelling may have seemed logical because there were biblical Amalekites (see Numbers 13:29) and there were earlier men in the Book of Mormon named Amaleki (see Omni 1:12; Mosiah 7:6).[9]

    Skousen notes that the handwritten spelling in Alma 24:1 in the original manuscript supports the view of a confused spelling of the names. It does not show Amalekites as in the current edition but Amelicites, which is not quite Amlicites but closer than Amalekites. The spelling of the original manuscript in Alma 24:28[10] is Amel(e)cits, and only part of the word—Ameli[…]—is visible in Alma 27:2. The spelling of the two occurrences in Alma 43:6 is Amaleckites and Amelekites—different spellings in the same verse. In verses 43:13 and 43:20 we read in partially faded letters [Am]a[l]icites and meickites. In Alma 43:44 the spelling is Amal[ ]kites.[11] It is clear that the spelling was rather loose and that many of the common letters, especially the c and the k, were interchanged freely. The fact that the words currently spelled Amalekites were often spelled with a c alone or with a ck adds additional support to the internal evidence previously noted. Using the earliest records we have (Cowdery’s handwritten manuscripts), there is little support that the Amlicites and Amalekites were two separate groups.

    Now for a couple of additional thoughts:

    Persecution as part of the strategy

    But it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church of God began to persecute those that did belong to the church of God, and had taken upon them the name of Christ.

    Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price.

    Now there was a strict law among the people of the church, that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves.

    Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.

    Now this was in the second year of the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.

    For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them. (Alma 1:19-24)

    Amlici and his secret dissenters the Amlicites (who had yet to reveal their true identity as followers of Amlici) would benefit by persecuting the church of God because if they could get any of the church members to become proud and return reviling for reviling and contention for contention, the church would apply the letter of the law to these people and they would be kicked out, if they didn’t repent, or the sinning members themselves would become dissenters. This would only add to the Amlicite numbers, for the offended parties, who refused to repent, would find supporters among the enemies of the church. So, persecution might not have been just a I-hate-the-church kind of thing, but an active strategy of the conspirators to inflate the numbers of the conspiracy, by drawing out church members and, at the very least, reducing the numbers of the church. The smaller the number of the church, the more likely the coming planned conflict with them and the rest of the Nephites who were not dissenters would be successful. This shows, then, that the wicked in the Book of Mormon tended not to be just individually wicked, but almost always led toward conspiratorial wickedness and secret combinations. In other words, a Nephite being bad inevitably led to that Nephite being baaaad!

    “Lift up your heads and rejoice in your wickedness!”

    Many of the Nephite anti-Christ preachers had this as their main theme, whether they believed in God (Nehor, Amlici, priests of Noah, etc.) or not (Korihor). For example:

    Korihor

    And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.

    Nehor

    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.

    Noah’s priests

    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

    In our day we can see this same strategy as those who put forth doctrines and practices which break the commandments of God often do so without any shame, but actually rejoice in that people are now able to do these things without any stigma whatsoever. Of course, it will get worse, but such attitudes of rejoicing in wickedness always led to destruction of any people that allowed these things to go unchecked.

  2. Additional and speculative thoughts on this post

    Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.

    They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.

    And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.

    And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God.

    And now in the reign of Mosiah they were not half so numerous as the people of God; but because of the dissensions among the brethren they became more numerous.

    For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church. (Mosiah 26:1-6)

    I suspect that Amlici started out as part of this group of unbelievers. Thus, he was a contemporary of Alma and the sons of Mosiah, who also were part of this same group of unbelievers.

    The strategy of these unbelievers was to use flattery to get the people of God to sin, and when that didn’t work, they just persecuted them, again with the goal of getting them to sin, but king Mosiah put a stop to the persecution:

    And now all these things did Alma and his fellow laborers do who were over the church, walking in all diligence, teaching the word of God in all things, suffering all manner of afflictions, being persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God. (Mosiah 25:38)

    And now it came to pass that the persecutions which were inflicted on the church by the unbelievers became so great that the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before their king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests.

    And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God. (Mosiah 27:1-2)

    These people weren’t content to live and let live, but wanted to destroy the church of God altogether. It may be that this was the point at which Amlici and his followers went south into Lamanite lands, (i.e., after Mosiah sent out his proclamation.) They couldn’t persecute the saints any longer and flattery didn’t work as well as before, because of Alma’s new revelation (recorded in Mosiah 26), so as they were already a separate people, they made the rift even wider by entering into Lamanite lands. But Alma and the sons of Mosiah stayed in Nephite lands and actively continued to try to destroy the church of God, by continuing to use flattery:

    Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.

    And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them.

    And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king—

    The point is, then, that Alma, Amlici and the sons of Mosiah started out as part of the same group of wicked people, so that when Amlici shows up again later in Nephite lands, and opposes Alma on the field of battle, these were two men who may have known each other at an earlier time and may have called each other brothers in wickedness. But Alma had repented by that time, whereas Amlici had not.

    Also, the sons of Mosiah may also have known Amlici, as well as many of the followers of Amlici (the Amlicites), so that when they went into Lamanite lands to preach, they had a two-fold goal: convert the Lamanites and also these men who, at one time, they had called their brethren in wickedness. In other words, Aaron and rest that went into Amlicite synagogues to preach, weren’t preaching to people they did not know, but may have been preaching to people they knew well and were friends with at one time.

    So, Alma, Amlici, the sons of Mosiah and the Amlicites may have all been well-known and beloved friends in wickedness at one time, but the gospel created a rift between them, and the now penitent men were no longer aligned with their former beliefs.

    Crossing the border as a reaction to the sons of Mosiah’s preaching

    The sons of Mosiah may have inadvertently caused a reaction in the Amlicites who were found among the Lamanites. They (the Amlicites) had gone to Lamanite lands to get away from the Nephites, and now their former friends were coming, not to join them, but to convert both them and the Lamanites. This may have been seen by the Amlicites as a sort of invasion, and so, since the sons of Mosiah wouldn’t leave them alone, they would do the same to the Nephites, by crossing the border yet again and seeking to convert the Nephites to the doctrine espoused by Amlici. The whole thing appears, to my mind, as a strategy/counter-strategy set of maneuvers, the unbelievers literally seeing the church of God and the rest of the Nephites as their mortal enemies, to be destroyed at all cost, while the church of God looked upon these people as their brethren. This to me makes sense, from a gospel point of view, since the spirit of the devil, when it comes upon a person, blinds the minds and hardens the hearts of people, so that all brotherly love is lost, and only hatred and desire for conflict and war remains. Those with the Holy Spirit still see their enemies as brothers and want to end the war, but cannot, because of this infernal spirit of the devil which will not accept peace. THe nly way to mend the rift, then, is you have got to get the sprit of the devil out, hence the preaching. Nephi and his relationship with Laman and Lemuel amply demonstrates this principle, for it is apparent from the text that Nephi really did love his brothers, but they hated him, nonetheless.

    Crossing the border happened all the time

    Nephite missionaries went to the Lamanite lands from the days of Jacob onward.

    And it came to pass that many means were devised to reclaim and restore the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth; but it all was vain, for they delighted in wars and bloodshed, and they had an eternal hatred against us, their brethren. And they sought by the power of their arms to destroy us continually. (Jacob 7:24)

    Also, Nephite dissenters crossed into Lamanite lands from the days of Nephi onward.

    And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time. (Alma 47:35)

    When a Nephite entered Lamanite lands, they were often bound and taken before the king and offered the opportunity to live among the Lamanites and take Lamanite wives. If they did this (taking wives), then the curse would come upon their seed. Dissenters didn’t care about this and took wives, and so their seed became true Lamanites. But Nephite missionaries would not take such wives, for they were instructed by the Lord not to, that the curse would not attend their seed, that the false traditions would not attach themselves to them.

    And Ammon went to the land of Ishmael, the land being called after the sons of Ishmael, who also became Lamanites.

    And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure.

    And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael.

    And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people.

    And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.

    And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife.

    But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. (Alma 17:19-25

    So, border crossing happened from time to time, in both directions.It is not a stretch, then, to imagine that Amlice and his followers crossed back into Nephite territory. Also, if a dissenter repented of his sins, while living in Lamanite territory, surely he would cross the border back into Nephite territory. Thus, Nephite dissenters would be admitted back into Nephite territory, and more especially if they pretended to have repented of their sins, for the Nephites were happy to receive every Nephite they could get. Even if the dissenters would not repent, it was better for them to be in Nephite territory, where they could be re-converted, possibly, then to have them in Lamanite territory, where they might be tempted to stir up the Lamanites to yet another war. And as far as the Lamanites were concerned, inflating their numbers with Nephite dissenters who took Lamanite wives was good for the next war. Heck, even having Nephite missionaries in their land was good, since this would reduce the number of Nephites they would have to face in the next raid. For all these reasons, it is likely that both civilizations had an open border policy.


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Comments RSS