You are here
Show Full Text
Escaping Lamanite Bondage
1 And now it came to pass that Ammon and king Limhi began to consult with the people how they should deliver themselves out of bondage; and even they did cause that all the people should gather themselves together; and this they did that they might have the voice of the people concerning the matter.
2 And it came to pass that they could find no way to deliver themselves out of bondage, except it were to take their women and children, and their flocks, and their herds, and their tents, and depart into the wilderness; for the Lamanites being so numerous, it was impossible for the people of Limhi to contend with them, thinking to deliver themselves out of bondage by the sword.
3 Now it came to pass that Gideon went forth and stood before the king, and said unto him: Now O king, thou hast hitherto hearkened unto my words many times when we have been contending with our brethren, the Lamanites.
As the story turns to the way that the people of Limhi are saved from their dire circumstances, there is a suggestion that they attempt yet again the method that failed three times in a row. Perhaps they felt that they had repented sufficiently and that the Lord might be on their side this time. Even with their repentant state, the previous efforts had diminished the number of men who could be mustered into a fighting army. They were even weaker than they had been in the previous failed attempts.
As they attempt to find a way out, Gideon comes back into the story. As a military man he is clearly aware of the difficulties of fighting the Lamanites. He calls upon the king to make a suggestion and reminds the king that he has the people’s interests at heart.
4 And now O king, if thou hast not found me to be an unprofitable servant, or if thou hast hitherto listened to my words in any degree, and they have been of service to thee, even so I desire that thou wouldst listen to my words at this time, and I will be thy servant and deliver this people out of bondage.
5 And the king granted unto him that he might speak. And Gideon said unto him:
6 Behold the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city. The Lamanites, or the guards of the Lamanites, by night are drunken; therefore let us send a proclamation among all this people that they gather together their flocks and herds, that they may drive them into the wilderness by night.
7 And I will go according to thy command and pay the last tribute of wine to the Lamanites, and they will be drunken; and we will pass through the secret pass on the left of their camp when they are drunken and asleep.
8 Thus we will depart with our women and our children, our flocks, and our herds into the wilderness; and we will travel around the land of Shilom.
Gideon has a plan that relies on deception rather than pure force. The idea of getting the Lamanites drunk will appear again as a ruse in the Book of Mormon. It appears to be a temptation to which they were susceptible. In later Aztec chronicles there are strong statements against those who would drink to excess, but the very fact that there are such strong condemnations of drunkenness suggests a social evil that was a continuing threat. Gideon planned to use that tendency to the Limhites’ advantage.
Gideon suggests taking not only the people, but the flocks and herds. That is a lot of extra baggage that might burden them. He is apparently counting on a good head start over the Lamanite pursuers. It is also an indication that they are intending to begin a life in a new area. They do not intend to arrive completely destitute in their new homes.
9 And it came to pass that the king hearkened unto the words of Gideon.
10 And king Limhi caused that his people should gather their flocks together; and he sent the tribute of wine to the Lamanites; and he also sent more wine, as a present unto them; and they did drink freely of the wine which king Limhi did send unto them.
11 And it came to pass that the people of king Limhi did depart by night into the wilderness with their flocks and their herds, and they went round about the land of Shilom in the wilderness, and bent their course towards the land of Zarahemla, being led by Ammon and his brethren.
12 And they had taken all their gold, and silver, and their precious things, which they could carry, and also their provisions with them, into the wilderness; and they pursued their journey.
The plan is put into effect. In addition to the flocks and herds, verse 12 indicates that they also took their “gold, and silver, and their precious things.” They believed that they would be able to stay ahead of their pursuers, even with animals to herd and wealth to carry. This was not a desperate flight, but a controlled exodus.
It is certainly plausible that they counted upon Yahweh’s protection in this journey. They may also have decided that the Lamanites might not mount a serious pursuit. They may have also understood that they no longer had options, and that the result of the pursuit might either be their success or their near total demise. They had no more options and took the best possible one.
13 And after being many days in the wilderness they arrived in the land of Zarahemla, and joined Mosiah’s people, and became his subjects.
14 And it came to pass that Mosiah received them with joy; and he also received their records, and also the records which had been found by the people of Limhi.
15 And now it came to pass when the Lamanites had found that the people of Limhi had departed out of the land by night, that they sent an army into the wilderness to pursue them;
16 And after they had pursued them two days, they could no longer follow their tracks; therefore they were lost in the wilderness.
The flight is successful. They arrive in Zarahemla and are accepted into the Nephite community. Mormon finishes this episode with three details. The first is simply that they were accepted. The second is perhaps even more important for Mormon’s text, because he notes that the records come with them. This not only includes the record of Zeniff that Mormon used for much of the story, but also includes the plates of Ether that will provide an important theme in Mormon’s text.
The third, and the final closure of the story. is that the Lamanites did attempt to follow, but they could no longer find the tracks. The inability to find the tracks was miraculous. That many people and animals would have created clear and massive tracks. Nevertheless, divine favor erased them.
The lost Lamanite army will make its appearance later in the next chapter.
Items in the BMC Archive are made publicly available for non-commercial, private use. Inclusion within the BMC Archive does not imply endorsement. Items do not represent the official views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of Book of Mormon Central.
Get the latest updates on Book of Mormon topics and research for free