Thursday, August 30, 2012

Nephite history

A couple of thoughts struck me today while reading.

1.) The Nephites undergo rapid population growth between the time of King Mosiah and the coming of Christ. You can tell by the fact that so many characters (both Almas, Kings Benjamin and Mosiah, Pahoran, etc.) all have multiple sons, which indicates just as many daughters on average. You can also tell by the ever-increasing body counts in their wars with the Lamanites, implying an ever-increasing population to fuel them. This population growth may be one of the overt drivers of the wars, not just between the Nephites and the Lamanites but also among the Nephites. Land scarcity has always been a cause of contention for human beings. (E.g. people of Lehi and the people of Morianton.)  

By Mormon's time, BTW, note that they are throwing armies of 40,000 men at each other regularly. This is about half as large as the main battles of the Civil War. Now it's possible that the Nephites had a greater fraction of their population mobilized for war, but it does make you wonder how large a geographic area the Nephites occupied and what their population size was. It's big, especially later on. Which brings us to our next point:

2.) The Nephites had all kinds of communication difficulties. Their leaders never seem to know what's going on outside their immediate vicinity. In Ammon's time, the converted Lamanites "open a correspondence" to trade with the Nephites, and yet several years later, Alma is surprised to run into the sons of Mosiah and hear about the converted Lamanites--he doesn't know they exist! Whoever the Nephites were with whom the Ammonites were trading, they weren't the same ones Alma was in governing. Later on, Moroni has no idea of the rebellion in the capital until Pahoran sends him a personal letter, in spite of the fact that the rebellion has been going on for some time--you can see hints of the building rebellion in the mystery of lack of troop reinforcement for Helaman from Zarahemla, and certainly it explains why Pahoran never sent troops to Helaman as Moroni requested. Even more telling is that Pahoran sent no response to Moroni's request for troops to Helaman, and Moroni apparently considered that normal! They had no regular communication among their military and political leadership.

I don't know if this says more about the Nephite command structure of the geography they lived in, but it's certainly interesting.

-Max

-- 
Be pretty if you are,
Be witty if you can,
But be cheerful if it kills you.

If you're so evil, eat this kitten!

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