"There is so much more in the Book of Mormon than we have yet discovered. The book's divine architecture and rich furnishings will increasingly unfold to our view, further qualifying it as 'a marvelous work and a wonder' ...The Book of Mormon is like a vast mansion with gardens, towers, courtyards, and wings. All the rooms in this mansion need to be explored..."
-Neal A Maxwell

Monday, July 21, 2014

Dark Mirror: Ammon₁ and Coriantumr₃, Part II

In part one of my juxtaposition of the exploits of Ammon₁ and Coriantumr₃, I mostly examined some very "precise contrasts" between the two warriors. Here in part two, I present one potential parallel regarding Mosiah₂ and Tubaloth, the two monarchs who sent them on their respective expeditions. This one requires a bit of setup and relies on several assumptionsa few of which are quite generous. I believe the following theory is worth consideration, however, because if true, it serves to greatly accentuate the symmetry of this "dark mirror" relationship.

In a recent paper for Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture, Val Larsen rather brilliantly conjectures many of the unstated details of Nephite history, including the following regarding Mosiah₂'s parentage and his relationship to Ammon₁:
"It is very apparent—and unsurprising—that the transition from Mulekite to Nephite rule [when the two nations merged under Mosiah₁] was not entirely smooth. Direct descendants of king David, the Mulekites were the original inhabitants of the shared land and were more numerous than the Nephites (Mosiah 25:2). In any ordinary calculus, they had the more compelling claim to the throne when the two peoples combined. Nevertheless, Mosiah₁ was appointed king, presumably with the acquiescence of King Zarahemla (Omni 1:14–19). 
"Some Mulekites were apparently unhappy with this change [hence the conflict briefly mentioned in Words of Mormon 1:12]... But those tensions seem to diminish over time. Conjecture about details unstated by Mormon may help explain why. As part of the merger of the two peoples, Mosiah₁ would likely have arranged a marriage between one or more of his children and those of Zarahemla. If Benjamin, his heir, was thus married (a reasonable hypothesis), then Mosiah₂ would be half Mulekite. And if this premise be granted, it follows that Ammon₁ is closely related to Mosiah₂ by marriage, most likely being a brother but at least a first or second cousin of Mosiah₂'s wife. In this instance, the conclusion reciprocally supports the premise, because we know that Ammon₁ was a trusted military aide of Mosiah₂, a circumstance that increases the likelihood that they were related since it was a common practice in ancient monarchies as in modern dictatorships to place close relatives in important military positions." (Emphases added) 
(Note: Though it doesn't affect my larger hypothesis, I disagree with Larsen on one pointwhy must Mosiah₂ be related to Ammon₁ by marriage and not by outright blood ties if he himself is a grandson of Zarahemla? That seems an odd conclusion to me.) [UPDATE, 10-17-14: Dr. Larsen has graciously taken the time to explain his reasoning on this point in the comments section below. I now agree with his conclusion. He has also suggested some additional parallels between Mosiah₂ and Tubaloth that are very worthy of consideration.]

In any event, now look at Helaman 1:16:
...the king of the Lamanites, whose name was Tubaloth, who was the son of Ammoron 
(emphasis added)... 
Ammoron was the brother of Amalickiah (Alma 52:3), a Nephite dissenter who sought to establish himself as a king (Alma 46:3-5). It is probable that the two brothers were Mulekites; Larsen also postulates that most Nephite dissenters seeking to restore monarchial rule (e.g. Amlici, Amalickiah) were probably Mulekites laying claim to the throne abdicated first by Zarahemla, then Mosiah₂:
As noted above, when Mosiah₂ asked his people whom they wanted to replace him as king, they replied that they wanted Aaron, the rightful heir (Mosiah 29:1–2). As previously discussed, evidence suggests that the sons of Mosiah₂ were direct descendants of Zarahemla, the last Mulekite king, and were at least half and, possibly, as much as three-quarters Mulekite. Bloodlines probably explain, in part, the explosion of unrest that occurs when Alma, a pure blooded Nephite with Zeniffite roots, is appointed as first chief judge. Alma’s appointment restores the unstable status quo of Mosiah’s time, at least with respect to the ethnicity of the ruler. Amlici, who is presumably a descendant of Zarahemla, Mulek, and David, becomes the first king-man who lays claim to the throne that the dynasty of Mosiah has just abandoned. It is clear that Amlici’s claim is a strong one and has much popular support, for it is only the first in a series of similar credible claims that continue to be made and to spark conflict through the end of the Book of Alma. (Emphasis added)
It certainly seems logical that one aspiring to monarchial power would be much more successful by making a birthright claim to a throne that had already existed instead of merely declaring, "Hey, I'm cool. Make me a king!" If Amalickiah and Ammoron were also Mulekites, then, that would make Ammoron's son, Tubaloth, part Mulekite—just like Mosiah₂. If it can be presumed Ammon₁' s appointment was, in part, a result of his implied familial tie to Mosiah₂, it is nearly as reasonable to conclude a similar dynamic existed between Tubaloth and Coriantumr₃; if both villains were descendants of Zarahemla, that would probably make them fourth cousins at the very least, as they were about five generations removed from their common ancestor. It wouldn't be unreasonable to assume a much closer relation than that, however. If Nephite monarchs made a practice of appointing family members to high military positions, it would be fair to expect Lamanite monarchs to do the same. And if both kings were indeed descendants of Zarahemla, perhaps they were drawing upon the same Mulekite tradition. 

In short, it is very possible that each warrior (Ammon₁ and Coriantumr₃) was sent on his expedition by a part-Mulekite king who also claimed him as family. 

This conclusion is not without its apparent problems, however. Other details about Amalickiah and Ammoron's ancestry are more explicitly revealed in the following passages: 
"...And it came to pass that [the Lamanites] returned to the land of Nephi, to inform their king, Amalickiah, who was a Nephite by birth, concerning their great loss. (Alma 49:25, emphasis added)
"I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem." (Alma 54:23, emphasis added)
The two verses are not inconsistent with each other, of course, as descendants of Zoram were subsumed into the Nephite designation (see Jacob 1:13). The same was also eventually true of the Mulekites:
"And now all the people of Zarahemla were numbered with the Nephites, and this because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi." (Mosiah 25:13, emphasis added) 
That verse obviates the first contradiction, then, and possibly the second as well. Ammoron was surely attempting to vilify Moroni's forefathers after Moroni had made an unprecedented threat to take the battle into "the land of [the Nephites'] first inheritance," now inhabited by the Lamanites (see Alma 54:12-13). In doing so, however (assuming he's telling the truth about his ancestry), he reveals neither he nor his brother had any legitimate claim to the traditional Nephite throne (when defining "Nephite" as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites). If Amalickiah didn't have a case as a Zoramite, was he merely saying, "Hey, I'm cool. Make me a king?" Or did he have a more compelling claim to rule by way of some other part of his ancestry? Rather than conflict with the lynchpin assumption that the two brothers were Mulekites, then, Alma 54:23 may actually reinforce it. 


  1. The passage you mention about Ammoron being a Zoramite is problematic. There is so much that makes it obvious that the rebellion is Mulekite, and then there is this one discordant fact. Here is the conclusion I arrived at. Ammoron is using the Lamanites as pawns in his effort to take the Nephite throne he sees as being rightly his because of his descent from Zarahemla. The Lamanites are clearly reluctant to become involved in this battle between foreign factions. Hence, their defection from their king and, following Lehonti, refusal to join a war against the Nephites.

    Ammalekiah and Ammoron use traditions of the Lamanites to restoke their anger and get them to go to battle. They resurrect 400 year old grievances that have ceased to motivate the Lamanites who are starting to think it is old news. In stirring up that grievance, Ammoron needs to align himself with his new followers. His Mulekite ancestry won’t do that. Indeed, it will remind them that he is trying to get them to fight in a battle that is not theirs. So instead of noting his Mulekite ancestry, he emphasizes a second, Zoramite heritage he has because that narrative fits with the one he is trying to get his Lamanite subjects to embrace. Zoram was part of Lehi’s group. It is plausible to argue that he was cheated somehow along with Laman and Lemuel. So Ammoron underscores his Lehite roots for political reasons—to align his own grievance with that of the Lamanites he leads. In the third or fouth generation after the merger of the Nephites and Mulekites, it is unsurprising that a person (especially someone from the ruling class) would have both Mulekite and Zoramite ancestry.

  2. I did overlook the possibility that Mosiah might himself be related to Ammon1, i.e., they could easily be first cousins. One reason that didn't occur to me and that I, therefore, didn't mention it, is that Mosiah's Mulekite ancestry is less certain than his wife's and children's. We don't know how old Benjamin was at the time of the merger. It is possible that he was already married when the two people came together, in which case Mosiah2 would be pure Nephite. But Mosiah2 clearly came of age after the merger of the two peoples, so unless Benjamin was a horribly incompetent ruler, he would have married his son to a descendant of Zarahemla for the good of the kingdom. Most people, and certainly royals, didn't choose their spouse based on liking in past times. Marriage was a practical arrangement that secured peace and prosperity for the families involved. The bottom line is that we can regard it as essentially certain that Mosiah's wife was Mulekite. We can't be equally certain that he was. However, it is very possible that he was, in fact, a blood relative of Ammon1. I should have noticed and mentioned that in the article.

  3. Another parallel between Mosiah2 and Tubaloth is that each is in a similar dynastic position. Mosiah1 was leader of a smaller group of people who merged with a larger group and then became king of them all. He was succeeded by Benjamin, the 2nd generation, then by Mosiah2, the third. Amalickiah was likewise the leader of a smaller group (dissident Mulekites) who merged with a larger group, the Lamanites, and then became king of them all just as Mosiah1 had. He is succeeded by Ammoron, the 2nd in the line, then by Tubaloth, who like Mosiah2 is third in the line of succession. This set of three kings would thus be the dark shadow of the Mosiah1 dynasty.