The Book of Mormon
The original authors of the book of Mormon are: Mormon (chapters 1 through 7) and his son Moroni (chapters 8 and 9).
Chapter Outline of Mormon
A brief outline of the book of Mormon, worth committing to memory, is as follows:
Mormon 6 The Great and Final Battle Between the Lamanites and Nephite
Mormon 8-9 Moroni's warning to the people of this final dispensation.
Mormon Chapter 1
1 And now I, Mormon, make a record of the things which I have both seen and heard, and call it the Book of Mormon.
verse 1 Mormon lived from about AD 310-385. In about 320 AD, when Mormon was 10 years old, the keeper of the Book of Mormon plates, Ammaron, was constrained by the Holy Ghost to hide all the sacred records, that they might be preserved. Accordingly he buried the records in a hill called Shim. After hiding the records, Ammaron was constrained to approach a ten-year-old boy named Mormon. Ammaron instructed Mormon that when he reached the age of twenty-four he should remove the plates of Nephi from their hiding place and engrave upon them his own account. Mormon's account was to be called "The Book of Mormon."
Meanwhile, at age fifteen Mormon was given command of the Nephite armies. The Nephites were wicked and unrepentant and seemed always to be fighting a losing battle.
As commanded, in about AD 335, when Mormon reached the age of twenty-four, he removed the plates of Nephi from the hill Shim and recorded upon them a full account of the wickedness and abominations of his day. This account was written by Mormon onto the large plates of Nephi. His later abridgement of his own record includes what is now Mormon chapters 1 through 5.
In about AD 380 Mormon began to abridge the large plates of Nephi, engraving his abridgement onto a new set of plates, the plates of Mormon. This abridgement included an abridgement of his own record which he had written onto the large plates of Nephi.
The war escalated, and it was apparent the wicked Nephites would be defeated. In about AD 385, the great final battle between Nephites and Lamanites near the hill Cumorah occurred. Mormon wrote an account of this battle directly onto the plates of Mormon (Mormon 6). Mormon also entered a final summary and warning to future generations (Mormon 7). Thus these chapters (6-7) are unabridged records. By this time, Mormon was old, and he knew this would be the final battle of his people. He buried all the records entrusted to him in the Hill Cumorah except for the small plates of Nephi and the plates of Mormon which he delivered to the care of his son, Moroni. Moroni also maintained access to the plates buried in Cumorah. Moroni entered more of Mormon's teachings onto the plates of Mormon including a letter Mormon had written to his son Moroni. These teachings of Mormon became Mormon 7.
2 And about the time that Ammaron hid up the records unto the Lord, he came unto me, (I being about ten years of age, and I began to be learned somewhat after the manner of the learning of my people) and Ammaron said unto me: I perceive that thou art a sober child, and art quick to observe;
verse 2 "thou art a sober child" We probably ought not to think of the child Mormon as somber and gloomy. Rather Ammaron's intent was likely that Mormon was thoughtful, serious-minded, and mature beyond his years.
"quick to observe" The word observe has two distinct meanings. First, it means to look, to see, or to notice. It also means to obey or to keep (see D&C 54:6). Both of these meanings doubtless applied to the young Mormon. He was bright and perceptive, and he was also obedient.
3 Therefore, when ye are about twenty and four years old I would that ye should remember the things that ye have observed concerning this people; and when ye are of that age go to the land Antum, unto a hill which shall be called Shim; and there have I deposited unto the Lord all the sacred engravings concerning this people.
verse 3 "a hill which shall be called Shim" The word Shim or Xim in the Mayan language means corn. It is interesting that there is a hill called Cintepec which is located east of Lake Catemaco in the Tuxtla mountain range in the State of Veracruz, Mexico. "Tepec" means hill or mountain in the Nahuatl (Aztec) language. "Cin" means corn. Hence, the hill Cintepec means Corn Hill. This hill is located near the hill Vigia. The latter hill is a reasonable candidate for the complex of hills-Shim and Cumorah. See the Hypothetical Map of Book of Mormon Lands.
4 And behold, ye shall take the plates of Nephi unto yourself, and the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are; and ye shall engrave on the plates of Nephi all the things that ye have observed concerning this people.
verse 4 "plates of Nephi" These are the large plates of Nephi. As mentioned previously, Mormon originally wrote the account of his history onto the large plates of Nephi. He later abridged this record and wrote a shorter version onto the plates of Mormon (This abridgement now comprises Mormon chapter 1-5; see also Mormon 2:18).
"the remainder shall ye leave in the place where they are" The only other plates we know of in this collection are the small plates of Nephi and the brass plates of Laban.
5 And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi, (and my father's name was Mormon) I remembered the things which Ammaron commanded me.
verse 5 We learn that Mormon was really Mormon, Jr. John M. Butler has found some remarkable similarities between Mormon, Jr., and Joseph Smith, Jr. Brother Butler suggests that Mormon was a type for the Prophet Joseph ("The 'Author' and the 'Finisher' of the Book of Mormon," in The Book of Mormon, Fourth Nephi Through Moroni, From Zion to Destruction, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr., a FARMS publication, 61-68). Let us consider a few of the similarities.
Both were sober, thoughtful, and bright as children (Mormon 1:2; Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith by His Mother, 67). Both families moved to other locations when the boys were ten to eleven years old (Mormon 1:6; JS-H 1:3). Both saw the spiritual deficiencies of their people and importuned God on the matter. Both had "First Visions" at ages fourteen and fifteen (Mormon 1:14- 15; JS-H 1:7, 10-20). Both men were tutored by older prophets who had hid up records for their future use-Mormon by Ammoron and Joseph by Moroni. Both were also tutored by angels-Mormon by the three translated Nephite disciples (Mormon 8:10-11), and Joseph by numerous heavenly messengers (H. Donl Peterson, "Personages Who Appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith," in Joseph Smith: The Prophet, The Man, edited by Susan Easton Black and Charles D. Tate, Jr. 184-86). Both were charismatic leaders of their people. Both were men of large stature (Mormon 2:1; George Q. Cannon, Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, 19) and strong enough to protect the plates from falling into the hands of evil people (see Mormon 6:6). Although both were large and physically fit as youths, neither Mormon nor Joseph received the plates appointed them until they were spiritually mature enough to perform the labors required of them. Several years of testing and training went by after Ammaron and Moroni revealed to their respective charges the missions they were to fulfill regarding the record of the Nephites. Mormon was told to record his observations of Nephite society on the plates when he was twenty-four years old (Mormon 1:3-4). Joseph translated the plates of Mormon and the small plates of Nephi when he was in his twenty-fourth year (JS-H 1:66-67) and published them to the world in March of 1830, shortly after his twenty-fourth birthday. The adversary constantly struggled against both these men. Both gathered their people into one body trying to escape persecution-Mormon to the Hill Cumorah and Joseph to Nauvoo. Both faced "extermination orders" -Joseph from the Missouri governor, and Mormon from the Lamanites. In the end both sealed their testimonies with their blood.
It is obvious that both Mormon and Joseph Smith, Jr., were among the noble and great ones before the foundation of the earth and were both chosen before they were born to perform the work they did for the Lord (see Abraham 3:22-23; D&C 138:38, 53; JD, 7:290). Brother Butler concluded his article: "Today we may draw nearer to Christ-"the author and the finisher of [our] faith" (Moroni 6:54)-because of the efforts of Mormon (the "author") and Joseph Smith (the "finisher")-of the Book of Mormon.
6 And it came to pass that I, being eleven years old, was carried by my father into the land southward, even to the land of Zarahemla.
7 The whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost, as it were the sand of the sea.
8 And it came to pass in this year there began to be a war between the Nephites, who consisted of the Nephites and the Jacobites and the Josephites and the Zoramites; and this war was between the Nephites, and the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites.
verse 8 Here are mentioned the "-ites" which existed at the time. For a discussion of the significance of these group names, see the commentaries for Jacob 1:13 and 4 Nephi 1:38.
9 Now the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites were called Lamanites, and the two parties were Nephites and Lamanites.
verse 9 The two general divisions of people, disregarding the subgroups, were Nephites and Lamanites.
10 And it came to pass that the war began to be among them in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon.
verse 10 This particular battle between the Nephites and Lamanites seems to have had its beginnings in the mountains in southern Zarahemla near the head waters of the River Sidon.
11 And it came to pass that the Nephites had gathered together a great number of men, even to exceed the number of thirty thousand. And it came to pass that they did have in this same year a number of battles, in which the Nephites did beat the Lamanites and did slay many of them.
12 And it came to pass that the Lamanites withdrew their design, and there was peace settled in the land; and peace did remain for the space of about four years, that there was no bloodshed.
13 But wickedness did prevail upon the face of the whole land, insomuch that the Lord did take away his beloved disciples, and the work of miracles and of healing did cease because of the iniquity of the people.
verse 13 The Lord's removal from among the people of the three translated Nephite disciples should probably be regarded as a type of cursing of the people or the withdrawal of a significant blessing from among them because of their wickedness. We will learn in the next verse that in addition to withdrawing his three disciples, he also generally withdrew the Spirit and any spiritual gifts, though there were doubtless a few, including Mormon, who still maintained "contact" with the Spirit.
14 And there were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.
15 And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.
verse 15 It is interesting to note that Mormon was "visited of the Lord" at about the same age (15 years) as was Joseph Smith, Jr. (14 years).
16 And I did endeavor to preach unto this people, but my mouth was shut, and I was forbidden that I should preach unto them; for behold they had wilfully rebelled against their God; and the beloved disciples were taken away out of the land, because of their iniquity.
verse 16 It was probably the inspiration of the Lord which "shut" the mouth of Mormon. The Lord truly withdrew his influence from among this ungodly people. During his Old World ministry the Lord said, "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you" (Matthew 7:6).
17 But I did remain among them, but I was forbidden to preach unto them, because of the hardness of their hearts; and because of the hardness of their hearts the land was cursed for their sake.
verse 17 The phrase "the land was cursed for their sake" simply means that because of the people and their wickedness the land was cursed for the time being. It does not necessarily mean that the Lord cursed the land so that it would not ultimately be a blessing and benefit to the people.
18 And these Gadianton robbers, who were among the Lamanites, did infest the land, insomuch that the inhabitants thereof began to hide up their treasures in the earth; and they became slippery, because the Lord had cursed the land, that they could not hold them, nor retain them again.
verse 18 "they became slippery . . . that they could not hold them, nor retain them again" This phrase refers to the people's treasures. Gadianton robbers were so skilled that no one could prevent their valued possessions from being stolen. Hugh Nibley commented on this period:
Again "the robbers of Gadianton did spread over all the face of the land" (4 Nephi 1:46), while business boomed as never before-"and gold and silver did they lay up in store in abundance, and did traffic in all manner of traffic" (4 Nephi 1:46). But the Gadiantons were tops at the grabbing game, and before long everybody started hiding up his possessions for security (Mormon 1:18). In vain-nothing could secure their valuables from gravitating into the competent hands of the society. In the end the Nephites had to settle for formal treaties with the Gadiantons as an independent power, sharing their lands with them on a permanent basis (Mormon 2:28-29) (Since Cumorah, 368).
19 And it came to pass that there were sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics; and the power of the evil one was wrought upon all the face of the land, even unto the fulfilling of all the words of Abinadi, and also Samuel the Lamanite.
verse 19 It is interesting that the record we have of Abinadi's teachings in Mosiah 11-17 contains no mention of his prophesying of "sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics." This fact has been regarded as evidence that Mormon, as he abridged the account of the prophet Abinadi did not include all of the teachings of Abinadi even though we know that the senior Alma, as he wrote the original account of Abinadi's teachings, did include all of those teachings in his record (Mosiah 17:4).