Mormon Chapter 6
Mormon 6 The Great and Final Battle Between the Lamanites and Nephites
1 And now I finish my record concerning the destruction of my people, the Nephites. And it came to pass that we did march forth before the Lamanites.
2 And I, Mormon, wrote an epistle unto the king of the Lamanites, and desired of him that he would grant unto us that we might gather together our people unto the land of Cumorah, by a hill which was called Cumorah, and there we could give them battle.
verse 2 "Cumorah" The most plausible etymology for Cumorah is the Hebrew Kemorah, meaning "priesthood," a noun based on the word komer or "priest." Some have privately objected that this explanation is unlikely because the term komer is always used in the Old Testament in reference to false priests (see 2 Kings 23:5; Hosea 10:5; Zephaniah 1:4), while the word kohen is used to denote Israelite priests. It seems more likely that the term komer was simply used to denote a priest who was not of the tribe of Levi, while Kohen is all cases refers to a Levitical priest. Since Lehi's party did not include descendants of Levi, they probably used komer wherever the Book of Mormon speaks of priests (see John A. Tvedtnes, Ensign [October 1986], 65).
3 And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites did grant unto me the thing which I desired.
4 And it came to pass that we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites.
5 And when three hundred and eighty and four years had passed away, we had gathered in all the remainder of our people unto the land of Cumorah.
6 And it came to pass that when we had gathered in all our people in one to the land of Cumorah, behold I, Mormon, began to be old; and knowing it to be the last struggle of my people, and having been commanded of the Lord that I should not suffer the records which had been handed down by our fathers, which were sacred, to fall into the hands of the Lamanites, (for the Lamanites would destroy them) therefore I made this record out of the plates of Nephi, and hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to me by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates which I gave unto my son Moroni.
verse 6 "these few plates" This phrase likely refers to the set of plates consisting of the plates of Mormon plus the appended small plates of Nephi.
7 And it came to pass that my people, with their wives and their children, did now behold the armies of the Lamanites marching towards them; and with that awful fear of death which fills the breasts of all the wicked, did they await to receive them.
8 And it came to pass that they came to battle against us, and every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers.
9 And it came to pass that they did fall upon my people with the sword, and with the bow, and with the arrow, and with the ax, and with all manner of weapons of war.
10 And it came to pass that my men were hewn down, yea, even my ten thousand who were with me, and I fell wounded in the midst; and they passed by me that they did not put an end to my life.
verse 10 We will learn that twenty-three Nephite captains were each given command over ten thousand Nephite soldiers. Mormon and Moroni were two of these military leaders.
11 And when they had gone through and hewn down all my people save it were twenty and four of us, (among whom was my son Moroni) and we having survived the dead of our people, did behold on the morrow, when the Lamanites had returned unto their camps, from the top of the hill Cumorah, the ten thousand of my people who were hewn down, being led in the front by me.
verse 11 This verse makes clear that the approximately 230,000 Nephites who had come up to battle against the Lamanites had all been killed the previous day, save only twenty-four survivors and a few others who had either fled the battle or surrendered to the Lamanites. These twenty-four had fled to the top of the hill Cumorah and are viewing the dead Nephites on the ground below.
12 And we also beheld the ten thousand of my people who were led by my son Moroni.
13 And behold, the ten thousand of Gidgiddonah had fallen, and he also in the midst.
14 And Lamah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Gilgal had fallen with his ten thousand; and Limhah had fallen with his ten thousand; and Jeneum had fallen with his ten thousand; and Cumenihah, and Moronihah, and Antionum, and Shiblom, and Shem, and Josh, had fallen with their ten thousand each.
verse 14 The use of the name "Josh" in the Book of Mormon has been criticized since it is a non-biblical name. Perhaps, the critics say, Joseph Smith just made up the name. The critics are right in one sense-"Josh" is not found in the Bible, and it is found in only two places in the Book of Mormon (this verse and 3 Nephi 9:10). It is interesting that this name is found in some writings found in Palestine-in a city called Lachish, located in Judah south of Jerusalem. These are the Lachish Letters and are thought to have been written in the period 600-590 BC. It is notable, though certainly coincidental, that in the Lachish Letters, Josh (Jaush) is a high ranking military officer (Hugh Nibley, "Dark Days in Jerusalem," a FARMS reprint). See also the supplemental article, Names in the Book of Mormon.
"Gilgal" For commentary on the derivation of the name Gilgal, see the supplemental article, Names in the Book of Mormon.
15 And it came to pass that there were ten more who did fall by the sword, with their ten thousand each; yea, even all my people, save it were those twenty and four who were with me, and also a few who had escaped into the south countries, and a few who had deserted over unto the Lamanites, had fallen; and their flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth.
verses 11-15 If you tally them, these verses suggest that some 230,000 men were killed. It is possible that the number was significantly smaller since all twenty-three "ten thousands" may not have been fully staffed. What about the Nephite men, women, and children who did not fight in the final battle. Did they survive? We will learn from the prophet Moroni that following the final battle, the remaining Nephites were hunted down and slaughtered (see Mormon 8:7).
To "molder" is to decay, disintegrate, turn to dust (Webster).
verses 16-22 Mormon concludes this chapter with heart-felt and heart- sick lament for the spiritual fate of his people.
16 And my soul was rent with anguish, because of the slain of my people, and I cried:
17 O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you!
18 Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss.
19 O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!
verse 19 The destruction of the Nephites is not meant to be read as merely a historical fact, but also as a metaphor of judgment, a shadow of the everlasting destruction known as second death or spiritual death (see Alma 12:16-17). It is obvious that Mormon wants us to understand and feel the destruction of the Nephites on a personal level. For one thing, he has spent much more time on their decline and fall than is necessary for a simple history. Mormon chooses to use his entire personal record to describe the Nephites' plunge to destruction at Cumorah with an account that moves with the cadence of a funeral dirge. He seems determined that we personally experience a degree of the horror that he felt as he watched his own society deteriorate in wickedness, hoping that we will do all we can to prevent our own destruction.
20 But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.
21 And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment-seat of Christ to be judged according to your works and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
verse 21 "these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies" For a discussion of the terms corruption and incorruption, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 2:11.
22 O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy.