Moroni Chapter 9
Chapter 9 is yet another letter from the prophet Mormon to his son Moroni. In this letter he mostly describes the sorry state of his own people, the Nephites. The date of this letter is unknown. It was obviously written before the great final battle between Lamanites and Nephites described in Mormon 6. It would seem that Mormon and his son Moroni are separated and that Mormon is with his armies.
1 My beloved son, I write unto you again that ye may know that I am yet alive; but I write somewhat of that which is grievous.
2 For behold, I have had a sore battle with the Lamanites, in which we did not conquer; and Archeantus has fallen by the sword, and also Luram and Emron; yea, and we have lost a great number of our choice men.
verse 2 "Archeantus has fallen by the sword, and also Luram and Emron" Mormon's singling out of Archeantus, Luram, and Emron here may indicate their military importance to the Nephites, or personal friendship with Moroni, or both.
"Luram" For commentary on the name Luram, see the supplemental article, Names in the Book of Mormon.
3 And now behold, my son, I fear lest the Lamanites shall destroy this people; for they do not repent, and Satan stirreth them up continually to anger one with another.
verse 3 "for they do not repent" The pronoun they modifies "this people," the Nephites, as do the pronouns them and they in the next verse. It seems likely that Mormon is largely referring to those Nephites fighting the Lamanites, though likely some of what he says is also true of all of the Nephites-the older men, the women, and the children.
4 Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.
verse 4 "I speak the word of God with sharpness" McConkie, Millet, and Top in their book Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, comment on the word "sharpness": "Testifying with 'sharpness,' as Moroni is here using the word, does not mean he was being contentious or mean-spirited. It means direct and to the point. It means not couched in soft, comfortable language but focused on what need to be said more than on how to say it" (359). When Mormon speaks to them sharply, they become angry. When his preaching is softer and lacks sharpness, they ignore him.
"and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it" See the discussion of hard-heartedness in the commentary for Alma 10:6.
5 For so exceedingly do they anger that it seemeth me that they have no fear of death; and they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually.
6 And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
verse 6 The reader cannot help but be overcome by the God-like patience and love of Mormon for his people. The evidence of their hopeless spiritual intransigence has been overwhelming, yet he continues to urge his son, "Let us labor diligently." This is certainly a consummate scriptural example of enduring to the end.
7 And now I write somewhat concerning the sufferings of this people. For according to the knowledge which I have received from Amoron, behold, the Lamanites have many prisoners, which they took from the tower of Sherrizah; and there were men, women, and children.
8 And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.
9 And notwithstanding this great abomination of the Lamanites, it doth not exceed that of our people in Moriantum. For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue-
verse 9 The reader should take careful note of Moroni's describing chastity as "that which [is] most dear and precious above all things."
10 And after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.
verses 9-10 The barbarism contained in these verses is probably unparalleled in all history. Note that it was the Nephites and not the Lamanites who raped and murdered the captive women. It is apparent that throughout the Book of Mormon, sexual immorality was essentially a Nephite crime, and it was less pervasive among the Lamanites (see Jacob 2:23 and the commentary for Jacob 3:5).
"they do it for a token of bravery" A characteristic of wickedness is mistaking cowardice for bravery.
11 O my beloved son, how can a people like this, that are without civilization-
verse 11 "that are without civilization" To be "without civilization" is to be without any human restraint, in which condition the natural man rules and even runs amok. Ordinarily, mankind encounters self restraints in the form of religious proscriptions, human considerations, and civil laws. A person who lacks any of these is characterized by the wanton giving in to any and all natural man cravings.
12 (And only a few years have passed away, and they were a civil and a delightsome people)
verse 12 Only a few years have passed away since the the Nephites were a civil and delightsome people.
13 But O my son, how can a people like this, whose delight is in so much abomination-
14 How can we expect that God will stay his hand in judgment against us?
15 Behold, my heart cries: Wo unto this people. Come out in judgment, O God, and hide their sins, and wickedness, and abominations from before thy face!
verse 15 "Come out in judgment, O God, and hide their sins, and wickedness, and abominations from before thy face" Moroni seems to be urging God to destroy the Nephite people to cleanse the earth of their abominable sins.
16 And again, my son, there are many widows and their daughters who remain in Sherrizah; and that part of the provisions which the Lamanites did not carry away, behold, the army of Zenephi has carried away, and left them to wander whithersoever they can for food; and many old women do faint by the way and die.
verse 16 Zenephi is obviously a Nephite leader whose army has taken food out of the mouths of Nephite widows and their daughters in order to save themselves from starvation.
17 And the army which is with me is weak; and the armies of the Lamanites are betwixt Sherrizah and me; and as many as have fled to the army of Aaron have fallen victims to their awful brutality.
verse 17 Mormon bemoans the fact that he is not in a position to rescue the starving Nephite widows and their daughters. He then describes the unbelievable barbarity of the army of the Nephite Aaron. When the widows and their daughters sought help among the Nephites in Aaron's army, they were likely raped, killed, and perhaps their bodies were eaten for food (verse 19).
18 O the depravity of my people! They are without order and without mercy. Behold, I am but a man, and I have but the strength of a man, and I cannot any longer enforce my commands.
19 And they have become strong in their perversion; and they are alike brutal, sparing none, neither old nor young; and they delight in everything save that which is good; and the suffering of our women and our children upon all the face of this land doth exceed everything; yea, tongue cannot tell, neither can it be written.
20 And now, my son, I dwell no longer upon this horrible scene. Behold, thou knowest the wickedness of this people; thou knowest that they are without principle, and past feeling; and their wickedness doth exceed that of the Lamanites.
21 Behold, my son, I cannot recommend them unto God lest he should smite me.
22 But behold, my son, I recommend thee unto God, and I trust in Christ that thou wilt be saved; and I pray unto God that he will spare thy life, to witness the return of his people unto him, or their utter destruction; for I know that they must perish except they repent and return unto him.
23 And if they perish it will be like unto the Jaredites, because of the wilfulness of their hearts, seeking for blood and revenge.
24 And if it so be that they perish, we know that many of our brethren have deserted over unto the Lamanites, and many more will also desert over unto them; wherefore, write somewhat a few things, if thou art spared and I shall perish and not see thee; but I trust that I may see thee soon; for I have sacred records that I would deliver up unto thee.
verse 24 "write somewhat a few things, if thou art spared and I shall perish and not see thee" Mormon urges Moroni to write to him soon in case Mormon dies before he has the opportunity of seeing his son Moroni again.
"for I have sacred records that I would deliver up unto thee" Presumably Moroni already had in his possession the complete set of the plates of Mormon and the small plates of Nephi. What additional "sacred records" Mormon may yet want to deliver to Moroni we are not told. But wouldn't it be exciting to know what they were?
25 My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever.
verse 25 "and the hope of his glory and of eternal life" See the commentary for Jacob 4:4. Mormon urges his son Moroni to have hope in the future possibility of exaltation.
26 And may the grace of God the Father, whose throne is high in the heavens, and our Lord Jesus Christ, who sitteth on the right hand of his power, until all things shall become subject unto him, be, and abide with you forever. Amen.
verses 25-26 Mormon concludes his letter on a positive and uplifting note. This is the last we read of the great prophet and abridger of the Book of Mormon.