If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome. Anne Bradstreet

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27

Yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season therof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; Yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. And it pleaseth God that he hath given all these things unto man; for unto this end were they made to be used, with judgment, not to excess, neither by extortion. D&C 59:18-20

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Book of Mormon Geography: Minon, hill Amnihu, and the Wilderness Hermounts

Minon and the hill Amnihu are named only in Alma 2. Minon is mentioned again in Alma 3:20, as the place of another Lamanite invasion, but not named. Mormon says that “not many days after the battle which was fought in the land of Zarahemla, by the Lamanites and the Amlicites, that there was another army of the Lamanites came in upon the people of Nephi, in the same place where the first army met the Amlicites.” This first meeting place was in Minon. Alma 2:15 says the initial battle between the Nephites and the Amlicites took place at the hill Amnihu, “which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla.” This suggests Amnihu is across the river from Zarahemla.

The subsequent military movement suggests the hill Amnihu is north of Gideon, or one of the northern hills that forms the valley of Gideon. As the Nephites gain power over the Amlicites, the latter flee. Mormon does not mention which direction, but he does say that after pursuing them “all that day,” the Nephites camped for the night in the valley of Gideon, while the Amlicites continued towards Minon, where they join an invading Lamanite army in the process of slaughtering the people of Minon. The spies who were sent to follow the Amlicites call the people of Minon “our brethren,” and Alma 3:20 calls them “the people of Nephi.” That makes Minon a part of ZARAHEMLA.

Placing Minon along the border of the south wilderness easily explains the Lamanite invasions in Alma 2 and Alma 3, as they would have come up from NEPHI through the south wilderness. With Minon along the border of the south wilderness, the movement of the Amlicite army would have been southward.

The time frame Mormon provides suggests Minon borders Gideon. The Nephites camp in the valley of Gideon at the end of the first day, while the Amlicites continue southward. The spies Alma sends to track the Amlicites return “on the morrow . . . in great haste” to the valley of Gideon, warning the Nephite army that they must return to the city Zarahemla quickly to defend it against the Amlicite/Lamanite army. In the meantime, the Amlicite/Lamanite army proceeds northward, crosses the river Sidon, and meets the Nephite army as it crosses the river from the valley of Gideon a little further north. The quick reaction by the Nephite army prevented the Amlicite/Lamanite army from taking the city Zarahemla.

This slide show emphasizes the main actions and movements.

The Wilderness Hermounts

Hermounts, like Amnihu, is mentioned only in Alma 2. Mormon does not provide enough information in his narrative to determine its location, other than it appears to be part of the wilderness west of ZARAHEMLA, possibly as far north as bordering Bountiful.

Mormon says the battle-fatigued Amlicite/Lamanite army again flees from the Nephites after the battle on the west side of the river Sidon. They flee “towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land” (35). If you look at the map, you will see that two totally different conclusions can be drawn as to the direction the Amlicites and Lamanites took as they fled from the Nephites. Northwest of the battle site might put the Amlicite/Lamanite army along the east sea. However, since Mormon orders the directions "west and north," I conclude that he means they fled towards the west wilderness.

If the Amlicite/Lamanite army made it to the west wilderness, they would expect to have an unfettered route all the way to Bountiful, and possibly all the way to the land northward, depending on whether the Nephites had already fortified Bountiful to the west sea. That is because the west wilderness was inhabited by the more idle part of the Lamanites. This experience may be what prompted the Nephites to fortify Bountiful from sea to sea. Such an effort to make it to the land northward is a goal for Lamanites and apostate Nephites throughout the books of Alma and Helaman, and explains why the Amlicite/Lamanite army didn’t just retreat to the south wilderness.

The Amlicite/Lamanite army may not have been aware of the dangerous, wild-beast infested Hermounts, but Mormon does not say they were killed by the beasts. Rather, they died from their wounds and were devoured by the beasts (Alma 2:37).

We can't locate Hermounts, other than to say it is somewhere in the west wilderness, because Mormon does not tell us how long they fled before they reached Hermounts. He has stopped giving timelines and other details about the experience, other than to tell us about their fate in Hermounts and to remark upon the destruction caused by this effort in ZARAHEMLA. Besides the “greatness of their number” who had been slain, “many women and children had been slain with the sword, and also many of their flocks and their herds; and also many of their fields of grain were destroyed, for they were trodden down by the hosts of men” (3:2).


Anonymous said...

Very thorough. Thank you for your comments. I currently am studying the book of alma and this definitely helped me understand the geography of chapter 2.

I'm curious as to what you think a "wild and ravenous beast" is? Do you have the knowledge that would perhaps explain what animal he was referring to? Or (since it was in 87 BC and we have no record of what animals could have existed at that time [at least to my knowledge]) perhaps the "beasts" became extinct and we have no idea what they could have been because we don't know the location of Hermounts and therefore can't search for any remains.

Anonymous said...

Quite good, except Minon should be on the west of Sidon. Lamanites/Amlicites came from Minon toward the city of Zarahemla and needed to be cleared from the west bank so Alma and co. could cross from the direction of Gideon (east) and contend with them. Unless the Lamanites etc crossed the Sidon earlier to get from Minon on the east bank to Zarahemla city, on the west.