Meaningless Numeric Symbolism
Joseph Smith takes care to mention twice (in verse 4 and verse 5) that Ammon's search party wandered in the wilderness for forty days. Forty. It had to be forty.
Forty is kind of a significant Biblical number. Jesus fasted for forty days. Noah got rained on for forty days. Moses was on Mount Sinai for forty days. The Israelites wandered for forty years after leaving Egypt. And so on and so forth. Why did Ammon have to get lost for forty days exactly?
Because it served the purpose of the author—to create as many contrived connections to the Bible as possible in the hopes of boosting the credibility of his hack work.
Limhi Lets Himself Get Conned
King Limhi, who reigns over the Nephites in the Land of Lehi-Nephi but under the thumb of the conquering Lamanites, has, in only one chapter, shot to the very top of my list of dumbest Book of Mormon characters. Observe what happens when he tries to question Ammon after Ammon is captured by the guards:
And [Limhi] said unto [Ammon and three of his friends]: Behold, I am Limhi, the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came up out of the land of Zarahemla to inherit this land, which was the land of their fathers, who was made a king by the voice of the people.
...And now, when Ammon saw that he was permitted to speak, he went forth and bowed himself before the king; and rising again he said: O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak; and I will endeavor to speak with boldness;
For I am assured that if ye had known me ye would not have suffered that I should have worn these bands. For I am Ammon, and am a descendent of Zarahemla, and have come up out of the land of Zarahemla to inquire concerning our brethren, whom Zeniff brought up out of that land.
And now, it came to pass that after Limhi had heard the words of Ammon, he was exceedingly glad, and said: Now I know of a surety that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive. And now, I will rejoice; and on the morrow I will cause that my people shall rejoice also.Let's summarize:
- Limhi introduces himself and includes irrelevant background information about where he and his ancestors came from.
- Ammon responds by introducing himself as a friendly visitor, reciting a history that aligns with Limhi's previously shared background.
- Despite the fact that Ammon could have simply made his identity up using all the information Limhi had given him earlier, Limhi decides that Ammon is legit and proclaims a celebration in honor of the survival of the other half of the Nephites.
Limhi's an idiot.
Limhi Gets His Wires Crossed
Limhi's behavior continues to astonish me in verse 15 when he voices his hopes that Ammon and company will free his people from Lamanite bondage (which seems to mean political subservience and heavy taxation):
And now, behold, our brethren will deliver us out of our bondage, or out of the hands of the Lamanites, and we will be their slaves; for it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites.Get a grip, Limhi! Listen to what you're saying! It doesn't make any sense!
You'd rather be a slave to the Nephites than a satellite nation of the Lamanites? Because paying taxes to an evil king is worse than abandoning your freedom and your property? I mean, Hitler did horrible things to the Jews, but at least his tax rates were reasonable, right? I don't care if the Lamanites were evil and the Nephites were good—slavery is never more desirable than some hefty taxes, no matter who you're paying the taxes to. And what the hell kind of ruler volunteers his entire nation for slavery?
Why did the people not overthrow this imbecile and appoint themselves a king with some brain function?
Witnessing a Convoluted Sentence
To top it off, Limhi is also an atrocious orator—which is tragic, considering that most of what I've seen the Book of Mormon kings do so far is fight wars, tell people to plant food, and give really long speeches. I don't know how Limhi has done with farming edicts, but he's clearly wimped out on war since his people remain under the Lamanites' thumb. And as far as public speaking goes, he's pretty terrible. Observe:
And ye are all witnesses this day, that Zeniff, who was made king over this people, he being over-zealous to inherit the land of his fathers, therefore being deceived by the cunning and craftiness of king Laman, who having entered into a treaty with king Zeniff, and having yielded up into his hands the possessions of a part of the land, or even the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom; and the land round about—
And all this he did, for the sole purpose of bringing this people into subjection or into bondage. And behold, we at this time do pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind, and one half of the increase of our flocks and our herds; and even one half of all we have or possess the king of the Lamanites doth exact of us, or our lives.He starts off talking about how everyone is a witness to something Zeniff has done--and then he reviews a few things, qualifies a few things, gets needlessly specific about a few things...and never comes back to his original thought. We're witnessing that Zeniff what? WHAT ARE WE WITNESSING?! Limhi blows through six commas, a semicolon and an em dash like they're suburban stop signs before moving on to his next thought instead of finishing his first one. This is the most correct book on the face of the Earth?
There's also the minor detail that these people are not witnesses to anything about Zeniff, because Zeniff was Limhi's grandfather. Zeniff has been dead for a long time and it seems pretty silly to tell people that today they are witnessing what amounts to a review of historical facts. How exactly can one be expected to be a witness of something that happened before one was born?
Have I mentioned that Limhi's an idiot?
God's Petulant Favoritism
Despite what the Book of Mormon says, this god is not a just god. I know I've harped on this point before, but it bears mentioning again. The Lamanites, according to Limhi, are wicked and abominable. They've killed countless Nephites and even killed the prophet, but they are under no threat of destruction. To the Nephites, however, God says this:
I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.God doesn't just stop fighting the Nephites' battles when they sin—he goes out of his way to hinder their progress. Being God's favorite comes at a high price.
The more I read about God in the Book of Mormon, the more he seems like some weird hybrid of a petulant child and an abusive parent.