Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mosiah 21: Limhi's Idiocy Knows No Bounds

Two of our plotlines converge in this chapter—the story of Ammon's search for his long lost kin and the People of Limhi's suffering under Lamanite rule.  It's also notable that the infamous Pride Cycle so prevalent in the Book of Mormon begins to take shape here.

Priority #1:  Don't Make God a Liar
The Lamanites, having defeated Limhi's Nephites, have reached a new low—not only are they godless savages, but now they're bullies.  The opening verses describe the way they boss the Nephites around and treat them like slaves.  Verse 4 mentions that all of this happened "that the word of the Lord might be fulfilled."

Apparently once a prophet of God (in this case, Abinadi) pronounces a horrible curse upon an iniquitous generation, it has to happen—not because the people should be punished of course.  It has to happen because we can't have God looking like a liar.

Although it is strange that many of the things that Abinadi promised the people would happen to them aren't mentioned (see Mosiah 12:2-7).  Sure, they were brought into bondage and stricken and driven and given heavy burdens...but what about the famine and pestilence?  What about the hail and the east wind?  What about the insects?

I guess God is only about sixty percent liar, but the rest of his words were fulfilled.

Sudden Shift of Power
Verse 5 claims that the Nephites had no hope of overcoming the Lamanite military because they were surrounded by them.  This is kind of strange, considering that the Nephites won several decisive victories against the Lamanites in the last few chapters.  In fact, just last chapter, Limhi set up an ambush which routed the Lamanite forces and nearly killed their king.  And when the Nephites came into bondage, it wasn't by war—it was by making peace with the Lamanites to avoid war simply because that Gideon guy suddenly claimed that their armies would be no match for the hordes of Lamanites.

This doesn't make a whole lot of sense.  What caused the change?  Why did the Nephites go from kicking Lamanite butt to wetting their pants in just a few verses?

Limhi:  Worst King or Worst King Ever?
Assuming Gideon's assessment of the Lamanite military strength was accurate, it seems foolish of Limhi to cave in to popular demand and sanction an assault on the Lamanite army.  But what seems even more foolish is that, after being brutally defeated, the people of Limhi attacked again.  But what seems abysmally incompetent is that, after being severely defeated a second time, Limhi allows his dwindling forces to attack the Lamanites a third time.

I think I can go so far as to call Limhi a murderer, because if he didn't know how great the cost of life would be sending his twice-butchered army against a numerous, ruthless enemy, then he's actually dumber than I thought.  And that's saying something.

Unsurprisingly, the Nephites get slaughtered again.  Limhi's an idiot.

God:  Stubborn and Petty
When the broken and humbled people of Limhi prayed for deliverance, God "was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities."  How does this not make God sound like a spoiled brat who has little interest in helping people who don't like him?  He loves you unconditionally—but if you don't do what he wants, when you call him for help, he'll huff and say, "oh, fine, all right."  And then he'll make himself a sandwich, finish watching his TV show, and stop to drop off his dry cleaning on the way over.

Imprison First, Ask Questions Later
In verse 23, Limhi and his guards discover Ammon and his friends outside the city.  Then, "supposing them to be priests of Noah therefore [Limhi] caused that [Ammon and his brethren] should be taken, bound, and cast into prison."  His plan was to kill them if they turned out to be the priests of Noah.

Except, if you remember back to chapter 7, Ammon was in prison for two days before he was brought before King Limhi.  Apparently, nobody bothered to ask Ammon who he was when he was arrested.  And Limhi was too busy with his kingly duties to talk to Ammon, even though he suspected him of being pretty much Public Enemy Number One (you know, what with Noah's priests being evil scumbags, escaping execution and then almost starting a huge war by stealing the Lamanite daughters).

And when Ammon gets brought in for questioning after a completely unjust imprisonment (due process, anyone?) he's just like, "Oh, hey, I'm from the Motherland," and everything is totally fine.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Limhi is an idiot. I guess he's a bit of a tyrant, too.

Authority Really Isn't That Hard to Come By
Verse 33 is...well, I shake my head sadly when I read it.
And it came to pass that king Limhi and many of his people were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God.  And Ammon declined doing this thing, considering himself to be an unworthy servant.
Oh, no.  We have no one with authority to baptize us.  If only God could make up some ridiculous solution.  It's not like he could pick some random guy who was actually kind of evil to begin with and spontaneously grant him the authority to baptize himself and everybody else.  It's not like that's what happened with Alma three chapters ago.  And since Ammon is too much of a wimp to do it, I guess we'll just sit here and be unbaptized.

What's so great about the people of Alma that God gives them saving ordinances when they convert to the gospel but not to the people of Limhi when they do?


  1. Great analysis. I have a couple more things to comment on.

    Verse 17: Now there was a great number of women, more than there was of men; therefore king Limhi commanded that every man should impart to the support of the widows and their children, that they might not perish with hunger; and this they did because of the greatness of their number that had been slain. (Book of Mormon, Mosiah, Chapter 21)

    This was a very good thing to do, but I wonder why they didn't take them as plural wives like Joseph, Brigham, Heber, etc. would have done. Oh wait, that would have been an abomination (Jacob 2:24). Think about it though. Plural marriage would have taken care of the women and children and would have given them the ability to raise up more sons to go up against the Lamanites.

    Now a comment about Limhi who, as you have pointed out so well, was an idiot. He was also an idiot for not securing their grain and precious things well enough for Noah's wicked priests to be able to sneak in and steal it. I also wonder what precious things they would have even had left after 3 major defeats by the Lamanites.

    1. Both good points!

      And to add to your second one, how and why did the priests of Noah steal from the people of Limhi anyway? They were completely surrounded by the Lamanites. So instead of stealing from the edge of civilization, ensuring an easy getaway, the priests decided to sneak into the center of the circle, steal stuff, and then risk getting caught in their miles-long flight to safety?

    2. Right. Well, here are some possible explanations:

      1) God was with THEM.
      2) Their evil god is more powerful
      3) Limhi overstates the strength of the Lamanite Army. Heck, they didn't stop Ammon coming into the city.
      4) Since all of the Lamanite men are guarding the City of Nephi, why didn't the wicked priests just steal from the Lamanite cities instead? They did steal away the daughters, though.