Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Alma 49: Tower Defense

Amalickiah sends his armies out to destroy the Nephites.  Shockingly, the Nephites have fortified their cities to the extent that the Lamanites are basically powerless to attack them.

Population Distribution
When the Lamanites arrive to attack the city of Ammonihah, they are appalled to discover that the Nephites have built some kind of wall of earth around the entire city.  The Lamanites have no way of getting past the wall other than targeting the gates, which would create a choke point and lead to their slaughter.  So they withdraw and advance on the city of Noah, which, to their "uttermost astonishment," is even more ably secured.  Upon learning that Lehi is in command of the defense of the city of Noah, the Lamanites vow to destroy him and do their damnedest to follow through.  Instead, they get their asses kicked until they scurry back to their homeland to lick their wounds.

Captain Moroni had apparently made sure that every single Nephite city had a huge wall around it (verse 13) so that there could be no weak points in the entire nation.  But that brings up the problem of where those cities' resources come from.  If the Lamanites were really as ruthless and barbaric as they are so frequently depicted, I'm sure they would have thought of laying siege to a city and cutting off its supplies.  The only reason this wouldn't have worked is if everything the city needed was inside the defenses.  That means that Moroni had walls erected around all the fields for crops and all the pastures for the livestock.  Which is totally unrealistic.

If Nephite civilization was spread out the way civilizations tend to spread out, the Lamanites should have been able to find some kind of weakness.  Whether it was laying siege to the city of Noah or burning crops and scattering animals, there should have been something the Lamanites could have done to deal the hurt.  The population distribution of the Book of Mormon appears to be a set of large polka dots.  Nowhere is a Nephite or a Lamanite depicted as living off on his own.  There's no mention of any farmers.  But there are abundant references to citiescities whose populations are dense enough and whose borders are clearly defined enough to have walls encircling them.  None of this seems indicative of a society that may have actually existed.

Once the Lamanite forces finally withdraw with their tails between their legs, "the people of Nephi did thank the Lord their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the hands of their enemies."  Seems like they're showing gratitude to the wrong person.

The Nephite defenses and strategies haven't been attributed to God in any way until now.  For example, in verse 8, it explains that "they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni."  There was no miraculous event that derailed a probable Lamanite victory.  There was no timely deus ex machina to pluck the Nephites from a horrible fate.  There was no mention of Moroni's strategy being the result of any kind of prayer or divine inspiration. He outsmarted the bad guys all on his own and it was pretty much over before it started.
"We're saved!  He saved us!  Commander Taggert has saved us!"
But those Nephites praised God for delivering them with no thought to the tireless work of Moroni, who ensured that every single Nephite settlement was impenetrably guarded against a Lamanite incursion.  It was a bold plan, but it seems to have paid off...except that the people he'd so expertly defended chose to give their gratitude to someone who wasn't even involved.

I actually feel a little sorry for him right now.  He finally did something that wasn't douchey or bloodthirsty and he doesn't even get credit for it.

That Crap Worked on Corianton?
But perhaps the most depressing part of this chapter is the final verse:
Yea, and there was continual peace among them, and exceedingly great prosperity in the church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the word of God, which was declared unto them by Helaman, and Shiblon, and Corianton, and Ammon and his brethren, yea, and by all those who had been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance and sent forth to preach among the people.
Corianton is now a missionary and a leader in the church.  How disappointing.  After sitting through four chapters of self-righteous, irrelevant, and disingenuous blathering from his dad, he actually decided to come back to the church.  Corianton, buddy...what were you thinking?  All that weird rambling about resurrection and eternal punishment actually convinced you?

I definitely feel bad for that guy, getting sucked back into the cult because of familial pressure.


  1. I've always questioned the whole idea of fortifying the city. Here are a few obvious questions:

    1) How did they do it so quickly? Even today with heavy equipment, jobs like that would take many years if not decades.

    2) How did they get the materials? Even small towns burn up all the nearby wood and use up the convenient to acquire stone. They would have had to haul materials many miles. Impossible to do quickly.

    3) Where were the Lamanite spies? They had to have known something was going on. You don't take on such a big project without detection of the enemy.

    4) Where are these incredible fortifications today. Archeologists have found NO evidence of ANYTHING Book of Mormon related in the Americas.

    1. All good points. Any of these things seems unlikely if done to just one city, but somehow Moroni made them all happen with EVERY city.