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Within 20 years after Lehi's colony reached the promised land, his people divided into two groups, the Nephites and Lamanites. The Nephites fled into the wilderness to escape the wickedness and murderous intentions of the Lamanites.

The Nephites settled a land they named Nephi, where they prospered greatly and multiplied exceedingly. (2 Ne. 5:13.) They remained there until about 200 B.C. The years were not all spent in righteousness, however. By 279 B.C., "the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed" and the righteous were spared. (Omni 1:5-7.)After a short period of time, when most of the Nephites had become wicked again, the Lord warned Mosiah to flee with any of the righteous who would follow him. Mosiah led his band of followers into the wilderness where they discovered the land of Zarahemla and a population they called the people of Zarahemla. (Omni 1:13-14.) Although the word does not appear in the Book of Mormon, these people are often referred to as the Mulekites because they were descendants of Mulek, who left Jerusalem about the same time as Lehi.

The people of Zarahemla, or the Mulekites, and the Nephites united, calling themselves Nephites, and chose Mosiah to be their king. (Omni 1:18-19.) A short time later, a group of Nephites was led by Zeniff to reclaim their former home in the land of Nephi, also known as the land of Lehi-Nephi or as the land of their first inheritance.

While Zeniff resettled the land of Nephi, Benjamin became king, succeeding his father, Mosiah. In turn, Benjamin was succeeded by his son, Mosiah II.

About 80 years passed and nothing was heard from Zeniff and his colonizers and their descendants since the time they left the land of Zarahemla. Mosiah, the second king over Zarahemla, appointed Ammon to head an expedition to the land of Lehi-Nephi to find the lost colony.

Ammon and his men eventually were captured and imprisoned by the guards of King Limhi, "the son of Noah, who was the son of Zeniff, who came out of Zarahemla to inherit this land." (Mosiah 7:9.) When Limhi discovered Ammon also was a descendant of Zarahemla, he rejoiced to know "that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive." (Mosiah 7:14.)

Limhi had thought the people of Zarahemla were destroyed. Earlier, he had sent an expedition in search of Zarahemla. When his explorers found the ruins of a civilization, which they thought was Zarahemla, they mistakenly assumed the people of Zarahemla were killed or taken captive. (Mosiah 21:26.)


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Limhi's people pay half of belongings in exchange for their lives

The people of Zeniff were in the land of Lehi-Nephi under three generations of leaders: Zeniff ruled in righteousness; Noah, Zeniff's son and successor, was a wicked king who caused the prophet Abinadi to be put to death; and Limhi, Zeniff's grandson, who returned to righteousness.

When Ammon and the men in his expedition reached the land of Lehi-Nephi in search of Zeniff's lost colony, they discovered Limhi and his people were in servitude to the Lamanites, having to pay half of all they owned in exchange for their lives. Limhi, in hopes of obtaining help to free his people from bondage, earlier had sent 43 men in search of the land of Zarahemla, but they failed to find that land.

In the land of Lehi-Nephi, Ammon and Limhi formulated a plan suggested by one of Limhi's soldiers, Gideon. They gave the Lamanite guards wine, and while the guards sank into a drunken sleep, the Nephites escaped with their families and animals through a pass into the wilderness. They traveled many days before they arrived in Zarahemla, where they became subjects of King Mosiah II.

Ten Commandments remain as God's `immutable word'

In the days of King Noah, the Lord sent the prophet Abinadi among the people to call them to repentance. No information is given concerning Abinadi's origins.

King Noah imprisoned Abinadi for prophesying the destruction of the people and the king's death. As Abinadi stood before Noah and his false priests to make his defense, " . . . the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses' did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord." (Mosiah 13:5.) Abinadi then reiterated the Ten Commandments, which were given to Moses by the Lord on Sinai. (See Mosiah 12:35-36, and 13:12-24.)

In his October 1978 general conference address, Elder S. Dilworth Young of the First Quorum of the Seventy said: "Abinadi told those present with King Noah that he perceived that these Ten Commandments were, to quote him, `not written in your hearts.' (Mosiah 13:11.)

"But there they stand, the immutable word from the great meeting of Moses with his Maker amid the thunderings and lightnings of Sinai.

"In our day the necessity of following the Ten Commandments is all the more urgent. Five of them were repeated in Section 42 of the Doctrine and Covenants. Others are spoken of in other sections. I early resolved to keep them all.

"Incidentally, to this generation of young fathers I suggest that they spend overtime teaching their children the fifth commandment, which tells them to honor their parents.

"We teach children that they must not lie and steal, but do little to have them understand that adolescent rebellion is a flagrant breaking of the commandment to honor parents. To make the teaching effective, parents must live to deserve the honor children are commanded to give them. It is devastating to a child to learn that his father does not have integrity."


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Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.

Information compiled by Gerry Avant

Sources: October 1978 general conference report and A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, by Daniel H. Ludlow.