Over the past twenty years of teaching the Book of Mormon I’ve found that many people get confused in the storyline about the book of Omni. We know what happened to Nephi, and Jacob was his brother. But by the time we get to King Benjamin, many of us aren’t quite sure why Benjamin is in the land of Zarahemla, Limhi is in the land of Nephi and how they both relate to Mosiah1, Mosiah2, Zeniff, Noah, Abinadi and Alma1. My hope is to give a clear summary of the Book of Mormon storyline from Omni through Mosiah 25.
Before I start the story summary, a quick note for teachers. I find it helpful to verbally walk through this storyline, and then ask students to reteach it to each other using the map as a guide. My goal is for students to be able to tell the full story without the map, but that might be too aggressive of a learning goal in some cases. There are endless quiz questions here that could be used in quizzing students about this map. These could form the base for a class review game, although some of the questions are a little challenging and go beyond the scope of this overview. For those who prefer video to reading, you can see my video version of the the below explanation.
And now, the storyline from Omni-Mosiah 25.
Jarom (the grandson of Jacob, son of Enos) finished his record in approximately 362 AD and passed the plates to his son Omni. The plates went to three other individuals before going to Amaleki, who wrote the majority of the book of Omni and provided several important historical details in Omni 1:12-30.
Amaleki writes of a man named Mosiah (we will refer to him as Mosiah1) who was warned by the Lord to leave the land of Nephi—the place where the original Nephi had moved back in 2 Nephi 5. He took all who would listen to him and traveled to a place called Zarahemla. When they arrived in the land of Zarahemla they met a group of people whom we call the Mulekites; they were led by a man named Zarahemla (note that Zarahemla is both a person and a place).
The history of the Mulekites is as follows: around the same time Lehi left Jerusalem, there was a man named Mulek, who was the son of Zedekiah, the king of Judah at the time Lehi left. A few years after Lehi fled Jerusalem, Mulek also left. Like Lehi, Mulek landed somewhere in the Americas. His descendants, including Zarahemla, lived in the land of Zarahemla. Thus Mulek and his descendants had been living in the New World during the same time period as Nephi and his descendants, just in a different location. By the time they met in the book of Omni, about 450 years had passed since Lehi and Mulek left Jerusalem. Thus for several centuries these two civilizations, both of whom came out of Jerusalem, lived in America without knowledge of each other. Significantly, the Mulekites did not bring a record with them, such as the brass plates, and their civilization had suffered some negative consequences as a result.
Zarahemla was the king of the Mulekites, and Mosiah1 was the king of the Nephites. These two groups united and Mosiah1 became the leader of this combined group that referred to themselves as “Nephites,” even though the majority of the group were actually Mulekites. After Mosiah1 passed away, his son King Benjamin became king. King Benjamin’s son, Mosiah2, reigned as king after Benjamin.
During this time period in the Book of Mormon the storyline becomes more complex as there were Nephites living both in the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla (note—these two cities were about 180 miles apart). Let’s use a map to help us visualize what transpires. You’ll notice that there are eight journeys (you can read about these journeys in-depth in Omni 1:12-30 and Mosiah 7-24).
The first one (“Journey 1”) is the one we discussed previously, in which Mosiah1 led a group of people out of the land of Nephi and into the land of Zarahemla. Once the Nephites vacated the land of Nephi, it was taken over by a group of Lamanites. Sometime later, some Nephites left the land of Zarahemla to try to take back their ancestral lands. That expedition ended in the Nephites fighting amongst themselves and returning to the land of Zarahemla (“Journey 2” on our map). Later, a second group of Nephites returns to the Land of Nephi (“Journey 3”).
Zeniff led this group; he and his people approached the king of the Lamanites and asked if they could take ownership of part of the land. The king of the Lamanites granted this desire, but after twelve years, the king of the Lamanites decided that the Nephites were becoming too strong and wanted to take back the land. As long as Zeniff was alive, the Lamanites were unsuccessful in their attempts to retake the land.
When Zeniff died, his son Noah became king. He led his people into wickedness and a prophet named Abinadi was sent by the Lord to preach repentance to the people. Abinadi taught the Ten Commandments as well as the Savior’s Atonement. He was captured and at the trial King Noah pronounced a death sentence upon him. At this point, Alma1 (sometimes referred to as Alma the Elder), one of King Noah’s priests, stood up for Abinadi. King Noah threw Alma1 out of his court and put Abinadi to death.
Alma1 began to teach others and baptized about 450 people in a place called the Waters of Mormon. He and his followers fled from Noah’s army and established a peaceful city named Helam (these events are represented by Journey 4 on the map).
King Noah’s people began to be divided concerning their approval of Noah, which led to contention. A man named Gideon was about to kill Noah when the Lamanites attacked the Nephites. King Noah’s people fled from the Lamanites, and Noah, wanting a swifter flight, commanded the men to leave behind their wives and children. Some men fled with Noah, others stayed behind with their families. Those who stayed behind had their daughters plead with the Lamanites to spare them. The Lamanites did so, but forced the Nephites to pay fifty percent of all of their crops, gold, and so forth as a tax. Noah’s son Limhi became the leader of the captive group of Nephites.
The group who followed King Noah eventually killed him. They intended to also kill Noah’s priests but the priests escaped. Amulon was one of these priests; he and the others hid in the wilderness for a time and eventually kidnapped some of the daughters of the Lamanites and took them for wives. The Lamanites were angry and thought that Limhi’s people had kidnapped their daughters; consequently, they attacked the Nephites. Once the Lamanites realized that Limhi’s people were not at fault the battle ended.
Limhi and his people want to escape bondage so they sought help from the Nephites in the Land of Zarahemla. Limhi sent a group of people (Journey 5) to the land of Zarahemla to try to get help, but they lost their way. They traveled far past the land of Zarahemla and found a land the Nephites called Desolation—where the Jaredite nation had been destroyed. Limhi’s explorers found the bones of the Jaredites, some of the armor, and also 24 gold plates (that would later be abridged into the Book of Ether). This group came back to show King Limhi what they found.
During this time period of Zeniff and Noah and Limhi, the Nephites in Zarahemla had not been aware of what was happening the land of Nephi. People wanted to know though what had happened to Zeniff and those who followed him, so they came to Mosiah2 (the king in Zarahemla) and asked him to send individuals to find out. Mosiah2 sent an expedition down to the land Nephi to answer this question (Journey 6). These people met Limhi and learned about what had happened with Zeniff, King Noah, Abinadi, and Alma1. They began to work together on a plan to help the people escape from the Lamanites. Gideon (the same individual who tried to kill King Noah) was at this time an advisor to Limhi and suggested getting the Lamanites drunk. They put this plan into effect and successfully escaped (Journey 7).
The Lamanites woke up to find that their Nephite prisoners had escaped. They chased after the Nephites but became lost. As they tried to make their way back to the land of Nephi they found Amulon and the other former priests of Noah. By this time the kidnapped daughters of the Lamanites had married the priests and had children with them so the Lamanites decided to spare the priests. They were all trying to get back to the land of Nephi when they stumbled upon Alma1 and his group, who had been peacefully living in the land of Helam.
The Lamanites placed Alma1’s people in bondage. Alma1’s people prayed and the Lord provided a miracle in which the Lamanites fell into a deep sleep and Alma1’s people escaped back to Zarahemla (Journey 8). Thus by Mosiah chapter 25, Limhi’s and Alma1’s groups were both back in the land of Zarahemla (Amulon’s group stayed with the Lamanites). At this point most of the Nephites are in Zarahemla and the Lamanites are still in the land of Nephi.
And that’s the storyline from Omni-Mosiah 25!
Is the video better than blog post? Please let me know!