Mormon 2:2 in my sixteenth year
For Mormon to be selected to lead the Nephite armies at the age of 16 is remarkable. What is even more remarkable was that he was actually only 15 when this took place! The phrase "in my sixteenth year" often causes confusion. This is language which makes Mormon sound older than he really was. Mormon started his sixteenth year after his fifteenth birthday. He would not complete his sixteenth year until his sixteenth birthday. Therefore, if he was still "in his sixteenth year," he was 15 at the time. The same concept is found in Joseph Smith's declaration that, in the spring of 1820, he was in his fifteenth year (JS-H 1:7). We understand by this that he was actually 14 years old when visited by the Father and the Son.
Mormon 2:2 I did go forth at the head of an army of the Nephites
Sterling W. Sill
"If you think it an inspiration that a 16 year old boy could win the leadership of a great national army what would you think of a man between the ages of 65 and 74 who was still the best man among his entire people for this top position of leadership, and in those days the general marched at the head and not in the rear of his troops. (Mormon 6:11) It is one thing to shoot a guided missile at an enemy a thousand miles away, but it is quite another thing to meet the enemy face to face, and with a sword or a battle axe, take on all comers, old and young, on any basis they might choose to elect; and still be in there fighting at age 74. No weakling or coward survives a test like that. His leadership and great skill in battle must have been an inspiration to those fortunate companions in arms who were privileged to fight at his side" (quoted in Daniel Ludlow's A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.299)
Mormon 2:3 they begat to retreat towards the north countries
The geography here is much different than in previous battles. This is not just because of the great transformation of the land which occurred at Christ's death. These battles took place in lands further north than any other battles. We learn of completely new cities and lands: the city of Angola (v. 4), the land of David (v. 5), the land of Joshua (v. 6), the land of Jashon (v. 17), and the city of Shem (v. 21). While very young, some of these areas may have been Mormon's playground, but as a teenage military captain, they became his battleground.
Mormon 2:8-10 the land was filled with robbers...it was one complete revolution
"The first two chapters of Mormon give a wonderful description of the complete breakdown of a civilization. 'And it was one complete revolution throughout all the face of the land' (Mormon 2:8). Recent studies have shown that when the Roman Empire collapsed all of a sudden, just such vast roving and plundering bands filled the earth as those described in the Book of Mormon. Insecurity was complete (Mormon 1:18); people took refuge in 'sorceries, and witchcrafts, and magics' (Mormon 1:19). The Dark Ages were upon them. 'No man could keep that which was his own, for the thieves, and the robbers, and the murderers, and the magic art, and the which was in the land' (Mormon 2:10)." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 395)
Mormon 2:10 thieves...robbers...murderers...magic art...and the
"Everyone was a possible victim here. Nobody was safe. Total insecurity. And this is the way you feel today if you want to walk around in some of our inner cities. Everybody's bedizened and befuddled by these magic arts. It's the mystique of the gangs and the graffiti...They get themselves up in fantastic, spooky costumes; paint their faces; draw their weird graffitis; and have their secret signs." (Teachings From the Book of Mormon, Lecture 106, p. 211)
Mormon 2:12-13 my heart did begin to rejoice within me...But behold this my joy was vain
Spencer W. Kimball
"The essence of the miracle of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul. In a world of turmoil and contention this is indeed a priceless gift.
"The Nephite civilization did not learn this in time. As it began to funnel to a rough and tragic conclusion, the prophet Mormon thought he glimpsed a possibility of the people's repenting and receiving forgiveness for their great sins. But he was mistaken. All his life, since his boyhood, he had decried the hardness of his people and watched with sadness and tears the approaching darkness. Finally his hope vanished." (The Miracles of Forgiveness, p. 363)
Mormon 2:13 their sorrowing was not unto repentance...it was rather the sorrowing of the damned
Ezra Taft Benson
"I would like to stress...what the scriptures term 'godly sorrow' for our sins. It is not uncommon to find men and women in the world who feel remorse for the things they do wrong. Sometimes this is because their actions cause them or loved ones great sorrow and misery. Sometimes their sorrow is caused because they are caught and punished for their actions. Such worldly feelings do not constitute 'godly sorrow.'
"Godly sorrow is vividly portrayed in two places in scripture. In the final days of the Nephite nation, Mormon said of his people: 'their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin. And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die' (Morm. 2:13-14).
"In the Eastern Hemisphere, the Apostle Paul labored among the people of Corinth. After reports came of serious problems among the Saints, including immorality (see 1 Cor. 5:1), Paul wrote a sharp letter of rebuke. The people responded in the proper spirit, and evidently the problems were corrected, for in his second epistle to them, Paul wrote: 'Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner....For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death' (2 Cor. 7:9-10). In both of these scriptures, godly sorrow is defined as a sorrow that leads us to repentance.
"Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit. It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering. Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore. This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having 'a broken heart and a contrite spirit.' Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance." (Ensign, Oct. 1989, "First Presidency Message")
Spencer W. Kimball
"Often people indicate that they have repented when all they have done is to express regret for a wrong act. But true repentance is marked by that godly sorrow that changes, transforms, and saves. To be sorry is not enough. Perhaps the felon in the penitentiary, coming to realize the high price he must pay for his folly, may wish he had not committed the crime. That is not repentance. The vicious man who is serving a stiff sentence for rape may be very sorry he did the deed, but he is not repentant if his heavy sentence is the only reason for his sorrow. That is the sorrow of the world.
"The truly repentant man is sorry before he is apprehended. He is sorry even if his secret is never known. He desires to make voluntary amends...Repentance of the godly type means that one comes to recognize the sin and voluntarily and without pressure from outside sources begins his transformation." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 153 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 473-4)
Neal A. Maxwell
"Recognition is a sacred moment...real remorse floods the soul...False remorse instead is like 'fondling our failings.' In ritual regret, we mourn our mistakes but without mending them." (Conference Report, Nov. 1991 Ensign, "Repentance")
Neal A. Maxwell
"...the natural man never picks up the cross. His is the 'sorrowing of the damned,' which involves regret but not necessarily over the sin itself. Instead, it is because these sorrowers can no longer take pleasure in sin (see Mormon 2:13). Quite a difference, for the natural man still clings, not to the cross, but to his old ways" (That Ye May Believe, p. 48)
Neal A. Maxwell
"...we see so much 'sorrowing of the damned'-this by those in a psychological no-man's-land (see Mormon 2:12-13). These individuals can no longer take pleasure in sin, but they do not fully repent, either. They hope somehow to be saved in their sins instead of being willing to 'give away all [their] sins' in order to know God (Alma 22:18)." (If Thou Endure It Well, p. 16)
Mormon 2:13 the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin
"But modern sinners demand that modern science do just that; they claim as their right freedom from consequences, the suspension of the cause-effect principle when it interferes with their desires." (Rodney Turner, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Jacob - WofM, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 278)
"The classic example of this we have with us now. We never knew such a perfect case [of] the sorrowing of the damned. Sorrow for their sins? [for] what they have done?...No, but 'because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.' What's the attitude of people with AIDS? They sorrow, they suffer, they want a cure. We have to do something. They have to be saved, but never do they show any inclination to repent of what brought the thing on. If we only had the cure, then they could continue in their own ways and feel happy about it. They sort of resent being unable to do that...They sorrow, but it's the sorrow of the damned and they sorrow just for one reason-that they can't go on doing the very thing that's brought them into this terrible path. If they had a chance, they'd go right on doing it forever. The Lord must call a halt here sometime. So now he's going to do it." (Teachings From the Book of Mormon, Lecture 104, p. 197)
Mormon 2:15 I saw that the day of grace was passed with them
Mormon must have thought a lot about the prophecies of Samuel. This Lamanite prophet so accurately prophesied of Mormon's day, saying, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure (Hel 13:38). Alma warned what would happen to the procrastinators. His words are just as applicable to the openly rebellious, for they become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked (Alma 34:35).
Jeffrey R. Holland
"It is at this moment in Nephite history-just under 950 years since it had begun and just over 300 years since they had been visited by the Son of God himself-that Mormon realized the story was finished. In perhaps the most chilling line he ever wrote, Mormon asserted simply, 'I saw that the day of grace was passed with them, both temporally and spiritually.' His people had learned that most fateful of all lessons-that the Spirit of God will not always strive with man; that it is possible, collectively as well as individually, to have time run out. The day of repentance can pass, and it had passed for the Nephites. Their numbers were being 'hewn down in open rebellion against their God,' and in a metaphor almost too vivid in its moral commentary, they were being 'heaped up as dung upon the face of the land.'" (Christ and the New Covenant, p. 319)
Spencer W. Kimball
"It is true that the great principle of repentance is always available, but for the wicked and rebellious there are serious reservations to this statement. For instance, sin is intensely habit-forming and sometimes moves men to the tragic point of no return. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness, and without forgiveness all the blessings of eternity hang in jeopardy. As the transgressor moves deeper and deeper in his sin, and the error is entrenched more deeply and the will to change is weakened, it becomes increasingly nearer hopeless and he skids down and down until either he does not want to climb back up or he has lost the power to do so." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 117.)
Mormon 2:15 I saw thousands of them hewn down...and heaped up as dung
Neal A. Maxwell
"For Mormon, seeing thousands of bodies 'heaped up as dung upon the face of the land' must have produced profound emotions within him, not unlike those a British journalist experienced when he went to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of World War II, the opening lines of whose dispatch were, 'It is my duty to describe something beyond the imagination of mankind' (Time Magazine, April 29, 1985, p. 133, International Edition).
"Again, the words of Mormon: 'And it is impossible for the tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people, both of the Nephites and of the Lamanites; and every heart was hardened, so that they delighted in the shedding of blood continually' (Mormon 4:11)." (But For a Small Moment, p. 66)
Mormon 2:17 I had gone according to the word of Ammaron, and taken the plates of Nephi
Mormon was faithful in executing Ammaron's command. Ten years prior to 345 AD, at the age of 24, Mormon took the large plates of Nephi from among a huge collection of other records and began to record his history. Elder Anthony W. Ivins said, "It will be observed that at this time only the plates of Nephi were removed from the hill Shim, by Mormon." (Conference Report, Apr. 1928, p. 12) Over thirty years later, after 375 AD, Mormon decided it was time to take possession of all the other records (Mormon 4:23). He was their custodian until just before the great and last battle, 385 AD, when he placed them securely in the hill Cumorah (see Mormon 6:6).
Mormon 2:18 upon these plates I did forbear to make a full account of their wickedness
Even Mormon's personal history, as contained in Mormon 1-7, is an abbreviated work. He likely spent a lot of time cataloguing every wicked abomination of his doomed nation in his full account. This project would have started at the age of 24 when he first obtained the Large Plates of Nephi. According to tradition, he would have recorded all the secular and ecclesiastical history of his people. (Even though we have his abbreviated history, how interesting it would be to read that record!) He must have felt like Ether before him, as he dwelt in the cavity of a rock he made the remainder of this record, viewing the destructions which came upon the people (Ether 13:14).
So when we read Mormon 1-7, we must understand that Mormon is not painting the picture as graphically and vividly as he could. He is sparing us the gory details in an abridgement of his own record, behold, I Mormon, do not desire to harrow up the souls of men in casting before them such an awful scene of blood and carnage...therefore I write a small abridgment (Mormon 5:8-9). Still, he paints a pretty graphic picture, there was blood and carnage spread throughout all the face of the land...it was one complete revolution...I saw thousands...heaped up as dung upon the face of the land...And it is impossible for tongue to describe, or for man to write a perfect description of the horrible scene of the blood and carnage which was among the people...[they] did take many prisoners both women and children, and did offer them up as sacrifices unto their idol gods (Mormon 2:8,15; 4:11,14).
In an epistle to his son, Mormon felt free to describe their wickedness even more graphically, they thirst after blood and revenge continually...they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers...many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue...they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodies even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery. (Moroni 9:5-10) If this depraved wickedness isn't enough, there is another record written by Mormon which describes much, much more. This Mormon referred to as his full account.
Mormon 2:18 a continual scene of wickedness and abominations has been before mine eyes
"It is not surprising that their personal experience of things led both Mormon and his son to embrace a completely pessimistic view of the world. As far as the human race taken by itself in a splendid isolation is concerned, both men talk like existentialists. For them the tragic isolation of man is a fact: men have cut themselves off from God and their state is hopeless. If the father can report that 'a continual scene of wickedness and abominations has been before mine eyes ever since I have been sufficient to behold the ways of man' (Mormon 2:18), the son could only have seen the latter and worst part of the picture." (Since Cumorah, p. 401)
Mormon 2:19 I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day
"One great objective of our lives should be to make our calling and election sure, that is, to so live that we receive assurance from the Lord that when this life is over, we shall be exalted and dwell with him. Mormon may have had this blessing, as did other Nephite prophets (see Mosiah 26:20; Enos 1:27; 3 Nephi 28:3), for he tell us: 'I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day.' (Mormon 2:19)
'Those members of the Church who devote themselves wholly to righteousness, living by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, make their calling and election sure. That is, they receive the more sure word of prophecy, which means that the Lord seals their exaltation upon them while they are yet in this life...
'...The more sure word of prophecy means a man's knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy through the power of the Holy Priesthood.' (D. & C. 131:5.)...The prophet, for one, had this seal placed upon him...To him Deity said: 'I am the Lord thy God, and will be with thee even unto the end of the world, and through all eternity; for verily I seal upon you your exaltation, and prepare a throne for you in the kingdom of my Father with Abraham your father.' (D. & C. 132:49.)' (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 109-110)"
(Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 459-60)
Mormon 2:26 the strength of the Lord was not with us...we had become weak like unto our brethren
"By using his own people as an example, Mormon provides us with a significant doctrinal teaching concerning the 'strength of the Lord' that comes by the power of the Holy Ghost through personal righteousness. 'I know, in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things,' Lamoni testified (Alma 20:4). There is a real power, both physical and spiritual, that can come into the life of every man or woman who is filled with the Holy Ghost. That power constitutes the 'strength of the Lord'--a divine, unlimited power. Without that strength and power we are left only with the limited mortal abilities of man. Mormon informs us that his people were without the Spirit. Having no claim upon the infinite powers and strengths of God, being cut off from the blessings of the Spirit, they were left to their own natural abilities, which were infinitely inferior to the 'strength of the Lord.' Thus they were nothing special or unique; they were just like any other natural man. Ammon clearly understood the difference between the strength of the Lord and mortal man's weakness. He testified: 'I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things' (Alma 26:12).
"This important doctrinal message was also forcefully impressed upon the heart and soul of the young prophet Joseph Smith after the loss of the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon. To him the Lord declared: 'For although a man may have many revelations, and have power to do many mighty works, yet if he boasts in his own strength, and sets at naught the counsels of God, and follows after the dictates of his own will and carnal desires, he must fall and incur the vengeance of a just God upon him.' The Lord further instructed Joseph to be faithful and repent of his sins, and then again warned: 'Except thou do this, thou shalt be delivered up and become as other men' (see D&C 3:4, 11, italics added).
"To ensure that we do not disqualify ourselves from having the strength of the Lord we must live our lives in such a way as not to repel the Spirit. By being faithful, obedient, penitent, and spiritually vigilant we can have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which strengthens and protects in both physical and spiritual ways (we D&C 35:14; D&C 84:33; D&C 89:18-20; see also Teachings, p. 323)." (McConkie, Millet, and Top, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 4, p. 220)
Mormon 2:28 we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton
It's one thing to make a treaty with the Lamanites, but to have to make a treaty with a band of outlaws is pretty bad. Politically, this is as bad as acknowledging terrorists, paying off kidnappers, or legitimizing a drug cartel. The Gadiantons had again become a political force to be reckoned with-all because the Nephites had become so weak that they could no longer call the shots.