Sorry, it’s been so long since I’ve posted. I misplaced my computer and recently recovered it. I’ve been looking forward to this post for a long time, and I’m so excited to share it. This is something I’ve wanted to do with the Book of Mormon characters for awhile. I’ll preface it by saying I try to be as factual as possible but a lot of this is my opinion. Take it as you will.
Alma, the older dies at the age of 82 and King Mosiah, dies at the age of 63, after reigning for 33 years. According to the footnotes, Mosiah and Alma die in 91 BC. All we have to do is add their ages to the year to get their birth year.
Alma the Elder
Add 91 to 82, and you have 173 BC. Looking back in the Book of Mormon timeline we don’t have the record of that year specifically. The period however would fall in the Book of Omni. Knowing the Book of Omni has a lot of different authors, we need to find the closest one. Aaron wrote in the year 279 BC. Which is too early. Therefore we have Chemish and his son Abinadom. Chemish, based off of verse 9 in Omni, looks to be contemporaries, at least for awhile. That means he didn’t live to the period we are looking for. His son, Abinadom, appears to be the answer. We get two verse about the period Alma the Elder grew up in. We know Abinadom says there were many wars and contentions in the land between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Abinadom himself didn’t add any revelation or prophecy, so there may not have been many records during this time. If there were my guess is they would have been added.
Whoops!! Never mind. Well, what I said may be relevant, but we can get a much more accurate picture. Remember, Alma the Elder doesn’t come from the original stock of Nephites. Well, he does, but his parents were part of Zeniff’s group that left the land of their living to go back and take the land of their first inheritance.
Growing Up Among the People of Zeniff
Let’s review the story of Zeniff. Go to Mosiah 9. This is where the record starts. In 200 BC a group from Zarahemla starts out. They are permitted by the Lamanites to dwell there. They prosper, the Lamanites battle them, Zeniff’s group wins. There is peace in the land for 22 years. This brings us to 178 BC (5 years before Alma the Elder is born). The Lamanites come up again. It appears to be a one-time thing. After that, there is peace in the land till Zeniff dies and bestows the kingdom on his son, Noah, in the year 160 BC (estimate). By this time, Alma is 13 years old. Seemingly, Alma the Elder, at least for the early years of his life, grew up under a righteous king (Zeniff). His parents may have taught him concerning God; I don’t know. Somehow he gets entangled in King Noah’s courts. But I’m getting ahead of myself, let’s keep going.
Abinadi comes up to the land about 150 BC. Alma the Elder is 23 years old now. Abinadi is cast out and comes again in disguise two years later. Alma is now 25 years old. Alma believes Abinadi and he and his group of followers leave the town the next year (147 BC). Alma is 26. They wander, captured by the Lamanites, enslaved, and freed and returned to Zarahemla in 120 BC. Alma is now 53 years old.
Alma in Zarahemla
Alma the Elder has a son, Alma the Younger, and he is friends with the sons of Mosiah. They go about destroying the church between 100-92 BC. Alma the Elder is between 73-81 years old when this is happening. I was going to start speculating on the age of Alma the Younger, but I think it will have to wait till I get to the end of his life. Nah, I want to do it now. I want to know. According to Alma 45:18, Alma the younger leaves the land in 73 BC and is never heard of again, assuming he was taken up as Moses. Alma the younger lives 18 years without his dad before departing and never being heard of again. At the time of him and the sons of Mosiah destroying the church, they are referred to as “men.” Let’s take it to mean our definition just for fun, 18 years. To get birth years, 92+18=110 BC (92 being one end of the years he was destroying the church.) Also 100+18=118 BC (100 BC being the other end of the spectrum of years he was destroying the church.). 110BC and 118BC are two possible birth years for Alma the Younger. Remember, the people of Alma the Elder got to Zarahemla around 120 BC. I like the 118BC birth year for Alma more than the other. Just because their definition of manhood was probably older than 18 and that year accounts for it and makes sense chronologically. Let’s say that is right. It would mean he was 45 years old (118 BC-73 BC)when he departed into the wilderness. It also means he was anywhere from 18-26 when he was destroying the church. So Alma the Elder dies at age 82 while his son is between 19-27 years old. After which, I’m thinking becomes the Chief Judge in his late 20s could be accurate. I don’t know, though, I wasn’t there.
Before I move on with King Mosiah, I would like to point out Alma the Younger was nearly the same age as his father when he was converted. Like father, like son. A cool tidbit.
King Mosiah II
He died when he was 63 and 33 of those years he spent as king. Died in 91 BC. Add that to 63, and you have 154 BC. Just to get an idea of what’s happening at the same time in Alma the Elder’s life, the time King Mosiah II is born, King Noah is already six years as king and Alma are about 19 years old. Probably just working his way into King Noah’s courts. To understand Mosiah a little more, let’s go over his heritage a little. His father, King Benjamin, had three sons. Mosiah, Helorum, and Helaman. Let’s draw this out. It comes from the Institute manual of the Book of Mormon. So that I can explain these things. I know I did it a little at the beginning of the notebook but I’m going to do it more in depth and again.
Let me just explain a little. The only person on this list that knew of Mosiah I or King Benjamin was Amaleki, son of Abinadom. He lived at the same time as them. He probably was with Mosiah’s group when they left the land of Nephi. Let me back up even more. Lehi’s family came to the new world. All is good till they split up. Nephites and Lamanites. Nephi becomes king and rules in righteousness. After he dies, the second king rules in wickedness. Jacob, Nephi’s brother, and Joseph, Nephi’s other brother spend much time preaching against the unauthorized practice of plural marriage and other whoredoms. Lamanites are more righteous because they don’t practice plural marriage and are sinning in ignorance vs. the Nephites willingly rebelling. I guess you could say everyone is wicked; just the Lamanites are less wicked and more “justified” (maybe that’s not the right word…) in their sinning. Not saying much.
We get a little bit of history concerning Nephi’s people. But not nearly enough. We are missing out on about 320 years of political, social, military, and religious history. The small plates-1Nephi through Omni-only give us the spiritual history and experiences. History starts to speed up after Jacob. Perhaps the wars left little time to remember or reflect upon the Lord. Not to mention the people who were placed in charge didn’t write much. Amaleki, the final writer of the Book of Omni, perhaps sensing the larger plates may not get to us, gives us a history of what happens. Because the Nephites were so wicked, the Lord leads a group away, led by Mosiah. Amaleki may have been part of the team. I’m 99.5% sure on that gut feeling. They go north and run into the people of Zarahemla. These people are the Mulekites. They left shortly after Lehi, and his family did. Mulek was the son of King Zedekiah, the king that reigned in Jerusalem when Lehi left. The people of Zarahemla are jubilant because Mosiah brought the brass plates with him. I believe those were a part of the large plates of Nephi. Or rather, the large plates of Nephi were a continuation of the brass plates.
Because the Mulekites had not brought any records with them, their language drifted into corruption, and the people of Mosiah could not understand them. That’s a sermon right there on record keeping. They had also lost their faith, not having anything to read or reference. After teaching the people how to speak their language, the leader of the Mulekites, Zarahemla, gives an account of his genealogy according to his memory. It’s written down but not here. The people join and appoint Mosiah I to be their king.
Random site note: What happened to the Nephites that Mosiah and his group left behind? Where they all destroyed because of their wickedness? Did they join the Lamanites? Did they repent? I don’t know.
While King Mosiah I is king, a large stone is brought before him with engravings on it. He interprets it by the gift and power of God. He probably did this through a Urim and Thummim. Probably found by the people of Zarahemla because the brother of Jared had a pair, the same pair Joseph Smith used thousands of years later. Maybe these were passed down till Mosiah I got them, translated the stone and then his grandson, Mosiah II translated the Jaredite record found by King Limhi’s people. It’s cool to see what was on the stone that was brought before King Mosiah. A very general account of the Jaredite people. Makes me wonder what the purpose of such a stone was.
Later, King Mosiah I dies and his son, Benjamin takes over. Benjamin rules till 124 BC. We don’t know how long he rules for but let’s refer to the footnotes. It says 279-130BC. The year 130 BC, according to the first verse in Mosiah 1, is the start of peace again in the land. I don’t think 279 BC is when he began his reign. I believe that it involves his father’s reign. Just for fun, let’s say King Benjamin is born 200 BC. No that can’t be right. 200 BC is when Zeniff’s group goes out, and they don’t leave during the war. No, it can still work out. Never mind. King Benjamin is born 200 BC. It looks like King Benjamin begins ruling 150 BC according to the Book of Mormon chronology chart.
I’m not entirely sure where that number comes from, but we’ll roll with it. 150-124 BC=26 years of reigning. I do not think he was born in 200 BC. I believe he was born later. And his father did not begin ruling in 279 BC nor was he born then. King Benjamin was probably born between 180-170BC. That seems like a reasonable age to start life. That means he is 20-30 years old when..Nah. Maybe 190s-180s he’s born. That put him 30-40 years old when he begins reigning. Then rules for 26 years, steps down and lets King Mosiah II reign and lives another few years. King Mosiah is born 154 BC, and King Benjamin would have been 26-36 years old. That seems reasonable enough. Especially since he hadn’t become king yet. WAIT! THAT’s IT! He (King Benjamin) hadn’t become king till 150 BC. Which means his dad must have been ruling still. We don’t have the exact date when his father, King Mosiah I the began…Wait. Hold on. Yes, we have approximately. Look at the Book of Mormon chronology chart. It seems King Mosiah I began ruling barely past 200 BC, probably between 200-185BC which means King Mosiah the first was probably born around 230-220 BC. But that doesn’t exactly match up with the chronology in the Book of Mormon does it?! In the Book of Mormon, it says in the footnotes for Omni between 279-130 BC. I guess it does fit if you understand the events in Omni, unless stated otherwise, are taking place between those years. And doesn’t necessarily mean the beginning of the page marks 279 BC, and the end of the page marks 130 BC
King Benjamin begins reigning in 150 BC. Somewhere between 150-130 BC, there is a “serious war” between the Lamanites. Amaleki says king Benjamin was a just man before the Lord and was able to drive back the Lamanites. Mormon writes that king Benjamin gathered together his armies and led them himself, fighting for himself as well, with the sword of Laban.
Mormon points out there had been contentions among his people even before the Lamanites came up to battle them. That must have been stressful dealing with if they were still having contentions amongst themselves when the Lamanites arrived.
Now we have a rough estimate of when people were born and ruled. Let’s talk about King Benjamin and what he did. His father, King Mosiah I, “recombined” the large plates and small plates. No longer were they separate. Actually, according to the Book of Mormon institute manual, the Book of Mosiah through Mormon are an abridgment of the real records made. This isn’t the full account of what we got. They are from the plates of Mormon. But I digress. Let’s go back to King Benjamin. Amaleki, the last author of the Book of Omni, says he didn’t hand over the plates to someone else till king Benjamin. That he did before, he died. Ameleki lives to see the day King Benjamin establishes peace in the land-130 BC. That means it is possible he was born somewhere around 210-200 BC. If 130 BC is when he died. If that is the case, he would have seen King Mosiah and King Benjamin reign, just like he said.
After that and the war takes place, there come many false Christs, preachers and teachers. King Benjamin overcomes them with the help of the prophets. King Benjamin again goes to work with the prophets, laboring with all his might to establish peace in the land. That’s finally achieved in 130BC. We have no record of the serious war or of the false prophets that came. Mormon says he cannot write a 100th of the things of his people. There is a lot we are missing out on. All these events, King Mosiah II, grew up in. He was born in 154 BC, four years before his father became king. He lived through the wars and false prophets. He may have even fought in the war himself. Although I feel like he was just barely the age to go. But hey, I wasn’t there. How would I know?
After six years of peace, King Benjamin realizes he doesn’t have much time left in the world and gathers his sons together and teaches them. After which, he talks to Mosiah alone and tells him to gather the people together because he is going to talk with them. At which point King Benjamin bestows the kingdom and all affairs on Mosiah II. He is 30 years old at this point. King Benjamin give his last speech to the people, lives three more years and then dies. It seems like his speech is a thing that impacts the people a lot since it takes up four chapters. Fast forward and connect that King Mosiah II also goes out in style by setting up judges. Both kings make significant contributions to society in the waning years of their lives. We don’t get many records of the reign of King Mosiah II. A large chunk of the Book of Mosiah is spent with the record of Zeniff and the people of Alma. The most we get are in the ending chapters of Mosiah as Alma’s people join the Nephites and the struggles they encounter as they seek to establish the church in the land of Zarahemla.
One last thing before moving on to the Book of Alma.I want to connect what we know about the lives of these people to the events that happened in other places. For example, Abinadi comes to the land of Zeniff at the same year King Benjamin begins his reign. King Mosiah II is four years old at the time. That’s really about it. Well, one more I can of. 120BC is when Alma and his people join the Nephites again. King Mosiah began ruling the kingdom in 124 BC. So they arrived four years into his reign. Alma is 53, and King Mosiah is 34.