Concerning the City of Nephihah

A True Book of Mormon Error

presented by Don R. Hender

    "And it came to pass that the Nephites were not sufficiently strong in the city of Moroni; therefore Amalichiah did drive them, slaying many. And it came to pass that Amalichiah took possession of the city, yea, possession of all their fortifications. And those who fled out of the city of Moroni came to the city of Nephihah; and also the people of the city of Lehi gathered themselves together, and made preparations and were ready to receive the Lamanites to battle. But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it. And thus he [Amalichiah] went on, taking possession of many cities, the city of Nephihah [Moroni], and the city of Lehi, and the city of Morianton, and the city of Omner, and the city of Gid, and the city of Mulek, all of which were on the east borders by the seashore." ~ Alma 51:23-26

Now in these verses, which began in the 25th year of the reign of the judges (Alma 51:1--67-66 BC), three statements are made in respect to Amalichiah's Lamanites and the taking of Nephite cities. They are:
  • Amalichiah takes possession of the city of Moroni and all it fortifications.
  • Amalikickiah WOULD NOT suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle.
  • He [Amalichiah] went on taking possession of many cities: Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek.

Now any 6th grader with good reading comprehension can easily spot the inconsistency of this report made in the prophet Mormon's abridged account. In short the account states that the city of Moroni was taken and that the city of Nephihah, out of fear, was not even approached. But when it lists the cities taken, the city of Moroni is not included in the list, while the city of Nephihah is listed as having been taken. But that eventual event does not actually take place until the 30th year and even after the death of Amalickiah (Alma 51:34-37--Amalickiah dies in the end of 25th year of judges about 66 BC) when the brother of Amalickiah, Ammoron, did lead the Lamanites and was finally able to come and take the city of Nephihah (Alma 59:1 & 5-9--in the 30 year of the Nephite judges, about 62 BC).

Now in an attempt to preserve a flawless Book of Mormon, some Book of Mormon scholars have suggested that there was more than one city named Nephihah. But the Book of Mormon never does state that to be a fact. When the expanded history of the city of Nephihah is concerned, as stated, it is over in chapter 59 of Alma, in the 62 year BC, some 4-5 years later, that the city of Nephihah does finally fall into the hands of the Lamanites, but NOT with Amalichiah as leader for he by then had been killed and his brother Ammoron was then leading the Lamanites.

Now understanding the arduous task which Mormon had of summarizing and abridging the Nephite records, and understanding the inherent weaknesses of men, it should easily be accepted that Mormon may have mistakenly inserted the name of the city of Nephihah into the list of cities which the Lamanites did take during this span of battles in the eastern sector. Or Mormon could have easily transcribed the name Nephihah while actually meaning to have stated Moroni, as the city of Moroni is conspicuously missing from the laundry list of cities taken by Amalichiah.

Mormon, even while attempting to write his abridgment, may have been thinking that Nephihah also was a city which was taken by the Lamanites over the course of the war and included it not thinking or remembering at the time that it was later taken by Ammoron, Amalichiah's brother and not by Amalichiah, when Amalichiah was dead. Such wrongly placed names and accounts are easily made by such abridgers of history as they are attempting to consolidate and deal with the vast amount of details into a highly condensed abridgement. Keeping such order of historical events is not always an easy task to accomplish. In what year was a vacation taken? Just when did an event occur, before the 6th grade, after the 6th grade, or during the 6th grade. And in what month and day order in relationship to other such events? So such as one's every day life becomes difficult to keep straight.

Whatever the cause, the 'error' was made. A human error and not an error of God. And one such simple error does not negate the scriptural truth of the text. Only such hypocritical self prided lying perfectionists would not see in this but a simple error of compilation during a challenging abridgment task.

And if not Mormon's error, there is always the human errors of Joseph Smith thinking one name and saying the other, Nephihah instead of Moroni, or the same of Oliver Cowdery, thinking himself to have heard one word while writing down the other. There is even the possibility of the printer making a like error. But what is certainly obvious, is that this is an understandable human mistake or error and ought not to be attributed to God as Moroni's warning and caution prescribed against doing.

But in my own considerations upon the matter, I do feel that this is a case of the abridger's error, Mormon. And it is one that could, should and would be expected that such an abridger of such a record may well have made. Other wise reconcile it according to your own mind, but for sure there is a recondiliation of some type to be made here. As for my self it is one which had nothing to do with the absolute truth of the Book of Mormon as being the Word of God, but rather a matter of coming to an understanding of what did in all reality happen to cause it, especiailly in the absolute consideration that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God though subject to the handlings of imperfect men!