Zeniff's 'Return' to Land of Lehi-Nephi from Zarahemla

prepared by Don R. Hender


    ZENIFF was a Nephite with some understanding about the Land of Nephi and the 'land of the fathers' first inheritance, perhaps as a youth having traveled with Mosiah I up and out of the Land of Nephi. Yet the first thing to understand is that the smaller trunkcated land of Lehi-Nephi* WAS NOT the same as the whole of the land of Nephi. Most seem to teach that it was. But that position has lacking in evidence and the necessary reasoning to support that. That the Lamanites would so give the whole of the land of Nephi back to one little troop of the souls of Zeniff's party is in it self a purposterous subjective assumption that hold no water in all reality.

As a spy for the Nephite army, Zeniff returns to the 'land of their fathers' first inheritance and to the area of a border city name Lehi-Nephi. He and the army led by a strong and might man, do the best they are able, likely retracing the flight that Mosiah took north and into the land and city of Zarahemla. Now as before noted in a previous section, the hill just to the north of the land of Shilom and the city of that would 'first' be known to Zeniff and his people as Lehi-Nephi, was that hill from which Mosiah I lead the Nephites who would believe in and follow Mosiah that they might be preserved from being overrun and destroyed by the Lamanites at the earlier period of time.

Now the very nature of the Land of Shilom and the city named 'Lehi-Nephi,' is that it lay upon and/or near that border between the 'Land of First Inheritance' of the fathers, Lehi, Laman, Lemuel, Sons of Ishmael, Sam, Nephi, Joseph and Jacob. Of course the people of Nephi had 'escaped' from that land out of the necessity that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were then again plotting to kill Nephi. And Nephi's people had journeyed many days into the wilderness in virtually as direct of a path as available as they were led a great distance away as the followed the directions of the Liahona, which that had brought with them and had again used to be so guided by the hand of the Lord.

At this point, before we go back and cover all the travels of Zeniff, we will fast foreward to the evolution of the name of the city or 'twin-cities' of the land of Shilom. Shilom was the land that bordered the similar named land of Shemlon. As a matter of simplification Shemlon, which was west of the land of Shilom, and it continued west even unto the coasts of the Pacific Ocean. This would mean that Shemlon was in, a part of and could be so associated simply with the Land of First Inheritance, though the Land of First Inheritance was likely of a greater reaching scale up and down along the Pacific Coast line. And those Lamanites who resided in the land of Shemlon ought not to be all of the various Lamanite people. From one consideration it is somewhat doubtful that it included the Ishmaelites, whose family we will eventually learn would in short order have become the rules of the whole of the Lamanite nation, as King Lamoni's father ruled in the real central city of the likely first city of Nephi himself and not just the border city of Lehi-Nephi at hand here.

But we should also note that eventually the people of Zeniff will have shortened the name of their border city 'Lehi-Nephi' merely to the name of Nephi. Thence there would be two cities so named. The new city of Nephi of Zeniff's Nephites that was first named 'Lehi-Nephi.' And then also the original city named Nephi, which Nephi and his people named Nephi where the father of Lamoni would rule the entire nation of the Lamanites later when is covered the mission of the sons of Mosiah II would return to do missionary work among the Lamanites.

The Journeys of Zeniff

The simplest manner in which to directly speak about the journeys of Zeniff is to read them first directly from those scriptural verses that tell about them in the single chapter book of Omni.

    "And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi; for there was a large number who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance.
    "Wherefore, they went up into the wilderness. And their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were all slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they returned again to the land of Zarahemla.
    "And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness."
    ~ Book of Mormon | Omni 1:27-29

From this we learn that a number of Nephites, of which Zeniff was a member, went back 'up' or down south to the land which was then at the time the former land of the Nephites and the present land of the Lamanites. Two journeys were made. The first ended in inner contintions were blood was shed and only fifty of the party returned. But then others joined with them and again they went back to the land of the Lamanites again. The further details of the matter are contained in the book of Mosiah, chapter 9.

    "I, ZENIFF, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the  land of our fathers' first inheritance and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them—but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.
    "Therefore, I contended with my brethren in the wilderness, for I would that our ruler should make a treaty with them; but he being an austere and a blood-thirsty man commanded that I should be slain; but I was rescued by the shedding of much blood; for father fought against father, and brother against brother, until the greater number of our army was destroyed in the wilderness; and we returned, those of us that were spared, to the land of Zarahemla, to relate that tale to their wives and their children.
    "And yet, I being over–zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land; but we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our God.
    "Nevertheless, after many days' wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents in the place where our brethren were slain, which was near to the land of our fathers.
    "And it came to pass that I went again with four of my men into the city, in unto the king, that I might know of the disposition of the king, and that I might know if I might go in with my people and possess the land in peace.
    "And I went in unto the king, and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom.
    "And he also commanded that his people should depart out of the land, and I and my people went into the land that we might possess it."
    ~ Book of Mormon | Mosiah 9:1-7

Here we learn additional information concerning those first to Journey ventures of Zeniff. The first journey was actually that of an 'army' of men set on recovering the land by force. Their leader was a strong and mighty man and Zeniff was brought along as a spy, as he had certin bit of knowledge and understanding about the land. As Zeniff was spying upon the Lamanites, he saw that which was good among them and so Zeniff determined that he did not want to fight and kill the Lamanites. Zeniff contended not to war and the strong leader threated to put Zeniff to death, others rallied to Zeniff's side and stuggle between the two sides happen where many were killed and only fifty remained alive. At that point they returned to Zerahemla, unsucessful and having fought among themselves.

Zeniff, was a Nephite, and many others with him, including perhaps at least some Mulekites as being of the brothren of the Ammon who later sought after them (Mosiah 7:13), they desired to 'return' to the lands the fathers' first inheritence to live in that land which seems to have been more like Jerusalem than was the rain forested jungle type lands of Zarahemla. And from the land's description as given in Alma 22, we understand that relationships of these journeys of  Mosiah I, Zeniff, Lemhi's expedition, Ammon, and later Alma I and even Lemhi accompanied by Ammon; were all between or in search of Zarahemla which was in the center heart of the nation of Zarahemla and the 'Land of First Inheritance' as so also represented by this other map that simply denote that travel from the city of Zarahemla in the nation of Zarahemla north of the land of Nephi and also to more specifically the 'Land of First Inheritance.

    "Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore,  and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore."  ~ Book of Mormon | Alma 22:28

As specifically stated in the king of the Land of Nephi's land descriptions in Alma 22, the place or land of their fahters' first inheritance was on the western coast line west in the land of Nephi. The king over the whole land of Nephi was the father of King Lamoni. And King Lamoni was king under him over the lesser land of Ishmael at the time of Alma 22. It is not that the land of Lehi's first landing and the land or place of their fathers' first inheritance were the same locations as many quick study artist have presumed. The extremely condensed Book of Mormon text does state that after Lehi's party had landed and spent at least one growing season, they did further journey in the land finding and certainly collecting animals of every kinds. And also they did travel greater distances in order that they did eventually discover ores of every kind.

    "And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.
    "And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper."
    Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 18:24-25

In the original 1830 Book of Mormon, the chapter did not end where it does today. The text of chapter 18 carried on with that information in chapter 19. This places Lehi's party finding the various metal ores over the face of the land and the Lord then commanding Nephi to make his record, which was the Large Plates record just after they had found the necessary metal ores. Now whether you accept the more difficult landing place of Lehi on the problematic coast of Chili or just a little south of the Isthmus of Darien as taught by the Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 267, as compiled by President and Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, to get to the Book of Mormon's 'Land or Place of the Fathers' First Inheritance,' Lehi's party had to travel either south from the narrow neck of the Isthmus of Darien or north from the Chilian coast to arrive there. This text has presented that which is consisted with the prescibed Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. If you take exception to that speak with the Prophet Joseph Smith and/or the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith about that.

In summary, the journeys of Zeniff include three trips between the city and land of Zarahemla and the land of the Lamanites where specifically they are so located in the place/land of the fathers' first inheritance and subsequently upon the border of that land in the land of Nephi bordering there on that land of first inheritance. 1) Zeniff traveled down as a spy with a strong and mighty leader with an army with the initial intent to content with the Lamanites in order to obtain their lands of first inheritance. Zeniff, being familiar with the logisticts of the land, was a spy. As he spied upon the Lamanites he saw that which was good among them and decided he would not go to war against them. He contended with that strong and mighty leader and armed confrontation insued in the which only 50 men remained.

2) The result of the bloody contention within the Nephite army resulted in the remaining 50 men returning back to Zarahemla, apparently without any contact or confrontations with the Lamanites. Upon arrival back in Zarahemla, Zeniff and many people determined that they still wanted to return to the lands of 'first inheritance.' And Zeniff was over zealous in his pursuit and promotion of that cause.

3) Determined posses the land of their fathers' inheritance by negociations, Zeniff's lead colony with women and children included, traveled agains up the Sidon river valley and south into the land of First Inheritence called by the Lamanites the land of Shemlon. There Zeniff negociated for the land of Shimlom, which included the city name Lehi-Nephi. That city was upon the border of the lands of first inheritance and the land of Nephi, thus the name of the city was Lehi-Nephi, indicating it was a city upon such border between Lehi's land of first inheritance and the land of Nephi. That city of Lehi-Nephi upon the border of the Land of First Inheritance ought not to be confused with the city that Nephi build serveral days journey further into the land of Nephi. It does seem to be confusing because eventually Zeniff's Nephites will eventually just call Lehi-Nephi by the name of just Nephi.


* Land of Lehi-Nephi: (Mosiah 7:1-2, 4, 21; Mosiah 9:6, 8) The city named Lehi-Nephi was the name of the city which the Lamanites agreed to allow the people of Zeniff to occupy, along with the land of Shilom. King Mosiah II and/or Mormon the abriger of the large plates of Nephi, first refered to this city by the joint name of Lehi-Nephi. Also the Lamanites called it by the joint name of Lehi-Nephi. And the people of Zeniff also first called it the city of Lehi-Nephi, though later they would trim the name of their city down to just Nephi (Mosiah 9:15). That this city of Lehi-Nephi was not the same city as that built by Nephi himself seems obvious. The land of the fathers' first inheritance was denoted as being west of the Land of Nephi, it is the land that Zeniff's people were seeking, and than land would be the land of the Lamanites occupying that land, which was called by the Lamanites Shemlon.

In on the border between David County and Weber County Utah, sit Hill Airforce Base. As appropriately named, the Airforce base sits upon a prominant hill that overlooks the valleys along the Wasatch Mountains. From the Davis county side of Hill Airforce Base, one can over look to the south and east across the valley and the Great Salt Lake and view nearly for 100 miles into the distances. The refiners of North Salt Lake, west Salt Lake city, and on out to the Kennecott Mines can be seen including the once great smoke stack of the Kennecott Cooper mines. The Oquirrh Mountain range can be seen, the Salt Lake Airport and across the south end of the lake can be seen the reaches of Tooele that the Oquirrhs are not hiding. I-80 can be seen as it continues on to the other side of the Stansbury range where on the other side of which it Skull Valley that leads on out to Dugway proving grounds. To the west the lake is over seen with Antelop Island sitting in the midst of it. Of course on clear days one can 'see forever' across the reaches as the curvature of the earth and the other obsticles of vision do allow.

This type of over laying view from the hill top would be similar to that view from King Noah's build tower atop a hill to over looke the land of Shemlon even down until the land of first inheritance would come to meet the coastal ocean. In deed the tower did raise the Nephi spirits and confidence of having advantage is seeing the movements of the Lamanites of that land of Shemlon well before they Lamanites would ever arrive upon the land of the Nephites of Shilom and Lehi-Nephi. Yet such confidence it over rated when the forces are more numerous and not being looked for at times. During a time of argument with his military leader Gideon, King Noah's guard was left unattended until Noah himself was pursued up upon the tower and he looked out to see the Lamanities were already upon them (Mosiah 19:6).



Alternative Mappings Comparisons


The relationships of the various travels of Nephi's group to their first city where they built a temple and presumably named the city Nephi, Mosiah's escape from the Lane of Nephi to the land and city of Zarahemla, and Zeniff's returns to the land of Nephi from the city of Zarahemla; are the three jouneys that are set out below in two separate suggested maps just relative to those journeys. The first map is a generalization of what many have presumed to be the mapping of those travels. The second map is one which this text has suggested. Each are presented with a version of their logic with some references as to why it is thought to be the correct mapping.


A Traditionalist Perspective

Whether the limited Central America model or the hemispheric model, the general perspective for these 3 journeys are similar. 1) It presumes that Lehi's landing occured south along their respective western coast lines. Thus the plotted Land of First Inheritance is south on the west coast off the map. Nephi, when he departs from the first location to escape his bothers who are planning to kill him, Nephi is presumed to move north and east into the interior of the land to his city where he builds a temple like unto Solomon's. The red line on the map at the left represents that journey of Nephi.

2) The second journey is that of Mosiah I at the time the Nephite nation looks to be overran by the Lamanites. God directs Mosiah to gather all who will believe him and journey with them into the wilderness. The general presumption is that Mosiah leave the land of Nephi from the area of the City of Nephi and journeys northe to the land and city of Zarahemla. That course is marked by the magenta line from the city of Nephi to the City of Zarahemla at the left.

3) The third journeys are those of Zeniff's groups, one with the Nephite army to take the land by force and the second a colony of people seeking to enter the land with the permission of the Lamanites. The most often though 'quick' assumption is that Zeniff does return back the original city of Nephi called the city of Npehi. This is represented by the blue line on the map at the left.


A Studied and Reasoned Alternative

This second mapping of the three journeys have been reasoned out by what the Book of Mormon states. The Book of Mormon states that the 'place of their fathers' first inheritance was on the west of the Land of Nephi along by the seashore (Alma 22:28). The Book of Mormon also states that the intent of Zeniff was to 'the land of our fathers' first inheritance (Mosiah 9:1).' And thus it is deduced that, that land or place of the fathers' first inheritance was on the immediate west of the Land of Nephi along the western coastline. Based on this location the three journeys are considered thus:

1) Nephi leave his brothers on the west coast and travels east inland to where the Liahona had led him after many days journey. This is the red line on the map at the right.

2) Mosiah gather all the Nephites throughout the land of Nephi from all their cities and he gathers them to a specific hill that is stated in the Book of Mormon. That hill is north of the land of Shilom (Mosiah 11:13; Mosiah 7:16). The land of Shilom is the land that is also associated with the city of Lehi-Nephi. Mosiah and his people travel from there after their gathering in, and from thence they come down into the Sidon valley and to the land and city of Zarahemla.

3) The two journeys of Zeniff was down to spy on the Lamanites who were still living in the place of their fathers' first inheritance on the west coast of the land of Nephi. If was on the second journey that Zeniff met with the king of the Lamanites and entered into an agreement that allowed the Nephites to enter into the land and to possess the land of Shilom and the city of Lehi-Nephi. This was the name of the city as it was bordering on the land of Shemlon and Shilom, where to two nation of the Lamanites who lived in the original lands of Lehi and where the border city Nephi's would be allowed to live Lehi-Nephi.

Both Zeniff's record begin recording the name of the city as being Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 9), though they would eventually just call it the city of Nephi, even though it is not the original city of Nephi. And that is also the name of the city that it was called back in Zarahemla by King Moriah II (Mosiah 7:1-2). The significance of this is that the people back in Zarahemla knew exactly where Zeniff had gone by name. He had gone to the land and city of Lehi-Nephi, NOT to the city of Nephi. Another cooberating fact is that the land of Zeniff through Lemhi was so nead and on raise land from the coastal land, that King Noah built a tower so that his look outs could over view and see visually the land of Shemlon to detect movements of the Lamanites and to more specifically be notified in advance if the Lamanites were leaving Shemlon to come upon them to war.

This would be the last place that Nephi would have settled, within visual contact with his brothers who were desireous to kill him. Nephi had put many day's journey between him and his group and the 'Lamanite' group. All during their journeyings in the wilderness of the old world, Lehi's party did not have fires for security purposes that they would not draw attention to themselves. And as a result their diet was primarily raw meet, most likely of the form of jerky, seasoned and tasty.

Before we leave this page, a reminder is that in these travel or trip pages, it has already been covered that Lehi landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien as taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith according to the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith. From that landing site, Lehi's party journeys in the wilderness of the forests collection animals of every kind for heards. And they continued to journey as led by the Liahona until they found deposites of metal ore of every kind. If one has even prospected, one might consider just how much distance would have been traveled to find gold, slilver and cooper deposits and so forth and so on.

No where in the Book of Mormon does it ever state that Lehi's group ever did travel in an 'ever' northern direction to get from the coast of Chili to the Hill of Cumorah in the state of New York. That was the traditional deduction and it was kept by the Meso-American thoriest as well though they long since discounted the Chilian landing. But the Book of Mormon does not teach that. Look forever, it is not there. That is a perpetual foke lore assumption. Fact is, Lehi's party landed where the Jaredites domestic animals had come south for want of food, from the land north down into the land south, just a little south of the Isthmus of Darien.



rev 15 February 2017