My children and I were studying 3 Nephi 9 tonight. We have been sloshing through 3 Nephi at a snail's pace, which is actually great because it has allowed me to really study these verses so closely. Tonight I noticed a pattern in this chapter. Some things of note:
- There were 15 cities destroyed, which are described by name by the Voice, Who speaks to the remaining inhabitants of the land.
- The city names of those destroyed or changed are Zarahemla, Moroni, Moronihah, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno, Jacobugath, Laman, Josh, Gad, and Kishkumen.
- Zarahemla was the Nephite capital.
- Moroni was named after Captain Moroni.
- Moronihah was likely named after Moroni's son, Moronihah.
- Laman, named after first Lamanite leader.
- Kishkumen was one of the first participants in the development of secret combinations preceding the destruction of the government prior to Christ's visits.
These phrases of destruction are repeated:
- I have burned with fire (vs. 3)
- I have caused to be sunk in the depths of the sea, and the inhabitants thereof to be drowned (vs 4)
- I have covered with earth (vs 5)
- I have caused to be sunk, and the inhabitants thereof to be buried up (vs 6)
- I have caused to come up in the stead thereof (waters) (vs 7)
- I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof (vs 8)
- I buried up (the inhabitants) in the depths of the earth (vs 8)
- I caused to be burned with fire (vs 9)
- I did cause them to be burned (vs 9)
- I caused to be burned with fire (vs 10)
- I did send down fire and destroy them (vs 11)
- And many great destructions have I caused to come upon this land (vs 12)
- Burned: Zarahemla, Jacobugath (where secret combinations were housed), Laman, Josh, Gad, Kishkumen = 6 cities
- Sunk into water: Moroni, Gilgal, Onihah, Mocum, Jerusalem = 4 cities
- Sunk into valleys and hills: Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob, Gimgimno = 4 cities
- Covered with earth: Moronihah - 1 city
However of most note is the repetition of this line, in various forms, which is the answer of why the destruction happened:
- Because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people (vs 2)
- Because of their iniquity and abominations (vs 2)
- To hide their iniquities and abominations from before my face (vs 5)
- That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come any more unto me against them (vs 5)
- To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 7)
- That the blood of the prophets and the saints shall not come up any more unto me against them (vs 7)
- To hide their wickedness and abominations from before my face (vs 8)
- That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up any more unto me against them (vs 8)
- Because of their sins and their wickedness, which was above all the wickedness of the whole earth (vs 9)
- Because of their secret murders and combinations (vs 9)
- For it was they that did destroy the peace of my people and the government of the land (vs 9)
- That the blood of the prophets and the saints should not come up unto me any more against them (vs 9)
- Because of their wickedness in casting out the prophets, and stoning those whom I did send to declare unto them concerning their wickedness and their abominations (vs 10)
- Because they did cast them all out, that there were none righteous among them (vs 11)
- That their wickedness and abominations might be hid from before my face (vs 11)
- That the blood of the prophets and the saints whom I sent among them might not cry unto me from the ground against them (vs 11)
- Because of their wickedness and their abominations (vs 12)
When I read verses with children they tend to tune out when the same lines are repeated over and over. So it is peculiar to me that the Voice repeats the culpability of each city, name by name, with details of each one individually. As though each city were a child, asking, "What have I done wrong?"
It is also curious that these are the very first words the people hear from the Voice. A line by line explanation of what has happened to them, and why. Prophets, saints, and those sent are listed jointly in some combination six times. Abominations are listed seven times. Wickedness listed eight!!! times. Iniquities listed twice. Sin listed once. Blood of prophets (PLURAL) and saints (PLURAL) listed five times. All repeated in detail.
Additionally, when I think of these things that are worthy of destruction, I tend to lump them all into one big issue. But why would the Voice break them down so many times? Does sin = iniquity? Does iniquity = wickedness? Does wickedness = abominations? And do murders = combinations? Or do combinations = murder? If "wickedness" is listed eight times, it would be interesting to discover all the other verses in the Book of Mormon where "wickedness" is used as an adjective, and explore what was going on to merit that descriptor.
How would it be to do a case study on each city, and discover its personality? I know off hand that the city of Moroni was quite literally on the beach, in the south-east, much like modern-day Florida. And it was sunken. And the city of Moroni's son, Moronihah, the great military leader, covered with dirt. Where the choices of destruction significant?
But despite all this,
"O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins and be converted that I may heal you? Yea verily I say unto you if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life! Behold mine arm of mercy is extended towards you and whosoever will come, him will I receive and blessed are those who come unto me. Behold I am Jesus Christ the Son of God." - 3 Nephi 9:13-15 (part), punctuation changed