Although we know quite a lot about the life of Joseph Smith, most people are not that familiar with the life of Mormon. What kind of person was he? Where did live? Why and when did he make his abridged record? And where did he bury the fuller records from which he made his account? We know that Moroni was his son, but when was he born? Where did he go after the final battle? What kind of life did he lead? Even though Mormon's record doesn't give us many specifics details, there is still much we can learn from a careful study of the Book of Mormon.
Mormon was a pure descendant of Lehi from Jerusalem and was born in the year 310 A.D. His father's name was also Mormon, but he was named after the Land of Mormon where Alma established a church after fleeing from King Noah (3 Nephi 5:12). At the time of his birth the three special disciples of Christ were still on the earth, but they were just about the only righteous people left (4 Nephi 1:46). Wickedness was rampant and robbers were everywhere. The secular and religious records that had been kept with care for almost 1,000 years were in the hands of a man named Ammaron But, by 320 A.D., Ammaron feared for their safety and hid them in a hill known as Shim, which was in the land of Antum (Mormon 1:2-3).
By this time, Mormon was 10 years old, but apparently was wiser than his years suggested. Ammaron noticed that this young lad was sober and had a keen sense of observation, and felt impressed to let him know where the sacred records were buried. But more than that, he also instructed the young boy that, when he was he was twenty-four years old, he was to write the things he had observed his people doing on these records made of gold plates.
The following year, when Mormon was eleven years old, his father moved south to the land of Zarahemla. The record doesn't tell us why he decided to go there but we do know that "the whole face of the land had become covered with buildings, and the people were as numerous almost as it were the sands of the sea" (Mormon 1:7).
To better understand what happened in the following years, it might be helpful to first construct the geography of the land (See map at the bottom.). As stated before, the hill Shim was in the land of Antum. We also know that the city of Jashon was likewise near this hill (Mormon 2:17). Further north were the cities of Shem, Jordan and Morianton. South of Jashon was the city of Boaz Still further south was the city of Teancum which was by the east sea. and a little further south of there was the city Desolation, which was in the land of Desolation.
The land of Desolation sat immediately north of a narrow neck of land. The reason it was called by this name is because at this point the distance from the east sea to the west sea was just a day's walk for a Nephite (Helaman 4:7). If we consider one day to be from sun up to sun down, and considering that the Nephites lived in Central American, one average day would be about 12 hours. The average person today walks comfortably at a speed of three miles per hour. A brisk walk is approximately 4-5 miles per hour. Therefore, we can estimate that the narrow neck of land was approximately 50-60 miles wide. We also know that going south from the land Desolation to the land Bountiful, which was on the other end of the narrow neck of land, was a day and a half's journey for a Nephite (Alma 22:32), which would make it approximately 75- 90 miles long. From the record, it appears that there were no cities within this area known as the narrow neck of land.
At the southern end of the narrow neck of land was the city of Bountiful. South of there was the city of Joshua, which was situated near the west sea. Further south was the city of Angola and Zarahemla was south of there.
In the days of Alma the younger and Captain Moroni, Zarahemla was in the center of the kingdom, with the southern boundary being the wilderness south. The city of Manti was situated on the sea west next to the wilderness south and the city of Moroni, which was located by the sea east, was also closest to the wilderness south. At that time, the land Bountiful was located on the northern most boundary of the Nephite kingdom. Beyond Bountiful the land was uninhabited. However, after the death of Alma, in the thirty-seventh year of the reign of the Judges 4,500 men, along with their wives and children went north through the narrow neck of land into the land of Desolation and began to populate the area (Alma 63:4). After that, even more people migrated north to inhabit the land of Desolation. This migration included Alma's son Corianton (Alma 63:10), .
In the 41st year of the reign of the Judges, the Lamanites made a bold move and swiftly made their way through Nephite territory, and attacked the city of Zarahemla. The Nephites were not prepared for this attack and therefore lost their capitol city. Moronihah, the leader of the Nephite army (the son of Captain Moroni) was forced to pull all of his troops north to the land Bountiful and regrouped them. Although they eventually were able to recaptured Zarahemla, that was as far south as his army was able to advance. From that time forward, the city of Zarahemla sat on the southern most boundary of the Nephite kingdom. This was still the case when Mormon lived in Zarahemla with his father.
In the 46th year of the reign of the Judges, a large dispute arose among the Nephites which resulted in a sizable group of disgruntled people taking all their possession and moving north quite a long distance to a place where there was a large body of water and many rivers. After settling there, their numbers grew tremendously and they spread into all parts of that region (Helaman 3:3-5). It appears that this was still true when Mormon was 11 years old.
In the very year after Mormon and his father moved to Zarahemla in 321 A.D., the Lamanites attacked the city, but were repulsed by a force of 30,000 Nephite soldiers. Despite this victory, the Nephite people had become so wicked that the Lord removed the three special Nephite disciples from among them (Mormon 1:13). However, when Mormon was 15 years of age, he was visited by the Lord and came to "know of the goodness of Jesus" (Mormon 1:15). So converted was he that Mormon wanted to rush into the streets and start preaching repentance, but the Lord forbid him to do so (Mormon 1:17).
The following year, when Mormon was just 16 years old, the Lamanites began to make preparations for war again. Although it may seem strange to us, the people of Zarahemla picked Mormon to be the leader of their army. There may be a couple of reasons for this. First, as is stated in his own record, Mormon "was large in stature", perhaps much like Nephi of olden times, and presented himself in a commanding way. Secondly, they must have known of Mormon's closeness to the Lord and, despite their lack of godliness, perhaps felt it would be better if a man of God was leading them into battle. However, even though Mormon accepted the position, his first military adventure was a disaster. The Lamanites so frightened Mormon's army that they fled from Zarahemla and went northward to the city of Angola. With nothing to stop them, the Lamanites took control of the city of Zarahemla.
Once behind the walls of Angola, Mormon had his army fortify the city against an expected Lamanite attack. Yet, despite all their hard work, the Lamanites over ran the city on their next assault. Mormon's army once again had to flee northward, first to the land of David and then to the city of Joshua by the west sea. But this proved to be a mistake because the land was filled with robbers. Therefore, besides fighting the Lamanites, Mormon's army also had to fight the robbers as well. Nevertheless, when the Lamanites attacked the city of Joshua with a force of 44,000 men, Mormon's army of 42,000 men not only withstood the assault, but caused their enemies to flee southward. Apparently Mormon didn't choose to chase after them and felt himself lucky just to maintain the city of Joshua. By this time, the year was 330 A.D.
For the next fifteen years Mormon continually preached repentance to his people but for the most part they would not listen to his message. Although the Lord had commanded him not to preach when he was 16 years old, by this time he had received his calling to cry repentance and considered himself to be a disciple of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 5:13). Since it appears there was no war during this period of time, it is safe to speculate that somewhere in this time frame Mormon fathered his only son, Moroni.
In 345 A.D., when Mormon was 35 years old, the Lamanites came against the city of Joshua in such numbers that the Nephite army fled from before them. But this time they did not just flee to the next northern city. Instead they fled north through the land of Bountiful, through the narrow neck of land, through the land of Desolation and all the way to the land of Jashon, which was near where Ammaron had buried the Nephite records. Although Ammaron had instructed Mormon to come to this spot when he was 24 years old, it wasn't until he was 35 years old that he had the opportunity to unearth the plates.
During the remainder of that year, Mormon used the time to make a full account of the wickedness and abominations of his people up to that time upon the large plates of Nephi which Ammaron had buried (Mormon 2:17,18). But by the beginning of the next year, 346 A.D. the Lamanite army attacked Jashon and Mormon and his people were driven from the city and fled north to the city of Shem. However, Mormon did not take the Plates of Nephi with him. Instead, he re-hid them in the hill Shim before leaving the area.
Once in Shem, Mormon spoke to his people with great energy and passion, inspiring them to stand firm and fight for the lives of their women and children. For once, his words found a place in their hearts, because when the Lamanites attacked the city of Shem, the Nephites fought back with fierce determination rather than running. In fact, they fought so hard, that their 30,000 man army put to flight the 50,000 man army of the Lamanites. Encouraged by their success, the Nephites pursued the Lamanites and were victorious a second time in forcing their enemies to flee further south.
For another four years the fierce fighting continued until, in 350 A.D., when finally the two nations entered into a truce agreement. The Nephites were allowed to occupy everything from the narrow neck of land north, while the Lamanites kept possession of all the area south of there. That meant that the land of Desolation was now the southern most boundary of the Nephite kingdom (Mormon 2:29). Zarahemla and the land Bountiful were now permanently part of the Lamanite territory.
During the next ten years, Mormon kept his people busy fortifying their cities and preparing their lands and themselves against the time when the Lamanites might some day attack them. As part of that preparation, Mormon cried repentance unto his people continually, admonishing them that if they would build up the Church of Christ they would be spared but most of the people would not soften their hearts nor heed his message (Mormon 3:2,3). However, Mormon must have had some success, because his son Moroni later recorded an address his father gave to a small group of Nephites who belonged to "the church that are the peaceable followers of Christ" (Moroni 7:3).
It also appears that during this time, Moroni himself was called to the ministry. Since the true teachings of Christ had fallen into apostasy, Moroni erroneously began preaching the need for child baptism. No sooner did his father find out about this than he wrote his son a letter, explaining why children don't need to be baptized (Moroni 8)
In 360 A.D. the king of the Lamanites sent a letter to Mormon stating that they were preparing to do battle against the Nephites and suggested that they meet in the land of Desolation. Why the king sent this letter rather than just attacking without warning can only be surmised. Perhaps he thought that they were strong enough to wipe out the entire Nephite army in one major battle rather than chase them from city to city.
But whatever the reasoning, Mormon accepted the offer. The next year the two armies met each other in mortal combat in the land of Desolation. However, it was the Lamanites who were defeated and retreated southward to their land. Despite this loss, the following year, they again tried to conquer the Nephite army, but as before they were soundly defeated and suffered an extremely large number of casualties. There were so many bodies on the battlefield that the Nephites threw the dead into the sea rather than burying them.
Because of their great victory, the Nephites began to boast in their own strength and were certain that their military might had become superior to that of the Lamanites. With an exalted opinion of themselves, they felt they could defeat their enemy anywhere at any time. So confident were they that they swore an oath by God and His heaven that they would avenge the blood of their people. This time, however, it wasn't merely a matter of preserving their lives and their liberties. Now they lusted for blood.
When Mormon saw their attitude, he would have no part in it. When they persisted in their desire, Mormon refused to join with them. If they were going to war as an act of revenge, he would not be with them, either in command or as a participant. As such, in 362 A.D., after leading his people in battle for nearly 36 years, the 52 year old Mormon retired from military life (Mormon 3:16).
During the next five years the two armies fought many times. Twice the Nephites lost the city Desolation and once they lost the city of Teancum, but were able to recapture both. However, during that time, the Lamanites had captured a great number of women and children and sacrificed them to their gods. Finally, in 367 A.D. the Nephites were so outraged over this atrocity, that in a blind rage of fury, they drove the Lamanites back into their own lands. So great was this destruction that the Lamanites didn't attack the Nephites for another eight years.
From 362 to 375, Mormon was an observer of life. There is no account of what he did during this 13 year period, but it's safe to say that he continued to cry repentance unto his people and also used the time to began his work of abridgment. But exactly when and how he received the inspiration to do an abridgment of the records in his care is unknown. However, it's safe to say that before beginning his abridgement, he must have spent considerable time reading and digesting all the records that had been entrusted to his care. It is also clear that Mormon had the original records at his disposal as he wrote his abridgement because he quotes extensively from them. Furthermore, the inserted comments he occasionally makes in his record further shows that he had a complete understanding of the entire history of his people before ever starting his abridgment. How long all of this work took him is unknown, but we know that by 375 A.D. he still had not finished his project.
It was in that year that the Lamanites came back with a vengeance. By then their army was so large that their numbers couldn't be counted. In fact, Mormon records that from this time forward, the Nephites could no longer win any battles against them and they were swept from the earth as the dew before the sun (Mormon 4:18).
At the city of Desolation, the Nephites fought hard and lost many men as they valiantly struggled to preserve their land, but, when it became clear they could no longer withstand the Lamanite onslaught, they fled north to the city of Boaz. Once there they were able to repel the Lamanite's first attack, but were defeated during the second assault. At the end of this battle, as before, a very large number of Nephite women and children were taken captive and sacrificed to the Lamanite gods.
As the Nephite army fled northward, they gathered their people from each town and village they passed through. Those who didn't join the army were destroyed with fire by the advancing Lamanites (Mormon 5:5). It appears that the invaders were implementing a scorched earth policy to make sure their enemies had nothing to return to should they win a battle or two. When Mormon saw this, and knowing the prophecies contained in the records, he knew that the Lamanites would completely over run the land this time. While he still had the chance, he went to the hill Shim, gathered all the sacred records which Ammaron had hidden, and fled with them to the city of Jordan (Mormon 4:23).
Even though he had made himself a promise to never lead his people in battle again, once in Jordan, at age 65, he relented and offered his services to them, despite knowing there was no hope of winning the war. Under his leadership the Nephites began to fortify not only the city of Jordan but all the other nearby cities as well, in an effort to form a straight defensive line from the east to the west. The purpose of this was to prevent the Lamanites from getting to the cities and towns which laid further north (Mormon 5:4).
For five long bloody years the Nephites held the line. It appears that it was during this time that Mormon wrote a second letter to his son Moroni (Moroin 8). In that letter He tells of the Lamanites capturing many Nephites, slaying the men and forcing the women and children to eat the flesh of their husbands and fathers. He then recounts how brutal and barbaric his own people had become, stating that their only desire was for blood in revenge. He recounts how the Nephites in the city of Moriantum captured many Lamanite women and after depriving them of their chastity and virtue, tortured them to death (Moroni 8:7-10).
In this letter, Mormon offers up little hope that he himself will survive the terrible battles. Nevertheless, He tells his son that he is laboring hard, using much sharpness of tongue, to get the Nephites to repent but they won't listen to his words anymore. Nevertheless, he still counsels his son not to be weary in preaching repentance unto the people.
In 380 A.D. the Lamanites came at the Nephites with an overwhelming force of men. Although the Nephites fought boldly, it wasn't enough to stop the invasion. By sheer numbers, the Lamanites easily over ran the Nephite defenders and inflicted an enormous slaughter upon them. Without any way or hope of protecting themselves, the Nephites fled in utter terror for their lives. Their flight was so swift that it can only be described as a full fledge rout. Racing as fast as they could, their only hope was to out run the Lamanite killing machine. Those who couldn't run quickly enough were cut down and destroyed (Mormon 5:7).
What had once been a very large nation was quickly being reduced in size to no more than a large tribe. So great was the massacre that Mormon stopped telling us the details of what happened during the next five years. We have no information of where they went during that time, if they tried to take a stand and defend themselves or any other specific aspects of what happened.
It wasn't until near the end of 384 A.D. that Mormon resumed his narrative. By this time, he was more than 74 years old when he gathered the remainder of his people in the land of Cumorah. At this point their total number was only 230,000, which included men, women and children. Knowing that there was no more hope, and tired of running and fighting, Mormon wrote to the King of the Lamanites and asked if he could have some time to prepare for one last battle. Surprisingly, the King consented to Mormon's request (Mormon 6:2-3).
In this land was a large hill which was referred to as the hill Cumorah. It is believed by many in the church that this is that same hill located in Palmyra, New York where Joseph Smith unearthed Mormon's abridgment. However, there are four reasons why this cannot be the case.
First, the land of Cumorah was described by Mormon as "a land of many waters, rivers and fountains" (Mormon 6:4). On the other hand, Palmyra, New York has no lakes, or rivers, let alone fountains of running water. Mormon further stated that by use of these many waters he hoped to gain an advantage over the Lamanites. No such advantage exists in Palmyra. However, this does sound very similar to the area described in Helaman 3:3-5
Second, Mormon "hid up in the hill Cumorah all the records which had been entrusted to [him] by the hand of the Lord, save it were these few plates" which, by this time, he had already given to his son, Moroni (Mormon 6:6, emphasis added). In other words, Mormon had buried all the plates except his abridged record. The record which Joseph Smith unearthed were the very plates that were not buried in the hill Cumorah. Furthermore, Joseph Smith never claimed to have seen any other written records except Mormon's abridged version, thereby strengthening the idea that these two records were not buried together.
Third, in the final battle, 230,000 Nephites were killed, along with an undetermined number of Lamanites. It is safe to say that a minimum of one quarter of a million people died in that conflict and their bodies were left unburied on the top of the ground (Mormon 6:15). Since bones don't disintegrate and disappear very easily if the final Nephite/Lamanite battle had occured in the Palmyra, New York area we would expect to see some evidence of a large number of human bones there but so far there hasn't been any mention of a large quanity of human remains being unearthed in that part of the world. Surely, with all the farming, and excavation of new construction up to our present time, it is impossible that so many bones could go undetected.
Fourth, it was the custom of the Jews to give names to new lands which they didn't know the name of. For example, when Lehi left Jerusalem and moved into the wilderness, they came to a valley which he named, or called, the valley of Lemuel. As Nephi wrote about various places where they moved, he would write, "and we called this place" such and such. (see 1 Nephi 16:6,13, 17:5, 18:23, 2 Nephi 5:8). However, when Mormon came to the land of Cumorah, he made no similar statement. In other words, he didn't have to give the area a name because he already knew its name. Therefore, it seems certain that Mormon was at least somewhat familiar with this land, if nothing more than by reputation. If this land was indeed in present day upper New York state, there is no way he could have known the name of the area.
From 375 to 385 A.D., Mormon had very little time to spend writing his abridgment because of the severity of the war. In fact, between 380 and 385 their time was spent mostly running and hiding from the Lamanites. However, from what he wrote in the "Words of Mormon" we know that by this time he had not yet competed his work. To better understand his comments as written in the Words of Mormon, we must first understand the various records which he made reference to.
The main record of the Nephite history was known as the Plates of Nephi. These contained a full account of their kings, contentions, wars and other secular, as well as religious events dating back as far as 600 B.C. During his work of abridgment, Mormon also came across some smaller plates which was the record started by Nephi, the son of Lehi and was passed down from generation to generation to the time of Amaleki (Omni 1:30). This record was strictly religious in nature and was primarily about the prophecies and revelations which God had given the Nephites. Then there were the plates on which Mormon was making his abridged record from the larger Plates of Nephi.
With this knowledge, let me restate what we read in the "Words of Mormon"
(verse 1 ) Now, I am almost finished making my abridged record and therefore am just about ready to hand it over to my son Mornoni. At this time I have witnessed nearly the destruction of all of my people... (verse 2.) And I suppose that my son Moroni will witness the complete destruction of my people. (verse 5.) Therefore, I have decided to finish my abridged record with these small plates that I have found, but the remainder of my abridgment I will make from the larger plates of Nephi. (verse 6.) In other words, I will take these smaller plates which contain the prophecies and revelations of Nephi and Jacob and put them with the remainder of my abridged record because I think they are of great worth to me and I know they will be of great worth to my brethren who will read my record. (verse 9.) And now I will proceed to finish my abridgment which I am making from the plates of Nephi according to the knowledge and understanding which God has given me.
At the time Mormon wrote these words, we know that his people had not been entirely destroyed but he knew that event was close at hand. In fact, he expected his son, Moroni to witness their complete and total destruction. Given how large the Nephite nation was when Mormon was 11 years old, 230,000 people was a very small fraction of that number and accurately reflects Mormon's observation that nearly all of his people had been destroyed.. Although it's true that after the final battle, a little more than 25 people did survive, when compared to almost a quarter of a million people, that number is statistically zero. When compared to the total number of Nephites that existed when Mormon was eleven, the number 25 is so insignificant as to make the percentage almost absolute zero. Therefore it is clear that the entire destruction of the Nephite nation had not happened when Mormon wrote these words, but was near at hand,. We can therefore, safely conclude that Mormon wrote these words when he was in Cumorah.
Another thing we learn is that at this point in time he had not finished making his abridged record, but was very close to doing so. If Mormon wrote his "Words of Mormon" at the time where they appear in today's version, we would have to conclude that he had completed only 30% of his work and still had 70% more to go. That could hardly be defined as being almost finished. Furthermore, in 385 A.D. there was no time left to finish that much work. It must be remembered that by this time they were frantically preparing themselves for their last, eminent battle. Therefore, we must conclude that the greatest portion of his abridgment was already finished by this time and that Mormon had only a few things left to add before totally completing his record.
Also, he had not yet given his record over to his son when he wrote the "Words of Mormon." However, in "The book of Mormon" he tells us that by the time he had buried the Plates of Nephi he had already given his abridged record to his son (Mormon 6:6). Since Mormon's account of Nephite history contains many quotes from the actual records, it's clear that he had to have access to the Plates of Nephi in order to make his abridgment, which means he had to have competed his record before burying the official records in the hill Cumorah, and that was done just before the final battle had commenced.
Therefore, it is certain that after the Nephites had arrived in the land of Cumorah, Mormon wrote his commentary as found in the "Words of Mormon," then worked feverishly to put the finishing touches on his work of abridgment, attached the smaller plates to his work and then buried the Plates of Nephi along with all the records which the Lord had entrusted to his care in the hill he called Cumorah. Considering that he was nearly 75 years old by this time, he apparently didn't expect to live through the upcoming battle, but had high hopes that his son would survive. Therefore he entrusted his abridged work to his son for safe keeping (Mormon 6:6).
Once that was done, he concentrated on preparing for their last stand against the Lamanites. There's no doubt that they trained and armed everyone who could use any implement of war, including all the woman and children. It's certain that he felt that it would be better for them to die defending themselves than to be captured as innocent civilians and put to a tortuous death. Furthermore, without the women and children, their fighting force would have been significantly smaller than it already was. Along with this preparation they also planned a military strategy of how to use the water, rivers and fountains to their advantage.
On the eve of the battle, the people were placed in groups of ten thousand each, with a captain, or leader over every group. In all, there were 23 captains (Mormon 6:10-15), thus making a total of 230,000 people ready to fight for their lives. Standing together as husbands and wives with their children, they watched in terror as the extremely large Lamanite army came marching toward them (Mormon 6:7). By now there could be no doubt in their mind of the eventual outcome. Their only hope was to take out as many Lamanites as possible before being cut down themselves.
From the record it doesn't appear they were very successful in achieving their goal. From the way Mormon describes the events, it seems the battle was very lopsided, with the Nephites being easily hewn down (Mormon 6:9,10). All day long they fought, but by sunset the weary Lamanites returned to their tents without a single Nephite left standing. Mormon lay on the battlefield severely wounded but alive, having been passed over by the Lamanite army as being dead. The same was true of his son Moroni and 23 other warriors. Since the Lamanites thought they had done a complete job of destruction, they never returned to the battlefield, even to bury their own dead (Mormon 6:15).
Mormon, along with 24 other remaining Nephites managed to nurse one another back to health without being detected by the Lamanites. But they were not the only Nephites to survive the battle. A few managed to escape by going south, and some others kept themselves alive by defecting to the enemy's side (Mormon 6:15). In the morning, from the top of the hill Cumorah, Mormon surveyed the scene of carnage before him and his heart ached for what had happened to his people (Mormon 6:16). Taking his abridged record from his son, Mormon then added an abridged account of his own life and of the end of his people and entitled it "The book of Mormon". When he was finished, he handed the record back to his son, and commanded him to make his own record upon the plates of gold now in his possession (Mormon 8:1).
Moroni doesn't tell us anything about himself, but we can safely assume that he had no brothers, especially since Mormon never mentions any other son but him. If that is true, then we can assume that Mormon was somewhere between 20 and 30 years of age, (330-340 A.D.) when his first son, Moroni, was born. Taking the average of those years, we can speculate that Moroni was born when Mormon was approximately 25 years old. That means Moroni would have been around 50 years old at the time of his nation's last battle.
How long Mormon and the other 24 survivors remained alive after the battle at Cumorah is unknown, however, Moroni records that those Nephites who had escaped southward were all hunted down and killed by the Lamanites (Mormon 8:2). He also states that his father was likewise eventually killed by the Lamanites (Mormon 8:2). Considering that Mormon was at least 75 years old by this time, it seems reasonable to assume that he didn't live too much longer after the final battle at Cumorah, yet long enough to finish the account of his own life. However, they were eventually observed and attacked by a group of Lamanites, which resulted in Moroni's father and all his kinsfolk being killed in the skirmish (Moron 8:5). It would seem logical that the only way Moroni could have known the circumstances of his father's death was to be there as an eyewitness when it happened. But how he escaped without being killed himself is not revealed.
What is abundantly clear from the record is that Moroni was totally alone by this time, with no kinsman or friend for comradeship or help. The only people around him were those who sought to take his life. Secluding himself, he took his father's plates and decided to do as he had been commanded by his father. Beginning in chapter 8 of the "Book of Mormon," he wrote the sad story of what had happened after the final battle to his present time. That account took only 5 verses. There are two reasons why he wrote so little. The first is that there was not enough room left on the plates for him to write very much, even though he wanted to write more. The second reason was that he had no ore with which to make any more plates. Therefore, having used up all the available space on the plates his father had given him, he hid his father's record in the ground and waited to die (Mormon 8:5).
Strangely enough, 15 years later Moroni made another entry into the record (Mormon 8:6). The year was then 400 A.D. and Moroni was approximately 65 years old. Where had he been during all that time? He doesn't tell us. However, seeing that going south was not a wise course of action, and having a sea on both the east and west of him, it's only logical to conclude that Moroni's only route of escape was by going north. If he traveled only 8 miles a day (which is an incredibly slow rate of travel) he could cover nearly 3,000 miles in one year. In 15 years he could have easily gone from Central American to up state New York many times over.
We can only imagine what it must have been like to live alone for 15 years, yet he must have remained hidden in the immediate area of Cumorah for awhile because he recounts from his own personal observation how the whole face of the land was one continual round of bloodshed and war as the Lamanites turned their anger and hatred upon themselves (Mormon 8:8). From the wording of his account, it seems that he only wrote 8 mores verses before concluding his account by declaring that he is making an end of speaking (i.e. writing) concerning his people. He then signs off by saying, "I am the son of Mormon, and my father was a descendant of Nephi (Mormon 8:13), and reburies the record.
But then, beginning in verse 14, it seems he has once more unburied his record and begins adding to his account. This time, however, the tone of Moroni's words are very different than before. In the first 13 verses he has focused on the negative and depressing aspects of what has happened to his people. Now, when he begins writing again, his mood is hopeful and positive. Rather than talking about the grim past, he puts all of his efforts into writing about Christ to a future generation who will someday see his record. More importantly, at this point in time Moroni began to write prodigiously, whereas before he seemed reluctant to write anything at all. Since part of that reluctance was because he lacked space to write, we can only surmise that by this time he had been able to obtain some ore to make more plates.
It's also apparent that at this time in his life Moroni felt safe from bodily harm. When he began to write again, there is no indication in his record that he felt any sense of danger. His intent was to write to those who would someday find his account. In fact, he states that he had been shown those who will someday find the writings of his father and himself. It is clear that during the intervening 20 years (400-420) he was visited by angels and was shown visions and given revelations. Imbued with a sense of wanting to preach, but having no one to share his message with, he wrote his epistle to a future audience with the zeal of a true prophet.
After completing his comments, he again hid the plates of abridgment. However, as time when on and he found himself still very much alive with not a whole lot to do, he decided to make an abridgment of the plates of Ether. This must have taken him some time, but when he was done, he attached it to his father's work and reburied it. By this time he had fully expected to die soon, but when he continued to live, he unburied the plates and wrote more. However, rather than telling us about his problems or of his travels, he again chose to write about Christ.
Even so, it seems that he was running out of things to talk about, yet he still felt a need to keep writing. Therefore, he wrote about the various ordinances of Christ's church, (Moroni 1-6) but that didn't take very long. Next he decided to paraphrase a sermon he heard his father give many years before (Moroni 7). After that he decided to include a letter his father had sent him (Moroni 8). When that was finished, and seeing that he was still alive, he next included a second letter his father had written him (Moroni 9).
By this time, more than 420 years had passed since Christ was born, making it at least 421 A.D. Moroni was now approximately 86 years old and had lived alone for over 35 years. With nothing left to talk about, he bore his testimony to those who would someday find his record, asking them to excuse his imperfections and urged them to place their trust in Jesus Christ. When he was done, the aged Moroni placed the records in the ground one last time in a hill that's located in what would later be known as Palmyra, New York and managed to cover it with a large boulder. With that, the ancient record became silent.
Both Mormon and his son lived full lives with tremendous courage during very perilous and uncertain times. Despite the wickedness that surrounded them, they remained committed to the ways of God as they faced many temporal and spiritual challenges. Yet they persevered to the end, steadfast in the cause of Christ, even when there didn't seem to be any hope or reason for doing so. Like all of God's prophets, their lives are an example for us to follow today. The more we learn of their lives, the more we can learn how to face the challenges in our own life.
This is the real story of Mormon.
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