Table of Contents

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Jaredite Era

An ancient man named Jared, along with his brother, follow God’s directions in leading their followers away from a “Great Tower.” They wander through the wilderness for many years, and eventually are led by God to embark on a transoceanic journey to the Promised Land. They establish a strong civilization, and their history chronicles the rises and falls of their kingdoms. Prophets come among the Jaredites, but they are often rejected. After a saga spanning over 30 generations, the Jaredites annihilate themselves in a horrific civil war. The last surviving Jaredite prophet, Ether, writes and compiles the record of his fallen people.

Lehites in Jerusalem and Arabia

In 600 B.C., a man in Jerusalem named Lehi is warned by God about the impending Babylonian siege, and is instructed by God to leave the city with his family. They leave Jerusalem, and make camp in the desert. Lehi’s sons make several trips back to Jerusalem to obtain the Hebrew scriptures, or “brass plates,” and to recruit another man and his family to join them in their departure. The group spends many years traveling through the Arabian Peninsula. At length they arrive at the coast, where they construct a ship, and launch into the Indian Ocean en route to the Promised Land.

Colonization of the Promised Land

The Lehites arrive in the Promised Land, and begin to settle and colonize. One of Lehi’s sons, Nephi, begins making a record of his family’s history so far, and also becomes interested in the writings found in the Hebrew scriptures they previously obtained. Inspired by his readings, Nephi teaches about Jesus Christ, and the redemption of humanity. Lehi, on his deathbed, blesses his family and counsels them to be faithful stewards of the land. After Lehi’s death, tension arises between Nephi and his followers, called the Nephites, and some of Nephi’s brothers, dubbed the Lamanites. The two camps separate; the Lamanites stay in their original territory, and Nephi and his followers travel elsewhere.

The Land of Nephi

After parting ways with the Lamanites, the Nephites arrive in a land they call the “land of Nephi.” Nephi is appointed to be king, and the Nephites establish themselves as a city and community. Nephi continues to write and teach using the brass plates as his primary source. Nephi’s brother Jacob succeeds Nephi as the religious leader, all while the Nephites continue to multiply and expand as a civilization. Nephi’s record is handed down from generation to generation, and writers such as Enos, Jarom, Omni, Amaron, Chemish, and Abinadom make entries about their time. At length, a Nephite named Mosiah is warned by God to leave the land of Nephi with whoever would follow him. Mosiah and his followers leave, and eventually end up at Zarahemla, where they meet a separate population, the Mulekites.

Zarahemla Under Monarchial Rule

Zarahemla is first settled by the Mulekites, who travel from Jerusalem to the Promised Land independent of the Lehites or Jaredites. They establish a community, but their lack of records cause their society to degrade. Several generations later, they are joined by Mosiah and his followers, who had left the land of Nephi. Mosiah, being the custodian of the Nephite records, is appointed as king, and the two groups merge, and are all known as Nephites. Mosiah’s son Benjamin succeeds Mosiah as king, and fervently teaches the people of redemption through Christ. During Benjamin’s reign, a group of explorers leave Zarahemla to try to find the Nephites that they left behind in the land of Nephi. Benjamin’s son, also named Mosiah, assumes the throne, and during his reign, the explorers return from the Land of Nephi, and tell their story. Mosiah’s sons, after a period of rebellion, repent and travel to the Lamanite land to preach the gospel.

Recolonization of the Land of Nephi

The explorers who left from Zarahemla, led by a man named Zeniff, arrive at the land of Nephi, but only find Lamanites there. Zeniff negotiates with the Lamanites, and they agree to let him settle the land with his people. Zeniff rules his people and his son, Noah, succeeds him, but rules in sin and wickedness. A prophet named Abinadi calls him to repentance, but Noah executes him. One of Noah’s priests, Alma, believes Abinaidi, leaves Noah’s court, and with his believing followers, establishes a church. Meanwhile, Noah is overthrown and killed, the Lamanites invade and conquer the land of Nephi, and Noah’s son, Limhi, takes the lead of the people, but is subject to Lamanite control. Back in Zarahemla, Mosiah sends a man named Ammon to the land of Nephi, who arrives and liberates Limhi’s people. Both Limhi’s people and Alma’s people travel back to Zarahemla and join the main body of Nephites.

Mission to the Lamanites

Mosiah's sons, named Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni, travel to the Lamanites (along with some other companions) in order to teach them the gospel as known among the Nephites. They arrive at the border of the Lamanite territory, and go their separate ways. The early ministries of Ammon and Aaron are highlighted. Ammon goes to a place called Ishmael, where he gains the local King's trust, and teaches him the gospel. The King and many of his people are converted. Aaron, after some hardships, makes his way to the land Nephi, where he also is successful in converting the chief King and many of his people. All the Lamanite converts assemble, but the unconverted Lamanites, furious with the indoctrination campaign that the Nephite missionaries were undertaking, wage a war on the Nephites and the Lamanite converts. The sons of Mosiah lead their converts out of the land of Nephi, and they are given a city in Nephite territory, Jershon, to settle.

Zarahemla Under Judicial Rule

After Zarahemla’s time ruled by monarchs (Mosiah, Benjamin, Mosiah) there is no one willing to become king. The Nephites devise a new form of government comprised of judges, subsidiary judges and a chief judge. Alma (son of Alma, friend of Mosiah’s sons) becomes the first chief judge and governs both the church and the state. Without much delay, there is insurrection, and some factions try to overthrow the government and reestablish a king. The church begins to decline, so Alma gives up his position as chief judge to be a full time minister for the church. He goes to many different Nephite cities, preaches to them, and sets the church in order. The sons of Mosiah return to Zarahemla with their Lamanite converts, and they help Alma in additional local preaching labors. Despite all the efforts, many Nephites become disaffected, dissent, and join the Lamanites. Alma passes on his responsibilities to his son Helaman.

Zarahemla’s Age of War

Severe military conflicts begin with Nephite dissenters who rally the Lamanites to support them in their grudges. The first major attack was initiated by the Zoramites, a group that Alma and his companions has preached to earlier. They had dissented and joined the Lamanites, and came to war against the Nephites, led by a warrior named Zerahemnah. The Nephite troops are led by a man named Moroni, who is able to inspire the Nephites to fight for the cause of liberty and justice. The Nephites are successful in driving Zerahemnah’s forces back, but it isn’t long before another Nephite dissenter, Amalickiah, gains high ranking power among the Lamanites and wages a full scale multi-front military campaign. The Nephites engage all their powers to defend themselves, with Moroni defending the east and Helaman defending the west. All the while, rebellion, dissent, corruption, and civil unrest plagues the Nephite nation.

Gadianton Period

Corruption infects Zarahemla’s leadership (and those aspiring to leadership) from the beginning of the judcial tenure of Helaman (Helaman’s son). A secret group of organized criminals, dubbed the “Gadianton Robbers,” gain increasing power as they try to subvert the government. The Nephite society as a whole begins to decline, and large portions of Nephite territory are lost to Lamanite invaders. Helaman’s two sons, named Lehi and Nephi, have little success preaching to the Nephites, but the Lamanites are receptive to the gospel. At length, a Lamanite prophet, Samuel, comes among the Nephites and prophesies of the rapidly approaching arrival of Jesus Christ. He also warns that unless the people repent, they will be destroyed. Samuel is rejected and little heed is given to his words. Gadianton forces multiply, and engage in guerilla strikes on the Nephites, expanding their power and undermining the righteous.

Messianic Ministry

In fulfillment of prophesy, Jesus Christ, the son of God, resurrected from the dead, descends out of heaven and visits the surviving Nephites after a gigantic storm ravages the land, killing many people. Jesus announces that the Nephites are some of his “other sheep” that he spoke of to the Jews while in Israel. Jesus selects twelve disciples, organizes a priesthood, instructs the people on baptism, and teaches them many similar things he taught during his mortal ministry in the Holy Land. Jesus blesses children, heals the sick, establishes his doctrines and ordinances, and gives people hope and assurance for salvation. He emphasizes the importance of records and scriptures; he commands them to record the account of his visit, and comments on many other scriptures that they are familiar with. After a visit of three days, he ascends back into heaven, occasionally returning to minister privately.

Nephite Decline and Downfall

After the visit of Jesus Christ, all the people live in a harmonious Utopia. After 200 years of this Zion, corruption begins to creep into the society again. Some people break away from the main body of people, and identify themselves as Lamanites. The organized criminal ring of Gadianton is revived, and the society begins the decline. A man named Mormon is entrusted with the Nephite records and abridges the Nephite history on a new set of gold plates. Mormon subsequently becomes the military commander of the Nephites. Tensions grow between the Nephites and Lamanites, and after several decades of intermittent war and peace, the two nations gather near a hill called Cumorah and engage in a climactic battle to end all battles. The Nephite nation is nearly entirely wiped out, and Mormon’s son, Moroni, one of the last Nephite survivors, adds to his father’s record, and hides the plates, in hopes that someday they will be discovered.