Honor Among Warriors, Zerahemnah

So, I’m going through the Book of Mormon in response to President Hinckley’s Challenge, and I came across this passage this weekend.

(Alma 44:8 )
And now it came to pass that when Zerahemnah had heard these sayings he came forth and delivered up his sword and his cimeter, and his bow into the hands of Moroni, and said unto him: Behold, here are our weapons of war; we will deliver them up unto you, but we will not suffer ourselves to take an oath unto you, which we know that we shall break, and also our children; but take our weapons of war, and suffer that we may depart into the wilderness; otherwise we will retain our swords, and we will perish or conquer.

I realize that Moroni is bound by his oath to Zerahemnah when he offers terms for surrender, but it seems rather honorable for Z. to not be willing to swear an oath “which we know that we shall break.” Given the history of the Lamanites, this seems likely.

In a way, it seems that killing Z. and his army has become an exercise in hunting a dangerous natural predator. Sharks attack people at the beach, not because they are mean or evil, but because it’s their nature. Somehow, despite Zarahemnah’s ill-fated personal attack on Moroni, I can’t help but feel a little sorry for him. He was just acting according to his nature. (Such as it was, we all have choices.)

Any thoughts on this?

My apologies that this is not nearly as deep and philosophical as John C.’s posts, but hey, sometimes lighter is good. =)

  • John C.

    As a parallel, I think of Aimee Mann’s song “That’s Just How You Are”. Do we sometimes think that we are so screwed up that everyone should just deal with our “screwed-up”ness, since we clearly can’t change? It is also interesting that Zarahemnah would rather think of himself as a pillager than someone who went back on his word (wouldn’t the opposite be true of most of us?). You’re right, this is a fascinating passage.

  • J. Watkins

    Nice first post. Short, sweet, and enough to make you scratch your head. I was always under the impression that breaking oaths was, to the ancients, about the most dishonorable thing you could do. Passages like this reinforced the idea. Besides, couldn’t it have been honorable for a Lamanite to be called a pillager if it was against the Nephites?


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