River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

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River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

Post by Shulem »

Welcome, and please enjoy another observation from Shulem, your friendly Book of Mormon scholar. :)

Here we go:

1. Hill Amnihu
2. River Sidon
3. Land of Zarahemla

Alma 2:15 wrote:And it came to pass that the Amlicites came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make make war with the Nephites.

Here we are given to visualize that hill Amnihu is east of the river Sidon and runs by the territory of Zarahemla. The hill is east of the river which means the river at this juncture by Zarahemla runs north and south. This hill becomes a base and starting point in waging war because of its strategic importance in having elevation.

Alma 2:16 wrote:Now Alma, being the chief judge and the governor of the people of Nephi, therefore he went up with his people, yea, with his captains, and chief captains, yea, at the head of his armies, against the Amlicites to battle.

Alma went up with his armies to do battle against the Amlicites although the text neglects to mention that he must have crossed the river Sidon in order to get to the hill Amnihu which is on the east side of the river. This verse only leads us to understand that Alma was facing an uphill battle against the Amlicites.

Alma 2:17 wrote:And they began to slay the Amlicites upon the hill east of Sidon. And the Amlicites did contend with the Nephites with great strength, insomuch that many of the Nephites did fall before the Amlicites.

Note that the battle “began” upon the hill! This means all of the Amlicites were positioned on high ground whereby the Nephites went up to engage them.

Alma 2:18 wrote:Nevertheless the Lord did strengthen the hand of the Nephites, that they slew the Amlicites with great slaughter, that they began to flee before them.

Apparently, God empowered the Nephites and the Amlicites “began” to run! Where did they run? They must have run down the hill and away from the battle, obviously. Right?

Alma 2:19 wrote:And it came to pass that the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter, insomuch that there were slain of the Amlicites twelve thousand five hundred thirty and two souls; and there were slain of the Nephites six thousand five hundred sixty and two souls.

We were previously informed that the Amlicites ran away from the God-fearing Nephites only to be chased and pursued for the rest of that day! So, this was a ONE-DAY battle and yet the Nephites managed to find the time to count exactly 19,094 dead bodies that must have been strewn about upon the hill and round about the battlefield.

12,532 Amlicites slain
6,562 Nephites slain

That’s 19,094 corpses in total. How on God’s green earth did Alma’s captains manage to find time and space to carry on such an operation as counting that many dead bodies while at the same time having to tend to the injured? Surely there must have been THOUSANDS who were injured on both sides and yet what about them? The commotion and terrible scene that would have existed at this point does not warrant Alma’s captains wasting time counting nearly 20,000 dead and ignoring the needs of the wounded! This is a hole in the script and a colossal error of Joseph Smith’s ability to tell a story that makes sense.

Alma 2:20 wrote:And it came to pass that when Alma could pursue the Amlicites no longer he caused that his people should pitch their tents in the valley of Gideon, the valley being called after that Gideon who was slain by the hand of Nehor with the sword; and in this valley the Nephites did pitch their tents for the night.

Here we are reminded that the Nephites were pursuing the Amlicites “all that day” and finally gave up and settled in the valley of Gideon where they pitched their tents for the night. And we are supposed to believe that 20,000 bodies were counted in the process. How utterly silly!

Alma 2:21 wrote:And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots, whereby he might guard himself against them, that he might preserve his people from being destroyed.

Just when we conclude the Nephites were absolutely tired and exhausted beyond measure we are informed that Alma somehow managed to send spies out into the night to follow the Amlicites and learn what they were up to by watching their camp. No time to rest and no time to sleep. Follow the Amlicites!

Alma 2:22 wrote: Now those whom he had sent out to watch the camp of the Amlicites were called Zeram, and Amnor, and Manti, and Limher; these were they who went out with their men to watch the camp of the Amlicites.

Alma’s four spies were out all that night watching the camp -- tired, hungry, and exhausted. Did they have candlelight by which they could see, or did they just scurry about in the dark hiding behind bushes in the wilderness? The four spies were alone and if the Amlicites spotted them they would have surely been killed. So, they must have kept quiet and slither about like snakes in the grass.

Alma 2:23 wrote:And it came to pass that on the morrow they returned into the camp of the Nephites in great haste, being greatly astonished, and struck with much fear, saying:

The one-day battle and all that took place that night is again confirmed in the statement about returning to camp ON THE MORROW. But they didn’t return until after they witnessed the following later that day:

Alma 2:24 wrote:Behold, we followed the camp of the Amlicites, and to our great astonishment, in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi, we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites; and behold, the Amlicites have joined them;

The four spies learned that in the land of Minon which is above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi, the Lamanites had joined forces with the Amlicites! It’s now double jeopardy!

Alma 2:25 wrote:And they are upon our brethren in that land; and they are fleeing before them with their flocks, and their wives, and their children, towards our city; and except we make haste they obtain possession of our city, and our fathers, and our wives, and our children be slain.

The four spies just so happened to notice that their Nephite brethren from another territory were fleeing out of the land of Nephi with their flocks and herds and were now headed down into the land of Zarahemla in order to reach the city of Zarahemla.

Alma 2:26 wrote:And it came to pass that the people of Nephi took their tents, and departed out of the valley of Gideon towards their city, which was the city of Zarahemla.

At this juncture, Alma and his Nephite army immediately left the valley of Gideon to make haste westward towards Zarahemla. But in order to do that they must cross the river Sidon as they did previously when they first approached the hill Amnihu:

Alma 2:27 wrote:And behold, as they were crossing the river Sidon, the Lamanites and the Amlicites, being as numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea, came upon them to destroy them.

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Alma 2:28 wrote:Nevertheless, the Nephites being strengthened by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, therefore the Lord did hear their cries, and did strengthen them, and the Lamanites and the Amlicites did fall before them.

Now, what are the odds that Alma would personally engage in mortal combat with both the leader of the Amlicites and the Lamanite king? This sounds like something out of a storybook made for little boys who love to hear bedtime stories:

Alma 2:29-33 wrote:And it came to pass that Alma fought with Amlici with the sword, face to face; and they did contend mightily, one with another. And it came to pass that Alma, being a man of God, being exercised with much faith, cried, saying: O Lord, have mercy and spare my life, that I may be an instrument in thy hands to save and preserve this people. Now when Alma had said these words he contended again with Amlici; and he was strengthened, insomuch that he slew Amlici with the sword. And he also contended with the king of the Lamanites; but the king of the Lamanites fled back from before Alma and sent his guards to contend with Alma. But Alma, with his guards, contended with the guards of the king of the Lamanites until he slew and drove them back.

Alma and his army are confronted at the river by the combined armies of the Lamanites and Amlicites. What could be worse than being attacked while fleeing and trying to get across the river? But the Nephites are ever charged with the power of God are able to hold their enemies at bay:

Alma 2:34 wrote:And thus he cleared the ground, or rather the bank, which was on the west of the river Sidon, throwing the bodies of the Lamanites who had been slain into the waters of Sidon, that thereby his people might have room to cross and contend with the Lamanites and the Amlicites on the west side of the river Sidon.

Now we see that Alma and his armies prove victorious in defeating their enemies and chasing them to the west and north -- away from the borders of Zarahemla.

Alma 2:35-38 wrote:And it came to pass that when they had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them, notwithstanding they were so numerous that they could not be numbered. And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them. Yea, they were met on every hand, and slain and driven, until they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts. And it came to pass that many died in the wilderness of their wounds, and were devoured by those beasts and also the vultures of the air; and their bones have been found, and have been heaped up on the earth.

Here is the basic landscape that shows how Zarahemla is divided from the land of Nephi by the river Sidon:


Image


Here is a general map of the entire region:


Image
Last edited by Shulem on Fri Sep 01, 2023 8:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

You know what also pops out at me right now is that Joseph Smith didn't take into account the amount of soldiers (and civilians) killed by disease. It would've been astronomical, and the primary driver of deaths given not only the kinds of battles his characters were fighting, but also in their kinds of environments.

The hill thing might pass the plausibility test, if he were looking at a map of Delmarva since the hills were only two or three dozen feet tall, and a commander would certainly want that kind of advantage in ancient warfare.

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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

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Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 12:10 am
You know what also pops out at me right now is that Joseph Smith didn't take into account the amount of soldiers (and civilians) killed by disease. It would've been astronomical, and the primary driver of deaths given not only the kinds of battles his characters were fighting, but also in their kinds of environments.

Smith didn’t think it through while telling a bedtime story that is on the maturity level that a ten-year-old boy would appreciate to say nothing of adults who should recognize right off the bat that something is terribly wrong with the logistics of the story. There is nothing in the story that leads anyone to think that Alma and his captains established a medical ward where hundreds or thousands of wounded Nephite soldiers needed immediate care to tend to their wounds. And what about all the wounded Amlicites laying around and bleeding on the open field? We are supposed to accept that 12,532 Amlicites were slain and counted but what about the wounded? And what about prisoners? The whole story is silly and is not written on an adult level but is mere child’s play -- to say nothing of the 2,000 stripling warriors -- more child’s play of stories fit for kids, not adults!

The fallout of disease from wounds incurred in battle would have taken a terrible toll. But Smith chalked it all up as some kind of miracle in which everything just came up roses and they moved on and managed to get back to Zarahemla just fine after chasing the surviving Amlicites and Lamanites out of the region.

In hindsight, looking back as a believing Mormon, I don’t think I ever really bought this silly story that is founded in total nonsense having no regard to reality and real life conditions. Joseph Smith was telling a whopper!

Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 12:10 am
The hill thing might pass the plausibility test, if he were looking at a map of Delmarva since the hills were only two or three dozen feet tall, and a commander would certainly want that kind of advantage in ancient warfare.

The only hills that existed were the ones Smith made up and pretended to visualize while his his face was buried in a hat. The fact that Oliver Cowdery bought his nonsense leads me to think that Cowdery really wasn’t the smartest teacher on the block and that’s probably why he ended up in Smith’s employ. Cowdery was a dope and easily fooled.
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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

Post by Physics Guy »

The precise numbers of dead are obviously unrealistic, and it seems anachronistic even to suppose that a Nephite scribe made them up, because I don't think ancient readers or writers expected such precise counts. Do casualty figures with single-digit precision appear in the Bible or any other ancient texts?

Not stating losses to disease might not be so wrong, though. I'm not sure about this, but it seems to me that armies on campaign suffering huge losses to disease may be a more modern phenomenon that mainly came from the huge armies, and lengthy campaigns, that could be supported by larger nation states with more modern agriculture and transportation. When your food supply is limited to what can be raised locally, as it was in ancient times, your armies can't actually represent all that much greater a concentration of population than the normal local population. So I'm not sure that you'd expect a specifically military attrition from disease that was higher than normal by enough to be worth noticing.

Sending scouts to keep right on tracking the fleeing enemy, even though everyone is exhausted, isn't ridiculous, either. It's hard, all right, but it's what every commander knows you're supposed to do if you possibly can. In fact, just sending scouts to pursue is the minimum. Ideally you keep right on chasing with your whole force. History is full of missed opportunities to finish the whole war early, when victorious generals let defeated enemies get away to regroup. If you really want to win your pursuit has to be as desperately persistent as your enemies' last stand will be. The fleeing enemy is just as exhausted as you are; if they can nonetheless keep on fleeing, you can keep following.
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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

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Physics Guy wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 11:24 am
The precise numbers of dead are obviously unrealistic, and it seems anachronistic even to suppose that a Nephite scribe made them up, because I don't think ancient readers or writers expected such precise counts. Do casualty figures with single-digit precision appear in the Bible or any other ancient texts?

Yes, it seems unrealistic and anachronistic but even more so, totally unnecessary given the time constraints and the situation at hand. Is an actual body count really needed at that time? With regard to friendly forces, Alma could have just as well ordered his captains to have his troops meet in formation and get a head count and then subtract that number from the number prior to the battle. Surely the Nephites took a head count before they marched off to war! How easy it would be for the captains to get a count and determine their losses on that basis rather than counting corpses in the field as the text seems to infer because they would have had to do that in order to produce the exact count of the enemy (12,532).

And, there was simply no need for the Nephites to take a count of how many of their enemies had fallen. There are far greater things that need to be accomplished during the precious time in which every minute counted rather than counting dead Amlicites! But Joseph Smith is telling his story as he imagined it and he certainly was not in the know about how wars are fought. Smith was a farm boy and a dreamer, not a military tactician.

I don’t see how a comparison with biblical battles prior to 600 BC (Lehi) has anything to do with this war story in the Book of Mormon, dated at 87 BC, which is so far removed from biblical things and practices that it’s moot to compare them. Here are some statistics during this era of the Book of Mormon in which enemy body counts were taken but you’ll note that only one of them is an exact single-digit count:

Mosiah 9:18, 187 BC wrote:And God did hear our cries and did answer our prayers; and we did go forth in his might; yea, we did go forth against the Lamanites, and in one day and a night we did slay three thousand and forty-three; we did slay them even until we had driven them out of our land.
Alma 28:2, 77 BC wrote:And thus there was a tremendous battle; yea, even such an one as never had been known among all the people in the land from the time Lehi left Jerusalem; yea, and tens of thousands of the Lamanites were slain and scattered abroad.
Alma 49:23, 72 BC wrote:Thus the Nephites had all power over their enemies; and thus the Lamanites did attempt to destroy the Nephites until their chief captains were all slain; yea, and more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand, there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain.
Alma 51:11, 67 BC wrote:Now his armies were not so great as they had hitherto been, because of the many thousands who had been slain by the hand of the Nephites; but notwithstanding their great loss, Amalickiah had gathered together a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla.
Alma 57:14, 63 BC wrote:For behold, they would break out in great numbers, and would fight with stones, and with clubs, or whatsoever thing they could get into their hands, insomuch that we did slay upwards of two thousand of them after they had surrendered themselves prisoners of war.

The very idea of the Nephites counting 12,532 dead Amlicites in the aftermath of battle prior to fleeing west to recross the Sidon river and return to Zarahemla is ludicrous. Given the situation at hand and the time constraints it would have been more believable if Smith had simply said, “many thousands” as he did for another battle 20 years later.

That was Joseph Smith’s blooper! I’ve caught Smith red-handed making up numbers out of thin air!
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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

Post by Shulem »

Physics Guy wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 11:24 am
Not stating losses to disease might not be so wrong, though. I'm not sure about this, but it seems to me that armies on campaign suffering huge losses to disease may be a more modern phenomenon that mainly came from the huge armies, and lengthy campaigns, that could be supported by larger nation states with more modern agriculture and transportation. When your food supply is limited to what can be raised locally, as it was in ancient times, your armies can't actually represent all that much greater a concentration of population than the normal local population. So I'm not sure that you'd expect a specifically military attrition from disease that was higher than normal by enough to be worth noticing.

Sending scouts to keep right on tracking the fleeing enemy, even though everyone is exhausted, isn't ridiculous, either. It's hard, all right, but it's what every commander knows you're supposed to do if you possibly can. In fact, just sending scouts to pursue is the minimum. Ideally you keep right on chasing with your whole force. History is full of missed opportunities to finish the whole war early, when victorious generals let defeated enemies get away to regroup. If you really want to win your pursuit has to be as desperately persistent as your enemies' last stand will be. The fleeing enemy is just as exhausted as you are; if they can nonetheless keep on fleeing, you can keep following.

All I’m saying is the whole story to me sounds very unbelievable and farfetched and lacks details on how the aftermath of war is often as difficult if not worse than the war itself. Joseph Smith utilizes a sense of sensationalism to paint his stories and glosses them over with how God’s miracles showcase the whole experience beyond what would normally be expected in circumstances void of God. The battle in Alma 49 states that “more than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand, there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain.” That’s too good to be true! It’s faith promoting storytelling on Joseph Smith’s part: 1000 vs. 0!

But the Alma 2 war that references the crossing of the river happened very quick and the battle in question lasted only a day and then into the night wherein both sides must obtain rest and relief in their respective camps. Then, on the morrow, the battle continued while the Nephites fled across the river wherein the leaders go hand to hand in combat but the whole thing is written on a comic book level, childish -- it’s too unbelievable and unrealistic. The whole narrative is unrealistic!
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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

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Shulem wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 4:25 pm
All I’m saying is the whole story to me sounds very unbelievable and farfetched and lacks details on how the aftermath of war is often as difficult if not worse than the war itself.

:oops:

Hold on there, Shulem, you’re not being fair because you’ve completely ignored the opening part of chapter 3 which does discuss the difficulties of the aftermath. I think you should apologize to your readers.

I’m sorry :cry:

Alma 3 wrote:1 And it came to pass that the Nephites who were not slain by the weapons of war, after having buried those who had been slain—now the number of the slain were not numbered, because of the greatness of their number—after they had finished burying their dead they all returned to their lands, and to their houses, and their wives, and their children.

2 Now many women and children had been slain with the sword, and also many of their flocks and their herds; and also many of their fields of grain were destroyed, for they were trodden down by the hosts of men.

3 And now as many of the Lamanites and the Amlicites who had been slain upon the bank of the river Sidon were cast into the waters of Sidon; and behold their bones are in the depths of the sea, and they are many.
  • Nephites bury there dead and return to Zarahemla but the dead are not numbered (tens of thousands)
  • Many women and children were slain and many flocks, herds, and fields were destroyed
  • Many of the Lamanites and Amlicites were cast into the waters of Sidon to be buried at sea

To be continued

;)
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Re: River Sidon

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Shulem wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 7:56 pm
Alma 3:3 wrote:And now as many of the Lamanites and the Amlicites who had been slain upon the bank of the river Sidon were cast into the waters of Sidon; and behold their bones are in the depths of the sea, and they are many.
  • Many of the Lamanites and Amlicites were cast into the waters of Sidon to be buried at sea

This map shows exactly what Smith was envisioning and discloses the location of the story told in Alma chapter 2:

Image

Shulem wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 5:20 am
Folks, we are talking about a real flowing river! A river that flows and goes beyond and adjoins with the sea. What sea? The ocean! Yes, the river joins the sea where fresh water and salt meet and mix.
Shulem wrote:
Sun Jul 11, 2021 5:32 am
Their bones have GONE FORTH and are lost at sea! Where the river meets the ocean.
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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

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Physics Guy wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 11:24 am
Not stating losses to disease might not be so wrong, though. I'm not sure about this, but it seems to me that armies on campaign suffering huge losses to disease may be a more modern phenomenon that mainly came from the huge armies, and lengthy campaigns, that could be supported by larger nation states with more modern agriculture and transportation. When your food supply is limited to what can be raised locally, as it was in ancient times, your armies can't actually represent all that much greater a concentration of population than the normal local population. So I'm not sure that you'd expect a specifically military attrition from disease that was higher than normal by enough to be worth noticing.
Hrm. I want to say I read numbers from Roman and Mongol historiographers with regard to soldier deaths due to disease (in a war setting), but I can't recall any sources. I dunno. Maybe if I feel like googling it later I'll do it. It should be worth nothing that deaths from disease always far surpassed deaths by the sword, so, I believe, it was fairly routine to note... but again I'd have to look it up.

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Re: River Sidon War and Book of Mormon Blooper

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Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
Fri Sep 01, 2023 12:10 am
if he were looking at a map of Delmarva

:D
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