Background: Around 400 AD
The Lamanites and Nephites were in the midst of a long and violent battle. Wickedness and cruelty was rampant on both sides of the lines. Mormon was leading the Nephite armies but knew that because of their wickedness the situation was hopeless. In a letter that he wrote to his son Moroni he said, "they have lost their love, one towards another; and they thirst after blood and revenge continually. And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God." (Moroni 9:5-6) The information he passes on to his son about the suffering of the Lamanite and Nephite women was told him by a man named Amoron (Moroni 9: 7).
Facts About Them:
- The Lamanties captured men, women and children from the tower of Sherrizah. They killed all the husbands and the fathers and then fed “the women upon the flesh of their husbands, an the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.” (vs 7-9);
- “Not withstanding this great abomination of the Lamanties” the Nephites in Moriantum had taken many of the daughters of the Lamanties prisoner and “after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all thins, which is chastity and virtue—and after they had done this thing, they did murder them in a most cruel manner, torturing their bodes even unto death; and after they have done this, they devour their flesh like unto wild beasts, because of the hardness of their hearts; and they do it for a token of bravery.”(vs. 9-10);
- There were many Nephite widows and daughters who were left in Sherrizah. They didn't have any provision because anything that was left was carried away by the army of Zenephi. Most of the remaining women were left "to wander whithersoever they can for food; and many old women do faint by the way and die." (vs.16);
- Moroni laments that his own army is weak and that there are Lamanite armies between him and Sherrizah (vs. 17);
- In speaking of the Nephites Moroni laments that, "they are alike brutal, sparing none, neither old nor young... and the suffering of our women and our children upon all the face of this land doth exceed everything; yea, tongue cannot tell, neither can it be written" (vs. 19).
Speculations about them:
- Moroni doesn't clarify who the army of Zenephi is that carries away the provisions from the tower of Sherrizah. Yet since he differentiates them from the Lamanties (and indicated the Nephite men are wicked) it is probable that Zenephi was another of the Nephite captains and that it was Nephite men who took the remaining food for themselves and left the Nephite women to fend for themselves and starve to death.
- We don't know where Mormon and Moroni's wives and children are at this time. We never hear anything about them and it makes me wonder if perhaps if they might have been among these women.
When I was at BYU I took the most amazing course my last semester there. It was called "The International Political Economy of Women" taught by Valerie Hudson and Donna Lee Bowen. It sounds like a big fancy name for a class but if you ever have the possibility to take it or hear one of these women speak I would recommend you jump at it in an instant. The whole semester was spent talking in depth about the issues that women face in the world-- from breastfeeding, female genital mutilation, the glass ceiling, prostitution, slavery, bride burning, dowries, child birth, rape, religious oppression, war, peacemaking, veils, pay inequities, women's education, domestic violence, and every other issue you can think of concerning women. Through the semester they painted for us very vivid and real picture of the situation of women in the world.
It was sad,
really, really, really
My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever. (Moroni 9:25)"
Dr. Hudson then told about how during a dark period of her life, when she was weighed down with sorrow and grief over the situation of women in the world, she read this verse and felt like a light had penetrated through her grief and her confusion. She realized that no matter how bad things were for women she didn't need to be weighed down with anger or sorrow. Her heart clung to Mormon's promise. Christ was personally aware of the sorrow and the suffering of each woman and no sorrow and no injustice would be forgotten. She could take joy in knowing that all women everywhere have the most powerful and compassionate advocate. She knew that Christ loved women and from that moment on her heart no longer felt weighed down but she found hope, joy, and courage in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mormon's example of clinging to Christ and the truth, even amidst so much wickedness, unrighteous dominion and misunderstanding, has also been such a powerful example for me. I think it is easy when we view the inequalities and suffering of women in the world to let ourselves go to a place of sorrow, anger, and confusion. I know there are times when I feel like I am "weighed down to death" by sorrow for women's situation in the world and there are times when I feel like I have so many more questions than I have answers. There are times when my pillow is soaked through with tears and prayers for understanding. Answers don't 't always come easily but piece by piece, truth by truth, scripture by scripture, the Lord has always answered my petitions, given me peace, expanded my understanding, and let me be an instrument in his hands. I know first hand that Mormon's promise is true, that Christ will lift us up from our sorrow and our grief and causes "the hope of his glory and of eternal life, [to] rest in your mind forever."
The quote on the the banner of this blog is "The greatest champion of woman and womanhood is Jesus the Christ." I can't repeat enough how true this statement is. There is no force in the world that will do more good in the lives of women then the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the greatest advocate that women will ever have. He is our older brother, our advocate, and our redeemer. He understands completely all the pains, sorrows, questions and inequalities that women suffer in this world. Satan would have us fill our hearts with sorrow, anger and confusion. Christ on the other hand wants to fill our hearts with peace, understanding and joy. Like Mormon, when we are faced with wickedness, violence, inequality, and unrighteous dominion we have two choices. One, we can either be angry, hurt, sorrowful and confused or two, we can fix our hearts and minds upon Christ and have faith in His ways. We may not always understand why things are they way they are, or why people have to experience the trials they do, but we can know for certain that if we cling to Christ and his promises everything will be made clear and the justice will be done.
The greatest force for good and change in this world is love
and Christ is the source
of that love.
Questions to Think About:
- Why would they have been in the tower of Sherrizah? Was it a stronghold? Were they making a last stand like at Masada? Mormon says that he tried to get to Sherrizah but his army was weak and the Lamanties stood between him
- How did those women comfort their children and still be mothers in such horrible circumstances? How did they survive?
- What similarities to you see in these women's stories to that of the concubine in Judges 19?
- How have you seen the gospel of Jesus Christ improve women's lives? How about your own life?
- How do you deal with feelings of sorrow, anger or confusion over women's roles and experiences in the world, within your church, or within your family?