Friday, July 29, 2005


Moroni I -- Chief Captain

At 25 years of age, Moroni became the chief captain of all the Nephite armies. This appointment probably occurred sometime in advance of Zerahemnah's campaign against the Nephites when
Moroni is first mentioned.1 Not only did the chief captain command all of the military forces, he also possessed complete authority over all aspects of the defense of the nation.

"Now, the leader of the Nephites, or the man who had been appointed to be chief captain over the Nephites--and his name was Moroni; And Moroni took all the command, and the government of their wars. And he was only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites." Alma 43:16-17.

Ascension to the office of chief captain did not occur simply through military rank advancement, nor simply by appointment of the chief judge. Advancement to chief captain also required direct election by the people.

"Now, Moroni being a man who was appointed by the chief judges and the voice of the people, therefore he had power according to his will with the armies of the Nephites, to establish and to exercise authority over them." Alma 46:34.

His authority over the armies came directly from the people. The people had bestowed upon Moroni the sole authority in all matters concerning the military and the conduct of the wars. ... It is probable that the chief judge, with the cooperation and direction of the top military leaders, nominated one or more candidates for the post of chief
captain and the people then voted to accept or reject the nominee(s). However, the appointment was not merely a political reward confirmed by a popularity contest.

"Now it was the custom among all the Nephites to
appoint for their chief captains, (save it were in their times of wickedness) some one that had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy;"
3 Nephi 3:19.

Moroni attained the position of chief captain through exemplary performance, superior and unswerving duty to his country, the confidence of the political leaders with whom he worked, and the
trust of his countrymen.

... The chief captain, as Moroni
demonstrated, had powers which included: (1) the allocation of arms, provisions, and reinforcements; (2) the appointment of captains over each army group; (3) the requisition of men and materials; (4) the selection of sites for cities and forts
without pandering to sectional preferences; (5) the suspension of laws and liberties temporarily to protect the nation from internal dangers during war; and (6) determining the fate and handling of prisoners. Such powers in the hands of one man who
was not committed to freedom and righteousness could have resulted in a dictatorship. Indeed, many of Moroni's adversaries sought just this type of power in order to bring the rest of the Nephites into bondage under their rule.

1. Zerahemnah led the Lamanites against the Nephites in the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges (18 RJ) (approximately 74 B.C.). The scriptures do not report whether Moroni was
appointed chief captain in that year as a result of the defection of the Zoramites to the Lamanites and the ensuing Lamanite agitation, or whether he had been appointed previously. Either alternative is possible. However, two items in the scriptures
imply the appointment may have been made some years or some length of time prior to Zerahemnah's Campaign. First, when Moroni is first mentioned in Alma 43:16, the scriptures report that he was the man "who had been appointed to be the chief
captain" rather than the man "who was appointed" or the man "who the people appointed." The past perfect tense used in this verse implies that Moroni's appointment to the post of chief
captain pre-dated the actions of Zerahemnah who "appointed" Zoramites and Amalekites as captains over the Lamanites. The second implication that Moroni may not have received his appointment in 18 RJ is that his death is reported in Alma 63:3 as occurring in 36 RJ (approximately 56 B.C.), eighteen years later. Additionally, Alma 62 shows that Moroni yielded up command of the armies to Moronihah sometime between 32 RJ (60 B.C.) and 35 RJ (57 B.C.). In other words, if Moroni received
the office of chief captain in 18 RJ at age 25, he would have been between 39 and 42 years of age when he retired and would have died at the age of 43. Consider that Alma the Elder died at age 82
(Mosiah 29:45) and Mosiah died at age 63 (Mosiah 29:46), it is not unreasonable to believe that a normal lifespan might have been 60 years or more. Therefore, barring unreported health problems, Moroni had likely attained several years beyond 43
years of age when he died. (Although the strain of a soldier's life and wounds received during that time could have contributed to shorten his life significantly). Accordingly, Moroni may have
been in his late twenties or even into his thirties at the time of Zerahemnah's campaign. Moroni's age at the time of Zerahemnah's campaign in no way detracts from the significance of his appointment to the office of chief captain at an early age
nor his accomplishments after his appointment.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?