13 And it came to pass that those who tarried with their wives and their children caused that their fair daughters should stand forth and plead with the Lamanites that they would not slay them.
14 And it came to pass that the Lamanites had compassion on them, for they were charmed with the beauty of their women.
15 Therefore the Lamanites did spare their lives, and took them captives and carried them back to the land of Nephi, and granted unto them that they might possess the land, under the conditions that they would deliver up king Noah into the hands of the Lamanites, and deliver up their property, even one half of all they possessed, one half of their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and thus they should pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites from year to year.
What brave young women! To go out and plead, and possibly be the first to be killed. They weren’t, but that was the possibility they were facing by doing that. Definitely a decreased chance of survival over the rest of the group who might’ve ran or hid if the Lamanites started killing the daughters.
16 And now there was one of the sons of the king among those that were taken captive, whose name was Limhi.
17 And now Limhi was desirous that his father should not be destroyed; nevertheless, Limhi was not ignorant of the iniquities of his father, he himself being a just man.
18 And it came to pass that Gideon sent men into the wilderness secretly, to search for the king and those that were with him. And it came to pass that they met the people in the wilderness, all save the king and his priests.
It kinda seems like Gideon is a powerful man with many men that he can command. He was probably competing politically or economically with the King, and so the unrest (I’m assuming it was fostered by Alma and his people leaving) was to his advantage. And it came to a head the night the Lamanites attacked, which caused Gideon to spare the king’s life. But he felt comfortable enough in his position to feel like he could attack the king and even kill him, without serious repercussions. Now, after that non-battle is over, Gideon realizes the King, his Priests, and others had run off, he realizes he needs to make sure Noah didn’t make it back alive, or it might be much harder to get rid of him. Especially with Limhi not wanting his father to be killed.
Interesting Limhi is just “one of the sons of the king,” not necessarily the eldest. But he’s taken captive. Perhaps Noah’s other sons fled with the priests?
There’s just so much left out in this story. Like who Gideon is? What’s his position that he feels he can get away with this stuff? He’s got his own men and is sorta running his own covert-ops, he felt like he could get away with killing the king in a swordfight (or was that a cultural thing, like a dual, and anyone can challenge the king?), and later we find out he’s King Limhi’s “captain.” There’s just so much political and cultural context that the author just assumes. He’s so used to it, he doesn’t know he’s leaving it out.
19 Now they had sworn in their hearts that they would return to the land of Nephi, and if their wives and their children were slain, and also those that had tarried with them, that they would seek revenge, and also perish with them.
So they don’t just want revenge, they’re ready to die fighting the Lamanites, so that they can share in the fate of the rest of their people. It’s not purely about revenge, it’s also about shared destiny and perhaps sacrificing themselves to in some measure, repent of running away.
20 And the king commanded them that they should not return; and they were angry with the king, and caused that he should suffer, even unto death by fire.
21 And they were about to take the priests also and put them to death, and they fled before them.
The thought and imagery that keeps coming through in this is sacrifices: they burn Noah like a burnt offering in a sort of shared repentance; then they’re going to offer themselves up, in sacrificial battle; and then there’s some sort of ceremony (verse 24) when they meet up again.
Luckily for Gideon he doesn’t have to “take care” of the King since Abinadi’s prophecy was fulfilled by the men who followed the King. The fact they were angry when he said don’t go back, makes me think that maybe they didn’t know that it was a pure escape, and not a counter-attack of some kind. Perhaps those who stayed were just the other “division” of people who didn’t trust the king. So they were in a sense protesting his leadership, and saying essentially “we don’t trust King Noah, so we’d rather stay and try our luck with the Lamanites, than follow him.”
This is one of the moments where it’s kinda too bad there wasn’t more killing. Those priests are the driving force, either directly or indirectly for many of the wars to come.
22 And it came to pass that they were about to return to the land of Nephi, and they met the men of Gideon. And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children; and that the Lamanites had granted unto them that they might possess the land by paying a tribute to the Lamanites of one half of all they possessed.
23 And the people told the men of Gideon that they had slain the king, and his priests had fled from them farther into the wilderness.
24 And it came to pass that after they had ended the ceremony, that they returned to the land of Nephi, rejoicing, because their wives and their children were not slain; and they told Gideon what they had done to the king.
What ceremony? What in the world is it talking about? This is another of those things where Mormon, or the original author he’s quoting/borrowing from, just assumes the context. I’m sure a Nephite reader would know exactly what he was talking about. Is this some sort of greeting ceremony? Or perhaps a cleansing one after performing the execution? Or something else to show their loyalty before they’re allowed to reunite with the body of the people? Websters – ceremony: “Forms of civility; rules established by custom for regulating social intercourse.” I’m leaning more toward a reuniting ceremony, or an information sharing ceremony. But I have no real evidence to back that up, other than the context that they just met and are sharing their sides of the story.
They tell Gideon’s men in vs 23, but then they tell Gideon himself in 24. He must have been some kind of recognized opposition leader and they knew he’d appreciate what they had done. Either that, or his men made them tell their story directly to Gideon.
25 And it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites made an oath unto them, that his people should not slay them.
26 And also Limhi, being the son of the king, having the kingdom conferred upon him by the people, made oath unto the king of the Lamanites that his people should pay tribute unto him, even one half of all they possessed.
Now this sounds like a ceremony, but the context doesn’t sound like Gideon’s men and the men who followed Noah were anywhere near this. Or if they were, then this was much after the ceremony those 2 groups engaged in.
27 And it came to pass that Limhi began to establish the kingdom and to establish peace among his people.
I feel like the things the Book of Mormon leaves out, are a great testament to it’s authenticity. I really believe a testimony of this book comes through a relationship with it… with it’s authors and characters. But to point out the logical argument: an author so sloppy or unskilled as to leave all these details and context out of the story, would not have been skilled enough to write the rest of the book, with it’s chiasmus, intricately woven narratives, and very consistent structure. The simplest explanation is the one Joseph himself gave: someone (several people actually) from another culture and another time from Joseph Smith’s, wrote this with all their biases and assumptions “on their sleeve” for all to see. But someone from their own time and culture would have understood, and likely not noticed the omissions either. The stuff left out is not inconsistent or sloppy, it just shows there’s a much richer culture, political climate, and history than what the record itself preserves.