Record of King Zeniff
composed mid 2nd century bc
An account of his people, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla,
until the time that they were delivered out of the hands of the Lamanites.
I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them — but when I saw that which was good among them, I was desirous that they should not be destroyed. Therefore, I contended with my brethren in the wilderness, for I would that our ruler should make a treaty with them. But he being an austere and a blood-thirsty man commanded that I should be slain. But I was rescued by the shedding of much blood: for father fought against father, and brother against brother, until the greater number of our army was destroyed in the wilderness. And we returned, those of us that were spared, to the land of Zarahemla, to relate that tale to their wives and their children.
And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness, to go up to the land. But we were smitten with famine and sore afflictions; for we were slow to remember the Lord our god. Nevertheless, after many days’ wandering in the wilderness we pitched our tents in the place where our brethren were slain, which was near to the land of our fathers. And it came to pass that I went again with four of my men into the city, in unto the king, that I might know of the disposition of the king, and that I might know if I might go in with my people and possess the land in peace.
And I went in unto the king, and he covenanted with me that I might possess the land of Lehi-Nephi, and the land of Shilom. And he also commanded that his people should depart out of the land, and I and my people went into the land, that we might possess it. And we began to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom. And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits. And we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.
Now it was the cunning and the craftiness of King Laman, to bring my people into bondage, that he yielded up the land that we might possess it. Therefore it came to pass, that after we had dwelt in the land for the space of twelve years, that King Laman began to grow uneasy, lest by any means my people should wax strong in the land, and that they could not overpower them and bring them into bondage. Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people. Therefore they were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands. Yea, that they might feast themselves upon the flocks of our fields. Therefore it came to pass that King Laman began to stir up his people, that they should contend with my people. Therefore there began to be wars and contentions in the land.
For, in the thirteenth year of my reign in the land of Nephi, away on the south of the land of Shilom, when my people were watering and feeding their flocks, and tilling their lands, a numerous host of Lamanites came upon them, and began to slay them, and to take off their flocks, and the corn of their fields. Yea, and it came to pass that they fled, all that were not overtaken, even into the city of Nephi, and did call upon me for protection. And it came to pass that I did arm them with bows, and with arrows, with swords, and with scimitars, and with clubs, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons which we could invent, and I and my people did go forth against the Lamanites to battle.
Yea, in the strength of the Lord did we go forth to battle against the Lamanites: for I and my people did cry mightily to the Lord: that he would deliver us out of the hands of our enemies, for we were awakened to a remembrance of the deliverance of our fathers. 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. And I, myself, with mine own hands, did help to bury their dead. And behold, to our great sorrow and lamentation, two hundred and seventy-nine of our brethren were slain.
And it came to pass that we again began to establish the kingdom, and we again began to possess the land in peace. And I caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind, that thereby I might have weapons for my people against the time the Lamanites should come up again to war against my people. And I set guards round about the land, that the Lamanites might not come upon us again unawares and destroy us. And thus I did guard my people and my flocks, and keep them from falling into the hands of our enemies.
And it came to pass that we did inherit the land of our fathers for many years, yea, for the space of twenty and two years. And I did cause that the men should till the ground, and raise all manner of grain and all manner of fruit of every kind. And I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work, and work all manner of fine linen, yea, and cloth of every kind, that we might clothe our nakedness. And thus we did prosper in the land. Thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years.
And it came to pass that King Laman died, and his son began to reign in his stead. And he began to stir his people up in rebellion against my people. Therefore they began to prepare for war, and to come up to battle against my people. But I had sent my spies out round about the land of Shemlon, that I might discover their preparations, that I might guard against them, that they might not come upon my people and destroy them. And it came to pass that they came up upon the north of the land of Shilom, with their numerous hosts, men armed with bows, and with arrows, and with swords, and with scimitars, and with stones, and with slings. And they had their heads shaved that they were naked. And they were girded with a leathern girdle about their loins. And it came to pass that I caused that the women and children of my people should be hid in the wilderness. And I also caused that all my old men that could bear arms, and also all my young men that were able to bear arms, should gather themselves together, to go to battle against the Lamanites. And I did place them in their ranks, every man according to his age.
And it came to pass that we did go up to battle against the Lamanites: and I, even I, in my old age, did go up to battle against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that we did go up in the strength of the Lord to battle. Now, the Lamanites knew nothing concerning the Lord, nor the strength of the Lord, therefore they depended upon their own strength. Yet they were a strong people, as to the strength of men. They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this: Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers, and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren, and they were also wronged while crossing the sea. And again, that they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea.
And all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord! Therefore, he was favored of the Lord, for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them, and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness. And his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord. They were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord. And again, they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands, and they sought to kill him. And again, they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him, and took the records which were engraven on the Plates of Brass, for they said that he robbed them. And thus they have taught their children that they should hate them, and that they should murder them, and that they should rob and plunder them, and do all they could to destroy them. Therefore they have an eternal hatred towards the children of Nephi.
For this very cause has King Laman, by his cunning, and lying craftiness, and his fair promises, deceived me: that I have brought this my people up into this land, that they may destroy them! Yea, and we have suffered these many years in the land.
And now I, Zeniff, after having told all these things unto my people concerning the Lamanites, I did stimulate them to go to battle with their might, putting their trust in the Lord. Therefore, we did contend with them, face to face. And it came to pass that we did drive them again out of our land. And we slew them with a great slaughter, even so many that we did not number them. And it came to pass that we returned again to our own land, and my people again began to tend their flocks, and to till their ground.
And now I, being old, did confer the kingdom upon one of my sons.
Therefore, I say no more. And may the Lord bless my people. Amen.