A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Akish

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AKISH. One of the most subtle and cruel of the early Jaredites. Nothing more is known of his descent than that he was the son of Kimnor. The history of Akish is one with which are associated deeds of cruelty, treachery and iniquity that are scarcely paralleled in the annals of any nation. When the Jaredites first reached this continent they were a righteous, God-fearing, though somewhat unstable people. They, however, made one great mistake, they desired to be ruled by a king. Their prophet-leaders told them that this thing would lead to captivity, but they insisted, and Orihah, the youngest son of Jared, was chosen as their first monarch. The words of their prophets were quickly fulfilled, and bloodshed and internal commotions soon disgraced the history of this favored people. Orihah was succeeded by Kib, who was dethroned by Corihor, but afterwards restored. In the succeeding reign, that of Shule, the kingdom was rent in twain, but when he died he was succeeded by his son Omer, who, we have reason to believe, was a good man. The example of the kings and princes had thus far, as a rule, been pernicious, and tended to encourage the people in lives of wickedness.

Omer had a son named Jared, an ambitious, unscrupulous man. He rebelled against his father and by his flatteries induced half the people to join his standard. He established himself in a land named Heth, and when he felt sufficiently strong he gave battle to and defeated the forces of his father, whom he took prisoner and held in captivity; and, it is said, Omer remained in this condition half his days. So long, indeed, was the time that Jared kept him prisoner that sons begotten by him during his captivity grew up to manhood before he was released. Two of these young men, named Esrom and Coriantumr, became very angry at the way their father was treated, and they raised an army and attacked their brother Jared by night. This attack appears to have been an utter surprise to Jared, for his army, was entirely destroyed, and he himself would have been slain had he not humbly pleaded with his brothers that his life might be spared, he promising that he would surrender the kingdom to his father. On this condition his life was granted him.

Now Jared, though he had made this promise when his life was in peril, still longed for the glories and power of the kingly authority; and his sorrow and unrest could not be hid from those near him. Among those who noticed his deep-seated grief was a daughter, who, was exceeding fair, and was apparently as unscrupulous as her father. Whether it was because she really had affection for her father, or, like him, languished for the pomp and magnificence of the court life she no longer possessed that caused her to submit to him a plan by which he might regain the kingdom, cannot be told; perhaps, also, she loved the man whom she suggested as the instrument to be used in the fulfillment of her ambition — possibly all three, for our motives are seldom single; our actions, in other words, are generally the result of a combination of motives.

The young lady's plan was this: She reminded her father that when their ancestors came across the great waters they brought with them records of the doings of mankind in the ages before the flood. And in those records was an account of how men by secret plans and combinations obtained kingdoms and great glory, She suggested that her father acquire a knowledge of these unholy methods and use them to regain the throne. She further proposed that he send for a friend of Omer's named Akish, the son of Kimnor, and she, being graceful as well as beautiful, would dance so entrancingly before him that he would desire her to wife. If she did not love Akish, she simply sold herself to gratify her father's and possibly her own ambition.

Her advice was listened to, her suggestions carried out. The old oaths and bloody mysteries were searched out, the plan laid, Akish invited, the suggestive dance danced, Akish's passions inflamed and the maiden asked in marriage. The proposal was received with favor, but terrible conditions were attached, such that would have appalled any honorable man. It was that Akish should obtain for Jared the head of his father, the king, and to enable him to carry out this murderous design Jared proposed that he administer to his friends the old oaths that had come down from the days of Cain, the first murderer.

Akish accepted this terrible responsibility. He gathered his associates at the house of Jared and there made them all swear by the God of heaven, and by the heavens, by the earth and by their heads, that whoso should vary from what he desired should lose his head, and whoso should divulge whatever he made known should lose his life. He then submitted his plans to them, which they accepted. The plot was so far successful that they overthrew the kingdom of Omer, but did not succeed in obtaining his head. For the Lord was merciful to Omer and warned him to depart out of the land. So taking those of his family who were faithful to him he traveled for a great distance until he reached the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. There he and his companions tarried until the course of events permitted him to return.

Omer being driven from his kingdom, Jared was anointed king, and his daughter was given to Akish to wife. But this did not satisfy Akish; he had learned the power of these secret combinations, and now determined to use them for his own ends. He aspired to the throne, and made up his mind to murder his father-in-law. So he assembled his followers, instructed them in his wishes, and Jared was slain by them as he sat on his throne giving audience to the people; a case of poetical retribution which, though often found in fiction, is seldom met with in real life. Akish was now made king, and under his cruel rule wickedness became almost universal; the secret societies by which he obtained power had corrupted the hearts of all the people. As may be well supposed, with such a condition of society his throne was not a stable one. He became jealous of one of his sons. What cause, if any, he had therefor, we are not told, but he shut him up in prison and slowly starved him to death. This cruel act greatly incensed another of Jared's sons, named Nimrah, and he, gathering a few followers, fled to the land where Omer dwelt.

Now Akish had other sons, and though they had sworn to support him in all his doings, they were not true to their oaths. They found that the hearts of the Jaredites were consumed with the love of gain, and they bribed the greater portion of the people to join them in a revolt against their father. So corrupt had the people now become that their extinction appears to have been the only remedy; they were past repentance.

A war of the most horrible character broke cut, which lasted several years, and only ended when) nearly every soul was slain. Of the kingdom of Akish, for which he had sinned so much, there remained but thirty souls, all the rest — men, women and children — had been swept by bloody hands into untimely graves. The people of Akish having been thus destroyed, Omer, with his friends, returned from his captivity, and reigned over the feeble remnant of a wasted people.