A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Moronihah

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MORONIHAH. A great Nephite general and prophet, of the days of the republic. He succeeded his father, Moroni, in the command of the Nephite armies, B. C. 60, and the fact of his father resigning in his favor is the first mention made of him in the Book of Mormon. He must have been, at that time, still a very young man, as his father was only about 39 years old, but he had undoubtedly been trained from his boyhood in military affairs in the great war of seven years duration against Amalickiah and Ammoron, which had only been brought to an end the year previous. It was not until B. C. 53 that his armies were called upon to take the field. In that year the Lamanites, urged by the Nephite apostates within their borders, invaded the land of Zarahemla; but Moronihah met and defeated them and they were driven back to their own dominions with great loss.

In B. C. 51, the Lamanites again invaded Zarahemla. They were led by an officer named Coriantumr. He adopted new tactics. Moronihah, believing that the Lamanites dared not push through the centre of the land, but would, as was their custom, first attack the outlying cities, placed his strongest garrisons in those places. Coriantumr, however, made a dash directly towards the Nephite capital, through the densest of the Nephite population, and carried everything before him. The Nephites, surprised and unprepared as they were, resisted him only in small bodies, which were easily dispersed, and he reached and captured the city of Zarahemla before Moronihah could concentrate his forces. The whole country fell into Coriantumr's hands as he pressed forward, and after capturing Zarahemla be continued his march farther north, slaying great numbers of the Nephites as he advanced.

Coriantumr having thus thrown himself into the centre of the Nephite country, and failed to properly keep up the communications in his rear, was at the mercy of Moronihah, as soon as the latter could gather in his troops. Moronihah first sent Lehi, with an army, to intercept the Lamanites' progress northward, before they could reach the land Bountiful. In this Lehi was successful. He gave them battle and compelled them to retreat towards Zarahemla. Before they could reach there, Moronihah met them. A bloody battle ensued, in which Coriantumr was slain and his troops utterly defeated. But the Lamanites were unable to retreat, for they were surrounded on all sides by the Nephite armies; all they could do was to surrender. So Moronihah took possession of the city of Zarahemla again, and permitted the defeated Lamanites to return to their own country.

It was not until B. C. 35 that war was again declared. The Lamanites, being much the more numerous, carried everything before them. In vain the Nephites struggled for their homes and their liberties. They were forced back by the hordes of the Lamanites from city to city, from land to land. Manti, Gideon, Cumeni, Moroni, and even Zarahemla fell. Nor did the war end when the bloodthirsty Lamanites held high carnival in the midst of its towers and palaces. Onward swept the invading host , backward fled the defenders of the Commonwealth, backward they continued until every town and city, every tower and fort, from Melek to Moroni, from Manti to Bountiful, was filled with the savage, half-disciplined, dark-skinned warriors of Laman and their apostate allies. Not a place could be found in the whole southern continent where the soldiers of Moronihah successfully held their ground. Zarahemla, with its hallowed associations, its glorious temples, where the daily sacrifice was unceasingly offered, its proud palaces, its luxurious homes, its courts of justice, where the chief judge sat in the magnificence of almost kingly authority to administer the law—this, their queen city, the seat of their government, the centre of their civilization, the home of their highest priesthood, was in the hands of their merciless, vandal-like foes. Nor had the danger stopped; with hurried hands the Nephites built a line of defense across the Isthmus of Panama, from sea to sea, for the unnumbered hosts of their conquerors were still pushing forward. This line of fortification was effectual; it stopped the roll of the barbaric tide northward, and the Lamanite commanders rested with the possession of a continent.

In this war the Nephite dissenters took active part against their white brethren, and to this fact, in part, may be attributed the sudden success that shone on the Lamanite arms. But little by little, in succeeding years, the half-repentant Nephites regained their lost ground, until (B. C. 31) the most northerly half of their possessions had again fallen into their hands; but because of their only partial repentance, their leaders had not strength to lead them farther, and the proud city of Zarahemla still remained in the hands of the warriors of Laman.

In the darkest hours of this war, we read that Moronihah did preach many things unto the people because of their iniquity, * * and did prophesy many things, * * and what should come unto them if they did not repent. We thus learn that he, like his father, was not only a great military commander, but a zealous and faithful servant of God, and a prophet. When this third war ceased, he had been commander-in-chief of the Nephite forces for about thirty years, and his name is not again mentioned in the sacred secord.