By Rebecca

Mosiah 7, Mosiah 9, Mosiah 10, Omni 1:28-29

Zeniff was a righteous Nephite leader, and father of King Noah. Zeniff was a Nephite, who lived in the ancient Americas, as recorded in The Book of Mormon. Nephites were Christian followers of God even before Christ’s birth: “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (2 Nephi 25:26). Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints study the gospel of Jesus Christ (including The Bible, The Book of Mormon, and revelations from modern prophets).

Zeniff-BookofMormon-MormonZeniff was a “strong and mighty man, a stiffnecked man,” who led a group of people returning to the land of Nephi. He lived in the land of Zarahemla, until embarking to the land of Nephi.  The Land of Nephi had been their previous abode, but the Nephites had left to flee their enemies, the Lamanites.  During their journey there, all but 50 of his people were killed, during a battle amongst themselves in the wilderness. They returned to the land of Zarahemla, and Zeniff organized another trip around 200 B.C., “as he was over-zealous to possess the land of their inheritance”. [1]

Zeniff became king, and was a righteous leader over the Nephites in the wilderness. [2] The Lamanites constantly waged war with the Nephites for their Christian beliefs. Historically, the Nephites prepared against the “Lamanites [who] should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children…” (2 Nephi 5:14). Zeniff was a righteous example, who led his people through times of peace, and war until 160 B.C.

King Laman of the Lamanites allowed Zeniff’s people to live in the land of Shilom. However, the Lamanite king did so with the ultimate purpose of bringing Zeniff’s people into captivity. Within twelve years of occupying the land of Shilom, the uneasy Lamanites began to battle with Zeniff’s people. In a period of 24 hours, causalities numbered over 3,000 Lamanites, and 279 Nephites. Fortunately, Zeniff and other Nephites witnessed peace for 10 subsequent years, until King Laman died. His son started another war against Zeniff’s people, and the elder Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon his son Noah.

The stories of the faithful people Zeniff led in The Book of Mormon remind us of the important freedom we have to choose. Zeniff moved into enemy territory and his actions affected his posterity, who lived in captivity. Although his people later suffered under Lamanite rule, they became closer to God and called upon His name often. [3]

But how can you make correct choices if you’ve never been taught right from wrong? Intelligent use of agency requires understanding laws, opposition, an unfettered ability to choose, and knowledge of the truth, which is found in Christ’s restored gospel. Without it we learn by sad experience that making the easier choice, the selfish choice, the sinful choice never leads to real happiness. It’s ironic that choosing what often seems easiest—sin, pleasure, laziness, selfishness—makes our life more difficult and unhappy in the long run. [4]

*This article was adapted from the LDS Guide to the Scriptures and Every Person in the Book of Mormon by Lynn F. Price (Horizon Publishers, 2004, 53-54).

Additional Resources:

Read your own free copy of The Book of Mormon

Mormon Beliefs about the freedom to choose

King Benjamin in the Mormon Book