There are 10 thoughts on “The Amlicites and Amalekites: Are They the Same People?”.

  1. Similarities between the behaviors and ideologies of the Amlicites and Amalekites also suggest they could be the same people. For example, both have a connection to the Nehors and that they “both pursue the same kinds of goals at the same time and cause the same problems” suggests they could be the same people.
    And Happy New Year!

    • The Mulekites’ original language that became corrupted was Hebrew. It would be expected that there were still vestiges of Hebrew in their language, especially names.

  2. Along with their plausibly identical names, there are three salient facts that all suggest the Amlicites and Amalekites were the same people: their shared Nehorite religion, their coordinated military campaign, and the mission of Aaron to the Amalekite city of Jerusalem. There is one fact that suggests they were not the same people, the fact that the Amalekite city of Jerusalem was built before the rebellion of Amlici. I attempted to address these issues in footnote 16 of In His Footsteps (https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/in-his-footsteps-ammon-and-ammon/) where I wrote the following:

    “While this account of Aaron making his first missionary stop in the city of Jerusalem and there addressing the Amalekites fits with the supposition that the Amalekites are the dissident Mulekite king-men elsewhere called Amlicites, it is also the only major piece of evidence that Amlicites and Amalekites may not be the same people. Amlici does not raise his army against Alma2 until the fifth year of the reign of judges (Alma 2:1) while the sons of Mosiah2 arrived in the land of Nephi in the first year of the reign of the judges (Alma 17:6). How then can Amlicites be builders of Jerusalem, a city that is already built when Aaron arrives? Words of Mormon 1:16 makes it clear that dissenters have been going over to the Lamanite side since the time of Benjamin. And the shared Nehorite religion of the Amlicites\Amalekites also necessarily entails the movement of people between Jerusalem and Zarahemla prior to the first year of the reign of judges when Alma2 executed Nehor in Zarahemla. So dissenting Mulekites have been living in both locations before and after the inauguration of the reign of the judges. The fact that the uprising of the Amlicites in the land of Zarahemla was coordinated with an attack from the land of Nephi (Alma 2:24) also suggests that there is an ongoing relationship between dissidents in the two lands. Relatedly, it is possible that the leader Amlici takes his name from the people he leads and who preexist him rather than the other way around. The next leader of the kingmen insurgency, Amalickiah, has a remarkably similar name, again assuming an accent on the first syllable. Amalickiah may imply son of Amlici (Amliki) as Moronihah is the son of Moroni. We would thus see a similar pattern in the name changes of the successive overall leaders of both the Nephite and Amlicite/Amalekite/Amalickiahite armies. Finally, it is not entirely clear at what point in their 14-year mission Aaron undertook his mission to Jerusalem.”

    I think the reading that best reconciles these facts is this. The Mulekite king men had two power bases. They had been dissenting away to Lamanite lands almost from the beginning of the Nephite assumption of the Monarchy in Zarahemla, certainly from the time of Benjamin (W of M 1: 16), and had built the city of Jerusalem (which memorialized their Davidic roots) in the Land of Nephi. So they had a power base there. They also had a power base among disgruntled Mulekites who remained in the land of Zarahemla. The two branches of dissidents remained in contact with each other (hence their shared Nehorite religion and coordinated military attack), and they shared the political objective of restoring a Mulekite monarchy.

    Aaron was sent to Jerusalem because he had Mulekite blood and an impeccable claim (as a descendant of Zarahemla and David) to be the rightful Mulekite king. Amlici’s uprising was supported by both groups of dissident Mulekites, those in the land of Zarahemla and those in the land of Nephi. When the allied branches of dissidents were defeated in the land of Zarahemla, those who escaped returned to the land of Nephi, the more secure powerbase, from which they continued to attack the political regime in the land of Zarahemla with the objective of establishing a Mulekite monarchy there. Like Amlici, Amalickiah (whose name on Skousen’s hypothesis is identical to Amlici’s, apart from the addition of the -iah, Yahweh, suffix), had power bases in both the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi.

    Thus, the book of Alma has thematic unity. Its thesis is stated in Alma 1: 1. Mosiah “had established laws, and they were acknowledged by the people; therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made.” The long series of battles that ensue were part of a single long war between the Mulekite king men (who had power bases in both Zarahemla and Nephi.) and those who had embraced the Mosiah1 dynasty and the new political ideology of Mosiah2.

    As I point out in In His Footsteps, even the mission of Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni, had a political dimension. Along with converting people to the gospel of Christ, these emissaries of Zarahemla attempted with some success to convert inhabitants of the land of Nephi to the political ideology of Mosiah2 (Mosiah 28: 1-3). That is why their followers were attacked, principally by the Amalekites (Alma 24: 1), and driven out of the land of Nephi where they posed a threat to the more secure of the two Amalekite king-man power bases.

    • Val,
      I really enjoyed your article In His Footsteps. I learned a lot from it. You have done truly excellent research.
      I also think that Royal Skousen and the Book of Mormon Critical Text project has yielded absolutely amazing results.
      The purpose of my paper was to show that the manuscripts did not include conclusive evidence that Amalekite was actually Amlicite. I’m not a linguist and you don’t have to listen to me. Skousen lets us examine exactly what he found on the manuscripts. Their names are not plausibly identical. You can find it on this website. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/books/volume-4-of-the-critical-text-of-the-book-of-mormon-analysis-of-textual-variants-of-the-book-of-mormon/part-three-mosiah-17-alma-20/
      It starts on page 251. It is about 4 pages long. As you read it you will clearly see the evidence pile up on the side of them being separate peoples. That is why his final paragraph is so surprising. He accepts the idea of other scholars instead of taking a hard look at what was really in the manuscripts. There was not enough evidence to change the Amalekites into Amlicites.
      Mormon did not write Amlicite and Amalekite in the same way on the Golden Plates. Joseph Smith did not dictate Amlicite and Amalekite letter by letter the same way. Oliver Cowdery corrected his late instance spelling mistakes from the original dictation when he made Printer’s Manuscript. The Printer’s Manuscript, and every printed edition, are correct in showing that Amlicite and Amalekite are different.

      However there is evidence that indicates that the two groups were related. I completely agree that the Amalekites were Mulekites. I also believe that Amlici was a Mulekite. There may have been communication between the city of Jerusalem and the dissenters in Zarahemla. The Lamanite army that fought with Amlici was not part of the main body of the Lamanites governed by King Lamoni’s father. They may have been from Jerusalem, Amulon and Helam and may not have been just Lamanites, but Amalekites and Amulonites as well. Years after failing to take Zarahemla the people of these three cities attempted to take over the Lamanite king in the Land of Nephi.

      So the Amlicites and the Amalekites may have united in the fifth year to take over Zarahemla. They have the same Mulekite ancestry. The names Amlici, Amalekite, and Amalickiah have a similar Mulekite root.
      But it seems to me, and I think that you agree, that the Amalekites existed much earlier, several decades earlier, than the Amlicites.
      You propose, “Relatedly, it is possible that the leader Amlici takes his name from the people he leads and who preexist him rather than the other way around.” This doesn’t square with Alma 2:11, “Now the people of Amlici were distinguished by the name Amlici, being called Amlicites”.
      The people who decided to follow Amlici were already in Jerusalem, but they don’t seem to be overtly united or distinguishing themselves by a different name from the rest of the Nephites until a leader rallies them. Amlici the man exists before Amlicites the people.
      I don’t see a problem with anything you say after, “I think the reading that best reconciles these facts is this.” Everything you present is best read from the understanding that the longstanding group in Jerusalem were the Amalekites and those of Amlici’s short lived following were Amlicites.

      • Thanks for the link to Skousen’s critical text. I hadn’t actually read all he has to say on this topic before. Having read it, I am not surprised by his concluding that these are the same people. Of course, you and I seem to agree that they are, at a minimum, a related people who are in communication with each other. Once those points are granted on either side, the disagreement becomes somewhat de minimus.

        To read the pronunciations as plausibly identical, one needs to put the accent on the first syllable. Having done that, the vowel, if any, between M and L tends to disappear in the pronunciation.

        Let me add one more point that suggests, in my opinion, that the pronunciations were similar and, thus, the peoples may be identical. I had meant to save this point for a future article, but I will spill the beans here. The Hebrew word for king is M-L-K. Thus, the name MuLeK just means king. The son of Zedekiah probably wasn’t named Mulek. He was the king of the people and is referred to by his title, king. And one could translate the name Mulekite as Kingites. Moreover, we would be more consistent if we spelled the higher priesthood as MeLKizedek since that name contains M-L-K and translates as King of Righteousness or Righteous King or some other subtle variant of king and righteous.

        How is this relevant to Amlici, Amlicites, the Amalekites, and Amalickiah? If we follow Skousen and pronounce the Amlici with a K, each group and individual associated with the king men has the name king, M-L-K as part of their name. I don’t think that is an accident. They are marking their affiliation with MuLeK and their status as kingites, MuLeKites in their names. We lose that striking connection if we ignore the K variant of Amlici that Skousen notes and pronounce Amlici with the S sound as the pronunciation guide suggests. With the K, the coherence and connectedness of these various M L K rebels becomes more clear.

        • Val, you will want to read the whole entry treating the earliest occurrence of the name Mulek as Muloch, appearing as Mulok in the 1830 (Mosiah 25:2). Here’s the variant spec:
          [Muloch 1|Mulok ABCDEFGHKPS|Mulek IJLMNOQRT]

          ATV also has this list:
          current name original name
          Amalekites Amlicites
          Gadianton Gaddianton
          Kishkumen Kishcumen
          Morianton Morionton
          Mulek Muloch
          Pahoran Parhoron
          Zenock Zenoch

          You see, Oliver was not a very reliable scribe or copyist for spelling, and he particularly had trouble with the names. The lack of treatment of all relevant scribal data in O and P on names is a serious oversight of this article. All of it needed to be considered. Assertions such as “there was absolutely no reason for him to change the Amalekites to become Amlicites” are inaccurate. That is an obvious and unwarranted overstatement. The author probably lacks sufficient background in relevant manuscript readings, in textual criticism, and in phonology. One wonders about the review process. You would have been a valuable reviewer for narrative aspects. The textual critical expert would have been a valuable reviewer on the issue of scribal evidence and tendencies.

  3. Well reasoned.

    There is another item of evidence that the Amlicites and the Amalekites were two separate people. It is mentioned twice that the Amlicites painted their foreheads red when they went into battle (Alma 3:4, 13), and there is no mention of the Amalekites doing the same when they went into battle.

  4. Your article has given me a lot to think about. I’m hopeful we’ll hear from others responding to the points you raise.

    I’d like to propose an alternative to your assumptions about the Amulonites. The way I understand the scriptures, Amulon and his brethren had two sets of children, or two families. The children born to them while they were priests of King Noah, and the children born to them after they kidnapped the daughters of the Lamanites. They abandoned their first families when the obeyed the command of King Noah to flee with him and leave their wives and children behind to fall victim to the Lamanites. These descendants and relatives remained included with Limhi and his people.

    Amulon and his brethren’s second set of children, born of the daughters of the Lamanites, inhabited the land of Amulon until they were discovered by the lost army of the Lamanites, which subsequently found the people of Alma living in the land of Helam. Alma and his people miraculously escaped the tyranny of Amulon and arrived in the land of Zarahemla.

    The first families of Amulon and his brethren had already traveled to Zarahemla with Limhi and his people. After Alma’s arrival, King Mosiah caused his people to be gathered. He read the account of Ammon, Limhi, and Alma. That day the first families of Amulon and his brethren heard about what their fathers had done after they ran away. Not only had they cowardly abandoned them, they had also abandoned them by forming new families, with new wives and other children. This is information these first children had not previously known.

    Mosiah 25:12
    “And it came to pass that those who were the children of Amulon and his brethren, who had taken to wife the daughters of the Lamanites, were displeased with the conduct of their fathers, and they would no longer be called by the names of their fathers, therefore they took upon themselves the name of Nephi, that they might be called the children of Nephi and be numbered among those who were called Nephites.”

    Amulon, his brethren, and their second families, including their wives and children, continued to live among the Lamanites, their descendants eventually becoming known as Amulonites.

    • This is consistent with the fact that the people of Amulon (high priest to King Noah) were part of the consortium with the Amalekites who built the city of Jerusalem in the land of Nephi and were hardened in their wickedness and abominations (Alma 21:2-3)

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