In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, January 31, 2011

Simon Bar Kochba vs Captian Moroni

In a recent post I did entitled “Voices From the Dust” on the 3rd of January I presented a group of ancient documents that in the past decade or so have all been found or excavated. Each of these 5 texts or group of documents added unique insights and parallelism for the Book of Mormon. I have decided to give some of these a little more thorough explanation and insight so that those of you who like me may not have heard of these or may have heard of them but not the parallels they offer can get a better understanding on the importance of each of these “Voices from the Dust”.

I will be starting off with the Bar Kochba documents or letters. As I briefly stated in my earlier post In the 1960’s several letters written by Bar Kochba were discovered in caves at Wadi Murabba ‘at and Nahal Hever. Simon ben Kosiba, surnamed Simon bar Kochba (‘son of the star’) was a Jewish Messiah. Between 132 and 135, he was the leader of the last resistance against the Romans. After the end of the disastrous rebellion, the rabbis called him ‘Bar Koziba’, which means ‘son of the lie’. When we compare some of the writings of the legendary hero of the last Jewish revolt against Imperial Rome we find that he had a lot in common with none other than another Messiah like figure known in the Book of Mormon as Captain Moroni.

Captain Moroni according to the Book of Mormon (100 BC-56 BC) was an important Nephite military commander and patriot who lived during the 1st century BC. He is perhaps best known for raising the “Title of Liberty” as a call to arms for his people to defend their country, family and religion. He is first mentioned in the Book of Alma, as “the chief captain over the Nephites. Captain Moroni is presented as a righteous and skilled military commander and among his accomplishments were his extensive preparations for battle and his fierce defense of the right of the Nephites to govern themselves and worship as they saw fit.

According to the Book of Mormon, Moroni was “only twenty and five years old when he was appointed chief captain” of the Nephites. Years later, Moroni was having some problems with a group of men called king-men who were so called because they wanted to destroy the liberty of the people and replace the chief judge with a king. Moroni had written to Pahoran for help in the war, and the Lamanites attacked before help could arrive. Moroni wrote again, chastising him in the process, and this time Pahoran wrote back, saying that these king-men had driven him from the judgement seat. Moroni was happy that Pahoran was faithful to his country, but at the same time he was angry at this development, and went through the land, leaving command of his Armies in the hands of a trusted Command Staff, and led an insurrection of the people to the aid of Pahoran, and to battle against these king-men, killing their king, Pachus, and taking his men prisoner. He and Pahoran then proceeded to regain control of their city Nephihah, which they had lost, restoring the people’s form of representative government.

After fortifying the Nephites’ lands, Moroni transferred command of his armies to his son Moronihah, and permanently retired to his own home. And less than four years after that event, in the 36th year of the reign of the judges, or 56BC Captain Moroni, military leader of the Nephite people, died. According to the chronology of years, listing the time from when Moroni took command of the armies at age 25, he would have been approximately 45 years old when he died.

Apparently, Mormon himself regarded Moroni as a great leader, for he gave that name to his own son and added a rather unique and lengthy editorialization of him in Alma 48:11-13,16-18.

So basically we find both of these military leaders in dire situations and in need of support from their own governments and ironically we have them both writing letters to attempt to get that support. Here is an excerpt from the letters of Simon bar Kochba,

Shimeon bar Kosiba to Yehonathan and to Masabala.
“Let all men from Tekoa and other places who are with you, be sent to me without delay. And if you shall not send them, let it be known to you, that you will be punished.”

From Shimeon bar Kosiba to the men of En-gedi.
To Masabala and to Yehonathan bar Bey’ayan, peace!
In comfort you sit, eat and drink from the property of the House of Israel, and care nothing for your brothers.

This last letter seems to be a reproach to the men of En-gedi, because they had failed to take part in a battle.

We find Captain Moroni in writing his letter to the Governer of Zarahemla Paharon and complaining of the governments neglect of the Army in Alma 60:6-7,

"6 And now behold, we desire to know the cause of this exceedingly great neglect; yea, we desire to know the cause of your thoughtless state.
7 Can you think to sit upon your thrones in a state of thoughtless stupor, while your enemies are spreading the work of death around you? Yea, while they are murdering thousands of your brethren"

In both accounts we have Bar Kochba and Capt. Moroni refering to these possible detractors as their brothers or brethren and requesting men to be sent as aid during battles. But most importantly we have their similar wording for the senseless state of neglect that they find themselves and their armies in due to other political leaders. They are both done in the form of a letter or an epistle. Hugh Nibley stated that if the Bar Kochba letters would have been found in the early 1800's instead of 1966, he would have called this a gross robbery of an ancient story line but since it was the other way around, this could be nothing more than evidence that this type of militaristic behavior can be testified about on more than one ancient text.



  2. Thanks for the link, that was great information. I didn't realize it was Hadrian that had changed the name from Jerusalem or the Pagan Aelia Capitolina to Palestine Syria.