In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Monday, December 8, 2014

Cortez, the Aztecs and Judges in The Book of Mormon

Aztec Marketplace
I want to post this interesting little tid-bit that I had stumbled across from John Sorenson a while back but for one reason or another I haven't put anything together for it. Of the many interesting parallels that can be found between the cultures of the Mayans and Aztecs when compared to those of the Nephites and Lamanites found in the Book of Mormon it is the interesting but often overlooked quick convergences like this that I really love.  It is as follows,

"Of the many other areas showing parallels to the Book of Mormon, consider the Mesoamerican justice system.  John Sorenson explains, (Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life, (Provo, Utah: Research Press, 1998), p. 116):

 "One of the primary duties of a ruler was to settle disputes among his people.  Sometimes that could be done by him personally, but in a population of much size, he would not have time to deal with every conflict.  Judges were delegated to carry out that duty.

Hernan Cortez
Cortez , for example, described the situation at the great market in the Aztec capital: "There is in this square a very large building, like a Court of Justice, where there are always ten or twelve persons, sitting as judges, and delivering their decisions upon all cases which arise in the markets." [Fernando Cortees:His Five Letters of Relation to the Emperor Charles V, ed. and transl. Francis A. MacNutt Mexico: Rio Grande Press, 1977) 1:259] In public assemblies, the Spaniards observed native police officers with pine cudgels (a short stout stick used as a weapon) who enforced order if required to do so by the authorities."

In the Book of Mormon Mosiah 29:25 it speaks of the time when the king of the land Mosiah proposes that a judge system with a Chief Judge at their head should be installed because unrighteous kings lead their people into sin.  The time keeping from this point on is referred to as the first year of the 'reign of the judges' continuing from the forward to the 2nd,3rd, and 4th year of the reign of the judges and so on. 

"Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord."

In Joseph Smiths time the Native American cultures were looked upon as a savage and primitive people hardly capable of putting together such a complex society that composed of markets, merchants, judges and different classes of citizens as was later found in Mesoamerica.  Although it was during Joseph Smiths lifetime that the knowledge of Mesoamerica spawned, it was still in its infancy when the Book of Mormon was translated. Meaning that this is another direct hit for the Book of Mormon.



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