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Through the Book of Mormon up to the time of Christ’s visit, there were “-ites” – Nephites, Lamanites, Jacobites, etc. Then there were no “ites” for almost 200 years. And then there became “-ites” again. I have read that the division was religious the second time by noted scholars. And I can accept that – except for one thing – if there were only Nephites and Lamanites it is understandable, but there were all the other “-ites” just as before. Perhaps there were very close family ties during those almost 200 years of peace, and family followed family. Do you have an explanation?
Terryl, from Arizona


Dear Terryl,
Although the descendants of the various people who came with Lehi to the promised land retained the identity of their progenitors, they were generally called by the two prominent tribal names–Nephites for those who followed the Lord’s commandments, and Lamanites for those who were opposed to and rebelled from the Nephite claims of leadership. However, the groups so identified did not always follow their traditional rolls. There were times when the Nephites became extremely wicked and the Lamanites became extremely righteous. In those times of wickedness the nations tended to split up into factions, identified by the various tribes to which they belonged.
Jacob identifies the various tribes as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, Zoramites, Lamanites, Lemuelites, and Ishmaelites (Jacob 1:13). Mormon advises us that in 87 B.C. any person who joined with the Lamanites, whether white or dark skinned, was called a Lamanite, and that those who believed in the tradition of the Nephites, regardless of their origin, were called Nephites (Alma 3:11). After the great destruction of all the wicked at the time of the crucifixion of the Savior, only the righteous were left, and they were unified under one head, and at this time there were not any manner of -ites (4 Nephi 1:17). However, in less than 200 years after the advent of the Savior a group revolted from the church, and called themselves again Lamanites. By the year 200 A.D. those who followed the teachings of the Savior were identified by the Lamanites as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites. Thus, their identities must have been kept although they were part of the one larger group called Nephites (4 Nephi 1:36-37). As late as about 322 A.D. when Mormon was eleven years old, although the two factions, now warring against one another, were identified as the Nephites and the Lamanites, they still kept their tribal identities as Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites and Zoramites and as Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites.

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