ZARAHEMLA, THE SEED OF THE SPARED.
Let us delve into a profound theme that connects generations and continents—a theme encompassing refuge, resilience, and the intricate tapestry of divine providence linking the stories of the ancient people of Carthage and of ancient Zarahemla with the experiences of the early Latter-day Saints. While the historical alignment may not be exact, the overarching concept of Zarahemla as a sanctuary resonates deeply and offers valuable insights into God’s watchful care for His children.
In the Book of Mormon, Zarahemla emerges as a haven for diverse groups—a place extending solace to those who have braved trials and upheavals. The term “Zarahemla” itself, often interpreted as “seed of mercy” or “seed of compassion” or even “seed of the spared,” evokes imagery that transcends time and resonates with ancient covenant peoples. Although the precise origins of the name may remain veiled, the historical backdrop of Zarahemla grants us glimpses into the Lord’s intent for this name. This intention became evident when Section 125 of the Doctrine and Covenants was revealed in response to Joseph Smith’s inquiry in 1841 regarding the Saints in the Territory of Iowa. The Lord’s response was clear: “Let them build up a city unto my name upon the land opposite the city of Nauvoo, and let the name of Zarahemla be named upon it.” This deliberate choice of the name Zarahemla by the Lord, who comprehends the past and the future, has proven prophetic multiple times over.
We must recall that, irrespective of historical intricacies, the overarching principle of seeking refuge in the Savior unites us across generations and circumstances. Amid the grand tapestry of our spiritual voyage, the pursuit of sanctuary remains a consistent thread. Our ultimate shelter resides in the boundless grace of the Savior and the everlasting blessings He imparts.
Consider the journey of Mulek, a descendant of King Zedekiah. When the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar slew the sons of Zedekiah, Mulek miraculously escaped to the American continent (2 Kings 25:7; Helaman 8:21). The lineage of Mulek persisted, and a descendant bore the name Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:2). Guided by divine direction, Mosiah journeyed from the land of Nephi to the land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:12–15), where the “seed of the spared” dwelt—a legacy reaching back to Mulek and Zarahemla.
Intriguingly, Zarahemla wasn’t solely a haven for the descendants of Mulek and Zarahemla. In this same land, the Nephites encountered the Jewish Mulekites and Coriantumr, the last survivor of the Jaredite civilization, who had been spared for this destined meeting (Omni 1:21). The convergence of these groups appeared to be orchestrated by the divine—an interweaving of destinies within the city of sanctuary.
Zarahemla, a city that once stood as the glorious capital of a mighty ancient civilization, gradually faded across the passing centuries into a realm where only undulating mounds of earth and scattered remnants of artifacts bore witness to its former inhabitants, eventually slipping into the shadows of history, nearly forgotten.
— Text by Roger Cook, faithful worker on the PHOENICIA SHIP.
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