I find the story of the Zoramites to be intriguing and full of implications for our understanding of Nephite history and society. This post is highly speculative but I wanted to share some of my thoughts on this chapter of Nephite history.
As I recently re-read these chapters, I was struck by the reference made by the poor Zoramites to the fact that they had labored on their synagogue but then were unable to worship there. I wondered why this might be the case.
I thought if two possibilities. First of all, the poor Zoramites might be an indentured servant class or even enslaved by the richer members of society. Another not mutually exclusive possibility is that the upper class had recently taken over the society and imposed control over the poorer disenfranchised individuals.
I recently listened to a series of lectures on Greek history and was struck by the social structure of the Spartans. Their military superiority was entirely dependent on the subjegation of a whole separate group of people into slavery. They did not farm their land or produce the necessities of life but fully depended on those in bondage. And this gave them a sense of superiority.
I wonder if something similar was happening in the land of the Zoramites. If so, then this explains a lot about why the preaching of the Gospel was seen as so threatening. It also explains why the Zormaites rulers joined the Lamanites to war against the Nephites.
There are of course less dramatic explanations for the social dynamics among the Zormaites, but I find this possibility to be satisfying and imminently plausible. I think this theory gains strength by the fact that these people were of the lineage of Zoram– a servant of Laban. Perhaps, because they descended from a servant they were not treated as fully equal and it was acceptable to oppress or even enslave them.
Either way, I think there’s a lot more going on with this story than first meets the eye.