top of page
  • Writer's picturestephenstrent7

How Large Was the Kingdom of Zarahemla?



Section of the Standard of Ur - Peace Side – Sumer1


Where Science Meets the Book of Mormon: Come Follow Me Lesson: April 22-28; Mosiah 1-3

We are told in Mosiah 1:10, “Therefore, he [King Benjamin] had Mosiah brought before him; and these are the words which he spake unto him, saying: My son, I would that ye should make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people, or the people of Zarahemla, and the people of Mosiah who dwell in the land, that thereby they may be gathered together; for on the morrow I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth that thou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us.”


The key statement here as to the size of King Benjamin’s Kingdom at this time is “…make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people…for on the morrow I shall proclaim…” So, messengers were to go out in one day and all this people in all this land were to gather the next day. Messengers could have traveled fairly quickly, and thus a fair distance, but people gathering would be slower — and quite easily described. For most people, a brisk walking speed is around three miles per hour. If we propose that the people of Zarahemla walked briskly for twelve hours to arrive at the rendezvous site, which is a considerable portion of a day, then King Benjamin’s Kingdom was roughly 36 miles in radius, or 72 miles in diameter.


We are told further in Mosiah 1:18 that, “…Mosiah…proclaimed unto all the people who were in the land of Zarahemla that thereby they might gather themselves together, to go up to the temple to hear the words which his father should speak unto them.” And then, in Mosiah 2:1-5, we are told, “…that the people gathered themselves together throughout all the land…And there were a great number…And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings…And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about...” It is emphasized here that “all the people” came from “throughout all the land.” The phrase “all this people” or “all the people” is stated three times in in Mosiah 1. Furthermore, “all this land” is stated once in Mosiah 1 and “all the land” is stated twice in Mosiah 2. Also, during that roughly twelve-hour period, the people took their firstlings and pitched their tents. All of that activity would have cut into the time they had to travel, and thus the distance they could travel. Furthermore, that time allotment doesn’t even count the time for King Benjamin’s speech itself on that second day. Therefore, 72 miles in diameter may be an extreme maximum for the size of King Benjamin’s Kingdom at the time, and it was probably considerably smaller.


A kingdom of 72 miles in diameter would cover about 226 square miles. Salt Lake City covers an area of 111 square miles. Salt Lake County is 807 square miles. So, the entire Kingdom of Zarahemla, containing all the people, could have fit comfortably into the Salt Lake Valley, with plenty of room to spare. Mexico City covers an area of 573 square miles. The Kingdom of Zarahemla would have been a very tiny dot on the vast map of the Americas (9.54 million square miles for North America and 6.9 square miles for South America).


This account of King Benjamin was made about 130–124 B.C., or some 470 to 476 years after Lehi’s family left Jerusalem, and maybe fifty some years after Mosiah and his people had come to the Land of Zarahemla and joined with the Mulekites.

   

There were just over 200,000 people living in Salt Lake City in 2022. One estimate proposes that there was a total population of some 18,000,000 people living on the American continents by 130 BC.2 So, even if the population of the Kingdom of Zarahemla was comparable to the modern population of Salt Lake City, that number would have been just over 1% of the total American population. It is my opinion that the numbers I have estimated for the size and population of Zarahemla in 130 BC are extreme maximums and that the actual size of King Benjamin’s Kingdome was much smaller.    

 

 

Trent Dee Stephens, PhD

 

References

 

1.     Badger High School, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

2.     youtube.com/watch?v=cgpAAPulHnM; retrieved 20 April 2024

 

 

 

 

30 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comentários


bottom of page