Sunday, September 1, 2013

Book of Mormon Word Usage: Neglect

The word neglect, occurring only seven times in the Book of Mormon, is easy to neglect. All of the occurrences are in Alma, and all but one of them come from a single chapter, Moroni's petition to Pahoran (Alma 60). The other occurrence is in one of Alma's discourses (Alma 32).

Four times the noun neglect is modified by the adjective great (Alma 60:4, 5, 6, 14) and twice is described as "exceedingly great neglect" (Alma 60:6, 14). Moroni complains to the Pahoran, the chief judge, and asks:
Is it that ye have neglected us because ye are in the heart of our country and ye are surrounded by security, that ye do not cause food to be sent unto us, and also men to strengthen our armies? (Alma 60:19)
Moroni can classify this as neglect because
ye yourselves know that ye have been appointed to gather together men, and arm them with swords, and with cimeters, and all manner of weapons of war of every kind, and send forth against the Lamanites, in whatsoever parts they should come into our land. (Alma 60:2)
The two challenges facing Moroni and his armies were
myself, and also my men, and also Helaman and his men, have suffered exceedingly great sufferings; yea, even hunger, thirst, and fatigue, and all manner of afflictions of every kind (Alma 60:3)
great has been the slaughter among our people; yea, thousands have fallen by the sword, while it might have otherwise been if ye had rendered unto our armies sufficient strength and succor for them (Alma 60:5).
Thus Moroni asked for food and men.

Moroni blames the situation first on "your thoughtless state" (Alma 60:6), second because perhaps "ye yourselves are seeking for authority. We know not but what ye are also traitors to your country."
(Alma 60:18). The real reason is a rebellion (Alma 61:3), which is a possibility that Moroni mentions but does not consider as the present problem (Alma 60:16-17).

Moroni, seeing the dire consequences of neglect and thoughtlessness, classifies those who neglect their duties as "wax[ing] strong in your iniquities" (Alma 60:31) and bringing the judgment of God on them (Alma 60:32).

Given this sort of background on the use of neglect, consider now the other use of the term:
But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out. Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof. (Alma 32:38–39)
The two uses form a curious, and telling, parallel.