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Mormon concludes his records of the destruction of the people, and his prophecies warning against us repeating the same mistakes (verse 1).
He says he wrote a letter to the Lamanite king, asking permission to allow the Nephite people to gather at a certain place (the hill Cumorah) to prepare for a final battle against the Lamanites (verse 2). The Lamanite king granted this request (verse 3), and the Nephites gathered at Cumorah (verses 4-5).
Mormon says he is old now, not just in age, but “began to be old” – the perspective of having survived much, of having grieved much, of being literally used up trying to bring a people to God. Mormon knows it will be the final battle for the Nephites, and he hides the records in the hill for safe keeping (verse 6). He keeps out only a few of the plates to pass on to his son, Moroni (verse 6).
All the Nephites, including the wives and children, gathered on Cumorah and watched the Lamanites marching against them (verse 7), and “every soul was filled with terror because of the greatness of their numbers” (verse 8). The Lamanites came with “all manner of weapons of war” (verse 9), and many tens of thousands died (verses 10, 11-15). Even Mormon himself fell wounded, and the Lamanite soldiers passed by him (verse 10).
The Lamanites continued the battle until there were only 24 Nephites left (including Moroni) (verse 11), and Mormon grieved his people (verse 16), mourning that they did not repent and turn to the Lord (verses 17-20):
O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! Behold, if ye had not done this, ye would not have fallen. But behold, ye are fallen, and I mourn your loss… how is it that ye could have fallen! But behold, ye are gone, and my sorrows cannot bring your return.
Mormon knows those who have died in battle will soon be resurrected, as immortality is a free gift for all from the Savior (verse 21). But he also knows that the people will then have to face that same Savior “to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you” (verse 21).
O that ye had repented before this great destruction had come upon you. But behold, ye are gone, and the Father, yea, the Eternal Father of heaven, knoweth your state; and he doeth with you according to his justice and mercy (verse 22).