We read in verse 7:
For they became a righteous people; they did lay down the weapons of their rebellion, that they did not fight against God any more, neither against any of their brethren.
Symbols of conversion to Christ included a name change and they become a "very industrious people."
It is a few mornings after the first day that I have read this group of verses. I am now sufficiently humbled to hear the word of the Lord.
(How many times has this pattern been repeated? I come to a seemingly clerical set of verses - a set of verses that appear to only be there for housekeeping reasons, or to connect the story lines from one point to another. But time and time again, nothing is in this Book of Mormon without deliberate purpose. Such is this passage.)
So we have here a list of the seven lands that were converted to the Lord. The list may seem like just a list of names at first. But do we ever regard converts to the Lord with such superficial, trivial attention? Heaven forbid! So here is the list:
- The Land of Ishmael - This is King Lamoni's land, where Ammon first ministered, by its name though, we can deduct that these are probably the descendants of Ishmael who came over with Lehi's family. This is significant in the fulfillment of promises and covenants that were probably made to Ishmael, though we don't readily have a record of that. But here it is: the conversion of Ishmael's posterity.
- The Land of Middoni - We don't really have much of account of what happened here, but it is significant to note that this was were Aaron and his brethren were imprisoned. Prior to their imprisonment, there were only a few converts. But now (much different than what happened in Ammonihah were Alma and Amulek were imprisoned), this land has been converted to the Lord.
- The City of Nephi - The heart of the Lamanite civilization! This is the oldest city on the American continent that was inhabited by the Nephites and Lamanites. This is the city that was overtaken by the Lamanites, when the Nephites fled for Zarahemla. Here we see the promises bring fulfilled that were made to Lehi about his posterity being converted to the Lord.
- The Land of Shilom - This is the land from whence king Limhi (son of King Noah) escaped from the oppression of the Lamanites, by circumventing the land one generation before.
- The Land of Shemlon - This land was also near the same settlement estalished by Zeniff (King Noah's father). There are many references to it in the book of Mosiah. Most notable is perhaps the passage that explains that the wicked priests of Noah, lead by Amulon, had taught (falsely) in this same land a generation before (see Mosiah 24:1).
- The City of Lemuel - Nothing is known about this city except that it is named after one of the sons of Lehi. Probably much like the city of Nephi, this city probably had been in existence from early on. This city also represents the same promises and covenants being fulfilled.
- The City of Shimnilom - Nothing is recorded elsewhere in the scriptures about this final city.
A name change is recorded for the purpose of distinguishing themselves from the Lamanites. Verse 18 record them becoming an industrious people, thus the curse that had fallen upon the Lamanites since the days of Laman and Lemuel had been taken from them.
It is a curious side note that the curse that was upon the Lamanites probably wasn't a literal change of skin color, rather it was a curse of powerlessness, idleness, sin, and abomination, -- all of which caused a separation between the Lamanites and the Nephites. This would support the Lamanite king's need and desire for a name change in verses 16 & 17. Verse 18 also points to their industriousness and the opening of a correspondence with the Nephites as evidences of the curse being taken from them.