Why study this book?
Through their study of the book of Omni, students will learn that the Lord protected the righteous Nephites and led them to the land of Zarahemla (see Omni 1:7, 12–13). They will also learn about other groups—the Mulekites (or people of Zarahemla) and the Jaredites—whom the Lord guided to the promised land.
Who wrote this book?
The book of Omni was written by five different men: Omni, Amaron, Chemish, Abinadom, and Amaleki. Omni was the son of Jarom and a great-great-grandson of Lehi and Sariah. He described himself as a “wicked man” who had “not kept … the commandments of the Lord” (Omni 1:2). Amaron (son of Omni), Chemish (brother of Amaron), and Abinadom (son of Chemish) each added small entries. Abinadom’s son Amaleki wrote most of the book of Omni and was the last person to write on the small plates of Nephi. He entrusted the plates to King Benjamin.
To whom was this book written and why?
Omni stated that he was “commanded by [his] father, Jarom, that [he] should write … to preserve [their] genealogy” (Omni 1:1). This statement suggests that Omni wrote for the benefit of his descendants. The next three writers in the book of Omni do not address a particular audience or state a purpose for their writing. But Amaleki’s invitation for all people to “come unto Christ … and partake of his salvation” (Omni 1:26) indicates that he was concerned about the salvation of those who would read his words.
When and where was it written?
The various authors of the book of Omni wrote sometime between 361 B.C. and 130 B.C. The first four authors wrote in the land of Nephi. Amaleki made his record in the land of Zarahemla.
What are some distinctive features of this book?
The book of Omni is the final book of the small plates of Nephi. Omni spans a longer period than any other book in the small plates. In the entire Book of Mormon, only the books of 4 Nephi and Ether cover a longer period of time than that covered by Omni.
Approximate Number of Years Covered by Each Book in the Small Plates
The book of Omni also provides details about the reign of the first King Mosiah, who was the father of King Benjamin and grandfather of the second King Mosiah. The first King Mosiah led the righteous Nephites out of the land of Nephi and united them with the people of Zarahemla (see Omni 1:12–23). The book of Omni relates that the Lord guided the people of Zarahemla (also known as the Mulekites) from Jerusalem to the land of promise not long after Lehi and his family departed from Jerusalem (see Omni 1:15).
Omni is the first book in the Book of Mormon to mention the Jaredites. It also mentions that some Nephites left Zarahemla to return to the land of Nephi, foreshadowing the events recounted in Mosiah 7–24. Finally, the book of Omni introduces King Benjamin and explains why Amaleki entrusted him with the sacred records (see Omni 1:25).
Omni 1:1–3 Omni describes periods of peace and war between the Nephites and the Lamanites.
Omni 1:4–11 Amaron, Chemish, and Abinadom write on the small plates of Nephi. At this time, the Nephites were in a state of apostasy.
Omni 1:12–30 Amaleki records key events that occurred during the reigns of King Mosiah and King Benjamin. He invites all to come unto Christ.