And it came to pass that the Nephites grew proud because of their great riches and they would not walk uprightly before God.
Now in those days a large and strong man named Amalickiah was desirous to be king. He flattered the lower judges of the land that if they would support him, he would make them rulers over the people.
And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah; yea, he led away the hearts of many people to seek to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto the people. Thus we see the great wickedness one man can cause.
And now when Moroni, who was the chief commander of the armies of the Nephites, heard of these dissensions, he was angry.
And he rent his coat; and he took a piece thereof, and wrote upon it—In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children—and he fastened it upon the end of a pole; and he called it, the Title of Liberty. And he fastened on his headplate, and his breastplate and his shields, and girded on his armor about his loins; and he took the pole which had on the end thereof his rent coat, and bowed himself to the earth, praying mightily unto God for the blessings of liberty to rest upon his brethren, so long as a band of Christians should remain to possess the land.
And he went forth among the people, waving the rent part of his garment in the air, crying: Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord.
And the people came running to Moroni with their armor girded about their loins, rending their garments in token. And Moroni caused the Title of Liberty to be hoisted upon every tower in the land.
Yea, he was a man who was firm in the faith of Christ, and he had sworn with an oath to defend his people, his rights, and his country, and his religion, even to the loss of his blood.
Yea, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.
Abridged from the Book of Alma
In the words of the artist:
“In the next picture, CAPTAIN MORONI RAISES THE TITLE OF LIBERTY, we see yet another towering figure, that of Captain Moroni, rallying followers to fight for liberty. When this picture was being considered, it raised a problem concerning Moroni’s writing on the Title of Liberty. In the English version of the Book of Mormon, we read that Moroni wrote upon his torn coat, “In memory of our God, our religion, our freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children:’ We read it in English, but Moroni didn’t write it in English. He wrote it in the language of his time, probably a version of Hebrew. There were those who insisted the lettering be in English. But in a picture of this historical event the artist wanted the writing to look as close as possible to how it appeared on the actual flag. The nearest anyone could come to the original language was to go back to Hebrew as it was at the time when Lehi left Jerusalem. So I went to my friend Rabbi Cardon and asked him to write out the words of Captain Moroni as it would have appeared at the time of Lehi and Jeremiah. At that time the squarish lettering we know today as Hebrew had not yet been invented, so they selected an earlier writing style, closer in appearance to that of the time of Moses. Of course, more than 500 years had passed between Lehi’s time and that of Moroni. A language can change a great deal in that time and we have no way of knowing what such changes might have been.
In the painting, as in the book, there is a factor easily skipped over but of historical importance. We read that Moroni tore his coat and wrote upon it. This doesn’t mean that in a burst of passion he ripped the coat to shreds. Rather, his action bears out a long-established Israelite ritual. To rend one’s coat was the most extreme emphatic expression of one’s statement or belief, something akin to swearing with a great oath. Some even carried a small knife to make a modest incision, constituting “tearing.” We recall that at the trial of Christ, the high priest “rent his garment” as evidence that there was no further proof required to sentence Christ before the Jews. To carry this custom even further, the men rallying to Captain Moroni’s call, tore their garments and cast them about Moroni’s feet as a token or covenant of the fervency of their support. Such details are carefully shown in the painting. This last point, that of tearing the cloaks, is a strong evidence of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. For if, as critics claim, Joseph Smith had written the book just as a novel, it is stretching the imagination to believe he could have known such an obscure bit of Israelite ritual.”
All 12 Arnold Friberg Book of Mormon lithographs are currently available as a signed and numbered set for $5300.