The Hebrew word Zarahemla can be broken into 3 parts: zara, meaning son or seed; racham, meaning mercy or compassion; and la, or lo, meaning no or not. Zarahemla means “a son or seed scattered with no mercy.” One Biblical example of the latter two words combined states: “I will dash them one against another, even the fathers and the sons together, saith the Lord: I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy them.” (Jer 13:14). The Hebrew for “nor have mercy” is “racham lo” or “racham la”.
This prophecy specifically describes Babylon’s destruction of Judea, Jerusalem, and Solomon’s Temple. The Jews were expelled without mercy. Jeremiah and a few others, including the daughters of King Zedekiah, remained behind and went to Egypt (Jer 43:6-7). Some maintained that Jeremiah took one of the king’s daughters to Hiberia and wed her to a king who descended from Judah through Zerah. That offspring may have fulfilled Ezekiel’s riddle (Ezek 17:3-6). More importantly, they, too, were scattered without mercy.
An unweaned male was not considered a son and would have escaped the plight of Zedekiah’s sons, whom Nebuchadnezzar killed. Unweaned males were kept among the king’s daughters. The Book of Mormon reports that such a son, named Mulek, which means “belonging to the king,” led a group of people to ancient America. When they joined the Nephites, their king, who was a descendant of Mulek, and therefore Zedekiah and David, was named Zarahemla. His name fit him, for he was a son scattered without mercy.
After the death of Joseph Smith, Jr., the church fragmented into 23 factions. Two branches, one at Beloit and the other at Yellowstone, both in Wisconsin, were branches of James Strange’s faction. Revelation came to both that the Lord was reorganizing the church and Joseph Smith III would come to lead it. At the time that the Reorganization began in June 1852, the Yellowstone Branch changed its name to the Zarahemla branch. It illustrated that they were children who were scattered without mercy. They had no leader until the Lord led Joseph Smith III to preside over the fledgling group 8 years later, in 1860.
In 1984, the Reorganization fragmented. We organized as an independent branch of that church, but by order of the US Federal Court, were denied that identity. We chose the name Zarahemla because we were and remain children scattered without mercy.
The same conditions that fragmented our church divided many other denominations, causing many Christians to worship outside denominational organizations. In a way, they are children scattered without mercy.
As the foundations of American liberty are eroding, the same tactics that fractured many denominational churches are now dividing our nation. Both independent conscience and Bible-based Christianity seem under attack as activists try to divide America. Are the spiritual ancestors of the Pilgrims and Puritans soon to be scattered without mercy again?
The Bible promises that the efforts of God’s enemies have limits. He will not let “the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as beforetime” (2 Sam 7:10). Although the Lord’s people have made mistakes and did not always prove faithful, He promises, “I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hos 2:23). For all God’s children who were scattered without mercy and today fear enduring that conditions again, our Lord promises that He will grant us mercy. He will be our God.
Zarahemla sums up both our situation and the promises that God has made to us, but not us alone. He makes it to all His people in similar conditions. He will save those who trust in Him, even though they were or are being scattered without mercy.