Working in OmniPlan: A Tutorial
Welcome to the tutorial! Starting with a blank slate, we’ll build a project from the ground up to show all of the core features of OmniPlan in practical use.
For the purpose of this tutorial we’ll be looking at the development process of a game being put together by an independent team of intrepid designers, coders, and testers, following them from the planning phase through to the release of a demo video for the project.
Step 1: Creating a Project
To create a new project, choose File ▸ New (Command-N).
You get a fresh, untitled project document with one task. Save (Command-S) the file to a convenient location, and give it a name (we’ll call ours Nautilus Command, the code name for our upcoming game project).
Step 2: Choosing a Start or End Date
When setting out to build a project, one of the most important aspects is the timeframe. This, in turn, is dictated by any deadlines or start constraints that exist for the project.
In the case of our game development scheme, we don’t have a hard deadline for the project to be finished — we want it to be done when it’s ready (but as soon as reasonably possible). To indicate this, we’ll go to the Project inspector and set the start date as today.
Conveniently, this is the default setting for any new project.
If you’re planning a project in the abstract without a fixed start or end date, you can change the dates from Specific to Undetermined until the timeframe is more set in stone. You’ll get dates that display as T+1d, T +2d... instead.
If you’re planning a project with a specific do-or-die deadline, you’ll want to switch the direction from forward to backward and put the deadline date in the End field. Tasks will be scheduled back from this date, filling in the time from project completion to the present.
If your project has already begun and you are using OmniPlan to describe its progress mid-stream, choose Project ▸ Set Current Editing Date to turn the clock back to when the project began. Continue with the tutorial until your tasks, resources, and their relationships are in place (through Step 12); then set the current editing date back to the present.
Step 3: Creating Milestones
Milestones are the anchor points in your project that mark important shifts in focus or unlocking a new phase of the project. Clarifying these will help break a dauntingly large project down into more manageable sections, and help dictate the tasks leading up to and following the milestone.
To create a milestone, choose Structure ▸ Add ▸ Milestone, or use the keyboard shortcut (Command-Shift-M).
Alternatively, click on the currently existing task (“Task 1”) to select it, then go to the Task inspector. You can change the task type from a regular task to a milestone in the Task Info section here.
We’ll change the name of “Task 1” by clicking it in Task View or editing the name field in the Task inspector, create a few more milestones for our project, and then go on to reinforce our milestones with tasks.
Step 4: Creating Tasks
Create a task by pressing Return with a task selected, or choosing Structure ▸ Add ▸ Task. To add a task above the currently selected task, hold Shift before pressing Return.
A task is anything that needs to get done in order for the project to move toward completion. Each task has attributes such as start and end dates, a completion percentage, and resource assignments; these show up in the various columns of the task outline, and in the various sections of the Task inspector. Tasks can be grouped together, and a task can be dependent on other tasks.
For now, just create some tasks and name them. Select your first task and press the Return key once (or twice, depending on how your keyboard preferences are set) to create new tasks. If you still have a “Task 1” hanging around, you can just delete it or change its name. When you’re done, if your milestone is not the last item, click the bullet to its left and drag it down to the bottom of the list.
Each task in the outline corresponds to a bar on the Gantt chart.
New tasks appear below the currently selected item in the Gantt view, or at the bottom of the list if no tasks, milestones, or groups are selected.
For our project we’ll create several tasks beneath each milestone that they’re related to.
As you create additional tasks, you’ll see that the task name listed in the outline alongside a few other default columns: Violations, Notes, and Effort. You can add details about each task by clicking the note icon next to its name. Effort represents the number of resource-hours needed to complete the task, while violations appear only when the logic of dependencies between tasks gets out of line.
Step 5: Editing the Work Week
Now that we’re starting to see the project come together, we’ll set tasks aside for the moment and start setting up the work schedule for our project.
Switch to Calendar View. By default, working hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 5:00, with an hour-long break for lunch at noon, but you can move or resize the blocks to adjust the working hours for the project.
Drag a block to move it, or drag the edge of a block to resize it. Double-click and drag in an empty area to create a new block, or select a block and press the Delete key to get rid of it. The text inside each block updates to reflect the changes you make.
Since we’re working with a bunch of more nocturnal folks, let’s change the schedule to reflect that. Click and drag one of the time blocks on the calendar to bring it to a new position, or drag one of the edges to change the size of the block. We end up with a schedule that fits our needs:
If your average work day isn’t 8 hours long (or your work week doesn’t add up to 40 hours), you should visit the Project inspector’s Effort Unit Coversions section and change the hours per day (or hours per week) setting, so that your task duration and effort calculations will make sense.
Step 6: Setting Schedule Exceptions
Even the most accommodating work week will occasionally have days that are out of the ordinary. Whether it’s a national holiday, a team-wide training seminar, an industry expo or conference, or just a patch of bad weather that keeps folks out of the office, setting exceptions to the regular work schedule can be key to keeping a project on track.
Still in calendar view, choose Extra & Off Hours from the toggle below the resource list. Here you can change the work hours for a specific week, to account for exceptions such as holidays or overtime.
One that we know is in the future for our project is the upcoming Thanksgiving. We can add that to our schedule right now. Use the arrows bracketing the current month to navigate to November, then click on the week of Thanksgiving (the 26th) to access the exceptions calendar for that week.
To quickly remove working time from the schedule, you can Shift-drag, creating a red box that marks normal working time as unavailable.
To add extra hours, double-click and drag to create a blue box which represents available hours apart from the normal working hours.
We know we want to take Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, but we can also predict that this week will be crunch mode for the team. We create a block of time that covers the 26th and 27th, and then replace that lost time with overtime hours earlier in the week.
When making changes to the schedule for the whole project, be sure not to have any resources selected in the sidebar. Editing the calendar with a resource selected will change the schedule for that specific resource rather than the project as a whole (see Step 12: Setting Individual Schedule Exceptions for more on how to do this).
Step 7: Setting Task Durations
Now we can begin to scope out how long each task will take.
Use the view switcher to get back to task view. Each task takes a certain amount of time to complete. You can set a task’s duration by typing in the Duration column of the task outline, or by clicking and dragging the ridges on the right end of a bar in the Gantt chart. If you’re typing durations, you can use unit abbreviations like 2d (2 days), 1w (1 week), and so on.
The length of the bar in the Gantt chart represents the duration.
Step 8: Grouping Tasks
When tasks are closely related or interdependent it can be useful to put them in a group. Groups help organize a project conceptually, and also act as meta-tasks that can be linked via dependencies to other tasks or groups.
Select some tasks and choose Structure ▸ Group (Option-Command-L) to group them. Grouped tasks are indented in the outline, and represented by a parent task of the “group” type, which can be named like any other task.
With all of the tasks in the group selected, this would be a good time to add a bit of visual distinction to the group as well. Go to the Styles inspector and choose a color in the Task Bar Color section that will identify all of the tasks in the group.
After organizing tasks and milestones into groups and estimating the time required to complete them, we’re starting to get a better picture of how our project will take shape. At this stage our Gantt chart looks something like this:
In the figure above, the scale of the Gantt chart has been changed from days to weeks to get a better idea of the relative durations assigned to tasks. To change the Gantt chart’s scale, Control-click on the date bar and choose a time unit, or drag left or right on the bar to make fine adjustments.
Step 9: Connecting Tasks with Dependency Lines
We can’t complete all of our tasks simultaneously! Even if we had the resources to do so, some parts of the project can’t happen until others are finished. Thankfully, the pieces are now in place to establish the ways that those tasks are dependent on the status of others. There are four ways that dependencies can exist:
- Finish ▸ Start dependencies are the most common type, indicating that when task A finishes, task B can start.
- Start ▸ Finish dependencies indicate that when task A starts, task B can finish.
- Start ▸ Start dependencies indicate that when task A starts, task B can also start.
- Finish ▸ Finish dependencies indicate that when task A finishes, task B can also finish.
Select two tasks which need to be connected, and click the Connection button in the toolbar. A Finish ▸ Start dependency line appears between the tasks, starting from the task which comes first in the outline. You can also draw dependencies right in the Gantt chart by clicking an arrow on the end of a selected task and dragging it to the beginning of the next.
The type of dependency is based on the start- and end-points of the arrow: dragging an arrow from the completion of one task to the beginning of another will create a finish ▸ start dependency, and so on.
As you connect tasks, they automatically reschedule to respect the dependencies.
Milestones, like other types of tasks, can be connected with dependency lines. If you find that your tasks don’t look like they’re as well positioned in the Gantt chart as their dependencies would indicate, you can click drag their rows to rearrange them vertically in the outline for a more natural flow.
Remove dependencies by selecting all the relevant tasks and choosing Structure ▸ Disconnect Tasks (Control-Command-Minus) or Disconnect from the drop-down Connection toolbar button menu.
Step 10: Creating Resources
Now it’s time to start adding the team members, equipment and materials we’ll be using to bring the project to fruition. Every person, piece of infrastructure, and raw ingredient that contributes to reaching the project’s goal is counted as a resource, so let’s get started.
Creating resources works much like creating tasks. Switch to Resource View, which contains the resource outline. Create a few resources (as simple as pressing Return) and name them. Then click the Type icon for each one and choose whether it is Staff (a human team member), Equipment (a piece of gear), or Material (consumable goods). Like tasks, resources can also exist in hierarchical groups.
A timeline appears on the right side of the view for each resource you create, but it is empty until you assign the resource to some tasks.
As with the task outline, the resource outline contains a few default columns alongside the resource’s name and type (as mentioned above). Note offers a handy space for details on the resource (a staff member’s job title, for example), while Units represents the percentage of the resource available for work on this project.
Along with adding notes to our resources, this is a good time to start considering costs. Adding the Cost/Hour and Cost/Use columns to the resource outline and entering relevant cost information (like a team member’s hourly wage) will help us start planning the budget of the project when it comes time to assign resources to tasks.
Another useful property of staff resources is email address, which can be set in the Information section of the Resource inspector. A staff member’s email address is used as their unique identifier across all projects they’re participating in, which is particularly important when balancing workloads across multiple projects or comparing projects with Dashboards in OmniPlan Pro.
Step 11: Assigning Resources
You can assign resources to tasks from Task View or from Resource View.
In Task View, you can select the task and then use the Assignments section of the Task inspector to select which resources should be assigned to it.
Or you can just pop open the menu on the Assignment button in the toolbar.
In resource view, you can assign a task by dragging it from the Unassigned timeline (or the sidebar) into a resource’s timeline.
When you begin assigning resources to tasks, you’ll notice some task durations visibly shift in the Gantt chart. This is because of duration’s relationship with effort. Effort is the number of resource-hours needed to complete the task, while duration is the amount of time the task actually requires given the resources assigned to it. With multiple staff members assigned full time to a task, its duration in real time will diminish from that originally allocated.
As we start building out our relationship of dependencies and resources, we can see a potential problem area: since our contract musician Jeremy has other projects on his plate, he can only contribute 30% of his time to our game. A task that should take two weeks turns to more than six. We’ll want to find a way to avoid this delay; we can ask him to start work earlier, or incentivize him to devote more of his time to our project.
Step 12: Setting Individual Schedule Exceptions
Individual staff members may have personalized work schedules, and they’ll almost certainly have individual needs for time off. In the calendar view, choose a resource in the sidebar and create a regular weekly schedule for the resource just as you did for the project as a whole; then choose Extra & Off Hours from the toggle below the resource list and repeat the process for exceptions.
Here we’ve edited Jaya the Project Manager’s off hours to give her a free day to celebrate her anniversary.
Step 13: Leveling Resources
Once we have a calendar of working hours, a set of established tasks and milestones, and a team of people with the tools they need to complete them, OmniPlan can optimize the efficiency of work that’s happening through a process called leveling.
Resource leveling analyzes your project and figures out the most efficient way to arrange it, taking into account things like dependencies and the amount of resources available.
If you make some manual changes to the schedule, like rescheduling incomplete tasks, setting up dependencies, or changing resource assignments, you should then level the project again to make sure your resource usage is balanced out.
To level the resource workload for your project, choose Level in the toolbar or choose Project ▸ Level Resources (Shift-Command-L). The leveling dialog appears, with options to customize the leveling process; for now, leave these in the default configuration and click OK.
Unless your staff is already in the optimal configuration you’ll see the tasks in the Gantt view shift to accommodate the most efficient use of your resources’ time.
You can set OmniPlan to dynamically respond to updates in your project by automatically leveling resources every time you make a change. If you would prefer this, you can enable automatic leveling in the Project menu.
Step 14: Setting the Baseline
With tasks set and resources assigned and leveled, the state the project is in now may be a glimpse at its fate in the best of all possible worlds — one where unforeseen hindrances don’t bog down progress, and where optimistic estimations rule the day.
This is the world that is captured when we set a baseline for progress, a feature used to compare how the project is actually doing against initial expectations, so milestones and resource allocation can be adjusted accordingly.
When you have a schedule set up and leveled properly, and the project is ready to begin, choose Project ▸ Set Baseline. This copies the schedule you created into a baseline schedule. The baseline schedules remain unchanged as you update the actual schedule; as the project goes on you can keep track of how closely it is following the original plans.
You can choose Split or Both from the Baseline/Actual menu on the toolbar to compare the baseline schedule to the actual schedule.
Step 15: Checking the Critical Path
Choose View ▸ Customize Toolbar to add the Critical Path button to your toolbar display.
The Critical Path button in the toolbar highlights the series of tasks and dependencies which determine the project’s duration (critical paths can also be charted to specific milestones rather than the project as a whole). If any of the tasks on a critical path ends up taking more or less time than planned, then the duration of the project as a whole will change as well. Usually, these are the tasks you most need to make sure are on track.
Most of the tasks in a simple linear project will be on the critical path, because they are almost all in one continuous chain. On the other hand, projects with multiple resources working in parallel (such as our example project here) often have some tasks that can suffer a delay without affecting the deadline.
Step 16: Updating Task Completion
As progress on the project continues, inevitably some tasks will be completed outside the timeframe initially projected. It’s a good idea to review the project in OmniPlan periodically and update it to reflect the new situation.
You can update progress of individual tasks by editing the percentages in the Completed column or the Task Info section of the Task inspector. Or, just drag the completion handle on a bar in the Gantt chart.
If everything is going as planned, you can click the Catch Up toolbar button to bring the completion percentage of every task (or just the selected tasks) to a selected date.
If you have tasks which were planned to be complete by now, but aren’t, you can click the Reschedule toolbar button to move them forward. Afterward, remember to level the project.
Step 17: Moving Forward
In a perfect world, progress through a project would involve nothing more than tracking task completion until the final milestone is reached. Reality seldom cooperates so neatly; thankfully, OmniPlan has tools to help adjust to anything fate has in store.
As you begin to adapt your new project to the realities of your work environment, several paths lie ahead to assist in making sure you reach that final milestone unscathed:
- Maintaining Your Project is a great next step, packed with tools for addressing common scenarios you’ll encounter.
- Reporting and Printing is another useful stop for when you’re accountable for presenting your project and progress to others.
Out of Bondage through Covenants
Jarom -- Mosiah
Omni 1:1-3I . . . I . . . I . . .:
Monte Nyman relates the following:
"I sometimes ask my students . . . did Omni wear glasses? Now, that gets their attention--got yours I notice, some of you looked up. I suggest to you that I don't know whether he wore glasses, but he did have I trouble! Now, if you analyze those three verses that Omni writes, he says "I did this," "I did that," ten times! The only reason I emphasize that is to show you that it is a different style of writing. The others don't write that way. Why is that important? Because there are four different writers in this one little chapter that is a little more than two pages long. . . . Could Joseph Smith have put together this, and made it look different? I suppose that is possible, but highly improbable. You might copy someone's style, but for Joseph Smith, the mere lad that he was when he translated the Book of Mormon, this is a great evidence of the book." [Monte S. Nyman, "Is the Book of Mormon a History?," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 9-10]
Omni 1:2I of Myself Am a Wicked Man:
Even though Omni comments that "I of myself am a wicked man" (Omni 1:2), one should be careful not to classify all the recordkeepers and all the Nephites wicked during the time covered by the book of Omni. Jarom, the father of Omni, noted that "there are many among us who have many revelations" (Jarom 1:4). Amaron, the son of Omni, will later comment that, "the more wicked part of the Nephites were destroyed" (Omni 1:5) and that the Lord "did spare the righteous" (Omni 1:7). Although Abinadom, the nephew of Amaron, will mention that "I know of no revelation save that which has been written" (Omni 1:11), it is possible that he might have been referring to the fact that the prophecies known to him had already been recorded on the large plates or other records such that Abinadom did not feel obligated to record them again on the small plates. Finally Amaleki, the son of Abinadom, will exhort "all men to come unto God" (Omni 1:25). Therefore, we have to wonder if Omni's "wickedness" was only in comparison with the other prophets and not with the people in general. Perhaps Omni felt unworthy because he had "fought much with the sword" (Omni 1:2) and possibly had shed much blood, as the Jewish king David had. David received the revelations on how to build a temple to the Lord but was not allowed to build it because he had seen too much war and bloodshed (see 1 Chronicles 22:8). [See the commentary on Omni 1:13]
Omni 1:3 I [Omni] conferred them upon my son Amaron (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]
Omni 1:8-9 I [Amaron] did deliver the [small] plates unto my brother Chemish (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]
The name Chemish is mentioned as a Nephite record keeper in the Book of Omni 1:8-10. Richardson, Richardson and Bentley write that not only is this name found to be of ancient Hebrew origin, but also the meaning of the name is fitting for the calling of the individual who bore that name. The Hebrew equivalent shem-ash can be found in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, which means "to serve, minister"--a possible name-title that symbolized the calling to serve as a record keeper for his Nephite brethren.11 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 226]
According to John Tvedtnes, despite the paucity of genealogical details in the Book of Mormon, clearly the people were very concerned about their tribal affiliation. For example, Book of Mormon personal names containing such Semitic patronymic elements as Abi- ("father") and Ami- ("paternal kinsman/clan") fit the biblical pattern and are evidence for a strong patrilineal kinship system. Note the names "Abinadi" (Mosiah 11:20), "Abinadom" (Omni 1:10), "Aminadab" (Helaman 5:39), and "Aminadi" (Alma 10:2). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Book of Mormon Tribal Affiliation and Military Castes," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 297]
Omni 1:10 Behold, I, Abinadom, am the son of Chemish (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]
Omni 1:10I [Abinadom] Saw Much War and Contention between My People, the Nephites, and the Lamanites:
According the Brant Gardner, the increasing pressure from the Lamanites suggests two plausible scenarios that would ultimately lead to the Lord's command for Mosiah1 to flee the land of Nephi:
(1) The city of Nephi would come under threat of a Lamanite attack that the Lord knew would be more effective than previous attacks either because of decreased ability of Nephite resistance. Either the Lamanites got stronger or the Nephites got weaker. Thus Mosiah1 and the righteous would be asked to flee the destruction.
(2) The need for the Lamanites to directly attack the city of Nephi might have slowly disappeared as the Nephites accomodated to the Lamanite culture. This would have been an official capitulation by the rulers (not the prophets), and although the city would have continued, the environment would have been untenable for the righteous.
[Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/ Omni1.htm, p. 15]
Omni 1:11-12I [Abinadom] Make an End. Behold, I Am Amaleki, the Son of Abinadom:
Brant Gardner notes that Abinadom does not specifically mention passing the plates to his son (see Omni 1:10-11), and yet his son, who introduces himself as Amaleki, does have them (see Omni 1:12). Perhaps this is not necessarily an oversight, but rather a recognition of the fact that Amaleki was very young at the time, and could not receive them directly from his father. I will presume that Amaleki was very young, and traveled with his mother (but not his father) on the trip to Zarahemla. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/Omni1.htm, pp. 12-13]
According to Hugh Nibley, the name Amaleki simply means "my king." [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 428]
Note* Could the Amalekites who are to appear in the book of Alma have been part of the "king-men" movement found in that book also? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Omni 1:12 Behold, I am Amaleki, the son of Abinadom (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]
When was Amaleki born? Amaleki was born "in the days of Mosiah1 (Omni 1:24), which we might assume means that he was born during the reign of Mosiah1. Thus, Amaleki might have been at least 30 years younger than Mosiah1 if Mosiah1 became king at age 30 (see Mosiah 6:4). If Mosiah1 was born between the years 367 and 387, and began to reign between the years 397 and 417, then Amaleki would have had to be born sometime after 397. If Mosiah2 was born between the years 446 and 447, we have assumed that the reign of Mosiah1 would have ended soon after (30-year reign), or at the most his reign would have ended in the year 457 (40-year reign). Therefore, our targeted range for the birth of Amaleki is between the years 397-457.
Year 397-457 Amaleki is born [Reasoning #1]
We can also approximate the birth of Amaleki by tracing the dated lineage of the small plates recordkeepers from Nephi to Amaleki. According to 2 Nephi 5:28-34, Nephi was commanded to make and keep the small plates between 30 to 40 years after he left Jerusalem. It was probably closer to 40 because of 1 Nephi 19:4 & 2 Nephi 5:34; however, we will assume 36 years. Nephi was then 52 years old (16 + 36 = 52) and was to keep the plates for 20 years before he turned them over to Jacob.
According to Jacob 1:1, when "55 years had passed away from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem" (Year 56), Jacob was given charge of the small plates by Nephi. Nephi was now approximately 72 years old and Jacob was approximately 52 [Assuming Jacob was born 3 years after Lehi left Jerusalem would make (-3 + 55 = 52)]
No date is given for the transfer of plates from Jacob to Enos, only the words that Jacob "began to be old" (Jacob 7:26-27).
According to Enos 1:25, Enos transferred the plates to Jarom when "179 years had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem" (Year 180). Therefore, between Jacob and Enos, the plates were taken care of for approximately 124 years (180 - 56 = 124). According to our culture, in an older father/younger son relationship, a father would be between 40 and 50 when the son was born. This would mean that if a 20 year old Enos got the plates from a 70 year old Jacob, and if Enos kept them to age 70, we would have the following time spans:
Jacob 52 to 70 = 18 years as recordkeeper
Enos 20 to 70 = 50 years as recordkeeper
Total = 68 years = This is 56 years short of the above mentioned 124 years.
Therefore, the following might have to change:
1. Jacob might have been born a little later than the supposed three years after Lehi left Jerusalem.[see discussion on 1 Nephi 2:16]
2. Jacob and Enos might have had to keep the plates to an older age.
3. Enos might have been born when Jacob was much older. (See the commentary on Enos 1:25)
4. The plates might have been turned over before Enos was 24 (much like happened when Ammaron gave charge of the plates to 10 year old Mormon--Mormon 1:2-3), but with a commandment for him to attain the age of 24 before taking possession of them. [Note* At least with Enos, he was old enough to say that "[Jacob] taught me in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Enos 1:1).]
5. Jacob and Enos might have had their first wives die and taken a younger second wife, thus allowing the birth of a son at an advanced age for the father. [Note* Jacob preached against plural marriages (Jacob 2:27,34)]
Therefore, this plausible scenario can be made:
Year (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)
56 Jacob obtained the plates at age 52.
81 Enos was born when Jacob was 77.
101 Jacob gave the plates to Enos (age 20) just before he died (age 97).
(Jacob has had the plates 45 years (97 - 52 = 45). (Enos is now age 20.)
180 Enos lives to age 99 (Enos 1:25).
According to Enos 1:25-27 and Jarom 1:1, Enos never does mention giving the plates to Jarom when "179 years had passed away" (Year 180), he only mentions that he "began to be old." Jarom mentions that he writes "according to the commandment of my father." Now, if Enos is 99, then Jarom could have been born when Enos was 79 and would be age 20. Thus:
Year (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)
160 Jarom was born when Enos was 79.
180 Jarom received the plates at age 20.
239 Jarom gave the plates to Omni (assume age 24) when 238 years had passed away since Lehi left Jerusalem (Jarom 1:13, 15).
Jarom has had the plates 59 years (239 - 180 = 59).
Jarom is 79 years old (20 + 59 = 79).
215 Thus, Omni was born when Jarom was 55.
According to Omni 1:3, Omni gave the plates to Amaron "when 282 years had passed away" (Year 283). Thus: Omni has the plates 283 - 239 = 44 years, and lived to age 68 (44 + 24 = 68).
283 Omni (age 68) gave the plates to Amaron (assume Amaron is 24).
259 Amaron was born when Omni was 44 (68 - 24 = 44).
According to Omni 1:5,8, Amaron gave the plates to his brother Chemish when "320 years had passed away" (Year 321). Thus, Amaron has the plates 321 - 283 = 38 years, and lives to age 62 (24 + 38 = 62).
We will assume that Omni (the father) was 44 at the birth of Amaron. We will assume that Amaron's brother Chemish was born 15-20 years later. (Omni's first wife would probably have died and he would have married a younger second wife.) We will assume Chemish was born 20 years after Amaron (Year 279), with the maximum limit of 30 years after Amaron (Year 289). Thus:
Year (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)
259 Amaron was born (Omni is 44).
279 Chemish was born (Omni is 64).
283 Omni (68) gave the plates to Amaron (age 24).
321 Amaron (62) gave the plates to his brother Chemish (42).
By living to age 85, Chemish would have had the plates 43 years (85 - 42 = 43). If Abinadom was born when Chemish was 65, then he would be 20 at Chemish's death. Abinadom could have waited four years to age 24 before he took over keeping the plates. We will also assume that he took care of the plates until age 86. If we apply the maximum limits as stated above for the birth of Chemish, then Abinadom could have been born when Chemish was 55. However, we will assume the following:
Year (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)
344 Abinadom was born when Chemish was 65.
364 Chemish (85) gave the plates to Abinadom (20).
430 Abinadom (86) gave the plates to Amaleki (24).
(406) Amaleki was born about the year 406 when Abinadom was 62 [Reasoning #2]
Although it is very apparent that many assumptions and approximations have been used to construct this chronology, we do have a date for the birth of Amaleki which falls within the limits established. The reader should note, however, that although we have come to this date by approximation, there are circumstances which limit the range of this approximation. For example, the later the birth of Amaleki, the older Abinadom would have been. On the other hand, the earlier the birthdate of Amaleki, the more we extend beyond the year 397 (the earliest possible projected beginning of Mosiah1's reign). Thus,
Year 397-406 An approximate range of years for the birth of Amaleki.
In this scenario, Amaleki might have been at most only nine years old when Mosiah1 left the land of Nephi and traveled to Zarahemla. On the other hand, Abinadom might have accompanied Mosiah1 on his exodus a few years before the birth of Amaleki.
[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Appendix A]
Omni 1:12I Will Speak unto You Somewhat concerning Mosiah:
According to original research by John Sawyer and John Welch, the term mosiah was an ancient Hebrew term, like go'el ("redeemer, or avenger of blood"), or sedeq ("victor, savior"). Such terms originally had meaning in Hebrew daily life and culture but came to be used among their titles for God. The word mosia (pronounced moe-shee-ah) is a word peculiar to Hebrew, a "word invariably implying a champion of justice in a situation of controversy, battle or oppression."
Apparently the form of the word Mosiah is a "hiphil participle" in Hebrew. It occurs in the Hebrew in Deuteronomy 22:27, 28:29; Judges 12:3; Psalms 18:41; and Isaiah 5:29--texts that in all probability were on the Plates of Brass. This word, however, was not transliterated into the English by the King James translators, and thus the Hebrew would not have been known to Joseph Smith. It was, however, known and used as a personal name in the Book of Mormon, as well as by people in the Jewish colony at Elephantine in the fifth century B.C. . . .
King "Mosiah"(1) (Omni 1:12) was a God-appointed hero who delivered the chosen people of Nephi from serious wars and contentions by leading them in an escape from the land of Nephi (see Omni 1:12-14). It is unknown whether he was called Mosiah before he functioned as a mosia of his people or whether he gained this well-earned title afterward, perhaps as a royal title, but either is possible. [John Sawyer and John Welch, "What Was a 'Mosiah'?," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 105-107]
Omni 1:12-14 Mosiah, who was made king over the land of Zarahemla (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]
When was Mosiah1 born and when did he depart for the land of Zarahemla? We can approximate those years by tracing backward from the dated death of Mosiah2 to Mosiah1:
Year (Years Since Lehi Left Jerusalem)
510 Mosiah2 dies in the 33rd year of his reign (Mosiah 29:46).
Mosiah2 is about 63 years old at his death (64th year of his age) (Mosiah 29:46).
It is in the whole 509 years from when Lehi left Jerusalem (Year 510) (Mosiah 29:46).
477 This was the first year of Mosiah2's reign.
446-7 Mosiah2 was born.
Let's allow for an average age of the father king at the time of birth of his successor son to be within the age period of from 30-40 years old. We will first assume that Benjamin was 40 years old when Mosiah2 was born and had been reigning since about age 30. According to Mosiah 6:4,
Mosiah2 began to reign "in the thirtieth year of his age" (age 29-30). Thus:
407 Benjamin was born.
We will next assume Mosiah1 was near 40 years old when Benjamin was born and had been reigning for 10 years since his thirtieth year (for ease of calculation we will say age 30). Then:
367 Mosiah1 was born close to the year 367 [40-year option].
If both fathers (Benjamin and Mosiah1) had been 30 at the birth of their heirs, then Mosiah1 would have been born in the year 387. Thus:
Year 367-387 The range of years for the birth of Mosiah1.
If we use Mosiah2's age (29-30) at his ascension as a standard for every king (Mosiah 6:4), Mosiah1 would have been close to 30 and ascended to the throne between the years 397-417. If we allow a 30 year time period before the end of that reign, then whatever the age of Mosiah1 when he left the land of Nephi for Zarahemla, that departure would have been sometime between the years 397 and 447 (since Lehi left Jerusalem). Because an older less vigorous man might not be accepted by the people of Zarahemla as "king Mosiah," I would tend to put the departure of Mosiah1 towards the beginning of the period of years 397-447 (since Lehi left Jerusalem).
Year 397-447 Mosiah1 departs for the land of Zarahemla.
[Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Appendix A]
Omni 1:12As Many As Would Hearken unto the Voice of the Lord:
The flight of Mosiah1 seems to have involved a number of Nephites, maybe a few or maybe many. However, we have to wonder why there aren't any references made by Amaleki, Mosiah1, Mormon or Zeniff about those Nephites who might have stayed behind? Were they automatically classified as Lamanites (see 2 Nephi 5:6,9)? Were they classified as dissenters (see Alma 47:35)?
One other option, according to Sidney Sperry, is that they might have been destroyed according to Jacob's prophecy:
"But wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God; for except ye repent the land is cursed for your sakes; and the Lamanites, which are not filthy like unto you, nevertheless they are cursed with a sore cursing, shall scourge you even unto destruction. And the time speedily cometh that except ye repent they shall possess the land of your inheritance and the Lord God will lead away the righteous out from among you" (Jacob 3:3-4).
A fact indicating that it might apply is that when the expedition of Zeniff and his followers made its way to the land of their forefathers, it was found that Lamanites were in control and that the cities were in a bad state of disrepair (Mosiah 9:6-8). There were no Nephites living there. [Sidney Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium, p. 276]
Geographical Theory Map: Omni 1:12-14 Mosiah Flees from Nephi to Zarahemla (Year 398)
Omni 1:13[Mosiah and His Followers] Departed out of the Land:
When and why did Mosiah1 leave the land of Nephi? Using the reasoning established previously, we can say that if Amaleki was "born in the days of Mosiah" (Omni 1:24), then Mosiah1 might have departed the land of Nephi and established himself as king over all the people in Zarahemla sometime between the years 397 and 406 (since Lehi left Jerusalem). [See Appendix A].
The reason that Mosiah1 left the land of Nephi might have been over a royal dispute regarding inheritance or politics. Although we only have record that Mosiah1 reigned as king over the people in the land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:12,19), there might be more to the picture. There had to have been grave political ramifications surrounding Mosiah1's ultimate possession of the sacred items associated with Nephite kings (Mosiah 1:15-6, 2 Nephi 5:14, Jacob 1:10). Some scholars have assumed that Mosiah1 smuggled these items away from the king of Nephi at the time; however, one has to wonder if Zarahemla and the Mulekites would have graciously accepted an imposter to the throne, especially after Zeniff as a scout (Mosiah 9:15), Limhi and his people (Mosiah 22:11-14), and Alma1's group (Mosiah 24:24-25) had a chance to set the record straight upon their return to Zarahemla. If we ignore the idea of symbols of kingship as a reason for Mosiah1 being established as king in Zarahemla, we are left to ponder other reasons that seem to be negated by the scriptural account:
1. Righteousness--but the Mulekites denied the being of their creator (Omni 1:17).
2. Numerical superiority--but the Nephites weren't half as numerous as the people of Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:2).
3. Influence of ideas--but the Nephites could not understand the people of Zarahemla (Omni 1:17).
Whatever the case, whether Mosiah1 had already ascended to kingship in the land of Nephi or not, he was probably the rightful heir because it is unlikely that he would or could take the large plates (kept by the kings--Omni 1:11, Words of Mormon 1:10-11), the Liahona, the Brass Plates, and the Sword of Laban (see Mosiah 1:15-16) under any other circumstances. In addition, it is unlikely that Zeniff would be allowed to muster support to return to "the land of our father's inheritance" (Mosiah 9:1) unless it was clear that Mosiah1 had a solid claim to the throne (see Mosiah 9:3). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Omni 1:13[Mosiah and His Followers] Departed out of the Land:
Brant Gardner writes that since Mosiah1 was made king in the land of Zarahemla, we might want to assume that he was also king in the land of Nephi, but that would be an unsupported assumption. In fact, strong inference may be made that Mosiah1 was not the king. In Jacob 1:11 we find that the kings of Nephi took upon themselves the name Nephi. Not only do we have Mosiah1 named as Mosiah (and not Nephi the X), but the tradition of naming the ruler of the people of Nephi after Nephi completely disappears from the Book of Mormon from this point on. The easiest explanation is that Mosiah1 was a prophet, but not the king. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/ Omni/ Omni1.htm, pp. 14-15]
Omni 1:13They Departed out of the Land:
Why does Amaleki not make any reference to his father Abinadom when he notes Mosiah1's departure to the land of Zarahemla? He just says, "they departed out of the land into the wilderness, as many as would hearken unto the voice of the Lord" (Omni 1:13). Chronologically, Amaleki's father should have been part of that group (Omni 1:23 -- "I [Amaleki] was born in the days of Mosiah"). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Omni 1:13: They Were Led by Many Preachings and Prophesyings:
If Mosiah1's group were led by "many preachings and prophesyings" (Omni 1:13), their apparent righteousness seems like a radical departure from the words of Abinadom, who was most probably part of the group. Abinadom said, "I know of no revelation save that which has been written, neither prophecy" (Omni 1:11). Perhaps Abinadom knew of prophecies, but these prophesies might have been made by Mosiah1, who wrote them down in the large plates. This would make Abinadom's statement very accurate. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Omni 1:2]
Omni 1:13They Departed out of the Land (of Nephi) into the Wilderness . . . Until They Came down into the Land . . . of Zarahemla:
While we know that Mosiah1 and his group had to flee out of the land of Nephi, we are not told in what direction (other than "down"); however, from the geographic description given in Alma 22:27-29, we learn that at that time, the more expanded general land of Zarahemla was somewhat north of the more expanded general land of Nephi, and that they were separated by a "narrow strip of wilderness." We are also not told specifically how long the journey was; however, from the journey of Alma1 when he fled from king Noah and eventually found his way to Zarahemla, we can calculate the general distance between the City/Land of Nephi and the City/Land of Zarahemla as totalling a little more than 21 days. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 24:25]
Omni 1:13They Departed out of the Land [of Nephi] into the Wilderness . . . Until They Came down into the Land . . . of Zarahemla:
Brant Gardner notes that upon reading that Mosiah "departed out of the land into the wilderness" (Omni 1:13), the reader might rightfully ask why he chose to go in the direction he did. Of course the Lord was leading him, but it seems as though the direction he went in was natural for him. Could it be that he was following a trade route? Trade routes are difficult to trace archaeologically, but they may be presumed when an identifiable trade good moves from one location to another.
In the case of Kaminaljuyu (a proposed site for the city of Nephi) a major export was obsidian. The creation of obsidian leaves sufficient traces of its location that pieces of obsidian found long distances away can be accurately traced to their source. The Kaminaljuyu obsidian is known as El Chayal. The trade in El Chayal obsidian in the early years of the Book of Mormon would have been down through the coast, but at the time period we are examining, it appears that a primary distribution channel had been developed whereby El Chayal obsidian was traded into what is now Veracruz, Mexico, which is in a direction generally northwest of Kaminaljuyu.12
Thus there were already cultural predispositions to move north, and the sure knowledge that there were friendly towns in that direction.
Additionally, in the time period in which Mosiah and his followers would have arrived at Santa Rosa, Chiapas Mexico (a proposed site for the local land of Zarahemla), certain pottery shows ties to Kaminaljuyu--ties sufficient to be termed "perhaps the closest linkage of our material to other regions."13 Thus Mosiah's flight northward has a plausible setting. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," http:// www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Omni/Omni1.htm, pp. 16, 38]
The land of Zarahemla was down from the land Nephi. Up and down refer to elevation. The reader will notice in future reading that the river Sidon had its head in the wilderness dividing the land of Zarahemla from the land of Nephi; however, the direction of flow was right through the land of Zarahemla (see Alma 16:6-7, 22:27-29).
According to Joseph Allen, as a person travels from the high point of 9,800 feet elevation near the Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, lookout to about 2,300 feet elevation at the Mexico border, to say the least there is clearly a feeling of traveling downward. The elevation in the Chiapas valley reaches its low point at 1100 feet. Guatemala city (the local land of Nephi) is about 4,800 feet in elevation. The Book of Mormon is always consistent in the fact that travelers from the land of Nephi always go down to Zarahemla, and travelers from Zarahemla always go up to the land of Nephi. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 372]
Omni 1:13The Land of Zarahemla:
According to Joseph Allen [and the theories of David Palmer and John Sorenson], the ruins of Santa Rosa appear to be the most reliable site for the City of Zarahemla today; and the Chiapas Depression, a valley large enough to place Israel inside of, is ideal for the Land of Zarahemla. The site of Santa Rosa is now under a man-made reservoir along the Grijalva River. However, prior to the area's inundation, the New World Archaeological Foundation conducted archaeological studies of Santa Rosa during the 1958 and 1959 seasons. A reconnaissance of the Upper Grijalva River in the winter of 1956 showed the site of Santa Rosa to be the largest Preclassic center in the region (the Preclassic time period is the time of the Book of Mormon). Several statements comparing the City of Zarahemla with Santa Rosa seem appropriate:
1. It fits the directional and distance requirements for Mosiah1 to have led a group of people from the city of Nephi (Kaminaljuyu).
2. It fits the directional and distance requirements for the people of Mulek (people of Zarahemla) to come from the land of desolation/land northward up into the south wilderness (Alma 22:30).
3. It allows for an East Wilderness.
4. It allows the Isthmus of Tehuantepec area to play its proper role in Book of Mormon geography as the Narrow Neck of Land.
5. It provides a major river running by it on the east (the Grijalva), with its headwaters in the proper direction (towards Kaminaljuyu), and its mouth emptying into a sea (the Gulf of Mexico), all of which are Book of Mormon requirements.
6. It permits the Limhi Expedition to bypass Zarahemla and wander through the State of Tabasco in the area proposed as the "land of many waters" to get into the land northward.
7. It is in an adequate location for Alma1 and Limhi to return to Zarahemla through a "strip of wilderness," or mountain range.
8. Ample archaeological population centers are found in the Chiapas Valley during the 180 B.C.-- A.D. 350 period when the bulk of the Nephite history in the Land of Zarahemla occurred. Also, a manifest decline in the population in the area occurred around A.D. 350, the period when the Nephites were forced to leave the Land Southward. Zarahemla was in the Land Southward.
9. It is in the proper general area for language development. That is, from 600 B.C.--A.D. 200, we witness a written language in use that was adopted by the later A.D. 350 culture.
10. Archaeological sites are found whose dating and culture patterns coincide precisely with Mosiah1's people and the people of Zarahemla.
11. The elevation is 1,100 feet. Kaminaljuyu (the local land of Nephi) is 4800 feet. People always go from Zarahemla up to the land of Nephi. [Joseph Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 372]
Omni 1:13 They came down into the land . . . of Zarahemla (Illustration): A view descending down into the Chiapas Depression. Santa Rosa, Chiapas, Mexico has been proposed as the land of Zarahemla. [Merrill Oaks, "Some Perspectives on Book of Mormon Geography," slide # ]
Omni 1:13 They came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla (Illustration): (a) [According to John Sorenson] the site of Santa Rosa, in the upper Central Depression, qualifies in important ways as the city of Zarahemla. Part of the archaeological site is seen in the foreground of this aerial view, with the Grijalva river adjacent. . . . (b) An area a few miles from Santa Rosa shows the relatively open, unforested landscape, in contrast to the jungle-type vegetation of many lowland areas. These two photos at the top of the page are over forty years old. For the past quarter century the area has been covered by the waters of a lake impounded by a major dam built thirty miles downstream. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 197]
Omni 1:13The Land of Zarahemla:
The reader should note that another major Book of Mormon geographical model situated in Mesoamerica has been proposed by F. Richard Hauck. He locates the city or local land of Zarahemla on the Usumacinta River, Guatemala, in the area of Nine Hills. [F. Richard Hauck, Deciphering the Geography of the Book of Mormon, pp. 7-8]
Richard Hauck is "convinced that Zarahemla is hidden within the incredibly humid, high-canopy rain forest of the Guatemalan tropical lowlands. . . . " Hauck suspects that Mulek and his Near Eastern refugees arrived at Zarahemla by boat, and that the Sidon river must have been navigable from the Gulf of Mexico, at least as far inland as the settlement at Zarahemla. Having assumed this is true, then for Mesoamerica, the Usumacinta River is the most logical candidate for the river Sidon because it is navigable far into the interior.
According to Hauck, the most probable locality for a major capital like Zarahemla is in the large valley where the Maya site of Nueve Cerros, or Nine Hills, is located. It is thirty-five miles directly north, down-slope from the Coban (proposed Manti) location and is crossed by the Usumacinta River (proposed Sidon). The difficult limestone karst terrain has restricted access south, up into the highlands where Manti would be located. To the north, Nueve Cerros is readily accessible to the Gulf of Mexico, or North Sea (see Helaman 3:8) via the river. To the east, it is accessible to the Caribbean, or East Sea. Finally, this valley is the only agriculturally productive locality that could sustain the large Nephite populations anciently living within the civilization's capital city. What's more, even the time frame of occupations at this site fit the Zarahemla model. Limited archaeological investigations at Nueve Cerros have documented that people lived here between 300 B.C. and A.D. 900. (See Dillon, Salinas de los Nueve Cerros, Guatemala, 1977.)
Salt is another factor that makes the Nueve Cerros valley complex most attractive as a location for ancient Zarahemla. Nueve Cerros was a most important source for salt in ancient Central America. The site is located at the only source of salt in all the interior of south-eastern Mesoamerica. Salt was being extracted from a saline creek at that site long before the arrival of the Spanish in this region. Why is salt such a big deal? Not only is salt necessary in our diet, especially for those living in the torrid tropics, but salt was anciently used as a primary means of food preservation. . . . Perhaps more vital than salt's secular value, however, was its sacred use. The ancient Hebrews had the salt sacrifice as stated in the Old Testament; they used salt in sacred rituals in the tabernacle and the temple. . . .
One final factor is that satellite and aerial photography have revealed the outline of an ancient city at this site measuring at least eighteen miles across. [F. Richard Hauck, "The Trail to Zarahemla," in This People, Holiday 1994, pp. 64-70]
Omni 1:13 The Land of Zarahemla (Illustration): Late afternoon light hits the shores of the upper reaches of the Usumacinta River in Guatemala near "Nine Hills" archaeological site. The river is a startling deep green. Surprisingly, the Hebrew root of Sidon is