Wednesday, February 22, 2012

On Onties and Such

I am currently studying the Book of Alma, and thought I would share something that I put together a couple of years back when I was clerking for a Superior Court Judge.

In Alma 11, Alma (and later Mormon) spent quite a long time recording the system of money used by the Nephites anciently. I always kind of thought of this section as novelty, or maybe some evidence that could be matched up with ancient Mayan practices eventually, but I didn't really think about what it meant in the context of the rest of the chapter.

The story being told is that of Alma and Amulek's public debate again Zeezrom, who was a lawyer and who attempted a hearty cross-examination of the missionary duo. At one point he tries to bribe Amulek to deny Christ and everything he had taught, offering him six onties of silver. This is where my calculations come in:

A judge receives a senine of gold or a senum of silver for one day's work.  (v. 3)

Taking a senum as the basic unit for silver, here is how the money system goes (v. 5-13)

1 senum = 1 senum
1 amnor = 2 senum
1 ezrum = 4 senum
1 onti = 7 senum (the sum of them all, v. 13)

Therefore 1 onti is equivalent to 7 days' pay for a judge, making 6 onties worth 42 days' pay.

The current approximate annual salary for a Superior Court Judge in Orange County, CA is $178,789. Dividing that by approximately 250 working days per year, that makes a daily salary of $715.16. So the approximate salary for 42 days would be $30,037.

No wonder Zeezrom wasn't really intending to pay Amulek!

This is kind of on the side of fun facts as opposed to spiritual insights, but it really gives an appreciation for the dedication and conviction of Amulek, who was essentially a new convert. Amulek then goes on to see all of the women and children believers martyred (Alma 14:8-11). Undoubtedly they included friends and loved ones, and possibly even his own family, as his whole house had been blessed and instructed by Alma (Alma 10:11). That is some amazing faith, but I trust that his reward will be much more than $30,000.

No comments:

Post a Comment