1 And it came to pass that we again began to establish the kingdom and we again began to possess the land in peace. And I caused that there should be weapons of war made of every kind, that thereby I might have weapons for my people against the time the Lamanites should come up again to war against my people.
2 And I set guards round about the land, that the Lamanites might not come upon us again unawares and destroy us; and thus I did guard my people and my flocks, and keep them from falling into the hands of our enemies.
3 And it came to pass that we did inherit the land of our fathers for many years, yea, for the space of twenty and two years.
4 And I did cause that the men should till the ground, and raise all manner of grain and all manner of fruit of every kind.
5 And I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work, and work all manner of fine linen, yea, and cloth of every kind, that we might clothe our nakedness; and thus we did prosper in the land—thus we did have continual peace in the land for the space of twenty and two years. (Mosiah 10:1-5)
In v4-5 I noticed recently that Zeniff tells how he divided the labor among his people along gender lines. The men tilled the land and the women did the spinning and weaving of cloth.
This seemed a little odd until it occurred to me that there might be a strategic element of defense to it. In the previous chapter, the Nephites had just repelled an invasion from the Lamanites while they were out in their fields. So this section details the things the Nephites did to prepare to defend themselves in case of future problems of the same type.
Spinning and weaving can be done at home where it is safe, so it would make sense for the women to do that there. If the men are out tilling the fields and feeding the flocks, they would be able to notice any invading armies approaching and then warn their families and form militias to repel the invaders.
Zeniff also put guards around the land, so the guards were the first layer of defense, and the men in the fields were the second layer.
So, this makes me think that maybe the traditions of women staying in the homes is not necessarily a narrow-minded prejudice (though it has been used as such with arguments of women’s unfitness to be anywhere else), but an ancient defensive strategy meant for times when marauding armies approaching without warning were a real threat. In that situation, it just makes sense to divide the labor in such a way as to protect the family the best.
Applying the strategy to today’s threats, where do you think the lines of defense should be put?