Nephites and Binary

For those of you not of the LDS faith, let me first preface this post with a statement that I am just sharing some ideas I had while studying the Book of Mormon.  These are my ideas and I doubt that the LDS Church has any doctrine or philosophy on what I am about to share.

The history books have it wrong.  Ancient India was not the first culture to use the binary system.

Binary is the use of on and off to make calculations, logical assessments, and to run our computers.  It is often represented as a series of 1s and 0s (1 being on and 0 being off).  I have been fascinated with binary and it other variations (such as hexadecimal) since my first computer class where it was briefly introduced to me.

Imagine my shock when I discovered that the Nephites used the binary system as early as 82 B.C. (that’s over 200 years before Ancient India).

My discovery came when I was reading Alma’s description of the monetary system of his people.  I wanted to understand better what the value of each senine, seon, and limnah were.

So, after having read Alma 11:5-19 several times, I started the process of calculating the values of each piece of money.  I started first with a senine.  I decided that a senine would equal 1, or roughly the equivalent of one U.S. Dollar.

Using that as my starting point, I deduced that a seon would be 2 U.S. Dollars (verse 8).  A shum would be $4 (verse 9).  And a limnah would be the value of them all added together or $7.

Well, at first I saw nothing significant here.  The silver measurements were the same as the gold, and still nothing significant.

However, as I got into the lesser amounts of money I found the pattern that helped me to see the binary pattern.  To make things simple, I started over and made the smallest amount of currency equal to 1 (or 1 penny).  And it came down to this:

leah = 1
shiblum = 2
shiblon = 4
senum = 8
amnor = 16
ezrom = 32

“Wait a minute!” I thought to myself.  This looks like binary code.  If you aren’t familiar with binary code, here is a quick run down:

1 = 1
10 = 2
100 = 4
1000 = 8
10000 = 16
100000 = 32

Do you see the relationship?  The Nephite monetary system was based on the binary system that we now use to operate computers and many more wonderful things in our life.

Sure this has no significance to anything.  Who cares that they used this system?  What does it mean in the grand scheme of thing?

No one cares.  And it means nothing.  I just found it interesting.

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