What if Isabel WASN'T a HARLOT?

What if Isabel WASN'T a harlot? You know, the Isabel that had sexual relations with Alma the Younger's son Corianton. What if she wasn't even a real woman? In the book, "Walking with the Women of the Book of Mormon," the author points out that:


The idea that Isabel was not just a harlot but also a goddess or a prophetess of false ideologies might be supported by Alma’s response to Corianton’s misconduct.138 Alma did not give his son a lecture on the sanctity of life, marriage, the body, or any other topic you’d expect a father to give his son after having been unchaste.


Instead, Alma taught Corianton about topics he knew his son was struggling to understand: resurrection, the law of restoration, and justice and mercy. Alma also bore testimony of Jesus Christ, that “it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world” (Alma 39:15). Alma’s focus on teaching his son doctrine might be a clue that Corianton hadn’t followed Isabel simply because of lust, but that he had also been deceived by corrupt teachings.



Alma calls Isabel “the harlot,” which seems to suggest that she was well known and perhaps unique in some way. He also warned Corianton to not let his heart be led away again “after those wicked harlots” (vs. 11), which seems to suggest that in Siron, where Corianton found Isabel, there were many harlots. While it is possible that Isabel and this group of women were just ordinary harlots, Hugh Nibley suggested that Isabel might not have been an actual person but rather an idolatrous fertility goddess. He wrote,

Only [three] women are named in the Book of Mormon, but [two] are archetypes of women. The one is Sariah who is the mother of Israel. She is the mother of all the descendants of Lehi, and the other is Isabel. She is the mother goddess. . . Everybody went to her; she was the one. The rites of the mother goddess, which always come at particular times of the year, are the rites of the hierdoules, the sacred prostitutes. Everybody in Babylon, for example . . . had to go and have intercourse with the temple hierodules once a year..

It is interesting to think that when Alma reprimanded Corianton for chasing after the harlot Isabel, he may not have been referring to an actual person but rather a goddess named Isabel, whose worship was extremely corrupt. This explanation might explain why a well-known group of harlots was in Siron and why Isabel appears to have been prominent among them.


**The following was an excerpt from Walking with the Women of the Book of Mormon currently on sale at cedarfort.com.