King Noah’s son Limhi was not wicked like his father, and the first two years of his reign were peaceful. The priests who were appointed by King Noah now feared that if they returned home to their families, the people would kill them. So instead they went to a place called Shemlom where the young Lamanite women gathered to sing, dance, and make merry, and they hid and watched them.
The priests waited for an opportune moment when there were only a few of them gathered to dance, and they came out of their hiding places and seized them, carrying them off into the wilderness with them. When the Lamanites discovered their young women were missing, they became angry and blamed Limhi's people.
Therefore the Lamanites sent their armies to attack Limhi's people, but Limhi saw them coming and prepared his people for battle. The Lamanites' forces were more than double those of Limhi, and the Lamanites fought like lions for their prey. But Limhi's people were fighting for the lives of their women and children and fought like dragons.
The Lamanites hastily retreated, leaving their wounded king on the battlefield to be found by Limhi's men. Some wanted Limhi to kill him, but others advised that if the Lamanites kept attacking, their superior numbers would eventually wipe them out, and they reasoned that living in continued slavery was better than everyone being killed. So Limhi talked to the Lamanite king to learn why they were being attacked.
Limhi managed to convince the Lamanite king that his people were not responsible for kidnapping the young Lamanite women, and that it must have been done by the wicked priests who had fled the city. The two kings went unarmed before the Lamanite army and convinced them to take an oath not to kill Limhi's people.
Now that the land was at peace again, Limhi decided to send out 43 men to search for the land of Zarahemla where his grandfather Zeniff had come from. These men got lost in the wilderness and did not find Zarahemla, but they came upon the ruins of the Jaredite civilization which was now a land covered in dry bones.
The men returned to the land of Nephi, bringing with them things they found, including rusty swords, large breastplates made of copper and brass, and a set of gold plates with engravings on them. But no one among King Limhi's people could interpret the language on the plates.
After some time, the Lamanites began again to be stirred up in anger against the Nephites. They respected their oath not to kill them, but they treated them very harshly, struck them on their cheeks, put heavy burdens on them, and drove them like mules. The Nephites suffered terribly, and this happened to fulfill the words of Jesus.
The people began to complain to King Limhi about their suffering and they wanted to battle against the Lamanites. They complained to Limhi so much that he allowed them to go battle against the Lamanites. And the Lamanites beat them, drove them back, and killed many of them.
There was much mourning and cries of grief—widows mourning their killed husbands; sons and daughters mourning over the killed fathers; and brothers mourning over their killed brothers. There were a great many widows and they cried mightily day in and day out, and a great fear of the Lamanites came over them.
Their continuous cries stirred up Limhi's remaining people to anger against the Lamanites, and they went to battle with them again. But again they were driven back and suffered many casualties. They then attacked the Lamanites a third time, but once again were driven back and suffered more casualties.
The survivors humbled themselves and returned to the city of Nephi and submitted to being slaves to the Lamanites, and to being burdened and beaten by their enemy. In the depths of their humility they cried mightily to God all day long to rescue them from their suffering. Jesus heard them, but was intentionally slow in his response, drawing out their suffering.
Jesus began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites to ease the burdens on Limhi's people, but he did not see fit to rescue them from slavery. Slowly they began to prosper in the land enough that they did not suffer with hunger.