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Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 26-29 to the rest of Alma is discussed at Alma.
Story. Chapters 26-29 consists of ____ major sections:
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 26-29 include:
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- Alma 26:1. Ammon begins by addressing "my brothers and my brethren." Alma 20:2-3 suggests that by "my brothers" Ammon was referring to his literal brothers; by saying "my brethren" Ammon was referring to his brothers in the church.
- Alma 26:13: The Song of Redeeming Love. According to Nibley, "the song of redeeming love was a very important part in the cult of Moses. When the people all came together, they would sing the song of redeeming love. It was part of their ritual” (The Book of Mormon, Vol 2, p. 326). This song is preserved in Revelations 15:3-4 where it is called the song of Moses. Since the Nephites still practice the Law of Moses, this ritual song would be an important part of their worship. It is an important motif in the Book of Mormon that also occurs in Alma 5:9 and Alma 5:26. Here, the words of the song are an apt expression of what Ammon is feeling: "Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.
- Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest” Revelations 15:3-4.
- Alma 27:4. The Lamanites regard Ammon and his brothers as “angels sent from God to save them from everlasting destruction” (Alma 27: 4). Knowing the conversion story of the sons of Mosiah as they undoubtedly did, the Lamanite converts consciously complimented Mosiah's sons who brought them to Christ and thus saved them by equating these missionaries with the angel sent by God to save them and their friend Alma. Being equated with the angel who saved them and Alma must have deeply touched Ammon and his brothers who fully understood how much they owed that angel. Perhaps this is why the compliment is mentioned twice in Mormon’s summary of the narrative they handed down to him (Alma 24:14, 27:4). In effect, the Lamanites were saying to Ammon and his brothers "you are our angel!" For both those who gave it and those who received it, this must have seemed to be one of the greatest compliments that could be given. This compliment mentioned here adjacent to Ammon’s cri de coeur in chapter 26 may also have partly occasioned Alma’s well known cri de coeur two chapters later, “O that I were an angel” (Alma 29: 1), for Alma’s no less diligent missionary efforts seem to have borne less fruit than the efforts of his friends, the sons of Mosiah, though ironically, Alma also was repeatedly given the priveledge of standing in the place of the angel who played such an important role in saving him, e.g., in Alma 8:14-15 where that angel commissions him to return to Ammonihah and convey a message the angel gives him in these verses. (See also the exegesis for Alma 24:14 and Alma 29:1.)
- Alma 27:12. In verse 27:12 the Lord clearly instructs Ammon to get the people out of the land. He doesn't specifically say to live with the Nephites (though it seems that that was the question Ammon took to the Lord (see verse 7)) but the Anti-Nephi-Lehis do end up living there. They end up later almost breaking their covenant (Alma 56:7) and their children end up joining the Nephites in battle. Unfortunately, it seems that at least many of their children end up apostasizing (see Hel 7:1-3). Note that in this verse, verse 12, the Lord promises only to preserve this generation. No such promise is given to future generations. It may be that had the children of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis taken and kept the same covenant their parents had taken, they may have avoided falling into the same cycle of unbelief and warfare that characterizes the history of Nephite society.
- Alma 29:1-5: Harrow. Webster's 1828 gives the definition "to tear; to lacerate; to torment." Interestingly the example includes the phrase "harrow up thy soul." Today "torment" would be a good substitute.
- Alma 29: The Fulfillment of Alma's Wish. The genre of this chapter is cri de coeur. Chapter 26 likewise contains a cri de coeur, that of Ammon as he successfully concludes his 14 year mission to the Lamanites. The adjacency of these two similar cries of the heart is probably not an accident. The people of Ammon have paid tribute to Ammon and his brothers by regarding them as angels (Alma 24:14, 27:4), i.e., as being for them, the equivalent of the angel sent by God to recover Alma and the sons of Mosiah. Alma's missonary work seems to have been somewhat less successful, e.g., at Ammonihah. And yet, Alma's wish that he might be an angel is ironically fulfilled. Though he suggests in verse 3 that he sins in his wish, in truth, Alma's worthy prayer was granted in multiple ways. The Book of Mormon twice quite explicitly memorializes Alma as the bearer of an angelic message. This first happens in Alma 8:14-18 where the very angel who called him to repentence now appears and commends him on how faithful he has been since that visit. The angel then commissions him to return to Ammonihah with a specific message. Alma becomes, in effect, the agent of that angel, himself a messenger from God who will speak the words of the angel to the people of Ammonihah. He is likewise cast in the role of an angel on his mission to the Zoramites. In Alma 32:23, he tells the poor and humble Zoramites that God "imparteth his word by angels unto men." For these people he is that angel. But most strikingly, Alma speaks as he desires "with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentence unto every people" through the publication of the Book of Mormon. Through the Book of Mormon, by some accounts the second most published book in human history, Alma speaks with more power to more people than he could ever have imagined in the moment of his cri de cour. Though he did not know it in his lifetime, his righteous wish was granted more fully than he could ever have imagined. Almost everyone reading this comment is part of the vast audience of those who have heard and been moved by the testimony of Alma that has been broadcast to the entire world, each person miraculously hearing Alma's testimony in his or her own tongue.
- Alma 29:8: The Lord doth counsel in wisdom. Alma realizes that for him to cry repentance unto every people with the trump of God to shake the earth (verse 1) is unnecessary. The Lord has already prepared people in very nation to teach his word as he sees fit.
- Alma 29:9: I know that which the Lord hath commanded. Alma tells us that he knows the will of the Lord. This is an important note in understanding why Alma's desire to cry repentance with the trump of God was a sin (see verse 3). As Alma makes clear here, he knew what the Lord had called him to do (what was "allotted" to him as verse 3 tells us). His sin then was in desiring to do something different from what he knew he was called to do.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Alma 26:21-25. Why does Ammon place repentance before faith in verse 22 (a seeming inversion of gospel principles)?
- Alma 26:21-25. What does it mean to exercise faith? (Results of a search for this expression in the scriptures is here.)
- Alma 26:31-37. Ammon claims that his converts are more loving than the Nephites, because they would rather die than kill another (verse 33-34). Does this mean we should see their willingness to sacrifice themselves as a more loving example to follow than that of the Nephites, who would rather kill than be killed?
- Alma 26:31-37. Do the Anti-Nephi-Lehis or Nephites more closely follow the Lord's teachings about loving your enemies?
- Alma 27:11-15: Did the Nephites share the Anti-Nephi-Lehis' willingness to die rather than kill an enemy?
- Alma 27:11-15: Did living among the Nephites change the way the Anti-Nephi-Lehis felt about taking up arms?
- Alma 27:11-15: What were the consequences of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's joining up with the Nephites?
- Alma 27:11-15: Why didn't the Lord include future generations of Anti-Nephi-Lehis among those who would be preserved (verse 12)?
- Alma 27:11-15: What happened to future generations of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis that might have kept them from being preserved by the Lord?
- Alma 27:11-15: When the Sons of Helaman were preserved in battle, was that because of their own righteousness, or because of this promise to their fathers?
- Alma 29: Why does Mormon include this chapter in his book? How does it transition from 28 to 30? Does Alma record this right after the battle mentioned in 28? Why is there no context given for his words, why is it that Alma is not even explicitly mentioned?
- Alma 29:3: Usually we think a desire, or wish, in itself is not a sin. In this line of thinking it is only when we entertain them or act them in ways that are counter to God that they become sin. In verse 3 Alma tells us he sins in his wish. Does this suggest that his desire, in itself, was a sin, or is Alma talking about something more than simply his desire?
- Alma 29:3, 6: Alma says he sins in his wish to be an angel and cry repentance unto the earth (v. 3), and essentially that he should be content to do that which he has been called (v. 6). But D&C 58:26-29 discusses how we should not have to be commanded in all things, but that we should be "anxiously engaged in a good cause" and "do many things of [our] own free will." How can the notions of sin as described here by Alma and that in D&C 58 be reconciled?
- Alma 29:4: Are there important nuances in this verse? For example, what is the difference between our "desire" and our "will"? And is there a difference between 'granting', 'allotting' and 'decreeing'?
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- Alma 27:29: Angel. For a poetic exploration of what it means to desire to be an angel, see User: Joe Spencer/coveting: Negative Dialektik: OFFERENTIA PASTORIS.
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