Alma 31:1-38

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Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 31-35 > Chapter 31
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Summary[edit]

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Relationship to Chapters 31-35. The relationship of Chapter 31 to the rest of Chapters 31-35 is discussed at Chapters 31-35.

Story. Chapter 31 consists of ___ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 31 include:

Discussion[edit]

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  • Alma 31:4. The correspondence with the Lamanites which Alma and his brethren feared might come to pass, eventually did Alma 35:10; Alma 43:4, but the work they did influenced many Zoramites to the point that Zoram cast them out of his land to dwell with the Nephites in Jershon, see Alma 35:6.
  • Alma 31:16: Elected. Interestingly, this is the only passage in the Book of Mormon that uses any form of the word elect. The word chosen is used many times in the Book of Mormon in a way that seems very similar to the meaning of the word elected (cf. bachiyr in Hebrew and eklectos in Greek). The reason this word is used here, and only here in the Book of Mormon, might be related to the theological connotations the word had to Joseph Smith's ears at the time of translation when, for example, a Pauline doctrine of election might have been heavily discussed, though more research on this would have to be done to give this idea anything more than a purely speculative basis.
  • Alma 31:17: The same yesterday, today, and forever. It seems this is a true teaching that the Zoramites were familiar with (cf. 1 Ne 10:18; 2 Ne 2:4; 2 Ne 27:23), but had perhaps twisted to mean that, strictly and technically speaking, if God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, then he would remain without a physical, bodily presence in this world. So this phrase seems to more closely link the idea in verse 15 that God is a spirit, and "wilt be forever," to their conclusion that there would be no Christ. However, this seems a bit inconsistent with the idea that God elected the Zoramites: if God is literally and technically taken to be the same yesterday, today, and forever, how can God elect a people who were split off from the Nephites? Is this election of a new people a new action on the part of God?

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 31:1: Why are we told that the Zoramites were "perverting" the ways of the Lord? In the last verse of chapter 30, we are told that Korihor had perverted the ways of the Lord. What connections are there between Korihor and the Zoramites? How were their perversions similar? How were they different?
  • Alma 31:1: Who is this Zoram that is the leader of the Zoramites? Is it the same military leader Zoram that we read about in Alma 16? If so, is there a connection between his military success and the pride of his followers?
  • Alma 31:1: Idols. Idols are mentioned here, but are not mentioned again in relation to the Zoramites. Why not? What is the point in mentioning the idols here?
  • Alma 31:1: What does it mean to "bow down" to idols?
  • Alma 31:1: Why are the idols referred to as "dumb"? Is there a connection between the "dumb" idols and Korihor who was stricken dumb?
  • Alma 31:2: Separation: cause or result? Was the Zoramites' separation a cause of their subsequent pride and apostacy, the result, or both? Why is Alma sorrowful about this separation? (Cf. the word dissenters in verse 8.)
  • Alma 31:3: What is the land Antionum? Is this land named after an original settler, as was mentioned previously as traditional Nephite practice? Or does the name have some other significance?
  • Alma 31:3: What is the significance of the geographical location of the Zoramites? What is important about their position between Lamanite lands and the Lamanite converts in the land of Jershon?
  • Alma 31:4: Double standard on correspondence/separation? Here the Nephites "feared that the Zoramites would enter into correspondence with the Lamanites." Why would this be a bad thing? In chapter 31 we read about the Zoramite rich separating themselves from the poor. It seems that implicitly the Nephites are doing the right thing in remaining separate from the Lamanites but the Zoramite rich are doing the wrong thing by separating themselves from the Zoramite poor. When is separation a good thing and when is it a bad thing?
  • Alma 31:5: The sword. What does the reference here to "the sword" mean here? Is it related to the "correspondence with the Lamanites" referred to in verse 4? How? What effect can the sword have "upon the minds of the people"? Are there episodes in Nephite history that illustrate this?
  • Alma 31:5: If these Zoramites are followers of the military hero Zoram mentioned in Alma 16, what would that say about how they might perceive the sword? Could the sword have had a tendency to lead them away from that which was just, as opposed to the word, which leads to righteousness? Is this whole episode with the Zoramites a warning of a potential pitfall of pride that comes from military success--of taking that success as a sign of chosen-ness?
  • Alma 31:6: Here we have the formation of a missionary "dream team" to go to the Zoramites. Is there any significance to the number (eight) of missionaries selected? Why do we never hear about the missionary work of Omner? Why was Himni left in Zarahemla? Why do we never hear any more about him? Why pull in the former Ammonihah residents Amulek and Zeezrom from the land of Melek?
  • Alma 31:7: Helaman later becomes the leader of the Church. Why didn't Alma take him on this big mission to the Zoramites?
  • Alma 31:7: What significance does the name Helaman have? Any connection to the Helaman who was the son of King Benjamin and uncle to the sons of Mosiah? Does this indicate that Alma may have married a daughter of that Helaman?
  • Alma 31:8: Therefore. If the Zoramites had not been dissenters, would the word of God not need to be preached? Is the focus here on the need that dissenters have for preaching or for the word of God?
  • Alma 31:9: But. The use of the contrasting word but seems a bit curious here since the previous verse has just described the Nephites as "dissenters," which seems a parallel idea to falling into error, not a contrasting idea. So it seems that the contrast is with the phrase in verse 8 "they had the word of God preached unto them." If this is correct, then the but here seems to underscore a separation between these two clauses in verse 8. Does this imply that the errors being described here occurred after the word of God was preached unto them? If not, what is going on here?
  • Alma 31:9: Observe to keep. In today's parlance, we typically talk of "observing the commandments" or "keeping the commandments," so this phrase incorporating both terms seems somewhat odd. What is the meaning and significance of this phrase?
  • Alma 31:9: Why might the Zoramites reject the law of Moses?
  • Alma 31:10: Why might the Zoramites reject the practice of daily prayer?
  • Alma 31:10: What is the importance of daily prayer? How can daily prayer help avoid temptation?
  • Alma 31:10: What does it mean to "enter into" temptation?
  • Alma 31:11: What does it mean to "pervert the ways of the Lord"? What is meant by "the ways of the Lord"? Does that just mean the teachings of how we are to relate to God? The gospel? Or something else?
  • Alma 31:12: What exactly did Alma and the others find so astonishing? The synagogues? Their prayers? The towers?
  • Alma 31:12: There seem to be more than one synagogue indicated here. How big was the land? How many Zoramites were there? Who exactly were these people who had followed Zoram?
  • Alma 31:12: What is meant here by synagogue? Why would that word be used in our English translation of the Book of Alma?
  • Alma 31:13: What is the nature of this prayer stand? Why would it be elevated "high above the head"? Why only room for one person on the top of the stand?
  • Alma 31:13: What did this synagogue look like, with a stand in the center? Where were the other worshipers during the prayers. Were they surrounding the stand in the middle? How did this work?
  • Alma 31:13: Did these synagogues have a ceiling? If so, how high was the ceiling? How big were these synagogues? Where did the labor and materials come from to build such apparently large buildings with tall ceilings?
  • Alma 31:14: Is there something wrong with raising the hands to heaven and addressing God in a loud voice?
  • Alma 31:15: Unlike Korihor, the Zoramites believe in God. What do they mean when they say they believe that God is holy?
  • Alma 31:15: What is the significance of the Zoramites believing God to be a spirit, and that he will "be a spirit forever"? Why would they emphasize this?
  • Alma 31:16: Why would the Zoramites believe that God had separated them from their "brethren"? Who do they mean by brethren--the other Nephites?
  • Alma 31:16: What do they mean by being separated? Geographically? Theologically?
  • Alma 31:16: What do the Zoramites mean when they claim that the tradition of their brethren "was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers"? Why the term "childishness"?
  • Alma 31:16: What do the Zoramites mean by their doctrine of election? What do they mean by "holy children" of God? Where did this doctrine come from? Is this a misreading of King Benjamin's sermon?
  • Alma 31:16: How could these people believe that God had manifested unto them that there should be no Christ?
  • Alma 31:17: Why would the Zoramites use a doctrine of unchangeableness to discount a doctrine of a Christ?
  • Alma 31:17: Where would the Zoramites get a doctrine of election to damnation in hell?
  • Alma 31:17: Why would the Zoramites consider belief in Christ to "bind them down" or to lead their hearts away from God?
  • Alma 31:18: Why don't the Zoramite prayers include any pleas, but only offerings of thanks? Is this a manifestation of their pride, that they don't think they need God in their daily lives?
  • Alma 31:19: For Alma and the others to hear these prayers, they would presumably have to be in a Zoramite worship service in a synagogue. Why might they attend such a service before trying to teach the people?
  • Alma 31:19: Why would these prayers astonish the missionaries "beyond all measure"? What is so astonishing about them?
  • Alma 31:20: Was it merely the rote nature of these prayers that caused the missionaries such astonishment?
  • Alma 31:20: When we are told that "every man" did offer the same prayers, is this deliberately gender specific? Were only men allowed on the prayer stand?
  • Alma 31:21: Rameumptom. Why bother giving us the name of this prayer stand? Why is it called holy? Is this some twisted doctrine of standing in holy places?
  • Alma 31:22: Why would they consider their hearts "stolen away" by a doctrine of a future Christ?
  • Alma 31:22: Why would they deny the spirit of prophecy?
  • Alma 31:23-24: Why are we told that the Zoramites only spoke of God when gathered together to give thanks to him from their holy stand? Why is that important to know? What is there about this practice that might be considered "wicked" and "perverse"?
  • Alma 31:24: Why was Alma's heart grieved? What does it mean for him to grieve in his heart?
  • Alma 31:24: Here it seems like Alma is more upset with what he saw--the orientation of the hearts of the people--than with what he heard from their prayers. What is more wicked--their prayers or their focus on material goods?
  • Alma 31:25: What does it mean for a heart to be "lifted up unto great boasting"?
  • Alma 31:25: What is the connection between the pride, desire for riches, and prayers of the people?
  • Alma 31:26: Why are we told that Alma "lifted up his voice to heaven"? Does that just mean he prayed, or is this a specific type of prayer?
  • Alma 31:26: Why are the works of the Zoramites considered "gross wickedness"?
  • Alma 31:27: What does it mean to "cry" unto the Lord?
  • Alma 31:27: What is the problem with crying unto God while having pride or being "puffed up"?
  • Alma 31:27: What does it mean to be "puffed up, even to greatness"?
  • Alma 31:28: What is so wrong about wearing finery to call upon God?
  • Alma 31:28: What is the bigger problem--the "costly apparel" or the claim to being a "chosen people"? What is the connection between the two?
  • Alma 31:28: Where did this idea of being chosen, while others perish come from? Is this related to all of the destruction that happened in Alma 28? Were the Zoramites perhaps spared from destruction, while Nephites in other lands were slaughtered?
  • Alma 31:29: Why would the Zoramites claim revelation saying that there shall be no Christ?
  • Alma 31:30: What does Alma mean by "infidelity"?
  • Alma 31:30: Why should the Zoramites practices pain Alma's soul? Are they really all that different from various religious teachings we see in our modern day? Are we too accepting of religious differences?
  • Alma 31:35: Why are only "many of them ...our brethren" and not "all" of them?

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