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Relationship to Helaman. The relationship of Chapters 13-16 to the rest of Helaman is addressed at Helaman.
Story. Chapters 13-16 consists of ____ major sections:
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Helaman 13-16 include:
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- Hel 13:14: Ripe for destruction. The scriptures often state that peoples are destroyed when they become ripe in iniquity, or are ripe for destruction. (1 Ne 17:35, 43; 2 Ne 28:16; Alma 37:28, 31; Alma 45:16; Ether 2:8-11; Ether 9:20; D&C 29:9). Here Samuel the Lamanite defines what it means to be ripe for destruction, explaining that: "when ye shall cast out the righteous from among you, then shall ye be ripe for destruction" (Hel 13:14) (fulfilled with explanation in 3 Ne 9:9-11). Alma gives a similar definition when he warns the people of Ammonihah that "if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand; but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten …" (Alma 10:22-23) (fulfilled in Alma 14:11; 16:2-3, 9; 25:2). Also see Alma 9:19 (the Lord will not suffer the wicked to destroy the righteous); Alma 62:40 (wicked not destroyed for the sake of the righteous who dwell among them).
- This standard for when a people is destroyed can be seen as merely the application of a more basic gospel principle. During the Council in Heaven Satan proposed that every soul could remain pure from sin and return to heaven simply by eliminating free agency. This plan was rejected because the freedom to choose, even to choose the wrong, is essential to God's plan. (Moses 4:1-4). Now, in mortality, Satan sometimes succeeds in getting a society to eliminate free agency, except that now it is not the ability to choose the wrong that is eliminated, but rather the ability to choose the right. And if being deprived of the ability to choose the wrong violates an essential purpose of God's plan, then depriving people of the ability to choose the right must likewise do so. Thus when a society no longer allows its members to choose the right, by killing or otherwise "casting them out," then it seeks to prevent its members from having access to an essential purpose of God's plan for mortality. One straightforward way to avoid this problem is to simply stop sending spirits to such societies, and a straightforward way to ensure that is to simply destroy those societies.
- This principle is reflected in the story of the destruction of Sodom. When Abraham is told that Sodom will be destroyed, he pleads for it to be saved if even just ten righteous people are found in the city. (Gen 18:18-33). This makes sense, since the presence of even just ten righteous people would indicate that the city does at least allow people to exercise their agency to choose the right. However, when the two angels visit Sodom, the people of the city do not merely go along their own wicked way, nor do they merely invite the two visitors to participate. The people of Sodom are insistent that the two visitors participate in their wickedness and attempt to physically coerce them into doing so. (Gen 19:4-13). Sodom can thus be seen as having been destroyed, not for being wicked and choosing the wrong, but for insisting that everyone participate in that wickedness and choose the wrong whether they want to or not. Or in other words, for eliminating free agency.
- As for how this principle relates to the signs and timing of the Second Coming, see the discussion of the parable of the fig tree at Matt 24:32-36.
- The term "ripe in iniquity" is connected to the concept that the wicked are swept off from the face of the earth when the fulness of the wrath of God comes upon them in Ether 2:8-11 (discussion). Also see the related concept of justified war in D&C 98:33-48 (discussion).
- Hel 14:16-20. It is interesting to compare how belief and knowledge are used here. Belief is good (see verse 13 and 29)--it leads to salvation. Knowledge can lead to condemnation (see verse 19).
- Hel 14:30-31: Agency. Samuel the Lamanite tells the Nephites that they are free to exercise agency because they have been provided with correct information about the eternal nature of their choices and because they are at liberty to act upon those choices.
- Hel 15:4: Lamanites hath he hated. When the Lord states that he 'loves' one group of covenant people descended from Abraham and 'hates' another group, it can often be understood as loving or favoring one group more and the other group less (see, for example, Malachi 1:2-5). This language can also be seen as coming from ancient Near Eastern vassal treaties, where to 'love' and 'hate' are used to describe whether one is honoring a covenant or not (see, for example, Hosea 9:15; also Love vs. Hate: An Analysis of Helaman 15:1-4 by David Bokovoy).
- Hel 15:10-11. The Lord may extend this blessing to the Lamanites but not to the Nephites because of the greater light that the Nephites have been given relative to the Lamanites. (See also Alma 24:30, Hel 7:24, 3 Ne 6:18, and D&C 82:3.)
- Hel 16:2. God protects Samuel the Lamanite from the stones and arrows of the Nephites. Why does God protect Samuel (who ultimately escapes unharmed), while allowing other prophets, like Abinidi, to be martyred?
- Hel 16:1-5. We can see that when the Lord spared Samuel and didn't let him get killed that more people were convinced of the truthfulness of his words and were converted. In this way the Lord used this miracle to help more people become converted.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Hel 13:19: We learn that the righteous hide up their treasures unto the Lord. What does this mean? Is it a form of the law of consecration?
- Hel 14:12: How does knowing about the signs of his coming help them believe on Christ's name? Does Samuel mean that by knowing of the signs it will help them believe on his name when they are fulfilled?
- Hel 14:13: Samuel tells the people that if they believe on Christ's name, they will repent. Is that meant to be causal? Could they believe but not repent? Is repentance simply part of what it means to believe on the name of Christ, at least in this context?
- Hel 14:21-22: What do rocks "above the earth" refer to? Mountains? Boulders sitting on top of dirt? Maybe even stone-based buildings? In modern English "the earth" means "the ground" and so it's not obvious what rocks "above the ground" refers to, but perhaps the meaning of "earth" is different here?
- Hel 14:22-23: Is this a literal geological happening? Was there really a massive increase in seams and cracks in the earth, where before it was more solid and smooth?
- Hel 14:25: Why is this happening and what is the significance? Are the "dead" saints teaching the people? In what form do they appear to them?
- Hel 14:28: No cause for unbelief. What does Samuel mean here by "no cause for unbelief"? Should this be read as a double-negative ("no cause" and un-belief), so that it effectively means that the signs "cause" (in the sense of "force" belief—i.e., cause as a sufficient cause?) belief? Can this statement be reconciled with Alma's statement regarding knowledge and signs which imply "no cause to believe" (Alma 32:18)?
- Hel 15:4: Why would Helaman use the word hate to describe how the Lord felt about the Lamanites, at the time they were wicked? Did the Lord really hate them? Answer: A similar statement in the opening verses of Malachi is usually understood to mean "like less" or "prefer less" rather than "dislike."
- Hel 15:7-8: What is the relationship between a "change of heart" (v. 7, cf. Alma 5:26) and being "firm and steadfast in the faith" (v. 8)?
- Hel 15:10-11: Is the Lord saying that although the Lamanites are righteous now, they will fall away later? When does this happen? He also says that although they are going to sin He is going to prolong their days because He knows that they will once be restored to the knowledge of the truth at the time of the restoration? Have their been other groups of people who have sinned yet their days have been prolonged?
- Hel 16:2: We know that at this time there was also the prophet Nephi working among the people. Why would God have two prophets speak to the same people?
- Hel 16:21: Kept in ignorance. Why are the Lamanites concerned about being kept in ignorance and yielding themselves unto their brethren? When should we trust and when should we distrust others?
- Hel 16:21: For we depend upon them to teach us the word. What is the "word" that the unbelievers are concerned about? Why might these people have depended on those who spoke of Christ to teach them the word?
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- Hel 15:4: Hate. David Bokovoy discuss the meaning of the use of the term hate in his short Insights article, "Love vs. Hate: An Analysis of Helaman 15:1-4.
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