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Alma 13:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapter 13a / Verses 13:1-12
Previous page: Chapter 12                      Next page: Chapter 13b


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 13:13-21 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 is discussed at Alma 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • This page has several subpages that need to be better integrated.
  • Alma 13:1-20: Why talk about the priesthood here? A surface reading of Alma's discourse to the people of Ammonihah might suggest that the first twenty verses of Alma 13 are out of place in a longer call to repentance. What immediately precedes these verses discussing the priesthood presents an invitation to Alma's hearers to repent and so enter into the "rest of God" (see Alma 12:37). What immediately follows these verses presents what might be read as a still stronger invitation to repent (see Alma 13:21), and again with a sense of hope: "for the day of salvation draweth nigh." The similarity of the discussion on repentance before and after these twenty verses emphasizes the dissimilarity of the priesthood discussion in the middle.
So, why a discussion of the priesthood here? The following points are not mutually exclusive.
  • Alma's discussion of the priesthood provides support for his authority as a high priest to call the people of Ammonihah to repentance. Additional support for this reading.
  • Alma's discussion of the priesthood isn't an interruption of his call to repentance but integral to it because it is a discussion of the blessings that come to those who repent. As noted above, Alma invites hearers to repent and enter into the rest of God. These verses suggest that to be ordained to the high priesthood is to enter into the rest of God. Additional support for this reading.
  • Alma 13:1: Cite. Webster's dictionary in 1828 gives as the first definition of cite "To call upon officially, or authoritatively; to summon; to give legal or official notice, as to a defendant to appear in court, to answer or defend." This is about the same as the first definition given today by Merriam Webster (mw). The 4th definition given today by mw "to bring forward or call to another's attention especially as an example, proof, or precedent" might seem the most natural reading of the phrase "I would cite your minds forward to the time ...", but interestingly no similar definition is given in the 1828 version.
  • Alma 13:1: Forward. In English the use of forward in relation to time indicates a temporal movement into the future. So, for example, when one looks forward to dinner one is awaiting the dinner that hasn't happened yet. "In Hebrew, the past is often described using words that mean "front" or "before." For example, qedem means both "in front" and "aforetime." This word also means "eastward"—since the sun comes from the east, the intertemporal connotation of facing east seems to be looking to the beginning or origin of time. See also paniym.
  • Alma 13:1: And again. In verse 1 Alma says, "And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children." The "and again" suggests that he has already cited the people's minds to this time. Looking back, we see that he did this in Alma 12:30-32. In that case "the time the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children" refers to the time right after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden when God commanded them "that they should not do evil."
By looking at chapter 13 as an extension of the argument in chapter 12, the "and again" may refer to a second way of answering Antionah's question. (Antionah wonders how it is possible to live forever, since Adam and Eve fell and were blocked from the tree of life. The first answer seems to be that angels will come to teach Adam, Eve, etc. about the plan of redemption (12:29). This makes it possible for men to repent, with the Lord promising that they can "enter into my rest" (12:34). This is one way in which God opens a way into immortality and eternal life, despite the fall and the guarded Tree of Life.) The "and again" in 13:1 may be seen as beginning a second answer to Antionah's question. After God used angels to teach men about the plan, he called holy men to teach the people instead of angels (13:1). They taught and were even ordained in such a manner that the people could know how to look for redemption. And, "there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God" (13:12).
  • Alma 13:1: Cite your minds forward. This phrase has often confused readers of the Book of Mormon because in it Alma appears to invite his listeners to move forward to the past. The problem is all the more difficult because Alma goes on in the second verse to use the same word, "forward," to point to something apparently still future. Hence, while it might be suggested that since in the Hebrew idiom the past is in front of one, one moves forward towards the past, such a reading would be inconsistent with the way Alma uses "forward" in verse 2. Some sort of contradiction between the "forward" of verse 1 and the "forward" of verse 2 seems inevitable.
One way around this difficulty is to consider the point of departure for the minds Alma cites to be earlier than the time spoken of in verse 2. If the point of departure is earlier than both events, it makes sense to interpret both forwards in the same way. In fact, such a reading is plausible if we look back to the question that Alma is answering. Remember, at this point Alma is answering a question posed by Antionah in Alma 12:20-21 about how there can be a resurrection if God placing an angel to guard the tree of life. Alma already began answering Antionah's question by telling us that "after God had appointed that these things should come unto man [that man must die and be judged]" (Alma 12:28) God had sent angels unto man and conversed with man and told him about the plan of redemption and gave man a second set of commandments. The act of guarding the tree of life with an angel is the same as appointing unto man that he must die. So we see Alma answering Antionah's question by citing our minds forward in verse 28 from the time Antionah asked about to the time God gives man a second set of commandments. Then, in the last two verses of chapter 12, Alma takes the opportunity to appeal to the people to not harden their hearts and die spiritually but rather to repent and enter into God's rest. But Alma wants to tell the people about some other important things that happened at the same time God gave these second commndments. So, in this interpretation, Alma again cites the listeners mind forward from the time God placed a flaming sword to guard the tree to the time of these second commandments.
  • Alma 13:1: Lord God. In this first verse we are told that the Lord God ordained priests "after the order of his Son." This suggests that the "Lord God" refers to the Father. This is consistent with how "God" is used at the end of Alma 12. Especially in verse 33 it seems that God refers to the Father since he explicitly talks about his "Only Begotten Son."
  • Alma 13:1: These commandments. As noted above "these commandments" refers to the second commandments after Adam and Eve's transgression. See Alma 12:32 and accompanying exegesis.
  • Alma 13:1: Priests. It isn't clear what office in the priesthood today would correspond with what Alma calls priests here. Though in this verse Alma calls them priests, other verses tell us that these priests are ordained to a higher priesthod. Verse 6 tells us that they were ordained to the "high priesthood of the holy order of God." Alma 13:9 says they become high priests. Verse 14 gives Melchizedek as an example of one of these High Priests. This may suggest that by priest in verse 1 Alma means what we would call Elders or High Priests today. Another interpretation is that the ordination spoken of here corresponds to receiving temple ordinances.
  • Alma 13:1: Priests to teach these things. "These things" refers back to the commandments given (see 'These commandments' above). The fact that the priests are ordained to teach is an interesting departure from the picture that the Old Testament presents of the Levitical system of priests, where their primary function was to offer sacrifices. Even the mention of Melchizedek in verse 15 describes him as one who did "preach repentance." This may reflect a difference in the purpose from the Levitical priesthood and the higher priesthood spoken of here (see 'Priests' above). It may also reflect an earlier understanding of priesthood than that contained in our modern Bible, which was compiled into its present form long after Lehi left Jerusalem. In that case, this Book of Mormon account can be seen as the restoration of "plain and precious" teachings about the priesthood that didn't make it into later biblical scriptures.
  • Alma 13:2. This verse tells us that the manner of priesthood ordination can be used to help people know how to look forward to Christ for redemption. Consider three ways the manner of ordination may have helped people know how to look forward to Christ for redemption:
It may be that the ordination process included signs that would help people understand how Jesus Christ would be nailed to the cross. This would then be a way for them to identify Christ and his wounds when he appeared after the resurrection (3 Ne 11:14-15).
It may be that Alma is trying to help the people understand how they can receive redemption from their sins despite the fact that Christ hadn't yet suffered for those sins. Under this view, Alma is saying that to understand how they could receive redemption before Christ suffered for their sins, they can look to the priesthood as a type or shadow. In like manner priests are called and prepared from the foundation of the world to their calling, so Christ was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem his people. In both cases the plans were made at the foundation of the world based on choices that God, through his foreknowledge, knew would take place (see verse 5).
The "manners" that are being compared here may be the actions one goes through in order to qualify for what is given. Perhaps Alma is saying that the process of qualifying for priesthood ordination is the same as the process of qualifying for redemption--as outlined in verse 3.
  • Alma 13:3. This verse could be interpreted in different ways. Some possibilities are:
  • These priests were called and prepared in the pre-existence because of their faith and good works in this life according to the foreknowledge of God.
  • These priests were prepared in the pre-existince because of their faith and good works in this life (according to the foreknowledge of God) and then called in this life after having been left to choose good or evil and then having chosen good and exercised faith.
  • Alma 13:3: Preparatory redemption. The very phrase, "preparatory redemption," seems to be paradoxical: a redemption implies some sort of completion, while preparatoriness implies a lack of completion. In other words, a "preparatory redemption" would be a completion that is marked with incompletion because it points towards another completion still to come. The word "preparatory" even hints that eventual completion will be of the same general character as the incomplete completion of the present: this redemption is to give way to a fuller, more real redemption eventually. But as soon as the issue is phrased this way, the difficulty disappears, or at least becomes part of a broader scriptural theme: redemption is always granted first in a preparatory manner and eventually in a complete manner. Perhaps the clearest parallel to Alma's phrase here is Paul's word to the Ephesians: "ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" (see Eph 1:13-14). Paul speaks to the saints of having received a redemption of sorts, but one that is ultimately preparatory, separated from its eventual fulfillment ("redemption") by a promise, by hope.
This gap between two redemptions (the one promising or pointing towards the other) might well be read in terms of ritual as well: ordinances are dramatic enactments of a redemption still to come. Every ordinance might well be called a "preparatory redemption" in the same sense discussed immediately above. That some sort of ordinance--some sort of dramatic enactment of one's redemption--is what Alma might be talking about is further suggested (and greatly strengthened) by the fact that this "preparatory redemption" is there described as the that according to which and with which a "holy calling" was prepared. The implication seems to be that Alma is speaking of an ordinance that at once dramatically embodies one's redemption and issues a "holy calling" to the participant. What Latter-day Saints call the endowment might not be far from Alma's mind.
  • Alma 13:5: Same standing. Alma tells us that these priests were in the first place on the same standing with their brethren. We might wonder how they could be on the same standing as their brethren "in the first place" if they were called from the foundation of the world to a holy calling. If we interpret verse 3 as suggesting that the actual calling doesn't take place until this life, then the "same standing" could refer to the fact that none of them had yet been called. Another possibility is that this "same standing" refers to the time before they were called in the pre-existence. Finally, it could be that this same standing is not a specific time but a logical precedence. God through his foreknowledge knows who will do what and therefore who to call, but logically all are on the same standing as all could choose to do good. For all these interpretations, Alma's point seems to be that everyone was on equal footing to receive this calling.
  • Alma 13:6. Verse 6 ends by saying that the high priests teach the children of men "that they also might enter into his rest." There are three apparent questions: 1) who does "they" refer to, 2) what does it mean to enter into the rest of the Lord, and 3) what is the significance of the also?
  1. It seems "they" refers to the children of men that the high priests teach.
  2. Heb 4:10 gives us one definition of entering into the rest of the Lord. Of course, it may be that this phrase is used differently in different parts of the scriptures. Verse 12 suggests that being made pure is necessary to entering into the Lord's rest.
  3. The also here can be read to suggest that the high priests entered into his rest at the time they were preaching. Verse 12 suggests that many, but possibly not all, of the high priests Alma is speaking of did enter into the rest of the Lord at some point. The scriptures don't tell us whether that happened in this life or the next. Both seem compatible with the text in verse 12.
While it might be impossible to know what the original word was that is translated in vs. 9 as "grace", the original Hebrew "chen" signifies favour or grace, and is translated in the Greek NT as "charis"--that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, and charm or goodwill, loving kindness, favour. It is a noun that comes from the Greek verb "chairo"--to rejoice, be glad. So grace is tied to rejoicing, granting favors, and affording pleasure and delight. We grow from grace to grace when we cause God to rejoice by our bestowing favor and loving kindness on others, with ever growing abilities to create greater and greater joy.
One who is full of this grace or charis is charismatic, and we respond to them by giving grace for grace.
  • Alma 13:9. Verse 9 states "they become high priests forever." This point signifies the seriousness of the commitment. Being a high priest is not a temporary appointment. Anyone, then, who receives this ordination ought to realize the eternal nature of covenant.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13: Concerning the priesthood here in general. The priesthood seems to have come a long way since Mosiah 18:18. How have these developments come about, and what is their significance? What, especially, is the significance of the dissolution of the monarchy and its associated royal priesthood? How does the royal priesthood play into the understanding Alma here offers of the priesthood?
  • Alma 13:3: Alma tells us that those called have "chosen good." Is this a reference to good choices in pre-mortality or is this good choices in mortality known to God through his foreknowledge?
  • Alma 13:3: Alma states that men are called as high priests because of their "exceeding faith and good works." Are the criteria for calling high priests the same today?
  • Alma 13:3: Foundation of the world. Is this an event or an era?
  • Alma 13:3: Called and prepared. Is this synonymous with our idea that "whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies"? Or is this verse saying people were foreordained to priesthood leadership callings because they had earned and deserved those positions, and not because they needed them for personal growth?
  • Alma 13:3: Verse 13:3: After which. Why doesn't this verse use the more-common prepositional phrase "in which" instead? Is this particular wording a way to signal an activity that allows humans to become more like God?
  • Alma 13:3: Being left. When did the Lord abandon us so that we could exercise our agency?
  • Alma 13:3: Exceeding faith. Who else besides prophets is described with this phrase in the scriptures? Do Moro 10:11 and 1 Tim 1:14 suggest this quality is a gift of God's grace? Or is this quality something that is earned through diligent good works? Do 2 Cor 5:7 and Alma 32:34 teach that faith should not have been necessary for us when we lived in God's presence during the premortal existence?
  • Alma 13:3: Holy calling which was prepared. Should we read this verse as applying to everyone person sent to this planet, because of what is said in verses such as 1 Ne 10:18 and 1 Ne 3:7?
  • Alma 13:3: Preparatory. Do Alma 12:26 and Alma 42:10, 13 suggest that this word is used to describe the time of our mortal probation in the second estate?
  • Alma 13:6: What are we to make of the end of verse 6 "that they also might enter into his rest"? (see exegesis)
  • Alma 13:6: Verse 6 makes it clear that this is a discussion of the "high" or Melchizedek Priesthood as opposed to the lower or Aaronic priesthood. Since the temple in Jerusalem during Lehi's time was being run by Aaronic priest, how did the descendents of Lehi get the Melchizedek Priesthood?
  • Alma 13:7: In verse 7 Alma says "according to his foreknowledge of all things." What do these verses tell us about the foreknowledge of God?
  • Alma 13:7: How is the priesthood related to "the holy order of God"?
  • Alma 13:9: In vs. 9 re read the familiar phrase about being "full of grace, equity, and truth". In this case it is referring to "the Only Begotten of the Father". Since we read elsewhere that Christ grew from grace to grace, what are we to make of the claim in vs. 9 that the Only Begotten of the Father is without beginning of days or end of years? Does this tell us anything useful about the nature of grace or how it might be obtained?
  • Alma 13:10: What does vs. 10 tell us about the importance of the priesthood service as part of the gospel? In this section we read about faith and repentance leading to ordination and priesthood service--so that we can follow Christ. Can we follow Christ without the priesthood? For truly sanctifying service, do we need the priesthood in order to follow "after the order of the Son" (vs.9)?
  • Alma 13:10-12: To what degree is priesthood service a precondition for sanctification? Is this how we yield our hearts unto God (see Hel 3:35)?

Resources[edit]

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  • For an explanation of Hebrew versus Greek thought, including the Hebrew thought on time noted in the lexical notes, see pages 146-147 in Appendix 2, Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions Faulconer, J.E. (1999).
  • See also this page which records some notes from James Faulconer posted on the LDS-Phil listserv regarding Hebrew versus Greek time. These ideas seem to be largely based on Thorlief Borman's book, Hebrew Thought Compared to Greek. Note in particular Faulconer's claim, "Interestingly, when Hebrew does correlate seeing to time, it speaks of the past as before and the future behind. [Footnote: This seems to explain the odd wording of Alma 13.1. . . ."
  • See a short but incredible look at a possible transcription error (on Mormon's part--not Joseph's) in Alma 13 written by Grant Hardy (JBMS).

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 12                      Next page: Chapter 13b

Alma 13:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapter 13a / Verses 13:1-12
Previous page: Chapter 12                      Next page: Chapter 13b


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 13:13-21 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 is discussed at Alma 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • This page has several subpages that need to be better integrated.
  • Alma 13:1-20: Why talk about the priesthood here? A surface reading of Alma's discourse to the people of Ammonihah might suggest that the first twenty verses of Alma 13 are out of place in a longer call to repentance. What immediately precedes these verses discussing the priesthood presents an invitation to Alma's hearers to repent and so enter into the "rest of God" (see Alma 12:37). What immediately follows these verses presents what might be read as a still stronger invitation to repent (see Alma 13:21), and again with a sense of hope: "for the day of salvation draweth nigh." The similarity of the discussion on repentance before and after these twenty verses emphasizes the dissimilarity of the priesthood discussion in the middle.
So, why a discussion of the priesthood here? The following points are not mutually exclusive.
  • Alma's discussion of the priesthood provides support for his authority as a high priest to call the people of Ammonihah to repentance. Additional support for this reading.
  • Alma's discussion of the priesthood isn't an interruption of his call to repentance but integral to it because it is a discussion of the blessings that come to those who repent. As noted above, Alma invites hearers to repent and enter into the rest of God. These verses suggest that to be ordained to the high priesthood is to enter into the rest of God. Additional support for this reading.
  • Alma 13:1: Cite. Webster's dictionary in 1828 gives as the first definition of cite "To call upon officially, or authoritatively; to summon; to give legal or official notice, as to a defendant to appear in court, to answer or defend." This is about the same as the first definition given today by Merriam Webster (mw). The 4th definition given today by mw "to bring forward or call to another's attention especially as an example, proof, or precedent" might seem the most natural reading of the phrase "I would cite your minds forward to the time ...", but interestingly no similar definition is given in the 1828 version.
  • Alma 13:1: Forward. In English the use of forward in relation to time indicates a temporal movement into the future. So, for example, when one looks forward to dinner one is awaiting the dinner that hasn't happened yet. "In Hebrew, the past is often described using words that mean "front" or "before." For example, qedem means both "in front" and "aforetime." This word also means "eastward"—since the sun comes from the east, the intertemporal connotation of facing east seems to be looking to the beginning or origin of time. See also paniym.
  • Alma 13:1: And again. In verse 1 Alma says, "And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children." The "and again" suggests that he has already cited the people's minds to this time. Looking back, we see that he did this in Alma 12:30-32. In that case "the time the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children" refers to the time right after Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden when God commanded them "that they should not do evil."
By looking at chapter 13 as an extension of the argument in chapter 12, the "and again" may refer to a second way of answering Antionah's question. (Antionah wonders how it is possible to live forever, since Adam and Eve fell and were blocked from the tree of life. The first answer seems to be that angels will come to teach Adam, Eve, etc. about the plan of redemption (12:29). This makes it possible for men to repent, with the Lord promising that they can "enter into my rest" (12:34). This is one way in which God opens a way into immortality and eternal life, despite the fall and the guarded Tree of Life.) The "and again" in 13:1 may be seen as beginning a second answer to Antionah's question. After God used angels to teach men about the plan, he called holy men to teach the people instead of angels (13:1). They taught and were even ordained in such a manner that the people could know how to look for redemption. And, "there were many, exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God" (13:12).
  • Alma 13:1: Cite your minds forward. This phrase has often confused readers of the Book of Mormon because in it Alma appears to invite his listeners to move forward to the past. The problem is all the more difficult because Alma goes on in the second verse to use the same word, "forward," to point to something apparently still future. Hence, while it might be suggested that since in the Hebrew idiom the past is in front of one, one moves forward towards the past, such a reading would be inconsistent with the way Alma uses "forward" in verse 2. Some sort of contradiction between the "forward" of verse 1 and the "forward" of verse 2 seems inevitable.
One way around this difficulty is to consider the point of departure for the minds Alma cites to be earlier than the time spoken of in verse 2. If the point of departure is earlier than both events, it makes sense to interpret both forwards in the same way. In fact, such a reading is plausible if we look back to the question that Alma is answering. Remember, at this point Alma is answering a question posed by Antionah in Alma 12:20-21 about how there can be a resurrection if God placing an angel to guard the tree of life. Alma already began answering Antionah's question by telling us that "after God had appointed that these things should come unto man [that man must die and be judged]" (Alma 12:28) God had sent angels unto man and conversed with man and told him about the plan of redemption and gave man a second set of commandments. The act of guarding the tree of life with an angel is the same as appointing unto man that he must die. So we see Alma answering Antionah's question by citing our minds forward in verse 28 from the time Antionah asked about to the time God gives man a second set of commandments. Then, in the last two verses of chapter 12, Alma takes the opportunity to appeal to the people to not harden their hearts and die spiritually but rather to repent and enter into God's rest. But Alma wants to tell the people about some other important things that happened at the same time God gave these second commndments. So, in this interpretation, Alma again cites the listeners mind forward from the time God placed a flaming sword to guard the tree to the time of these second commandments.
  • Alma 13:1: Lord God. In this first verse we are told that the Lord God ordained priests "after the order of his Son." This suggests that the "Lord God" refers to the Father. This is consistent with how "God" is used at the end of Alma 12. Especially in verse 33 it seems that God refers to the Father since he explicitly talks about his "Only Begotten Son."
  • Alma 13:1: These commandments. As noted above "these commandments" refers to the second commandments after Adam and Eve's transgression. See Alma 12:32 and accompanying exegesis.
  • Alma 13:1: Priests. It isn't clear what office in the priesthood today would correspond with what Alma calls priests here. Though in this verse Alma calls them priests, other verses tell us that these priests are ordained to a higher priesthod. Verse 6 tells us that they were ordained to the "high priesthood of the holy order of God." Alma 13:9 says they become high priests. Verse 14 gives Melchizedek as an example of one of these High Priests. This may suggest that by priest in verse 1 Alma means what we would call Elders or High Priests today. Another interpretation is that the ordination spoken of here corresponds to receiving temple ordinances.
  • Alma 13:1: Priests to teach these things. "These things" refers back to the commandments given (see 'These commandments' above). The fact that the priests are ordained to teach is an interesting departure from the picture that the Old Testament presents of the Levitical system of priests, where their primary function was to offer sacrifices. Even the mention of Melchizedek in verse 15 describes him as one who did "preach repentance." This may reflect a difference in the purpose from the Levitical priesthood and the higher priesthood spoken of here (see 'Priests' above). It may also reflect an earlier understanding of priesthood than that contained in our modern Bible, which was compiled into its present form long after Lehi left Jerusalem. In that case, this Book of Mormon account can be seen as the restoration of "plain and precious" teachings about the priesthood that didn't make it into later biblical scriptures.
  • Alma 13:2. This verse tells us that the manner of priesthood ordination can be used to help people know how to look forward to Christ for redemption. Consider three ways the manner of ordination may have helped people know how to look forward to Christ for redemption:
It may be that the ordination process included signs that would help people understand how Jesus Christ would be nailed to the cross. This would then be a way for them to identify Christ and his wounds when he appeared after the resurrection (3 Ne 11:14-15).
It may be that Alma is trying to help the people understand how they can receive redemption from their sins despite the fact that Christ hadn't yet suffered for those sins. Under this view, Alma is saying that to understand how they could receive redemption before Christ suffered for their sins, they can look to the priesthood as a type or shadow. In like manner priests are called and prepared from the foundation of the world to their calling, so Christ was prepared from the foundation of the world to redeem his people. In both cases the plans were made at the foundation of the world based on choices that God, through his foreknowledge, knew would take place (see verse 5).
The "manners" that are being compared here may be the actions one goes through in order to qualify for what is given. Perhaps Alma is saying that the process of qualifying for priesthood ordination is the same as the process of qualifying for redemption--as outlined in verse 3.
  • Alma 13:3. This verse could be interpreted in different ways. Some possibilities are:
  • These priests were called and prepared in the pre-existence because of their faith and good works in this life according to the foreknowledge of God.
  • These priests were prepared in the pre-existince because of their faith and good works in this life (according to the foreknowledge of God) and then called in this life after having been left to choose good or evil and then having chosen good and exercised faith.
  • Alma 13:3: Preparatory redemption. The very phrase, "preparatory redemption," seems to be paradoxical: a redemption implies some sort of completion, while preparatoriness implies a lack of completion. In other words, a "preparatory redemption" would be a completion that is marked with incompletion because it points towards another completion still to come. The word "preparatory" even hints that eventual completion will be of the same general character as the incomplete completion of the present: this redemption is to give way to a fuller, more real redemption eventually. But as soon as the issue is phrased this way, the difficulty disappears, or at least becomes part of a broader scriptural theme: redemption is always granted first in a preparatory manner and eventually in a complete manner. Perhaps the clearest parallel to Alma's phrase here is Paul's word to the Ephesians: "ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession" (see Eph 1:13-14). Paul speaks to the saints of having received a redemption of sorts, but one that is ultimately preparatory, separated from its eventual fulfillment ("redemption") by a promise, by hope.
This gap between two redemptions (the one promising or pointing towards the other) might well be read in terms of ritual as well: ordinances are dramatic enactments of a redemption still to come. Every ordinance might well be called a "preparatory redemption" in the same sense discussed immediately above. That some sort of ordinance--some sort of dramatic enactment of one's redemption--is what Alma might be talking about is further suggested (and greatly strengthened) by the fact that this "preparatory redemption" is there described as the that according to which and with which a "holy calling" was prepared. The implication seems to be that Alma is speaking of an ordinance that at once dramatically embodies one's redemption and issues a "holy calling" to the participant. What Latter-day Saints call the endowment might not be far from Alma's mind.
  • Alma 13:5: Same standing. Alma tells us that these priests were in the first place on the same standing with their brethren. We might wonder how they could be on the same standing as their brethren "in the first place" if they were called from the foundation of the world to a holy calling. If we interpret verse 3 as suggesting that the actual calling doesn't take place until this life, then the "same standing" could refer to the fact that none of them had yet been called. Another possibility is that this "same standing" refers to the time before they were called in the pre-existence. Finally, it could be that this same standing is not a specific time but a logical precedence. God through his foreknowledge knows who will do what and therefore who to call, but logically all are on the same standing as all could choose to do good. For all these interpretations, Alma's point seems to be that everyone was on equal footing to receive this calling.
  • Alma 13:6. Verse 6 ends by saying that the high priests teach the children of men "that they also might enter into his rest." There are three apparent questions: 1) who does "they" refer to, 2) what does it mean to enter into the rest of the Lord, and 3) what is the significance of the also?
  1. It seems "they" refers to the children of men that the high priests teach.
  2. Heb 4:10 gives us one definition of entering into the rest of the Lord. Of course, it may be that this phrase is used differently in different parts of the scriptures. Verse 12 suggests that being made pure is necessary to entering into the Lord's rest.
  3. The also here can be read to suggest that the high priests entered into his rest at the time they were preaching. Verse 12 suggests that many, but possibly not all, of the high priests Alma is speaking of did enter into the rest of the Lord at some point. The scriptures don't tell us whether that happened in this life or the next. Both seem compatible with the text in verse 12.
While it might be impossible to know what the original word was that is translated in vs. 9 as "grace", the original Hebrew "chen" signifies favour or grace, and is translated in the Greek NT as "charis"--that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, and charm or goodwill, loving kindness, favour. It is a noun that comes from the Greek verb "chairo"--to rejoice, be glad. So grace is tied to rejoicing, granting favors, and affording pleasure and delight. We grow from grace to grace when we cause God to rejoice by our bestowing favor and loving kindness on others, with ever growing abilities to create greater and greater joy.
One who is full of this grace or charis is charismatic, and we respond to them by giving grace for grace.
  • Alma 13:9. Verse 9 states "they become high priests forever." This point signifies the seriousness of the commitment. Being a high priest is not a temporary appointment. Anyone, then, who receives this ordination ought to realize the eternal nature of covenant.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13: Concerning the priesthood here in general. The priesthood seems to have come a long way since Mosiah 18:18. How have these developments come about, and what is their significance? What, especially, is the significance of the dissolution of the monarchy and its associated royal priesthood? How does the royal priesthood play into the understanding Alma here offers of the priesthood?
  • Alma 13:3: Alma tells us that those called have "chosen good." Is this a reference to good choices in pre-mortality or is this good choices in mortality known to God through his foreknowledge?
  • Alma 13:3: Alma states that men are called as high priests because of their "exceeding faith and good works." Are the criteria for calling high priests the same today?
  • Alma 13:3: Foundation of the world. Is this an event or an era?
  • Alma 13:3: Called and prepared. Is this synonymous with our idea that "whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies"? Or is this verse saying people were foreordained to priesthood leadership callings because they had earned and deserved those positions, and not because they needed them for personal growth?
  • Alma 13:3: Verse 13:3: After which. Why doesn't this verse use the more-common prepositional phrase "in which" instead? Is this particular wording a way to signal an activity that allows humans to become more like God?
  • Alma 13:3: Being left. When did the Lord abandon us so that we could exercise our agency?
  • Alma 13:3: Exceeding faith. Who else besides prophets is described with this phrase in the scriptures? Do Moro 10:11 and 1 Tim 1:14 suggest this quality is a gift of God's grace? Or is this quality something that is earned through diligent good works? Do 2 Cor 5:7 and Alma 32:34 teach that faith should not have been necessary for us when we lived in God's presence during the premortal existence?
  • Alma 13:3: Holy calling which was prepared. Should we read this verse as applying to everyone person sent to this planet, because of what is said in verses such as 1 Ne 10:18 and 1 Ne 3:7?
  • Alma 13:3: Preparatory. Do Alma 12:26 and Alma 42:10, 13 suggest that this word is used to describe the time of our mortal probation in the second estate?
  • Alma 13:6: What are we to make of the end of verse 6 "that they also might enter into his rest"? (see exegesis)
  • Alma 13:6: Verse 6 makes it clear that this is a discussion of the "high" or Melchizedek Priesthood as opposed to the lower or Aaronic priesthood. Since the temple in Jerusalem during Lehi's time was being run by Aaronic priest, how did the descendents of Lehi get the Melchizedek Priesthood?
  • Alma 13:7: In verse 7 Alma says "according to his foreknowledge of all things." What do these verses tell us about the foreknowledge of God?
  • Alma 13:7: How is the priesthood related to "the holy order of God"?
  • Alma 13:9: In vs. 9 re read the familiar phrase about being "full of grace, equity, and truth". In this case it is referring to "the Only Begotten of the Father". Since we read elsewhere that Christ grew from grace to grace, what are we to make of the claim in vs. 9 that the Only Begotten of the Father is without beginning of days or end of years? Does this tell us anything useful about the nature of grace or how it might be obtained?
  • Alma 13:10: What does vs. 10 tell us about the importance of the priesthood service as part of the gospel? In this section we read about faith and repentance leading to ordination and priesthood service--so that we can follow Christ. Can we follow Christ without the priesthood? For truly sanctifying service, do we need the priesthood in order to follow "after the order of the Son" (vs.9)?
  • Alma 13:10-12: To what degree is priesthood service a precondition for sanctification? Is this how we yield our hearts unto God (see Hel 3:35)?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • For an explanation of Hebrew versus Greek thought, including the Hebrew thought on time noted in the lexical notes, see pages 146-147 in Appendix 2, Scripture Study: Tools and Suggestions Faulconer, J.E. (1999).
  • See also this page which records some notes from James Faulconer posted on the LDS-Phil listserv regarding Hebrew versus Greek time. These ideas seem to be largely based on Thorlief Borman's book, Hebrew Thought Compared to Greek. Note in particular Faulconer's claim, "Interestingly, when Hebrew does correlate seeing to time, it speaks of the past as before and the future behind. [Footnote: This seems to explain the odd wording of Alma 13.1. . . ."
  • See a short but incredible look at a possible transcription error (on Mormon's part--not Joseph's) in Alma 13 written by Grant Hardy (JBMS).

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 12                      Next page: Chapter 13b

Alma 13:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapter 13b / Verses 13:13-31
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Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 13:13-21 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 is discussed at Alma 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. This verse may be misplaced: Rather than following from the discussion of Melchizedek, Abraham and tithing in verses 14 and 15, it seems to fit quite naturally into the discussion of the ordinance of ordination to the priesthood, and the relationship of that ordinance to the Atonement, in verses 8-12. In fact, verse 16 follows quite naturally from verse 12, which speaks about how those who were ordained enter into the Lord's rest, and leads quite well into verse 13, which exhorts the hearer to prepare personally to enter into the Lord's rest, by describing how the ordinance served as a sign to the people of the direction to look to in order to enter into the Lord's rest.
  • Alma 13:21-25: The coming of the Lord. In verse 21 Alma stretches forth his hand and tells the people that the day of salvation is drawing nigh. Verses 22 tells us that angels are declaring this unto all the Lord's people, even those scattered abroad--including the Nephites. Verse 24 tells us that angels are telling many people in the land of the Nephites these glad tidings to prepare their hearts to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. Specifically those phrases noted in italics suggest that the coming of the Lord spoken of here is not Christ's birth. Jesus's coming in glory would be in contrast to his humble birth. This explains why it is that Alma says they do not know how soon the Lord will come (in verse 25). (Were Alma speaking of Christ's birth, this statement would seem odd since it would be unlikely that Alma would have been unaware of Lehi's prophecy that Christ would be born in 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Ne 10:4). Though it could be that he knew of the prophecy but didn't assume that it was to be interpretted as an exact count of the years.)
It seems that Alma is speaking of the time that Jesus would come to visit the righteous Nephites and Lamanites (see 3 Ne 11). Alternatively we might assume that Alma is speaking here of the second coming. In favor of the former, the fact that the scriptures specifically notes that angels are visiting many people preparing their hearts for this coming suggests the sooner event when Christs visits in 3 Ne 11. On the other hand, the phrase day of salvation though it could be applied to Christ's visit seems to suggest the alternative interpretation.
  • Alma 13:23. In the preceding verses Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that now is the time to repent and that the day of salvation draweth nigh. In this verse Alma links the fact that his people receive this news of salvation "in plain terms" with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. He goes on to also link their being wanderers in a strange land to that the fact that this news of salvation is declared in all parts of their land (by angels according to verse 24).
Alma's point seems to be that the Lord has chosen to be more clear and straightforward with wanderers in a strange land than he has with those in Jerusalem.
When we compare what the the Book of Mormon says about Christ before he came to earth with what the Old Testament says about Christ, we see that the Book of Mormon is much more clear. In other places the scriptures give one reason for that difference: that many plain and precious parts have been lost from the Bible. This verse suggests an additional reason: God chose to reveal more frequently and plainly the coming role of Christ with the Nephites than he did with those around Jerusalem because the Nephites were wanderers in a strange land.
See discussion also of 2 Ne 25:4.
  • Alma 13:28. Verse 28 has a comma after the phrase "watch and pray continually." With the comma this means that by watching and praying continually we can avoid being tempted above what we can bear. We might also read this verse without the comma. In that case this section of the verse would mean that we should pray continually that we will not be tempted more than we can bear. The change in meaning is only slightly different in both cases.
  • Alma 13:31. One wonders whether the "many more words" that "are not written in this book" might have included more hortatory discourse and less theological content. At any rate, Alma's full discourse seems to have driven the people to repentance, and there may be reason to suspect that more "practical" content has been overlooked in the abridgement. Of course, one must then ask why Mormon chose to cut what he cut.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:20: Alma finishes this 20 verse tangent about the Melchizedek Priesthood by saying, "I don't need to tell you about this, you have the scriptures." The same could have been said for the previous 19 verses. Why does he go on this tangent? It seems to come out of nowhere and it lacks a pertinent conclusion. He briefly makes a connection to his audience in v13-14, but not one that would justify the amount of detail about the ancient Priesthood that he gives. His transition in v21 is abrupt. Why did Alma speak about the ancient order at all?
  • Alma 13:20: Why does he warn them about wresting the scriptures?
  • Alma 13:22: At the beginning of this verse Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that "now is the time to repent for the day of salvation draweth nigh." Later in this verse he says "he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people." Does "all his people" and "all nations" refer to the same groups? If so, do both refer to every people in the world? Or just the house of Israel?
  • Alma 13:23: Alma links the fact his people are made aware in plain terms that the day of salvation is nigh with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. (See exegesis.) Why would the Lord choose to be more plain with wanderers in a strange land?
  • Alma 13:24: Alma says that angels were visiting "many" people. What does this suggest about our own time? Are angels visiting many of our people? If not, why not?
  • Alma 13:25: Alma says that he doesn't know when Christ will come (or even if he'll be alive to see His coming), but Nephi already prophesied that it would be 600 years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem. Did Alma not know about the 600-year prophesy?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. Craig A. Cardon, "Moving Closer to Him," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 94–96. Elder Cardon states: "When a man is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, he enters into an 'order' by which he may be refined through service to others, especially his own family, and blessed by the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1986 General Conference address “God Will Yet Reveal,” (Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52). There Elder Maxwell says "Therefore, the process of revelation typically involves angels and prophets (see Alma 12:28–29)."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.'s 1979 General Conference address Follow Christ to Victory" (Hartman Rector, Jr., Ensign, May 1979, 30). Elder Rector says "If you pray for a revelation from the Lord, he will probably send you your bishop with the answer. You really don’t need a visit from an angel so long as you have a bishop."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5

Alma 13:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapter 13b / Verses 13:13-31
Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 13:13-21 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 is discussed at Alma 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. This verse may be misplaced: Rather than following from the discussion of Melchizedek, Abraham and tithing in verses 14 and 15, it seems to fit quite naturally into the discussion of the ordinance of ordination to the priesthood, and the relationship of that ordinance to the Atonement, in verses 8-12. In fact, verse 16 follows quite naturally from verse 12, which speaks about how those who were ordained enter into the Lord's rest, and leads quite well into verse 13, which exhorts the hearer to prepare personally to enter into the Lord's rest, by describing how the ordinance served as a sign to the people of the direction to look to in order to enter into the Lord's rest.
  • Alma 13:21-25: The coming of the Lord. In verse 21 Alma stretches forth his hand and tells the people that the day of salvation is drawing nigh. Verses 22 tells us that angels are declaring this unto all the Lord's people, even those scattered abroad--including the Nephites. Verse 24 tells us that angels are telling many people in the land of the Nephites these glad tidings to prepare their hearts to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. Specifically those phrases noted in italics suggest that the coming of the Lord spoken of here is not Christ's birth. Jesus's coming in glory would be in contrast to his humble birth. This explains why it is that Alma says they do not know how soon the Lord will come (in verse 25). (Were Alma speaking of Christ's birth, this statement would seem odd since it would be unlikely that Alma would have been unaware of Lehi's prophecy that Christ would be born in 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Ne 10:4). Though it could be that he knew of the prophecy but didn't assume that it was to be interpretted as an exact count of the years.)
It seems that Alma is speaking of the time that Jesus would come to visit the righteous Nephites and Lamanites (see 3 Ne 11). Alternatively we might assume that Alma is speaking here of the second coming. In favor of the former, the fact that the scriptures specifically notes that angels are visiting many people preparing their hearts for this coming suggests the sooner event when Christs visits in 3 Ne 11. On the other hand, the phrase day of salvation though it could be applied to Christ's visit seems to suggest the alternative interpretation.
  • Alma 13:23. In the preceding verses Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that now is the time to repent and that the day of salvation draweth nigh. In this verse Alma links the fact that his people receive this news of salvation "in plain terms" with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. He goes on to also link their being wanderers in a strange land to that the fact that this news of salvation is declared in all parts of their land (by angels according to verse 24).
Alma's point seems to be that the Lord has chosen to be more clear and straightforward with wanderers in a strange land than he has with those in Jerusalem.
When we compare what the the Book of Mormon says about Christ before he came to earth with what the Old Testament says about Christ, we see that the Book of Mormon is much more clear. In other places the scriptures give one reason for that difference: that many plain and precious parts have been lost from the Bible. This verse suggests an additional reason: God chose to reveal more frequently and plainly the coming role of Christ with the Nephites than he did with those around Jerusalem because the Nephites were wanderers in a strange land.
See discussion also of 2 Ne 25:4.
  • Alma 13:28. Verse 28 has a comma after the phrase "watch and pray continually." With the comma this means that by watching and praying continually we can avoid being tempted above what we can bear. We might also read this verse without the comma. In that case this section of the verse would mean that we should pray continually that we will not be tempted more than we can bear. The change in meaning is only slightly different in both cases.
  • Alma 13:31. One wonders whether the "many more words" that "are not written in this book" might have included more hortatory discourse and less theological content. At any rate, Alma's full discourse seems to have driven the people to repentance, and there may be reason to suspect that more "practical" content has been overlooked in the abridgement. Of course, one must then ask why Mormon chose to cut what he cut.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:20: Alma finishes this 20 verse tangent about the Melchizedek Priesthood by saying, "I don't need to tell you about this, you have the scriptures." The same could have been said for the previous 19 verses. Why does he go on this tangent? It seems to come out of nowhere and it lacks a pertinent conclusion. He briefly makes a connection to his audience in v13-14, but not one that would justify the amount of detail about the ancient Priesthood that he gives. His transition in v21 is abrupt. Why did Alma speak about the ancient order at all?
  • Alma 13:20: Why does he warn them about wresting the scriptures?
  • Alma 13:22: At the beginning of this verse Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that "now is the time to repent for the day of salvation draweth nigh." Later in this verse he says "he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people." Does "all his people" and "all nations" refer to the same groups? If so, do both refer to every people in the world? Or just the house of Israel?
  • Alma 13:23: Alma links the fact his people are made aware in plain terms that the day of salvation is nigh with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. (See exegesis.) Why would the Lord choose to be more plain with wanderers in a strange land?
  • Alma 13:24: Alma says that angels were visiting "many" people. What does this suggest about our own time? Are angels visiting many of our people? If not, why not?
  • Alma 13:25: Alma says that he doesn't know when Christ will come (or even if he'll be alive to see His coming), but Nephi already prophesied that it would be 600 years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem. Did Alma not know about the 600-year prophesy?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. Craig A. Cardon, "Moving Closer to Him," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 94–96. Elder Cardon states: "When a man is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, he enters into an 'order' by which he may be refined through service to others, especially his own family, and blessed by the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1986 General Conference address “God Will Yet Reveal,” (Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52). There Elder Maxwell says "Therefore, the process of revelation typically involves angels and prophets (see Alma 12:28–29)."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.'s 1979 General Conference address Follow Christ to Victory" (Hartman Rector, Jr., Ensign, May 1979, 30). Elder Rector says "If you pray for a revelation from the Lord, he will probably send you your bishop with the answer. You really don’t need a visit from an angel so long as you have a bishop."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5

Alma 13:21-25

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapter 13b / Verses 13:13-31
Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 13:13-21 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 is discussed at Alma 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. This verse may be misplaced: Rather than following from the discussion of Melchizedek, Abraham and tithing in verses 14 and 15, it seems to fit quite naturally into the discussion of the ordinance of ordination to the priesthood, and the relationship of that ordinance to the Atonement, in verses 8-12. In fact, verse 16 follows quite naturally from verse 12, which speaks about how those who were ordained enter into the Lord's rest, and leads quite well into verse 13, which exhorts the hearer to prepare personally to enter into the Lord's rest, by describing how the ordinance served as a sign to the people of the direction to look to in order to enter into the Lord's rest.
  • Alma 13:21-25: The coming of the Lord. In verse 21 Alma stretches forth his hand and tells the people that the day of salvation is drawing nigh. Verses 22 tells us that angels are declaring this unto all the Lord's people, even those scattered abroad--including the Nephites. Verse 24 tells us that angels are telling many people in the land of the Nephites these glad tidings to prepare their hearts to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. Specifically those phrases noted in italics suggest that the coming of the Lord spoken of here is not Christ's birth. Jesus's coming in glory would be in contrast to his humble birth. This explains why it is that Alma says they do not know how soon the Lord will come (in verse 25). (Were Alma speaking of Christ's birth, this statement would seem odd since it would be unlikely that Alma would have been unaware of Lehi's prophecy that Christ would be born in 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Ne 10:4). Though it could be that he knew of the prophecy but didn't assume that it was to be interpretted as an exact count of the years.)
It seems that Alma is speaking of the time that Jesus would come to visit the righteous Nephites and Lamanites (see 3 Ne 11). Alternatively we might assume that Alma is speaking here of the second coming. In favor of the former, the fact that the scriptures specifically notes that angels are visiting many people preparing their hearts for this coming suggests the sooner event when Christs visits in 3 Ne 11. On the other hand, the phrase day of salvation though it could be applied to Christ's visit seems to suggest the alternative interpretation.
  • Alma 13:23. In the preceding verses Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that now is the time to repent and that the day of salvation draweth nigh. In this verse Alma links the fact that his people receive this news of salvation "in plain terms" with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. He goes on to also link their being wanderers in a strange land to that the fact that this news of salvation is declared in all parts of their land (by angels according to verse 24).
Alma's point seems to be that the Lord has chosen to be more clear and straightforward with wanderers in a strange land than he has with those in Jerusalem.
When we compare what the the Book of Mormon says about Christ before he came to earth with what the Old Testament says about Christ, we see that the Book of Mormon is much more clear. In other places the scriptures give one reason for that difference: that many plain and precious parts have been lost from the Bible. This verse suggests an additional reason: God chose to reveal more frequently and plainly the coming role of Christ with the Nephites than he did with those around Jerusalem because the Nephites were wanderers in a strange land.
See discussion also of 2 Ne 25:4.
  • Alma 13:28. Verse 28 has a comma after the phrase "watch and pray continually." With the comma this means that by watching and praying continually we can avoid being tempted above what we can bear. We might also read this verse without the comma. In that case this section of the verse would mean that we should pray continually that we will not be tempted more than we can bear. The change in meaning is only slightly different in both cases.
  • Alma 13:31. One wonders whether the "many more words" that "are not written in this book" might have included more hortatory discourse and less theological content. At any rate, Alma's full discourse seems to have driven the people to repentance, and there may be reason to suspect that more "practical" content has been overlooked in the abridgement. Of course, one must then ask why Mormon chose to cut what he cut.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:20: Alma finishes this 20 verse tangent about the Melchizedek Priesthood by saying, "I don't need to tell you about this, you have the scriptures." The same could have been said for the previous 19 verses. Why does he go on this tangent? It seems to come out of nowhere and it lacks a pertinent conclusion. He briefly makes a connection to his audience in v13-14, but not one that would justify the amount of detail about the ancient Priesthood that he gives. His transition in v21 is abrupt. Why did Alma speak about the ancient order at all?
  • Alma 13:20: Why does he warn them about wresting the scriptures?
  • Alma 13:22: At the beginning of this verse Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that "now is the time to repent for the day of salvation draweth nigh." Later in this verse he says "he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people." Does "all his people" and "all nations" refer to the same groups? If so, do both refer to every people in the world? Or just the house of Israel?
  • Alma 13:23: Alma links the fact his people are made aware in plain terms that the day of salvation is nigh with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. (See exegesis.) Why would the Lord choose to be more plain with wanderers in a strange land?
  • Alma 13:24: Alma says that angels were visiting "many" people. What does this suggest about our own time? Are angels visiting many of our people? If not, why not?
  • Alma 13:25: Alma says that he doesn't know when Christ will come (or even if he'll be alive to see His coming), but Nephi already prophesied that it would be 600 years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem. Did Alma not know about the 600-year prophesy?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. Craig A. Cardon, "Moving Closer to Him," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 94–96. Elder Cardon states: "When a man is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, he enters into an 'order' by which he may be refined through service to others, especially his own family, and blessed by the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1986 General Conference address “God Will Yet Reveal,” (Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52). There Elder Maxwell says "Therefore, the process of revelation typically involves angels and prophets (see Alma 12:28–29)."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.'s 1979 General Conference address Follow Christ to Victory" (Hartman Rector, Jr., Ensign, May 1979, 30). Elder Rector says "If you pray for a revelation from the Lord, he will probably send you your bishop with the answer. You really don’t need a visit from an angel so long as you have a bishop."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5

Alma 13:26-31

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapter 13b / Verses 13:13-31
Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 13:13-21 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 is discussed at Alma 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. This verse may be misplaced: Rather than following from the discussion of Melchizedek, Abraham and tithing in verses 14 and 15, it seems to fit quite naturally into the discussion of the ordinance of ordination to the priesthood, and the relationship of that ordinance to the Atonement, in verses 8-12. In fact, verse 16 follows quite naturally from verse 12, which speaks about how those who were ordained enter into the Lord's rest, and leads quite well into verse 13, which exhorts the hearer to prepare personally to enter into the Lord's rest, by describing how the ordinance served as a sign to the people of the direction to look to in order to enter into the Lord's rest.
  • Alma 13:21-25: The coming of the Lord. In verse 21 Alma stretches forth his hand and tells the people that the day of salvation is drawing nigh. Verses 22 tells us that angels are declaring this unto all the Lord's people, even those scattered abroad--including the Nephites. Verse 24 tells us that angels are telling many people in the land of the Nephites these glad tidings to prepare their hearts to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory. Specifically those phrases noted in italics suggest that the coming of the Lord spoken of here is not Christ's birth. Jesus's coming in glory would be in contrast to his humble birth. This explains why it is that Alma says they do not know how soon the Lord will come (in verse 25). (Were Alma speaking of Christ's birth, this statement would seem odd since it would be unlikely that Alma would have been unaware of Lehi's prophecy that Christ would be born in 600 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (1 Ne 10:4). Though it could be that he knew of the prophecy but didn't assume that it was to be interpretted as an exact count of the years.)
It seems that Alma is speaking of the time that Jesus would come to visit the righteous Nephites and Lamanites (see 3 Ne 11). Alternatively we might assume that Alma is speaking here of the second coming. In favor of the former, the fact that the scriptures specifically notes that angels are visiting many people preparing their hearts for this coming suggests the sooner event when Christs visits in 3 Ne 11. On the other hand, the phrase day of salvation though it could be applied to Christ's visit seems to suggest the alternative interpretation.
  • Alma 13:23. In the preceding verses Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that now is the time to repent and that the day of salvation draweth nigh. In this verse Alma links the fact that his people receive this news of salvation "in plain terms" with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. He goes on to also link their being wanderers in a strange land to that the fact that this news of salvation is declared in all parts of their land (by angels according to verse 24).
Alma's point seems to be that the Lord has chosen to be more clear and straightforward with wanderers in a strange land than he has with those in Jerusalem.
When we compare what the the Book of Mormon says about Christ before he came to earth with what the Old Testament says about Christ, we see that the Book of Mormon is much more clear. In other places the scriptures give one reason for that difference: that many plain and precious parts have been lost from the Bible. This verse suggests an additional reason: God chose to reveal more frequently and plainly the coming role of Christ with the Nephites than he did with those around Jerusalem because the Nephites were wanderers in a strange land.
See discussion also of 2 Ne 25:4.
  • Alma 13:28. Verse 28 has a comma after the phrase "watch and pray continually." With the comma this means that by watching and praying continually we can avoid being tempted above what we can bear. We might also read this verse without the comma. In that case this section of the verse would mean that we should pray continually that we will not be tempted more than we can bear. The change in meaning is only slightly different in both cases.
  • Alma 13:31. One wonders whether the "many more words" that "are not written in this book" might have included more hortatory discourse and less theological content. At any rate, Alma's full discourse seems to have driven the people to repentance, and there may be reason to suspect that more "practical" content has been overlooked in the abridgement. Of course, one must then ask why Mormon chose to cut what he cut.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:20: Alma finishes this 20 verse tangent about the Melchizedek Priesthood by saying, "I don't need to tell you about this, you have the scriptures." The same could have been said for the previous 19 verses. Why does he go on this tangent? It seems to come out of nowhere and it lacks a pertinent conclusion. He briefly makes a connection to his audience in v13-14, but not one that would justify the amount of detail about the ancient Priesthood that he gives. His transition in v21 is abrupt. Why did Alma speak about the ancient order at all?
  • Alma 13:20: Why does he warn them about wresting the scriptures?
  • Alma 13:22: At the beginning of this verse Alma says that angels declare unto all nations that "now is the time to repent for the day of salvation draweth nigh." Later in this verse he says "he doth sound these glad tidings among all his people." Does "all his people" and "all nations" refer to the same groups? If so, do both refer to every people in the world? Or just the house of Israel?
  • Alma 13:23: Alma links the fact his people are made aware in plain terms that the day of salvation is nigh with the fact that they are wanderers in a strange land. (See exegesis.) Why would the Lord choose to be more plain with wanderers in a strange land?
  • Alma 13:24: Alma says that angels were visiting "many" people. What does this suggest about our own time? Are angels visiting many of our people? If not, why not?
  • Alma 13:25: Alma says that he doesn't know when Christ will come (or even if he'll be alive to see His coming), but Nephi already prophesied that it would be 600 years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem. Did Alma not know about the 600-year prophesy?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 13:16. Craig A. Cardon, "Moving Closer to Him," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 94–96. Elder Cardon states: "When a man is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood, he enters into an 'order' by which he may be refined through service to others, especially his own family, and blessed by the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Neal A. Maxwell's 1986 General Conference address “God Will Yet Reveal,” (Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52). There Elder Maxwell says "Therefore, the process of revelation typically involves angels and prophets (see Alma 12:28–29)."
  • Alma 13:21-25: Angelic visitations. See Elder Hartman Rector, Jr.'s 1979 General Conference address Follow Christ to Victory" (Hartman Rector, Jr., Ensign, May 1979, 30). Elder Rector says "If you pray for a revelation from the Lord, he will probably send you your bishop with the answer. You really don’t need a visit from an angel so long as you have a bishop."

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Verses 13:1-12                      Next page: Verses 14:1-5

Alma 14:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Verses 14:1-5
Previous page: Chapter 13                      Next page: Verses 14:6-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Verses 14:1-5 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Chapter breaks. Alma 14 was part of a much larger "unit" in the original (1830) edition of the Book of Mormon. The story of Alma's preaching at Ammonihah was broken up into the following chapter breaks in that edition:
1830 Chapter VI -- 1981 8:1-32
1830 Chapter VII -- 1981 9:1-34
1830 Chapter VIII -- 1981 10:1-11:46
1830 Chapter IX -- 1981 12:1-13:9
1830 Chapter X -- 1981 13:10-15:19
1830 Chapter XI -- 1981 16:1-21
It might be noted that what is now chapter 14 fell within the largest "chunk" of the Ammonihah story, stretching—somewhat awkwardly—from halfway through Alma's sermon about the high priesthood (13:10) to Alma and Amulek's settling again in Zarahemla (15:18-19). Keeping this in mind, chapter 14 should be read with a close eye on the twenty-two verses that precede it and the whole chapter that follows it. At least two effects of the chapter's being caught up in a larger "unit" deserve mention. First, the narrative reporting the responses of the people in Ammonihah (chapter 14 now) cannot be separated from the last part of Alma's speech in which he discusses Melchizedek and makes his final exhortations (13:10-31 now). Second, the harrowing narrative bringing the action in Ammonihah itself to a close (chapter 14 now) cannot be separated from the narrative that reports the aftermath in Sidom (chapter 15 now).
Also see this discussion of the six accusations in Alma 14:1-5 and the basis for those accusations being prepared in the preceding chapters Here (This should be better integrated).
  • Alma 14:1-3: A preliminary note. Verses 1-3 work systematically through the responses of three distinct groups to Alma's and Amulek's preaching. Verse 1 clearly deals with those who were favorable to Alma's words (note that Amulek is not mentioned in connection with this group; see the commentary for verse 1 below). Verse 2 clearly deals with the majority of the Ammonihahites, those who did not believe in Alma and Amulek (note that Alma and Amulek are, as it were, separated in connection with this group; see the commentary for verse 2 below). Finally, verse 3 deals—perhaps somewhat less clearly but no less definitely—specifically with the lawyers and judges in Ammonihah (note that Alma and Amulek are, as it were, lumped together into a single entity in connection with this group; see the commentary for verse 3 below). It is crucial to keep these three groups distinct through the whole narrative of this chapter.
  • Alma 14:1. The word "scriptures" appears rather frequently in the Book of Mormon. Its earliest appearances (in 1 Ne 19:23 and 2 Ne 4:15) clearly understand the term to refer to the brass plates, but later references are often less determinate. Already in the Book of Jacob (see Jacob 2:23; 4:16; 7:10, 19, 23), the word seems to refer more vaguely to holy writ. In the present narrative, though, the word seems to refer more specifically to the brass plates, since all scriptures referenced in the course of the exchange between Alma and the people are to be found in the Book of Genesis.
This verse originally read "And it came to pass that after he had made an end of speaking . . . ." Joseph Smith himself removed the word "that" when preparing the 1837 edition. The change makes relatively little difference in meaning.
Interestingly, Joseph replaced "he" (in "after he had made an end of speaking") with "Alma" in preparation for the 1837 edition. The printer of the 1837 edition, however, missed the change in the manuscript, and so it has never appeared in a printed edition of the Book of Mormon.
  • Alma 14:1: And it came to pass. Generally, this phrase needs no comment, but it should be noted that it appears with relative infrequence in the preceding chapters (which are devoted mostly to discursive material). That it returns here—and with a vengeance (it appears many, many times in the original of the present chapter)—marks the return to straight narrative.
  • Alma 14:1: After he had made an end of speaking unto the people. The locution "made an end of speaking" is actually quite common in the Book of Mormon, appearing twenty-four times. Though there seems to be little theological significance in the phrase, it is worth noting that its use here is formulaic, linking the sermon-followed-by-a-narrative-report-about-the-people's-response structure of this story up with a whole series of texts elsewhere in the Book of Mormon. Perhaps two such parallel texts deserve specific mention because they bear on the meaning of the present text.
One is to be found in Alma 12:19, where it marks the conclusion of the second of Alma's recorded speeches in Ammonihah (that stretching from Alma 12:3 to Alma 12:18). There, as in the present text, the formula marks the transition from a completed (if not fully reported) sermon to a narrative report of the response of the listeners. These two instances (the present verse and Alma 12:19) in turn stand over against the clear indication of disruption that follows Alma's first recorded speech in Ammonihah: "Now it came to pass that when I, Alma, had spoken these words, behold, the people were wroth with me . . . and sought to lay their hands upon me, that they might cast me into prison" (Alma 9:31-32). In this text, the absence of the formula marks the violent disruption of Alma's sermon. (It may also be of significance that the formula appears in those passages where Mormon is clearly the narrator, but not does not appear in the passage where Alma himself is the narrator and Mormon simply copies over Alma's words.)
The other relevant instance of the formula is to be found in Alma 6:1, where it marks the transition from Alma's sermon in Zarahemla to the narrative concerning the response of his hearers there. This instance is relevant because it forms, with the present verse, a kind of set of bookends for the larger narrative of Alma's preaching circuit (from Alma 5 through Alma 14).
  • Alma 14:1: Many of them. Though "many" sounds hopeful, it should be noted that verse 2 will speak of "the more part" of the people as rejecting the word. From this it is clear that "many" does not mean anything like "a majority of," but something more like "a not insignificant number of."
  • Alma 14:1: Did believe on his words. It is specifically "on his [Alma's] words" that the people who believe believe; Amulek, it would seem, is simply left out of account. It is perhaps this passage before others that raises the question concerning the distinct roles that Alma and Amulek play in Ammonihah. Alma, it would seem, is the one who spurs repentance and change, whose words lead to conversion. But Alma's words seem to have had no such effect until Amulek intervened as a second witness, even if his own words had no real converting power. There is reason, at any rate, to look more closely at the respective roles of the two witnesses against Ammonihah.
  • Alma 14:1: And began to repent. That repentance followed belief is not surprising, but perhaps the verb "began" deserves close attention. Interestingly, the phrase "began to repent" appears several times in the Book of Mormon, but always with a rather distinct sense. In every other instance (see Morm 2:10; Ether 9:34; 11:8; 15:3), it describes the not-entirely-genuine turn to repentance that follows after major destruction in war settings. Here, of course, it refers to no such thing, which seems to make clear that the emphasis is less on either the awful circumstances that lead to repentance or the somewhat disingenuous nature of the repentance undertaken, and more on the fact that the turn to repentance among the believing listeners is a general process of change.
One way of making sense of this would be to suggest that "began" here is the first of a series of hints in verses 1-8 that the events therein recorded took place over a longer period of time. While it is perhaps somewhat natural to read these verses as describing a kind of immediate reaction to Alma's sermon (several personal responses, a quick but failed plot, and a trial that—within a day's time—results in holocaust and imprisonment), such hints may suggest that there is a longer sequence of conversion, a slow development of underhanded plots, and only eventually a trial and associated violence.
On this point, it should be noted that this story, quite uniquely in the Book of Mormon, actually gives us an exact measure of the total time the narrative takes to unfold. In Alma 10:6, Amulek gives the exact date of Alma's return to Ammonihah: "the fourth day of this seventh month, which is in the tenth year of the reign of the judges." In Alma 14:23, subsequently, the narrator (presumably Mormon) provides the exact date of the prison's collapse and the escape of Alma and Amulek: "it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges." From Alma's return to the city to his departure with Amulek took three months and eight days, in all about seventy days (assuming that months were about thirty days for the Nephites). Of course, those seventy days include the "many days" of Alma's stay with Amulek before preaching (see Alma 8:27) and the "many days" of Alma's and Amulek's time in prison (see Alma 14:22), in addition to whatever time would have passed between Alma's last sermon and the martyrdom of Alma 14:8. But it is certainly possible that the time between sermon and martyrdom was even as long as several weeks, perhaps even longer.
If these speculations are not entirely amiss, it may be that the "began" of "began to repent" marks a rather slow process, a development that is long in coming for those who believed in Alma's words. But these speculations may be confirmed or perhaps complicated by the fact that repentance is described but not baptism.
It has been noted above that "made an end of speaking" here echoes Alma 6:1. Mention here of repentance furthers that echo. Alma 6:2 describes the response of Alma's hearers on the occasion of his first sermon: "And it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church who repented of their sins were baptized unto repentance, and were received into the church." The pairing in Alma 6 of repentance and baptism is quite common in the Book of Mormon (see, for instance, 2 Ne 9:23-24; 31:11; Alma 7:14; 48:19; 62:45; Hel 16:5; 3 Ne 7:25; 11:37-38; 18:11, 16; 21:6; 27:20; 30:2; 4 Ne 1:1; Morm 3:2; 7:8; Ether 4:18; Moro 7:34; 8:10). In the present text, however, there is no mention of baptism whatsoever. This is all the more curious given that Alma is described, at the beginning of his work in Ammonihah, as "wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that . . . he might baptize them unto repentance" (Alma 8:10). If Alma's sole desire was to baptize, one might wonder why there is no mention of baptism here, why none of Alma's listeners—even among those who believed and repented—were baptized.
One obvious answer would be that there was no time between Alma's sermon and the martyrdom of a few verses later to be baptized. This may be confirmed in that Zeezrom—undoubtedly among Alma's most important converts in Ammonihah—is only baptized later in Sidom (as reported in Alma 15:12). (Curiously, though, there is no specific report of other survivors being baptized in Sidom, although one might suggest that they are referred to implicitly in Alma 15:13.)
If this most obvious interpretation is correct, two interpretive options concerning the word "began" present themselves. On the one hand, the apparent lack of time for baptism might suggest, over against the hints that the events described in verses 1-8 took place over a significant stretch of time, that these events actually made up only a short sequence in a longer stretch of time. (Perhaps Alma and Amulek spent the vast majority of the several months of the Ammonihah experience in prison, for example.) On the other hand, it may be that the events in verses 1-8 did indeed take somewhat longer, but the significance of the word "began" is clarified: beginning to repent is itself a longer process, and it did not have the time to come to fruition in baptism in a longer but nonetheless relatively short time.
  • Alma 14:1: And to search the scriptures. The indication that those favorable to the message of Alma and Amulek not only began "to repent," but also began "to search the scriptures" is certainly significant. (Indeed, it is possible to suggest that the turn to scripture was itself the form or shape of their repentance.) First, turning to the scriptures as a sign of conversion is directly reported only twice in the Book of Mormon—here and in Jacob 7:23 (though possibly referred to in the case of the Sons of Mosiah as well Alma 17:2). The two stories (that of the preaching in Ammonihah and that of Jacob's encounter with Sherem) might perhaps be set side by side for closer comparison. Second, the fact that the response of the persuaded is to turn to scripture makes clear that the larger narrative of the experience in Ammonihah should be read with an eye to what is said about (and done with) scripture.
In light of this last point, it should be noted that in Alma 13:20 (a passage found within the same chapter as the present text in the original version of the Book of Mormon), Alma tells his listeners: "Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction." One might explore the possibility that Alma's warning had much to do with the response of his hearers: having heard Alma warn about the dangers of wresting scripture, those persuaded by his teachings were convinced of the necessity of searching the scriptures more carefully.
There are, however, some problems with this first interpretation. Alma issued his warning about the misuse of scripture specifically in connection with his discussion of Melchizedek. And the way that he issued the warning seems to indicate that he saw the texts concerning Melchizedek as rather straightforward, such that his listeners could only wrest the text by departing from its rather obvious meaning. Given the content and setting of what Alma says about wresting scripture, it seems somewhat unlikely that his listeners would have taken his words as reason to do sustained, careful work on scripture.
Another possible approach to the text presents itself. When the narrative turns from Amulek to Alma (in the transition from what is now chapter 11 to what is now chapter 12), Mormon as the narrator explains that Alma began "to explain things beyond, or to unfold the scriptures beyond that which Amulek had done" (Alma 12:1). This narrative passage, penned, it would seem, by the same narrator who reports the turn to scripture at the beginning of chapter 14, perhaps suggests that it was Alma's profound engagement with scripture in the course of his teachings that drew the attention of his listeners to the scriptures after their conversion.
On this second interpretation, what would seem to have driven Alma's converts to the scriptures would be his careful, detailed, and deeply theological interpretations of scriptural texts—perhaps best embodied in his ruminations on Gen 3:24, the verse quoted to him by Antionah. Here, the emphasis would be less on the danger of misinterpreting texts through neglect than on the rich possibilities of close, theological engagement with texts.
At any rate, there seems to be some indication in this text that part of the Ammonihahites' conversion was a turn to close readings of scriptural texts. Repentance—a turning around or a change of mind—seems to have been for them in part a question of turn to or changing their minds about scripture.
Mormon's passing note about the turn to scripture is also narratively significant in another way. When the converts who are here reported as "search[ing] the scriptures" are subsequently "cast . . . into the fire," Mormon carefully notes that the wicked in Ammonihah "brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also" (Alma 14:8). Both because Mormon carefully notes these details, and because scripture seems to have been closely intertwined with the very experience of conversion in Ammonihah, it would seem that the murder of the converts in Ammonihah was motivated in part precisely by the danger of scriptural texts. Where texts can be read and interpreted freely, independently of dominant or dominating ideologies, current structures of power are under threat. It would seem that the "book burning" in Ammonihah was in part a question of such a situation.
  • Alma 14:2. The word "destroy" appears in the Book of Mormon with remarkable frequency (some 408 times!). It is particularly frequent in the Ammonihah story (see Alma 8:16-17; 9:4, 10, 12, 18-19, 22, 24-25; 10:14, 18-19, 22, 27; 11:21, 25; 12:1, 6, 11, 17, 32, 36; 13:20; 14:8-9, 24, 26; 15:17; 16:2-3, 9, 17). In these references, many different kinds of things are described as being (or potentially being) destroyed: a whole people, liberty, a city, a people's fathers, "that which was good," (everlasting) souls, "the works of justice," (physical copies of) scripture, collected women and children—but quite frequently, individual persons. Curiously, several possible meanings occur when the thing being destroyed is a person or persons. In some cases, to destroy a person may be to destroy his/her reputation; in other cases, it is clearly to annihilate his/her physical body; in still other cases, it is clearly to cause his/her spirit torment.
Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "plainness" as "openness; rough, blunt or unrefined frankness." This seems to work with Book of Mormon usage of "plainness" (and especially of "plain"), but not always. It is perhaps particularly important that the word "plainness" appears only here in the Book of Mormon outside of the small plates (where it appears often), while the word "plain" (or "plainly") similarly appears frequently in the small plates and only a few scattered times in the rest of the Book of Mormon. At any rate, it should be noted that while "plainness" is very often equated with "harshness" and so is often understood in the Book of Mormon to lead to offense (if one is not perfectly humble), it is not always used that way. On occasion, the word simply means "simple" or "clear," without any implications about subjective investment.
Webster's 1828 dictionary defines "revile" as "to reproach; to treat with opprobrious and contemptuous language." This word (in its various forms) appears far more frequently in the Book of Mormon than in other scripture, appearing some twenty-five times. Importantly, it often is connected in the Book of Mormon with fighting against something with clearly superior authority: to revile against a political or religious leader, against the truth, against goodness, etc. It, moreover, significantly appears several times in the larger Ammonihah story. In addition to those texts where the same accusation of Amulek appears (see Alma 10:24, 29; 14:5), see Alma 8:13; 12:4; 14:7.
  • Alma 14:2: the more part of them. The transitional "but" that opens this verse marks the comparison that is being made between the "many" of verse 1 and the "more part" of verse 2.
It would seem that although the majority of the people is against Alma and Amulek, that majority may be slim, given that—according to verse 1—there were many who believed the preachers. At the same time, it would seem to require a nearly overwhelming majority to accomplish the kind of genocide described later in this chapter. Ultimately, it is difficult to decide exactly what is signified by "the more part of them."
  • Alma 14:2: Were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek. The word "were," banal as it usually seems, deserves attention here. It should be noted that the construction is a bit awkward: the text could have been rendered "desired to destroy Alma and Amulek," rather than "were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek." But that very awkwardness may be important. For one, it places the "more part" of the people in a passive position, while verse 1 places the "many" believers in a clearly active position: while the believing "did believe," the unbelieving "were desirous." Further, the complex structure allows for the insertion of the word "might" into the phrase here: what the people are described as desiring is not destruction itself, but the possibility of destruction. It would seem, in other words, that the unbelieving are prone to fantasy, rather than to action.
The word "desirous" deserves attention as well. It would seem to echo—ironically—what King Mosiah said ten years earlier when replacing the monarchy with judges: "it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right" (Mosiah 29:26). The majority ("the more part") of Ammonihah is complicit in desiring sin, and Mosiah prophesied that God would visit such peoples with great destruction (Mosiah 29:27). Moreover, "desire" appears two additional times in the Ammonihah story. First, back in Alma 9:20, Alma makes a general statement about "all things [being] made known unto [the Nephites], according to their desires." This theme of things being made known, or being revealed, is clearly related to the discussion in 12:9ff where those who harden their hearts against the word are warned that they will eventually "know nothing concerning [God's] mysteries" (Alma 9:11). The account given here in chapter 14 could, then, be read as a fulfillment of that very warning. Second, in Alma 11:25, Amulek chastises Zeezrom for trying to trap him: "it was only thy desire that I should deny the true and living God." This secret (and similarly fantasy-oriented) desire of Zeezrom's, working as a sort of covert plan against Amulek, can be related to the desire to put Alma and Amulek away "privily" in verse 3 here. Moreover, these covert workings of (frustrated?) desire stand in clear contrast to the "plainness" of Alma's words mentioned here in verse 2 (and in verse 3: "because [Alma and Amulek] had testified so plainly").
As for the word "destroy" here, it seems it should be read carefully. In light of the lexical note above, it should be noted that it does not necessarily mean "kill Alma and Amulek" or "have Alma and Amulek killed," though that of course remains a possibility. At any rate, it should be balanced carefully with verse 3: the people desire to destroy Alma and Amulek, but the lawyers and judges seek to put them away. Whatever the difference between those two actions are, it seems important.
  • Alma 14:2: For they were angry with Alma. The word "angry" (and "anger") plays a significant role in the larger Ammonihah story. Not only does it describe the lawyers and judges also in the next verse, it appears with some frequency in earlier chapters. Significantly, the first several appearance of the word are references not to the people's anger but to God's (potential) anger: in Alma 8:29; 9:12, 18, the message to Ammonihah is described as a warning about destruction that will come "according to the fierce anger" of God (see also 10:23). By the end of Alma's sermon in chapter 9, however, the text begins to speak of the people's anger: "because I said unto them that they were a lost and a fallen people they were angry with me," Alma says (9:32). The people similarly respond with anger to Amulek in 10:24: "the people were more angry with Amulek." By chapter 14, there is no more talk of the anger of the Lord, which seems to have been swallowed up in the anger of the crowd.
  • Alma 14:2: Because of the plainness of his words unto Zeezrom. First, it is worth noting that the people are not angry with Alma for treating Zeezrom harshly; rather it is the plainness or harshness of his words that offend them (see the lexical note above). Also, the people are not said to accuse Alma of speaking to Zeezrom with plainness, only that they are angered by his plainness. (By contrast, the next clause reports that "they also said that Amulek had lied," a clear accusation.) One might well wonder whether Mormon, in using the word "plainness," had 2 Ne 33:5 in mind, where Nephi claims that no one will be angered by the plainness of truth unless they are of the spirit of the devil (in Alma 12:4-6 one finds Alma explicitly claiming that at least Zeezrom had been ensnared by the devil).
But what "plainness" did Alma use with Zeezrom? At first, it is tempting to assume that Alma's plainness is a question of the actual doctrinal content of his sermon in Alma 12. After all, as Nephi had taught centuries earlier, "the guilty take the truth to be hard because it cutteth them to the very center" (1 Ne 16:2). A closer look at the story, however, suggests that there is something different at work in the text than just that.
Zeezrom first comes into the story in Alma 11 (though note that he is mentioned first in Alma 10:31). Throughout that chapter, though, he engages with Amulek, while the people here in chapter 14 are described as being upset with Alma's relationship to Zeezrom. How does Amulek handle Zeezrom, and how is it different from Alma's handling of him?
In chapter 11, Zeezrom offers Amulek money if he will deny the existence of God. Amulek, however, reveals that there was a deceptive plot behind the offer: Zeezrom was, according to Amulek, desirous only to find "cause to destroy me [Amulek]" (Alma 11:25). This leads to a theological exchange between the two, at the conclusion of which—apparently in response to the power of Amulek's teachings—Zeezrom “began to tremble” (Alma 11:46). At that point, Alma jumps in and begins himself to contend with Zeezrom (see Alma 12:1).
At the beginning of his own intervention, Alma comes back to Zeezrom's “subtle plan,” but he glosses it differently. Whereas Amulek had accused Zeezrom of lying to him (that is, to Amulek) and so of seeking to destroy him (again, Amulek), Alma says that Zeezrom's plan was to "lie and to deceive this people" (Alma 12:4). Alma, in other words, casts the attempted deception in terms of Zeezrom's relationship to the people. He thereby suggests both (1) that Zeezrom betrays his people by deceiving them, and (2) that the people are foolish enough to be taken in.
(Significantly, Alma further says: “this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people.” With this further word, Alma suggests that it is the devil himself who works through the city's star lawyer to deceive the whole people. It would not be surprising if the people do not take too kindly to this idea.)
In sum, particularly because nothing in the remainder of Alma 12 mentions any particular rage on the part of the people, it seems best to interpret the accusation of "plainness" here to refer not to Alma's doctrine, but to his way of explaining Zeezrom's relationship to the people (whether as a deceiver of the people, or whether as a simple puppet of the devil in deceiving the people).
  • Alma 14:2: And they also said that Amulek had lied unto them. The people of course accused Amulek of lying in Alma 10:28, and the accusation there was that he lied about not reviling against Ammonihahite law. (Interestingly, the people did not accuse him of lying when he claimed that their lawyers and judges were laying snares. That they only called "reviling.") Why did the people claim that Amulek was speaking against the law, and why did Amulek claim that he was not?
In his own accusation, Amulek pointed back to Mosiah's setting up of the system of Nephite judges (recorded for us in Mosiah 29). Though Amulek directly quoted only Mosiah's warning in Mosiah 29:27 about the majority coming to choose evil (see Alma 10:19), it is crucial—in order to make sense of the situation—to look at the whole of Mosiah 29:25-29. Mosiah's proposed system of judges was meant to insure against the corruption of the law through recourse to the usually conservative "voice of the people," as well as through a balance of powers between lower and higher judges. The system, Mosiah anticipated, could only go wrong when the collective voice of the people desired wickedness, backed by corrupt judges at every level.
The implication is that everything that was taking place in Ammonihah was actually legal, but nonetheless corrupt. Amulek's accusations against the city and what was taking place there could thus be interpreted as a criticism not of the corruption of the people, but of the actual system of Mosiah, which technically validated (rendered "just"; see Alma 10:24) the laws passed in Ammonihah. Thus the people could accuse Amulek of having reviled against the law, and Amulek could defend himself by the—perhaps somewhat tenuous—claim that he had spoken "in favor of [their] law, to [their] condemnation" (Alma 10:26). It is not difficult to see how the Ammonihahites would have seen Amulek's restatement of his position as a prevarication, and the accusation that he was lying would have followed quickly.
This situation is not unlike what happens later with Korihor. There again it is the actual organization of the law itself that seems to generate the trouble, and Alma finds himself with the task of deciding what to do where the system established by Mosiah, for all its promise, is not enough to curb the problems it is meant to foreclose.
  • Alma 14:2: And had reviled against their law. This accusation comes first in Alma 10:24 and is repeated in 10:28. That it is repeated here, in addition to the accusation that Amulek had "lied unto them," perhaps suggests that there is an emphasis on the word "had": "they also said that Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law," that is, despite what Amulek himself had said.
  • Alma 14:2: And also against their lawyers and judges. This accusation also came originally in Alma 10:24. A lexical note above explains that “to revile” can mean to be verbally abusive. If one is already inclined towards the lawyers and judges, assuming—however problematically—that they were defenders of the system established by Mosiah, then Amulek's words in Alma 10:17 would certainly sound abusive: “O ye wicked and perverse generation, ye lawyers and hypocrites.” Still sharper was Amulek's claim that "the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges" (Alma 10:27). Importantly, Amulek nowhere denies the accusation that he had reviled against the Ammonihahite lawyers and judges.
It is worth noting that in all these references in chapter 10, it is the people and not the lawyers and judges who accuse Amulek, precisely as here in Alma 14. (In chapter 10, the lawyers only "put it into their [the people's] hearts that they should remember these things against him [Amulek]." See Alma 10:30.)
  • Alma 14:3. The construction "to put away" is usually assumed, here, to mean "to put to death" (as in, the lawyers and judges sought to kill Alma and Amulek privily). This may be the case, but it should be noted that the phrase does not seem to mean this anywhere else in scripture. It appears around seventy-five times in scripture and only could (and likely does not) refer to execution in a couple of scattered instances (1 Sam 28:3; 2 Sam 7:15; Ps 119:119; perhaps Mal 2:16). Most consistently, the phrase refers either to getting rid of idols/abominations/evil (most commonly in the Old Testament, of course) or to divorce (common in the Old Testament, almost universal in the New Testament, every reference apart from the current text in the Book of Mormon, and the only reference in the Doctrine and Covenants). In at least one instance (1 Cor 5:13), the phrase clearly refers to excommunication. In the text that most clearly resonates in the present text (Matt 1:19), the phrase refers to divorce.
Privily means privately or secretly. (It is the adverbial opposite of "publicly.") The phrasing "to put ... away privily" has a crucial, close biblical antecedent in Matt 1:19. The appearance of the word here also links the present story with that of the Zoramite mission (see Alma 35:5).
The word "and" positioned before "because" in this verse appears in the printer's manuscript of the Book of Mormon only as a later insertion. It is possible that Oliver Cowdery originally miscopied this verse from the original manuscript (the original is no longer extant for this chapter) so that the later insertion is actually a correction. On the other hand (and perhaps more likely), it could be that Oliver added "and" to the printer's manuscript at some point before the Book of Mormon was printed simply to make better sense of the grammar of the verse. If this was the case, it should be noted that Oliver could just as well have added the "and" before the last clause of the verse to make better sense of the grammar. The verse might then have a different meaning, reading: And they were also angry with Alma and Amulek because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness, and they sought to put them away privily. As the verse reads now, the painfully plain testimony of Alma and Amulek serves to explain the desire to "put them away privily." Had the "and" been inserted before the final clause of the verse, the painfully plain testimony of Alma and Amulek would have served to explain first and foremost the emotion (anger) experienced by the Ammonihahites. The difference is slight, but perhaps significant.
Under the latter interpretation, the word "also" could be read as referring to the correspondence between the lawyers' and the peoples' cause for anger, i.e. plainness. Rather than just saying that the lawyers were angry too, the also could be emphasizing that what angered the people also angered the lawyers.
  • Alma 14:3: And they. To whom does the initial "they" of verse 3 refer? There are two obvious ways it can be read. First, it might refer, with the "they's" of the preceding verse, back to "the more part of [the people]" mentioned at the beginning of verse 2. On this reading, both verses 2 and 3 serve to explain the motivations of "the more part of [the people]'s" anger at Alma and Amulek, though verse 2 individualizes or categorizes those motivations (isolating in turn the people's concerns about Alma and their concerns about Amulek), while verse 3 collectivizes those motivations (describing what concerned the people generally about Alma and Amulek). Second, though, verse 3's initial "they" can be read as referring—perhaps with a bit of emphasis—immediately back to "their lawyers and judges," mentioned at the end of verse 2. On this reading, verses 2 and 3 describe two distinct groups and their distinct motivations for anger at Alma and Amulek: verse 2 describes the motivations "the more part of [the people]" had for being angry—which the text curious divides into the motivations associated with Alma and the motivations associated with Amulek—and verse 3 describes the motivations the "lawyers and judges" had for their anger at Alma and Amulek.
In the end, it seems clear that the second of these interpretations is the best. This is clear from the confusion that follows from the first interpretation: if both verse 2 and verse 3 are speaking of the people, then one has difficulty making sense of a number of details. Strengthening the second interpretation above all, however, is the way it makes much of verse 3 quite specific: "their wickedness" would refer specifically to the wickedness of the lawyers and judges (to which Amulek had explicitly referred in Alma 10:27); and the "they" who "sought to put [Alma and Amulek] away privily" would be (as it obviously would have to be anyway) the lawyers and judges specifically. From all this, it is clear that while verse 2 lays out the people's grievances, verse 3 lays out the lawyers' and judges' grievances, as well as the corrupt and violent way that this particular group proceeds.
  • Alma 14:3: Were also angry with Alma and Amulek. The word "angry" has been analyzed within the larger Ammonihah narrative in the commentary on verse 2.
It is interesting that while the people draw a strong distinction between what angers them about Alma and what angers them about Amulek, the lawyers and judges here draw no such distinction: they are apparently angry with Alma and Amulek together ("because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness"). Whatever distinctions between Alma and Amulek concerned the people (Alma was an outsider, but Amulek was an Ammonihahite; Alma had been the chief judge, but Amulek had only social status; Alma had claimed that Zeezrom was an enemy of the people, while Amulek had only claimed that Zeezrom was his own enemy; Alma had preached theologically, but Amulek had directly addressed the law and local politics; etc.), they mean nothing to the lawyers and judges. Alma and Amulek function, for them, as a unit.
A couple of points may help to explain this. In Alma 11:25, when Amulek accused Zeezrom of trying to "destroy" him, it seems he took Zeezrom's plan to be to show that Amulek was insincere in his testimony, that he had been bribed by Alma to offer his testimony as a second witness. In a word, it seems that Zeezrom's (the lawyers and judges') plan was to show that Amulek was simply Alma's tool. Thus, even from that relatively early point in the narrative, it would seem that the lawyers and judges wanted to reduce Alma and Amulek to a single unit, pinning trumped up crimes on just one of the two and rendering the other a mere (and perhaps unthinking) accomplice.
Interestingly, Alma and Amulek are still at this later point treated as a kind of unit, but there may be some evidence that the lawyers and judges now want to pin their trumped up charges on Amulek and treat Alma as a simple accomplice. At any rate, it is significant that the show trial of verse 5 consists of accusations that only could have been made against Amulek. From this one might gather that with the clear demonstration that Amulek was no unthinking accomplice to a machinating former chief judge, the lawyers and judges have determined that Amulek himself is a machinating figure: he sneaked an obviously disappointed Alma back into the city, opportunistically drawing on the prophet's dour message in order to stage a coup of sorts, claiming local power for himself.
At any rate, while the people see Alma and Amulek as quite different figures with intertwined agendas, it is clear that the lawyers and judges take them as working on a single cause, likely with Amulek in the lead.
  • Alma 14:3: Because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness. There is, as has been mentioned above, a clear connection between the "plainly" of this phrase and the "plainness" of verse 2. Once it is clear that the "they" of this verse (along with the "their" of "their wickedness" here) refers to the lawyers and judges and not to the people more generally, it becomes clear that the plainness in the two verses is more or less identical. In the commentary for verse 2, it has been suggested that Alma's apparently offensive plainness to Zeezrom was a question of his explicitly stating that Zeezrom was at odds with or an enemy to the people. Here in verse 3, it is clear that the plainness referred to is the plainness of Alma's and Amulek's criticisms of the lawyers and judges specifically—"their wickedness." It thus seems that the plainness spoken of in the two passages is the same: a too-straightforward identification of the fact that the lawyers and judges, in their wickedness, are trying to deceive—and ultimately to destroy—the people.
Perhaps it is worth asking about the relationship here between the words "testified" and "against." What is the difference between testifying of and testifying against? And how did Alma and Amulek do the latter specifically?
With the meaning of this part of the verse clear, it must be asked what role it plays in the larger grammatical economy of the verse. As made clear in the lexical notes above, the "and" that precedes this clause in the current edition of the Book of Mormon should not be there. Without it, there are two distinct ways the verse can be read: the "because" clause might serve to explain the anger of the lawyers and judges (might be subordinate to the first independent clause); or the "because" clause might serve to explain the attempt to put Alma and Amulek away privily (might be subordinate to the second independent clause). Of course, in the end and ignoring the grammar, the first independent clause largely explains the second independent clause: it is clearly the anger of the lawyers and judges that ultimately leads them to seek to put Alma and Amulek away privily. But how does the grammar function here?
In the end, what makes this question so tortured is that the absence of the interpolated "and" leaves this verse sounded not-so-Book-of-Mormon-like. If the "because" clause is suspended from the first independent clause, the verse ends with what, for the Book of Mormon's style, is a far too abrupt independent clause: "They sought to put them away privily." If the "because" clause is suspended instead from the second independent clause, the subordinate clause opens the sentence of which it forms a part too abruptly for the Book of Mormon's style: "Because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness, they sought to put them away privily." However the "and" found its way into the text, it would seem that it was added in order to help this verse to sound more like the rest of the Book of Mormon—to maintain the standard "feel" of Book of Mormon prose. An "and" has to be inserted somewhere to retain the usual feel of Nephite scripture, but whether it should be inserted before "because," or whether it should be inserted after "wickedness," it is unclear.
In the end, the grammatical question is interpretively crucial, particularly for making sense of the first part of verse 4 (see the commentary there).
  • Alma 14:3: They sought to put them away privily. Even if the Nephite law provides some public process for such personal injuries (and perhaps it does not; see also Alma's legal reasoning in Alma 1:12-13), they cannot seek redress without conceding the point: Alma and Amulek have stung their conscience. It wouldn't have hurt if it weren't true. "To put them away privily" may have felt like the only option for these lawyers and judges who felt personally injured (whether "put them away" means "persuade them to keep quiet" or something more violent), until a suitably public charge could be drummed up (verse 5).
  • Alma 14:4. It is clear from Alma 14:23 that the chief judge referred to here is the chief judge in charge only of the local jurisdiction ("the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah"). Though the Book of Mormon seldom makes reference to such local "chief judges," it does so consistently. (See also the references in Alma 30.)
  • Alma 14:4: But. The strong contrastive that opens this verse announces in advance that the plan to put Alma and Amulek away privily did not come to fruition. There are, ultimately, two ways this "failure" can be interpreted. On the one hand, it might be that the initial plan of the lawyers and judges was somehow frustrated, apparently by some kind of external force (a higher power, the imposition of the people, an act of Providence, etc.). On the other hand, it might be simply that the lawyers and judges themselves changed their minds about how to go about achieving their desires; the plan to put Alma and Amulek away privily was superseded by what was regarded as a better plan, one that would involve a public trial.
  • Alma 14:4: It came to pass that. That the phrase "it came to pass that" appears between "But" and "they did not" is significant. Had Mormon (the presumed narrator) meant to show simply that the plans of the lawyers and judges were thwarted, a straightforward "But they did not" would have sufficed. (Indeed, the fact that Joseph Smith did not remove this "it came to pass" for the 1837 edition of the Book of Mormon, when he removed five other "it came to passes" in this chapter, is significant. It seems it is crucial to the meaning of Mormon's intentions.) The implication, then, is that there was an event or a series of events (which "came to pass") that altered the decision made by the lawyers and judges. Whatever event(s) might have taken place, the text does not make clear, but it seems clear that something deterred the lawyers and judges from putting Alma and Amulek away privily: the course of events revealed to them either the preferability or the necessity of taking a different approach to the situation.
  • Alma 14:4: They did not. It is clear that the lawyers and judges did not go through with their initial plan, but it remains to be determined whether that was because they were forced to take a different approach, or because they determined to take a different approach of their own volition.
Also, Alma 8:31 foretells that it wouldn't be possible for any man to slay them. Perhaps, we're meant to understand that the secret plans in verse 3 were thwarted by God.
  • Alma 14:4: But they took them and bound them with strong cords. One might suggest, with reference to the contrastive "but" that opens this clause, that "they" here refers not to the lawyers and judges (as previously in this verse), but to the people. That is, one might suggest that this verse stages a kind of limitation on the power of the lawyers and judges: they sought to put Alma and Amulek away privily, but they could not do so, because the people (the mob?) instead took the two, bound them, and hauled them off to the chief judge. In the end, though, such a reading is tenuous at best. Though the Book of Mormon does on occasion change referents without changing pronouns, causing some confusion, the continuity here seems secure. Moreover, the fact that "the people" are reintroduced at the beginning of verse 5 seems to make clear that the referent of "they" has been constant through verses 3 and 4. Still more, if the meaning of the verse was that the people thwarted the lawyers and judges' attempt at putting Alma and Amulek away privily, one would suspect that the contrastive "but" would be replaced by a causal "for": "But it came to pass that they [the lawyers and judges] did not; for they [the people] took them and bound them," etc. That "but" appears instead of "for" seems to make clear that "they" continues to refer to the lawyers and judges.
This point of apparently pointless clarification is actually interpretively crucial. It has been made clear above that there are two ways of interpreting the "they did not" business at the beginning of this verse. On the one hand, the lawyers and judges' initial desire was frustrated, implicitly by some external force. On the other hand, the lawyers and judges simply changed their minds about how to accomplish their desires. The clarification of the meaning of the contrastive "but" here suggests that there are at least problems with the first interpretation of the "they did not." If "they" continues to refer to the lawyers and judges, and does not now refer to the people, at least the people were no external force that thwarted the lawyers and judges in their initial plan. (It remains a possibility, however, that some other external force thwarted their plans, but there is no mention of such force in the text.)
From all this, it seems best to interpret verse 4 as claiming that the lawyers and judges quickly abandoned their original plan to put Alma and Amulek away privily in favor of a public trial, and that they did so willingly. Why they would choose to do so, however, remains to be sorted out below.
  • Alma 14:4: And took them before the chief judge of the land.
  • Alma 14:5. It has been suggested that the word "the" appeared before "judges" in the original manuscript, which is no longer extant. (See the book linked to below to find the full justification for this suggestion.) If the proposed emendation is correct, then it is only the lawyers who are qualified as theirs, the people's, while the judges are the judges of the land.
The word "of" in the phrase "and also of all the people that were in the land" was not originally in the text. It seems to have been (perhaps accidentally) added by the printer of the 1837 edition, without any direction from Joseph Smith. Significantly, it changes the meaning of the text. Without the "of," the passage explains that Alma and Amulek were accused of reviling against (1) the law, (2) the people's lawyers, (3) the judges of the land, and (4) all the people in Ammonihah. With the unwarranted "of," the passage explains that Alma and Amulek were accused of reviling against (1) the law, (2) the people's lawyers, and (3) the judges, who are described, awkwardly, as being both "of the land" and "of all the people that were in the land." It seems clear that the "of" should never have been inserted.
The words "Now this" in the last sentence of the verse originally appeared as "And it came to pass that it," the change being made by Joseph Smith himself in preparation for the 1837 edition. This was, it should be noted, one of several "it came to passes" that Joseph removed from this chapter for the 1837 edition (see verses 7, 10, 18). It is worth noting these deletions because the phrase, despite being removed for good reasons, may be narratively significant in the original.
When the attempt fails to simply put Alma and Amulek away privily, they attempt to self-righteously find justification for punishing them with death and even invoke what they interpret as a contradiction of their beliefs: "that [God]...should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them". They seem to think that they are actually in the right!
  • Alma 14:5: Power Structures. In verses 2 and 5, Alma and Amulek are accused specifically with "revil[ing] against their law and also against their lawyers and judges." In verse 2, the people single out Amulek with concern that he "had lied" unto them, and the word "testify" (with its variants) is repeated four times in vv. 3-5, with the word "witness" being repeated another four times in the verses that follow (vv. 5-11). There are a number of clues in this text to suggest that the key issue at hand is a confrontation between power structures. Later in the chapter, Alma and Amulek are interrogated by members of the social, educated elite, "many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers" (v. 18), and are again accused of "condemn[ing] our law."
In conjunction with other key phrases throughout the rest of the chapter (see below), the picture that emerges may be something like this: Alma and Amulek begin preaching, which the wicked immediately perceive as a threat to their established power structure. It is telling, as ever, that it is precisely the lawyers who react most vehemently to their sermon. The lawyers react violently and incite the elite to believe that Alma and Amulek are directly attacking the established power structure, and the upper class rallies to bully the two itinerant preachers into submission.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 14:1: Most of what Alma and Amulek preach in Alma 9-13 is more theological than hortatory. Why did this motivate repentance? What does this tell us about preaching?
  • Alma 14:1: Alma 13:31 informs us that "Alma spake many more words unto the people" than what is now to be found in chapters 12-13. Here in this verse Mormon makes an explicit reference to Alma's "ma[king] an end of speaking." How did Alma close his sermon?
  • Alma 14:1: The response of the people is presented as being neatly divided between the "many" that believed and repented and the "more part" that desired to destroy Alma and Amulek. Might this be a simplification for the sake of telling the story, or was the response really so polarized? If so, how and why did the people split into believers and non-believers when the sermon concluded?
  • Alma 14:1: How accessible would scripture have been to the people? And what did they contain? Would Alma's listeners have been acquainted only with the brass plates, or would they also have had access to writings of Lehi, Nephi, King Benjamin or other Nephite prophets?
  • Alma 14:1: Today, Latter-day Saints would understand "searching the scriptures" to mean not only close study but use of extra-textual resources like cross-referencing and historical contextualization. What might it have meant for the people of Nephi to "search the scriptures"?
  • Alma 14:1: This verse asserts a strong relationship between repentance and reading scripture. What is the relationship between repentance and reading scripture? What might this story teach us about how that relationship should look?
  • Alma 14:2: The people—unlike the lawyers and judges in verse 3—draw a distinction between what motivates their anger against Alma and what motivates their anger against Amulek. Why this distinction?
  • Alma 14:2: The text says that the people are angry with Alma because he spoke to Zeezrom in "plainness," but they're angry with Amulek because he "lied" to them. What should be thought about the difference between these two accusations, plainness and deception?
  • Alma 14:2: Alma 9:31 makes clear that the people were already angry with Alma before he rebuked Zeezrom. Why would the text here root their anger solely in what Alma said to Zeezrom specifically?
  • Alma 14:2: What is the difference between Amulek's alleged reviling against lawyers and Alma's plain-speaking to one lawyer in particular? It seems that the people are generally concerned about what has been said to and about lawyers, but this marks the difference between Alma and Amulek. What is that difference worth?
  • Alma 14:2: Given that the people wouldn't have believed that Amulek had seen an angel, is it possible that they have his testimony that he did see an angel in mind when they accuse him of lying?
  • Alma 14:3: While the people in verse 2 have distinct reasons for their anger with Alma and Amulek respectively, the lawyers and judges in verse 3 seem to draw no distinction between their two enemies. What is behind this?
  • Alma 14:3: Given that the "and" that appears before "because" in this verse is not original to the text (note the textual variant in the lexical notes), to which independent clause does the dependent "because" clause attach? In other words, should verse 3 be read as claiming that "they were also angry with Alma and Amulek because they had testified so plainly against their wickedness," or should it be read as claiming that "because they [Alma and Amulek] had testified so plainly against their [the lawyers and priests'] wickedness, they sought to put them away privily"? The added "and" predisposes us to the latter reading, but is it to be preferred over the former reading?
  • Alma 14:3: There is an implicit link between the people's concern about Alma's "plainness" to Zeezrom and the lawyers and priests' concern about Alma and Amulek's testifying "plainly" against their wickedness. What should be said about this link? What, first, should be said about the link between the two related words, "plainness" and "plainly"? And what, second, should be said about the fact that Zeezrom is one of the lawyers, and so that the accusations seem to be linked?
  • Alma 14:3: What does "put them away privily" refer to? Is this, as perhaps seems obvious, a reference to a secret assassination plot (in a gesture not unlike what will become that of the secret combination)? Or might it possibly refer, as in Matt 1:19, to a lawful but discreet process?
  • Alma 14:4: Did the people change their minds about killing Alma and Amulek, or are there different groups involved in v2-4? What are these groups?
  • Alma 14:4: Where did the people who "bound" Alma and Amulek get their authority? Is this an organized police force, or is this more akin to an angry mob? Can we infer that the Chief Judge does not seem to object about the way Alma and Amulek are brought before him?
  • Alma 14:5: What does it mean to revile "against the law" or against the lawyers and judges?
  • Alma 14:5: What does the phrase "and also of all the people that were in the land" refer to? Does it refer to the lawyers and judges being over all the people, or does it refer to Alma and Amulek reviling against all the people?
  • Alma 14:5: Which of the following doctrines do the people take issue with theologically: There is but one God, the Son of God will come among the people, or “he” should not save them? Do the people disagree with only the result of not being saved, or do they disagree with the gospel of Alma and Amulek altogether?
  • Alma 14:5: The people claim that Alma and Amulek said that God will “send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.” Who is the “he” being spoken of here, God or his Son? If the answer is the Son, then are the people taking issue with God having a son that had the power of granting salvation? If the answer is God, then are these people claiming they are a “chosen people?” Thus, God must save them.

Resources[edit]

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  • Alma 14:1. For Hugh Nibley's comments on the importance of the turn to scripture in verse 1, see his lecture on Alma 12-14. (They are to be found between two-thirds and three-fourths of the way down the page, beginning with the paragraph that begins, "Then he told them to search the scriptures . . . .")
  • This probably needs revising, but here is a look at the accusation in these 5 verses throughout the previous 6 chapters. (Feel free to edit.)

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Alma 14:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Verses 14:6-29
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Summary[edit]

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The relationship of Chapter 8 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6. Regarding Zeezrom's soul being harrowed up: harrowing as an agricultural term is quite distinct from plowing, which digs a single deep trough. A harrow is a long, multi-tined instrument that disrupts the top layers of the soil, breaking up clumps and rendering the surface ready for planting (See Websters 1828 dictionary entry). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, use of the term to refer to lacerating or wounding the feelings; to vex, pain, or distress greatly (rarely with up) apparently dates in English to the early 1600s, and is first attributed to Shakespeare (1603) Hamlet i. v. 16, "I would a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soule." Harrowing is mentioned 13 times in the LDS scriptures, 10 times in the Book of Mormon--the only source for verses discussing the harrowing up of souls.
See also Christian beliefs about Christ's "Harrowing of Hell" (Greek: Anastasis) between his death and resurrection. Wikipedia
Zeezrom's Conversion. Zeezrom's change of heart begins when people testify falsely against Alma and Amulek. His range of emotions begins with "astonishment" at the "blindness of the minds," which leads to a sense of his own complicity and guilt about the collective unwillingness to accept truth, and then to being "harrowed up" and "encircled by pains of hell," and finally: public confession.
Burning the believers. The reaction of the wicked to burn the believers is entirely shocking. Indeed, it may be the most extreme reaction by the wicked to preaching recorded in scripture. It is surprising for a couple reasons.
It seems to come out of nowhere. In the preceding verses and chapters, the wickedness of Ammonihah seems to be pretty typical of all wicked cities. No particular mention of their sins is made (besides Alma 8:17) except to say that they're wicked and they reject Alma's teachings. By contrast, Mosiah 11 gives specific attention to the wickedness of King Noah, making a case against them, before introducing Abinadi. Ammonihah feels like your run-of-the-mill prideful city, until you get to v8 and realize just how awful these guys are.
It's unprecedented. Typically in situations like this, those in power (the king, the chief judge, the governor, etc.) act primarily in the interest of preserving their power and will seek to knock off the head of the movement (e.g. the prophet) that is disturbing the balance of power. There may be some persecution against the believers as well, but not typically this extreme. That seems to be the pattern this story was following until v5. In v5, Alma and Amulek are on trial, suggesting they prefer to keep up a facade of legality and justice. But what is the outcome of the hearing? To burn the believers! But they weren't on trial so what was the point of holding one? It makes no sense. A possible explanation for this sudden turn may be the interposed testimony of Zeezrom.
It's blatantly illegal. Ammonihah is still accountable to the broader laws of the land, and they must expect some kind of retribution for the execution of women and children who weren’t even on trial in v5. These burnings don’t just represent a rejection of Alma’s preaching, but a rejection of association with the rest of the Nephites. Between this verse and Alma 8:17, it’s clear that these people were already planning some kind of rebellion when Alma came to Ammonihah in ch8, though it isn’t revealed in their actions until this moment.
It's extremely sarcastic. Since Alma had previously quoted scriptures to the people of Ammonhihah about a time when the wicked's "torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever" Alma 12:17, perhaps the wicked leaders are seeking to enact this prediction, throwing it in the face of Alma and Amulek. The wicked leaders will later sarcastically enact another of the prophesies about the damned--by "gnashing their teeth upon them" and specifically mocking them by asking "how shall we look when we are damned?" Alma 14:21.
  • Alma 14:6: Power structures. The significance of burning the believers' records may possibly be explained in terms of the power structures discussed above. Because records are a crucial part of any power structure, especially those that are elite/educated (courts and religions and education, constituted of judges, laywers, priests, and teachers), it may be that these scriptural records were recognized as the binding and unifying force for this upstart religious group. Burning the records, then, especially in such a way as to warrant such strong language ("that they might be burned and destroyed by fire") might be aimed at cutting down this threatening power structure at its very roots.
In addition, it should be remembered that it was Alma and Amulek's reinterpretation of scripture that lead to the mass conversion. Alma 14:1 indicates that the new converts "began to repent, and to search the scriptures." Perhaps the ruling class had a particular interpretation of scripture that they taught (likely similar to the Nehor doctrines discussed elsewhere in the Book of Mormon) and if the people were to take Alma and Amulek seriously and read for themselves, the Nehor fallacies would be discovered and their power as leaders and teachers lost.
Further evidence that this chapter is steeped in the language of judicial procedure comes in Zeezrom's introspective statement. As Zeezrom realizes his own error and watches the court-room drama unfolding between God and the people of Ammonihah, he exclaims, "Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless. He frames his repentant statement in terms of guilt vs. innocence. Immediately after proclaiming his own guilt, he is eliminated from the system, "reviled" and "cast . . . out from among them" in company with the other believers (v. 7).
  • Alma 14:14. Brimstone, according to the footnote in the LDS version of the Old Testament for Gen. 19:24 is from the Heb. Term meaning, “combustible materials (especially sulphur and pitch).”
  • Alma 14:14: Martyrdom of the believers. Verse 8 told us that the wives and children of those men who had been cast out because of their belief plus anyone else who believed was burned. Verse 14 suggests that part of the motivation for choosing this way to kill them was to make a point in contrast to Alma's prophecy in 12:17. There Alma had prophesied that if the people didn't repent they would ultimately be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. So then, when the wicked cast the believers into a lake of fire, it seems the point is something like "we are the one's with the power to cast people into the fire. Don't be afraid of God's punishment be afraid of ours."
Elder Maxwell said, "Touting our own “hand” makes it doubly hard to confess God’s hand in all things," and he cites v. 11 as an example of Alma refusing to tout his own hand.
Alma says in v11 that "the Spirit constraineth me" not to act to prevent these deaths. Other uses of this word in scripture include Paul's discussion of the moment of judgment before God ("for the love of Christ constraineth us" 2 Corinthians 5:14) and Job's refusal to speak ("for I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me" Job 32:18).
The Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “constraineth” in 2 Corinthians 5:14 is συνέχω, (soon-ekh'-o) [1]. This word means to hold something together in order to prevent it from falling apart. The KJV is the only major Bible translation that uses constraineth for this verse. Most English translations use either “control” or “compel.”
  • Alma 14:14: Power structures. In these verses, the question of power as such explicitly comes to the fore. Interestingly, it is Amulek who raises the question, perhaps as part of his growing understanding of what it means to be called of God: "Let us stretch forth our hands and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."
In verse 15, the chief judge again raises the issue: "ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them." Not only is Alma and Amulek's power brought into question, but the clout of God himself is challenged!
It is striking, then, that sandwiched between these first two mentions of power, the legal overtones of the chapter reach their most significant peak: God has permitted the believers to be burned in order that "the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness." Situated in the center of two questions, one about how one ought to exercise God's power (v.10), and the other about how that power manifests itself in the eyes of others (v.15), is a manifestation of God's exercise of that power as He is seated in righteous judgment. God is judging the people's actions, and their assertion of hierarchy and a power structure over and against his own excites "his [just] wrath."
Burning the believers. There’s no mention of Alma or Amulek saying or doing anything in v1-9. This is mainly a picture of the people’s reaction to their preaching, and what a reaction! Those that repent immediately turn to the scriptures (but aren’t baptized, which I’m still wondering about). The reaction of the unrepentant is incoherent. They think about killing them, but change their mind and instead bring them to court. Zeezrom tries to defend them so they turn on him, kick him and the rest of the believing men out and burn the women and children. Like, where did that come from? I thought Alma and Amulek were on trial.
I’ve tried to develop a model in which this reaction might make a bit more sense. I’ve based it on Alma 8:17. In that scripture Alma has turned his back on Ammonihah, but an angel has sent him back with a specific mission to warn them that if they don’t repent they’ll be destroyed. But in v17 the angel kind of gives a reason why Ammonihah is in so much trouble. He says that even at this moment they’re plotting to destroy the liberty of the Nephites. This is the only justification I’ve found (before Alma 14 that is) for the Lord’s intent to destroy Ammonihah.
This is the situation in Ammonihah when Alma and Amulek are preaching. The people are on the verge of some kind of revolt to gain power over the rest of the Nephites. This would explain their focus on power that Kim has pointed out. Burning the believers and their records is a way of exerting their power over Alma and Amulek, putting them in their place. “Don’t tell us that we’ll be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. Anyone you convert, we’ll cast into fire and brimstone. We’ll make you watch on, helpless and powerless to save them!” These guys have an intense desire for power and it’s kind of terrifying what it drives them to do.
  • Connections between Alma 14 and Mosiah 17-19.
I’ve also found several connections between the Noah-Abinadi story and this story.
1) Accusation of reviling against the law/king
2) Putting the righteous to death specifically by fire
3) Alma the elder and Zeezrom are parallel characters. Both are introduced as, “one among them.” (Mosiah 17:2 and Alma 10:31) Alma “knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified.” Zeezrom “knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused” (Alma 14:6). Alma “began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi.” Zeezrom “began to plead for them from that time forth.” King Noah “caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him.” The Ammonihahites “cast [Zeezrom] out from among them… and sent men to cast stones at them.”
4) The official charge against Abinadi turns out to be that he taught that “God himself should come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 17:8) The Ammonihahites testify in court that Alma and Amulek had taught that God “should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.” (Alma 14:5)
5) Abinadi held in prison three days before being confronted again (Mosiah 17:6). Alma and Amulek are held in prison for three days before being confronted again (Alma 14:17-18).
6) After Noah is killed and his priests are scattered (as prophesied in Mosiah 17:16-19), the people of Noah meet the people of Gideon who tell them “all that had hapened to their wives and their children.” After Ammonihah is destroyed (as prophesied) Alma and Amulek tell the men who fled the city “all that had happened unto their wives and children.”
7) Alma Sr. establishes a church and baptize many who say it’s “the desire of our hearts.” (Mosiah 18:11) Alma Jr. establishes a church and baptizes many who are “desirous to be baptized.” (Alma 15:13)
8) Noah sees that the “lamanites were within the borders of the land.” Later the “began to slay them” and they take others captive.” (Mosiah 19:6-15) Alma 15 records that “the armies of the Lamanites had come… into the borders of the land… and began to slay the people…” and they took “others captive.”
  • Elements prefiguring Christ
The contents of this section may need possible revision.
I have a question and a suggested revision.
Several elements in this narrative prefigure Christ's trial, execution, and resurrection in the New Testament Gospels. They include the chief judge "smote them with his hand upon their cheeks" (v14), being mocked by suggesting they use God's power to save themselves, being forced them to witness the suffering of others, and their period of grief and silence that lasts three days (v18) prior to their dramatic deliverance from the prison, symbolic of triumph over death.
My question is what moment you have in mind from Christ's atonement where he was forced to witness the suffering of others? Perhaps you mean in performing the atonement he saw our suffering, or that he was crucified with two thieves, or do you mean Peter cutting off Malchus' ear?
Regarding their three days in prison (v18), v22-23 make it clear that they spent much more than three days in prison before being delivered. That being said, I do think their dramatic deliverance from prison is reminiscent of the resurrection.
I did not write this paragraph, but I like both the original reading and the questions that follow. I find comparisons with Christ within this chapter both plentiful and yet problematic. When was Christ forced to witness suffering? This is a great question. I suppose from the time that he was born. He witnessed more suffering than any of us ever could since his earthly mission was the ultimate mission of healing. Perhaps then Alma 14:10-11 was how Christ felt on a daily basis? Of course, I have no idea if this is true, I am just thinking off the top of my head here.
I feel like the line about being forced to witness suffering weakens the point. There's no direct parallel in mind. Pretty much whenever Christ did witness suffering, he alleviated it, unlike Alma and Amulek. And also, there's a bit of a difference between witnessing suffering and being forced to witness suffering as Alma and Amulek are here. I think a closer comparison would be to 2 Kgs 25:7 where Zedekiah is forced to watch his sons be murdered. --Mike Berkey
Order and Faith of Nehor.
At this point in the story we are finally told the nature of the politico-religious rebellion taking place in Ammonihah--the leadership of the city is "after the order and faith [and profession] of Nehor" (v16, 18). Nehor had advocated for the establishment of priestcraft--paid religious leadership--and here we find that his system was actually implemented in Ammonihah. Nehor taught that "all mankind should be saved at the last day" Alma 1:4, here in Ammonihah the Nehorites appear to be challenging the idea of a Christ rescuing only the repentant--showing to their mind the futility of such a belief by casting the religious followers into flames where they were not saved.
Profession of Nehor. In v18 we are told that some of the leaders are not just of the "order and faith" of Nehor, but are of the "profession" of Nehor. Based on the current punctuation it may be impossible to know if the "lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers" were all "of the profession of Nehor" or if that phrase should just refer to a subset of these. As Nehor had originally taught that priests and teachers should be paid Alma 1:3, perhaps we could read v18 as "there came many lawyers and judges, and priests and teachers who were of the profession of Nehor." This raises interesting questions about the relationship between Nehor's philosophy, paid priesthood, and the political leadership of the breakaway apostate Nephites/Mulekites society in Ammonihah and elsewhere (such as Jerusalem near the Land of Nephi Alma 21:4). Judges and lawyers were paid for their time according to the law of Mosiah Alma 11:1, but presumably Nehorite priests and teachers in Ammonihah were also paid as Nehor had advocated.
Smote them...on their cheeks. In Alma 1:22 we learn that those who followed Nehor were prone to contending with the believers, "even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists." Here the Nehorite judge assaults Alma an Amulek in the same manner.
  • Alma 14:21. According to Websters 1928 Dictionary “Gnashing”, is “a grinding or striking of the teeth in rage or anguish.” Also compare this usage with Matt 8:12 “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The Greek New Testament word translated as gnashing is βρυγμός, broog-mos' which is “used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal punishment in hell.”
Timeline. The inclusion of the date in v23 is parenthetical to the point that "they had thus suffered many days." Perhaps the date here is meant to give us an idea of how long they were in prison. In ch8 Alma seems to begin his preaching in Ammonihah within the first couple of weeks of the tenth year. From the time he starts preaching in ch8 to the time that the believers are burned doesn't seem to be more than a couple months, so that the time spent in prison here is probably several months.
Power structures. The language of power continues to escalate as the conclusion nears. In verses 19 and 20, the chief judge again attempts to goad Alma and Amulek into displaying power. In verse 19, the judge declares his own power over their life, and then rhetorically asks them why they haven't yet delivered themselves in v. 20. The next mention of power is in v. 24, where the question is no longer rhetorical, and the judge commands, "If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves." In the midst of this progression from question to demand, however, sits v. 22, in which Alma and Amulek are submitted to deprivation of food, water, and clothing. Their stubborn silence has goaded the chief judge to an actual exercise of power, fulfilling threats. Through their very silence, ironically, Alma and Amulek have declared themselves to be outside of the structure, and in the following verses, God finally allows them to exercise true power in demolishing the prison.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6: Was Zeezrom "astonished at the words which had been spoken" by "the people" in v5 or by Alma and Amulek in the previous chapters?
  • Alma 14:6: Zeezrom caused the people to have "blindness of the mind" due to his lying words. Does this mean that the people were weakminded, or does it mean something else?
  • Alma 14:7: What is it in Zeezrom's confession/testimony in v7 that may have provoked the people to cast out or burn the believers?
  • Alma 14:7: When Zeezrom declares himself as guilty is he volunteering to take the punishment for the “crimes” committed by Alma and Amulek?
  • Alma 14:7: Is there a religious significance to the casting of stones in this verse?
  • Alma 14:7: What is the connection between what the people do to Zeezrom here (revile, spit, cast out) and what they did to Alma when he first went to Ammonihah? (revile, spit, cast out: see Alma 8:13) Is this a ritual in their city?
  • Alma 14:8: Verse 7 records that Zeezrom and all those who believed in the words which had been spoken were exiled from Ammonihah, yet verse 8 says their wives and children were rounded up to be burned. Is this second group more extensive, because it contained "whosoever had been taught to believe in the word of God," or was it less extensive, because other believers had already been cast out or stoned?
  • Alma 14:8: How plentiful were copies of the “holy scriptures”?
  • Alma 14:8: What physical form did scripture take? This verse implies that they can be burned. Is carbon-based material (paper, parchment, or other similar materials) evident elsewhere in the Book of Mormon? Were scriptures bound, rolled, kept on animal skins, printed on textiles?
  • Alma 14:9: Both v8 and v9 suggest that both the location and means of execution may have been previously established in Ammonihah: for example, use of "the fire" without any description of fire-building or site selection, and reference to "the place of martyrdom" as if this was well known. Did the actual place bear this designation, "the place of martyrdom", and if so, was it already so designated before v8, or did the place only take on this designation historically because of this event?
  • Alma 14:9: Why it is important to the people of Ammonihah that Alma and Amulek "witness the destruction"? More generally, why is it important that we become witnesses to suffering, injustice, and the pains of others? Does their use of "witness" as a verb rather than a noun make a difference here?
  • Alma 14:9: What affect might watching this gruesome scene have had on Alma and Amulek? Are the people trying to break down Alma and Amulek psychologically? How might this experience influence the their future preaching?
  • Alma 14:9: Why is Amulek only seeing women and children being burned in the fire? Verse 8 states that “whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they cause that they should be cast into the fire.” Are Alma and Amulek standing next to other men while they watch this scene, or were all the men driven out in v7 and only women and children cast into the fire?
  • Alma 14:11: Alma declares that the people being burned are received “unto himself [God], in glory.” The footnote for glory in your scriptures leads you to the topical guide heading for “exaltation.” Is this verse declaring that martyrdom equals exaltation? If not, what does “in glory” mean? If so, does all martyrdom equal exaltation or does glory refer only to this specific case?
  • Alma 14:11: What does this verse teach us about Ethics and priesthood responsibly? After all, don't we have an ethical responsibility to protect those around us from harm?
  • Alma 14:11: What does the "last day" refer to in this verse? Is that refering to this life or the next?
  • Alma 14:11: Is Alma reinforcing John the Beloved's message (in the book of Revelation) that the Saints are to spend their time, energy, and resources doing good and preaching repentance rather than fighting against evil?
  • Alma 14:12: Could you read this as Amulek actually hoping to die also, since members of his own family were likely consumed in the flames before his eyes? In other words, is it possible to read verse 12 as a sort of death wish on Amulek's part?
  • Alma 14:13: Does this verse say anything about free will if Alma and Amulek are not free to either die or be killed?
  • Alma 14:13: Why does the judge punch Alma and Amulek in the face ("smote on their cheeks)? What significance is there to being punched in the face in ancient culture? How does this connect to the Savior's words of "turning the other cheek?"
  • Alma 14:14: What is meant by the "chief judge of the land" here? Is this a title or just descriptive? How is this different from the "chief judge" title that Alma gave up to Nephihah? Does this tell us anything about the actual structure of government or about differences between government in Zarahemla and Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:14: Is the Chief judge using “fire and brimstone” as a literal term, or is condemning those who were burned to hell? Compare Gen. 19:24 and Ps. 11:6 for Biblical usage of this term.
  • Alma 14:15: When the chief judge taunts them for not having power to save those who had been cast into the fire, is he referring to the conversation they had in v10-11?
  • Alma 14:15: What is the chief judge looking for? Is he asking rhetorical questions or does he expect real answers? Does the text give us any indication that Alma and Amulek can escape punishment if they answer these questions to the satisfaction of the Chief judge?
  • Alma 14:16: What is the order and faith of Nehor? Is there a difference between the faith of Nehor and the order of Nehor? Why is it significant that the judge was a Nehorite?
  • Alma 14:16: How is the word “faith” being used in this verse? Is Mormon talking about a religious faith/sect, or some other kind of faith.
  • Alma 14:17: Why didn't Alma and Amulek answer the judge? Is their silence a strategic form or passive aggressiveness or it is something else?
  • Alma 14:17: Who are these officers that deliver the prisoners into prison? What is the nature of their office? What can we infer about the organization of Ammonihah society based on the presence of "officers"?
  • Alma 14:17: What do we know about Nephite or Nehorite prisons?
  • Alma 14:18: What do we know about the position of lawyers, judges, priests, and teachers in this society?
  • Alma 14:18: What does "who were of the profession of Nehor" modify--lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers or just a subset of these; perhaps just teachers or priests and teachers? What does the "profession" of Nehor mean, and how is it related to the "order" and "faith" of Nehor (v.16)?
  • Alma 14:18: What kind of information were they trying to get out of Alma and Amulek as they sat in prison?
  • Alma 14:19: Did Alma and Amulek refuse to answer the judge because of Alma's revelation from the Lord that they still had work to do? Did their silence mean anything?
  • Alma 14:19: Are the words "power" and "command" in this sentence used to highlight and contrast the judge's (earthly) authority against Alma and Amulek's message of Jesus Christ, the true Judge who possesses all true Power and who authors all Commands?
  • Alma 14:21: Since the damned are described in the scriptures as gnashing their teeth, are the people here being sarcastic? If so, how common is sarcasm in the scriptures?
  • Alma 14:23: Why is the exact day of Alma and Amulek's deliverance important to note, but not the exact day of the martyrdom of the believers?
  • Alma 14:23: Why would the chief judge take many of the teachers and lawyers to the prison with him?
  • Alma 14:23: What connection do the teachers have with the lawyers in Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:23: Are the teachers responsible for educating the upcoming lawyers in the ways of Nehor for this society?
  • Alma 14:25: What do the united actions of these people tell us about them?
  • Alma 14:25: What is the "power of God"? Is it the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, or something else?

Resources[edit]

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  • This link contains additional material which isn't designed to be direct commentary on Alma 14, but which may be helpful to interested readers of Alma 14.
  • Alma 14:16-20. See the end of the essay, "Ammonihah," by Kent Brown for some interesting comments on why the enemies of Alma and Amulek felt they had to return again and again to demand that the prisoners speak.

Notes[edit]

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Alma 14:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Verses 14:6-29
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Summary[edit]

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The relationship of Chapter 8 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6. Regarding Zeezrom's soul being harrowed up: harrowing as an agricultural term is quite distinct from plowing, which digs a single deep trough. A harrow is a long, multi-tined instrument that disrupts the top layers of the soil, breaking up clumps and rendering the surface ready for planting (See Websters 1828 dictionary entry). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, use of the term to refer to lacerating or wounding the feelings; to vex, pain, or distress greatly (rarely with up) apparently dates in English to the early 1600s, and is first attributed to Shakespeare (1603) Hamlet i. v. 16, "I would a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soule." Harrowing is mentioned 13 times in the LDS scriptures, 10 times in the Book of Mormon--the only source for verses discussing the harrowing up of souls.
See also Christian beliefs about Christ's "Harrowing of Hell" (Greek: Anastasis) between his death and resurrection. Wikipedia
Zeezrom's Conversion. Zeezrom's change of heart begins when people testify falsely against Alma and Amulek. His range of emotions begins with "astonishment" at the "blindness of the minds," which leads to a sense of his own complicity and guilt about the collective unwillingness to accept truth, and then to being "harrowed up" and "encircled by pains of hell," and finally: public confession.
Burning the believers. The reaction of the wicked to burn the believers is entirely shocking. Indeed, it may be the most extreme reaction by the wicked to preaching recorded in scripture. It is surprising for a couple reasons.
It seems to come out of nowhere. In the preceding verses and chapters, the wickedness of Ammonihah seems to be pretty typical of all wicked cities. No particular mention of their sins is made (besides Alma 8:17) except to say that they're wicked and they reject Alma's teachings. By contrast, Mosiah 11 gives specific attention to the wickedness of King Noah, making a case against them, before introducing Abinadi. Ammonihah feels like your run-of-the-mill prideful city, until you get to v8 and realize just how awful these guys are.
It's unprecedented. Typically in situations like this, those in power (the king, the chief judge, the governor, etc.) act primarily in the interest of preserving their power and will seek to knock off the head of the movement (e.g. the prophet) that is disturbing the balance of power. There may be some persecution against the believers as well, but not typically this extreme. That seems to be the pattern this story was following until v5. In v5, Alma and Amulek are on trial, suggesting they prefer to keep up a facade of legality and justice. But what is the outcome of the hearing? To burn the believers! But they weren't on trial so what was the point of holding one? It makes no sense. A possible explanation for this sudden turn may be the interposed testimony of Zeezrom.
It's blatantly illegal. Ammonihah is still accountable to the broader laws of the land, and they must expect some kind of retribution for the execution of women and children who weren’t even on trial in v5. These burnings don’t just represent a rejection of Alma’s preaching, but a rejection of association with the rest of the Nephites. Between this verse and Alma 8:17, it’s clear that these people were already planning some kind of rebellion when Alma came to Ammonihah in ch8, though it isn’t revealed in their actions until this moment.
It's extremely sarcastic. Since Alma had previously quoted scriptures to the people of Ammonhihah about a time when the wicked's "torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever" Alma 12:17, perhaps the wicked leaders are seeking to enact this prediction, throwing it in the face of Alma and Amulek. The wicked leaders will later sarcastically enact another of the prophesies about the damned--by "gnashing their teeth upon them" and specifically mocking them by asking "how shall we look when we are damned?" Alma 14:21.
  • Alma 14:6: Power structures. The significance of burning the believers' records may possibly be explained in terms of the power structures discussed above. Because records are a crucial part of any power structure, especially those that are elite/educated (courts and religions and education, constituted of judges, laywers, priests, and teachers), it may be that these scriptural records were recognized as the binding and unifying force for this upstart religious group. Burning the records, then, especially in such a way as to warrant such strong language ("that they might be burned and destroyed by fire") might be aimed at cutting down this threatening power structure at its very roots.
In addition, it should be remembered that it was Alma and Amulek's reinterpretation of scripture that lead to the mass conversion. Alma 14:1 indicates that the new converts "began to repent, and to search the scriptures." Perhaps the ruling class had a particular interpretation of scripture that they taught (likely similar to the Nehor doctrines discussed elsewhere in the Book of Mormon) and if the people were to take Alma and Amulek seriously and read for themselves, the Nehor fallacies would be discovered and their power as leaders and teachers lost.
Further evidence that this chapter is steeped in the language of judicial procedure comes in Zeezrom's introspective statement. As Zeezrom realizes his own error and watches the court-room drama unfolding between God and the people of Ammonihah, he exclaims, "Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless. He frames his repentant statement in terms of guilt vs. innocence. Immediately after proclaiming his own guilt, he is eliminated from the system, "reviled" and "cast . . . out from among them" in company with the other believers (v. 7).
  • Alma 14:14. Brimstone, according to the footnote in the LDS version of the Old Testament for Gen. 19:24 is from the Heb. Term meaning, “combustible materials (especially sulphur and pitch).”
  • Alma 14:14: Martyrdom of the believers. Verse 8 told us that the wives and children of those men who had been cast out because of their belief plus anyone else who believed was burned. Verse 14 suggests that part of the motivation for choosing this way to kill them was to make a point in contrast to Alma's prophecy in 12:17. There Alma had prophesied that if the people didn't repent they would ultimately be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. So then, when the wicked cast the believers into a lake of fire, it seems the point is something like "we are the one's with the power to cast people into the fire. Don't be afraid of God's punishment be afraid of ours."
Elder Maxwell said, "Touting our own “hand” makes it doubly hard to confess God’s hand in all things," and he cites v. 11 as an example of Alma refusing to tout his own hand.
Alma says in v11 that "the Spirit constraineth me" not to act to prevent these deaths. Other uses of this word in scripture include Paul's discussion of the moment of judgment before God ("for the love of Christ constraineth us" 2 Corinthians 5:14) and Job's refusal to speak ("for I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me" Job 32:18).
The Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “constraineth” in 2 Corinthians 5:14 is συνέχω, (soon-ekh'-o) [2]. This word means to hold something together in order to prevent it from falling apart. The KJV is the only major Bible translation that uses constraineth for this verse. Most English translations use either “control” or “compel.”
  • Alma 14:14: Power structures. In these verses, the question of power as such explicitly comes to the fore. Interestingly, it is Amulek who raises the question, perhaps as part of his growing understanding of what it means to be called of God: "Let us stretch forth our hands and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."
In verse 15, the chief judge again raises the issue: "ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them." Not only is Alma and Amulek's power brought into question, but the clout of God himself is challenged!
It is striking, then, that sandwiched between these first two mentions of power, the legal overtones of the chapter reach their most significant peak: God has permitted the believers to be burned in order that "the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness." Situated in the center of two questions, one about how one ought to exercise God's power (v.10), and the other about how that power manifests itself in the eyes of others (v.15), is a manifestation of God's exercise of that power as He is seated in righteous judgment. God is judging the people's actions, and their assertion of hierarchy and a power structure over and against his own excites "his [just] wrath."
Burning the believers. There’s no mention of Alma or Amulek saying or doing anything in v1-9. This is mainly a picture of the people’s reaction to their preaching, and what a reaction! Those that repent immediately turn to the scriptures (but aren’t baptized, which I’m still wondering about). The reaction of the unrepentant is incoherent. They think about killing them, but change their mind and instead bring them to court. Zeezrom tries to defend them so they turn on him, kick him and the rest of the believing men out and burn the women and children. Like, where did that come from? I thought Alma and Amulek were on trial.
I’ve tried to develop a model in which this reaction might make a bit more sense. I’ve based it on Alma 8:17. In that scripture Alma has turned his back on Ammonihah, but an angel has sent him back with a specific mission to warn them that if they don’t repent they’ll be destroyed. But in v17 the angel kind of gives a reason why Ammonihah is in so much trouble. He says that even at this moment they’re plotting to destroy the liberty of the Nephites. This is the only justification I’ve found (before Alma 14 that is) for the Lord’s intent to destroy Ammonihah.
This is the situation in Ammonihah when Alma and Amulek are preaching. The people are on the verge of some kind of revolt to gain power over the rest of the Nephites. This would explain their focus on power that Kim has pointed out. Burning the believers and their records is a way of exerting their power over Alma and Amulek, putting them in their place. “Don’t tell us that we’ll be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. Anyone you convert, we’ll cast into fire and brimstone. We’ll make you watch on, helpless and powerless to save them!” These guys have an intense desire for power and it’s kind of terrifying what it drives them to do.
  • Connections between Alma 14 and Mosiah 17-19.
I’ve also found several connections between the Noah-Abinadi story and this story.
1) Accusation of reviling against the law/king
2) Putting the righteous to death specifically by fire
3) Alma the elder and Zeezrom are parallel characters. Both are introduced as, “one among them.” (Mosiah 17:2 and Alma 10:31) Alma “knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified.” Zeezrom “knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused” (Alma 14:6). Alma “began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi.” Zeezrom “began to plead for them from that time forth.” King Noah “caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him.” The Ammonihahites “cast [Zeezrom] out from among them… and sent men to cast stones at them.”
4) The official charge against Abinadi turns out to be that he taught that “God himself should come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 17:8) The Ammonihahites testify in court that Alma and Amulek had taught that God “should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.” (Alma 14:5)
5) Abinadi held in prison three days before being confronted again (Mosiah 17:6). Alma and Amulek are held in prison for three days before being confronted again (Alma 14:17-18).
6) After Noah is killed and his priests are scattered (as prophesied in Mosiah 17:16-19), the people of Noah meet the people of Gideon who tell them “all that had hapened to their wives and their children.” After Ammonihah is destroyed (as prophesied) Alma and Amulek tell the men who fled the city “all that had happened unto their wives and children.”
7) Alma Sr. establishes a church and baptize many who say it’s “the desire of our hearts.” (Mosiah 18:11) Alma Jr. establishes a church and baptizes many who are “desirous to be baptized.” (Alma 15:13)
8) Noah sees that the “lamanites were within the borders of the land.” Later the “began to slay them” and they take others captive.” (Mosiah 19:6-15) Alma 15 records that “the armies of the Lamanites had come… into the borders of the land… and began to slay the people…” and they took “others captive.”
  • Elements prefiguring Christ
The contents of this section may need possible revision.
I have a question and a suggested revision.
Several elements in this narrative prefigure Christ's trial, execution, and resurrection in the New Testament Gospels. They include the chief judge "smote them with his hand upon their cheeks" (v14), being mocked by suggesting they use God's power to save themselves, being forced them to witness the suffering of others, and their period of grief and silence that lasts three days (v18) prior to their dramatic deliverance from the prison, symbolic of triumph over death.
My question is what moment you have in mind from Christ's atonement where he was forced to witness the suffering of others? Perhaps you mean in performing the atonement he saw our suffering, or that he was crucified with two thieves, or do you mean Peter cutting off Malchus' ear?
Regarding their three days in prison (v18), v22-23 make it clear that they spent much more than three days in prison before being delivered. That being said, I do think their dramatic deliverance from prison is reminiscent of the resurrection.
I did not write this paragraph, but I like both the original reading and the questions that follow. I find comparisons with Christ within this chapter both plentiful and yet problematic. When was Christ forced to witness suffering? This is a great question. I suppose from the time that he was born. He witnessed more suffering than any of us ever could since his earthly mission was the ultimate mission of healing. Perhaps then Alma 14:10-11 was how Christ felt on a daily basis? Of course, I have no idea if this is true, I am just thinking off the top of my head here.
I feel like the line about being forced to witness suffering weakens the point. There's no direct parallel in mind. Pretty much whenever Christ did witness suffering, he alleviated it, unlike Alma and Amulek. And also, there's a bit of a difference between witnessing suffering and being forced to witness suffering as Alma and Amulek are here. I think a closer comparison would be to 2 Kgs 25:7 where Zedekiah is forced to watch his sons be murdered. --Mike Berkey
Order and Faith of Nehor.
At this point in the story we are finally told the nature of the politico-religious rebellion taking place in Ammonihah--the leadership of the city is "after the order and faith [and profession] of Nehor" (v16, 18). Nehor had advocated for the establishment of priestcraft--paid religious leadership--and here we find that his system was actually implemented in Ammonihah. Nehor taught that "all mankind should be saved at the last day" Alma 1:4, here in Ammonihah the Nehorites appear to be challenging the idea of a Christ rescuing only the repentant--showing to their mind the futility of such a belief by casting the religious followers into flames where they were not saved.
Profession of Nehor. In v18 we are told that some of the leaders are not just of the "order and faith" of Nehor, but are of the "profession" of Nehor. Based on the current punctuation it may be impossible to know if the "lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers" were all "of the profession of Nehor" or if that phrase should just refer to a subset of these. As Nehor had originally taught that priests and teachers should be paid Alma 1:3, perhaps we could read v18 as "there came many lawyers and judges, and priests and teachers who were of the profession of Nehor." This raises interesting questions about the relationship between Nehor's philosophy, paid priesthood, and the political leadership of the breakaway apostate Nephites/Mulekites society in Ammonihah and elsewhere (such as Jerusalem near the Land of Nephi Alma 21:4). Judges and lawyers were paid for their time according to the law of Mosiah Alma 11:1, but presumably Nehorite priests and teachers in Ammonihah were also paid as Nehor had advocated.
Smote them...on their cheeks. In Alma 1:22 we learn that those who followed Nehor were prone to contending with the believers, "even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists." Here the Nehorite judge assaults Alma an Amulek in the same manner.
  • Alma 14:21. According to Websters 1928 Dictionary “Gnashing”, is “a grinding or striking of the teeth in rage or anguish.” Also compare this usage with Matt 8:12 “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The Greek New Testament word translated as gnashing is βρυγμός, broog-mos' which is “used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal punishment in hell.”
Timeline. The inclusion of the date in v23 is parenthetical to the point that "they had thus suffered many days." Perhaps the date here is meant to give us an idea of how long they were in prison. In ch8 Alma seems to begin his preaching in Ammonihah within the first couple of weeks of the tenth year. From the time he starts preaching in ch8 to the time that the believers are burned doesn't seem to be more than a couple months, so that the time spent in prison here is probably several months.
Power structures. The language of power continues to escalate as the conclusion nears. In verses 19 and 20, the chief judge again attempts to goad Alma and Amulek into displaying power. In verse 19, the judge declares his own power over their life, and then rhetorically asks them why they haven't yet delivered themselves in v. 20. The next mention of power is in v. 24, where the question is no longer rhetorical, and the judge commands, "If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves." In the midst of this progression from question to demand, however, sits v. 22, in which Alma and Amulek are submitted to deprivation of food, water, and clothing. Their stubborn silence has goaded the chief judge to an actual exercise of power, fulfilling threats. Through their very silence, ironically, Alma and Amulek have declared themselves to be outside of the structure, and in the following verses, God finally allows them to exercise true power in demolishing the prison.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6: Was Zeezrom "astonished at the words which had been spoken" by "the people" in v5 or by Alma and Amulek in the previous chapters?
  • Alma 14:6: Zeezrom caused the people to have "blindness of the mind" due to his lying words. Does this mean that the people were weakminded, or does it mean something else?
  • Alma 14:7: What is it in Zeezrom's confession/testimony in v7 that may have provoked the people to cast out or burn the believers?
  • Alma 14:7: When Zeezrom declares himself as guilty is he volunteering to take the punishment for the “crimes” committed by Alma and Amulek?
  • Alma 14:7: Is there a religious significance to the casting of stones in this verse?
  • Alma 14:7: What is the connection between what the people do to Zeezrom here (revile, spit, cast out) and what they did to Alma when he first went to Ammonihah? (revile, spit, cast out: see Alma 8:13) Is this a ritual in their city?
  • Alma 14:8: Verse 7 records that Zeezrom and all those who believed in the words which had been spoken were exiled from Ammonihah, yet verse 8 says their wives and children were rounded up to be burned. Is this second group more extensive, because it contained "whosoever had been taught to believe in the word of God," or was it less extensive, because other believers had already been cast out or stoned?
  • Alma 14:8: How plentiful were copies of the “holy scriptures”?
  • Alma 14:8: What physical form did scripture take? This verse implies that they can be burned. Is carbon-based material (paper, parchment, or other similar materials) evident elsewhere in the Book of Mormon? Were scriptures bound, rolled, kept on animal skins, printed on textiles?
  • Alma 14:9: Both v8 and v9 suggest that both the location and means of execution may have been previously established in Ammonihah: for example, use of "the fire" without any description of fire-building or site selection, and reference to "the place of martyrdom" as if this was well known. Did the actual place bear this designation, "the place of martyrdom", and if so, was it already so designated before v8, or did the place only take on this designation historically because of this event?
  • Alma 14:9: Why it is important to the people of Ammonihah that Alma and Amulek "witness the destruction"? More generally, why is it important that we become witnesses to suffering, injustice, and the pains of others? Does their use of "witness" as a verb rather than a noun make a difference here?
  • Alma 14:9: What affect might watching this gruesome scene have had on Alma and Amulek? Are the people trying to break down Alma and Amulek psychologically? How might this experience influence the their future preaching?
  • Alma 14:9: Why is Amulek only seeing women and children being burned in the fire? Verse 8 states that “whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they cause that they should be cast into the fire.” Are Alma and Amulek standing next to other men while they watch this scene, or were all the men driven out in v7 and only women and children cast into the fire?
  • Alma 14:11: Alma declares that the people being burned are received “unto himself [God], in glory.” The footnote for glory in your scriptures leads you to the topical guide heading for “exaltation.” Is this verse declaring that martyrdom equals exaltation? If not, what does “in glory” mean? If so, does all martyrdom equal exaltation or does glory refer only to this specific case?
  • Alma 14:11: What does this verse teach us about Ethics and priesthood responsibly? After all, don't we have an ethical responsibility to protect those around us from harm?
  • Alma 14:11: What does the "last day" refer to in this verse? Is that refering to this life or the next?
  • Alma 14:11: Is Alma reinforcing John the Beloved's message (in the book of Revelation) that the Saints are to spend their time, energy, and resources doing good and preaching repentance rather than fighting against evil?
  • Alma 14:12: Could you read this as Amulek actually hoping to die also, since members of his own family were likely consumed in the flames before his eyes? In other words, is it possible to read verse 12 as a sort of death wish on Amulek's part?
  • Alma 14:13: Does this verse say anything about free will if Alma and Amulek are not free to either die or be killed?
  • Alma 14:13: Why does the judge punch Alma and Amulek in the face ("smote on their cheeks)? What significance is there to being punched in the face in ancient culture? How does this connect to the Savior's words of "turning the other cheek?"
  • Alma 14:14: What is meant by the "chief judge of the land" here? Is this a title or just descriptive? How is this different from the "chief judge" title that Alma gave up to Nephihah? Does this tell us anything about the actual structure of government or about differences between government in Zarahemla and Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:14: Is the Chief judge using “fire and brimstone” as a literal term, or is condemning those who were burned to hell? Compare Gen. 19:24 and Ps. 11:6 for Biblical usage of this term.
  • Alma 14:15: When the chief judge taunts them for not having power to save those who had been cast into the fire, is he referring to the conversation they had in v10-11?
  • Alma 14:15: What is the chief judge looking for? Is he asking rhetorical questions or does he expect real answers? Does the text give us any indication that Alma and Amulek can escape punishment if they answer these questions to the satisfaction of the Chief judge?
  • Alma 14:16: What is the order and faith of Nehor? Is there a difference between the faith of Nehor and the order of Nehor? Why is it significant that the judge was a Nehorite?
  • Alma 14:16: How is the word “faith” being used in this verse? Is Mormon talking about a religious faith/sect, or some other kind of faith.
  • Alma 14:17: Why didn't Alma and Amulek answer the judge? Is their silence a strategic form or passive aggressiveness or it is something else?
  • Alma 14:17: Who are these officers that deliver the prisoners into prison? What is the nature of their office? What can we infer about the organization of Ammonihah society based on the presence of "officers"?
  • Alma 14:17: What do we know about Nephite or Nehorite prisons?
  • Alma 14:18: What do we know about the position of lawyers, judges, priests, and teachers in this society?
  • Alma 14:18: What does "who were of the profession of Nehor" modify--lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers or just a subset of these; perhaps just teachers or priests and teachers? What does the "profession" of Nehor mean, and how is it related to the "order" and "faith" of Nehor (v.16)?
  • Alma 14:18: What kind of information were they trying to get out of Alma and Amulek as they sat in prison?
  • Alma 14:19: Did Alma and Amulek refuse to answer the judge because of Alma's revelation from the Lord that they still had work to do? Did their silence mean anything?
  • Alma 14:19: Are the words "power" and "command" in this sentence used to highlight and contrast the judge's (earthly) authority against Alma and Amulek's message of Jesus Christ, the true Judge who possesses all true Power and who authors all Commands?
  • Alma 14:21: Since the damned are described in the scriptures as gnashing their teeth, are the people here being sarcastic? If so, how common is sarcasm in the scriptures?
  • Alma 14:23: Why is the exact day of Alma and Amulek's deliverance important to note, but not the exact day of the martyrdom of the believers?
  • Alma 14:23: Why would the chief judge take many of the teachers and lawyers to the prison with him?
  • Alma 14:23: What connection do the teachers have with the lawyers in Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:23: Are the teachers responsible for educating the upcoming lawyers in the ways of Nehor for this society?
  • Alma 14:25: What do the united actions of these people tell us about them?
  • Alma 14:25: What is the "power of God"? Is it the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, or something else?

Resources[edit]

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  • This link contains additional material which isn't designed to be direct commentary on Alma 14, but which may be helpful to interested readers of Alma 14.
  • Alma 14:16-20. See the end of the essay, "Ammonihah," by Kent Brown for some interesting comments on why the enemies of Alma and Amulek felt they had to return again and again to demand that the prisoners speak.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Alma 14:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Verses 14:6-29
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Summary[edit]

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The relationship of Chapter 8 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 14:6. Regarding Zeezrom's soul being harrowed up: harrowing as an agricultural term is quite distinct from plowing, which digs a single deep trough. A harrow is a long, multi-tined instrument that disrupts the top layers of the soil, breaking up clumps and rendering the surface ready for planting (See Websters 1828 dictionary entry). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, use of the term to refer to lacerating or wounding the feelings; to vex, pain, or distress greatly (rarely with up) apparently dates in English to the early 1600s, and is first attributed to Shakespeare (1603) Hamlet i. v. 16, "I would a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soule." Harrowing is mentioned 13 times in the LDS scriptures, 10 times in the Book of Mormon--the only source for verses discussing the harrowing up of souls.
See also Christian beliefs about Christ's "Harrowing of Hell" (Greek: Anastasis) between his death and resurrection. Wikipedia
Zeezrom's Conversion. Zeezrom's change of heart begins when people testify falsely against Alma and Amulek. His range of emotions begins with "astonishment" at the "blindness of the minds," which leads to a sense of his own complicity and guilt about the collective unwillingness to accept truth, and then to being "harrowed up" and "encircled by pains of hell," and finally: public confession.
Burning the believers. The reaction of the wicked to burn the believers is entirely shocking. Indeed, it may be the most extreme reaction by the wicked to preaching recorded in scripture. It is surprising for a couple reasons.
It seems to come out of nowhere. In the preceding verses and chapters, the wickedness of Ammonihah seems to be pretty typical of all wicked cities. No particular mention of their sins is made (besides Alma 8:17) except to say that they're wicked and they reject Alma's teachings. By contrast, Mosiah 11 gives specific attention to the wickedness of King Noah, making a case against them, before introducing Abinadi. Ammonihah feels like your run-of-the-mill prideful city, until you get to v8 and realize just how awful these guys are.
It's unprecedented. Typically in situations like this, those in power (the king, the chief judge, the governor, etc.) act primarily in the interest of preserving their power and will seek to knock off the head of the movement (e.g. the prophet) that is disturbing the balance of power. There may be some persecution against the believers as well, but not typically this extreme. That seems to be the pattern this story was following until v5. In v5, Alma and Amulek are on trial, suggesting they prefer to keep up a facade of legality and justice. But what is the outcome of the hearing? To burn the believers! But they weren't on trial so what was the point of holding one? It makes no sense. A possible explanation for this sudden turn may be the interposed testimony of Zeezrom.
It's blatantly illegal. Ammonihah is still accountable to the broader laws of the land, and they must expect some kind of retribution for the execution of women and children who weren’t even on trial in v5. These burnings don’t just represent a rejection of Alma’s preaching, but a rejection of association with the rest of the Nephites. Between this verse and Alma 8:17, it’s clear that these people were already planning some kind of rebellion when Alma came to Ammonihah in ch8, though it isn’t revealed in their actions until this moment.
It's extremely sarcastic. Since Alma had previously quoted scriptures to the people of Ammonhihah about a time when the wicked's "torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever" Alma 12:17, perhaps the wicked leaders are seeking to enact this prediction, throwing it in the face of Alma and Amulek. The wicked leaders will later sarcastically enact another of the prophesies about the damned--by "gnashing their teeth upon them" and specifically mocking them by asking "how shall we look when we are damned?" Alma 14:21.
  • Alma 14:6: Power structures. The significance of burning the believers' records may possibly be explained in terms of the power structures discussed above. Because records are a crucial part of any power structure, especially those that are elite/educated (courts and religions and education, constituted of judges, laywers, priests, and teachers), it may be that these scriptural records were recognized as the binding and unifying force for this upstart religious group. Burning the records, then, especially in such a way as to warrant such strong language ("that they might be burned and destroyed by fire") might be aimed at cutting down this threatening power structure at its very roots.
In addition, it should be remembered that it was Alma and Amulek's reinterpretation of scripture that lead to the mass conversion. Alma 14:1 indicates that the new converts "began to repent, and to search the scriptures." Perhaps the ruling class had a particular interpretation of scripture that they taught (likely similar to the Nehor doctrines discussed elsewhere in the Book of Mormon) and if the people were to take Alma and Amulek seriously and read for themselves, the Nehor fallacies would be discovered and their power as leaders and teachers lost.
Further evidence that this chapter is steeped in the language of judicial procedure comes in Zeezrom's introspective statement. As Zeezrom realizes his own error and watches the court-room drama unfolding between God and the people of Ammonihah, he exclaims, "Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless. He frames his repentant statement in terms of guilt vs. innocence. Immediately after proclaiming his own guilt, he is eliminated from the system, "reviled" and "cast . . . out from among them" in company with the other believers (v. 7).
  • Alma 14:14. Brimstone, according to the footnote in the LDS version of the Old Testament for Gen. 19:24 is from the Heb. Term meaning, “combustible materials (especially sulphur and pitch).”
  • Alma 14:14: Martyrdom of the believers. Verse 8 told us that the wives and children of those men who had been cast out because of their belief plus anyone else who believed was burned. Verse 14 suggests that part of the motivation for choosing this way to kill them was to make a point in contrast to Alma's prophecy in 12:17. There Alma had prophesied that if the people didn't repent they would ultimately be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. So then, when the wicked cast the believers into a lake of fire, it seems the point is something like "we are the one's with the power to cast people into the fire. Don't be afraid of God's punishment be afraid of ours."
Elder Maxwell said, "Touting our own “hand” makes it doubly hard to confess God’s hand in all things," and he cites v. 11 as an example of Alma refusing to tout his own hand.
Alma says in v11 that "the Spirit constraineth me" not to act to prevent these deaths. Other uses of this word in scripture include Paul's discussion of the moment of judgment before God ("for the love of Christ constraineth us" 2 Corinthians 5:14) and Job's refusal to speak ("for I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me" Job 32:18).
The Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “constraineth” in 2 Corinthians 5:14 is συνέχω, (soon-ekh'-o) [3]. This word means to hold something together in order to prevent it from falling apart. The KJV is the only major Bible translation that uses constraineth for this verse. Most English translations use either “control” or “compel.”
  • Alma 14:14: Power structures. In these verses, the question of power as such explicitly comes to the fore. Interestingly, it is Amulek who raises the question, perhaps as part of his growing understanding of what it means to be called of God: "Let us stretch forth our hands and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."
In verse 15, the chief judge again raises the issue: "ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them." Not only is Alma and Amulek's power brought into question, but the clout of God himself is challenged!
It is striking, then, that sandwiched between these first two mentions of power, the legal overtones of the chapter reach their most significant peak: God has permitted the believers to be burned in order that "the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness." Situated in the center of two questions, one about how one ought to exercise God's power (v.10), and the other about how that power manifests itself in the eyes of others (v.15), is a manifestation of God's exercise of that power as He is seated in righteous judgment. God is judging the people's actions, and their assertion of hierarchy and a power structure over and against his own excites "his [just] wrath."
Burning the believers. There’s no mention of Alma or Amulek saying or doing anything in v1-9. This is mainly a picture of the people’s reaction to their preaching, and what a reaction! Those that repent immediately turn to the scriptures (but aren’t baptized, which I’m still wondering about). The reaction of the unrepentant is incoherent. They think about killing them, but change their mind and instead bring them to court. Zeezrom tries to defend them so they turn on him, kick him and the rest of the believing men out and burn the women and children. Like, where did that come from? I thought Alma and Amulek were on trial.
I’ve tried to develop a model in which this reaction might make a bit more sense. I’ve based it on Alma 8:17. In that scripture Alma has turned his back on Ammonihah, but an angel has sent him back with a specific mission to warn them that if they don’t repent they’ll be destroyed. But in v17 the angel kind of gives a reason why Ammonihah is in so much trouble. He says that even at this moment they’re plotting to destroy the liberty of the Nephites. This is the only justification I’ve found (before Alma 14 that is) for the Lord’s intent to destroy Ammonihah.
This is the situation in Ammonihah when Alma and Amulek are preaching. The people are on the verge of some kind of revolt to gain power over the rest of the Nephites. This would explain their focus on power that Kim has pointed out. Burning the believers and their records is a way of exerting their power over Alma and Amulek, putting them in their place. “Don’t tell us that we’ll be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. Anyone you convert, we’ll cast into fire and brimstone. We’ll make you watch on, helpless and powerless to save them!” These guys have an intense desire for power and it’s kind of terrifying what it drives them to do.
  • Connections between Alma 14 and Mosiah 17-19.
I’ve also found several connections between the Noah-Abinadi story and this story.
1) Accusation of reviling against the law/king
2) Putting the righteous to death specifically by fire
3) Alma the elder and Zeezrom are parallel characters. Both are introduced as, “one among them.” (Mosiah 17:2 and Alma 10:31) Alma “knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified.” Zeezrom “knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused” (Alma 14:6). Alma “began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi.” Zeezrom “began to plead for them from that time forth.” King Noah “caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him.” The Ammonihahites “cast [Zeezrom] out from among them… and sent men to cast stones at them.”
4) The official charge against Abinadi turns out to be that he taught that “God himself should come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 17:8) The Ammonihahites testify in court that Alma and Amulek had taught that God “should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.” (Alma 14:5)
5) Abinadi held in prison three days before being confronted again (Mosiah 17:6). Alma and Amulek are held in prison for three days before being confronted again (Alma 14:17-18).
6) After Noah is killed and his priests are scattered (as prophesied in Mosiah 17:16-19), the people of Noah meet the people of Gideon who tell them “all that had hapened to their wives and their children.” After Ammonihah is destroyed (as prophesied) Alma and Amulek tell the men who fled the city “all that had happened unto their wives and children.”
7) Alma Sr. establishes a church and baptize many who say it’s “the desire of our hearts.” (Mosiah 18:11) Alma Jr. establishes a church and baptizes many who are “desirous to be baptized.” (Alma 15:13)
8) Noah sees that the “lamanites were within the borders of the land.” Later the “began to slay them” and they take others captive.” (Mosiah 19:6-15) Alma 15 records that “the armies of the Lamanites had come… into the borders of the land… and began to slay the people…” and they took “others captive.”
  • Elements prefiguring Christ
The contents of this section may need possible revision.
I have a question and a suggested revision.
Several elements in this narrative prefigure Christ's trial, execution, and resurrection in the New Testament Gospels. They include the chief judge "smote them with his hand upon their cheeks" (v14), being mocked by suggesting they use God's power to save themselves, being forced them to witness the suffering of others, and their period of grief and silence that lasts three days (v18) prior to their dramatic deliverance from the prison, symbolic of triumph over death.
My question is what moment you have in mind from Christ's atonement where he was forced to witness the suffering of others? Perhaps you mean in performing the atonement he saw our suffering, or that he was crucified with two thieves, or do you mean Peter cutting off Malchus' ear?
Regarding their three days in prison (v18), v22-23 make it clear that they spent much more than three days in prison before being delivered. That being said, I do think their dramatic deliverance from prison is reminiscent of the resurrection.
I did not write this paragraph, but I like both the original reading and the questions that follow. I find comparisons with Christ within this chapter both plentiful and yet problematic. When was Christ forced to witness suffering? This is a great question. I suppose from the time that he was born. He witnessed more suffering than any of us ever could since his earthly mission was the ultimate mission of healing. Perhaps then Alma 14:10-11 was how Christ felt on a daily basis? Of course, I have no idea if this is true, I am just thinking off the top of my head here.
I feel like the line about being forced to witness suffering weakens the point. There's no direct parallel in mind. Pretty much whenever Christ did witness suffering, he alleviated it, unlike Alma and Amulek. And also, there's a bit of a difference between witnessing suffering and being forced to witness suffering as Alma and Amulek are here. I think a closer comparison would be to 2 Kgs 25:7 where Zedekiah is forced to watch his sons be murdered. --Mike Berkey
Order and Faith of Nehor.
At this point in the story we are finally told the nature of the politico-religious rebellion taking place in Ammonihah--the leadership of the city is "after the order and faith [and profession] of Nehor" (v16, 18). Nehor had advocated for the establishment of priestcraft--paid religious leadership--and here we find that his system was actually implemented in Ammonihah. Nehor taught that "all mankind should be saved at the last day" Alma 1:4, here in Ammonihah the Nehorites appear to be challenging the idea of a Christ rescuing only the repentant--showing to their mind the futility of such a belief by casting the religious followers into flames where they were not saved.
Profession of Nehor. In v18 we are told that some of the leaders are not just of the "order and faith" of Nehor, but are of the "profession" of Nehor. Based on the current punctuation it may be impossible to know if the "lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers" were all "of the profession of Nehor" or if that phrase should just refer to a subset of these. As Nehor had originally taught that priests and teachers should be paid Alma 1:3, perhaps we could read v18 as "there came many lawyers and judges, and priests and teachers who were of the profession of Nehor." This raises interesting questions about the relationship between Nehor's philosophy, paid priesthood, and the political leadership of the breakaway apostate Nephites/Mulekites society in Ammonihah and elsewhere (such as Jerusalem near the Land of Nephi Alma 21:4). Judges and lawyers were paid for their time according to the law of Mosiah Alma 11:1, but presumably Nehorite priests and teachers in Ammonihah were also paid as Nehor had advocated.
Smote them...on their cheeks. In Alma 1:22 we learn that those who followed Nehor were prone to contending with the believers, "even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists." Here the Nehorite judge assaults Alma an Amulek in the same manner.
  • Alma 14:21. According to Websters 1928 Dictionary “Gnashing”, is “a grinding or striking of the teeth in rage or anguish.” Also compare this usage with Matt 8:12 “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The Greek New Testament word translated as gnashing is βρυγμός, broog-mos' which is “used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal punishment in hell.”
Timeline. The inclusion of the date in v23 is parenthetical to the point that "they had thus suffered many days." Perhaps the date here is meant to give us an idea of how long they were in prison. In ch8 Alma seems to begin his preaching in Ammonihah within the first couple of weeks of the tenth year. From the time he starts preaching in ch8 to the time that the believers are burned doesn't seem to be more than a couple months, so that the time spent in prison here is probably several months.
Power structures. The language of power continues to escalate as the conclusion nears. In verses 19 and 20, the chief judge again attempts to goad Alma and Amulek into displaying power. In verse 19, the judge declares his own power over their life, and then rhetorically asks them why they haven't yet delivered themselves in v. 20. The next mention of power is in v. 24, where the question is no longer rhetorical, and the judge commands, "If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves." In the midst of this progression from question to demand, however, sits v. 22, in which Alma and Amulek are submitted to deprivation of food, water, and clothing. Their stubborn silence has goaded the chief judge to an actual exercise of power, fulfilling threats. Through their very silence, ironically, Alma and Amulek have declared themselves to be outside of the structure, and in the following verses, God finally allows them to exercise true power in demolishing the prison.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6: Was Zeezrom "astonished at the words which had been spoken" by "the people" in v5 or by Alma and Amulek in the previous chapters?
  • Alma 14:6: Zeezrom caused the people to have "blindness of the mind" due to his lying words. Does this mean that the people were weakminded, or does it mean something else?
  • Alma 14:7: What is it in Zeezrom's confession/testimony in v7 that may have provoked the people to cast out or burn the believers?
  • Alma 14:7: When Zeezrom declares himself as guilty is he volunteering to take the punishment for the “crimes” committed by Alma and Amulek?
  • Alma 14:7: Is there a religious significance to the casting of stones in this verse?
  • Alma 14:7: What is the connection between what the people do to Zeezrom here (revile, spit, cast out) and what they did to Alma when he first went to Ammonihah? (revile, spit, cast out: see Alma 8:13) Is this a ritual in their city?
  • Alma 14:8: Verse 7 records that Zeezrom and all those who believed in the words which had been spoken were exiled from Ammonihah, yet verse 8 says their wives and children were rounded up to be burned. Is this second group more extensive, because it contained "whosoever had been taught to believe in the word of God," or was it less extensive, because other believers had already been cast out or stoned?
  • Alma 14:8: How plentiful were copies of the “holy scriptures”?
  • Alma 14:8: What physical form did scripture take? This verse implies that they can be burned. Is carbon-based material (paper, parchment, or other similar materials) evident elsewhere in the Book of Mormon? Were scriptures bound, rolled, kept on animal skins, printed on textiles?
  • Alma 14:9: Both v8 and v9 suggest that both the location and means of execution may have been previously established in Ammonihah: for example, use of "the fire" without any description of fire-building or site selection, and reference to "the place of martyrdom" as if this was well known. Did the actual place bear this designation, "the place of martyrdom", and if so, was it already so designated before v8, or did the place only take on this designation historically because of this event?
  • Alma 14:9: Why it is important to the people of Ammonihah that Alma and Amulek "witness the destruction"? More generally, why is it important that we become witnesses to suffering, injustice, and the pains of others? Does their use of "witness" as a verb rather than a noun make a difference here?
  • Alma 14:9: What affect might watching this gruesome scene have had on Alma and Amulek? Are the people trying to break down Alma and Amulek psychologically? How might this experience influence the their future preaching?
  • Alma 14:9: Why is Amulek only seeing women and children being burned in the fire? Verse 8 states that “whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they cause that they should be cast into the fire.” Are Alma and Amulek standing next to other men while they watch this scene, or were all the men driven out in v7 and only women and children cast into the fire?
  • Alma 14:11: Alma declares that the people being burned are received “unto himself [God], in glory.” The footnote for glory in your scriptures leads you to the topical guide heading for “exaltation.” Is this verse declaring that martyrdom equals exaltation? If not, what does “in glory” mean? If so, does all martyrdom equal exaltation or does glory refer only to this specific case?
  • Alma 14:11: What does this verse teach us about Ethics and priesthood responsibly? After all, don't we have an ethical responsibility to protect those around us from harm?
  • Alma 14:11: What does the "last day" refer to in this verse? Is that refering to this life or the next?
  • Alma 14:11: Is Alma reinforcing John the Beloved's message (in the book of Revelation) that the Saints are to spend their time, energy, and resources doing good and preaching repentance rather than fighting against evil?
  • Alma 14:12: Could you read this as Amulek actually hoping to die also, since members of his own family were likely consumed in the flames before his eyes? In other words, is it possible to read verse 12 as a sort of death wish on Amulek's part?
  • Alma 14:13: Does this verse say anything about free will if Alma and Amulek are not free to either die or be killed?
  • Alma 14:13: Why does the judge punch Alma and Amulek in the face ("smote on their cheeks)? What significance is there to being punched in the face in ancient culture? How does this connect to the Savior's words of "turning the other cheek?"
  • Alma 14:14: What is meant by the "chief judge of the land" here? Is this a title or just descriptive? How is this different from the "chief judge" title that Alma gave up to Nephihah? Does this tell us anything about the actual structure of government or about differences between government in Zarahemla and Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:14: Is the Chief judge using “fire and brimstone” as a literal term, or is condemning those who were burned to hell? Compare Gen. 19:24 and Ps. 11:6 for Biblical usage of this term.
  • Alma 14:15: When the chief judge taunts them for not having power to save those who had been cast into the fire, is he referring to the conversation they had in v10-11?
  • Alma 14:15: What is the chief judge looking for? Is he asking rhetorical questions or does he expect real answers? Does the text give us any indication that Alma and Amulek can escape punishment if they answer these questions to the satisfaction of the Chief judge?
  • Alma 14:16: What is the order and faith of Nehor? Is there a difference between the faith of Nehor and the order of Nehor? Why is it significant that the judge was a Nehorite?
  • Alma 14:16: How is the word “faith” being used in this verse? Is Mormon talking about a religious faith/sect, or some other kind of faith.
  • Alma 14:17: Why didn't Alma and Amulek answer the judge? Is their silence a strategic form or passive aggressiveness or it is something else?
  • Alma 14:17: Who are these officers that deliver the prisoners into prison? What is the nature of their office? What can we infer about the organization of Ammonihah society based on the presence of "officers"?
  • Alma 14:17: What do we know about Nephite or Nehorite prisons?
  • Alma 14:18: What do we know about the position of lawyers, judges, priests, and teachers in this society?
  • Alma 14:18: What does "who were of the profession of Nehor" modify--lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers or just a subset of these; perhaps just teachers or priests and teachers? What does the "profession" of Nehor mean, and how is it related to the "order" and "faith" of Nehor (v.16)?
  • Alma 14:18: What kind of information were they trying to get out of Alma and Amulek as they sat in prison?
  • Alma 14:19: Did Alma and Amulek refuse to answer the judge because of Alma's revelation from the Lord that they still had work to do? Did their silence mean anything?
  • Alma 14:19: Are the words "power" and "command" in this sentence used to highlight and contrast the judge's (earthly) authority against Alma and Amulek's message of Jesus Christ, the true Judge who possesses all true Power and who authors all Commands?
  • Alma 14:21: Since the damned are described in the scriptures as gnashing their teeth, are the people here being sarcastic? If so, how common is sarcasm in the scriptures?
  • Alma 14:23: Why is the exact day of Alma and Amulek's deliverance important to note, but not the exact day of the martyrdom of the believers?
  • Alma 14:23: Why would the chief judge take many of the teachers and lawyers to the prison with him?
  • Alma 14:23: What connection do the teachers have with the lawyers in Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:23: Are the teachers responsible for educating the upcoming lawyers in the ways of Nehor for this society?
  • Alma 14:25: What do the united actions of these people tell us about them?
  • Alma 14:25: What is the "power of God"? Is it the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, or something else?

Resources[edit]

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  • This link contains additional material which isn't designed to be direct commentary on Alma 14, but which may be helpful to interested readers of Alma 14.
  • Alma 14:16-20. See the end of the essay, "Ammonihah," by Kent Brown for some interesting comments on why the enemies of Alma and Amulek felt they had to return again and again to demand that the prisoners speak.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Alma 14:21-25

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Verses 14:6-29
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Summary[edit]

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The relationship of Chapter 8 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 14:6. Regarding Zeezrom's soul being harrowed up: harrowing as an agricultural term is quite distinct from plowing, which digs a single deep trough. A harrow is a long, multi-tined instrument that disrupts the top layers of the soil, breaking up clumps and rendering the surface ready for planting (See Websters 1828 dictionary entry). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, use of the term to refer to lacerating or wounding the feelings; to vex, pain, or distress greatly (rarely with up) apparently dates in English to the early 1600s, and is first attributed to Shakespeare (1603) Hamlet i. v. 16, "I would a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soule." Harrowing is mentioned 13 times in the LDS scriptures, 10 times in the Book of Mormon--the only source for verses discussing the harrowing up of souls.
See also Christian beliefs about Christ's "Harrowing of Hell" (Greek: Anastasis) between his death and resurrection. Wikipedia
Zeezrom's Conversion. Zeezrom's change of heart begins when people testify falsely against Alma and Amulek. His range of emotions begins with "astonishment" at the "blindness of the minds," which leads to a sense of his own complicity and guilt about the collective unwillingness to accept truth, and then to being "harrowed up" and "encircled by pains of hell," and finally: public confession.
Burning the believers. The reaction of the wicked to burn the believers is entirely shocking. Indeed, it may be the most extreme reaction by the wicked to preaching recorded in scripture. It is surprising for a couple reasons.
It seems to come out of nowhere. In the preceding verses and chapters, the wickedness of Ammonihah seems to be pretty typical of all wicked cities. No particular mention of their sins is made (besides Alma 8:17) except to say that they're wicked and they reject Alma's teachings. By contrast, Mosiah 11 gives specific attention to the wickedness of King Noah, making a case against them, before introducing Abinadi. Ammonihah feels like your run-of-the-mill prideful city, until you get to v8 and realize just how awful these guys are.
It's unprecedented. Typically in situations like this, those in power (the king, the chief judge, the governor, etc.) act primarily in the interest of preserving their power and will seek to knock off the head of the movement (e.g. the prophet) that is disturbing the balance of power. There may be some persecution against the believers as well, but not typically this extreme. That seems to be the pattern this story was following until v5. In v5, Alma and Amulek are on trial, suggesting they prefer to keep up a facade of legality and justice. But what is the outcome of the hearing? To burn the believers! But they weren't on trial so what was the point of holding one? It makes no sense. A possible explanation for this sudden turn may be the interposed testimony of Zeezrom.
It's blatantly illegal. Ammonihah is still accountable to the broader laws of the land, and they must expect some kind of retribution for the execution of women and children who weren’t even on trial in v5. These burnings don’t just represent a rejection of Alma’s preaching, but a rejection of association with the rest of the Nephites. Between this verse and Alma 8:17, it’s clear that these people were already planning some kind of rebellion when Alma came to Ammonihah in ch8, though it isn’t revealed in their actions until this moment.
It's extremely sarcastic. Since Alma had previously quoted scriptures to the people of Ammonhihah about a time when the wicked's "torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever" Alma 12:17, perhaps the wicked leaders are seeking to enact this prediction, throwing it in the face of Alma and Amulek. The wicked leaders will later sarcastically enact another of the prophesies about the damned--by "gnashing their teeth upon them" and specifically mocking them by asking "how shall we look when we are damned?" Alma 14:21.
  • Alma 14:6: Power structures. The significance of burning the believers' records may possibly be explained in terms of the power structures discussed above. Because records are a crucial part of any power structure, especially those that are elite/educated (courts and religions and education, constituted of judges, laywers, priests, and teachers), it may be that these scriptural records were recognized as the binding and unifying force for this upstart religious group. Burning the records, then, especially in such a way as to warrant such strong language ("that they might be burned and destroyed by fire") might be aimed at cutting down this threatening power structure at its very roots.
In addition, it should be remembered that it was Alma and Amulek's reinterpretation of scripture that lead to the mass conversion. Alma 14:1 indicates that the new converts "began to repent, and to search the scriptures." Perhaps the ruling class had a particular interpretation of scripture that they taught (likely similar to the Nehor doctrines discussed elsewhere in the Book of Mormon) and if the people were to take Alma and Amulek seriously and read for themselves, the Nehor fallacies would be discovered and their power as leaders and teachers lost.
Further evidence that this chapter is steeped in the language of judicial procedure comes in Zeezrom's introspective statement. As Zeezrom realizes his own error and watches the court-room drama unfolding between God and the people of Ammonihah, he exclaims, "Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless. He frames his repentant statement in terms of guilt vs. innocence. Immediately after proclaiming his own guilt, he is eliminated from the system, "reviled" and "cast . . . out from among them" in company with the other believers (v. 7).
  • Alma 14:14. Brimstone, according to the footnote in the LDS version of the Old Testament for Gen. 19:24 is from the Heb. Term meaning, “combustible materials (especially sulphur and pitch).”
  • Alma 14:14: Martyrdom of the believers. Verse 8 told us that the wives and children of those men who had been cast out because of their belief plus anyone else who believed was burned. Verse 14 suggests that part of the motivation for choosing this way to kill them was to make a point in contrast to Alma's prophecy in 12:17. There Alma had prophesied that if the people didn't repent they would ultimately be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. So then, when the wicked cast the believers into a lake of fire, it seems the point is something like "we are the one's with the power to cast people into the fire. Don't be afraid of God's punishment be afraid of ours."
Elder Maxwell said, "Touting our own “hand” makes it doubly hard to confess God’s hand in all things," and he cites v. 11 as an example of Alma refusing to tout his own hand.
Alma says in v11 that "the Spirit constraineth me" not to act to prevent these deaths. Other uses of this word in scripture include Paul's discussion of the moment of judgment before God ("for the love of Christ constraineth us" 2 Corinthians 5:14) and Job's refusal to speak ("for I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me" Job 32:18).
The Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “constraineth” in 2 Corinthians 5:14 is συνέχω, (soon-ekh'-o) [4]. This word means to hold something together in order to prevent it from falling apart. The KJV is the only major Bible translation that uses constraineth for this verse. Most English translations use either “control” or “compel.”
  • Alma 14:14: Power structures. In these verses, the question of power as such explicitly comes to the fore. Interestingly, it is Amulek who raises the question, perhaps as part of his growing understanding of what it means to be called of God: "Let us stretch forth our hands and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."
In verse 15, the chief judge again raises the issue: "ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them." Not only is Alma and Amulek's power brought into question, but the clout of God himself is challenged!
It is striking, then, that sandwiched between these first two mentions of power, the legal overtones of the chapter reach their most significant peak: God has permitted the believers to be burned in order that "the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness." Situated in the center of two questions, one about how one ought to exercise God's power (v.10), and the other about how that power manifests itself in the eyes of others (v.15), is a manifestation of God's exercise of that power as He is seated in righteous judgment. God is judging the people's actions, and their assertion of hierarchy and a power structure over and against his own excites "his [just] wrath."
Burning the believers. There’s no mention of Alma or Amulek saying or doing anything in v1-9. This is mainly a picture of the people’s reaction to their preaching, and what a reaction! Those that repent immediately turn to the scriptures (but aren’t baptized, which I’m still wondering about). The reaction of the unrepentant is incoherent. They think about killing them, but change their mind and instead bring them to court. Zeezrom tries to defend them so they turn on him, kick him and the rest of the believing men out and burn the women and children. Like, where did that come from? I thought Alma and Amulek were on trial.
I’ve tried to develop a model in which this reaction might make a bit more sense. I’ve based it on Alma 8:17. In that scripture Alma has turned his back on Ammonihah, but an angel has sent him back with a specific mission to warn them that if they don’t repent they’ll be destroyed. But in v17 the angel kind of gives a reason why Ammonihah is in so much trouble. He says that even at this moment they’re plotting to destroy the liberty of the Nephites. This is the only justification I’ve found (before Alma 14 that is) for the Lord’s intent to destroy Ammonihah.
This is the situation in Ammonihah when Alma and Amulek are preaching. The people are on the verge of some kind of revolt to gain power over the rest of the Nephites. This would explain their focus on power that Kim has pointed out. Burning the believers and their records is a way of exerting their power over Alma and Amulek, putting them in their place. “Don’t tell us that we’ll be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. Anyone you convert, we’ll cast into fire and brimstone. We’ll make you watch on, helpless and powerless to save them!” These guys have an intense desire for power and it’s kind of terrifying what it drives them to do.
  • Connections between Alma 14 and Mosiah 17-19.
I’ve also found several connections between the Noah-Abinadi story and this story.
1) Accusation of reviling against the law/king
2) Putting the righteous to death specifically by fire
3) Alma the elder and Zeezrom are parallel characters. Both are introduced as, “one among them.” (Mosiah 17:2 and Alma 10:31) Alma “knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified.” Zeezrom “knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused” (Alma 14:6). Alma “began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi.” Zeezrom “began to plead for them from that time forth.” King Noah “caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him.” The Ammonihahites “cast [Zeezrom] out from among them… and sent men to cast stones at them.”
4) The official charge against Abinadi turns out to be that he taught that “God himself should come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 17:8) The Ammonihahites testify in court that Alma and Amulek had taught that God “should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.” (Alma 14:5)
5) Abinadi held in prison three days before being confronted again (Mosiah 17:6). Alma and Amulek are held in prison for three days before being confronted again (Alma 14:17-18).
6) After Noah is killed and his priests are scattered (as prophesied in Mosiah 17:16-19), the people of Noah meet the people of Gideon who tell them “all that had hapened to their wives and their children.” After Ammonihah is destroyed (as prophesied) Alma and Amulek tell the men who fled the city “all that had happened unto their wives and children.”
7) Alma Sr. establishes a church and baptize many who say it’s “the desire of our hearts.” (Mosiah 18:11) Alma Jr. establishes a church and baptizes many who are “desirous to be baptized.” (Alma 15:13)
8) Noah sees that the “lamanites were within the borders of the land.” Later the “began to slay them” and they take others captive.” (Mosiah 19:6-15) Alma 15 records that “the armies of the Lamanites had come… into the borders of the land… and began to slay the people…” and they took “others captive.”
  • Elements prefiguring Christ
The contents of this section may need possible revision.
I have a question and a suggested revision.
Several elements in this narrative prefigure Christ's trial, execution, and resurrection in the New Testament Gospels. They include the chief judge "smote them with his hand upon their cheeks" (v14), being mocked by suggesting they use God's power to save themselves, being forced them to witness the suffering of others, and their period of grief and silence that lasts three days (v18) prior to their dramatic deliverance from the prison, symbolic of triumph over death.
My question is what moment you have in mind from Christ's atonement where he was forced to witness the suffering of others? Perhaps you mean in performing the atonement he saw our suffering, or that he was crucified with two thieves, or do you mean Peter cutting off Malchus' ear?
Regarding their three days in prison (v18), v22-23 make it clear that they spent much more than three days in prison before being delivered. That being said, I do think their dramatic deliverance from prison is reminiscent of the resurrection.
I did not write this paragraph, but I like both the original reading and the questions that follow. I find comparisons with Christ within this chapter both plentiful and yet problematic. When was Christ forced to witness suffering? This is a great question. I suppose from the time that he was born. He witnessed more suffering than any of us ever could since his earthly mission was the ultimate mission of healing. Perhaps then Alma 14:10-11 was how Christ felt on a daily basis? Of course, I have no idea if this is true, I am just thinking off the top of my head here.
I feel like the line about being forced to witness suffering weakens the point. There's no direct parallel in mind. Pretty much whenever Christ did witness suffering, he alleviated it, unlike Alma and Amulek. And also, there's a bit of a difference between witnessing suffering and being forced to witness suffering as Alma and Amulek are here. I think a closer comparison would be to 2 Kgs 25:7 where Zedekiah is forced to watch his sons be murdered. --Mike Berkey
Order and Faith of Nehor.
At this point in the story we are finally told the nature of the politico-religious rebellion taking place in Ammonihah--the leadership of the city is "after the order and faith [and profession] of Nehor" (v16, 18). Nehor had advocated for the establishment of priestcraft--paid religious leadership--and here we find that his system was actually implemented in Ammonihah. Nehor taught that "all mankind should be saved at the last day" Alma 1:4, here in Ammonihah the Nehorites appear to be challenging the idea of a Christ rescuing only the repentant--showing to their mind the futility of such a belief by casting the religious followers into flames where they were not saved.
Profession of Nehor. In v18 we are told that some of the leaders are not just of the "order and faith" of Nehor, but are of the "profession" of Nehor. Based on the current punctuation it may be impossible to know if the "lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers" were all "of the profession of Nehor" or if that phrase should just refer to a subset of these. As Nehor had originally taught that priests and teachers should be paid Alma 1:3, perhaps we could read v18 as "there came many lawyers and judges, and priests and teachers who were of the profession of Nehor." This raises interesting questions about the relationship between Nehor's philosophy, paid priesthood, and the political leadership of the breakaway apostate Nephites/Mulekites society in Ammonihah and elsewhere (such as Jerusalem near the Land of Nephi Alma 21:4). Judges and lawyers were paid for their time according to the law of Mosiah Alma 11:1, but presumably Nehorite priests and teachers in Ammonihah were also paid as Nehor had advocated.
Smote them...on their cheeks. In Alma 1:22 we learn that those who followed Nehor were prone to contending with the believers, "even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists." Here the Nehorite judge assaults Alma an Amulek in the same manner.
  • Alma 14:21. According to Websters 1928 Dictionary “Gnashing”, is “a grinding or striking of the teeth in rage or anguish.” Also compare this usage with Matt 8:12 “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The Greek New Testament word translated as gnashing is βρυγμός, broog-mos' which is “used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal punishment in hell.”
Timeline. The inclusion of the date in v23 is parenthetical to the point that "they had thus suffered many days." Perhaps the date here is meant to give us an idea of how long they were in prison. In ch8 Alma seems to begin his preaching in Ammonihah within the first couple of weeks of the tenth year. From the time he starts preaching in ch8 to the time that the believers are burned doesn't seem to be more than a couple months, so that the time spent in prison here is probably several months.
Power structures. The language of power continues to escalate as the conclusion nears. In verses 19 and 20, the chief judge again attempts to goad Alma and Amulek into displaying power. In verse 19, the judge declares his own power over their life, and then rhetorically asks them why they haven't yet delivered themselves in v. 20. The next mention of power is in v. 24, where the question is no longer rhetorical, and the judge commands, "If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves." In the midst of this progression from question to demand, however, sits v. 22, in which Alma and Amulek are submitted to deprivation of food, water, and clothing. Their stubborn silence has goaded the chief judge to an actual exercise of power, fulfilling threats. Through their very silence, ironically, Alma and Amulek have declared themselves to be outside of the structure, and in the following verses, God finally allows them to exercise true power in demolishing the prison.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6: Was Zeezrom "astonished at the words which had been spoken" by "the people" in v5 or by Alma and Amulek in the previous chapters?
  • Alma 14:6: Zeezrom caused the people to have "blindness of the mind" due to his lying words. Does this mean that the people were weakminded, or does it mean something else?
  • Alma 14:7: What is it in Zeezrom's confession/testimony in v7 that may have provoked the people to cast out or burn the believers?
  • Alma 14:7: When Zeezrom declares himself as guilty is he volunteering to take the punishment for the “crimes” committed by Alma and Amulek?
  • Alma 14:7: Is there a religious significance to the casting of stones in this verse?
  • Alma 14:7: What is the connection between what the people do to Zeezrom here (revile, spit, cast out) and what they did to Alma when he first went to Ammonihah? (revile, spit, cast out: see Alma 8:13) Is this a ritual in their city?
  • Alma 14:8: Verse 7 records that Zeezrom and all those who believed in the words which had been spoken were exiled from Ammonihah, yet verse 8 says their wives and children were rounded up to be burned. Is this second group more extensive, because it contained "whosoever had been taught to believe in the word of God," or was it less extensive, because other believers had already been cast out or stoned?
  • Alma 14:8: How plentiful were copies of the “holy scriptures”?
  • Alma 14:8: What physical form did scripture take? This verse implies that they can be burned. Is carbon-based material (paper, parchment, or other similar materials) evident elsewhere in the Book of Mormon? Were scriptures bound, rolled, kept on animal skins, printed on textiles?
  • Alma 14:9: Both v8 and v9 suggest that both the location and means of execution may have been previously established in Ammonihah: for example, use of "the fire" without any description of fire-building or site selection, and reference to "the place of martyrdom" as if this was well known. Did the actual place bear this designation, "the place of martyrdom", and if so, was it already so designated before v8, or did the place only take on this designation historically because of this event?
  • Alma 14:9: Why it is important to the people of Ammonihah that Alma and Amulek "witness the destruction"? More generally, why is it important that we become witnesses to suffering, injustice, and the pains of others? Does their use of "witness" as a verb rather than a noun make a difference here?
  • Alma 14:9: What affect might watching this gruesome scene have had on Alma and Amulek? Are the people trying to break down Alma and Amulek psychologically? How might this experience influence the their future preaching?
  • Alma 14:9: Why is Amulek only seeing women and children being burned in the fire? Verse 8 states that “whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they cause that they should be cast into the fire.” Are Alma and Amulek standing next to other men while they watch this scene, or were all the men driven out in v7 and only women and children cast into the fire?
  • Alma 14:11: Alma declares that the people being burned are received “unto himself [God], in glory.” The footnote for glory in your scriptures leads you to the topical guide heading for “exaltation.” Is this verse declaring that martyrdom equals exaltation? If not, what does “in glory” mean? If so, does all martyrdom equal exaltation or does glory refer only to this specific case?
  • Alma 14:11: What does this verse teach us about Ethics and priesthood responsibly? After all, don't we have an ethical responsibility to protect those around us from harm?
  • Alma 14:11: What does the "last day" refer to in this verse? Is that refering to this life or the next?
  • Alma 14:11: Is Alma reinforcing John the Beloved's message (in the book of Revelation) that the Saints are to spend their time, energy, and resources doing good and preaching repentance rather than fighting against evil?
  • Alma 14:12: Could you read this as Amulek actually hoping to die also, since members of his own family were likely consumed in the flames before his eyes? In other words, is it possible to read verse 12 as a sort of death wish on Amulek's part?
  • Alma 14:13: Does this verse say anything about free will if Alma and Amulek are not free to either die or be killed?
  • Alma 14:13: Why does the judge punch Alma and Amulek in the face ("smote on their cheeks)? What significance is there to being punched in the face in ancient culture? How does this connect to the Savior's words of "turning the other cheek?"
  • Alma 14:14: What is meant by the "chief judge of the land" here? Is this a title or just descriptive? How is this different from the "chief judge" title that Alma gave up to Nephihah? Does this tell us anything about the actual structure of government or about differences between government in Zarahemla and Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:14: Is the Chief judge using “fire and brimstone” as a literal term, or is condemning those who were burned to hell? Compare Gen. 19:24 and Ps. 11:6 for Biblical usage of this term.
  • Alma 14:15: When the chief judge taunts them for not having power to save those who had been cast into the fire, is he referring to the conversation they had in v10-11?
  • Alma 14:15: What is the chief judge looking for? Is he asking rhetorical questions or does he expect real answers? Does the text give us any indication that Alma and Amulek can escape punishment if they answer these questions to the satisfaction of the Chief judge?
  • Alma 14:16: What is the order and faith of Nehor? Is there a difference between the faith of Nehor and the order of Nehor? Why is it significant that the judge was a Nehorite?
  • Alma 14:16: How is the word “faith” being used in this verse? Is Mormon talking about a religious faith/sect, or some other kind of faith.
  • Alma 14:17: Why didn't Alma and Amulek answer the judge? Is their silence a strategic form or passive aggressiveness or it is something else?
  • Alma 14:17: Who are these officers that deliver the prisoners into prison? What is the nature of their office? What can we infer about the organization of Ammonihah society based on the presence of "officers"?
  • Alma 14:17: What do we know about Nephite or Nehorite prisons?
  • Alma 14:18: What do we know about the position of lawyers, judges, priests, and teachers in this society?
  • Alma 14:18: What does "who were of the profession of Nehor" modify--lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers or just a subset of these; perhaps just teachers or priests and teachers? What does the "profession" of Nehor mean, and how is it related to the "order" and "faith" of Nehor (v.16)?
  • Alma 14:18: What kind of information were they trying to get out of Alma and Amulek as they sat in prison?
  • Alma 14:19: Did Alma and Amulek refuse to answer the judge because of Alma's revelation from the Lord that they still had work to do? Did their silence mean anything?
  • Alma 14:19: Are the words "power" and "command" in this sentence used to highlight and contrast the judge's (earthly) authority against Alma and Amulek's message of Jesus Christ, the true Judge who possesses all true Power and who authors all Commands?
  • Alma 14:21: Since the damned are described in the scriptures as gnashing their teeth, are the people here being sarcastic? If so, how common is sarcasm in the scriptures?
  • Alma 14:23: Why is the exact day of Alma and Amulek's deliverance important to note, but not the exact day of the martyrdom of the believers?
  • Alma 14:23: Why would the chief judge take many of the teachers and lawyers to the prison with him?
  • Alma 14:23: What connection do the teachers have with the lawyers in Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:23: Are the teachers responsible for educating the upcoming lawyers in the ways of Nehor for this society?
  • Alma 14:25: What do the united actions of these people tell us about them?
  • Alma 14:25: What is the "power of God"? Is it the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, or something else?

Resources[edit]

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  • This link contains additional material which isn't designed to be direct commentary on Alma 14, but which may be helpful to interested readers of Alma 14.
  • Alma 14:16-20. See the end of the essay, "Ammonihah," by Kent Brown for some interesting comments on why the enemies of Alma and Amulek felt they had to return again and again to demand that the prisoners speak.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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Alma 14:26-29

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Verses 14:6-29
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Summary[edit]

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The relationship of Chapter 8 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 14:6. Regarding Zeezrom's soul being harrowed up: harrowing as an agricultural term is quite distinct from plowing, which digs a single deep trough. A harrow is a long, multi-tined instrument that disrupts the top layers of the soil, breaking up clumps and rendering the surface ready for planting (See Websters 1828 dictionary entry). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, use of the term to refer to lacerating or wounding the feelings; to vex, pain, or distress greatly (rarely with up) apparently dates in English to the early 1600s, and is first attributed to Shakespeare (1603) Hamlet i. v. 16, "I would a tale unfold, whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soule." Harrowing is mentioned 13 times in the LDS scriptures, 10 times in the Book of Mormon--the only source for verses discussing the harrowing up of souls.
See also Christian beliefs about Christ's "Harrowing of Hell" (Greek: Anastasis) between his death and resurrection. Wikipedia
Zeezrom's Conversion. Zeezrom's change of heart begins when people testify falsely against Alma and Amulek. His range of emotions begins with "astonishment" at the "blindness of the minds," which leads to a sense of his own complicity and guilt about the collective unwillingness to accept truth, and then to being "harrowed up" and "encircled by pains of hell," and finally: public confession.
Burning the believers. The reaction of the wicked to burn the believers is entirely shocking. Indeed, it may be the most extreme reaction by the wicked to preaching recorded in scripture. It is surprising for a couple reasons.
It seems to come out of nowhere. In the preceding verses and chapters, the wickedness of Ammonihah seems to be pretty typical of all wicked cities. No particular mention of their sins is made (besides Alma 8:17) except to say that they're wicked and they reject Alma's teachings. By contrast, Mosiah 11 gives specific attention to the wickedness of King Noah, making a case against them, before introducing Abinadi. Ammonihah feels like your run-of-the-mill prideful city, until you get to v8 and realize just how awful these guys are.
It's unprecedented. Typically in situations like this, those in power (the king, the chief judge, the governor, etc.) act primarily in the interest of preserving their power and will seek to knock off the head of the movement (e.g. the prophet) that is disturbing the balance of power. There may be some persecution against the believers as well, but not typically this extreme. That seems to be the pattern this story was following until v5. In v5, Alma and Amulek are on trial, suggesting they prefer to keep up a facade of legality and justice. But what is the outcome of the hearing? To burn the believers! But they weren't on trial so what was the point of holding one? It makes no sense. A possible explanation for this sudden turn may be the interposed testimony of Zeezrom.
It's blatantly illegal. Ammonihah is still accountable to the broader laws of the land, and they must expect some kind of retribution for the execution of women and children who weren’t even on trial in v5. These burnings don’t just represent a rejection of Alma’s preaching, but a rejection of association with the rest of the Nephites. Between this verse and Alma 8:17, it’s clear that these people were already planning some kind of rebellion when Alma came to Ammonihah in ch8, though it isn’t revealed in their actions until this moment.
It's extremely sarcastic. Since Alma had previously quoted scriptures to the people of Ammonhihah about a time when the wicked's "torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever" Alma 12:17, perhaps the wicked leaders are seeking to enact this prediction, throwing it in the face of Alma and Amulek. The wicked leaders will later sarcastically enact another of the prophesies about the damned--by "gnashing their teeth upon them" and specifically mocking them by asking "how shall we look when we are damned?" Alma 14:21.
  • Alma 14:6: Power structures. The significance of burning the believers' records may possibly be explained in terms of the power structures discussed above. Because records are a crucial part of any power structure, especially those that are elite/educated (courts and religions and education, constituted of judges, laywers, priests, and teachers), it may be that these scriptural records were recognized as the binding and unifying force for this upstart religious group. Burning the records, then, especially in such a way as to warrant such strong language ("that they might be burned and destroyed by fire") might be aimed at cutting down this threatening power structure at its very roots.
In addition, it should be remembered that it was Alma and Amulek's reinterpretation of scripture that lead to the mass conversion. Alma 14:1 indicates that the new converts "began to repent, and to search the scriptures." Perhaps the ruling class had a particular interpretation of scripture that they taught (likely similar to the Nehor doctrines discussed elsewhere in the Book of Mormon) and if the people were to take Alma and Amulek seriously and read for themselves, the Nehor fallacies would be discovered and their power as leaders and teachers lost.
Further evidence that this chapter is steeped in the language of judicial procedure comes in Zeezrom's introspective statement. As Zeezrom realizes his own error and watches the court-room drama unfolding between God and the people of Ammonihah, he exclaims, "Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless. He frames his repentant statement in terms of guilt vs. innocence. Immediately after proclaiming his own guilt, he is eliminated from the system, "reviled" and "cast . . . out from among them" in company with the other believers (v. 7).
  • Alma 14:14. Brimstone, according to the footnote in the LDS version of the Old Testament for Gen. 19:24 is from the Heb. Term meaning, “combustible materials (especially sulphur and pitch).”
  • Alma 14:14: Martyrdom of the believers. Verse 8 told us that the wives and children of those men who had been cast out because of their belief plus anyone else who believed was burned. Verse 14 suggests that part of the motivation for choosing this way to kill them was to make a point in contrast to Alma's prophecy in 12:17. There Alma had prophesied that if the people didn't repent they would ultimately be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. So then, when the wicked cast the believers into a lake of fire, it seems the point is something like "we are the one's with the power to cast people into the fire. Don't be afraid of God's punishment be afraid of ours."
Elder Maxwell said, "Touting our own “hand” makes it doubly hard to confess God’s hand in all things," and he cites v. 11 as an example of Alma refusing to tout his own hand.
Alma says in v11 that "the Spirit constraineth me" not to act to prevent these deaths. Other uses of this word in scripture include Paul's discussion of the moment of judgment before God ("for the love of Christ constraineth us" 2 Corinthians 5:14) and Job's refusal to speak ("for I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth me" Job 32:18).
The Greek word used in the New Testament that is translated as “constraineth” in 2 Corinthians 5:14 is συνέχω, (soon-ekh'-o) [5]. This word means to hold something together in order to prevent it from falling apart. The KJV is the only major Bible translation that uses constraineth for this verse. Most English translations use either “control” or “compel.”
  • Alma 14:14: Power structures. In these verses, the question of power as such explicitly comes to the fore. Interestingly, it is Amulek who raises the question, perhaps as part of his growing understanding of what it means to be called of God: "Let us stretch forth our hands and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames."
In verse 15, the chief judge again raises the issue: "ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them." Not only is Alma and Amulek's power brought into question, but the clout of God himself is challenged!
It is striking, then, that sandwiched between these first two mentions of power, the legal overtones of the chapter reach their most significant peak: God has permitted the believers to be burned in order that "the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness." Situated in the center of two questions, one about how one ought to exercise God's power (v.10), and the other about how that power manifests itself in the eyes of others (v.15), is a manifestation of God's exercise of that power as He is seated in righteous judgment. God is judging the people's actions, and their assertion of hierarchy and a power structure over and against his own excites "his [just] wrath."
Burning the believers. There’s no mention of Alma or Amulek saying or doing anything in v1-9. This is mainly a picture of the people’s reaction to their preaching, and what a reaction! Those that repent immediately turn to the scriptures (but aren’t baptized, which I’m still wondering about). The reaction of the unrepentant is incoherent. They think about killing them, but change their mind and instead bring them to court. Zeezrom tries to defend them so they turn on him, kick him and the rest of the believing men out and burn the women and children. Like, where did that come from? I thought Alma and Amulek were on trial.
I’ve tried to develop a model in which this reaction might make a bit more sense. I’ve based it on Alma 8:17. In that scripture Alma has turned his back on Ammonihah, but an angel has sent him back with a specific mission to warn them that if they don’t repent they’ll be destroyed. But in v17 the angel kind of gives a reason why Ammonihah is in so much trouble. He says that even at this moment they’re plotting to destroy the liberty of the Nephites. This is the only justification I’ve found (before Alma 14 that is) for the Lord’s intent to destroy Ammonihah.
This is the situation in Ammonihah when Alma and Amulek are preaching. The people are on the verge of some kind of revolt to gain power over the rest of the Nephites. This would explain their focus on power that Kim has pointed out. Burning the believers and their records is a way of exerting their power over Alma and Amulek, putting them in their place. “Don’t tell us that we’ll be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone. Anyone you convert, we’ll cast into fire and brimstone. We’ll make you watch on, helpless and powerless to save them!” These guys have an intense desire for power and it’s kind of terrifying what it drives them to do.
  • Connections between Alma 14 and Mosiah 17-19.
I’ve also found several connections between the Noah-Abinadi story and this story.
1) Accusation of reviling against the law/king
2) Putting the righteous to death specifically by fire
3) Alma the elder and Zeezrom are parallel characters. Both are introduced as, “one among them.” (Mosiah 17:2 and Alma 10:31) Alma “knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified.” Zeezrom “knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused” (Alma 14:6). Alma “began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi.” Zeezrom “began to plead for them from that time forth.” King Noah “caused that Alma should be cast out from among them, and sent his servants after him that they might slay him.” The Ammonihahites “cast [Zeezrom] out from among them… and sent men to cast stones at them.”
4) The official charge against Abinadi turns out to be that he taught that “God himself should come down among the children of men.” (Mosiah 17:8) The Ammonihahites testify in court that Alma and Amulek had taught that God “should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them.” (Alma 14:5)
5) Abinadi held in prison three days before being confronted again (Mosiah 17:6). Alma and Amulek are held in prison for three days before being confronted again (Alma 14:17-18).
6) After Noah is killed and his priests are scattered (as prophesied in Mosiah 17:16-19), the people of Noah meet the people of Gideon who tell them “all that had hapened to their wives and their children.” After Ammonihah is destroyed (as prophesied) Alma and Amulek tell the men who fled the city “all that had happened unto their wives and children.”
7) Alma Sr. establishes a church and baptize many who say it’s “the desire of our hearts.” (Mosiah 18:11) Alma Jr. establishes a church and baptizes many who are “desirous to be baptized.” (Alma 15:13)
8) Noah sees that the “lamanites were within the borders of the land.” Later the “began to slay them” and they take others captive.” (Mosiah 19:6-15) Alma 15 records that “the armies of the Lamanites had come… into the borders of the land… and began to slay the people…” and they took “others captive.”
  • Elements prefiguring Christ
The contents of this section may need possible revision.
I have a question and a suggested revision.
Several elements in this narrative prefigure Christ's trial, execution, and resurrection in the New Testament Gospels. They include the chief judge "smote them with his hand upon their cheeks" (v14), being mocked by suggesting they use God's power to save themselves, being forced them to witness the suffering of others, and their period of grief and silence that lasts three days (v18) prior to their dramatic deliverance from the prison, symbolic of triumph over death.
My question is what moment you have in mind from Christ's atonement where he was forced to witness the suffering of others? Perhaps you mean in performing the atonement he saw our suffering, or that he was crucified with two thieves, or do you mean Peter cutting off Malchus' ear?
Regarding their three days in prison (v18), v22-23 make it clear that they spent much more than three days in prison before being delivered. That being said, I do think their dramatic deliverance from prison is reminiscent of the resurrection.
I did not write this paragraph, but I like both the original reading and the questions that follow. I find comparisons with Christ within this chapter both plentiful and yet problematic. When was Christ forced to witness suffering? This is a great question. I suppose from the time that he was born. He witnessed more suffering than any of us ever could since his earthly mission was the ultimate mission of healing. Perhaps then Alma 14:10-11 was how Christ felt on a daily basis? Of course, I have no idea if this is true, I am just thinking off the top of my head here.
I feel like the line about being forced to witness suffering weakens the point. There's no direct parallel in mind. Pretty much whenever Christ did witness suffering, he alleviated it, unlike Alma and Amulek. And also, there's a bit of a difference between witnessing suffering and being forced to witness suffering as Alma and Amulek are here. I think a closer comparison would be to 2 Kgs 25:7 where Zedekiah is forced to watch his sons be murdered. --Mike Berkey
Order and Faith of Nehor.
At this point in the story we are finally told the nature of the politico-religious rebellion taking place in Ammonihah--the leadership of the city is "after the order and faith [and profession] of Nehor" (v16, 18). Nehor had advocated for the establishment of priestcraft--paid religious leadership--and here we find that his system was actually implemented in Ammonihah. Nehor taught that "all mankind should be saved at the last day" Alma 1:4, here in Ammonihah the Nehorites appear to be challenging the idea of a Christ rescuing only the repentant--showing to their mind the futility of such a belief by casting the religious followers into flames where they were not saved.
Profession of Nehor. In v18 we are told that some of the leaders are not just of the "order and faith" of Nehor, but are of the "profession" of Nehor. Based on the current punctuation it may be impossible to know if the "lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers" were all "of the profession of Nehor" or if that phrase should just refer to a subset of these. As Nehor had originally taught that priests and teachers should be paid Alma 1:3, perhaps we could read v18 as "there came many lawyers and judges, and priests and teachers who were of the profession of Nehor." This raises interesting questions about the relationship between Nehor's philosophy, paid priesthood, and the political leadership of the breakaway apostate Nephites/Mulekites society in Ammonihah and elsewhere (such as Jerusalem near the Land of Nephi Alma 21:4). Judges and lawyers were paid for their time according to the law of Mosiah Alma 11:1, but presumably Nehorite priests and teachers in Ammonihah were also paid as Nehor had advocated.
Smote them...on their cheeks. In Alma 1:22 we learn that those who followed Nehor were prone to contending with the believers, "even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists." Here the Nehorite judge assaults Alma an Amulek in the same manner.
  • Alma 14:21. According to Websters 1928 Dictionary “Gnashing”, is “a grinding or striking of the teeth in rage or anguish.” Also compare this usage with Matt 8:12 “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The Greek New Testament word translated as gnashing is βρυγμός, broog-mos' which is “used to denote extreme anguish and utter despair of men consigned to eternal punishment in hell.”
Timeline. The inclusion of the date in v23 is parenthetical to the point that "they had thus suffered many days." Perhaps the date here is meant to give us an idea of how long they were in prison. In ch8 Alma seems to begin his preaching in Ammonihah within the first couple of weeks of the tenth year. From the time he starts preaching in ch8 to the time that the believers are burned doesn't seem to be more than a couple months, so that the time spent in prison here is probably several months.
Power structures. The language of power continues to escalate as the conclusion nears. In verses 19 and 20, the chief judge again attempts to goad Alma and Amulek into displaying power. In verse 19, the judge declares his own power over their life, and then rhetorically asks them why they haven't yet delivered themselves in v. 20. The next mention of power is in v. 24, where the question is no longer rhetorical, and the judge commands, "If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves." In the midst of this progression from question to demand, however, sits v. 22, in which Alma and Amulek are submitted to deprivation of food, water, and clothing. Their stubborn silence has goaded the chief judge to an actual exercise of power, fulfilling threats. Through their very silence, ironically, Alma and Amulek have declared themselves to be outside of the structure, and in the following verses, God finally allows them to exercise true power in demolishing the prison.

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Prompts for further study[edit]

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  • Alma 14:6: Was Zeezrom "astonished at the words which had been spoken" by "the people" in v5 or by Alma and Amulek in the previous chapters?
  • Alma 14:6: Zeezrom caused the people to have "blindness of the mind" due to his lying words. Does this mean that the people were weakminded, or does it mean something else?
  • Alma 14:7: What is it in Zeezrom's confession/testimony in v7 that may have provoked the people to cast out or burn the believers?
  • Alma 14:7: When Zeezrom declares himself as guilty is he volunteering to take the punishment for the “crimes” committed by Alma and Amulek?
  • Alma 14:7: Is there a religious significance to the casting of stones in this verse?
  • Alma 14:7: What is the connection between what the people do to Zeezrom here (revile, spit, cast out) and what they did to Alma when he first went to Ammonihah? (revile, spit, cast out: see Alma 8:13) Is this a ritual in their city?
  • Alma 14:8: Verse 7 records that Zeezrom and all those who believed in the words which had been spoken were exiled from Ammonihah, yet verse 8 says their wives and children were rounded up to be burned. Is this second group more extensive, because it contained "whosoever had been taught to believe in the word of God," or was it less extensive, because other believers had already been cast out or stoned?
  • Alma 14:8: How plentiful were copies of the “holy scriptures”?
  • Alma 14:8: What physical form did scripture take? This verse implies that they can be burned. Is carbon-based material (paper, parchment, or other similar materials) evident elsewhere in the Book of Mormon? Were scriptures bound, rolled, kept on animal skins, printed on textiles?
  • Alma 14:9: Both v8 and v9 suggest that both the location and means of execution may have been previously established in Ammonihah: for example, use of "the fire" without any description of fire-building or site selection, and reference to "the place of martyrdom" as if this was well known. Did the actual place bear this designation, "the place of martyrdom", and if so, was it already so designated before v8, or did the place only take on this designation historically because of this event?
  • Alma 14:9: Why it is important to the people of Ammonihah that Alma and Amulek "witness the destruction"? More generally, why is it important that we become witnesses to suffering, injustice, and the pains of others? Does their use of "witness" as a verb rather than a noun make a difference here?
  • Alma 14:9: What affect might watching this gruesome scene have had on Alma and Amulek? Are the people trying to break down Alma and Amulek psychologically? How might this experience influence the their future preaching?
  • Alma 14:9: Why is Amulek only seeing women and children being burned in the fire? Verse 8 states that “whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they cause that they should be cast into the fire.” Are Alma and Amulek standing next to other men while they watch this scene, or were all the men driven out in v7 and only women and children cast into the fire?
  • Alma 14:11: Alma declares that the people being burned are received “unto himself [God], in glory.” The footnote for glory in your scriptures leads you to the topical guide heading for “exaltation.” Is this verse declaring that martyrdom equals exaltation? If not, what does “in glory” mean? If so, does all martyrdom equal exaltation or does glory refer only to this specific case?
  • Alma 14:11: What does this verse teach us about Ethics and priesthood responsibly? After all, don't we have an ethical responsibility to protect those around us from harm?
  • Alma 14:11: What does the "last day" refer to in this verse? Is that refering to this life or the next?
  • Alma 14:11: Is Alma reinforcing John the Beloved's message (in the book of Revelation) that the Saints are to spend their time, energy, and resources doing good and preaching repentance rather than fighting against evil?
  • Alma 14:12: Could you read this as Amulek actually hoping to die also, since members of his own family were likely consumed in the flames before his eyes? In other words, is it possible to read verse 12 as a sort of death wish on Amulek's part?
  • Alma 14:13: Does this verse say anything about free will if Alma and Amulek are not free to either die or be killed?
  • Alma 14:13: Why does the judge punch Alma and Amulek in the face ("smote on their cheeks)? What significance is there to being punched in the face in ancient culture? How does this connect to the Savior's words of "turning the other cheek?"
  • Alma 14:14: What is meant by the "chief judge of the land" here? Is this a title or just descriptive? How is this different from the "chief judge" title that Alma gave up to Nephihah? Does this tell us anything about the actual structure of government or about differences between government in Zarahemla and Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:14: Is the Chief judge using “fire and brimstone” as a literal term, or is condemning those who were burned to hell? Compare Gen. 19:24 and Ps. 11:6 for Biblical usage of this term.
  • Alma 14:15: When the chief judge taunts them for not having power to save those who had been cast into the fire, is he referring to the conversation they had in v10-11?
  • Alma 14:15: What is the chief judge looking for? Is he asking rhetorical questions or does he expect real answers? Does the text give us any indication that Alma and Amulek can escape punishment if they answer these questions to the satisfaction of the Chief judge?
  • Alma 14:16: What is the order and faith of Nehor? Is there a difference between the faith of Nehor and the order of Nehor? Why is it significant that the judge was a Nehorite?
  • Alma 14:16: How is the word “faith” being used in this verse? Is Mormon talking about a religious faith/sect, or some other kind of faith.
  • Alma 14:17: Why didn't Alma and Amulek answer the judge? Is their silence a strategic form or passive aggressiveness or it is something else?
  • Alma 14:17: Who are these officers that deliver the prisoners into prison? What is the nature of their office? What can we infer about the organization of Ammonihah society based on the presence of "officers"?
  • Alma 14:17: What do we know about Nephite or Nehorite prisons?
  • Alma 14:18: What do we know about the position of lawyers, judges, priests, and teachers in this society?
  • Alma 14:18: What does "who were of the profession of Nehor" modify--lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers or just a subset of these; perhaps just teachers or priests and teachers? What does the "profession" of Nehor mean, and how is it related to the "order" and "faith" of Nehor (v.16)?
  • Alma 14:18: What kind of information were they trying to get out of Alma and Amulek as they sat in prison?
  • Alma 14:19: Did Alma and Amulek refuse to answer the judge because of Alma's revelation from the Lord that they still had work to do? Did their silence mean anything?
  • Alma 14:19: Are the words "power" and "command" in this sentence used to highlight and contrast the judge's (earthly) authority against Alma and Amulek's message of Jesus Christ, the true Judge who possesses all true Power and who authors all Commands?
  • Alma 14:21: Since the damned are described in the scriptures as gnashing their teeth, are the people here being sarcastic? If so, how common is sarcasm in the scriptures?
  • Alma 14:23: Why is the exact day of Alma and Amulek's deliverance important to note, but not the exact day of the martyrdom of the believers?
  • Alma 14:23: Why would the chief judge take many of the teachers and lawyers to the prison with him?
  • Alma 14:23: What connection do the teachers have with the lawyers in Ammonihah?
  • Alma 14:23: Are the teachers responsible for educating the upcoming lawyers in the ways of Nehor for this society?
  • Alma 14:25: What do the united actions of these people tell us about them?
  • Alma 14:25: What is the "power of God"? Is it the priesthood, the Holy Ghost, or something else?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • This link contains additional material which isn't designed to be direct commentary on Alma 14, but which may be helpful to interested readers of Alma 14.
  • Alma 14:16-20. See the end of the essay, "Ammonihah," by Kent Brown for some interesting comments on why the enemies of Alma and Amulek felt they had to return again and again to demand that the prisoners speak.

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Verses 14:1-5                      Next page: Chapters 15-16

Alma 15:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 15:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 15:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 15:16-19

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 16:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 16:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 16:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29

Alma 16:16-21

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 8-16 > Chapters 15-16
Previous page: Chapter 14b                      Next page: Chapters 17-29


This page would ideally always be under construction. You are invited to contribute.


Summary[edit]

This heading should be very brief. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

The relationship of Chapters 15-16 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.

Discussion[edit]

This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:13. This group being baptized likely included the men that fled from Ammonihah (see 15:1). As mentioned in the commentary for Alma 14:1, there is no record of the people in Ammonihah being baptized, even though they "began to repent." It is suggested on that page that there wasn't enough time for the baptisms to be performed. Perhaps here in verse 13 we finally have a record of their baptisms.

Unanswered questions[edit]

This section is for questions along the lines of "I still don't understand ..." Please do not be shy. The point of these questions is to identify things that still need to be addressed on this page. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for life application[edit]

This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Prompts for further study[edit]

This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

  • Alma 15:2: Mosiah 19:22 reads in part, "And the men of Gideon told them of all that had happened to their wives and their children." What other textual/thematic connections might there be between this story and the Abinadi-Noah story?
  • Alma 16:16: This verse states that "the Lord poured out his Spirit ... to prepare ... the children of men ... to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming." The footnotes indicate that this was ~80 years before Christ's birth, and over 100 years before His visit to the Nephites. If the timeline is correct, it seems unlikely that any of these individuals were still alive at the time of his coming. Why, then, was the Lord preparing them for this event? Are we being similarly prepared to receive the word which should be taught at the time of his next coming?
  • Alma 16:16-17: These verses indicate that the Spirit was preparing the minds and hearts of the people so they would not be hardened against the word. Does this mean that no one can/will receive the word without first receiving the Spirit? If so, why?

Resources[edit]

This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the link above and to the right to edit or add content to this heading. →

Notes[edit]

Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.



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