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Relationship to Chapters 17-29. The relationship of Chapters 17-19 to the rest of Chapters 17-29 Alma is discussed at Chapters 17-29.
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- Alma 17:36-39: Sword. In Mesoamerican societies, metal weapons were almost unheard of, but swords made of wood inlaid with sharp obsidian blades along their edges were common weapons, known later by the Aztecs as macahuitl. Other swords or daggers were made entirely of obsidian or flint, while others were simply sharpened wood instruments, known by the Taino as macana.
- Alma 17:36-39: Clubs. A common Mesoamerican club was a stick with a round stone attached to the end, known by the later Aztecs as a Quauhololli. It was used to attack and crush the head of an opponent.
- Alma 17:36-39: Ammon's skill with weapons. According to this account, Ammon was apparently much more skilled with weaponry than his attackers. While we know practically nothing about Nephite customs, in other Mesoamerican cultures such as that of the later Aztecs, the sons of nobility were highly trained in warfare at a special academy known as the Calmecac, where in addition to weapons training, they also received instructions in writing, the calender, and ritual. Ammon and other royal Nephites probably received similar training.
- Alma 18:16. Verse 18:16 begins by telling us that Ammon "perceived the thoughts of the king" but rounds out the verse with Ammon asking the king if he marvels because of the way Ammmon defended the flocks of the king. This seems surprising--the fact that Ammon's act would be a cause for marveling seems obvious. Ammon planned it this way even before he began (Alma 17:29). But when Ammon is finished verse 18 tells us that the king "beheld that Ammon could discern his thoughts." To understand why the king concludes from hearing Ammon speak here that Ammon can discern his thoughts we should look for that part of what Ammon says which is least obvious. In this case it is not the first sentence out of Ammons mouth in verse 16 but rather how he ends verse 17: "Behold, I am a man, and am thy servant; therefore, whatsoever thou desirest which is right, that will I do." Under this reading the king is wondering whether Ammon is a man or the Great Spirit (see verses 4 & 10). The "notwithstanding" in verse 18 may be another hint that this question of whether Ammon was a man or the great spirit was the central question in the king's mind even before he hears Ammon speak. Under that reading the notwistanding means something like "notwithstanding that Ammon had just told the king that he is a man and the king's servant, the king asks him again wether he is the Great Spirit."
- Alma 18:30-31: It (singular). Note that while Ammon begins by talking about the heavens (plural), in vs. 30 he indicates that the heavens (plural) is a place (singluar) where God dwells with all his holy angels. Then in vs. 31, Lamoni asks Ammon if it, presumably this singular dwelling place of God, is above the earth.
- Alma 18:31-35: Where God dwells. Apparently, in these verses Ammon is clarifying for Lamoni where God dwells. In doing so, he may be correcting the common Mesoamerican belief that the gods dwelt under the ground.
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- Alma 17:2: Why is it referred to as the "first" appearance of "the" angel? Was it the same angel that appeared to Alma every time? If so, what does that teach us about how angels operate?
- Alma 17:2: What does it mean that the sons of Mosiah "waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth"?
- Alma 17:2: What does it mean to have a sound understanding?
- Alma 17:2: What does searching the scriptures diligently entail? What is the difference between reading and searching diligently? What were they searching for?
- Alma 17:2: What is the word of God? What does it mean to "know" the word of God? Does that mean to just memorize scriptures, or to be able to find scriptures you are looking for? Or is there something else involved in the idea of "knowing" here?
- Alma 17:3: What might qualify as "much" prayer and fasting? Is it just once a month fasting? How much fasting and prayer is necessary to obtain the "spirit of prophecy"?
- Alma 17:3: What is the "spirit of prophecy" and "spirit of revelation"? How does fasting and prayer bring that spirit? How does that spirit impute power and authority to gospel teachings? How is obtaining this spirit related to searching the scriptures (vs. 2)? Is scripture study a prerequisite for obtaining the spirit of prophecy and revelation, or does that come more from prayer and fasting?
- Alma 17:3: What does it mean to teach "with power and authority of God"?
- Alma 17:4: Why did the Sons of Mosiah stay with the Lamanites for 14 years?
- Alma 17:4: What constituted success for the Sons of Mosiah?
- Alma 17:4: What does it mean to bring souls "to the knowledge of the truth"?
- Alma 17:4: Does it matter that the Sons of Mosiah helped convert "many" souls? What if they had only been able to help a few? How does their helping large numbers of people influence how we think about their missions?
- Alma 17:4: What does it mean to bring people "before the altar of God"? Is this a real altar, or just a way of speaking?
- Alma 17:4: Why are people calling on God's name and confessing their sins before an altar?
- Alma 17:4: How did the "power of their words" bring people to repentance? How was this power manifest? What made their words powerful?
- Alma 17:4: How can we follow the example of the Sons of Mosiah? How do our own missionary and member missionary efforts compare or contrast with those of the Sons of Mosiah? Do their missions provide a model for us to follow, or different missions so unique that we shouldn't see their missionary efforts as something to try to follow?
- Alma 17:5: What is the relationship between the suffering and the success of the Sons of Mosiah?
- Alma 17:5: What does it mean that they experienced "much labor in the spirit"?
- Alma 17:6: Why did the Sons of Mosiah refuse to take over rulership of the kingdom, against the wishes of their father and the people?
- Alma 17:6: We tend to celebrate the installation of the chief judge system as a an improvement over the monarchy. Learning here that Mosiah really wanted to pass the kingship on to his sons, what does that tell us about how the change in political structure was really perceived by Mosiah?
- Alma 17:6: Was it really more important for the Sons of Mosiah to go on their mission, than it was for them to honor their father by taking over rulership of the kingdom?
- Alma 17:6: What were the political repercussions of the Sons of Mosiah leaving? Did it create a political vacuum that the judges were unable to fully fill? Did it lead to the revolt by Amlici?
- Alma 17:7: Why would the Sons of Mosiah take swords and other weapons on their mission? Was it just to provide food for themselves? How useful is a sword in hunting?
- Alma 17:7: Why bother giving us this tidbit about their taking weapons with them?
- Alma 17:8: Why don't we learn more about who the Sons of Mosiah took with them on their mission?
- Alma 17:8: Is there a difference between preaching and teaching? Why are we told that they went up to preach, rather than to teach, to the Lamanites?
- Alma 17:9: What does it mean that they fasted and prayed much? What exactly did they pray for?
- Alma 17:9: What does it mean for the Lord to "grant...a portion of his Spirit"? How does that portion then "go with them, and abide with them"?
- Alma 17:9: What does it mean to be "an instrument in the hands of God"?
- Alma 17:9: Why do they call the Lamanites "their brethren"?
- Alma 17:9: Is there a difference between bringing someone "to the knowledge of the truth" and "to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers"?
- Alma 17:9: What should be our approach to the incorrect traditions of those who we teach? Should the emphasis be on teaching them the truth, or to showing them the baseness of their traditions?
- Alma 17:10: What does it mean that the Lord "did visit them with his Spirit"? Is this a visitation by what we call the Holy Ghost, or some other type of visitation?
- Alma 17:10: Why was the first thing that the Lord said to them was to "be comforted"? Why would they need such comfort?
- Alma 17:11: What does the Lord mean by "establish my word"? Does this just mean teach? What kind of teaching is implied here?
- Alma 17:11: Why are they counseled to be "patient in long suffering and afflictions"?
- Alma 17:11: How does being patient in long suffering and afflictions "show forth good examples"?
- Alma 17:11: What does it mean to be an example "in me"?
- Alma 17:11: What does it mean to be an "instrument...in my hands unto the salvation of many souls"?
- Alma 17:11: Why would the Lord give them a promise of being able to help save "many souls"? Do modern missionaries have similar promises? What do they have to do to obtain that promise? Is it important for them to obtain such a promise before they actually start their missions?
- Alma 17:12: Do we have any indication of what these missionaries expected as far as the tactics they would use to "declare...the word of God" to the Lamanites?
- Alma 17:13: If they didn't expect to "meet again" until "the close of their harvest", how long did they think that their missions would last?
- Alma 17:13: What does it mean for them to suppose "that great was the work which they had undertaken"? What basis did they have for thinking that?
- Alma 17:14: Why are we given this laundry list of Lamanite iniquities?
- Alma 17:15: So, we learn that the Lamanites are very wicked, yet "the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on conditions of repentance." How does this differ from any group of modern people that missionaries might be called to teach? Can modern missionaries take faith in knowing that they can have similar success with any other group of wicked people that they might be called to teach?
- Alma 17:15: Why do the Sons of Mosiah have such great success on their missions, while many modern missionaries seem to have only modest success? Is there something about how they served that made them more effective, or was it all just luck of the draw and they happened to find a receptive audience? How much should modern missionaries take the account of this mission as normative for their work, and for the expectations of success we should have as missionaries?
- Alma 17:16: What is the connection between repenting and knowing of the plan of redemption?
- Alma 17:16: How do the sons of Mosiah "bring" the Lamanites to repentance and to know of the plan of redemption? How much of this process depends on the missionaries and how much depends on those being taught?
- Alma 17:17: Why do they go alone, rather than two by two?
- Alma 17:17: What does it mean that they went "according to the word and power of God"?
- Alma 17:18: What does it mean that Ammon was "chief among them"? Does that mean he was the oldest? If he was the oldest, why wasn't he the preferred heir (Mosiah 29:2)?
- Alma 17:18: Why is Ammon the one blessing and teaching the other sons?
- Alma 17:18: What does it mean that Ammon "imparted the word of God unto" the other sons?
- Alma 17:19: Why did Ammon choose to go to the land of Ishmael? Did he know where he was going?
- Alma 17:19: Was this a conscious attempt to reach the descendants of the daughters of Lehi and the sons of Ishmael? What promises were given to their descendants (2 Ne 4:10)? As descendants of Ephraim, were they given separate blessings than the children of Lehi, who was from the tribe of Manasseh?
- Alma 17:19: What do we know about the descendants of Ishmael? Why was the land of Ishmael governed by a son of the Lamanite king? Were there still descendants of Ishmael in this land?
- Alma 17:20: Were the other sons of Mosiah similarly bound and allowed to preach only at the permission of their local rulers, or was this something that just happened to Ammon in the land of Ishmael?
- Alma 17:21: How can Lamoni be "a descendant of Ishmael" and also the son of the King of the Lamanites, who is presumably a descendant of Laman?"
- Alma 17:22: Why would the king give Ammon, the son of the enemy king Mosiah, a chance to live with his people?
- Alma 17:22: Why would he ask Ammon if wanted to live either with the Lamanites or with his people? Does this tell us anything about the relationship between the people of Lamoni and the other Lamanites?
- Alma 17:23: Why would Ammon say that he desired to dwell with the people of Lamoni "perhaps until the day I die"? What does this say about how long Ammon thought his mission might last?
- Alma 17:24: Why would Lamoni be "much pleased" with Ammon?
- Alma 17:24: Why would Lamoni want Ammon to marry one of his daughters? Was Lamoni trying to establish a formal relationship with the royal Nephite lineage of Ammon and Mosiah?
- Alma 17:25: Why wouldn't Ammon marry the daughter of Lamoni?
- Alma 17:25: How might this refusal have played with king Lamoni? Was he still "much pleased" with Ammon after this?
- Alma 17:25: Why did Ammon volunteer to be Lamoni's servant?
- Alma 17:25: Apparently Lamanite kings had servants, while there is no record of Nephite leaders having them. What does this tell us about differences between the Nephite and Lamanite socio-political systems?
- Alma 17:25: Why was Ammon sent to watch the flocks, when previous servants in this capacity had been killed for failure to guard the flocks? Was this an attempt to get rid of Ammon?
- Alma 17:25: Why would Ammon volunteer to be Lamoni's servant, rather than try to teach him the gospel right away? How does this differ from the way modern LDS missionaries approach their missions?
- Alma 17:26: Why are the servants described as "Lamanitish"? Are they a different ethnicity from the Lamoni or his people?
- Alma 17:26: Sheep are unknown among pre-Columbian civilizations, so what kind of flocks are being tended here?
- Alma 17:26: Why are we given the name of this "place of water"? What does Sebus mean?
- Alma 17:26: What does it mean that "all the Lamanites" drive their flocks to the water of Sebus? Does that include all the Lamanites outside of the land of Ishmael?
- Alma 17:26: This incident happens after only serving the king for three days. How is it that within just a few days Ammon is given the opportunity to win the hearts of his fellow-servants?
- Alma 17:27: Who were these flock scatterers? Why are they described as Lamanites, while the servants are describes as Lamanitish? Were they from Lamoni's kingdom, or some other Lamanite kingdom?
- Alma 17:27: What is going on with this incident? Why would the Lamanites scatter these flocks of a king?
- Alma 17:28: Why would they take the flocks to the water of Sebus if the flocks have been scattered there before?
- Alma 17:28: Why are the scatterers described by the servants as wicked?
- Alma 17:29: Why was Ammon's heart "swollen within him with joy" at this affliction?
- Alma 17:29: Does this provide a model for how we should act at work when we are faced with extreme challenges?
- Alma 17:29: Do we see challenges at work as missionary opportunities?
- Alma 17:29: How does Ammon think that solving this problem with the flocks will lead the servants to believe in his words?
- Alma 17:30: Why does Ammon term his fellow-servants "to be his brethren"?
- Alma 17:31: Why are Ammon's words described as flattery?
- Alma 17:31: Why does Ammon tell the servants to "be of good cheer"?
- Alma 17:32: Why are we told that they "rushed forth with much swiftness"?
- Alma 17:33: What can we learn about leadership from Ammon's example?
- Alma 17:34: What does it mean that these looters "stood" by the waters of Sebus and that Ammon "stood to contend" with them? What is going on here? What is the nature of this confrontation?
- Alma 17:35: Did the Lord's promise to Mosiah embolden Ammon to stand against the looters?
- Alma 17:35: We are told that the looters "delighted in the destruction of their brethren"? So was the purpose here just to steal the flocks, or to get the flock tenders killed? What is going on here?
- Alma 17:35: What does their not knowing "anything concerning the Lord" have to do with this confrontation?
- Alma 17:36: Here we have a tale of a missionary fighting with deadly force. What are we to make of this tale? What lessons, if any, might this have for modern missionaries?
- Alma 17:36: Why couldn't the rustlers hit Ammon with their stones? Were they just poor slingmen, or was Ammon somehow protected?
- Alma 17:37: As a servant and covert missionary, what is Ammon doing with a sword? Did he already have an idea that they might be attacked while watering the kings flocks? Is this a sign that Ammon was prepared, and perhaps already had a plan to impress his fellow servants?
- Alma 17:37: Why are we told that he smote their arms "with the edge of his sword"? Isn't that the only way to use a sword?
- Alma 17:37: Why did Ammon smite off their arms, rather than kill most of his attackers with his sword?
- Alma 17:38: Presumably justified by Lamanite law, Ammon has killed seven rustlers and maimed "not a few" others. How would this incident be viewed by the others in Lamanite society?
- Alma 17:39: We are told that Ammon drove his attackers "afar off". Was he chasing them with his sword?
- Alma 17:39: Why would the servants carry the arms "unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done"?
- Alma 18:1: Earlier we had the rustlers standing to scatter the flocks and Ammon standing to defend them. Now we have the servants standing to testify. Why all the emphasis on standing? Is there perhaps a three-fold typology here of attacking, defending, and testifying?
- Alma 18:2: We are told that they "all" testified. Why would each of the servants be called to testify, rather than just one representative?
- Alma 18:2: Why was "the faithfulness of Ammon" so noteworthy?
- Alma 18:2: What was it about Ammon's "great power in contending against those who sought to slay him" that caused Lamoni such astonishment?
- Alma 18:2: Why would Lamoni wonder if Ammon was "more than a man"?
- Alma 18:2: Why would Lamoni wonder if Ammon was a punishment "upon this people, because of their murders"?
- Alma 18:3: Who are these "enemies of the king"? Why were they his enemies and why hadn't they been brought to justice?
- Alma 18:3: We are told again here about Ammon's "expertness" and "great strength"--why emphasize that again? Why would the servants think that no "man has such great power"?
- Alma 18:3: What exactly made the servants think that Ammon was "a friend to the king"?
- Alma 18:4: Why would Lamoni think that Ammon was the Great Spirit? What was their tradition about the Great Spirit?
- Alma 18:4: Lamoni says that he has previously killed his servants. What does the ability to kill servants tell us about the power that he held as king? Why would Lamoni have killed servants that had been thwarted in the past by "the enemies of the king"?
- Alma 18:5: What was the tradition of Lamoni about the Great Spirit? The Nehors also believed in God, but thought that "whatsoever they did was right". Is there a connection between the teachings of the Nehors and the tradition of Lamoni?
- Alma 18:5: Why was Lamoni all of a sudden concerned about having killed his servants?
- Alma 18:6: Did king Lamoni think that the servants had been in cahoots with the rustlers ("their brethren")?
- Alma 18:7: Who are "these" Lamanites that had this "practice of plunder among them"? What land did they come from, that they could successfully "drive away many that were scattered into their own land"?
- Alma 18:8: On the one hand, Lamoni wonders if Ammon is the Great Spirit, and on the other hand he asks "where is this man"--what is going on here? What exactly does Lamoni think of Ammon at this point?
- Alma 18:9: This is one of the few references to horses in the Book of Mormon. Since horses are practically undocumented in the archaeological record of Pre-Columbian America, how do we explain their mention here in the Book of Mormon?
- Alma 18:9: Chariots are also practically unknown from Ancient America. What are we to make of their reference here?
- Alma 18:9: What does Lamoni mean by commanding his servants to "conduct him forth" to the land of Nephi? What is there about these Lamanite horses and chariots that would merit conducting?
- Alma 18:9: How is it that Lamoni (who is a descendant of Ishmael) has a father that is king of all the Lamanites? Does this tell us anything about how descent was calculated among these peoples?
- Alma 18:10: What is it about Ammon's faithfulness that so impresses Lamoni?
- Alma 18:11: Why does Lamoni think that Ammon is the Great Spirit? What does he mean by "Great Spirit"? What did that mean to the Ishmaelite king?
- Alma 18:12: What is a countenance? How important is it to be able to read countenances?
- Alma 18:12: Why would Ammon want to leave if the king's countenance had changed? Was he unable to read the change in his countenance?
- Alma 18:13: What does "Rabbanah" mean? Why would the servant call Ammon that? What was the connection between the Great Spirit and a Rabbanah in their culture?
- Alma 18:14: Why is the wording in this verse so similar to this verse from the New Testament: "And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee?" (Mark 10:51)?
- Alma 18:14: What was Ammon doing during that hour while he waited for the king to reply? Why did it take an hour for Lamoni to reply? Why couldn't Lamoni reply? Was he afraid? Puzzled?
- Alma 18:15: Why would Ammon be focused on asking the king what he wants when Lamoni is obviously in an altered mental state? Why doesn't Ammon apparently presume to know what Lamoni wants during this period of silence?
- Alma 18:16: When was Ammon "filled with the Spirit of God"? Was it after the hour of silence, or did he have it before? If before, when did he perceive the thoughts of the king? Only after an hour, or sometime before? If before, why did he wait an hour before revealing the king's thoughts? If after an hour, why did it take an hour?
- Alma 18:16: Even when Ammon perceives the thoughts of the king, he reveals that by asking a question. Why would asking a verifying question be important in a situation like this?
- Alma 18:16: Ammon notes that the king is marveling. What does this mean?
- Alma 18:17: Why does Ammon emphasize that he is a man?
- Alma 18:17: Why does Ammon continue to ask questions?
- Alma 18:17: Why is it important for Ammon to affirm his loyalty to the king? How might modern missionaries affirm their loyalty to those they serve and teach?
- Alma 18:18: Lamoni is impressed that Ammon knows his thoughts, a feeling powerful enough that it is the first question he asks Ammon after finding out he is not God incarnate. Ammon's ability to know Lamoni's thoughts corresponds to Alma and Amulek's experience with Zeezrom in Alma 12:3. Lamoni's and Zeezrom's experiences are similar as well in that their encounter with Nephite missionaries leads them, in very different ways, to feel that they might have "done wrong" (see Alma 12:1 and Alma 18:5--it is interesting to note the different tones in which the author describes this realization here as well). What does this combination of mind-reading and realization of guilt teach about the necessary preparation one needs to repent and become converted?
- Alma 18:18: Why are we told that Lamoni opened his mouth, "notwithstanding" his marveling? What was it about marveling that made it hard to speak?
- Alma 18:19: Of course Ammon would make sure to let the king know that he isn't the Great Spirit. But why didn't he say more? Why did he wait for the king to continue? Why didn't he announce his mission at this point?
- Alma 18:20: At this point, Lamoni is asking the questions, and so the discussion is driven by his interest, rather than Ammon's. What did Ammon do to help the king come to this point? We often hear that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. How did Ammon make this happen?
- Alma 18:20: Lamoni initially seems to just be interested in Ammon's power. Why is he so interested in this power? He seems to be ascribing it to a divine source--is he more interested in just the power, or in the source of the power? Does he have righteous desires at this point, or is he just interested in power? What is more powerful here, the fear of great sources of unknown power, or the desire to have such power?
- Alma 18:21: Why does Lamoni offer to give Ammon "whatsoever thou desirest"?
- Alma 18:21: Why is Lamoni even thinking about guarding Ammon with his armies?
- Alma 18:21: Why would Lamoni think that Ammon was more powerful than his armies, if all he had done was take on some hoodlums, killing six with his sling and one with his sword?
- Alma 18:22: What does it mean for Ammon to be wise? Why would we be told that he was wise "yet harmless"?
- Alma 18:22: What is Ammon doing here, asking Lamoni to believe before he even teaches him anything? How might this serve as a model for modern gospel teaching?
- Alma 18:23: Why would Ammon use guile to share and teach the gospel? Can GUILE be a good thing to have? In John 1:47 it seems a good thing that Nathanael had no guile.
- Alma 18:23: Wny would Lamoni agree to believe Ammon's words before even hearing them?
- Alma 18:24: What does it mean that Ammon "began to speak...with boldness"? How does that contrast to how he has spoken to the king previously? Why didn't he speak unto him "with boldness" before?
- Alma 18:24: Why does Ammon begin his teaching by asking a question?
- Alma 18:24: What significance does it have that Ammon would first ask the king if he believed "that there is a God"? What does it mean to believe that there is a God. Why the emphasis on "a" God?
- Alma 18:25: Most Mesoamerican and other ancient American societies believed in gods. Why would Lamoni tell Ammon that he doesn't know what it means to believe "that there is a God"?
- Alma 18:30: Why would Ammon teach that God dwells in the heavens? Was this not common knowledge in Lamoni's culture?
- Alma 18:30: Why would Ammon emphasize that all the holy angels dwell with God in the heavens? Where else might someone think that angels would dwell?
- Alma 18:30: A place. Why would Ammon call the heavens (plural) a place (singular)?
- Alma 18:30: Dwell. What does it mean for God to dwell in the heavens.
- Alma 18:31: Why would king Lamoni ask Ammon if the heavens were above the earth? Isn't that a pretty silly question? Is Lamoni asking about "the heavens" which are obviously above the earth, or is he asking about "where God dwells and all his holy angels' (v.30)?
- Alma 19:6: What does it mean to be "under the power of God"?
- Alma 19:6: What is the "dark veil of unbelief" and how can it be "cast away" from the mind?
- Alma 19:6: How are light and glory associated here? What is this "glory of God" and what does it mean for it to be the "light of his goodness"? How can this light infuse joy into a soul and light up a soul? If "the glory of god is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36), how do we see this glory bringing intelligence to Lamoni?
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- Alma 18:6-10: Horses. Jeff Lindsay has a section on Book of Mormon horses on his LDS FAQ page.
- Alma 18:31-35. John Clark may have been the first to point out that Ammon may be correcting a traditional Mesoamerican view of gods as dwelling in a dark underworld. See his closing remarks during his 2005 FAIR conference address. All known Mesoamerican cultures subscribed to these views of a dark underworld, including the Aztecs (with nine lower levels, including Mictlan) and Mayans (Xibalba). National Geographic has an account of a modern visit to the Mayan Underworld.
- Alma 18:30: Clasped vs. clapped. See notes on this mistranscription here.
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