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Alma 36-42

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42

Subpages: Chapter 36 Chapter 37 Chapter 38 Chapters 39-41 Chapter 42

Previous page: Chapters 34-35                      Next page: Chapter 36


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 36-42 to the rest of Alma is discussed at Alma.

Story. Chapters 36-42 recount Alma's instructions to his three sons and thus consists of three major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 36-42 include:

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. →

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. →

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: Chapters 34-35                      Next page: Chapter 36


Alma 36:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 36
Previous page: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 36 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 36 include:

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 35:15-16. These two verses, thought part of Chapter 35, begin the next major section of Alma 36-42 by introducing a new situation and characters that will remain throughout Chapters 36-42..
  • Alma 36. Capter 36 is a chiasmus that goes until the end of the chapter. In verse one, Alma says, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” This parallels verse thirty, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” The middle of the chiasmus is in verses 17 and 18.
  • Alma 36:1. Alma tells his son that by keeping the commandments he will prosper in the land. Note that in the last verse of the chapter, Alma repeats this promise--that he will prosper in the land if he keeps the commandments. Most of what happens between the first and last verse of this chapter is that Alma tells the story of his conversion. One way of reading this is that Alma uses the story of his own life as an example of how someone who keeps the commandments of God prospers in the land. This reading suggests that the phrase "prosper in the land" isn't strictly about having material blessings like lots of flocks, riches or posterity. Why? Because instead of talking about these material blessings, Alma tells his son how by following the Lord he received spiritual blessings, for example, the blessings of great joy (verses 20-21; 25) and the blessing of support through trials (verse 27).
  • Alma 36:8: A Literal Hebraism. Nibley points out in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 361, that the seemingly illogical statement "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God" is standard Semitic usage for communicating the intended meaning. Read literally in English, the statement says "If you stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed," but it is clear that the opposite meaning is actually intended, i.e. "If you don't stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed." But, Nibley says, in Hebrew, one says when warning a child, "Don't do that if you want to get spanked" rather than as in English "Don't do that unless you want to get spanked." So the construction is valid for Hebrew, not valid for English. Joseph was apparently very literal in his translation.
  • Alma 36:11-15: Being destroyed. While we don't know for sure about the teachings of the Nehors or other dissenters among the Nephites at this period, throughout Mesoamerica most people believed in the immortality of the human soul, so the thought of that soul being utterly destroyed would have been amazing and frightful. According to modern revelation, all people will be resurrected, though Brigham Young taught that those who become sons of perdition will eventually be destroyed and lose their identity as organized beings, with their eternal elements being recycled (Journal of Discourses 1:118). Perhaps Alma realizes at this point that he has had enough light and knowledge to become a son of perdition if he continues on his course of apostasy.
  • Alma 36:18. Alma makes his plea to Jesus Christ to be delivered from his suffering. We must make a similar plea for ourselves to Christ.
  • Alma 36:6-20. In verses 6-20 Alma tells the story how he was converted unto the church of Jesus Christ through an Angel. He described his feelings- horror, fear, amazement, torment, and finally joy that was as great as his pain. He shared this story with only Helaman. He wanted him to know, as he says in verse 21 that “…there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma wanted Helaman to know that ever since that experience, he has spent his life serving and loving the Lord. He wanted to bring people to taste that sweet bitterness that he tasted during the conversion in his life. He wanted them to be born of God and be baptized into His church (verse 26). Alma wants Helaman to love the Lord just as much as he loves Him. He wanted him to follow in his footsteps and give his life in service to the Lord.
  • Alma 36:22: Methought I saw. Here Alma expresses uncertainty about what he saw, specifically borrowing his language of uncertainty from Lehi. This idea is developed in the discussion regarding certainty of interpretation at 1 Ne 11:9-11. Unlike Lehi and Nephi, Alma's vision occurred in the midst of repentance from great sin, and thus may not have felt that he was in a position to request clarification regarding what he saw.
  • Alma 36:27. Notice the parallelism found in this passage. "God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
  • Alma 36:28-30. In verses 28-29 Alma cites examples of how the Lord has delivered His people in the past and exhorts them to retain [these things] in rememberance. In verse 30 he turns to the importance of keeping the commandments and how, if we do, we will not be cut off from the presence of the Lord. Alma's preaching to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 also called on the people to remember how the Lord had delivered their fathers from captivity. He then asks "And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?" Alma 5:6 Alma seems to be emphasizing the importance of retaining in rememberance that the Lord's deliverance is not only physical but also spiritual.

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 36:1: Why does Alma counsel his sons individually rather than together?
  • Alma 36:1: What does Alma mean by "prosper"? What does it mean to "prosper in the land"? What is so important about the land?
  • Alma 36:2: Why do we, like Helaman, sometimes need to be reminded of the miracles God has done to deliver his people in times past?
  • Alma 36:2: Often when we think of God delivering people from bondage, we think of Jehovah, Moses, and the Exodus. Why does Alma instead refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
  • Alma 36:3: Why do you think Alma bears this particular testimony to Helaman: “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"? Why this rather than something else? What does it mean to be "lifted up at the last day"?
  • Alma 36:4: What kind of knowing is Alma talking about here? Wht does it mean to know "not of the carnal mind but of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: What does Alma mean by "born of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: Why does Alma get to know "by the mouth of his holy angel" whereas we mostly expect to just have faith on his words?
  • Alma 36:5: If Alma was visited "not of any worthiness of [himself]", why can't we also expect to be visited?
  • Alma 36:6: Why would Alma go into such great detail of how he was once a sinner that fought against the church of God?
  • Alma 36:6: How did Alma and the sons of Mosiah think "to destroy the church of God"? What were they really trying to do? How did they expect to accomplish it?
  • Alma 36:6: Why did an angel come to Alma when he was so wicked? Why doesn't God send an angel to stop all wicked people?
  • Alma 36:7: How is the voice of an angel like "the voice of thunder"?
  • Alma 36:7: Did the earth really tremble, or did they just go weak in the knees?
  • Alma 36:7: Why were they afraid of the angel? Is this a common response to being visited by an angel?
  • Alma 36:8: Why did the angel tell Alma to arise? Did he tell the others to arise as well, or just Alma?
  • Alma 36:8: What does it mean that Alma "beheld the angel"? How are angels perceived?
  • Alma 36:9: Why does Alma focus on this part of the message from the angel while speaking to his son?
  • Alma 36:9: Why would this message cause Alma to fall to the earth with fear and amazement?
  • Alma 36:9: We often think that fear is a negative thing, and that we shouldn't try to motivate people through fear. What is the role of fear in bringing people to God?
  • Alma 36:10: It says that Alma couldn't speak or move his limbs. Was he otherwise conscious? What state was Alma really in? How did this look to those who might have seen him?
  • Alma 36:10: Is there something important about the specific duration (three days and three nights) of Alma's experience?
  • Alma 36:11: Why did the thought of being destroyed strike Alma with "such great fear and amazement"? What does it mean to be "destroyed"? How does being destroyed translate into our current LDS thinking? What might being destroyed have meant in Alma's cultural context?
  • Alma 36:11: Alma distinctly misquotes what the angel actually said in verse 9. In nine it reads 'If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed,' but here Alma restates it as saying 'If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself.' Why? What is the difference in meaning here between these two phrases? Was Alms just not a very careful writer? Was the angel in fact saying that he would be destroyed once he stopped seeking the destruction of the church, but Alma misheard it? If so, what did the angel mean by that? How was Alma destroyed after his conversion?
  • Alma 36:12: Is there a connection between the fear of being destroyed and remembering sin?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to be "racked with eternal torment"?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to have your soul "harrowed up"?
  • Alma 36:13: Why could Alma remember all his sins in this moment?
  • Alma 36:14: Why do you think that Alma describes what he had done as murder? (Compare Alma 5:23 and Matt 10:28 — what does it mean to destroy both soul, i.e., spirit, and body in hell?)
  • Alma 36:14: How does how Alma the Younger feel imagining himself in the presence of God? How does this compare to how his father had asked the people to imagine feeling in that same situation Alma 5:15]?
  • Alma 36:15: Why would Alma want to "become extinct both soul and body"? What does he mean by "soul"?
  • Alma 36:16: What symbolism can we see in Alma being stricken for 3 days and 3 nights? How does this relate to other prophets' experiences?
  • Alma 36:16: What are "the pains of a damned soul"?
  • Alma 36:17: What does it mean to be "racked with torment"?
  • Alma 36:17: How can the memory of sins harrow up a soul?
  • Alma 36:17: Why is Jesus Christ referred to as "a" Son of God rather than "the" Son of God?
  • Alma 36:17: What does Alma mean by "atone for the sins of the world"?
  • Alma 36:18: Why does Alma pray to Jesus, rather than to God Almighty?
  • Alma 36:18: What does it mean to be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death"?
  • Alma 36:19: Why does Alma’s cry in v. 18 bring the results in v. 19? How is this connected to King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 4? Is it significant that Benjamin delivered that address to a people who were diligent in keeping the commandments but that it also seems to apply to someone like Alma who has openly rebelled against those commandments?
  • Alma 36:19: Since Alma is here telling us about the pains he experienced, what can he mean when he says “I could remember my pains no more"?
  • Alma 36:20: What really happened here? How can merely calling on Jesus make one forget their sins and be filled with joy? What state of mind did Alma have to be in before he could have this redemptive experience?
  • Alma 36:20: What is this "marvelous light" that Alma "did behold"? What does it mean to "behold" light?
  • Alma 36:20: Why might Alma have chosen to share his conversion story with his son Helaman? What did Alma want Helaman to learn from his past?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by "exquisite" pain or joy?
  • Alma 36:21: Why does Alma contrast pain and joy with the descriptors bitter and sweet?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by bitterness? If we feel bitterness, does that mean that we are still bound by sin?
  • Alma 36:22: How could Alma have seen God at this point? Three days earlier, he had been a vile sinner--and now he's having a greater spiritual experience than most members of the modern Church will probably ever have. How is that possible?
  • Alma 36:22: What are "concourses of angels"? Why are they "singing and praising their God"?
  • Alma 36:22: Alma had just said that he would rather be extinct than brought before God. Now here he is, longing to be there. What happened to cause this change?
  • Alma 36:23: Alma seems to have wanted to stay in the vision, but instead he is brought out of it. Why would that happen?
  • Alma 36:23: What does Alma mean by having "been born of God"? What would that experience be similar to in our own experience?
  • Alma 36:24: After his experience, Alma serves God without ceasing. What does that mean? How are we similar or different from Alma? Do we have to have a similar type of experience before we can really serve God?
  • Alma 36:24: Do we share this same motivation with Alma? Why or why not? Should we take his experience as somehow a measure by which we can gauge our own level of motivation?
  • Alma 36:24: What does it mean to "taste" exceeding joy?
  • Alma 36:24: What is the connection between the type of experience Alma has and being "filled with the Holy Ghost"?
  • Alma 36:25: Alma receives "exceedingly great joy." Is this a reward for his labors? Why would it be important for Alma to feel one way or the other about his labor? Is this joy a motivator? Is it in any way selfish? Should we be motivated by a desire to have that same kind of joy, or would that be a selfish motive?
  • Alma 36:26: How has the word "imparted unto" Alma brought many to "have been born of God"? How does the word do that?
  • Alma 36:26: What does it mean that many have "seen eye to eye as [Alma has] seen"? Does that mean they all saw the throne of God too, or just that they have been filled with joy?
  • Alma 36:26: How does Alma know that "the knowledge which [he has] is of God"?
  • Alma 36:27: How does the Lord deliver us in our daily trials?
  • Alma 36:27: What is the difference between being "supported under trails and troubles" and being delivered from them?
  • Alma 36:27: What does Alma mean by being "delivered"?
  • Alma 36:27: In what sense is the outcome of a trial more important than avoiding trials?
  • Alma 36:28: Is this verse parallel to v. 2? Why would Alma begin and end the account of his conversion by reminding Helaman of this scriptural type?
  • Alma 36:28: How does Alma know that he will be raised up at the last day?
  • Alma 36:28: What does it mean to "dwell...in glory"?
  • Alma 36:28: What is the importance of the testimony that Alma has of divine intervention in history?
  • Alma 36:29: How important is this concept of being delivered out of bondage?
  • Alma 36:29: Why does Alma always retain in remembrance the captivity of his ancestors? Why does he tell his son to always retain that remembrance as well?
  • Alma 36:29: Alma sees to identify somehow with those who have been captive and delivered in past ages. Are we to do the same? Is this different from seeing ourselves as co-workers in the kingdom with people from past dispensations?
  • Alma 36:30: How are verses 28-29 (and, therefore, also v. 3) a type for what Alma says in this verse?
  • Alma 36:30: Here Alma repeats the promise made in verse 1 but adds the warning "and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." Why is this warning not included at the beginning of their discussion (in verse 1)?

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 36:21. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash warns: "As to any evil and unclean thing..., do not even touch it! Disguised in such things is a hook that sets subtly and much more suddenly than you dare think—and it can be an excruciatingly painful process to extract the hook [see also vv. 12-16]... There may be some of you who have been involved with that which is evil or unclean. Take hope in the doctrinal and historical fact that Alma's faith in the Lord led him to repent, and as a direct result of his repentance he experienced such happiness through the power of the Atonement of Christ."
  • Alma 36:24. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins offers this advice: "One source of joy is service, for when you are busy helping others, you will have less capacity to agonize over your own shortcomings."

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: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37

Alma 36:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 36
Previous page: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 36 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 36 include:

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 35:15-16. These two verses, thought part of Chapter 35, begin the next major section of Alma 36-42 by introducing a new situation and characters that will remain throughout Chapters 36-42..
  • Alma 36. Capter 36 is a chiasmus that goes until the end of the chapter. In verse one, Alma says, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” This parallels verse thirty, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” The middle of the chiasmus is in verses 17 and 18.
  • Alma 36:1. Alma tells his son that by keeping the commandments he will prosper in the land. Note that in the last verse of the chapter, Alma repeats this promise--that he will prosper in the land if he keeps the commandments. Most of what happens between the first and last verse of this chapter is that Alma tells the story of his conversion. One way of reading this is that Alma uses the story of his own life as an example of how someone who keeps the commandments of God prospers in the land. This reading suggests that the phrase "prosper in the land" isn't strictly about having material blessings like lots of flocks, riches or posterity. Why? Because instead of talking about these material blessings, Alma tells his son how by following the Lord he received spiritual blessings, for example, the blessings of great joy (verses 20-21; 25) and the blessing of support through trials (verse 27).
  • Alma 36:8: A Literal Hebraism. Nibley points out in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 361, that the seemingly illogical statement "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God" is standard Semitic usage for communicating the intended meaning. Read literally in English, the statement says "If you stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed," but it is clear that the opposite meaning is actually intended, i.e. "If you don't stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed." But, Nibley says, in Hebrew, one says when warning a child, "Don't do that if you want to get spanked" rather than as in English "Don't do that unless you want to get spanked." So the construction is valid for Hebrew, not valid for English. Joseph was apparently very literal in his translation.
  • Alma 36:11-15: Being destroyed. While we don't know for sure about the teachings of the Nehors or other dissenters among the Nephites at this period, throughout Mesoamerica most people believed in the immortality of the human soul, so the thought of that soul being utterly destroyed would have been amazing and frightful. According to modern revelation, all people will be resurrected, though Brigham Young taught that those who become sons of perdition will eventually be destroyed and lose their identity as organized beings, with their eternal elements being recycled (Journal of Discourses 1:118). Perhaps Alma realizes at this point that he has had enough light and knowledge to become a son of perdition if he continues on his course of apostasy.
  • Alma 36:18. Alma makes his plea to Jesus Christ to be delivered from his suffering. We must make a similar plea for ourselves to Christ.
  • Alma 36:6-20. In verses 6-20 Alma tells the story how he was converted unto the church of Jesus Christ through an Angel. He described his feelings- horror, fear, amazement, torment, and finally joy that was as great as his pain. He shared this story with only Helaman. He wanted him to know, as he says in verse 21 that “…there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma wanted Helaman to know that ever since that experience, he has spent his life serving and loving the Lord. He wanted to bring people to taste that sweet bitterness that he tasted during the conversion in his life. He wanted them to be born of God and be baptized into His church (verse 26). Alma wants Helaman to love the Lord just as much as he loves Him. He wanted him to follow in his footsteps and give his life in service to the Lord.
  • Alma 36:22: Methought I saw. Here Alma expresses uncertainty about what he saw, specifically borrowing his language of uncertainty from Lehi. This idea is developed in the discussion regarding certainty of interpretation at 1 Ne 11:9-11. Unlike Lehi and Nephi, Alma's vision occurred in the midst of repentance from great sin, and thus may not have felt that he was in a position to request clarification regarding what he saw.
  • Alma 36:27. Notice the parallelism found in this passage. "God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
  • Alma 36:28-30. In verses 28-29 Alma cites examples of how the Lord has delivered His people in the past and exhorts them to retain [these things] in rememberance. In verse 30 he turns to the importance of keeping the commandments and how, if we do, we will not be cut off from the presence of the Lord. Alma's preaching to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 also called on the people to remember how the Lord had delivered their fathers from captivity. He then asks "And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?" Alma 5:6 Alma seems to be emphasizing the importance of retaining in rememberance that the Lord's deliverance is not only physical but also spiritual.

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 36:1: Why does Alma counsel his sons individually rather than together?
  • Alma 36:1: What does Alma mean by "prosper"? What does it mean to "prosper in the land"? What is so important about the land?
  • Alma 36:2: Why do we, like Helaman, sometimes need to be reminded of the miracles God has done to deliver his people in times past?
  • Alma 36:2: Often when we think of God delivering people from bondage, we think of Jehovah, Moses, and the Exodus. Why does Alma instead refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
  • Alma 36:3: Why do you think Alma bears this particular testimony to Helaman: “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"? Why this rather than something else? What does it mean to be "lifted up at the last day"?
  • Alma 36:4: What kind of knowing is Alma talking about here? Wht does it mean to know "not of the carnal mind but of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: What does Alma mean by "born of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: Why does Alma get to know "by the mouth of his holy angel" whereas we mostly expect to just have faith on his words?
  • Alma 36:5: If Alma was visited "not of any worthiness of [himself]", why can't we also expect to be visited?
  • Alma 36:6: Why would Alma go into such great detail of how he was once a sinner that fought against the church of God?
  • Alma 36:6: How did Alma and the sons of Mosiah think "to destroy the church of God"? What were they really trying to do? How did they expect to accomplish it?
  • Alma 36:6: Why did an angel come to Alma when he was so wicked? Why doesn't God send an angel to stop all wicked people?
  • Alma 36:7: How is the voice of an angel like "the voice of thunder"?
  • Alma 36:7: Did the earth really tremble, or did they just go weak in the knees?
  • Alma 36:7: Why were they afraid of the angel? Is this a common response to being visited by an angel?
  • Alma 36:8: Why did the angel tell Alma to arise? Did he tell the others to arise as well, or just Alma?
  • Alma 36:8: What does it mean that Alma "beheld the angel"? How are angels perceived?
  • Alma 36:9: Why does Alma focus on this part of the message from the angel while speaking to his son?
  • Alma 36:9: Why would this message cause Alma to fall to the earth with fear and amazement?
  • Alma 36:9: We often think that fear is a negative thing, and that we shouldn't try to motivate people through fear. What is the role of fear in bringing people to God?
  • Alma 36:10: It says that Alma couldn't speak or move his limbs. Was he otherwise conscious? What state was Alma really in? How did this look to those who might have seen him?
  • Alma 36:10: Is there something important about the specific duration (three days and three nights) of Alma's experience?
  • Alma 36:11: Why did the thought of being destroyed strike Alma with "such great fear and amazement"? What does it mean to be "destroyed"? How does being destroyed translate into our current LDS thinking? What might being destroyed have meant in Alma's cultural context?
  • Alma 36:11: Alma distinctly misquotes what the angel actually said in verse 9. In nine it reads 'If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed,' but here Alma restates it as saying 'If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself.' Why? What is the difference in meaning here between these two phrases? Was Alms just not a very careful writer? Was the angel in fact saying that he would be destroyed once he stopped seeking the destruction of the church, but Alma misheard it? If so, what did the angel mean by that? How was Alma destroyed after his conversion?
  • Alma 36:12: Is there a connection between the fear of being destroyed and remembering sin?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to be "racked with eternal torment"?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to have your soul "harrowed up"?
  • Alma 36:13: Why could Alma remember all his sins in this moment?
  • Alma 36:14: Why do you think that Alma describes what he had done as murder? (Compare Alma 5:23 and Matt 10:28 — what does it mean to destroy both soul, i.e., spirit, and body in hell?)
  • Alma 36:14: How does how Alma the Younger feel imagining himself in the presence of God? How does this compare to how his father had asked the people to imagine feeling in that same situation Alma 5:15]?
  • Alma 36:15: Why would Alma want to "become extinct both soul and body"? What does he mean by "soul"?
  • Alma 36:16: What symbolism can we see in Alma being stricken for 3 days and 3 nights? How does this relate to other prophets' experiences?
  • Alma 36:16: What are "the pains of a damned soul"?
  • Alma 36:17: What does it mean to be "racked with torment"?
  • Alma 36:17: How can the memory of sins harrow up a soul?
  • Alma 36:17: Why is Jesus Christ referred to as "a" Son of God rather than "the" Son of God?
  • Alma 36:17: What does Alma mean by "atone for the sins of the world"?
  • Alma 36:18: Why does Alma pray to Jesus, rather than to God Almighty?
  • Alma 36:18: What does it mean to be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death"?
  • Alma 36:19: Why does Alma’s cry in v. 18 bring the results in v. 19? How is this connected to King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 4? Is it significant that Benjamin delivered that address to a people who were diligent in keeping the commandments but that it also seems to apply to someone like Alma who has openly rebelled against those commandments?
  • Alma 36:19: Since Alma is here telling us about the pains he experienced, what can he mean when he says “I could remember my pains no more"?
  • Alma 36:20: What really happened here? How can merely calling on Jesus make one forget their sins and be filled with joy? What state of mind did Alma have to be in before he could have this redemptive experience?
  • Alma 36:20: What is this "marvelous light" that Alma "did behold"? What does it mean to "behold" light?
  • Alma 36:20: Why might Alma have chosen to share his conversion story with his son Helaman? What did Alma want Helaman to learn from his past?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by "exquisite" pain or joy?
  • Alma 36:21: Why does Alma contrast pain and joy with the descriptors bitter and sweet?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by bitterness? If we feel bitterness, does that mean that we are still bound by sin?
  • Alma 36:22: How could Alma have seen God at this point? Three days earlier, he had been a vile sinner--and now he's having a greater spiritual experience than most members of the modern Church will probably ever have. How is that possible?
  • Alma 36:22: What are "concourses of angels"? Why are they "singing and praising their God"?
  • Alma 36:22: Alma had just said that he would rather be extinct than brought before God. Now here he is, longing to be there. What happened to cause this change?
  • Alma 36:23: Alma seems to have wanted to stay in the vision, but instead he is brought out of it. Why would that happen?
  • Alma 36:23: What does Alma mean by having "been born of God"? What would that experience be similar to in our own experience?
  • Alma 36:24: After his experience, Alma serves God without ceasing. What does that mean? How are we similar or different from Alma? Do we have to have a similar type of experience before we can really serve God?
  • Alma 36:24: Do we share this same motivation with Alma? Why or why not? Should we take his experience as somehow a measure by which we can gauge our own level of motivation?
  • Alma 36:24: What does it mean to "taste" exceeding joy?
  • Alma 36:24: What is the connection between the type of experience Alma has and being "filled with the Holy Ghost"?
  • Alma 36:25: Alma receives "exceedingly great joy." Is this a reward for his labors? Why would it be important for Alma to feel one way or the other about his labor? Is this joy a motivator? Is it in any way selfish? Should we be motivated by a desire to have that same kind of joy, or would that be a selfish motive?
  • Alma 36:26: How has the word "imparted unto" Alma brought many to "have been born of God"? How does the word do that?
  • Alma 36:26: What does it mean that many have "seen eye to eye as [Alma has] seen"? Does that mean they all saw the throne of God too, or just that they have been filled with joy?
  • Alma 36:26: How does Alma know that "the knowledge which [he has] is of God"?
  • Alma 36:27: How does the Lord deliver us in our daily trials?
  • Alma 36:27: What is the difference between being "supported under trails and troubles" and being delivered from them?
  • Alma 36:27: What does Alma mean by being "delivered"?
  • Alma 36:27: In what sense is the outcome of a trial more important than avoiding trials?
  • Alma 36:28: Is this verse parallel to v. 2? Why would Alma begin and end the account of his conversion by reminding Helaman of this scriptural type?
  • Alma 36:28: How does Alma know that he will be raised up at the last day?
  • Alma 36:28: What does it mean to "dwell...in glory"?
  • Alma 36:28: What is the importance of the testimony that Alma has of divine intervention in history?
  • Alma 36:29: How important is this concept of being delivered out of bondage?
  • Alma 36:29: Why does Alma always retain in remembrance the captivity of his ancestors? Why does he tell his son to always retain that remembrance as well?
  • Alma 36:29: Alma sees to identify somehow with those who have been captive and delivered in past ages. Are we to do the same? Is this different from seeing ourselves as co-workers in the kingdom with people from past dispensations?
  • Alma 36:30: How are verses 28-29 (and, therefore, also v. 3) a type for what Alma says in this verse?
  • Alma 36:30: Here Alma repeats the promise made in verse 1 but adds the warning "and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." Why is this warning not included at the beginning of their discussion (in verse 1)?

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 36:21. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash warns: "As to any evil and unclean thing..., do not even touch it! Disguised in such things is a hook that sets subtly and much more suddenly than you dare think—and it can be an excruciatingly painful process to extract the hook [see also vv. 12-16]... There may be some of you who have been involved with that which is evil or unclean. Take hope in the doctrinal and historical fact that Alma's faith in the Lord led him to repent, and as a direct result of his repentance he experienced such happiness through the power of the Atonement of Christ."
  • Alma 36:24. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins offers this advice: "One source of joy is service, for when you are busy helping others, you will have less capacity to agonize over your own shortcomings."

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: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37

Alma 36:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 36
Previous page: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 36 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 36 include:

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 35:15-16. These two verses, thought part of Chapter 35, begin the next major section of Alma 36-42 by introducing a new situation and characters that will remain throughout Chapters 36-42..
  • Alma 36. Capter 36 is a chiasmus that goes until the end of the chapter. In verse one, Alma says, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” This parallels verse thirty, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” The middle of the chiasmus is in verses 17 and 18.
  • Alma 36:1. Alma tells his son that by keeping the commandments he will prosper in the land. Note that in the last verse of the chapter, Alma repeats this promise--that he will prosper in the land if he keeps the commandments. Most of what happens between the first and last verse of this chapter is that Alma tells the story of his conversion. One way of reading this is that Alma uses the story of his own life as an example of how someone who keeps the commandments of God prospers in the land. This reading suggests that the phrase "prosper in the land" isn't strictly about having material blessings like lots of flocks, riches or posterity. Why? Because instead of talking about these material blessings, Alma tells his son how by following the Lord he received spiritual blessings, for example, the blessings of great joy (verses 20-21; 25) and the blessing of support through trials (verse 27).
  • Alma 36:8: A Literal Hebraism. Nibley points out in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 361, that the seemingly illogical statement "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God" is standard Semitic usage for communicating the intended meaning. Read literally in English, the statement says "If you stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed," but it is clear that the opposite meaning is actually intended, i.e. "If you don't stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed." But, Nibley says, in Hebrew, one says when warning a child, "Don't do that if you want to get spanked" rather than as in English "Don't do that unless you want to get spanked." So the construction is valid for Hebrew, not valid for English. Joseph was apparently very literal in his translation.
  • Alma 36:11-15: Being destroyed. While we don't know for sure about the teachings of the Nehors or other dissenters among the Nephites at this period, throughout Mesoamerica most people believed in the immortality of the human soul, so the thought of that soul being utterly destroyed would have been amazing and frightful. According to modern revelation, all people will be resurrected, though Brigham Young taught that those who become sons of perdition will eventually be destroyed and lose their identity as organized beings, with their eternal elements being recycled (Journal of Discourses 1:118). Perhaps Alma realizes at this point that he has had enough light and knowledge to become a son of perdition if he continues on his course of apostasy.
  • Alma 36:18. Alma makes his plea to Jesus Christ to be delivered from his suffering. We must make a similar plea for ourselves to Christ.
  • Alma 36:6-20. In verses 6-20 Alma tells the story how he was converted unto the church of Jesus Christ through an Angel. He described his feelings- horror, fear, amazement, torment, and finally joy that was as great as his pain. He shared this story with only Helaman. He wanted him to know, as he says in verse 21 that “…there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma wanted Helaman to know that ever since that experience, he has spent his life serving and loving the Lord. He wanted to bring people to taste that sweet bitterness that he tasted during the conversion in his life. He wanted them to be born of God and be baptized into His church (verse 26). Alma wants Helaman to love the Lord just as much as he loves Him. He wanted him to follow in his footsteps and give his life in service to the Lord.
  • Alma 36:22: Methought I saw. Here Alma expresses uncertainty about what he saw, specifically borrowing his language of uncertainty from Lehi. This idea is developed in the discussion regarding certainty of interpretation at 1 Ne 11:9-11. Unlike Lehi and Nephi, Alma's vision occurred in the midst of repentance from great sin, and thus may not have felt that he was in a position to request clarification regarding what he saw.
  • Alma 36:27. Notice the parallelism found in this passage. "God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
  • Alma 36:28-30. In verses 28-29 Alma cites examples of how the Lord has delivered His people in the past and exhorts them to retain [these things] in rememberance. In verse 30 he turns to the importance of keeping the commandments and how, if we do, we will not be cut off from the presence of the Lord. Alma's preaching to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 also called on the people to remember how the Lord had delivered their fathers from captivity. He then asks "And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?" Alma 5:6 Alma seems to be emphasizing the importance of retaining in rememberance that the Lord's deliverance is not only physical but also spiritual.

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 36:1: Why does Alma counsel his sons individually rather than together?
  • Alma 36:1: What does Alma mean by "prosper"? What does it mean to "prosper in the land"? What is so important about the land?
  • Alma 36:2: Why do we, like Helaman, sometimes need to be reminded of the miracles God has done to deliver his people in times past?
  • Alma 36:2: Often when we think of God delivering people from bondage, we think of Jehovah, Moses, and the Exodus. Why does Alma instead refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
  • Alma 36:3: Why do you think Alma bears this particular testimony to Helaman: “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"? Why this rather than something else? What does it mean to be "lifted up at the last day"?
  • Alma 36:4: What kind of knowing is Alma talking about here? Wht does it mean to know "not of the carnal mind but of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: What does Alma mean by "born of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: Why does Alma get to know "by the mouth of his holy angel" whereas we mostly expect to just have faith on his words?
  • Alma 36:5: If Alma was visited "not of any worthiness of [himself]", why can't we also expect to be visited?
  • Alma 36:6: Why would Alma go into such great detail of how he was once a sinner that fought against the church of God?
  • Alma 36:6: How did Alma and the sons of Mosiah think "to destroy the church of God"? What were they really trying to do? How did they expect to accomplish it?
  • Alma 36:6: Why did an angel come to Alma when he was so wicked? Why doesn't God send an angel to stop all wicked people?
  • Alma 36:7: How is the voice of an angel like "the voice of thunder"?
  • Alma 36:7: Did the earth really tremble, or did they just go weak in the knees?
  • Alma 36:7: Why were they afraid of the angel? Is this a common response to being visited by an angel?
  • Alma 36:8: Why did the angel tell Alma to arise? Did he tell the others to arise as well, or just Alma?
  • Alma 36:8: What does it mean that Alma "beheld the angel"? How are angels perceived?
  • Alma 36:9: Why does Alma focus on this part of the message from the angel while speaking to his son?
  • Alma 36:9: Why would this message cause Alma to fall to the earth with fear and amazement?
  • Alma 36:9: We often think that fear is a negative thing, and that we shouldn't try to motivate people through fear. What is the role of fear in bringing people to God?
  • Alma 36:10: It says that Alma couldn't speak or move his limbs. Was he otherwise conscious? What state was Alma really in? How did this look to those who might have seen him?
  • Alma 36:10: Is there something important about the specific duration (three days and three nights) of Alma's experience?
  • Alma 36:11: Why did the thought of being destroyed strike Alma with "such great fear and amazement"? What does it mean to be "destroyed"? How does being destroyed translate into our current LDS thinking? What might being destroyed have meant in Alma's cultural context?
  • Alma 36:11: Alma distinctly misquotes what the angel actually said in verse 9. In nine it reads 'If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed,' but here Alma restates it as saying 'If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself.' Why? What is the difference in meaning here between these two phrases? Was Alms just not a very careful writer? Was the angel in fact saying that he would be destroyed once he stopped seeking the destruction of the church, but Alma misheard it? If so, what did the angel mean by that? How was Alma destroyed after his conversion?
  • Alma 36:12: Is there a connection between the fear of being destroyed and remembering sin?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to be "racked with eternal torment"?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to have your soul "harrowed up"?
  • Alma 36:13: Why could Alma remember all his sins in this moment?
  • Alma 36:14: Why do you think that Alma describes what he had done as murder? (Compare Alma 5:23 and Matt 10:28 — what does it mean to destroy both soul, i.e., spirit, and body in hell?)
  • Alma 36:14: How does how Alma the Younger feel imagining himself in the presence of God? How does this compare to how his father had asked the people to imagine feeling in that same situation Alma 5:15]?
  • Alma 36:15: Why would Alma want to "become extinct both soul and body"? What does he mean by "soul"?
  • Alma 36:16: What symbolism can we see in Alma being stricken for 3 days and 3 nights? How does this relate to other prophets' experiences?
  • Alma 36:16: What are "the pains of a damned soul"?
  • Alma 36:17: What does it mean to be "racked with torment"?
  • Alma 36:17: How can the memory of sins harrow up a soul?
  • Alma 36:17: Why is Jesus Christ referred to as "a" Son of God rather than "the" Son of God?
  • Alma 36:17: What does Alma mean by "atone for the sins of the world"?
  • Alma 36:18: Why does Alma pray to Jesus, rather than to God Almighty?
  • Alma 36:18: What does it mean to be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death"?
  • Alma 36:19: Why does Alma’s cry in v. 18 bring the results in v. 19? How is this connected to King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 4? Is it significant that Benjamin delivered that address to a people who were diligent in keeping the commandments but that it also seems to apply to someone like Alma who has openly rebelled against those commandments?
  • Alma 36:19: Since Alma is here telling us about the pains he experienced, what can he mean when he says “I could remember my pains no more"?
  • Alma 36:20: What really happened here? How can merely calling on Jesus make one forget their sins and be filled with joy? What state of mind did Alma have to be in before he could have this redemptive experience?
  • Alma 36:20: What is this "marvelous light" that Alma "did behold"? What does it mean to "behold" light?
  • Alma 36:20: Why might Alma have chosen to share his conversion story with his son Helaman? What did Alma want Helaman to learn from his past?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by "exquisite" pain or joy?
  • Alma 36:21: Why does Alma contrast pain and joy with the descriptors bitter and sweet?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by bitterness? If we feel bitterness, does that mean that we are still bound by sin?
  • Alma 36:22: How could Alma have seen God at this point? Three days earlier, he had been a vile sinner--and now he's having a greater spiritual experience than most members of the modern Church will probably ever have. How is that possible?
  • Alma 36:22: What are "concourses of angels"? Why are they "singing and praising their God"?
  • Alma 36:22: Alma had just said that he would rather be extinct than brought before God. Now here he is, longing to be there. What happened to cause this change?
  • Alma 36:23: Alma seems to have wanted to stay in the vision, but instead he is brought out of it. Why would that happen?
  • Alma 36:23: What does Alma mean by having "been born of God"? What would that experience be similar to in our own experience?
  • Alma 36:24: After his experience, Alma serves God without ceasing. What does that mean? How are we similar or different from Alma? Do we have to have a similar type of experience before we can really serve God?
  • Alma 36:24: Do we share this same motivation with Alma? Why or why not? Should we take his experience as somehow a measure by which we can gauge our own level of motivation?
  • Alma 36:24: What does it mean to "taste" exceeding joy?
  • Alma 36:24: What is the connection between the type of experience Alma has and being "filled with the Holy Ghost"?
  • Alma 36:25: Alma receives "exceedingly great joy." Is this a reward for his labors? Why would it be important for Alma to feel one way or the other about his labor? Is this joy a motivator? Is it in any way selfish? Should we be motivated by a desire to have that same kind of joy, or would that be a selfish motive?
  • Alma 36:26: How has the word "imparted unto" Alma brought many to "have been born of God"? How does the word do that?
  • Alma 36:26: What does it mean that many have "seen eye to eye as [Alma has] seen"? Does that mean they all saw the throne of God too, or just that they have been filled with joy?
  • Alma 36:26: How does Alma know that "the knowledge which [he has] is of God"?
  • Alma 36:27: How does the Lord deliver us in our daily trials?
  • Alma 36:27: What is the difference between being "supported under trails and troubles" and being delivered from them?
  • Alma 36:27: What does Alma mean by being "delivered"?
  • Alma 36:27: In what sense is the outcome of a trial more important than avoiding trials?
  • Alma 36:28: Is this verse parallel to v. 2? Why would Alma begin and end the account of his conversion by reminding Helaman of this scriptural type?
  • Alma 36:28: How does Alma know that he will be raised up at the last day?
  • Alma 36:28: What does it mean to "dwell...in glory"?
  • Alma 36:28: What is the importance of the testimony that Alma has of divine intervention in history?
  • Alma 36:29: How important is this concept of being delivered out of bondage?
  • Alma 36:29: Why does Alma always retain in remembrance the captivity of his ancestors? Why does he tell his son to always retain that remembrance as well?
  • Alma 36:29: Alma sees to identify somehow with those who have been captive and delivered in past ages. Are we to do the same? Is this different from seeing ourselves as co-workers in the kingdom with people from past dispensations?
  • Alma 36:30: How are verses 28-29 (and, therefore, also v. 3) a type for what Alma says in this verse?
  • Alma 36:30: Here Alma repeats the promise made in verse 1 but adds the warning "and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." Why is this warning not included at the beginning of their discussion (in verse 1)?

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 36:21. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash warns: "As to any evil and unclean thing..., do not even touch it! Disguised in such things is a hook that sets subtly and much more suddenly than you dare think—and it can be an excruciatingly painful process to extract the hook [see also vv. 12-16]... There may be some of you who have been involved with that which is evil or unclean. Take hope in the doctrinal and historical fact that Alma's faith in the Lord led him to repent, and as a direct result of his repentance he experienced such happiness through the power of the Atonement of Christ."
  • Alma 36:24. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins offers this advice: "One source of joy is service, for when you are busy helping others, you will have less capacity to agonize over your own shortcomings."

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: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37

Alma 36:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 36
Previous page: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 36 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 36 include:

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 35:15-16. These two verses, thought part of Chapter 35, begin the next major section of Alma 36-42 by introducing a new situation and characters that will remain throughout Chapters 36-42..
  • Alma 36. Capter 36 is a chiasmus that goes until the end of the chapter. In verse one, Alma says, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” This parallels verse thirty, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” The middle of the chiasmus is in verses 17 and 18.
  • Alma 36:1. Alma tells his son that by keeping the commandments he will prosper in the land. Note that in the last verse of the chapter, Alma repeats this promise--that he will prosper in the land if he keeps the commandments. Most of what happens between the first and last verse of this chapter is that Alma tells the story of his conversion. One way of reading this is that Alma uses the story of his own life as an example of how someone who keeps the commandments of God prospers in the land. This reading suggests that the phrase "prosper in the land" isn't strictly about having material blessings like lots of flocks, riches or posterity. Why? Because instead of talking about these material blessings, Alma tells his son how by following the Lord he received spiritual blessings, for example, the blessings of great joy (verses 20-21; 25) and the blessing of support through trials (verse 27).
  • Alma 36:8: A Literal Hebraism. Nibley points out in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 361, that the seemingly illogical statement "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God" is standard Semitic usage for communicating the intended meaning. Read literally in English, the statement says "If you stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed," but it is clear that the opposite meaning is actually intended, i.e. "If you don't stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed." But, Nibley says, in Hebrew, one says when warning a child, "Don't do that if you want to get spanked" rather than as in English "Don't do that unless you want to get spanked." So the construction is valid for Hebrew, not valid for English. Joseph was apparently very literal in his translation.
  • Alma 36:11-15: Being destroyed. While we don't know for sure about the teachings of the Nehors or other dissenters among the Nephites at this period, throughout Mesoamerica most people believed in the immortality of the human soul, so the thought of that soul being utterly destroyed would have been amazing and frightful. According to modern revelation, all people will be resurrected, though Brigham Young taught that those who become sons of perdition will eventually be destroyed and lose their identity as organized beings, with their eternal elements being recycled (Journal of Discourses 1:118). Perhaps Alma realizes at this point that he has had enough light and knowledge to become a son of perdition if he continues on his course of apostasy.
  • Alma 36:18. Alma makes his plea to Jesus Christ to be delivered from his suffering. We must make a similar plea for ourselves to Christ.
  • Alma 36:6-20. In verses 6-20 Alma tells the story how he was converted unto the church of Jesus Christ through an Angel. He described his feelings- horror, fear, amazement, torment, and finally joy that was as great as his pain. He shared this story with only Helaman. He wanted him to know, as he says in verse 21 that “…there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma wanted Helaman to know that ever since that experience, he has spent his life serving and loving the Lord. He wanted to bring people to taste that sweet bitterness that he tasted during the conversion in his life. He wanted them to be born of God and be baptized into His church (verse 26). Alma wants Helaman to love the Lord just as much as he loves Him. He wanted him to follow in his footsteps and give his life in service to the Lord.
  • Alma 36:22: Methought I saw. Here Alma expresses uncertainty about what he saw, specifically borrowing his language of uncertainty from Lehi. This idea is developed in the discussion regarding certainty of interpretation at 1 Ne 11:9-11. Unlike Lehi and Nephi, Alma's vision occurred in the midst of repentance from great sin, and thus may not have felt that he was in a position to request clarification regarding what he saw.
  • Alma 36:27. Notice the parallelism found in this passage. "God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
  • Alma 36:28-30. In verses 28-29 Alma cites examples of how the Lord has delivered His people in the past and exhorts them to retain [these things] in rememberance. In verse 30 he turns to the importance of keeping the commandments and how, if we do, we will not be cut off from the presence of the Lord. Alma's preaching to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 also called on the people to remember how the Lord had delivered their fathers from captivity. He then asks "And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?" Alma 5:6 Alma seems to be emphasizing the importance of retaining in rememberance that the Lord's deliverance is not only physical but also spiritual.

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 36:1: Why does Alma counsel his sons individually rather than together?
  • Alma 36:1: What does Alma mean by "prosper"? What does it mean to "prosper in the land"? What is so important about the land?
  • Alma 36:2: Why do we, like Helaman, sometimes need to be reminded of the miracles God has done to deliver his people in times past?
  • Alma 36:2: Often when we think of God delivering people from bondage, we think of Jehovah, Moses, and the Exodus. Why does Alma instead refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
  • Alma 36:3: Why do you think Alma bears this particular testimony to Helaman: “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"? Why this rather than something else? What does it mean to be "lifted up at the last day"?
  • Alma 36:4: What kind of knowing is Alma talking about here? Wht does it mean to know "not of the carnal mind but of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: What does Alma mean by "born of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: Why does Alma get to know "by the mouth of his holy angel" whereas we mostly expect to just have faith on his words?
  • Alma 36:5: If Alma was visited "not of any worthiness of [himself]", why can't we also expect to be visited?
  • Alma 36:6: Why would Alma go into such great detail of how he was once a sinner that fought against the church of God?
  • Alma 36:6: How did Alma and the sons of Mosiah think "to destroy the church of God"? What were they really trying to do? How did they expect to accomplish it?
  • Alma 36:6: Why did an angel come to Alma when he was so wicked? Why doesn't God send an angel to stop all wicked people?
  • Alma 36:7: How is the voice of an angel like "the voice of thunder"?
  • Alma 36:7: Did the earth really tremble, or did they just go weak in the knees?
  • Alma 36:7: Why were they afraid of the angel? Is this a common response to being visited by an angel?
  • Alma 36:8: Why did the angel tell Alma to arise? Did he tell the others to arise as well, or just Alma?
  • Alma 36:8: What does it mean that Alma "beheld the angel"? How are angels perceived?
  • Alma 36:9: Why does Alma focus on this part of the message from the angel while speaking to his son?
  • Alma 36:9: Why would this message cause Alma to fall to the earth with fear and amazement?
  • Alma 36:9: We often think that fear is a negative thing, and that we shouldn't try to motivate people through fear. What is the role of fear in bringing people to God?
  • Alma 36:10: It says that Alma couldn't speak or move his limbs. Was he otherwise conscious? What state was Alma really in? How did this look to those who might have seen him?
  • Alma 36:10: Is there something important about the specific duration (three days and three nights) of Alma's experience?
  • Alma 36:11: Why did the thought of being destroyed strike Alma with "such great fear and amazement"? What does it mean to be "destroyed"? How does being destroyed translate into our current LDS thinking? What might being destroyed have meant in Alma's cultural context?
  • Alma 36:11: Alma distinctly misquotes what the angel actually said in verse 9. In nine it reads 'If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed,' but here Alma restates it as saying 'If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself.' Why? What is the difference in meaning here between these two phrases? Was Alms just not a very careful writer? Was the angel in fact saying that he would be destroyed once he stopped seeking the destruction of the church, but Alma misheard it? If so, what did the angel mean by that? How was Alma destroyed after his conversion?
  • Alma 36:12: Is there a connection between the fear of being destroyed and remembering sin?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to be "racked with eternal torment"?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to have your soul "harrowed up"?
  • Alma 36:13: Why could Alma remember all his sins in this moment?
  • Alma 36:14: Why do you think that Alma describes what he had done as murder? (Compare Alma 5:23 and Matt 10:28 — what does it mean to destroy both soul, i.e., spirit, and body in hell?)
  • Alma 36:14: How does how Alma the Younger feel imagining himself in the presence of God? How does this compare to how his father had asked the people to imagine feeling in that same situation Alma 5:15]?
  • Alma 36:15: Why would Alma want to "become extinct both soul and body"? What does he mean by "soul"?
  • Alma 36:16: What symbolism can we see in Alma being stricken for 3 days and 3 nights? How does this relate to other prophets' experiences?
  • Alma 36:16: What are "the pains of a damned soul"?
  • Alma 36:17: What does it mean to be "racked with torment"?
  • Alma 36:17: How can the memory of sins harrow up a soul?
  • Alma 36:17: Why is Jesus Christ referred to as "a" Son of God rather than "the" Son of God?
  • Alma 36:17: What does Alma mean by "atone for the sins of the world"?
  • Alma 36:18: Why does Alma pray to Jesus, rather than to God Almighty?
  • Alma 36:18: What does it mean to be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death"?
  • Alma 36:19: Why does Alma’s cry in v. 18 bring the results in v. 19? How is this connected to King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 4? Is it significant that Benjamin delivered that address to a people who were diligent in keeping the commandments but that it also seems to apply to someone like Alma who has openly rebelled against those commandments?
  • Alma 36:19: Since Alma is here telling us about the pains he experienced, what can he mean when he says “I could remember my pains no more"?
  • Alma 36:20: What really happened here? How can merely calling on Jesus make one forget their sins and be filled with joy? What state of mind did Alma have to be in before he could have this redemptive experience?
  • Alma 36:20: What is this "marvelous light" that Alma "did behold"? What does it mean to "behold" light?
  • Alma 36:20: Why might Alma have chosen to share his conversion story with his son Helaman? What did Alma want Helaman to learn from his past?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by "exquisite" pain or joy?
  • Alma 36:21: Why does Alma contrast pain and joy with the descriptors bitter and sweet?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by bitterness? If we feel bitterness, does that mean that we are still bound by sin?
  • Alma 36:22: How could Alma have seen God at this point? Three days earlier, he had been a vile sinner--and now he's having a greater spiritual experience than most members of the modern Church will probably ever have. How is that possible?
  • Alma 36:22: What are "concourses of angels"? Why are they "singing and praising their God"?
  • Alma 36:22: Alma had just said that he would rather be extinct than brought before God. Now here he is, longing to be there. What happened to cause this change?
  • Alma 36:23: Alma seems to have wanted to stay in the vision, but instead he is brought out of it. Why would that happen?
  • Alma 36:23: What does Alma mean by having "been born of God"? What would that experience be similar to in our own experience?
  • Alma 36:24: After his experience, Alma serves God without ceasing. What does that mean? How are we similar or different from Alma? Do we have to have a similar type of experience before we can really serve God?
  • Alma 36:24: Do we share this same motivation with Alma? Why or why not? Should we take his experience as somehow a measure by which we can gauge our own level of motivation?
  • Alma 36:24: What does it mean to "taste" exceeding joy?
  • Alma 36:24: What is the connection between the type of experience Alma has and being "filled with the Holy Ghost"?
  • Alma 36:25: Alma receives "exceedingly great joy." Is this a reward for his labors? Why would it be important for Alma to feel one way or the other about his labor? Is this joy a motivator? Is it in any way selfish? Should we be motivated by a desire to have that same kind of joy, or would that be a selfish motive?
  • Alma 36:26: How has the word "imparted unto" Alma brought many to "have been born of God"? How does the word do that?
  • Alma 36:26: What does it mean that many have "seen eye to eye as [Alma has] seen"? Does that mean they all saw the throne of God too, or just that they have been filled with joy?
  • Alma 36:26: How does Alma know that "the knowledge which [he has] is of God"?
  • Alma 36:27: How does the Lord deliver us in our daily trials?
  • Alma 36:27: What is the difference between being "supported under trails and troubles" and being delivered from them?
  • Alma 36:27: What does Alma mean by being "delivered"?
  • Alma 36:27: In what sense is the outcome of a trial more important than avoiding trials?
  • Alma 36:28: Is this verse parallel to v. 2? Why would Alma begin and end the account of his conversion by reminding Helaman of this scriptural type?
  • Alma 36:28: How does Alma know that he will be raised up at the last day?
  • Alma 36:28: What does it mean to "dwell...in glory"?
  • Alma 36:28: What is the importance of the testimony that Alma has of divine intervention in history?
  • Alma 36:29: How important is this concept of being delivered out of bondage?
  • Alma 36:29: Why does Alma always retain in remembrance the captivity of his ancestors? Why does he tell his son to always retain that remembrance as well?
  • Alma 36:29: Alma sees to identify somehow with those who have been captive and delivered in past ages. Are we to do the same? Is this different from seeing ourselves as co-workers in the kingdom with people from past dispensations?
  • Alma 36:30: How are verses 28-29 (and, therefore, also v. 3) a type for what Alma says in this verse?
  • Alma 36:30: Here Alma repeats the promise made in verse 1 but adds the warning "and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." Why is this warning not included at the beginning of their discussion (in verse 1)?

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 36:21. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash warns: "As to any evil and unclean thing..., do not even touch it! Disguised in such things is a hook that sets subtly and much more suddenly than you dare think—and it can be an excruciatingly painful process to extract the hook [see also vv. 12-16]... There may be some of you who have been involved with that which is evil or unclean. Take hope in the doctrinal and historical fact that Alma's faith in the Lord led him to repent, and as a direct result of his repentance he experienced such happiness through the power of the Atonement of Christ."
  • Alma 36:24. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins offers this advice: "One source of joy is service, for when you are busy helping others, you will have less capacity to agonize over your own shortcomings."

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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 36 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 36 include:

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 35:15-16. These two verses, thought part of Chapter 35, begin the next major section of Alma 36-42 by introducing a new situation and characters that will remain throughout Chapters 36-42..
  • Alma 36. Capter 36 is a chiasmus that goes until the end of the chapter. In verse one, Alma says, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” This parallels verse thirty, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” The middle of the chiasmus is in verses 17 and 18.
  • Alma 36:1. Alma tells his son that by keeping the commandments he will prosper in the land. Note that in the last verse of the chapter, Alma repeats this promise--that he will prosper in the land if he keeps the commandments. Most of what happens between the first and last verse of this chapter is that Alma tells the story of his conversion. One way of reading this is that Alma uses the story of his own life as an example of how someone who keeps the commandments of God prospers in the land. This reading suggests that the phrase "prosper in the land" isn't strictly about having material blessings like lots of flocks, riches or posterity. Why? Because instead of talking about these material blessings, Alma tells his son how by following the Lord he received spiritual blessings, for example, the blessings of great joy (verses 20-21; 25) and the blessing of support through trials (verse 27).
  • Alma 36:8: A Literal Hebraism. Nibley points out in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 361, that the seemingly illogical statement "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God" is standard Semitic usage for communicating the intended meaning. Read literally in English, the statement says "If you stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed," but it is clear that the opposite meaning is actually intended, i.e. "If you don't stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed." But, Nibley says, in Hebrew, one says when warning a child, "Don't do that if you want to get spanked" rather than as in English "Don't do that unless you want to get spanked." So the construction is valid for Hebrew, not valid for English. Joseph was apparently very literal in his translation.
  • Alma 36:11-15: Being destroyed. While we don't know for sure about the teachings of the Nehors or other dissenters among the Nephites at this period, throughout Mesoamerica most people believed in the immortality of the human soul, so the thought of that soul being utterly destroyed would have been amazing and frightful. According to modern revelation, all people will be resurrected, though Brigham Young taught that those who become sons of perdition will eventually be destroyed and lose their identity as organized beings, with their eternal elements being recycled (Journal of Discourses 1:118). Perhaps Alma realizes at this point that he has had enough light and knowledge to become a son of perdition if he continues on his course of apostasy.
  • Alma 36:18. Alma makes his plea to Jesus Christ to be delivered from his suffering. We must make a similar plea for ourselves to Christ.
  • Alma 36:6-20. In verses 6-20 Alma tells the story how he was converted unto the church of Jesus Christ through an Angel. He described his feelings- horror, fear, amazement, torment, and finally joy that was as great as his pain. He shared this story with only Helaman. He wanted him to know, as he says in verse 21 that “…there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma wanted Helaman to know that ever since that experience, he has spent his life serving and loving the Lord. He wanted to bring people to taste that sweet bitterness that he tasted during the conversion in his life. He wanted them to be born of God and be baptized into His church (verse 26). Alma wants Helaman to love the Lord just as much as he loves Him. He wanted him to follow in his footsteps and give his life in service to the Lord.
  • Alma 36:22: Methought I saw. Here Alma expresses uncertainty about what he saw, specifically borrowing his language of uncertainty from Lehi. This idea is developed in the discussion regarding certainty of interpretation at 1 Ne 11:9-11. Unlike Lehi and Nephi, Alma's vision occurred in the midst of repentance from great sin, and thus may not have felt that he was in a position to request clarification regarding what he saw.
  • Alma 36:27. Notice the parallelism found in this passage. "God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
  • Alma 36:28-30. In verses 28-29 Alma cites examples of how the Lord has delivered His people in the past and exhorts them to retain [these things] in rememberance. In verse 30 he turns to the importance of keeping the commandments and how, if we do, we will not be cut off from the presence of the Lord. Alma's preaching to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 also called on the people to remember how the Lord had delivered their fathers from captivity. He then asks "And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?" Alma 5:6 Alma seems to be emphasizing the importance of retaining in rememberance that the Lord's deliverance is not only physical but also spiritual.

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 36:1: Why does Alma counsel his sons individually rather than together?
  • Alma 36:1: What does Alma mean by "prosper"? What does it mean to "prosper in the land"? What is so important about the land?
  • Alma 36:2: Why do we, like Helaman, sometimes need to be reminded of the miracles God has done to deliver his people in times past?
  • Alma 36:2: Often when we think of God delivering people from bondage, we think of Jehovah, Moses, and the Exodus. Why does Alma instead refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
  • Alma 36:3: Why do you think Alma bears this particular testimony to Helaman: “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"? Why this rather than something else? What does it mean to be "lifted up at the last day"?
  • Alma 36:4: What kind of knowing is Alma talking about here? Wht does it mean to know "not of the carnal mind but of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: What does Alma mean by "born of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: Why does Alma get to know "by the mouth of his holy angel" whereas we mostly expect to just have faith on his words?
  • Alma 36:5: If Alma was visited "not of any worthiness of [himself]", why can't we also expect to be visited?
  • Alma 36:6: Why would Alma go into such great detail of how he was once a sinner that fought against the church of God?
  • Alma 36:6: How did Alma and the sons of Mosiah think "to destroy the church of God"? What were they really trying to do? How did they expect to accomplish it?
  • Alma 36:6: Why did an angel come to Alma when he was so wicked? Why doesn't God send an angel to stop all wicked people?
  • Alma 36:7: How is the voice of an angel like "the voice of thunder"?
  • Alma 36:7: Did the earth really tremble, or did they just go weak in the knees?
  • Alma 36:7: Why were they afraid of the angel? Is this a common response to being visited by an angel?
  • Alma 36:8: Why did the angel tell Alma to arise? Did he tell the others to arise as well, or just Alma?
  • Alma 36:8: What does it mean that Alma "beheld the angel"? How are angels perceived?
  • Alma 36:9: Why does Alma focus on this part of the message from the angel while speaking to his son?
  • Alma 36:9: Why would this message cause Alma to fall to the earth with fear and amazement?
  • Alma 36:9: We often think that fear is a negative thing, and that we shouldn't try to motivate people through fear. What is the role of fear in bringing people to God?
  • Alma 36:10: It says that Alma couldn't speak or move his limbs. Was he otherwise conscious? What state was Alma really in? How did this look to those who might have seen him?
  • Alma 36:10: Is there something important about the specific duration (three days and three nights) of Alma's experience?
  • Alma 36:11: Why did the thought of being destroyed strike Alma with "such great fear and amazement"? What does it mean to be "destroyed"? How does being destroyed translate into our current LDS thinking? What might being destroyed have meant in Alma's cultural context?
  • Alma 36:11: Alma distinctly misquotes what the angel actually said in verse 9. In nine it reads 'If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed,' but here Alma restates it as saying 'If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself.' Why? What is the difference in meaning here between these two phrases? Was Alms just not a very careful writer? Was the angel in fact saying that he would be destroyed once he stopped seeking the destruction of the church, but Alma misheard it? If so, what did the angel mean by that? How was Alma destroyed after his conversion?
  • Alma 36:12: Is there a connection between the fear of being destroyed and remembering sin?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to be "racked with eternal torment"?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to have your soul "harrowed up"?
  • Alma 36:13: Why could Alma remember all his sins in this moment?
  • Alma 36:14: Why do you think that Alma describes what he had done as murder? (Compare Alma 5:23 and Matt 10:28 — what does it mean to destroy both soul, i.e., spirit, and body in hell?)
  • Alma 36:14: How does how Alma the Younger feel imagining himself in the presence of God? How does this compare to how his father had asked the people to imagine feeling in that same situation Alma 5:15]?
  • Alma 36:15: Why would Alma want to "become extinct both soul and body"? What does he mean by "soul"?
  • Alma 36:16: What symbolism can we see in Alma being stricken for 3 days and 3 nights? How does this relate to other prophets' experiences?
  • Alma 36:16: What are "the pains of a damned soul"?
  • Alma 36:17: What does it mean to be "racked with torment"?
  • Alma 36:17: How can the memory of sins harrow up a soul?
  • Alma 36:17: Why is Jesus Christ referred to as "a" Son of God rather than "the" Son of God?
  • Alma 36:17: What does Alma mean by "atone for the sins of the world"?
  • Alma 36:18: Why does Alma pray to Jesus, rather than to God Almighty?
  • Alma 36:18: What does it mean to be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death"?
  • Alma 36:19: Why does Alma’s cry in v. 18 bring the results in v. 19? How is this connected to King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 4? Is it significant that Benjamin delivered that address to a people who were diligent in keeping the commandments but that it also seems to apply to someone like Alma who has openly rebelled against those commandments?
  • Alma 36:19: Since Alma is here telling us about the pains he experienced, what can he mean when he says “I could remember my pains no more"?
  • Alma 36:20: What really happened here? How can merely calling on Jesus make one forget their sins and be filled with joy? What state of mind did Alma have to be in before he could have this redemptive experience?
  • Alma 36:20: What is this "marvelous light" that Alma "did behold"? What does it mean to "behold" light?
  • Alma 36:20: Why might Alma have chosen to share his conversion story with his son Helaman? What did Alma want Helaman to learn from his past?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by "exquisite" pain or joy?
  • Alma 36:21: Why does Alma contrast pain and joy with the descriptors bitter and sweet?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by bitterness? If we feel bitterness, does that mean that we are still bound by sin?
  • Alma 36:22: How could Alma have seen God at this point? Three days earlier, he had been a vile sinner--and now he's having a greater spiritual experience than most members of the modern Church will probably ever have. How is that possible?
  • Alma 36:22: What are "concourses of angels"? Why are they "singing and praising their God"?
  • Alma 36:22: Alma had just said that he would rather be extinct than brought before God. Now here he is, longing to be there. What happened to cause this change?
  • Alma 36:23: Alma seems to have wanted to stay in the vision, but instead he is brought out of it. Why would that happen?
  • Alma 36:23: What does Alma mean by having "been born of God"? What would that experience be similar to in our own experience?
  • Alma 36:24: After his experience, Alma serves God without ceasing. What does that mean? How are we similar or different from Alma? Do we have to have a similar type of experience before we can really serve God?
  • Alma 36:24: Do we share this same motivation with Alma? Why or why not? Should we take his experience as somehow a measure by which we can gauge our own level of motivation?
  • Alma 36:24: What does it mean to "taste" exceeding joy?
  • Alma 36:24: What is the connection between the type of experience Alma has and being "filled with the Holy Ghost"?
  • Alma 36:25: Alma receives "exceedingly great joy." Is this a reward for his labors? Why would it be important for Alma to feel one way or the other about his labor? Is this joy a motivator? Is it in any way selfish? Should we be motivated by a desire to have that same kind of joy, or would that be a selfish motive?
  • Alma 36:26: How has the word "imparted unto" Alma brought many to "have been born of God"? How does the word do that?
  • Alma 36:26: What does it mean that many have "seen eye to eye as [Alma has] seen"? Does that mean they all saw the throne of God too, or just that they have been filled with joy?
  • Alma 36:26: How does Alma know that "the knowledge which [he has] is of God"?
  • Alma 36:27: How does the Lord deliver us in our daily trials?
  • Alma 36:27: What is the difference between being "supported under trails and troubles" and being delivered from them?
  • Alma 36:27: What does Alma mean by being "delivered"?
  • Alma 36:27: In what sense is the outcome of a trial more important than avoiding trials?
  • Alma 36:28: Is this verse parallel to v. 2? Why would Alma begin and end the account of his conversion by reminding Helaman of this scriptural type?
  • Alma 36:28: How does Alma know that he will be raised up at the last day?
  • Alma 36:28: What does it mean to "dwell...in glory"?
  • Alma 36:28: What is the importance of the testimony that Alma has of divine intervention in history?
  • Alma 36:29: How important is this concept of being delivered out of bondage?
  • Alma 36:29: Why does Alma always retain in remembrance the captivity of his ancestors? Why does he tell his son to always retain that remembrance as well?
  • Alma 36:29: Alma sees to identify somehow with those who have been captive and delivered in past ages. Are we to do the same? Is this different from seeing ourselves as co-workers in the kingdom with people from past dispensations?
  • Alma 36:30: How are verses 28-29 (and, therefore, also v. 3) a type for what Alma says in this verse?
  • Alma 36:30: Here Alma repeats the promise made in verse 1 but adds the warning "and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." Why is this warning not included at the beginning of their discussion (in verse 1)?

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 36:21. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash warns: "As to any evil and unclean thing..., do not even touch it! Disguised in such things is a hook that sets subtly and much more suddenly than you dare think—and it can be an excruciatingly painful process to extract the hook [see also vv. 12-16]... There may be some of you who have been involved with that which is evil or unclean. Take hope in the doctrinal and historical fact that Alma's faith in the Lord led him to repent, and as a direct result of his repentance he experienced such happiness through the power of the Atonement of Christ."
  • Alma 36:24. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins offers this advice: "One source of joy is service, for when you are busy helping others, you will have less capacity to agonize over your own shortcomings."

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: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37

Alma 36:26-30

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 36
Previous page: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 36 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 36 include:

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 35:15-16. These two verses, thought part of Chapter 35, begin the next major section of Alma 36-42 by introducing a new situation and characters that will remain throughout Chapters 36-42..
  • Alma 36. Capter 36 is a chiasmus that goes until the end of the chapter. In verse one, Alma says, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” This parallels verse thirty, “…inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.” The middle of the chiasmus is in verses 17 and 18.
  • Alma 36:1. Alma tells his son that by keeping the commandments he will prosper in the land. Note that in the last verse of the chapter, Alma repeats this promise--that he will prosper in the land if he keeps the commandments. Most of what happens between the first and last verse of this chapter is that Alma tells the story of his conversion. One way of reading this is that Alma uses the story of his own life as an example of how someone who keeps the commandments of God prospers in the land. This reading suggests that the phrase "prosper in the land" isn't strictly about having material blessings like lots of flocks, riches or posterity. Why? Because instead of talking about these material blessings, Alma tells his son how by following the Lord he received spiritual blessings, for example, the blessings of great joy (verses 20-21; 25) and the blessing of support through trials (verse 27).
  • Alma 36:8: A Literal Hebraism. Nibley points out in Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Part 2, p. 361, that the seemingly illogical statement "If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God" is standard Semitic usage for communicating the intended meaning. Read literally in English, the statement says "If you stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed," but it is clear that the opposite meaning is actually intended, i.e. "If you don't stop destroying the church of God, you will be destroyed." But, Nibley says, in Hebrew, one says when warning a child, "Don't do that if you want to get spanked" rather than as in English "Don't do that unless you want to get spanked." So the construction is valid for Hebrew, not valid for English. Joseph was apparently very literal in his translation.
  • Alma 36:11-15: Being destroyed. While we don't know for sure about the teachings of the Nehors or other dissenters among the Nephites at this period, throughout Mesoamerica most people believed in the immortality of the human soul, so the thought of that soul being utterly destroyed would have been amazing and frightful. According to modern revelation, all people will be resurrected, though Brigham Young taught that those who become sons of perdition will eventually be destroyed and lose their identity as organized beings, with their eternal elements being recycled (Journal of Discourses 1:118). Perhaps Alma realizes at this point that he has had enough light and knowledge to become a son of perdition if he continues on his course of apostasy.
  • Alma 36:18. Alma makes his plea to Jesus Christ to be delivered from his suffering. We must make a similar plea for ourselves to Christ.
  • Alma 36:6-20. In verses 6-20 Alma tells the story how he was converted unto the church of Jesus Christ through an Angel. He described his feelings- horror, fear, amazement, torment, and finally joy that was as great as his pain. He shared this story with only Helaman. He wanted him to know, as he says in verse 21 that “…there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.” Alma wanted Helaman to know that ever since that experience, he has spent his life serving and loving the Lord. He wanted to bring people to taste that sweet bitterness that he tasted during the conversion in his life. He wanted them to be born of God and be baptized into His church (verse 26). Alma wants Helaman to love the Lord just as much as he loves Him. He wanted him to follow in his footsteps and give his life in service to the Lord.
  • Alma 36:22: Methought I saw. Here Alma expresses uncertainty about what he saw, specifically borrowing his language of uncertainty from Lehi. This idea is developed in the discussion regarding certainty of interpretation at 1 Ne 11:9-11. Unlike Lehi and Nephi, Alma's vision occurred in the midst of repentance from great sin, and thus may not have felt that he was in a position to request clarification regarding what he saw.
  • Alma 36:27. Notice the parallelism found in this passage. "God has delivered me from prison, and from bonds, and from death; yea, and I do put my trust in him, and he will still deliver me."
  • Alma 36:28-30. In verses 28-29 Alma cites examples of how the Lord has delivered His people in the past and exhorts them to retain [these things] in rememberance. In verse 30 he turns to the importance of keeping the commandments and how, if we do, we will not be cut off from the presence of the Lord. Alma's preaching to the people of Zarahemla in Alma 5 also called on the people to remember how the Lord had delivered their fathers from captivity. He then asks "And moreover, have ye sufficiently retained in remembrance that he has delivered their souls from hell?" Alma 5:6 Alma seems to be emphasizing the importance of retaining in rememberance that the Lord's deliverance is not only physical but also spiritual.

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 36:1: Why does Alma counsel his sons individually rather than together?
  • Alma 36:1: What does Alma mean by "prosper"? What does it mean to "prosper in the land"? What is so important about the land?
  • Alma 36:2: Why do we, like Helaman, sometimes need to be reminded of the miracles God has done to deliver his people in times past?
  • Alma 36:2: Often when we think of God delivering people from bondage, we think of Jehovah, Moses, and the Exodus. Why does Alma instead refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?
  • Alma 36:3: Why do you think Alma bears this particular testimony to Helaman: “whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions, and shall be lifted up at the last day"? Why this rather than something else? What does it mean to be "lifted up at the last day"?
  • Alma 36:4: What kind of knowing is Alma talking about here? Wht does it mean to know "not of the carnal mind but of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: What does Alma mean by "born of God"?
  • Alma 36:5: Why does Alma get to know "by the mouth of his holy angel" whereas we mostly expect to just have faith on his words?
  • Alma 36:5: If Alma was visited "not of any worthiness of [himself]", why can't we also expect to be visited?
  • Alma 36:6: Why would Alma go into such great detail of how he was once a sinner that fought against the church of God?
  • Alma 36:6: How did Alma and the sons of Mosiah think "to destroy the church of God"? What were they really trying to do? How did they expect to accomplish it?
  • Alma 36:6: Why did an angel come to Alma when he was so wicked? Why doesn't God send an angel to stop all wicked people?
  • Alma 36:7: How is the voice of an angel like "the voice of thunder"?
  • Alma 36:7: Did the earth really tremble, or did they just go weak in the knees?
  • Alma 36:7: Why were they afraid of the angel? Is this a common response to being visited by an angel?
  • Alma 36:8: Why did the angel tell Alma to arise? Did he tell the others to arise as well, or just Alma?
  • Alma 36:8: What does it mean that Alma "beheld the angel"? How are angels perceived?
  • Alma 36:9: Why does Alma focus on this part of the message from the angel while speaking to his son?
  • Alma 36:9: Why would this message cause Alma to fall to the earth with fear and amazement?
  • Alma 36:9: We often think that fear is a negative thing, and that we shouldn't try to motivate people through fear. What is the role of fear in bringing people to God?
  • Alma 36:10: It says that Alma couldn't speak or move his limbs. Was he otherwise conscious? What state was Alma really in? How did this look to those who might have seen him?
  • Alma 36:10: Is there something important about the specific duration (three days and three nights) of Alma's experience?
  • Alma 36:11: Why did the thought of being destroyed strike Alma with "such great fear and amazement"? What does it mean to be "destroyed"? How does being destroyed translate into our current LDS thinking? What might being destroyed have meant in Alma's cultural context?
  • Alma 36:11: Alma distinctly misquotes what the angel actually said in verse 9. In nine it reads 'If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed,' but here Alma restates it as saying 'If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself.' Why? What is the difference in meaning here between these two phrases? Was Alms just not a very careful writer? Was the angel in fact saying that he would be destroyed once he stopped seeking the destruction of the church, but Alma misheard it? If so, what did the angel mean by that? How was Alma destroyed after his conversion?
  • Alma 36:12: Is there a connection between the fear of being destroyed and remembering sin?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to be "racked with eternal torment"?
  • Alma 36:12: What does it mean to have your soul "harrowed up"?
  • Alma 36:13: Why could Alma remember all his sins in this moment?
  • Alma 36:14: Why do you think that Alma describes what he had done as murder? (Compare Alma 5:23 and Matt 10:28 — what does it mean to destroy both soul, i.e., spirit, and body in hell?)
  • Alma 36:14: How does how Alma the Younger feel imagining himself in the presence of God? How does this compare to how his father had asked the people to imagine feeling in that same situation Alma 5:15]?
  • Alma 36:15: Why would Alma want to "become extinct both soul and body"? What does he mean by "soul"?
  • Alma 36:16: What symbolism can we see in Alma being stricken for 3 days and 3 nights? How does this relate to other prophets' experiences?
  • Alma 36:16: What are "the pains of a damned soul"?
  • Alma 36:17: What does it mean to be "racked with torment"?
  • Alma 36:17: How can the memory of sins harrow up a soul?
  • Alma 36:17: Why is Jesus Christ referred to as "a" Son of God rather than "the" Son of God?
  • Alma 36:17: What does Alma mean by "atone for the sins of the world"?
  • Alma 36:18: Why does Alma pray to Jesus, rather than to God Almighty?
  • Alma 36:18: What does it mean to be "encircled about by the everlasting chains of death"?
  • Alma 36:19: Why does Alma’s cry in v. 18 bring the results in v. 19? How is this connected to King Benjamin’s teaching in Mosiah 4? Is it significant that Benjamin delivered that address to a people who were diligent in keeping the commandments but that it also seems to apply to someone like Alma who has openly rebelled against those commandments?
  • Alma 36:19: Since Alma is here telling us about the pains he experienced, what can he mean when he says “I could remember my pains no more"?
  • Alma 36:20: What really happened here? How can merely calling on Jesus make one forget their sins and be filled with joy? What state of mind did Alma have to be in before he could have this redemptive experience?
  • Alma 36:20: What is this "marvelous light" that Alma "did behold"? What does it mean to "behold" light?
  • Alma 36:20: Why might Alma have chosen to share his conversion story with his son Helaman? What did Alma want Helaman to learn from his past?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by "exquisite" pain or joy?
  • Alma 36:21: Why does Alma contrast pain and joy with the descriptors bitter and sweet?
  • Alma 36:21: What does Alma mean by bitterness? If we feel bitterness, does that mean that we are still bound by sin?
  • Alma 36:22: How could Alma have seen God at this point? Three days earlier, he had been a vile sinner--and now he's having a greater spiritual experience than most members of the modern Church will probably ever have. How is that possible?
  • Alma 36:22: What are "concourses of angels"? Why are they "singing and praising their God"?
  • Alma 36:22: Alma had just said that he would rather be extinct than brought before God. Now here he is, longing to be there. What happened to cause this change?
  • Alma 36:23: Alma seems to have wanted to stay in the vision, but instead he is brought out of it. Why would that happen?
  • Alma 36:23: What does Alma mean by having "been born of God"? What would that experience be similar to in our own experience?
  • Alma 36:24: After his experience, Alma serves God without ceasing. What does that mean? How are we similar or different from Alma? Do we have to have a similar type of experience before we can really serve God?
  • Alma 36:24: Do we share this same motivation with Alma? Why or why not? Should we take his experience as somehow a measure by which we can gauge our own level of motivation?
  • Alma 36:24: What does it mean to "taste" exceeding joy?
  • Alma 36:24: What is the connection between the type of experience Alma has and being "filled with the Holy Ghost"?
  • Alma 36:25: Alma receives "exceedingly great joy." Is this a reward for his labors? Why would it be important for Alma to feel one way or the other about his labor? Is this joy a motivator? Is it in any way selfish? Should we be motivated by a desire to have that same kind of joy, or would that be a selfish motive?
  • Alma 36:26: How has the word "imparted unto" Alma brought many to "have been born of God"? How does the word do that?
  • Alma 36:26: What does it mean that many have "seen eye to eye as [Alma has] seen"? Does that mean they all saw the throne of God too, or just that they have been filled with joy?
  • Alma 36:26: How does Alma know that "the knowledge which [he has] is of God"?
  • Alma 36:27: How does the Lord deliver us in our daily trials?
  • Alma 36:27: What is the difference between being "supported under trails and troubles" and being delivered from them?
  • Alma 36:27: What does Alma mean by being "delivered"?
  • Alma 36:27: In what sense is the outcome of a trial more important than avoiding trials?
  • Alma 36:28: Is this verse parallel to v. 2? Why would Alma begin and end the account of his conversion by reminding Helaman of this scriptural type?
  • Alma 36:28: How does Alma know that he will be raised up at the last day?
  • Alma 36:28: What does it mean to "dwell...in glory"?
  • Alma 36:28: What is the importance of the testimony that Alma has of divine intervention in history?
  • Alma 36:29: How important is this concept of being delivered out of bondage?
  • Alma 36:29: Why does Alma always retain in remembrance the captivity of his ancestors? Why does he tell his son to always retain that remembrance as well?
  • Alma 36:29: Alma sees to identify somehow with those who have been captive and delivered in past ages. Are we to do the same? Is this different from seeing ourselves as co-workers in the kingdom with people from past dispensations?
  • Alma 36:30: How are verses 28-29 (and, therefore, also v. 3) a type for what Alma says in this verse?
  • Alma 36:30: Here Alma repeats the promise made in verse 1 but adds the warning "and ye ought to know also, that inasmuch as ye will not keep the commandments of God ye shall be cut off from his presence." Why is this warning not included at the beginning of their discussion (in verse 1)?

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 36:21. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash warns: "As to any evil and unclean thing..., do not even touch it! Disguised in such things is a hook that sets subtly and much more suddenly than you dare think—and it can be an excruciatingly painful process to extract the hook [see also vv. 12-16]... There may be some of you who have been involved with that which is evil or unclean. Take hope in the doctrinal and historical fact that Alma's faith in the Lord led him to repent, and as a direct result of his repentance he experienced such happiness through the power of the Atonement of Christ."
  • Alma 36:24. Anthony D. Perkins, "‘The Great and Wonderful Love’," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 76–78. Elder Perkins offers this advice: "One source of joy is service, for when you are busy helping others, you will have less capacity to agonize over your own shortcomings."

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: Chapters 36-42                      Next page: Chapter 37

Alma 37:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 37
Previous page: Chapter 36                      Next page: Chapter 38


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 37:6-10

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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 36                      Next page: Chapter 38

Alma 37:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 37
Previous page: Chapter 36                      Next page: Chapter 38


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 36                      Next page: Chapter 38

Alma 37:16-20

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 37
Previous page: Chapter 36                      Next page: Chapter 38


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

Unanswered questions[edit]

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Prompts for life application[edit]

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  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

Resources[edit]

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  • Alma 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 37:21-25

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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 37:26-30

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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 36                      Next page: Chapter 38

Alma 37:31-35

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 37
Previous page: Chapter 36                      Next page: Chapter 38


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 36                      Next page: Chapter 38

Alma 37:36-40

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 37
Previous page: Chapter 36                      Next page: Chapter 38


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 37:41-47

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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapter 37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapter 37 consists of two major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 37 include:

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 37: What Alma is concerned with at the beginning of chapter 37. In verse 1 Alma tells Helaman to take the records. In verse two he tells him to continue to keep a record of the people, just like he had done, upon the records of Nephi. He gives him several guidelines; he wants him to keep them safe and secure, to polish and preserve them, and to continue recording the history of the people on them. It is interesting that Alma gives instructions that are so specific--down to polishing them. It seems Alma wanted to impress upon Helaman how important Helaman's responsibilities toward the plates were. Alma is very concerned with the idea of "the word." "The word" being symbolic of three things: Christ, the gospel of Christ, and the records.
  • Alma 37:2. Alma, speaking to his son, is giving him a commandment to 'keep a record of this people' and to 'keep all these things sacred which I [Alma] have kept', and Alma is asking Helaman to do this 'according as [Alma] has done'. A key issue of the sacredness of text is brought up in this verse, but the question of what makes a text sacred does not seem to rest on the text that is written, but it is rather a question of 'keeping' the text as sacred.
  • Alma 37:3-5. Beginning in verse 3 through 5, Alma sems to tie this notion of the sacred with the holy, as he further goes on to explain to Helaman how the brass plates are to also be kept until they are brought forth to ever nation, kindred, tongue and people, that they may know of the mysteries. (Interestingly, the brass plates have not yet been brought before the world, so that is a future event worth looking forward to). In verse 5, Alma makes the curious claim that any plates that are kept that contain that which is holy "must" retain their brightness. What is meant by this brightness? Does the brightness refer to the actual physical appearance of the plates (is this why our quads all have gold and silver lining on the edges...)? Or does the brightness refer to the brightness of the words? What does Alma mean by 'must retain'? Is it sort of an imperative to Helaman, that he ought to keep the plates from getting dusty, or is it just indicative, that plates that are kept sacred will be bright? Is brightness a sign of holy writing for Alma? Maybe. But the phrase 'if they are kept' is curious, because then brightness also becomes a question of keeping, the same as the sacredness of the plates. Holiness, on the other hand, does not seem to be dependant on whether the plates are kept or not. Alma simply states that holy writ is holy writ. Holy writing only becomes sacred once it is kept.
  • Alma 37:4. In verse 4, Alma predicts an end to the keeping of the texts he is handing over to Helaman. "Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation..." (italics mine). The concept of keeping the plates is complicated here because Alma mentioned a sort of double keeping, with the generations keeping the texts on the one hand and the Lord keeping and preserving on the other hand. Apparently once the plates have gone forth unto the world they are no longer designated as being kept anymore. Does this release of the text to the world at large diminish how sacred it is? Earlier keeping a text means keeping it sacred, or so my reading of verse 2 would make it seem, so once the text has been released from its keep does that change the very nature of the text? Is sacred to be understood as somewhat akin to secret, much like the relationship between the sacredness and the secretness of the temple ordinance? If that's the case, then the only ones who recognize a sacred text as a sacred text are those who understand its secret (or the text as a secret itself?). And what of brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. These two words do not appear together in any other verse of Mormon scripture, although "small" and "great" do appear in many other verses (see an lds.org search here), sometimes in an inclusive way (e.g., "both small and great" in Gen 19:11), but most often in a contrasting way (e.g., Isa 54:7, "for a small moment have I foresaken thee, but with great mercies will I gather thee").
  • Alma 37:6. To begin in verse 6, it is best to start out by noticing a glaring textual ambiguity made by Alma here. When he says to Helaman that he may suppose that 'this is' foolishness in him, what is Alma referencing back to? Is it the notion that the brass plates will come forth before all nations, or is it the mention of the brightness of the plates of holy writ in verse 5. My own opinion is that the coming forth of the brass plates is not what Alma is referring to, but rather the contents of verse 5. I believe this because it is precisely Alma talking about the brightness of metal plates that seems to be the most foolish thing he said. One can imagine Alma discussing the coming forth of the plates with Helaman and Helaman nodding his head in understanding, but when Alma mentions brightness that Helaman just sort of gives his father this 'what?' look. Also, the plates having a brightness seems to be a much more small and simple thing than the arrival of a sacred text to the entire world. The question that remains to sort this reading out is how this small and simple thing confounds the wise. In fact, it is much easier to read Alma as defending the coming forth of the plates as that which will confound the wise because that seems a lot more straightfoward as an explanation for its purpose in being kept. Going on in verse 7, the argument Alma presents seems almost incontrovertibly to refer to the coming of the brass plates, saying that it will bring the salvation of many souls. Despite all this, I still for my own purposes would like to privilege my own reading if only for a bit just to explore why on earth Alma discusses this notion of brightness with his son. It does, to me at least, seem very foolish, not straightfowardly relevant to the rest of what Alma is teaching his son. The prophecy that Alma is referring to is found in 1 Nephi 5: 18-19, and there are a few interesting discrepencies worth sorting out here between Lehi's original prophecy and Alma's recounting of it to his son.
Most importantly, Lehi prophecies that the plates will go forth to all nations, kindreds, tongues and people of his own seed, a detail Alma fails to leave out. Also, here we get the genesis of Alma describing the plates of having a brightness it seems, as Lehi prophecies that the plates will no more be dimmed by time.
  • Alma 37:12: Course. While we have no idea what the original term translated here as "course" may have meant, in English, the word has several definitions, most of which suggest a connected series events which could be seen as a type of path or sequence:
  • A series of educational lessons (eg. "she took a course in linguistics")
  • A connected series of events, actions, or developments (eg. "the Senate took a firm course")
  • A sport facility laid out with a sequence of features (eg. a golf course)
  • A mode of action (eg. "his plan was on the wrong course")
  • A pathalong which something travels or moves (eg. "the course of a river")
  • A general line of orientation (eg. "the highway takes a mountainous course")
  • Part of a meal served at one time (eg. "she served a four course meal")
  • A layer of masonry (eg. "a course of bricks")
The word "course" occurs 24 times in the Book of Mormon, most often in reference to a path or direction of travel (eg. Mosiah 7:4, Alma 46:31) but also in the phrase "course of my days" (eg. 1 Ne 1:1, Enos 1:24).
  • Alma 37:12. Alma tells his son that the brass plates are preserved for a wise purpose because God counsels in widsom, his paths are straight and his course is one eternal round. These three reasons are positioned as explanations for why Helaman should have confidence in the wise purpose that God has preserved the records for. Consider each in turn.
By saying God counsels in wisdom Alma is emphasizing the fact that the choices God makes are well thought out. Saying God's paths are straight emphasize the fact that God's choices are good. He will not choose evil. To understand what Alma may mean by God's course being one eternal round it is helpful to look at Alma 7:20 where Alma also uses this phrase to describe God. There Alma says that God's course is one eternal round because "he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong." It seems then that by saying God's course is one eternal round, Alma is emphasizing the qualities of God that do not change. Alma may be emphasizing that God is totally trustworthy by saying his course is one eternal round. Or it may be just to show how God is different (and better) than we are which should imply that we have faith and confidence in the purpose for which God preserves the brass plates--even if we don't fully understand what that purpose is, as Alma says he doesn't in verse 11.
  • Alma 37:15: Chaff. Chaff driven by the wind, is a fairly common metaphor in our Old Testament, and these passages were probably present on the Brass Plates. The specific language of being "sifted" as chaff occcurs in the scriptures only here and at D&C 52:12
  • Alma 37:23: Gazelem. Gazelem is a name given to a servant of God. The word appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone, and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator, or the interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion is correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning – a seer.

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. →

  • Alma 37:6: Small and simple. For those who feel that they are small and simple as to the things of the world, verse 6 should be of comfort to you. As individuals in the church, we may feel small and simple compared to the great body of the church or the universal plan of the Lord. However, as Alma points out, small and simple things can bring great things to pass. Not only do small and simple things bring great things to pass, in many instances, they confound the wise as well. Those learned of the world who choose to not accept the gospel or reject these glad tidings because they cannot see or feel with their senses can be overcome with a small and simple testimony from an individual of the church. Never sell yourself short in comparing your qualities or abilities with others. The Lord looks upon us all as equals - His children. Therefore, remember that being small and simple is a good thing; in the end, we will be made great and powerful if we simply fulfill our covenants given to us in this life.

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 37:1: Which records did Alma receive from Mosiah (Mosiah 28:20)? Does Alma have both the large and small plates of Nephi? Which records were being kept at this time? Was there a parallel secular and spiritual history still being kept? Did Nephihah and succeeding chief judges keep records as well, or were records now only kept by the leaders of the church?
  • Alma 37:2: Is Alma maintaining just a history on the large plates of Nephi? Or is he maintaining a history on other plates as well? What does it mean to 'keep all these things sacred'? In what way has Alma kept the plates sacred, or how would the plates be kept non-sacredly?
  • Alma 37:3: What do we know about the contents of these plates of brass? How are the "holy scriptures" on them different from what we have in the Old Testament? Why might any differences be important to us?
  • Alma 37:4: Where are these plates of brass? Why haven't they gone forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people yet? When will these be revealed?
  • Alma 37:4: What does it mean that the plates of brass will "be kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord"?
  • Alma 37:4: What mysteries are contained on the plates of brass that we don't have yet?
  • Alma 37:4: Does the modern Church look forward to having these plates? Is there something that we need to do in order to bring these plates forth to the world?
  • Alma 37:5: What does it mean for the plates to "retain their brightness"? Does this just mean that they will not oxidize?
  • Alma 37:5: What is the connection Alma sees here between 'brightness' and the plates that have 'holy writ'? Why 'must' they retain their brightness? What is their brightness?
  • Alma 37:6: What does Alma think some may suppose as "foolishness"? Why might he think Helaman would think it foolish?
  • Alma 37:6: What are the "small and simple things" Alma is referring to? What are the "great things"?
  • Alma 37:6: What does it mean to confound the wise? How might the mysteries on the plates of brass "confound the wise" in our day? When will this prophecy come to pass?
  • Alma 37:7: What does it mean that "the Lord God doth work by means"? What are these means?
  • Alma 37:7: How might the revelation of the plates of brass bring about the salvation of many souls?
  • Alma 37:8: How were the plates of brass of so much importance to convincing people "of the error of their ways" and bringing them "to a knowledge of their God"?
  • Alma 37:8: If these plates were so important for the descendants of Lehi, why don't we have them today?
  • Alma 37:8: Why did they assume that the scriptures enlarged the memory of the people? Is it possible that the accumulation of plates/records reduced the need for Nephite oral tradition to transmit the people's memory? Or is this verse talking about a different kind of memory?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren use the plates of brass if Alma had them? Did they have copies? Did they just memorize them? What would the Lamanites have seen of these records?
  • Alma 37:9: How did Ammon and his brethren teach the word from the plates to the Lamanites? Was it just to establish the teachings about Jesus Christ, or was it to somehow assert some other kind of legitimacy to their teachings?
  • Alma 37:10: What is Alma's appraisal of the Nephites at this time? Why does he say they are "hardening their hearts in sin and iniquities"? Are they less righteous than the converted Lamanites at this time? Why would they not have a "knowledge of their Redeemer"? Didn't they have that knowledge already?
  • Alma 37:11: Mysteries. What does the word "mysteries" mean in this verse? Does it mean something different here than in verse 4 or verse 21?
  • Alma 37:11: Why does Alma seem to view the possible future restoration of the Nephites to righteousness as a mystery?
  • Alma 37:12: Counsel in wisdom. What does this phrase mean? How are we to relate to His counsel? What does it mean that he counsels "over" all his works? What is meant here by wisdom. Is this meant to be the same Wisdom from the Hebrew Wisdom literature we have in the Old Testament?
  • Alma 37:12: Paths are straight. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:12: One eternal round. What does the phrase "one eternal round" mean? How can the Lord's paths be "straight" while his course is "round"?
  • Alma 37:12: Course. What does the term "course" mean here?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by saying the commandments of God are "strict"?
  • Alma 37:13: What does Alma mean by "prosper in the land" or "cut off from his presence"? Are these meant to be opposites? Is there a connection between being in the presence of God and prospering?
  • Alma 37:14: What does it mean for God to entrust these men with the records? In what ways did the see this responsibility as a trust?
  • Alma 37:14: Why does Alma consider the records sacred? What does it mean that they are "kept sacred"?
  • Alma 37:15: What allows Alma to tell Helaman these things "by the spirit of prophecy"? Why mention that in this counsel to his son?
  • Alma 37:15: How might the sacred things "be taken away...by the power of God"? Why weren't they taken away from Omni, who considered himself "a wicked man" Omni 1:2?
  • Alma 37:15: Delivered up unto Satan. What does this mean?
  • Alma 37:15: Sifted as chaff before the wind. What does this mean? Does it say something about Nephite agriculture, or is it just an ancient expression?
  • Alma 37:16: Why does Alma say that Helaman "must appeal unto the Lord for all things whatsoever [he] must do with" the plates? What does he mean by "all things"? Do we each have sacred things entrusted to us that we should treat the same way, such as sealed family members?
  • Alma 37:16: Alma promises Helaman that if he keeps the commandments and specific instructions given for "all things" that he should do with the plates, "no power of earth or hell can take them from [him]". Can we obtain the same promise about our own sacred trusts?
  • Alma 37:17: What are meant by the promises of God? How does he make these promises?
  • Alma 37:17: Of what value is referring back to promises made and fulfilled with "our fathers"? What role is there for such remembrance in maintaining faith?
  • Alma 37:17: Is there a difference between a vague faith in God that everything will be OK, and faith in specific promises given to our fathers?
  • Alma 37:18: Why would God promise over many generations to preserve the records "for a wise purpose" but keep the nature of the fulfillment of that purpose "in him"? Is there a need to get revelation about the operational things that are beyond our own lifetime?
  • Alma 37:19: What does it mean for the Lord to have "shown forth his power in them"? What does "them" refer to, the plates? If so, how was his power "shown forth in" the plates?
  • Alma 37:19: Do the plates merely function as sacred relics, or do they serve some other function? Is it the teachings on the plates that are important, or the preservation and maintenance of the plates themselves?
  • Alma 37:20: What would it mean for Helaman to "be diligent in fulfilling all [of Alma's] words?
  • Alma 37:20: hat is the difference between fulfilling Alma's words and "keeping the commandments of God as they are written?"
  • Alma 37:23: The Lord said that he prepares for his servant Gazelem (see lexical notes) a stone to "discover unto my people who serve me ... the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness and their wickedness and abominations." Why does the Lord emphasize bringing to light the secret works and works of darkness? Why is this emphasized especially given that, in verse 27, Alma tells Helaman not to let the people know about their secret oaths, covenants, sign and wonders?
  • Alma 37:37: Why doesn't verse 37 instruct us to "Receive counsel from the Lord in all thy doing?" Is it possible the Lord wants us to give him advice? Is there a chance that he wants us to recommend a course of action for him to follow?
  • Alma 37:43: What does shadow mean in this verse?
  • Alma 37:46: Why did Alma use the phrase "easiness of the way" when he was talking about the liahona? A similar phrase is used in 1 Ne 17:41: "…He sent fiery flying serpents among them; and after they were bitten he prepared a way that they might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished" (emphasis added).

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 37:12: Nibley on "one eternal round. Hugh Nibley has written about on "one eternal round" in Temples and Cosmos. In particular, see the chapter 4 entitled "The Circle and the Square" and chapter 9 entitled "One Eternal Round: The Hermetic Version". Here is a page for quotes, summary, and discussion of these chapters.

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 36                      Next page: Chapter 38

Alma 38:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 38
Previous page: Chapter 37                      Next page: Chapters 39-41


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 36-37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 36-42 include:

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 38:1: Prosper in the land vs. cut off from the Lord's presence. We might expect that prospering in the land as a result of keeping the commandments would be juxtaposed to not prospering in the land as a result of not keeping the commandments. However, Alma does not say this. Instead, he says that not keeping the commandments will result in being cut off from God's presence. This makes sense because prospering in the land is a covenant promise in the Lord's covenant with Nephi, while being cut off from the presence of the Lord is a covenant curse under that covenant. See 1 Ne 2:19-24 (discussion).
  • Alma 38:4: Hardship despite obedience. Although Alma starts off in verse 1 talking about prospering in the land as a result of obedience, it is clear that Shiblon has generally been obedient but has undergone a lot of hardship. So, whatever blessings there are for obedience to God, they do not seem to include the avoidance of hardship. That is, prospering in the land seems to mean something different than immediate avoidance of hardship. Although Shiblon has undergone a lot of hardships, but he has kept the commandments (cf. verse 2) and the Lord has been with him—and as a result of his patience, "the Lord was with [him]," Alma says.
  • Alma 38:5: Deliverance. While Alma begins speaking to Shiblon with reference to the Lord's covenant with Nephi (set forth at the end of 1 Ne 2), here Alma says "now thou knowest that the Lord will deliver thee," which is the same theme set forth at the conclusion of 1 Ne 1.
Here Alma seems to admonish Shiblon to remember what he already knows. This bridging of time between what happened in the past and what should be preserved in the future, seems to be an important theme throughout these first verses of the chapter. That is, the patience talked about in verse 4 also seems to establish a sort of bridge through time, between current hardship and future deliverance.

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. →

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 37                      Next page: Chapters 39-41

Alma 38:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 38
Previous page: Chapter 37                      Next page: Chapters 39-41


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 36-37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 36-42 include:

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 38:1: Prosper in the land vs. cut off from the Lord's presence. We might expect that prospering in the land as a result of keeping the commandments would be juxtaposed to not prospering in the land as a result of not keeping the commandments. However, Alma does not say this. Instead, he says that not keeping the commandments will result in being cut off from God's presence. This makes sense because prospering in the land is a covenant promise in the Lord's covenant with Nephi, while being cut off from the presence of the Lord is a covenant curse under that covenant. See 1 Ne 2:19-24 (discussion).
  • Alma 38:4: Hardship despite obedience. Although Alma starts off in verse 1 talking about prospering in the land as a result of obedience, it is clear that Shiblon has generally been obedient but has undergone a lot of hardship. So, whatever blessings there are for obedience to God, they do not seem to include the avoidance of hardship. That is, prospering in the land seems to mean something different than immediate avoidance of hardship. Although Shiblon has undergone a lot of hardships, but he has kept the commandments (cf. verse 2) and the Lord has been with him—and as a result of his patience, "the Lord was with [him]," Alma says.
  • Alma 38:5: Deliverance. While Alma begins speaking to Shiblon with reference to the Lord's covenant with Nephi (set forth at the end of 1 Ne 2), here Alma says "now thou knowest that the Lord will deliver thee," which is the same theme set forth at the conclusion of 1 Ne 1.
Here Alma seems to admonish Shiblon to remember what he already knows. This bridging of time between what happened in the past and what should be preserved in the future, seems to be an important theme throughout these first verses of the chapter. That is, the patience talked about in verse 4 also seems to establish a sort of bridge through time, between current hardship and future deliverance.

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. →

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 37                      Next page: Chapters 39-41

Alma 38:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapter 38
Previous page: Chapter 37                      Next page: Chapters 39-41


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma. The relationship of Chapters 36-37 to the rest of Chapters 36-42 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story.

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 36-42 include:

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 38:1: Prosper in the land vs. cut off from the Lord's presence. We might expect that prospering in the land as a result of keeping the commandments would be juxtaposed to not prospering in the land as a result of not keeping the commandments. However, Alma does not say this. Instead, he says that not keeping the commandments will result in being cut off from God's presence. This makes sense because prospering in the land is a covenant promise in the Lord's covenant with Nephi, while being cut off from the presence of the Lord is a covenant curse under that covenant. See 1 Ne 2:19-24 (discussion).
  • Alma 38:4: Hardship despite obedience. Although Alma starts off in verse 1 talking about prospering in the land as a result of obedience, it is clear that Shiblon has generally been obedient but has undergone a lot of hardship. So, whatever blessings there are for obedience to God, they do not seem to include the avoidance of hardship. That is, prospering in the land seems to mean something different than immediate avoidance of hardship. Although Shiblon has undergone a lot of hardships, but he has kept the commandments (cf. verse 2) and the Lord has been with him—and as a result of his patience, "the Lord was with [him]," Alma says.
  • Alma 38:5: Deliverance. While Alma begins speaking to Shiblon with reference to the Lord's covenant with Nephi (set forth at the end of 1 Ne 2), here Alma says "now thou knowest that the Lord will deliver thee," which is the same theme set forth at the conclusion of 1 Ne 1.
Here Alma seems to admonish Shiblon to remember what he already knows. This bridging of time between what happened in the past and what should be preserved in the future, seems to be an important theme throughout these first verses of the chapter. That is, the patience talked about in verse 4 also seems to establish a sort of bridge through time, between current hardship and future deliverance.

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. →

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 37                      Next page: Chapters 39-41

Alma 39:1-5

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapters 39-41
Previous page: Chapter 38                      Next page: Chapter 42


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma 36-42. In Chapter 39 Alma turns from counseling his two older sons, Helaman and Shiblon, to counseling his younger son Corianton, the one who famously abandoned the ministry to pursue a harlot. The relationship of Chapters 39-41 to the rest of Chapters 36-41 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapters 39-41 consists of ____ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 39-41 include:

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 39[edit]

  • Alma 39: Outline. Alma 39:1-14 is an exhortation consisting of four major sections:
  • Verses 39:1-4: Alma rebukes Corianton for not following his brothers' example, instead boasting in his own strength and leaving the ministry to pursue a harlot.
  • Verses 39:5-8: Alma explains that this conduct is next in seriousness to murder and denying the Holy Ghost.
  • Verses 39:9-14: Alma instructs Corianton to counsel with his brothers, forsake adultery, and return to the ministry.
  • Verses 39:15-19: Alma explains that Corianton's ministry is to declare glad tidings of redemption through Christ.
  • Alma 39:1-14: Exhortation. Three elements of a typical exhortation are: (1) an exposition or description of an unacceptable condition, such as Your room is messy. (2) a call or exhortation to change the situation, such as Clean your room right now. and (3) a narrative prediction of good and bad consequences, or of carrots and sticks, to motivate the desired change, such as Otherwise you will be grounded. Although only the second of these three sentences appears to be an exhortation, all three sentences contribute to the overall exhortational purpose of this paragraph. Here Alma uses all three elements to encourage Corianton to repent. Alma first identifies Corianton's bad conduct in verses 39:1-4,then explains the seriousness of the consequences that Corianton now faces in verses 39:5-8, and finally concludes by stating exactly what change in behavior is expected in verses 39:9-14.
  • Alma 39:13. In this verse Alma emphasizes an important part of repentance - restitution, or repairing damages that our sins may have caused.
  • Alma 39:14. Alma tells his son not to seek for riches or vanities of the world because we cannot take these things with us into the next life. Note that, in contrast, Doctrine & Covenants 130:18 tells us that we can take knowledge and intelligence with us into the next life.

Alma 40[edit]

Alma 41[edit]

  • Alma 41:1: Wrested. In verse 1 wrested means distorted, twisted or perverted. See Webster's 1828 definition here. Here Alma tells us that some have gone astray by twisting and distorting the scriptures in relation to the restoration. Though the scriptures are meant for our good, we see here that if we distort them, they can lead us astray.
  • Alma 41:14: Restoration. How you live and treat others in this life is how you will be rewarded and restored in the next life. Verse 14 is a good, simple, one-verse reminder of how we are expected to conduct ourselves with respect to others.

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 39:5: These things. Which things are the abomination being referred to here, sexual sin (cf. verse 9) or "leading away the hearts of many people to destruction" (cf. verse 12 and Alma 36:14)?
  • Alma 39:6: Why does Alma repeat the phrase "it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness"? If it's to emphasize the point to Corianton, why might Alma feel this point needs to be emphasized to Corianton?
  • Alma 39:6: Why is the article "a" used to modify forgiveness here? (Note: all other uses of the term forgiveness in the scriptures do not use such an article.)
  • Alma 39:9: What does it mean to "cross" yourself?
  • Alma 39:9: Why is remembering so important to the repentance process? How can remembering help you gain control of unwanted desires? What can you do each day to help you remember?
  • Alma 40:1: Why might Corianton be "worried concerning the resurrection of the dead"? How did Alma "perceive" this worry?
  • Alma 40:2: Why could there be no resurrection "until after the coming of Christ"?
  • Alma 40:2: What does it mean for "corruption" to "put on incorruption"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does it mean that Christ "bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does Alma mean by "mystery"? Does that just mean something lie things "which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself"? Or is something else meant here?
  • Alma 40:3: Why might Alma have "inquired diligently of God" to know "concerning the resurrection"? Why would this have been of special interest to Alma? Was it just because of Corianton's concern, or for some other reason?
  • Alma 40:4: What does it mean to "come forth from the dead"?
  • Alma 40:4: Alma teaches that "all shall come forth". Why is that significant?
  • Alma 40:5: Why doesn't Alma know how many times the resurrection will happen?
  • Alma 40:5: What does it mean that "there is a time appointed" for the resurrection?
  • Alma 40:6: What is meant by a "space" betwixt the time of death and the time of resurrection?
  • Alma 407: Why shift from talking about the resurrection itself to the space between death and resurrection?
  • Alma 40:8: What might it mean that "time only is measured unto men"? Does this have anything to do with D&C 130:7, where in contrast to mortality, all things past, present, and future are present before God?
  • Alma 40:9: Why has Alma been asking the Lord about the time between death and resurrection? What does it mean that Alma had "inquired diligently of the Lord to know" about these things? How does one inquire diligently?
  • Alma 40:9: Why would the Lord bother to answer Alma's questions about the afterlife? Is this just for Alma's edification, or was the revelation to him given mostly for the benefit of Corianton or others?
  • Alma 40:10: What does it mean that "God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man"? What is this and why would it be important?
  • Alma 40:11: Why does Alma get answers to his prayers delivered by angels?
  • Alma 40:11: What does it mean for spirits to be "taken home to that God who gave them life"? How does this happen for both good and evil people?
  • Alma 40:12: Why is this "state of happiness" called paradise?
  • Alma 40:12: What does it mean for paradise to be a "state of rest, a state of peace, where they...rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow"? How does this compare to the view of the spirit world received by modern prophets, who indicate that priesthood holders are very busy there to teach the gospel to departed spirits?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to "have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord"? Does that mean that if we have even a tiny portion, we aren't evil?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to choose "evil works rather than good"? What is the definition of evil here?
  • Alma 40:13: How literally should we take this teaching of the devil taking "possession of their house"? What does this mean?
  • Alma 40:13: What is this "outer darkness"? How does it relate to our teaching of spirit prison?
  • Alma 40:13: Why does this verse include the word "wailing" in between the words "weeping" and "gnashing," unlike this verse from the New Testament: "shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt 8:12)?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to be "led captive by the will of the devil"? Is everyone who doesn't accept the gospel being led by the devil? How many modern church members are being led captive? What does that mean, how does it happen, and how can we avoid it?
  • Alma 40:13: Do we see ourselves or our neighbors being "led captive by the will of the devil"? Why or why not? How does this relate to the feelings of the sons of Mosiah about their neighbors (Mosiah 28:3)?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean for the souls of the wicked to be in "darkness"?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean to be in "a state of awful, fearful looking"?
  • Alma 40:14: What is the "fiery indignation of the wrath of God"?
  • Alma 40:15: How can the initial judgment and consignation to different places in the spirit world be termed a resurrection?
  • Alma 40:15: What does Alma mean by "resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:15: What is this "consignation to happiness or misery" that Alma speaks of? How is this accomplished?
  • Alma 40:15: What are the "words which have been spoken" that Alma refers to?
  • Alma 40:16: How does this teaching square with our current teachings about "the morning of the first resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:17: What is the difference in being happy or being miserable when you are a disembodied spirit? How do you feel emotion without brain chemicals?
  • Alma 40:18: Alma seems to be using the word "soul" as an equivalent of what we mean when we say "spirit". How is this different from how we normally think of "soul"? Is there a difference between Alma's conception of the soul and our conception of the spirit?
  • Alma 40:19: Alma teaches that everyone who lives before Christ is resurrected will be resurrected before anyone who dies after that. How does that square with our current teachings about this? If we believe that Moroni has been resurrected, for Alma to be correct here, would that mean that everyone who has lived before Christ has already been resurrected? Could Alma be mistaken here? Or is there another way to read this verse?
  • Alma 40:20: Why would Alma offer an opinion about the timing of the resurrection? Why is Alma careful to label this part of his teaching an opinion? Does this also apply to his teaching about the timing of the resurrection of those who die before the resurrection of Christ (v.19)?
  • Alma 41:1: Of which has been spoken. Is there a passage in the Book of Mormon concerning the restoration that Alma may be referring to here?
  • Alma 41:5: The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness. Although seemingly simplistic in its logic, what does Alma mean by happiness? This verse reminds me of "Wickedness never was happiness", but does that mean? Also, if Alma states that those who are raised to happiness because they desire to be happy, doesn't that imply that those who don't get raised in happiness simply don't want to be happy? If happiness is something that one can either accept or reject based on their own desire, then what of exhorting people to happiness? What is innately "better" about being happy? To translate this into contemporary Mormon jargon, what is "better" about receiving celestial glory than any other glory? Will celestial glory ultimately everybody realize they would have wanted but failed to recognize here on earth? Will everybody ultimately be "happy" in whatever state of glory they end up in? Does God want us to be "happy" for our sake or for His sake or for both?
  • Alma 41:8: What are the decrees of God? What does it mean that they are unalterable?

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 39:5: The sin next to murder. Ash, Michael R. "The Sin Next to Murder: An Alternative Interpretation.", Sunstone (November 2006) p. 34-43. This article identifies several statements in which church leaders have interpreted verse 39:5 to mean that adultery is next to murder in seriousness. The article argues that in fact the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others spiritually astray. On the one hand, the article presents well reasoned arguments about the seriousness of leading others astray and convincingly explains how this verse can be read consistent with the idea that the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others astray. On the other hand, this article gives insufficient weight to the admonition in verses 39:9, 11 that Corianton forsake adultery, and thus leaves open the possibility of also reading this verse consistent with the usual interpretation that the sin next to murder is in fact adultery. The article thus opens a second avenue of interpretation without settling the issue of which interpretation should be preferred.
  • Alma 39:9. Compare verse 9 with Mosiah 4:30, "watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the comments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard..."
  • Alma 39:14. Elder Dallin H Oaks explains in "Focus and Priorities" (Ensign May 2001) that "the 'vain things of [the] world' include every combination of that worldly quartet of property, pride, prominence, and power." He also says there: "As regards property, Jesus taught that 'a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth' (Luke 12:15)."
  • Alma 40:16: Referring to Abinadi's teaching? See this comment for an argument that Alma is referring to Abinadi's teaching here.
  • Alma 41:10-11. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash notes that "to be without God in the world—in other words, to refuse to live His gospel and therefore lack the companionship of the Spirit—is to be in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, the—note that this is singular, meaning it is the only—"great plan of happiness" (see Alma 42:8). If you opt for any other way of life or try to live only the parts of the gospel that seem convenient, such a choice will cheat you of the full, resplendent joy and happiness for which you were designed by our loving Father in Heaven and His Son."

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 38                      Next page: Chapter 42

Alma 39:6-10

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapters 39-41
Previous page: Chapter 38                      Next page: Chapter 42


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma 36-42. In Chapter 39 Alma turns from counseling his two older sons, Helaman and Shiblon, to counseling his younger son Corianton, the one who famously abandoned the ministry to pursue a harlot. The relationship of Chapters 39-41 to the rest of Chapters 36-41 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapters 39-41 consists of ____ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 39-41 include:

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 39[edit]

  • Alma 39: Outline. Alma 39:1-14 is an exhortation consisting of four major sections:
  • Verses 39:1-4: Alma rebukes Corianton for not following his brothers' example, instead boasting in his own strength and leaving the ministry to pursue a harlot.
  • Verses 39:5-8: Alma explains that this conduct is next in seriousness to murder and denying the Holy Ghost.
  • Verses 39:9-14: Alma instructs Corianton to counsel with his brothers, forsake adultery, and return to the ministry.
  • Verses 39:15-19: Alma explains that Corianton's ministry is to declare glad tidings of redemption through Christ.
  • Alma 39:1-14: Exhortation. Three elements of a typical exhortation are: (1) an exposition or description of an unacceptable condition, such as Your room is messy. (2) a call or exhortation to change the situation, such as Clean your room right now. and (3) a narrative prediction of good and bad consequences, or of carrots and sticks, to motivate the desired change, such as Otherwise you will be grounded. Although only the second of these three sentences appears to be an exhortation, all three sentences contribute to the overall exhortational purpose of this paragraph. Here Alma uses all three elements to encourage Corianton to repent. Alma first identifies Corianton's bad conduct in verses 39:1-4,then explains the seriousness of the consequences that Corianton now faces in verses 39:5-8, and finally concludes by stating exactly what change in behavior is expected in verses 39:9-14.
  • Alma 39:13. In this verse Alma emphasizes an important part of repentance - restitution, or repairing damages that our sins may have caused.
  • Alma 39:14. Alma tells his son not to seek for riches or vanities of the world because we cannot take these things with us into the next life. Note that, in contrast, Doctrine & Covenants 130:18 tells us that we can take knowledge and intelligence with us into the next life.

Alma 40[edit]

Alma 41[edit]

  • Alma 41:1: Wrested. In verse 1 wrested means distorted, twisted or perverted. See Webster's 1828 definition here. Here Alma tells us that some have gone astray by twisting and distorting the scriptures in relation to the restoration. Though the scriptures are meant for our good, we see here that if we distort them, they can lead us astray.
  • Alma 41:14: Restoration. How you live and treat others in this life is how you will be rewarded and restored in the next life. Verse 14 is a good, simple, one-verse reminder of how we are expected to conduct ourselves with respect to others.

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 39:5: These things. Which things are the abomination being referred to here, sexual sin (cf. verse 9) or "leading away the hearts of many people to destruction" (cf. verse 12 and Alma 36:14)?
  • Alma 39:6: Why does Alma repeat the phrase "it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness"? If it's to emphasize the point to Corianton, why might Alma feel this point needs to be emphasized to Corianton?
  • Alma 39:6: Why is the article "a" used to modify forgiveness here? (Note: all other uses of the term forgiveness in the scriptures do not use such an article.)
  • Alma 39:9: What does it mean to "cross" yourself?
  • Alma 39:9: Why is remembering so important to the repentance process? How can remembering help you gain control of unwanted desires? What can you do each day to help you remember?
  • Alma 40:1: Why might Corianton be "worried concerning the resurrection of the dead"? How did Alma "perceive" this worry?
  • Alma 40:2: Why could there be no resurrection "until after the coming of Christ"?
  • Alma 40:2: What does it mean for "corruption" to "put on incorruption"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does it mean that Christ "bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does Alma mean by "mystery"? Does that just mean something lie things "which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself"? Or is something else meant here?
  • Alma 40:3: Why might Alma have "inquired diligently of God" to know "concerning the resurrection"? Why would this have been of special interest to Alma? Was it just because of Corianton's concern, or for some other reason?
  • Alma 40:4: What does it mean to "come forth from the dead"?
  • Alma 40:4: Alma teaches that "all shall come forth". Why is that significant?
  • Alma 40:5: Why doesn't Alma know how many times the resurrection will happen?
  • Alma 40:5: What does it mean that "there is a time appointed" for the resurrection?
  • Alma 40:6: What is meant by a "space" betwixt the time of death and the time of resurrection?
  • Alma 407: Why shift from talking about the resurrection itself to the space between death and resurrection?
  • Alma 40:8: What might it mean that "time only is measured unto men"? Does this have anything to do with D&C 130:7, where in contrast to mortality, all things past, present, and future are present before God?
  • Alma 40:9: Why has Alma been asking the Lord about the time between death and resurrection? What does it mean that Alma had "inquired diligently of the Lord to know" about these things? How does one inquire diligently?
  • Alma 40:9: Why would the Lord bother to answer Alma's questions about the afterlife? Is this just for Alma's edification, or was the revelation to him given mostly for the benefit of Corianton or others?
  • Alma 40:10: What does it mean that "God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man"? What is this and why would it be important?
  • Alma 40:11: Why does Alma get answers to his prayers delivered by angels?
  • Alma 40:11: What does it mean for spirits to be "taken home to that God who gave them life"? How does this happen for both good and evil people?
  • Alma 40:12: Why is this "state of happiness" called paradise?
  • Alma 40:12: What does it mean for paradise to be a "state of rest, a state of peace, where they...rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow"? How does this compare to the view of the spirit world received by modern prophets, who indicate that priesthood holders are very busy there to teach the gospel to departed spirits?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to "have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord"? Does that mean that if we have even a tiny portion, we aren't evil?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to choose "evil works rather than good"? What is the definition of evil here?
  • Alma 40:13: How literally should we take this teaching of the devil taking "possession of their house"? What does this mean?
  • Alma 40:13: What is this "outer darkness"? How does it relate to our teaching of spirit prison?
  • Alma 40:13: Why does this verse include the word "wailing" in between the words "weeping" and "gnashing," unlike this verse from the New Testament: "shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt 8:12)?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to be "led captive by the will of the devil"? Is everyone who doesn't accept the gospel being led by the devil? How many modern church members are being led captive? What does that mean, how does it happen, and how can we avoid it?
  • Alma 40:13: Do we see ourselves or our neighbors being "led captive by the will of the devil"? Why or why not? How does this relate to the feelings of the sons of Mosiah about their neighbors (Mosiah 28:3)?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean for the souls of the wicked to be in "darkness"?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean to be in "a state of awful, fearful looking"?
  • Alma 40:14: What is the "fiery indignation of the wrath of God"?
  • Alma 40:15: How can the initial judgment and consignation to different places in the spirit world be termed a resurrection?
  • Alma 40:15: What does Alma mean by "resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:15: What is this "consignation to happiness or misery" that Alma speaks of? How is this accomplished?
  • Alma 40:15: What are the "words which have been spoken" that Alma refers to?
  • Alma 40:16: How does this teaching square with our current teachings about "the morning of the first resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:17: What is the difference in being happy or being miserable when you are a disembodied spirit? How do you feel emotion without brain chemicals?
  • Alma 40:18: Alma seems to be using the word "soul" as an equivalent of what we mean when we say "spirit". How is this different from how we normally think of "soul"? Is there a difference between Alma's conception of the soul and our conception of the spirit?
  • Alma 40:19: Alma teaches that everyone who lives before Christ is resurrected will be resurrected before anyone who dies after that. How does that square with our current teachings about this? If we believe that Moroni has been resurrected, for Alma to be correct here, would that mean that everyone who has lived before Christ has already been resurrected? Could Alma be mistaken here? Or is there another way to read this verse?
  • Alma 40:20: Why would Alma offer an opinion about the timing of the resurrection? Why is Alma careful to label this part of his teaching an opinion? Does this also apply to his teaching about the timing of the resurrection of those who die before the resurrection of Christ (v.19)?
  • Alma 41:1: Of which has been spoken. Is there a passage in the Book of Mormon concerning the restoration that Alma may be referring to here?
  • Alma 41:5: The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness. Although seemingly simplistic in its logic, what does Alma mean by happiness? This verse reminds me of "Wickedness never was happiness", but does that mean? Also, if Alma states that those who are raised to happiness because they desire to be happy, doesn't that imply that those who don't get raised in happiness simply don't want to be happy? If happiness is something that one can either accept or reject based on their own desire, then what of exhorting people to happiness? What is innately "better" about being happy? To translate this into contemporary Mormon jargon, what is "better" about receiving celestial glory than any other glory? Will celestial glory ultimately everybody realize they would have wanted but failed to recognize here on earth? Will everybody ultimately be "happy" in whatever state of glory they end up in? Does God want us to be "happy" for our sake or for His sake or for both?
  • Alma 41:8: What are the decrees of God? What does it mean that they are unalterable?

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 39:5: The sin next to murder. Ash, Michael R. "The Sin Next to Murder: An Alternative Interpretation.", Sunstone (November 2006) p. 34-43. This article identifies several statements in which church leaders have interpreted verse 39:5 to mean that adultery is next to murder in seriousness. The article argues that in fact the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others spiritually astray. On the one hand, the article presents well reasoned arguments about the seriousness of leading others astray and convincingly explains how this verse can be read consistent with the idea that the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others astray. On the other hand, this article gives insufficient weight to the admonition in verses 39:9, 11 that Corianton forsake adultery, and thus leaves open the possibility of also reading this verse consistent with the usual interpretation that the sin next to murder is in fact adultery. The article thus opens a second avenue of interpretation without settling the issue of which interpretation should be preferred.
  • Alma 39:9. Compare verse 9 with Mosiah 4:30, "watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the comments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard..."
  • Alma 39:14. Elder Dallin H Oaks explains in "Focus and Priorities" (Ensign May 2001) that "the 'vain things of [the] world' include every combination of that worldly quartet of property, pride, prominence, and power." He also says there: "As regards property, Jesus taught that 'a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth' (Luke 12:15)."
  • Alma 40:16: Referring to Abinadi's teaching? See this comment for an argument that Alma is referring to Abinadi's teaching here.
  • Alma 41:10-11. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash notes that "to be without God in the world—in other words, to refuse to live His gospel and therefore lack the companionship of the Spirit—is to be in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, the—note that this is singular, meaning it is the only—"great plan of happiness" (see Alma 42:8). If you opt for any other way of life or try to live only the parts of the gospel that seem convenient, such a choice will cheat you of the full, resplendent joy and happiness for which you were designed by our loving Father in Heaven and His Son."

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 38                      Next page: Chapter 42

Alma 39:11-15

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapters 39-41
Previous page: Chapter 38                      Next page: Chapter 42


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


Summary[edit]

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

Relationship to Alma 36-42. In Chapter 39 Alma turns from counseling his two older sons, Helaman and Shiblon, to counseling his younger son Corianton, the one who famously abandoned the ministry to pursue a harlot. The relationship of Chapters 39-41 to the rest of Chapters 36-41 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapters 39-41 consists of ____ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 39-41 include:

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 39[edit]

  • Alma 39: Outline. Alma 39:1-14 is an exhortation consisting of four major sections:
  • Verses 39:1-4: Alma rebukes Corianton for not following his brothers' example, instead boasting in his own strength and leaving the ministry to pursue a harlot.
  • Verses 39:5-8: Alma explains that this conduct is next in seriousness to murder and denying the Holy Ghost.
  • Verses 39:9-14: Alma instructs Corianton to counsel with his brothers, forsake adultery, and return to the ministry.
  • Verses 39:15-19: Alma explains that Corianton's ministry is to declare glad tidings of redemption through Christ.
  • Alma 39:1-14: Exhortation. Three elements of a typical exhortation are: (1) an exposition or description of an unacceptable condition, such as Your room is messy. (2) a call or exhortation to change the situation, such as Clean your room right now. and (3) a narrative prediction of good and bad consequences, or of carrots and sticks, to motivate the desired change, such as Otherwise you will be grounded. Although only the second of these three sentences appears to be an exhortation, all three sentences contribute to the overall exhortational purpose of this paragraph. Here Alma uses all three elements to encourage Corianton to repent. Alma first identifies Corianton's bad conduct in verses 39:1-4,then explains the seriousness of the consequences that Corianton now faces in verses 39:5-8, and finally concludes by stating exactly what change in behavior is expected in verses 39:9-14.
  • Alma 39:13. In this verse Alma emphasizes an important part of repentance - restitution, or repairing damages that our sins may have caused.
  • Alma 39:14. Alma tells his son not to seek for riches or vanities of the world because we cannot take these things with us into the next life. Note that, in contrast, Doctrine & Covenants 130:18 tells us that we can take knowledge and intelligence with us into the next life.

Alma 40[edit]

Alma 41[edit]

  • Alma 41:1: Wrested. In verse 1 wrested means distorted, twisted or perverted. See Webster's 1828 definition here. Here Alma tells us that some have gone astray by twisting and distorting the scriptures in relation to the restoration. Though the scriptures are meant for our good, we see here that if we distort them, they can lead us astray.
  • Alma 41:14: Restoration. How you live and treat others in this life is how you will be rewarded and restored in the next life. Verse 14 is a good, simple, one-verse reminder of how we are expected to conduct ourselves with respect to others.

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 39:5: These things. Which things are the abomination being referred to here, sexual sin (cf. verse 9) or "leading away the hearts of many people to destruction" (cf. verse 12 and Alma 36:14)?
  • Alma 39:6: Why does Alma repeat the phrase "it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness"? If it's to emphasize the point to Corianton, why might Alma feel this point needs to be emphasized to Corianton?
  • Alma 39:6: Why is the article "a" used to modify forgiveness here? (Note: all other uses of the term forgiveness in the scriptures do not use such an article.)
  • Alma 39:9: What does it mean to "cross" yourself?
  • Alma 39:9: Why is remembering so important to the repentance process? How can remembering help you gain control of unwanted desires? What can you do each day to help you remember?
  • Alma 40:1: Why might Corianton be "worried concerning the resurrection of the dead"? How did Alma "perceive" this worry?
  • Alma 40:2: Why could there be no resurrection "until after the coming of Christ"?
  • Alma 40:2: What does it mean for "corruption" to "put on incorruption"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does it mean that Christ "bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does Alma mean by "mystery"? Does that just mean something lie things "which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself"? Or is something else meant here?
  • Alma 40:3: Why might Alma have "inquired diligently of God" to know "concerning the resurrection"? Why would this have been of special interest to Alma? Was it just because of Corianton's concern, or for some other reason?
  • Alma 40:4: What does it mean to "come forth from the dead"?
  • Alma 40:4: Alma teaches that "all shall come forth". Why is that significant?
  • Alma 40:5: Why doesn't Alma know how many times the resurrection will happen?
  • Alma 40:5: What does it mean that "there is a time appointed" for the resurrection?
  • Alma 40:6: What is meant by a "space" betwixt the time of death and the time of resurrection?
  • Alma 407: Why shift from talking about the resurrection itself to the space between death and resurrection?
  • Alma 40:8: What might it mean that "time only is measured unto men"? Does this have anything to do with D&C 130:7, where in contrast to mortality, all things past, present, and future are present before God?
  • Alma 40:9: Why has Alma been asking the Lord about the time between death and resurrection? What does it mean that Alma had "inquired diligently of the Lord to know" about these things? How does one inquire diligently?
  • Alma 40:9: Why would the Lord bother to answer Alma's questions about the afterlife? Is this just for Alma's edification, or was the revelation to him given mostly for the benefit of Corianton or others?
  • Alma 40:10: What does it mean that "God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man"? What is this and why would it be important?
  • Alma 40:11: Why does Alma get answers to his prayers delivered by angels?
  • Alma 40:11: What does it mean for spirits to be "taken home to that God who gave them life"? How does this happen for both good and evil people?
  • Alma 40:12: Why is this "state of happiness" called paradise?
  • Alma 40:12: What does it mean for paradise to be a "state of rest, a state of peace, where they...rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow"? How does this compare to the view of the spirit world received by modern prophets, who indicate that priesthood holders are very busy there to teach the gospel to departed spirits?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to "have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord"? Does that mean that if we have even a tiny portion, we aren't evil?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to choose "evil works rather than good"? What is the definition of evil here?
  • Alma 40:13: How literally should we take this teaching of the devil taking "possession of their house"? What does this mean?
  • Alma 40:13: What is this "outer darkness"? How does it relate to our teaching of spirit prison?
  • Alma 40:13: Why does this verse include the word "wailing" in between the words "weeping" and "gnashing," unlike this verse from the New Testament: "shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt 8:12)?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to be "led captive by the will of the devil"? Is everyone who doesn't accept the gospel being led by the devil? How many modern church members are being led captive? What does that mean, how does it happen, and how can we avoid it?
  • Alma 40:13: Do we see ourselves or our neighbors being "led captive by the will of the devil"? Why or why not? How does this relate to the feelings of the sons of Mosiah about their neighbors (Mosiah 28:3)?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean for the souls of the wicked to be in "darkness"?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean to be in "a state of awful, fearful looking"?
  • Alma 40:14: What is the "fiery indignation of the wrath of God"?
  • Alma 40:15: How can the initial judgment and consignation to different places in the spirit world be termed a resurrection?
  • Alma 40:15: What does Alma mean by "resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:15: What is this "consignation to happiness or misery" that Alma speaks of? How is this accomplished?
  • Alma 40:15: What are the "words which have been spoken" that Alma refers to?
  • Alma 40:16: How does this teaching square with our current teachings about "the morning of the first resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:17: What is the difference in being happy or being miserable when you are a disembodied spirit? How do you feel emotion without brain chemicals?
  • Alma 40:18: Alma seems to be using the word "soul" as an equivalent of what we mean when we say "spirit". How is this different from how we normally think of "soul"? Is there a difference between Alma's conception of the soul and our conception of the spirit?
  • Alma 40:19: Alma teaches that everyone who lives before Christ is resurrected will be resurrected before anyone who dies after that. How does that square with our current teachings about this? If we believe that Moroni has been resurrected, for Alma to be correct here, would that mean that everyone who has lived before Christ has already been resurrected? Could Alma be mistaken here? Or is there another way to read this verse?
  • Alma 40:20: Why would Alma offer an opinion about the timing of the resurrection? Why is Alma careful to label this part of his teaching an opinion? Does this also apply to his teaching about the timing of the resurrection of those who die before the resurrection of Christ (v.19)?
  • Alma 41:1: Of which has been spoken. Is there a passage in the Book of Mormon concerning the restoration that Alma may be referring to here?
  • Alma 41:5: The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness. Although seemingly simplistic in its logic, what does Alma mean by happiness? This verse reminds me of "Wickedness never was happiness", but does that mean? Also, if Alma states that those who are raised to happiness because they desire to be happy, doesn't that imply that those who don't get raised in happiness simply don't want to be happy? If happiness is something that one can either accept or reject based on their own desire, then what of exhorting people to happiness? What is innately "better" about being happy? To translate this into contemporary Mormon jargon, what is "better" about receiving celestial glory than any other glory? Will celestial glory ultimately everybody realize they would have wanted but failed to recognize here on earth? Will everybody ultimately be "happy" in whatever state of glory they end up in? Does God want us to be "happy" for our sake or for His sake or for both?
  • Alma 41:8: What are the decrees of God? What does it mean that they are unalterable?

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 39:5: The sin next to murder. Ash, Michael R. "The Sin Next to Murder: An Alternative Interpretation.", Sunstone (November 2006) p. 34-43. This article identifies several statements in which church leaders have interpreted verse 39:5 to mean that adultery is next to murder in seriousness. The article argues that in fact the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others spiritually astray. On the one hand, the article presents well reasoned arguments about the seriousness of leading others astray and convincingly explains how this verse can be read consistent with the idea that the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others astray. On the other hand, this article gives insufficient weight to the admonition in verses 39:9, 11 that Corianton forsake adultery, and thus leaves open the possibility of also reading this verse consistent with the usual interpretation that the sin next to murder is in fact adultery. The article thus opens a second avenue of interpretation without settling the issue of which interpretation should be preferred.
  • Alma 39:9. Compare verse 9 with Mosiah 4:30, "watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the comments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard..."
  • Alma 39:14. Elder Dallin H Oaks explains in "Focus and Priorities" (Ensign May 2001) that "the 'vain things of [the] world' include every combination of that worldly quartet of property, pride, prominence, and power." He also says there: "As regards property, Jesus taught that 'a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth' (Luke 12:15)."
  • Alma 40:16: Referring to Abinadi's teaching? See this comment for an argument that Alma is referring to Abinadi's teaching here.
  • Alma 41:10-11. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash notes that "to be without God in the world—in other words, to refuse to live His gospel and therefore lack the companionship of the Spirit—is to be in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, the—note that this is singular, meaning it is the only—"great plan of happiness" (see Alma 42:8). If you opt for any other way of life or try to live only the parts of the gospel that seem convenient, such a choice will cheat you of the full, resplendent joy and happiness for which you were designed by our loving Father in Heaven and His Son."

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 39:16-19

Home > The Book of Mormon > Alma > Chapters 36-42 > Chapters 39-41
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Summary[edit]

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Relationship to Alma 36-42. In Chapter 39 Alma turns from counseling his two older sons, Helaman and Shiblon, to counseling his younger son Corianton, the one who famously abandoned the ministry to pursue a harlot. The relationship of Chapters 39-41 to the rest of Chapters 36-41 is discussed at Chapters 36-42.

Story. Chapters 39-41 consists of ____ major sections:

Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapters 39-41 include:

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 39[edit]

  • Alma 39: Outline. Alma 39:1-14 is an exhortation consisting of four major sections:
  • Verses 39:1-4: Alma rebukes Corianton for not following his brothers' example, instead boasting in his own strength and leaving the ministry to pursue a harlot.
  • Verses 39:5-8: Alma explains that this conduct is next in seriousness to murder and denying the Holy Ghost.
  • Verses 39:9-14: Alma instructs Corianton to counsel with his brothers, forsake adultery, and return to the ministry.
  • Verses 39:15-19: Alma explains that Corianton's ministry is to declare glad tidings of redemption through Christ.
  • Alma 39:1-14: Exhortation. Three elements of a typical exhortation are: (1) an exposition or description of an unacceptable condition, such as Your room is messy. (2) a call or exhortation to change the situation, such as Clean your room right now. and (3) a narrative prediction of good and bad consequences, or of carrots and sticks, to motivate the desired change, such as Otherwise you will be grounded. Although only the second of these three sentences appears to be an exhortation, all three sentences contribute to the overall exhortational purpose of this paragraph. Here Alma uses all three elements to encourage Corianton to repent. Alma first identifies Corianton's bad conduct in verses 39:1-4,then explains the seriousness of the consequences that Corianton now faces in verses 39:5-8, and finally concludes by stating exactly what change in behavior is expected in verses 39:9-14.
  • Alma 39:13. In this verse Alma emphasizes an important part of repentance - restitution, or repairing damages that our sins may have caused.
  • Alma 39:14. Alma tells his son not to seek for riches or vanities of the world because we cannot take these things with us into the next life. Note that, in contrast, Doctrine & Covenants 130:18 tells us that we can take knowledge and intelligence with us into the next life.

Alma 40[edit]

Alma 41[edit]

  • Alma 41:1: Wrested. In verse 1 wrested means distorted, twisted or perverted. See Webster's 1828 definition here. Here Alma tells us that some have gone astray by twisting and distorting the scriptures in relation to the restoration. Though the scriptures are meant for our good, we see here that if we distort them, they can lead us astray.
  • Alma 41:14: Restoration. How you live and treat others in this life is how you will be rewarded and restored in the next life. Verse 14 is a good, simple, one-verse reminder of how we are expected to conduct ourselves with respect to others.

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 39:5: These things. Which things are the abomination being referred to here, sexual sin (cf. verse 9) or "leading away the hearts of many people to destruction" (cf. verse 12 and Alma 36:14)?
  • Alma 39:6: Why does Alma repeat the phrase "it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness"? If it's to emphasize the point to Corianton, why might Alma feel this point needs to be emphasized to Corianton?
  • Alma 39:6: Why is the article "a" used to modify forgiveness here? (Note: all other uses of the term forgiveness in the scriptures do not use such an article.)
  • Alma 39:9: What does it mean to "cross" yourself?
  • Alma 39:9: Why is remembering so important to the repentance process? How can remembering help you gain control of unwanted desires? What can you do each day to help you remember?
  • Alma 40:1: Why might Corianton be "worried concerning the resurrection of the dead"? How did Alma "perceive" this worry?
  • Alma 40:2: Why could there be no resurrection "until after the coming of Christ"?
  • Alma 40:2: What does it mean for "corruption" to "put on incorruption"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does it mean that Christ "bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead"?
  • Alma 40:3: What does Alma mean by "mystery"? Does that just mean something lie things "which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself"? Or is something else meant here?
  • Alma 40:3: Why might Alma have "inquired diligently of God" to know "concerning the resurrection"? Why would this have been of special interest to Alma? Was it just because of Corianton's concern, or for some other reason?
  • Alma 40:4: What does it mean to "come forth from the dead"?
  • Alma 40:4: Alma teaches that "all shall come forth". Why is that significant?
  • Alma 40:5: Why doesn't Alma know how many times the resurrection will happen?
  • Alma 40:5: What does it mean that "there is a time appointed" for the resurrection?
  • Alma 40:6: What is meant by a "space" betwixt the time of death and the time of resurrection?
  • Alma 407: Why shift from talking about the resurrection itself to the space between death and resurrection?
  • Alma 40:8: What might it mean that "time only is measured unto men"? Does this have anything to do with D&C 130:7, where in contrast to mortality, all things past, present, and future are present before God?
  • Alma 40:9: Why has Alma been asking the Lord about the time between death and resurrection? What does it mean that Alma had "inquired diligently of the Lord to know" about these things? How does one inquire diligently?
  • Alma 40:9: Why would the Lord bother to answer Alma's questions about the afterlife? Is this just for Alma's edification, or was the revelation to him given mostly for the benefit of Corianton or others?
  • Alma 40:10: What does it mean that "God knoweth all the times which are appointed unto man"? What is this and why would it be important?
  • Alma 40:11: Why does Alma get answers to his prayers delivered by angels?
  • Alma 40:11: What does it mean for spirits to be "taken home to that God who gave them life"? How does this happen for both good and evil people?
  • Alma 40:12: Why is this "state of happiness" called paradise?
  • Alma 40:12: What does it mean for paradise to be a "state of rest, a state of peace, where they...rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow"? How does this compare to the view of the spirit world received by modern prophets, who indicate that priesthood holders are very busy there to teach the gospel to departed spirits?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to "have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord"? Does that mean that if we have even a tiny portion, we aren't evil?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to choose "evil works rather than good"? What is the definition of evil here?
  • Alma 40:13: How literally should we take this teaching of the devil taking "possession of their house"? What does this mean?
  • Alma 40:13: What is this "outer darkness"? How does it relate to our teaching of spirit prison?
  • Alma 40:13: Why does this verse include the word "wailing" in between the words "weeping" and "gnashing," unlike this verse from the New Testament: "shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt 8:12)?
  • Alma 40:13: What does it mean to be "led captive by the will of the devil"? Is everyone who doesn't accept the gospel being led by the devil? How many modern church members are being led captive? What does that mean, how does it happen, and how can we avoid it?
  • Alma 40:13: Do we see ourselves or our neighbors being "led captive by the will of the devil"? Why or why not? How does this relate to the feelings of the sons of Mosiah about their neighbors (Mosiah 28:3)?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean for the souls of the wicked to be in "darkness"?
  • Alma 40:14: What does it mean to be in "a state of awful, fearful looking"?
  • Alma 40:14: What is the "fiery indignation of the wrath of God"?
  • Alma 40:15: How can the initial judgment and consignation to different places in the spirit world be termed a resurrection?
  • Alma 40:15: What does Alma mean by "resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:15: What is this "consignation to happiness or misery" that Alma speaks of? How is this accomplished?
  • Alma 40:15: What are the "words which have been spoken" that Alma refers to?
  • Alma 40:16: How does this teaching square with our current teachings about "the morning of the first resurrection"?
  • Alma 40:17: What is the difference in being happy or being miserable when you are a disembodied spirit? How do you feel emotion without brain chemicals?
  • Alma 40:18: Alma seems to be using the word "soul" as an equivalent of what we mean when we say "spirit". How is this different from how we normally think of "soul"? Is there a difference between Alma's conception of the soul and our conception of the spirit?
  • Alma 40:19: Alma teaches that everyone who lives before Christ is resurrected will be resurrected before anyone who dies after that. How does that square with our current teachings about this? If we believe that Moroni has been resurrected, for Alma to be correct here, would that mean that everyone who has lived before Christ has already been resurrected? Could Alma be mistaken here? Or is there another way to read this verse?
  • Alma 40:20: Why would Alma offer an opinion about the timing of the resurrection? Why is Alma careful to label this part of his teaching an opinion? Does this also apply to his teaching about the timing of the resurrection of those who die before the resurrection of Christ (v.19)?
  • Alma 41:1: Of which has been spoken. Is there a passage in the Book of Mormon concerning the restoration that Alma may be referring to here?
  • Alma 41:5: The one raised to happiness according to his desires of happiness. Although seemingly simplistic in its logic, what does Alma mean by happiness? This verse reminds me of "Wickedness never was happiness", but does that mean? Also, if Alma states that those who are raised to happiness because they desire to be happy, doesn't that imply that those who don't get raised in happiness simply don't want to be happy? If happiness is something that one can either accept or reject based on their own desire, then what of exhorting people to happiness? What is innately "better" about being happy? To translate this into contemporary Mormon jargon, what is "better" about receiving celestial glory than any other glory? Will celestial glory ultimately everybody realize they would have wanted but failed to recognize here on earth? Will everybody ultimately be "happy" in whatever state of glory they end up in? Does God want us to be "happy" for our sake or for His sake or for both?
  • Alma 41:8: What are the decrees of God? What does it mean that they are unalterable?

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 39:5: The sin next to murder. Ash, Michael R. "The Sin Next to Murder: An Alternative Interpretation.", Sunstone (November 2006) p. 34-43. This article identifies several statements in which church leaders have interpreted verse 39:5 to mean that adultery is next to murder in seriousness. The article argues that in fact the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others spiritually astray. On the one hand, the article presents well reasoned arguments about the seriousness of leading others astray and convincingly explains how this verse can be read consistent with the idea that the sin next to murder is not adultery but is instead leading others astray. On the other hand, this article gives insufficient weight to the admonition in verses 39:9, 11 that Corianton forsake adultery, and thus leaves open the possibility of also reading this verse consistent with the usual interpretation that the sin next to murder is in fact adultery. The article thus opens a second avenue of interpretation without settling the issue of which interpretation should be preferred.
  • Alma 39:9. Compare verse 9 with Mosiah 4:30, "watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the comments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard..."
  • Alma 39:14. Elder Dallin H Oaks explains in "Focus and Priorities" (Ensign May 2001) that "the 'vain things of [the] world' include every combination of that worldly quartet of property, pride, prominence, and power." He also says there: "As regards property, Jesus taught that 'a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth' (Luke 12:15)."
  • Alma 40:16: Referring to Abinadi's teaching? See this comment for an argument that Alma is referring to Abinadi's teaching here.
  • Alma 41:10-11. Marcus B. Nash, "The Great Plan of Happiness," Ensign, Nov 2006, pp. 49–50. Elder Nash notes that "to be without God in the world—in other words, to refuse to live His gospel and therefore lack the companionship of the Spirit—is to be in a state contrary to the nature of happiness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is, in fact, the—note that this is singular, meaning it is the only—"great plan of happiness" (see Alma 42:8). If you opt for any other way of life or try to live only the parts of the gospel that seem convenient, such a choice will cheat you of the full, resplendent joy and happiness for which you were designed by our loving Father in Heaven and His Son."

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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