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The relationship of Chapter 8 to the rest of Chapters 8-16 the book is discussed at Chapters 8-16.
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- Alma 8:5: Throughout all the borders of the land. In Mesoamerican society, the elite rulers and priests lived in the city, and poorer farmers usually lived out in the smaller villages or hamlets. The people who came in to be baptized from "throughout all the borders of the land" may have been humble subsistence farmers, rather than the local elites--indicating that the gospel was taught to everyone, and not just the ruling classes.
- Alma 8:11-15. It appears that the people of Ammonihah recognize power only in the political--they reject Alma's authority over them on the premise that he is no longer the chief judge. This obsession with the political is reemphasized in the following chapters (see Alma 10:13, Alma 10:24). It is also possible to understand some of Amulek's later discourse as addressing this situation (Alma 10:19-20).
- Alma 8:16-20: Amulek is a Nephite. Apparently, not everyone in Ammonihah is a Nephite, or considers themselves to be a Nephite, and so it is important for Amulek to so announce himself to Alma. This may be further evidence that Ammonihah is predominantly a Mulekite city, named after a prominent Mulekite (see commentary on Alma 8:7). If so, this would shed even more light on why the people were studying to "destroy the liberty of the people" (v.17). If Ammonihah was a predominantly Mulekite city, perhaps they were seeking to break away from the new Nephite-ruled complex chiefdom based out of Zarahemla.
- Alma 8:24-25. In verse 24 Alma describes his commission to preach as being more general, but in verse 25 he says he was turned back to Ammonihah with a specific commission to prophesy to the people there and testify against them.
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Prompts for life application
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Prompts for further study
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- Alma 8:1: What does “order of the church” mean? Alma is said to have established it also in Zarahemla. There he did so by ordaining priests and elders (surprising that they didn’t already have them), baptizing repentant converts, and excommunicating unrepentant members (Alma 6:1-4). What kind of order does that suggest?
- Alma 8:1: What is the connection between the "order of the church" and the "order of the priesthood"?
- Alma 8:1: Why are we told that Alma taught "many things that cannot be written"? Why couldn't they be written? Is it just a matter of editing, i.e. not enough room on the plates? Or is it something else--perhaps temple covenants or other things that are not to be written down?
- Alma 8:2: Why are we told that the judges "reign...over the people"? What is the difference between a judge and any other type of ruler?
- Alma 8:2: What do we know about how Nephite judges "reigned"?
- Alma 8:3: Why are we told that Alma started his journey "in the commencement of the tenth year"? Why tell us at all? Is this just a way of marking time to carry the narrative, or is there something else going on?
- Alma 8:3: What do we know about the land of Melek, or the Melek for whom it was named? Is there any connection between Melek/Mulek?
- Alma 8:3: Why did Alma first go to Gideon and only after that go to Melek? What might have made him rank the order his journey from Gideon to Melek to Ammonihah?
- Alma 8:4: What does it mean to teach "according to the holy order of God"? How might that differ from any other type of teaching or preaching? We learn more about this order in Alma 13, but does that tell us any more about how teaching is accomplished "according to" this order?
- Alma 8:4: How big was this land of Melek, that it warrants mentioning his teaching "throughout all the land"?
- Alma 8:5: Why does it say that the people came to Alma, rather than that he traveled "throughout all the land"? What might this imply about how Alma did his teaching?
- Alma 8:5: What type of people were these who lived apparently outside of the city, throughout all the borders of the land?
- Alma 8:7: Why does Mormon tell us that cities and villages are named after those "who first possessed them"?
- Alma 8:7: Who is the Ammonihah who first possessed this city? Is there a relationship between the name Ammonihah and Ammon, the presumably high-ranking Mulekite of a previous generation (see Mosiah 7:3)? If so, might Ammonihah be a high-ranking Mulekite (perhaps even a descendant of Ammon), who set out from the Land of Zarahemla to start his own predominantly Mulekite settlement?
- Alma 8:9: What do we know about these people of the city of Ammonihah? Alma later calls them to remember their Nephite ancestors, but are they all descendants of Nephi? They recognize, though are plotting to overthrough, the rulership of the chief judge at Zarahemla--but who exactly are these people several days away from the center of the government at Zarahemla? Why have they set up a city at such a distance from the heart of government?
- Alma 8:10: Alma communes with angels from time to time. Why, then, does he also have to “wrestle with God in prayer” (emphasis added)?
- Alma 8:10: We are clearly led to believe that Alma's desire to baptize the people of Ammonihah is a righteous desire. How does this compare to the desires of modern missionaries to baptize people? Are there any clues here to help us identify what makes Alma's desire pure, as opposed to self-serving?
- Alma 8:11: How often does Alma talk about hardened or softened hearts? What does it mean for a heart to be hardened?
- Alma 8:11: What do the people of Ammonihah mean by claiming that the church was established "according to your tradition" rather than "our" tradition? Who are these people that claim not to be of the same religious tradition?
- Alma 8:11: Later we learn that these people are following after the order of Nehor. How do their statements here reflect the teachings of Nehor?
- Alma 8:16: In Melek, Alma taught all the people throughout the land, especially those outside the city in the borders of the wilderness. Here he is commanded to preach "unto the people of the city". Is there a difference here? Is he being commanded specifically to preach just to those within the city, and not in the borders round about? If so, why might that be?
- Alma 8:17: To what phrase do the parenthesis apply and why use the parenthesis at all?
- Alma 8:17: To whom does "thy people" refer? Is it the Nephites as a whole, or the members of the church in particular?
- Alma 8:17: What does it mean that the people were studying to destroy the liberty of the people? What does that studying entail?
- Alma 8:17: In previous teaching, Alma has asked the people if they are going to "set at defiance" or come out in armed opposition to the commandments of God. Is that what the people of Ammonihah are now preparing to do?
- Alma 8:18: Of what significance is it that Alma returned "speedily" to the city after receiving instructions from the angel? Can we draw a lesson from this example?
- Alma 8:19: Why would Alma announce himself as "an humble servant of God"? What does this mean, and why use such language?
- Alma 8:20: Nephite. Why does Amulek bother to state that he is a Nephite? Isn't Ammonihah a Nephite city?
- Alma 8:22: It's noticeable that Amulek gives Alma bread and meat, but Alma ate the bread and was filled. Why might that be significant?
- Alma 8:25: What does Alma's intent to "prophesy unto this people, yeah, and to testify against them concerning their iniquities" have to do with preaching the word of God "according to the spirit of revelation and prophecy" (v.24)?
- Alma 8:25: In what ways might Alma's preaching form a model for modern day preaching? Is it important to prophesy to modern audiences? What might a preacher prophesy of? What about testifying against iniquities? How appropriate is it for us to call people out (in general or individually) on their sins?
- Alma 8:26: Here Alma testifies that he had fasted many days before he had seen the angel. Did fasting make it more likely that Alma would be able to receive guidance from the angel? How appropriate is it to fast "many days"?
- Alma 8:28: What does it mean that the people "did wax more gross in their iniquities"? What would that have looked like? How would Alma know that this was happening? How are these iniquities being measured?
- Alma 8:29: How does this preaching about the "fierce anger" of the Lord differ from Alma's teaching in the lands of Zarahemla, Gideon, and Melek?
- Alma 8:32: What does it mean that Alma and Amulek preached and prophesied "according to the spirit and power" given them by the Lord? How was that spirit and power manifest?
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