Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, July 8

Book of Mormon: Alma vs. Korihor, Experience-wise

Book of Mormon: Alma vs. Korihor, Experience-wise

grego
(c) 2008

Alma and Korihor have quite a bit in common, and quite a bit that makes them opposites. I would, for practical purposes, say that Korihor is a foil.

A literary “foil” is a character that is used to compare but especially contrast another character who is more central to the story, making the central character’s characteristics easier to see, deeper and more colorful.

Alma and Korihor being foils (Alma 29-30) is inside the story of the Lamanites who convert and their foil, the Zoramites, who leave.

There seemed to me to be a somewhat jerky transition between the last part of Alma 28 and Alma 29, to Alma 30 and 31.

Alma 29 is about Alma and his desires to save souls, and the joy and the wonder of it all; both his personal experience of being saved (I believe), of his church labors and missionary labors, and of those of the sons of Mosiah and their friends. It is similar to Alma 26, with Ammon.

Alma 30, however, is about Korihor and his desires and joy to destroy souls.

It goes from a personal testimony of laboring for God in love, to laboring for sin in no love.

Here are some other parts of this Alma vs. Korihor foil (in no certain order):

-=-=-=

Korihor says:
Alma 30:53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

Interestingly, Alma says:
Alma 29:9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.
Alma 29:10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.
Alma 29:13 Yea, and that same God did establish his church among them; yea, and that same God hath called me by a holy calling, to preach the word unto this people, and hath given me much success, in the which my joy is full.
Alma 29:14 But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.
Alma 29:15 Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!
Alma 29:16 Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.

On one hand, Korihor has success and therefore believes; likes it because it pleases the carnal mind; and fights against truth because of it. On the other hand, Alma and the sons of Mosiah believe and therefore have success; find joy that others are spiritual, not carnal; and fight against “negative” things (doubt, sorrow, opposition, etc.) because of it.

-=-=-=

I found it interesting to hear what seems to be a foreshadowing in Alma 29. Alma starts out wishing he could be an angel. He has just been preaching for years all over the land, and in Alma 31 he will go to preach again, to the Zoramites. So why the “angel” part and other things, now?
Alma 29:1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!
Alma 29:2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

Alma himself had been a true atheist, a sinner, who went about delighting in trying to get others to sin and destroy the church of God—which is what Korihor will be trying to do, also. Then an angel, a representative of God, appeared in power and told Alma that there was a God, and was instrumental in Alma’s changing his ways/ repenting. That is what Alma hopes he can do—help others repent. However, the twist in the Korihor story is, that a believer (Korihor) was visited by an angel (the devil), told there was not a God, and Korihor had changed his ways/ sinned. Yet, when Alma, a representative of God, displays God’s power by cursing him dumb, Korihor doesn’t repent.

-=-=-=

Here is something else about an angel. Alma tells Korihor:
Alma 30:47 But behold, it is *better that thy soul should be lost* than that *thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction*, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that *thou shalt become dumb*, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more.

Interestingly, this is similar to what the angel told wicked Alma, and what happened:
Alma 36:9 And he said unto me: If *thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God*.
Alma 36:10 And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that *I could not open my mouth*, neither had I the use of my limbs.
Alma 36:11 And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words–If *thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God*–I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.
Alma 36:14 Yea, and *I had murdered many of his children*, or rather *led them away unto destruction*; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

-=-=-=

Alma says:
Alma 29:6 Now, seeing that I know these things, why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?
Alma 29:9 I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

Korihor says this:
Alma 30:53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

Alma was content with his calling; Korihor was not. Alma was humble; Korihor was not. Alma gloried in the Lord and what he taught because it was from the Lord; Korihor gloried in what he taught because it pleased him and others’ carnal minds.

-=-=-=

While Alma thanks God for saving him in mercy:
Alma 29:10 And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, then do I remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me.

Korihor only blames the Devil:
Alma 30:52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.
Alma 30:53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me;

-=-=-=

Alma says this:
Alma 29:3 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.
Alma 29:4 I ought not to harrow up in my desires, the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction.
Alma 29:5 Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.
And we see that he is content, he chooses good, life, joy, and salvation.

What about Korihor? Frankly, I doubt the devil just “showed up” randomly to Korihor. I believe Korihor’s desires were lined up for it to happen. Korihor knew good from evil; he chose “evil”, “death”, and while I don’t know how much “remorse of conscience” there was before his death, I doubt there was “joy”. Also, as to what Alma had just said, God’s decree of dumbness was unalterable; according to Korihor’s will; and unto his destruction. However, look at all the desires of the sons of Mosiah in the preceding chapters, and Alma and his fellow laborers in Alma 31, and what the fruits of those desires were.

-=-=-=

While Alma says this:
Alma 29:11 Yea, and I also remember the captivity of my fathers; for I surely do know that the Lord did deliver them out of bondage, and by this did establish his church; yea, the Lord God, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, did deliver them out of bondage.
Alma 29:12 Yea, I have always remembered the captivity of my fathers; and that same God who delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians did deliver them out of bondage.

Korihor says this:
Alma 30:14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers.
Alma 30:16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so.
Alma 30:27 And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.

-=-=-=

Alma says this:
Alma 29:14 But I do not joy in my own success alone, but my joy is more full because of the success of my brethren, who have been up to the land of Nephi.
Alma 29:15 Behold, they have labored exceedingly, and have brought forth much fruit; and how great shall be their reward!
Alma 29:16 Now, when I think of the success of these my brethren my soul is carried away, even to the separation of it from the body, as it were, so great is my joy.

I wonder if Korihor also felt that way from having lots of competition from other alpha-males? No, eh? Wait, Korihor’s accusations against the priests (false ones, at that) are the same things that he was doing. I guess maybe I was right…

-=-=-=

Another interesting part is that Korihor and Alma both required proof of the power of God; after their experiences, they both acknowledged the power of God; yet the difference was Alma didn’t know, then he did, and he repented; Korihor knew, but he denied, and after being given the chance, he didn’t repent:

Korihor:
Alma 30:43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt [b]show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power[/b], and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.
Alma 30:45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: *Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign*.
Alma 30:48 Now Korihor said unto him: I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and *except ye show me a sign, I will not believe*.
Alma 30:51 And now when the chief judge saw this, he put forth his hand and wrote unto Korihor, saying: *Art thou convinced of the power of God?* In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign? Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign? Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and *now will ye dispute more?*
Alma 30:52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: *I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me*; yea, and I always knew that there was a God.

Alma:
Mosiah 27:14 And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose *have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God*, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith.
Mosiah 27:15 And now behold, *can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God*.
Mosiah 27:18 And now Alma and those that were with him *fell again to the earth, for great was their astonishment; for with their own eyes they had beheld an angel of the Lord; and his voice was as thunder, which shook the earth; and they knew that there was nothing save the power of God that could shake the earth and cause it to tremble as though it would part asunder*.

-=-=-=

Alma, during his wicked days, had the same “gift”/ curse that Korihor had: the power of his words; and Alma’s punishment for not believing and for using his words to destroy and lead people astray was the same as Korihor’s—not being able to speak; and perhaps, as did Alma, Korihor had a weak body:
Mosiah 27:8 Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And *he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people*; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.
Mosiah 27:19 And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that *he became dumb*, that *he could not open his mouth*; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father.
Mosiah 27:22 And he caused that the priests should assemble themselves together; and *they began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak*, and also that his limbs might receive their strength–that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God.
Mosiah 27:23 And it came to pass after they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and *he stood up and began to speak unto them, bidding them to be of good comfort*:
Alma 36:10 And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that *I could not open my mouth*, neither had I the use of my limbs.

-=-=-=

When Alma sees the angel, he cannot talk:
Mosiah 27:19 And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb, that he could not open his mouth; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father.

When Korihor sees the angel (devil), he gains power to talk. Yet when he meets with God’s representative, he loses it, just like Alma did.

Alma’s remorse is for his sins:
Alma 36:12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
Alma 36:13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
Alma 36:14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
Alma 36:15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
Alma 36:16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
Alma 36:17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

But when Alma finally does speak, he says this:
Alma 36:18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

And when he gets up, he relates:
Mosiah 27:24 For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.

Korihor, on the other hand, writes this:
Alma 30:54 Now when he had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him.

He admits he greatly sinned, but his remorse is not for his sins, but for the loss of his tool that worked the sin.

And so:
Alma 30:55 But Alma said unto him: If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will.
Alma 30:56 And it came to pass that the curse was not taken off of Korihor; but he was cast out, and went about from house to house begging for his food.

I imagine that had Korihor repented, he likely would have been healed.

-=-=-=

Not only is Korihor a foil to Alma, but the irony in these comparisons is plentiful.


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1 Comment »

  1. wonderful distinction between the two character from the Book of Mormon. I truly thank the write for his effort.

    God Bless You

    Comment by Fetu — 2008, July 24 @ 11:35 pm


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