Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, July 10

Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices 4: Imagery and Irony

Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices 4: Imagery and Irony

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Korihor accused the priests of glutting themselves on the work of the people, etc. Alma says that Korihor knew that Alma and the others in the church hadn’t. So how, whence would this accusation arise? Why would Korihor accuse the priests of that? I think it was with the law of Moses and the offerings that the priests ate according to the law. (I wonder if these priests were different than the priests that functioned as teachers in the church, and that is why Alma separated the accusation.)

Interestingly, seemingly out of place in the same chapter, just a little before the Korihor part, we find this:
Alma 30:3 Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses; for they were taught to keep the law of Moses until it should be fulfilled.

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Interestingly, Korihor uses wonderful animal imagery in his preaching, and it also shows up in the commentary and in the manner of Korihor’s death. He uses it to connect the similarity between the animals that the priests are sacrificing and glutting off the labors of the people with, and the people who believe.

Korihor spoke to the people about their being yoked and led, looking down and being submissive, being foolish, being worked to support the priests/ teachers:

Alma 30:13 O ye that are *bound* down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye *yoke yourselves* with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.

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 30:28 Yea, they *durst not make use of that which is their own* lest they should offend their priests, who do *yoke them* according to their desires, and have *brought them* to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God–a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.

Alma 30:31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of *leading away the people* after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of *glutting on the labors of the people*.

In other words, he accused the people of being like the dumb (double entendre intended) animals they were sacrificing (according to the law of Moses), and the priests were like the owners, yoking them, leading them, keeping them domesticated and docile, and using them to perform labors they didn’t want/ couldn’t do themselves. Was Korihor preaching “be your own animal”–wild, free, etc.?

The commentary in Alma 30 says:

Alma 30:18 And thus he did preach unto them, *leading away the hearts of many*, *causing them to lift up their heads* in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms–telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.

Alma use the same imagery with Korihor, but now it’s either Korihor is the false shepherd leading the people to spiritual slaughter, or it’s Korihor the animal led by his master, Satan.

Alma 30:42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but *the devil has power over you*, and *he doth carry you about*, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.

Alma 30:45 And yet do ye go about, *leading away the hearts of this people*, testifying unto them there is no God? …

And Korihor even continues the imagery (having an eery familiarity with Isaiah and his sheep):
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.

And there at the end, Korihor admits that he, like an ornery mule, disobeyed his master.

But Korihor is like an old dog that won’t learn new tricks:

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.

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.

It is now Korihor who suffers his accusatory preaching, like a domesticated animal that refuses his master, bites the hand the feeds him, and goes wild:

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*.

And is it perhaps dumb animals that trod him down, and kill him? Docile, easily yoked ones like the people he preached against; or the type that he was?

Alma 30:59
And it came to pass that as he went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram–and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was *run upon* and *trodden down*, even until he was dead.

Alma 30:60
And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will *not support* his children at the last day, but doth speedily *drag them down to hell*.

Ahhh, no pasture for Korihor–looks like it’s straight to the slaughterhouse…


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Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices 3: Irony

Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices 3: Irony

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Ironically, Korihor had preached that the words of the priests brought the people down (“Instead of lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words”); yet it was Satan’s words, and his words, that brought him down, spiritually and literally. Korihor had preached that the people were “in bondage” because of the gospel, yet it was Satan’s false doctrine, and his false doctrine, that resulted in his bondage–for isn’t going door to door begging for food as an outcast close enough to being in bondage?

Alma 30:24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage.

Yet “look[ing] up with boldness”, Korihor was “run upon and trodden down” to death; he was both spiritually and literally dragged down because of Satan:

Alma 30:60 And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily *drag them down* to hell.


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Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices: Irony 2

Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices: Irony 2

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Ironically, some might say Alma the priest and Nephite society *do*, in a certain way, glut off the labors of others–Korihor, that is–not the people in general:

Alma 30:57 Now the knowledge of what had happened unto Korihor was immediately published throughout all the land; yea, the proclamation was sent forth by the chief judge to all the people in the land, declaring unto those who had believed in the words of Korihor that they must speedily repent, lest the same judgments would come unto them.

Alma 30:58 And it came to pass that they were all convinced of the wickedness of Korihor; therefore they were all converted again unto the Lord; and this put an end to the iniquity after the manner of Korihor. And Korihor did go about from house to house, begging food for his support.

-=-=-=

Even more ironically, Korihor the hypocrite, who glutted himself off the labors of the people from his preaching and yet accused the priests of God of doing it, now gluts himself off the labors of the people–*with his begging*…

Alma 30:58 And it came to pass that they were all convinced of the wickedness of Korihor; therefore they were all converted again unto the Lord; and this put an end to the iniquity after the manner of Korihor. And Korihor did go about from house to house, begging food for his support.


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2008, July 9

Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices: Irony: 1

Book of Mormon: Korihor: Literary Devices: Irony: 1

Ok, this section is for all the other things I haven’t already talked about in previous articles, like the irony often apparent as Korihor plays foil to Alma.

If I hit double return on this blog, it always turns out to be a single return, so I’m going to start using my old sign for separating sections/ stories: -=-=-=.

-=-=-=

It’s ironic that the freedom of speech that allows Korihor to speak his belief is allowed because of Nephite social contract laws, and that the law cannot touch him–and therefore no one else is allowed to on threat of punishment, either. So he preaches against the law all the while relying on it for freedom and safety (from punishment from society or individuals) to do so and safety, trying to get others to abolish it in their lives.

Alma 30:7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
Alma 30:8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.
Alma 30:9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.
Alma 30:12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying:…
Alma 30:17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.


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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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2008, July 7

Book of Mormon: Korihor vs. the Nephite Social Contract; The Law of War

Book of Mormon: Korihor vs. the Nephite Social Contract; The Law of War

(A big thanks to Warship!)

Contrary to popular opinion, Korihor’s attack centers on the Nephite social contract, not on religion–which however, happens to be part of the argument. After Korihor, there were many other attacks on the Nephite social contract.

So what is “social contract”? Wikipedia helps here a little:
“The term social contract describes a broad class of philosophical theories whose subjects are *implied agreements by which people form nations and maintain a social order*. Such social contract implies that the *people give up some rights to a government and/or other authority in order to receive or jointly preserve social order*.
Social contract theory provides the rationale behind the historically important notion that *legitimate state authority must be derived from the consent of the governed*. The starting point for most of these theories is a heuristic examination of the human condition absent from any structured social order, termed the “state of nature” or “natural state”. In this state of being, an individual’s words or action are bound only by his or her conscience (this is where Korihor stands). From this common starting point, the various proponents of social contract theory attempt to explain, in different ways, why it is in an individual’s rational self-interest to voluntarily subjugate the freedom of action one has under the natural state (their so called “natural rights”) in order to obtain the benefits provided by the formation of social structures.
Common to all of these theories is the notion of a ‘sovereign will’, to which all members of a society are bound by the social contract to respect. The various theories of social contract that have developed are largely differentiated by their definition of the *’sovereign’ will, be it a King (monarchy), a Council (oligarchy) or The Majority (republic or democracy)*. Under a theory first articulated by Plato in his Socratic dialog Crito, *members within a society implicitly agree to the terms of the social contract by their choice to stay within the society*. Thus implicit in most forms of social contract is that freedom of movement is a fundamental or natural right which society may not legitimately require an individual to subrogate to the sovereign will… Since rights come from agreeing to the contract, those who simply choose not to fulfill their contractual obligations, such as by committing crimes, deserve losing their rights, and the rest of society can be expected to protect itself against the actions of such outlaws. To be a member of society is to accept responsibility for following its rules, along with the threat of punishment for violating them.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_contract )

The Nephite social contract starting with Nephi’s right to rule over the others–including Laman and Lemuel–is covered a little in my Brass Plates articles. It was also God that established Nephi as leader and ruler over his brethren, so to say–based on everyone’s choices and actions. The way was decreed here:
1 Nephi 2:22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren.
1 Nephi 2:23 For behold, in that day that they shall rebel against me, I will curse them even with a sore curse, and they shall have no power over thy seed except they shall rebel against me also.
1 Nephi 2:24 And if it so be that they rebel against me, they shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in the ways of remembrance.
It is interesting that even though Nephi and his people later left the Lamanites and established their own land and government, God supported Nephi and the Nephites in their continued right to rule over the the Lamanites by never allowing the Lamanites to have power over the Nephites.

Remaining in Nephite land was subjecting oneself to the Nephite social contract and Nephite law. No doubt that many of the dissenters desired to commit acts that were considered crimes in Nephite society but not in Lamanite society. There were almost always unbelievers who lived in Nephite society, who were under the Nephite social contract even though they might not have believed, worshiped, or acted as true believers did (see, for example: Mosiah 26:1, 4, 5; Mosiah 27:1, 8; Alma 4:11; 3 Nephi 1:9).

It is evident that those who did not wish to remain in Nephite society were free to leave and join the Lamanites or others, from the very beginning on down:
Alma 43:13 And the people of Ammon did give unto the Nephites a large portion of their substance to support their armies; and thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and *all those who had dissented from the Nephites*, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah.
Alma 47:35 And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and *all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time*.
Helaman 5:35 Now *there was one among them [the Lamanites] who was a Nephite by birth*, who had once belonged to the church of God but had dissented from them.
3 Nephi 3:10 And I write this epistle unto you, Lachoneus, and I hope that ye will deliver up your lands and your possessions, without the shedding of blood, that *this my people may recover their rights and government, who have dissented away from you* because of your wickedness in retaining from them their rights of government, and except ye do this, I will avenge their wrongs…

In the Book of Mormon, we have the actual story of the Nephites–at the time of king Mosiah–entering into their social contract. First, king Mosiah lays down an extremely succinct and powerful summary of a monarchical social contract and its many problems, including the difficulty of breaking the social contract by the people. King Mosiah commands them to change to a new social contract, based on a judicial/ republic model, which increases each man’s responsibilities and sure freedoms in civic affairs and ultimately personal matters:
Mosiah 29:30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.
Mosiah 29:32 And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.

These new Nephite societal contract laws are handed down from God to king Mosiah, and from the king to the people. Importantly, also, the Nephite people agree to them:
Helaman 4:22 And that they had altered and trampled under their feet *the laws of Mosiah, or that which the Lord commanded him to give unto the people*…
Alma 1:1 …king Mosiah having gone the way of all the earth, having warred a good warfare, walking uprightly before God, leaving none to reign in his stead; *nevertheless he had established laws, and they were acknowledged by the people; therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made.*
Alma 1:14 Therefore thou art condemned to die, *according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law.*
Alma 27:9 But Ammon said unto him: It is against *the law of our brethren, which was established by my father*, that there should be any slaves among them; therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of our brethren.

The people start their duties of the social contract:
Mosiah 29:39 Therefore, it came to pass that *they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges*, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them.
Mosiah 29:41 And it came to pass that *they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land*.

Korihor might have even been a non-Nephite, from one of the apostate groups living with the Lamanites.

Having now laid the foundation of Nephite societal law, we see that Korihor was preaching against the validity of the Nephite social contract. Korihor could have been more open about it, and he could have used the means provided by Nephite law to enact changes in the social contract, such as Amlici did (Alma 2). But he didn’t.

Korihor’s preaching and game, I believe, centered on destroying the foundation of the social contract. Here it is:
1. There is no God/ you cannot prove there is a God–
2. therefore, the Nephite social contract–which originates with God and which laws come from God–is null and void/ not valid–
3. therefore, you can do anything you want, and God can’t/ won’t punish you, and the law that was supposedly handed down from God cannot have effect.

While the law had of Nephite society hold of Korihor a few times, it was a minor point for both sides. The main point for both sides was that if the Nephite social contract was to be proven valid, it required proof of God.

So Korihor actually enters into a contest of “conquer according to strength” and “power” with his opponent, God, to test the foundation of the Nephite social contract. Alma, the high priest of God, God’s representative (Alma 13), stands in for God in this battle. Argument between them centers on the existence of God.

Korihor claims that there is no proof of God. Interestingly, Alma could have presented quite a bit that probably most Nephites knew about (we’ve already covered this in the “Korihor in Jershon and Gideon” article). But he doesn’t. He just takes the opposite side that Korihor does.

Then, Korihor forces Alma’s (God’s) hand:
Alma 30:43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, *show unto me that he hath power*, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.

Interestingly, Korihor has three chances to convince the high priests and judges, with no major punishment inflicted in the first two; and in the confrontation with Alma, Korihor denies God three times after Alma brings it up/ asks him (Alma 30:38, 43, 45). Alma, in the name of the Lord, then warns Korihor that if he denies again, he will be punished; Korihor still “denies” (Alma 30:48), and is struck dumb (Alma 30:49-50).

This is a double fulfillment of the Law of War, given in Doctrine and Covenants 98:
In Doctrine and Covenants 98, it is written that Nephi (and therefore the Nephites?) had this law given to him:
32 Behold, this is the law I gave unto my servant Nephi, and thy fathers, Joseph, and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, and all mine ancient prophets and apostles.
33 And again, this is the law that I gave unto mine ancients, that they should not go out unto battle against any nation, kindred, tongue, or people, save I, the Lord, commanded them.
34 And if any nation, tongue, or people should proclaim war against them, they should first lift a standard of peace unto that people, nation, or tongue;
35 And if that people did not accept the offering of peace, neither the second nor the third time, they should bring these testimonies before the Lord;
36 Then I, the Lord, would give unto them a commandment, and justify them in going out to battle against that nation, tongue, or people.
37 And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children’s battles, and their children’s children’s, until they had avenged themselves on all their enemies, to the third and fourth generation.
38 Behold, this is an ensample unto all people, saith the Lord your God, for justification before me.

Note that Korihor was purposefully attacking the doctrine of Christ, the priests, and leading people away by his attacks on Nephite social contract and lyings.


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An Example of Future Comments that Will Likely Be Trashed

After all that explaining about Korihor, here’s a typical critic’s response:

“measure76 said: 2008, July 3 at 2:42 pm e
That’s a good point. All atheists are horrible liars who should be put to death. Good for the book of mormon to teach this valuable principle.”

“[A] good point”? No. The writer obviously has no clue what the points were–even though the post (and the two others before it) contained many points, none of those points were what this commenter said. Does the story of Korihor show that all atheists are horrible liars who should be put to death? Of course not. Does the Book of Mormon teach that? Of course not. Was there any value in this comment? No. In fact, this lie is so horrible, I wonder if maybe this person is an atheist. No, I don’t really because most atheists I’ve met think much more critically than this and would never post a comment completely lacking in critical thinking (or reading) skills like that one. I wonder if this commenter even read what I wrote. I won’t wonder long, though. In fact, I even expected this type of response…

So, for future commenters, if you post a comment like this, please don’t be surprised if it never appears on the blog. We are all imperfect; I have no problems posting questions, or comments that disagree with what I wrote (as I did on my other blog); but comments that show a complete lack of reading, thinking, understanding, and full of whininess… :( Those types of comments don’t belong here.

2008, July 3

Book of Mormon: Korihor in Zarahemla

Book of Mormon: Korihor in Zarahemla

(for more articles on Korihor, type “Korihor” in the search function–there are many!)

After Gideon, Korihor is sent to Zarahemla:
Alma 30:29 Now when the high priest and the chief judge saw the hardness of his heart, yea, when they saw that he would revile even against God, they would not make any reply to his words; but they caused that he should be bound; and they delivered him up into the hands of the officers, and sent him to the land of Zarahemla, that he might be brought before Alma, and the chief judge who was governor over all the land.

All according to the law, it seems, right? Except some critics cry foul: what is Alma doing there?! See, it’s the priests and the Church meddling in civic affairs! And he’s the one–not the judge–that’s even questioning and arguing with Korihor! Ok, everyone, remember: Alma is the defendant in this case–the chief high priest under whom all priests that Korihor has been speaking against operate. Not only is it his right to be there to defend his side and answer the charges, it might even be required for him to be there. Also, in at least one country’s court where I have been before, the defendant actually has the right to interview/ question the accuser in the presence of the judge without a lot of dilly-dally lawyer and judge stuff–which is very possibly what happens next.

Alma 30:30 And it came to pass that when he was brought before Alma and the chief judge, he did go on in the same manner as he did in the land of Gideon; yea, he went on to blaspheme.
Alma 30:31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people.

Once more, he makes accusations. But Alma proves the charge of glutting on the labors of the people to be false, and therefore a lie:
Alma 30:32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.
Alma 30:33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.
Alma 30:34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?
Alma 30:35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain?

Alma continues:
Alma 30:35 And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?
Alma 30:36 And Korihor answered him, Yea.

At this point, Alma understands clearly–if he hadn’t already–that Korihor is a wicked liar, not just an innocent atheist or unbeliever, and I believe that Alma has a few revelations about Korihor, which lead to the next part:
Alma 30:37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?
Alma 30:38 And he answered, Nay.
Alma 30:39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.
Alma 30:40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.
Alma 30:41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?
Alma 30:42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God.
Alma 30:43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words.
Alma 30:44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

Alma goes to the other part of Korihor’s lying–that the priests don’t and can’t know, yet Korihor can. It doesn’t seem to be about Korihor not being able to believe the religion he wants to; it’s about his imposing on others, that they can’t know, and therefore they are liars by saying they can; yet he’s not a liar by saying he can know that they don’t know, or that there *won’t* be a Christ, etc.

Most critics completely miss the point of Alma’s arguments here. Alma could have presented strong evidence of God that the Nephites and Anti-Nephi-Lehies/ people of Ammon were familiar with (I did that in the “Korihor in Jershon and Gideon” section). I believe the evidence would have held in court, and Alma could have won by doing so. But he doesn’t.

Korihor had no evidence or proof to back up his accusations about the priests, and Alma showed it. Korihor doesn’t have any evidence or proof to back up his other accusations, either, and Alma knows it; he will create a parallel to let that point sink in.

Alma just shows that the other side of the coin of not seeing God in anything, which is seeing God in so many things; and that the other side of not having proof that God exists, is not having proof that God doesn’t exist. Korihor preaches that the doctrine of Christ is foolish traditions; that’s not the first time that accusation had been made (see 2 Nephi 25:26, Jacob 7:7, 9, 11-13; Alma 8:11, Alma 28:7-8). Alma says, you say they are foolish; but I say, where is evidence or proof that yours aren’t? As Elder McConkie says: “All false doctrines are fables. That is, they are stories which have been imagined, fabricated, and invented as opposed to the gospel which is real and true. Apostasy consists in turning from true doctrine to fables” (McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3: 114).

Alma’s arguments have nothing to do with proving God’s existence and aren’t meant to be taken that way! In fact, Alma has no intention whatsoever of proving God, to anyone–especially to Korihor. Alma is just showing: if neither side has proof that anyone and everyone can see, how then can Korihor claim knowing there is no God? And how then can Korihor claim to be certain that others can’t know there is a God? Alma just proves that Korihor’s arguments are baseless; no proof or even evidence is needed. Korihor’s universe is one of anarchy and disorder, where the strongest wins and anyone can do anything they want; yet the universe apparent–in the sky and everywhere, that anyone and everyone can see–is one of order and function. So, in essence, Alma shows that, based on what can be known through the senses and the physical world around–nature–his argument is just as strong–well, even stronger–than Korihor’s argument of survival of the fittest, found in nature.

There is no need for Alma to “show a sign” or “convince” in court; it is good enough to show that Korihor’s charges are false and he is guilty of them. Alma knows that when a wicked, adulterous, and lying [person] seeks a sign and gets one, it remains as having no significant meaning or a cause to repent (see Helaman 9, 10; Helaman 16:6, 23; 3 Nephi 2:1-3, 3 Nephi 1:4, 5). So why bother? The faithful receive signs to their favor, and the faithless receive signs to their condemnation (Alma said that in Alma 29)–and we’re going to see this in a minute. Alma has also let Korihor off somewhat easily–look, you want proof for God, I’m not going to give you any; you don’t have proof God doesn’t exist; you lied; it’s over with your preaching. Korihor knows that even without Alma presenting evidence, he has lost. However, I imagine that Korihor doesn’t like how it just ended, and is angry. So now he backpedals on some previous statements of belief, and changes the argument from one of belief, to one of proof. Very importantly note here that Korihor, not Alma, changes it from a legal questioning/ trial about belief, to a religious confrontation based on proof.

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 30:46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed.
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.
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 30:49 Now Alma said unto him: This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.

Alma gives Korihor four chances to admit he is lying. Korihor doesn’t take them.

Alma 30:50 Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not
have utterance, according to the words of Alma.
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.

Well, what do you know!! Korihor really *was* a liar from the start.

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

Here’s where the critics cry and whine: “I’m an atheist, but I’m not a liar! Really!” First of all, Korihor is not an atheist, and he never was. Remember, he just said that. He preached atheism, but he was never an atheist. Are there atheists? If someone says they are atheist, I believe them–after conversation. I say that not through bigotry but because of experience. I’ve met many proclaimed atheists; most were scared agnostics who had been hurt before by religion. That’s ok. That’s cool. I can understand, just like I understand people who don’t want to get married because they were hurt in past relationships. And that doesn’t mean there really aren’t atheists, and if someone doesn’t want to believe, or won’t allow themselves to believe, well, that’s where they are, too. “See, all Mormons believe all unbelievers and atheists are liars!” Does this story show that? Does this story say that all atheists are liars? No. Or all unbelievers? No. Does it mean that liars might have no problems blaspheming? Yes. Does it mean that someone *might* be lying when they say things to build themselves up, even if it means destroying God’s work in the process? Sure. And notwithstanding the plethora of ex-believers who say they aren’t liars, many ex-believers I’ve met have admitted that they really did know when they said they didn’t know and said all sorts of lies. Not only that, but baptsimal requirements mean that if someone is baptized, they have had a spiritual witness of the truth, a testimony from the Spirit. So either they didn’t have one and lied during the baptism; the interview wasn’t conducted properly or the interviewer allowed them to be baptized unproperly; or they had one and now say they don’t and didn’t (lying), to some extent. (What does often happen to unrepentant sinners is that one forgets or avoids (consciously or subconsciously) knowledge and the Spirit/ witnesses received.) Does that mean all ex-believers are liars like Korihor? Of course not. In fact, no true atheists and very few ex-believers could be like Korihor–Korihor had a testimony that God existed, he was personally visited by Satan, he listened to Satan and his doctrine and chose to preach and follow it, and he chose to follow Satan to the end, due to continual choosing of wrong rewards over right.

So Korihor admits he knows his words never were true at the start–he only started to believe them later (this also happens to many ex-believers); and notwithstanding all his excuses, he does recognize that he brought the curse on himself (something most ex-believers don’t do, which is why the story of Korihor gets many of them really riled up). This is also evident when Korihor doesn’t ask Alma to take the curse from him, but he asks Alma to ask God to take the curse from him.

Does Korihor repent? No! Contrary to what many critics say, he doesn’t repent. Alma makes it clear he hasn’t, and won’t–that’s why the curse isn’t taken off him. Korihor just wants his voice back so he can keep going. Making an admission of being wrong and asking for a blessing is not repentance. I’ve seen it myself many times–people asking for mercy from others just so they can continue to do their own evil things. (You know, like “Get off of me and let me up–so I can try to hit you again…”) If Korihor had really repented, maybe instead of asking for his voice back, he might have said he’s done with preacing and withstanding the truth; he might have asked for repentance and baptism; he might have asked about restitution. He could have done many of the things that other repentant people in the Book of Mormon do (like Alma himself and the sons of Mosiah, Amulek, Zeezrom, etc.). Korihor does nothing of those things–look, I just confessed, so you should give me my voice back. And what was his confession? Mostly one excuse after another, blaming others for his problems.

In the end, it says that Korihor is cast out, and went about from house to house begging for his food (Alma 30:56). Is that “cast out” from the presence of the chief judge, or from the Nephites? Either way, his judgment seems to be according to the law. It says, in Alma 11:2: Now if a man owed another, and he would not pay that which he did owe, he was complained of to the judge; and the judge executed authority, and sent forth officers that the man should be brought before him; and he judged the man according to the law and the evidences which were brought against him, and thus the man was compelled to pay that which he owed, or be stripped, or *be cast out from among the people* as a thief and a robber.

One of the penalties for owing another is being “cast out from among the people”. What is the penalty for accusing others of being complete liars to control, exert dominion over, and monetarily gain from others, and all his other crimes? I don’t know, but casting out doesn’t seem a far stretch…

In the Book of Mormon, when some are questioned–even by judges–they retain what seems to be their right to remain silent or to answer as they please. Korihor clearly gave away this right, in order to be able to speak against the church leaders. So, to say that he was forced to respond, is too strong.

Some might say that the charges were still too weak to arrest and question Korihor in the first place. Maybe, just maybe, it *was* somewhat uncertain about whether his crimes were enough to be punished for, at first. Ask most police officers if most arrests don’t start out with a small matter of a few questions and maybe something that sounds fishy, or a small “mistake”/ crime. After arrest and more questioning, or at the trial, if the defendant chooses to speak, more comes out… busted! But from what Korihor was telling the judge of Gideon, it appears he just might have been saying more than what was just recorded. Still, even if that came out only later to the judge of Gideon, that would be more than enough to send him to the chief judge and the main defendant of his accusations, Alma. No doubt he was a public nuisance to the people of Ammon, but I imagine that when he was taken before Ammon he might have said much of the same things that he said to the priest of Gideon (Korihor seemed to have not been able to pass up a chance to rail on those priests!).

So, what crimes might Korihor have been charged with and condemned for, based on some current criminal concepts? How about: continued public nuisance, lying, inciting others to commit crime, sedition, insurrection, slander/ defamation/ malicious falsehood (with intent to monetarily gain from it), (fraudulent) misrepresentation (lying to get others to follow his teachings), etc.


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Next: Korihor vs. the Nephite Social Contract; The Law of War

2008, July 2

Book of Mormon: Korihor in Jershon and Gideon

Book of Mormon:  Korihor in Jershon and Gideon

It could be for these reasons that Korihor is thrown out of Jershon:
Alma 30:18 And thus he [Korihor] did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms–telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.
Alma 30:19 Now this man went over to the land of Jershon also, to preach these things among the people of Ammon, who were once the people of the Lamanites.
Alma 30:20 But behold they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and
bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.

What else had he been preaching? Anything? Is this the *whole* story? Do the following verses offer more clues as to what he might have been preaching? Could Ammon have *also* been the (legal) judge over the people of Ammon, as was such with the land of Gideon? Could Ammon have given him the option of taking him to court or being escorted out of the land? Or perhaps, was the land of Jershon a special political zone?

I don’t know if he was preaching to the people of Ammon the same things he told the judge in Gideon, but if so, he would also be clearly lying to the people of Ammon. Here’s what he said in Gideon:
Alma 30:21 And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land. And he came over into the land of Gideon, and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and bound and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land.
Alma 30:22 And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the holy prophets?
Alma 30:23 Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah. And Korihor said unto him: Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.
Alma 30:24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true.

Here are more grounds: he lays charges against the priests and calls other people liars. Especially since lying is a punishable crime in Nephite law, this seems quite serious. For those who might think lying is nothing big, note that defamation, malicious falsehood, slander, and libel are usually all forms of lying. (Interestingly, Korihor accuses the priests of doing what the order of Nehor priests had been doing for a while, too–but he never accuses the priests of the order of Nehor of any wrongdoing.)

Korihor continues:
Alma 30:25 Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents.
Alma 30:26 And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ. And ye say also that he shall be slain for the sins of the world–
Actually, Korihor lies here also because the doctrine is not “a child is guilty because of its parents”. Here’s the doctrine, found in Moses 6:54:
“Son of God hath atoned for original guilt”; “sins of the parents cannot be answered upon the heads of the children”.
The Fall does not make man guilty and fallen, but places man in a state where he may become so; it is our sins that make us guilty and fallen.

It’s important to remember that even though he believes that others can’t know of things to come, he–somehow–can. In other words, by calling others liars for knowing what can’t be known and doing the same thing he does, at this point he clearly accuses himself of being/ admits to being a liar.

Korihor continues:
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 30:28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some *unknown being, who they say is God–a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be*.

Ouch. Ok, Korihor is clearly over the line now. He is accusing others of lying in order to control, exert dominion over, and monetarily gain from others (hypocrite!), and priestcraft. 

Now, what if he had never said any of that to the people of Ammon, but had only preached previous beliefs? Korihor had been preaching that the priests were liars and that there was no proof of prophecy or of God, who was completely unknown and had never made himself known to man. Clearly a lie to the people of Ammon, for these reasons:

1. King Lamoni saw Jesus in vision (Alma 19:13).

1. King Lamoni and his servants were fully aware that some great power helped Ammon when he slew the robbers (Alma 18).

2. It was a tradition that “the Great Spirit … had always attended the Nephites, who had ever delivered them out of their hands (Alma 19:27).

3. Everyone knew the story of king Lamoni and his wife’s conversion (Alma 18:41-19:33).

4. There was the prophecy to king Lamoni’s wife of king Lamoni arising at an appointed time, which came true (Alma 19:11-12).

5. All the servants of king Lamoni said:
Alma 19:34 And behold, many did declare unto the people that they had seen angels and had conversed with them; and thus they had told them things of God, and of his righteousness.

6. The people of Ammon, I imagine, were fully aware of prophecy that had been fulfilled by Ammon and his brethren. No doubt they knew the story of how Ammon and his brethren had almost not come, but had been told by the Lord to go, and he would cause them to bring many unto him (Alma 26:23-27), even in the face of a continual history spanning hundreds of years of failed missionary work with the Lamanites, and current belief that among some in Zarahemla that their mission would come to naught–it was an impossible task.

7. There was the miracle of Ammon’s preservation that many had witnessed:
Alma 19:22 Now, one of them, whose brother had been slain with the sword of Ammon, being exceedingly angry with Ammon, drew his sword and went forth that he might let it fall upon Ammon, to slay him; and as he lifted the sword to smite him, behold, he fell dead.

8. There was the prophecy that Lamoni’s father would seek Ammon’s life and that Ammon’s brethren were in prison, both of which were later witnessed and proven to be true:
Alma 20:2 And the voice of the Lord came to Ammon, saying: Thou shalt not go up to the land of Nephi, for behold, the king will seek thy life; but thou shalt go to the land of Middoni; for behold, thy brother Aaron, and also Muloki and Ammah are in prison.

9. There was the conversion of the Lamanite king and the way Aaron raised him up:
Alma 22:22 Now when Aaron saw the determination of the queen, he, also knowing the hardness of the hearts of the people, feared lest that a multitude should assemble themselves together, and there should be a great contention and a disturbance among them; therefore he put forth his hand and raised the king from the earth, and said unto him: Stand. And he stood upon his feet, receiving his strength.
Alma 22:23 Now this was done in the presence of the queen and many of the servants. And when they saw it they greatly marveled, and began to fear. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord.

10. Another time would be when the Lamanites feared that the Nephites would slay them in cold blood or at least require something great of them if they tried to flee to them (Alma 27:5-8). However, Ammon prays, and the Lord says:
Alma 27:12 Get this people out of this land, that they perish not; for Satan has great hold on the hearts of the Amalekites, who do stir up the Lamanites to anger against their brethren to slay them; therefore get thee out of this land; and blessed are this people in this generation, for I will preserve them.
So they obey, against reason:
Alma 27:13 And now it came to pass that Ammon went and told the king all the words which the Lord had said unto him.
Alma 27:14 And they gathered together all their people, yea, all the people of the Lord, and did gather together all their flocks and herds, and departed out of the land, and came into the wilderness which divided the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla, and came over near the borders of the land.
Alma 27:15 And it came to pass that Ammon said unto them: Behold, I and my brethren will go forth into the land of Zarahemla, and ye shall remain here until we return; and we will try the hearts of our brethren, whether they will that ye shall come into their land.
And instead of desiring to destroy them, the Nephites say they’ll give them land and even defend them, if they just give them some food to help sustain the armies (Alma 27:22-24):
Ammon goes back, and they are surprised yet happy:
Alma 27:26 And it came to pass that it did cause great joy among them. And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession of the land of Jershon…

11. In addition, there *had* been a prophecy which had been fulfilled not long before, and that the people were aware of and which had multiple current witnesses. In the city of Ammonihah, Amulek had prophesied that if they cast out the righteous, they would shortly be utterly destroyed (Alma 10:22-23). This had happened, and there were witnesses other than just Alma and Amulek:

12. How about the prophecy of the delivery of Alma and his people (Mosiah 24:16-20)? His people knew about it, because they had gathered and prepared first, then, after, they had escaped when the guards were in deep sleep, *in the morning/ daytime*.

13. Then there was also the prophecy of Jerusalem being destroyed, which fulfillment was evident from king Mosiah on (because of the Mulekites).

14. Also, there is the incident of the Lord writing on the wall of the temple (as mentioned by Amulek), which seemed to have been accepted history, maybe even to the Ammonihahites:
Alma 10:2 I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was the same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.

15. Alma the younger and the four sons of Mosiah had seen an angel–that’s at least five witnesses.

Most people would admit that the fact that almost all of these people being unbelieving when the events occurred adds to their testimony of the truthfulness of what happened (people of Ammon, Amulek, Zeezrom et. al., Alma and sons of Mosiah).

So, Korihor was preaching a clear proven lie that many of the people he was preaching to had personally experienced/ had knowledge about when he said that it was impossible to know of things to come, and that God had never revealed himself:
Alma 30:28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God–a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be.

And liars were punished under Nephite law.

 As to the possibility of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies illegally arresting and kicking Korihor out for believing and preaching differently, and likely causing him violence in the process, as some critics might assume:

This is what this people were like:
Alma 24:18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.
Alma 27:27 And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.
Alma 27:28 And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore,
death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.
Alma 27:29 Therefore, they would suffer death in the most aggravating and distressing manner which could be inflicted by their brethren, before they would take the sword or cimeter to smite them.
Alma 27:30 And thus they were a zealous and beloved people, a highly favored people of the Lord.
Alma 21:22 And he [king Lamoni] also declared unto them that they might have the liberty of worshiping the Lord their God according to their desires, in whatsoever place they were in, if it were in the land which was under the reign of king Lamoni.
Alma 23:3 And thus they might go forth and preach the word according to their desires, for the king had been converted unto the Lord, and all his household; therefore he sent his proclamation throughout the land unto his people, that the word of God might have no obstruction, but that it might go forth throughout all the land, that his people might be convinced concerning the wicked traditions of their fathers, and that they might be convinced that they were all brethren, and that they ought not to murder, nor to plunder, nor to steal, nor to commit adultery, nor to commit any manner of wickedness.
Alma 24:6 Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not.

After all that, and more, is it likely that this people would do something illegal, just because they didn’t condone or like it?


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Next: Korihor in Zarahemla

2008, July 1

Book of Mormon: Korihor: What It’s Not; How the Law Got Korihor

Book of Mormon: Korihor: What It’s Not; How the Law Got Korihor

What It’s Not

First, many people (especially non-LDS) see Alma 30, with Alma vs. Korihor, as a religious battle between the LDS/ Mormon prophet/ believer vs. the honest innocent agnostic/ atheist, and how the Book of Mormon and Mormons believe that God supports the believer and curses atheists to death, and that Satan is atheists’ master. It shows how you can break the law and arrest heretics just because you don’t like what they say against your religion. It shows how it is futile to resist obeying the prophet, or God will smite you. It shows you how far the LDS Church will go to mistreat you, rough you up, and abuse you to force you to not stand in the way and persuade people to not believe.

Not quite. In fact, while it seems that way in many ways, it’s very far off. (True, the doctrine that Korihor preaches is what some atheists believe.) I’ll get into it all later, but not only is most of that not going on, there are many more other things going on instead.

How the Law Got Korihor

The beginning of the Alma 30 says this:
Alma 30:6 But it came to pass in the latter end of the seventeenth year, there came a man into the land of Zarahemla, and he was Anti-Christ, for he began to preach unto the people against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets, concerning the coming of Christ.
Alma 30:7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
Alma 30:8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.
Alma 30:9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.
Alma 30:12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach…

So, it’s clear that belief is protected under Nephite law. As other strong evidence, note that king Mosiah did nothing to force the rising generation of unbelievers to believe and convert, or leave the land, or any such thing (Mosiah 26:1-5 ). Even when the unbelievers persecuted the believers for their beliefs, this is the extent of what was done:
Mosiah 27:1 And now it came to pass that the persecutions which were inflicted on the church by the unbelievers became so great that the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before their king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests.
Mosiah 27:2 And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that *there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God*. That’s it.
Note also that the order of the Nehors that was responsible for the previous mess at Ammonihah (Alma 16:11), still existed in Nephite society.

These show that this statement of belief not being under the law is *not* just a “display of words”, but part of the Nephite societal contract.

Alma 1 already talks about men being free to believe as they wish, back at the very beginning of the reign of the judges:
Alma 1:16 Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.
Alma 1:17 Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief.
Alma 1:32 For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness; nevertheless, the law was put in force upon all those who did transgress it, inasmuch as it was possible.
Alma 1:33 And it came to pass that by thus exercising the law upon them, every man suffering according to that which he had done, they became more still, and durst not commit any wickedness if it were known;
Alma 30:10 But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished.
Alma 30:11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes.

Note, however, that while judgment is not about belief, it is about crime, including lying.

In addition, Nehor died not because he was a heretic, but because he was a criminal:
Alma 1:7 And it came to pass as he was going, to preach to those who believed on his word, he met a man who belonged to the church of God, yea, even one of their teachers; and he began to contend with him sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but the man withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God.

Alma 1:9 Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him. Now Gideon being stricken with many years, therefore he was not able to withstand his blows, therefore he was slain by the sword.
Alma 1:10 And the man who slew him was taken by the people of the church, and was brought before Alma, to be judged according to the crimes which he had committed.
Alma 1:11 And it came to pass that he stood before Alma and pleaded for himself with much boldness.
Alma 1:12 But Alma said unto him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction.
Alma 1:13 And thou hast shed the blood of a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance.
Alma 1:14 Therefore thou art condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law.

Was priestcraft a crime? It could have been; Nephi had spoken against it. But I don’t know, as the death penalty was for slaying Gideon… In addition, there’s this, which seems to say that priestcraft was not a crime:
Alma 1:16 Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.
Alma 1:17 Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief.

By saying “the crimes which he had committed”, crimes could have meant: drawing a sword in public, fighting in public, fighting not in self-defense, etc., and yes, murdering someone.

Back to Korihor:
Alma 30:12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying:
Alma 30:13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come.
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 30:15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ.
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 30:17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength…

Notwithstanding the persecution–preaching against someone’s religion and ridiculing them for it–these are all beliefs, and not big crimes, and probably why the law couldn’t lay hold on him.

Alma 30:17 …and whatsoever a man did was no crime.

Ok, I imagine Korihor’s already on bad ground here. He’s not just openly speaking out against God’s laws (which would be “sin”, not “crime”), but against Nephite law. This is already grounds for crimes such as incitement, public nuisance; even sedition, etc. (Of course, we don’t know all their laws, but I’m assuming some basic concepts and principles here.)


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Next: Korihor in Jershon and Gideon

Book of Mormon: Korihor (Alma 30): Summary

Book of Mormon: Korihor (Alma 30): Summary

Believe it or not, there is so much in Alma 30 (and in Alma 29) about Korihor that I’m going to have to break it all up into many posts. I’m going to also try to condense it so it won’t make up a small book. It will clearly be seen that the Book of Mormon is complicated, complex, and much more than it seems.

I start out by giving a bigger picture of what’s going on in this whole thing.
1. What isn’t going on
2. How the law got Korihor
3. Nephite social contract
4. The Law of War
5. Alma vs. Korihor–experience-wise
7. Literary devices; irony, wordplay, words and language
8. Extras!

Search “Korihor” to pull up all the articles.


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