Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, November 4

“Examples of Irony, Parallelism, and Imagery in the Book of Mormon; Part 1” (Version 2) by grego

“Examples of Irony, Parallelism, and Imagery in the Book of Mormon; Part 1”
(Version 2)

grego
©2006

The Book of Mormon is full of irony, parallels, and imagery. Robert A. Rees wrote an article titled “Irony in the Book of Mormon” that was published by FARMS in 2003, which included a few examples of irony. It seems that like him, I believe that irony is one of the strongest elements of writing, which to be done well requires a high level of planning, intelligence, and wit. While some of the examples seem easy, others are quite deep and hard to find; and, therefore, the Book of Mormon ranks high among intellectual books. If Joseph Smith were its author or inventor (with the circumstances of the coming forth of the book proven as they were), he would have accomplished a most astounding feat which can only be explained or described as either pure genius or helped tremendously by non-worldly means. This is moreso when many things seem to be strange or contradictory at first. “A-ha, I caught him!”, one shouts. But then, when seen and understood on a higher intellectual plane, it becomes clear that the reader has been caught, not Joseph Smith or the book.

I provide in this article many more examples of irony, and some parallels that are in a similar order, which common lay readers might be able to see more clearly than the examples shown in the forementioned article. Many of these examples also use wonderful imagery. I have ordered them as they appear in the Book of Mormon.

Since they are somewhat self-explanatory once seen, I don’t explain many of them much. In my opinion, the greatest beauty of irony is its discovery.

Nephi, Moses, and a Ship

**Nephi wants to build a ship. His brothers refuse, as they don’t believe he can, and don’t believe that the Lord could show him. They say:
1 Nephi 17:17 “…Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.”
1 Nephi 17:18 “And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.”

Then they explain that this exodus to a promised land was a really bad idea, because of all the problems they had to suffer; they sound just like the Israelites complaining to Moses:
1 Nephi 17:20 “…we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years; and our women have toiled, being big with child; and they have borne children in the wilderness and suffered all things, save it were death; and it would have been better that they had died before they came out of Jerusalem than to have suffered these afflictions.”
1 Nephi 17:21 “Behold, these many years we have suffered in the wilderness, which time we might have enjoyed our possessions and the land of our inheritance; yea, and we might have been happy.”

So, Nephi talks about a previous exodus–that led by Moses:
1 Nephi 17:23 “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, spake unto them, saying: Do ye believe that our fathers, who were the children of Israel, would have been led away out of the hands of the Egyptians if they had not hearkened unto the words of the Lord?”
1 Nephi 17:24 “Yea, do ye suppose that they would have been led out of bondage, if the Lord had not commanded Moses that he should lead them out of bondage?”

And how did the Israelites escape? They walked all the way to the promised land, suffering hunger, thirst, darkness, etc., for 40 years; yet, the Lord solved all their problems:
1 Nephi 17:26 “Now ye know that Moses was commanded of the Lord to do that great work; and ye know that by his word the waters of the Red Sea were divided hither and thither, and they passed through on dry ground.”
1 Nephi 17:30 “And notwithstanding they being led, the Lord their God, their Redeemer, going before them, leading them by day and giving light unto them by night, and doing all things for them which were expedient for man to receive, they hardened their hearts and blinded their minds, and reviled against Moses and against the true and living God.”

There was a sea, but the Lord made it dry ground, and they walked across it.

Nephi’s brothers try to kill him, but then realize it’s not a good idea. Nephi requests that:
1 Nephi 17:49 “…neither should they withhold their labor from me, for God had commanded me that I should build a ship.”
1 Nephi 17:51 “And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?”

However, inbetween, Nephi says something that might help Laman and Lemuel the most to realize it would be in their best interests to help build the ship:
1 Nephi 17:50 “…If God … should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done.”

So, if what Nephi said was all true, would Laman and Lemuel prefer to:
a. build a ship and sail to the promised land–letting the wind do most of the work; or,
b. rather have Nephi make the water earth, similar to Moses parting the Red Sea, and then walk all the way to the promised land, continuing their journey of hardships, for maybe, uh, 32 more years, all the while having to have faith that the Lord would provide their needs daily?
Easy choice for lazy people!

Then, convinced by a shock that all that Nephi had said was true:
1 Nephi 17:55 “And now, they said: We know of a surety that the Lord is with thee, for we know that it is the power of the Lord that has shaken us…”,

they decide to help Nephi:
1 Nephi 18:1 “…they did go forth with me; and we did work timbers of curious workmanship.”

Voila! Problem, solution.

Sherem

Sherem is the first of many anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon; like those that follow him, he has a slight problem with his logic when talking about prophecy. He says to Jacob:
Jacob 7:7 “…ye have led away much of this people that they pervert the right way of God, and keep not the law of Moses which is the right way; and convert the law of Moses into the worship of a being which ye say shall come many hundred years hence. And now behold, I, Sherem, declare unto you that this is blasphemy; for NO MAN KNOWETH OF SUCH THINGS; FOR HE CANNOT TELL OF THINGS TO COME…”

But then:
Jacob 7:9 “…I (Jacob) said unto him: Deniest thou the Christ who shall come? And he said: If there should be a Christ, I would not deny him; but I KNOW THAT THERE IS NO CHRIST, neither has been, NOR EVER WILL BE.”

Well, there it is: “no man knoweth of such things; for he cannot tell of things to come”; yet, Sherem somehow knows “that there is no Christ, neither has been, nor ever will be” and “[keeping the law of Moses is the right way].” Um, yeah, Sherem.

Alma, King Mosiah, and Refusals

**Alma had a problem:
Mosiah 26:6 “…it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church.”
Mosiah 26:9 “And it came to pass that Alma did not know concerning them; but there were many witnesses against them; yea, the people stood and testified of their iniquity in abundance.”

So, Alma’s solution is to have king Mosiah take care of the problem through the law:
Mosiah 26:10 “Now there had not any such thing happened before in the church; therefore Alma was troubled in his spirit, and he caused that they should be brought before the king.”
Mosiah 26:11 “And he said unto the king: Behold, here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren; yea, and they have been taken in divers iniquities. And they do not repent of their iniquities; therefore we have brought them before thee, that thou mayest judge them according to their crimes.”

However, king Mosiah refuses:
Mosiah 26:12 “But king Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged.”
Mosiah 26:13 “And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God.”

Alma then gets an answer, a great revelation, much better than his first plan.

Ironically, then King Mosiah has his own problem: he wants to confer the kingdom on his sons; but they all refuse:
Alma 17:6 “…Having taken leave of their father, Mosiah, in the first year of the judges; having refused the kingdom which their father was desirous to confer upon them, and also this was the minds of the people;”
Mosiah 29:3 “Now Aaron had gone up to the land of Nephi, therefore the king could not confer the kingdom upon him; neither would Aaron take upon him the kingdom; neither were any of the sons of Mosiah willing to take upon them the kingdom.”

So, now Mosiah has to come up with another solution, other than his first; probably after consideration of the Nephite, Mulekite, Zeniffite, Almaite, Jaredite and Brass Plates records, comes up with a much better solution: judges, a law, and the voice of the people.

Alma & Ammonihah

**The first time Alma enters the city of Ammonihah, the people say:
Alma 8:11 “…we know that thou art Alma; and we know that thou art high priest over the church which thou hast established in many parts of the land…”
Alma 8:12 “…and thou hast delivered up the judgment-seat unto Nephihah; therefore thou art not the chief judge over us.”

So, they know he was the chief judge, and the high priest of the church.

However, the second time that Alma starts to preach, even after he has been there for a while with Amulek, the people of the city say:
Alma 9:2 “Who art thou?”

What? Had they forgetten already? Did Alma grow his hair really long, or what?

But then Amulek, the local boy, introduces himself, and everyone is astonished:
Alma 10:4 “And behold, I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me; yea, and behold, I have many kindreds and friends, and I have also acquired much riches by the hand of my industry.”
Alma 10:12 “And now, when Amulek had spoken these words the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness who testified of the things whereof they were accused, and also of the things which were to come, according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them.”

**When Alma goes to the city of Ammonihah the second time, he meets Amulek. It seems that the main reason that Amulek receives him is because of the Alma’s blessing his family. Amulek says:
Alma 8:20 “…go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food; and I know that thou wilt be a blessing unto me and my house.”

And it says that Alma really did bless Amulek and his family:
Alma 8:21 “And it came to pass that the man received him into his house; and the man was called Amulek; and he brought forth bread and meat and set before Alma.”
Alma 8:22 “And it came to pass that Alma ate bread and was filled; and he blessed Amulek and his house, and he gave thanks unto God.”

In fact, the main thing that Amulek first bears testimony about to the people in Ammonihah is this:
Alma 10:7 “As I was journeying to see a very near kindred, behold an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said: Amulek, return to thine own house, for thou shalt feed a prophet of the Lord…thou shalt receive him into thy house and feed him, and he shall bless thee and thy house; and the blessing of the Lord shall rest upon thee and thy house.”
Alma 10:11 “For behold, he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk; yea, even all my kindred hath he blessed, and the blessing of the Lord hath rested upon us according to the words which he spake.”

Amulek was certain that he and everyone of his family, near and extended, was blessed by Alma.
Yet, ironically, later:
Alma 15:16 “And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek, Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred;”
Alma 15:18 “…he (Alma) took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.”

The main concern that Amulek had, and the greatest reason for receiving Alma, was his family; yet, in the end, his family reject him, Alma, and the word of God.

**The people in the city of Ammonihah say,
Alma 9:2 “…Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man, although he should preach unto us that the earth should pass away?”
Alma 9:3 Now they understood not the words which they spake; for they knew not that the earth should pass away.
Alma 9:4 And they said also: We will not believe thy words if thou shouldst prophesy that this great city should be destroyed in one day.
Alma 9:5 Now they knew not that God could do such marvelous works, for they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people.

Here, the peole say that they will not believe Alma’s words, as he is the only one testifying of them; and also, they deny a basic prophecy, and unknowingly foreshadow their own destiny.
The reason they will not believe is that they are a very unbelieving people. Also, they do not understand God. Which fits in beautifully with the next verse:
Alma 9:6 “…Who is God, that sendeth no more authority than one man among this people, to declare unto them the truth of such great and marvelous things?”

When Amulek also testifies, they are astonished, but ironically, it does little to change many of their hearts.

**Alma preaches to them that faith in the Lord delivers:
Alma 9:9 Do ye not remember that our father, Lehi, was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God? Do ye not remember that they were all led by him through the wilderness?
Alma 9:10 And have ye forgotten so soon how many times he delivered our fathers out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of their own brethren?
Alma 9:11 Yea, and if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering towards us, we should unavoidably have been cut off from the face of the earth long before this period of time, and perhaps been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe.
Then, Alma tells them what will happen to them if they do not repent:
Alma 9:12 Behold, now I say unto you that he commandeth you to repent; and except ye repent, ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. But behold, this is not all–he has commanded you to repent, or he will utterly destroy you from off the face of the earth; yea, he will visit you in his anger, and in his fierce anger he will not turn away.

The people aren’t happy with the preaching, and the leaders throw Alma and Amulek in prison. Then,
Alma 14:24 “…the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: If ye have the power of God, deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words.”
Alma 14:25 “And it came to pass that they all went forth and smote them, saying the same words, even until the last…”

Well, through faith, Alma and Amulek escape, and the prison crumbles, destroying evey one of those that smote them and spoke those words. Well, do the leaders believe now? Unfortunately, they can’t tell anyone else about what happened, because they are dead. Maybe the others in the city will repent anyway? No, they don’t–they believe the devil did it.

So,
Alma 16:2 “…the armies of the Lamanites had come in upon the wilderness side, into the borders of the land, even into the city of Ammonihah, and began to slay the people and destroy the city.”
Alma 16:3 “And now it came to pass, before the Nephites could raise a sufficient army to drive them out of the land, they had destroyed the people who were in the city of Ammonihah…”
Alma 16:9 “…the Lamanites having been driven out of the land, and the people of Ammonihah were destroyed; yea, every living soul of the Ammonihahites was destroyed, and also their great city, which they said God could not destroy, because of its greatness.”

They now knew that God could do it, and he did it; but still, no one could testify to others, as they were all killed.

**Alma preaches what the result of no repentance is:
Alma 12:17 “Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction…”
Alma 12:18 “Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.”

Before that, he preaches that God delivers:
Alma 9:10 And have ye forgotten so soon how many times he delivered our fathers out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of their own brethren?
Alma 9:11 Yea, and if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering towards us, we should unavoidably have been cut off from the face of the earth long before this period of time, and perhaps been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe.

So, as just retribution, the leaders of the people take the believers and their records and burn them in a huge fire. Amulek says that it was an “awful scene” (Alma 14:10). Then the
Alma 14:14 “…chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; …and said unto them: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?”
Paralleling the part of God delivering, the chief judge continues:
Alma 14:15 “Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire; neither has God saved them because they were of thy faith. And the judge smote them again upon their cheeks, and asked: What say ye for yourselves?”

Paralleling the “chained down to an everlasting destruction…” (Alma 12:17) and “then cometh a death” and judgement from which there is no escape (Alma 12:16), Alma and Amulek
Alma 14:22 “…were bound with strong cords, and confined in prison.”
Alma 14:24 “And the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words.”
Alma 14:25 “And it came to pass that they all went forth and smote them, saying the same words, even until the last…”

None of the Ammonihahites expected Alma and Amulek to be able to escape; this was supposed to be “that eternal death”.

Ironically, now we start to see that faith in Christ delivers:
Alma 14:25 “…and when the last had spoken unto them the power of God was upon Alma and Amulek, and they rose and stood upon their feet.”
Alma 14:26 “And Alma cried, saying: …O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound.”

As just retribution, and as foreshadowed by Alma–
(Alma 12:14 “…and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence.”),
Alma 14:27 “…the earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth; and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who smote upon Alma and Amulek, were slain by the fall thereof.”

And yes, God does deliver–but only the righteous, as Alma had preached:
Alma 14:28 And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ. And they straightway came forth out of the prison; and they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth, and every soul within the walls thereof, save it were Alma and Amulek, was slain; and they straightway came forth into the city.

**The leaders of the people of the city of Ammonihah ask Alma and Amulek,
Alma 14:21 “How shall we look when we are damned?”

Well, shortly thereafter, it was hard to tell, because those same leaders were buried in the rubble when the prison collapsed, making them a physical “lost and fallen people” as Alma had preached they were spiritually:
Alma 9:30 “…ye are a lost and a fallen people.”

However, for their fellow city-citizens, the answer is somewhat clearer:
Alma 16:10 “…the carcases were mangled by dogs and wild beasts of the wilderness.”
Alma 16:11 “…after many days their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth, and they were covered with a shallow covering. And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years…”

Pretty much how I would expect a damned person to look…

**Zeezrom
Somewhat as a foil of the rest of the evil people of Ammonihah, Zeezrom stands up for Alma and Amulek, as he understands clearly that they are righteous men, and that the words they have spoken are true. However, due to his previous conduct and the effect it had and the effect he thought it had had, he:
Alma 15:3 “…lay sick at Sidom, with a burning fever…and this great sin, and his many other sins, did harrow up his mind until it did become exceedingly sore, having no deliverance; therefore he began to be scorched with a burning heat.

Suffering as Alma had preached:
Alma 12:17 Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will.

However, when Zeezrom finds out that Alma and Amulek are still alive, he sends for them, and they come:
Alma 15:5 “And it came to pass that they went immediately, obeying the message which he had sent unto them; and they went in unto the house unto Zeezrom; and they found him upon his bed, sick, being very low with a burning fever; and his mind also was exceedingly sore because of his iniquities; and when he saw them he stretched forth his hand, and besought them that they would heal him.”
Alma 15:6 “And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?”
Alma 15:7 “And he answered and said: Yea, I believe all the words that thou hast taught.”
Alma 15:8 “And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.”
Alma 15:9 “And he said: Yea, I believe according to thy words.”
Alma 15:10 “And then Alma cried unto the Lord, saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.”
Alma 15:11 “And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.”

Thus, faith in Christ delivers Zeezrom, as Alma had taught Zeezrom earlier:
Alma 12:33 But God did call on men, in the name of his Son, (this being the plan of redemption which was laid) saying: If ye will repent and harden not your hearts, then will I have mercy upon you, through mine Only Begotten Son;
Alma 12:34 Therefore, whosoever repenteth, and hardeneth not his heart, he shall have claim on mercy through mine Only Begotten Son, unto a remission of his sins; and these shall enter into my rest.

Zeezrom was thus able to leave his previous state of “fire and brimstone”, being “chained down” to his bed by it, and enter into God’s rest.

Part 2

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