Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2009, November 9

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

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

(Version 2)

(c) 2006

Start at Part 1


**We read that Ammon, along with others, wants to go on a mission to the Lamanites.
Mosiah 28:1
“…the sons of Mosiah… took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites…”
What is Ammon’s reason for wanting to do this?
Mosiah 28:2
“That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.”
Mosiah 28:3
“Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.”

So, Ammon wants to rid the Lamanites of hate, make them become friendly to one another, and avoid contentions in all the land; also, to keep souls from perishing.

In fact, he says:
Alma 26:26
“But behold, my beloved brethren, we came into the wilderness not with the intent to destroy our brethren, but with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls.”
Ammon took weapons, but only for eating:
Alma 17:7
Nevertheless they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords, and their spears, and their bows, and their arrows, and their slings; and this they did that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness.

The Lord tells him to:
Alma 17:11
“…be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”

On the other hand, the Lamanites:
Alma 17:14
“…delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.”

After being captured, Ammon says that
Alma 17:23
“…I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.”
Unfortunately for him, the day he dies is almost just a few days after service with the king!

Perhaps trying to fulfill his request and make his word good, after refusing the the hand of a princess, the king makes him a servant set to watch over the flocks.

And what is one of the very first things that Ammon does while serving?
Alma 17:36
“But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling…”
Alma 17:37
“…every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword… yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm.”
Alma 17:38
“Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few.”

He kills and seriously maims Lamanites–lots of them!!

Yet, this one act leads to the conversion of many Lamanites that he had hoped for; and what is so special about these converts? They covenant to never
Alma 24:15
“[stain] our swords in the blood of our brethren since he imparted his word unto us and has made us clean thereby”; and also, “that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives…” (Alma 24:18); and “they would not take up arms, yea, they had entered into a covenant and they would not break it” (Alma 43:11).

Alma 20:1
“…king Lamoni desired that Ammon should go with him to the land of Nephi, that he might show him unto his father.”
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.”

Ammon refuses to go, and instead goes to free his brethren. But on the way there, who do Ammon and Lamoni meet? Lamoni’s father!
Alma 20:8
“…as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.”

Once more, a violent confrontation between Ammon and the king leads to the conversion of many people, who are also a part of the non-killing covenant.

**When Ammon preaches to king Lamoni, the king is very curious about Ammon’s powers. He says,
Alma 18:20
“And the king said: How knowest thou the thoughts of my heart? Thou mayest speak boldly, and tell me concerning these things; and also tell me by what power ye slew and smote off the arms of my brethren that scattered my flocks–”
Alma 18:21
“And now, if thou wilt tell me concerning these things, whatsoever thou desirest I will give unto thee; and if it were needed, I would guard thee with my armies; but I know that thou art more powerful than all they; nevertheless, whatsoever thou desirest of me I will grant it unto thee.”

That’s a nice offer, but Ammon didn’t ask for anything–just that Lamoni would “hearken unto [his] words…”
Alma 18:22
“Now Ammon being wise, yet harmless, he said unto Lamoni: Wilt thou hearken unto my words, if I tell thee by what power I do these things? And this is the thing that I desire of thee.”
Alma 18:23
“And the king answered him, and said: Yea, I will believe all thy words. And thus he was caught with guile.”

The king doesn’t say, “Ok, I’ll listen”; he says, “I will believe all thy words.” It seems he is not caught by Ammon’s guile, as the text first seems to read; in fact, he catches himself with guile!

Nehorites and Aaron
**We read about Nehor and his doctrine:
Alma 1:4
“…[Nehor] also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”
Alma 1:6
“And he …even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching.”

Those that believed in his doctrine and attended his church carried on his doctrine after Nehor’s death. Later, we read an episode involving Nehorites:
Alma 21:4
“…Aaron came to the city of Jerusalem, and first began to preach to the Amalekites. And he began to preach to them in their synagogues, for they had built synagogues after the order of the Nehors; for many of the Amalekites and the Amulonites were after the order of the Nehors.”
Alma 21:5
“Therefore, as Aaron entered into one of their synagogues to preach unto the people, and as he was speaking unto them, behold there arose an Amalekite and began to contend with him, saying: What is that thou hast testified? Hast thou seen an angel? Why do not angels appear unto us? Behold are not this people as good as thy people?”
Alma 21:6
“…We do believe that God will save all men.”

When asked by Aaron,
Alma 21:7
“…Believest thou that the Son of God shall come to redeem mankind from their sins?”

The Nehorite(s) answers,
Alma 21:8
“And the man said unto him: We do not believe that thou knowest any such thing. We do not believe in these foolish traditions. We do not believe that thou knowest of things to come, neither do we believe that thy fathers and also that our fathers did know concerning the things which they spake, of that which is to come.”

So, you don’t know, and others can’t know, especially the future; however, there’s no problem with knowing that “the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life”, and “We do believe that God will save all men.”? Why the big difference? If it it was impossible to know the future, then how could the Nehorites know the future?

The other funny thing is, Aaron HAD seen an angel; and angels WERE appearing unto the Lamanites–just, well, not to the Nehorites:
Mosiah 27:10
“…while he (Alma) was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah (including Aaron) seeking to destroy the church…”
Mosiah 27:11
“…behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto [Aaron and others]…”
Lamoni says:
Alma 19:13
“For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer…”
Many having the experience of being overcome by the Spirit at that time said:
Alma 19:34
“…that they had seen angels and had conversed with them…”

King Lamoni’s Father

**King Lamoni’s father, faced with death from Ammon, offers up to half his kingdom as a ransom:
Alma 20:23
“Now the king, fearing he should lose his life, said: If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom.”

Later, he says that he is willing to give up everything for eternal life:
Alma 22:15
“…the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.”

And the interesting thing is, he and his posterity do:
Alma 24:2
“And their (the nonbelievers) hatred became exceedingly sore against them (the believers), even insomuch that they began to rebel against their king, insomuch that they would not that he should be their king; therefore, they took up arms against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi (and killed them, and they gathered their things and left).

The Missionaries and their “Friends”

**When the sons of Mosiah and the others in their missionary group:
Alma 26:23
“…said unto our brethren in the land of Zarahemla, we go up to the land of Nephi, to preach unto our brethren, the Lamanites, …they laughed [them] to scorn…”
They didn’t believe that the Lamanites could be converted:
Alma 26:24
“For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as stiffnecked a people as they are; whose hearts delight in the shedding of blood; whose days have been spent in the grossest iniquity; whose ways have been the ways of a transgressor from the beginning?…”

Instead, they have a different plan:
Alma 26:25
“…Let us take up arms against them, that we destroy them and their iniquity out of the land, lest they overrun us and destroy us.”

These “righteous friends” had somehow forgotten many of the words of the Lord, regarding the “grossest”, “transgressor”, “stiffnecked”, “murdering” wicked Lamanites, especially these:
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.”

So, who were the real wicked?

Then, to compound the irony of the situation, we have the parallel to the sons of Mosiah. Ammon says this:
Alma 26:23
Now do ye remember, my brethren, that we said unto our brethren in the land of Zarahemla, we go up to the land of Nephi, to preach unto our brethren, the Lamanites, and they laughed us to scorn?
Alma 26:24
For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as stiffnecked a people as they are; whose hearts delight in the shedding of blood; whose days have been spent in the grossest iniquity; whose ways have been the ways of a transgressor from the beginning? Now my brethren, ye remember that this was their language.

“Brethren” indicates church friends, to me.

Interesting, that Ammon and his brothers, as companions to Alma the younger–before their miraculous conversion–fit every particular of this description of the Lamanites!:
“NOW it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.
“They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.
“And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened.
“And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God. (Mosiah 26:1-4)

“For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church”
(Mosiah 26:6).

“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.
“And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them.
“And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king– (Mosiah 27:8-10).

Yea, and I (Alma) 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 36:14)

As the previous scriptures show, Ammon and his brothers: were also nonbelievers from the beginning; stiffnecked; delighted in destroying the things of God, and in spiritually murdering others; spent their days in wickedness, iniquity, and idolatry; etc.

Yet their brethren in Zarahemla, while looking straight at them and accepting them as friends and brothers in the Church, thought it would be impossible for this type of person to be converted, and instead should be killed!

(There are a few other parts of this story that are not mentioned in the article by Rees.)

**Korihor preached a “survival of the fittest” type of gospel; he could use words powerfully, and was probably pretty fit; no doubt he “benefitted” from his preaching.
Alma 30:47
Alma says that Korihor speaks “…lying and …flattering words…”
Alma 30:17
“And many more such things did he (Korihor) 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.”

This is similar to what Nehor preached, and the result of his and his followers’ preaching was:
Alma 1:16
“…and this they did (preaching false doctrines) for the sake of riches and honor.”

And, similar to Korihor,
Alma 1:17
“…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.”

One example of how he gained might include:
Alma 30:18
“And thus he did preach unto them…leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms–telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.”

Thus, the joke is on him when he loses the greatest part of his “fitness” when he is stricken dumb, and receives a death that is purely just in his own words: “that whatsoever a man did was no crime,” and “every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature”–including if you are the one who manages your condition so that you are killed by one who has managed his creature(s) to trample you to death:
Alma 30:59
“…and as he (Korihor) went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead.”

**Korihor also preaches that:
Alma 30:27
“…ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands…”
Alma 30:31
“…accusing them (priests and teachers of the church) of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people.”

Alma rebukes him, saying:
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…”
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?”

While the priests and church leaders had never done this, I find it hard to imagine that Korihor hadn’t!

**Korihor, the master of words, finds it impossible to pray even the simplest prayer to God, and wants Alma to do it for him:
Alma 30:54
“Now when he (Korihor) had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him.”

**Korihor preached that:
Alma 30:12
“…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.”

If no one could know the future, how did Korihor know that there would be no Christ?

Alma’s Preaching to Moroni’s Fighting

There is an abrupt change from Alma’s spiritual treatise of the the justice and mercy of God towards sinners in Alma 42, to the episode of Zerahemnah’s attack and Moroni’s defense in Alma 43 and 44. However, the parallels are many.

In Alma 42 we read of God’s plan of salvation; he is a just God that allows sinners to suffer the consequence of breaking the law, which is death; but he is also a merciful God in that sinners may be redeemed, but only by choosing to obey a covenant that God puts forth.

Moroni treats the enemies of freedom the same way, according to their circumstances. When Zerahemnah and the Lamanites sin in attacking the Nephites, Moroni gives them two choices–die, which is your natural consequence of being an enemy; or take an oath to never come back and fight. Interestingly, Zerahemnah tries another trade-off–one in which mercy robs justice; Moroni therefore necessarily refuses (see Alma 42:25).

Later, in Alma 46, 51, and 62, Moroni does the same thing with the king men–choose to die, which is your natural consequence of rebellion and sedition, or choose to obey an oath to actively support freedom.

Teancum uses this same method to deal with the people of Morianton in Alma 50:35-36, and the Nephites later use it to deal with the Gadianton robbers in 3 Nephi 5:4.

Just like God, Moroni, after the law is offended, gives men liberty to choose death or life (for example, see 2 Nephi 10:23, Helaman 14:30-31, 2 Nephi 2:27, ). (King Benjamin mentioned that the natural man is an enemy of God.)

For Mormon, Moroni is the epitome of mortal man attaining godliness; the best representative of lion and lamb, of justice and mercy; the closest and clearest that a man has become Man (see 3 Nephi 11:8), other than Jesus Christ himself.

Part 3 of 3


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