Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2017, July 15

“Book of Mormon: Alma’s Fasting for Ammonihah–When?” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Alma’s Fasting for Ammonihah–When?”
by grego
@2017

Here’s what we read about Alma beginning in Ammonihah:
Alma 8:6 So that when he had finished his work at Melek he departed thence, and traveled three days’ journey on the north of the land of Melek; and he came to a city which was called Ammonihah.

8 And it came to pass that when Alma had come to the city of Ammonihah he began to preach the word of God unto them.
9 Now Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people of the city of Ammonihah; therefore they would not hearken unto the words of Alma.
10 Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city; that he would also grant that he might baptize them unto repentance.
11 Nevertheless, they hardened their hearts, saying unto him: Behold, we know that thou art Alma…
13 Now when the people had said this, and withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city, he departed thence and took his journey towards the city which was called Aaron.
14 And it came to pass that while he was journeying thither, being weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul, because of the wickedness of the people who were in the city of Ammonihah, it came to pass while Alma was thus weighed down with sorrow…

Pretty clear, right? Then we run into 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; yea, a holy man, who is a chosen man of God; for he has fasted many days because of the sins of this people, and he is an hungered, and 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.

So, when did Alma fast many days?

He might have fasted on the three-day trip. From Alma 8:8, it sounds like he started preaching right when he got there. Alma 8:11 shows they spoke to him and kicked him out, and then he went on his journey–maybe he fasted then; but, why would he fast for the people after it “was done”?

I think the best bet is Alma 8:10, even though it only mentions prayer. But if you are going to wrestle with God in might prayer, chances are good that fasting is involved. I always read that verse like it was one short prayer. Now I see it as a continual prayer, along with that fasting, over the course of a “many days”, or at least a few days; he preaches more, still fasting; he gets kicked out before he gets a meal, and journeys–which together would be “many days”. I also used to read Alma 8:8-11 as one quick continual process, taking one day, at most. Now, in light of Alma 10:7, it seems there is a space of time between Alma 8:8-10, and Alma 8:11, and that’s where the fasting that the angel talks about occurs.

2009, January 20

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 5” by grego

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 5”
by grego

Part 5

Power and Poetic Justice
So the great power that God has, as preached by Alma and Amulek, is to deliver and preserve his people:
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 the people of Ammonihah what will happen to them temporally 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, there’s a “trial”, 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 every one of those that smote them and spoke those words. So, do the leaders believe now; will they bear testimony now? Well… Unfortunately, they can’t tell anyone else about what happened, because they are all 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 had all been killed! Still, God had Alma preach to them first; then Alma and Amulek; then the prison crumbled and killed the leaders–three chances/ strikes, a few months of continued unrepentance, and boom! they’re out!


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2009, January 12

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 4” by grego

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 4”
by grego

Part 4

Alma and Amulek testify to the righteous:
Alma 15:2 And they related unto them all that had happened unto their wives and children, and also concerning themselves, and of their POWER of deliverance.

In fact, though this was really all about authority, for the wicked people of Ammonihah it had only been a question of *power* from the beginning:
Alma 8:12 And now we know that because we are not of thy church we know that thou hast no POWER over us; and thou hast delivered up the judgment-seat unto Nephihah; therefore thou art not the chief judge over us.
Alma 8:13 Now when the people had said this, and withstood all his words, and reviled him, and spit upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city, he departed thence and took his journey towards the city which was called Aaron.

And Mormon makes the connection:
Alma 8:31 And they had POWER given unto them, insomuch that they could not be confined in dungeons; neither was it possible that any man could slay them; nevertheless they did not exercise their POWER until they were bound in bands and cast into prison. Now, this was done that the Lord might show forth his POWER in them.
Alma 8:32 And it came to pass that they went forth and began to preach and to prophesy unto the people, according to the spirit and POWER which the Lord had given them.

Why the emphasis on power? I believe because the Lord knew that the people of Ammonihah needed a witness of his power to help them repent or to justly condemn themselves if they did not repent.

Alma and Amulek strive to show that throughout Nephite history, the Lord has not been just authoritative, but powerful also, especially unto deliverance:
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.

Also make it clear that the devil is powerful, too. So, Alma and Amulek preach a subtle power-struggle beween the Lord and the devil, and between the representatives of the Lord’s order, and the order of Nehor. While the Lord has power to deliver the repentant righteous, the devil has power to destroy and captivate the unrepentant wicked.

Alma 9:28 Therefore, prepare ye the way of the Lord, for the time is at hand that all men shall reap a reward of their works, according to that which they have been–if they have been righteous they shall reap the salvation of their souls, according to the POWER AND DELIVERANCE of Jesus Christ; and if they have been evil they shall reap the damnation of their souls, according to the POWER AND CAPTIVATION of the devil.
Alma 10:5 Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord, and his mysteries and marvelous POWER. I said I never had known much of these things; but behold, I mistake, for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous POWER; yea, even in the preservation of the lives of this people.
Alma 10:25 But Amulek stretched forth his hand, and cried the mightier unto them, saying: O ye wicked and perverse generation, why hath Satan got such great hold upon your hearts? Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have POWER over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth?
Alma 12:5 Now this was a plan of thine adversary, and he hath exercised his POWER in thee (Zeezrom). Now I would that ye should remember that what I say unto thee I say unto all.
Alma 12:6 And behold I say unto you all that this was a snare of the adversary, which he has laid to catch this people, that he might bring you into subjection unto him, that he might encircle you about with his chains, that he might chain you down to everlasting DESTRUCTION, according to the POWER of his CAPITIVITY.
Alma 12:7 Now when Alma had spoken these words, Zeezrom began to tremble more exceedingly, for he was convinced more and more of the POWER of God; and he was also convinced that Alma and Amulek had a knowledge of him, for he was convinced that they knew the thoughts and intents of his heart; for POWER was given unto them that they might know of these things according to the spirit of prophecy.
Alma 12:15 But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his POWER, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all POWER to SAVE every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.
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.
Alma 12:32 Therefore God gave unto them commandments, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, that they should not do evil, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of REDEMPTION could have no POWER, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.


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2009, January 8

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God, Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 3” by grego

Book of Mormon | “Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment: Part 3”
by grego

Part 3

Notice, also, that even though the argument is one about power, in all of Alma’s tour de force in Alma 13, the word “power” *never* appears.

There were a few more things that I want to mention.
Alma says:
Alma 12:15 But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.

Alma and Amulek know they have power:
Alma 14:10 And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and EXERCISE THE POWER OF GOD WHICH IS IN US, and save them from the flames.
Alma 14:11 But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand;

But the judge doesn’t; however, the judge believes he has power:
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?…
Alma 14:19 And it came to pass that the judge stood before them, and said: Why do ye not answer the words of this people? Know ye not that I have POWER to deliver you up unto the flames? And he commanded them to speak; but they answered nothing.

“Power”: this is correct, because according to Nephite law, the judge didn’t have the *authority* to act as he was acting; but he did have *power*, and he used it. This was the problem of the people of Ammonihah and the order of Nehor: acting with power, but without authority.

And in fact, the question of authority for the hard-hearted is often answered only by a show of power, though for some it is too late when it comes for them to be saved physically or spiritually. But as with curses, the unrepentant curse themselves powerless.

Right before Alma talks about the rocks falling, he says:
Alma 12:14 For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us…

And here is what happens in fulfillment:
Alma 14:20 And it came to pass that they departed and went their ways, but came again on the morrow; and the judge also smote them again on their cheeks. And many came forth also, and smote them, saying: Will ye stand again and judge this people, and condemn our law? If ye have such great POWER why do ye not deliver yourselves?

Alma 14:23 And it came to pass after they had thus suffered for many days, (and it was on the twelfth day, in the tenth month, in the tenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) that the chief judge over the land of Ammonihah and many of their teachers and their lawyers went in unto the prison where Alma and Amulek were bound with cords.
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; 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: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? 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; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.
Alma 14:27 And it came to pass that so great was their fear that they fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison; and 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.
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.

Note that even here the Lord does not come out and strike the wicked; it is the opposing order’s fear that makes them fall to the earth–or, one could say, a lack of POWER–that makes their death certain. Alma had already preached that “our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us”. And by their words (“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”) and by their actions (striking Alma and Amulek), they are judged rightly by God. Note also that “they *all* went forth and smote them, saying the same words, *even until the last*”–thus, the judgment of God was just upon them all. Truly they each cursed themselves!
I infer a causality relationship here: “and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who *smote upon Alma and Amulek*, were slain by the fall thereof” (Alma 14:27). So *if* the wicked men had had power, they *could* have run out of the prison; and *if* they had had power, they *could* have escaped, just like Alma and Amulek…


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2009, January 5

“Book of Mormon | Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God, Authority, Power, and Judgment; Part 1” by grego

Book of Mormon | Ammonihah: Order of Nehors versus Order of the Son of God; Authority, Power, and Judgment; Part 1
by grego

(NOTE: Well, after lots of work, I found an article by Thomas R. Valletta entitled “Conflicting Orders: Alma and Amulek in Ammonihah” from at least December 1999 which spoke a lot about what I was writing about. He has some really good insights, and he beats me by about 8 years on some parts! Nevertheless, there are still some new things to say, so I will add a few more things, perhaps new ways of phrasing, perhaps insights. I will also stay more with the actual text and topic, treating this in more a literary fashion, and try to leave out the more apparent things, making it more succinct. I will also be relying on a previous article, “Book of Mormon: Religious Fervor Subverting Law Is Bad: A Study of the People of Ammonihah” found at https://bookofmormonnotes.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=120 ).

Part 1

In the story of Ammonihah, the literary devices of parallels/ foils are mainly employed.

The first is the two orders involved in this section: the order of Nehors and the order of the Son of God. The first order is set up in defiance of the second in an eternal way, similarly to as how the Ammonihahites defied the Nephites in a temporal way.

First, I wondered about the phrase “profession of Nehor” in the Book of Mormon–how could that be a work/ job?–and it finally hit me that’s not what it meant. To find out more, I looked it up; here are the definitions in Webster’s Dictionary of 1828 (available as a free online resource at http://www.1828.mshaffer.com/ ):

“PROFES’SION, n. [L. professio.]
1. Open declaration; public avowal or acknowledgment of one’s sentiments or belief; as professions of friendship or sincerity; a profession of faith or religion.

2. The business which one professes to understand and to follow for subsistence; calling; vocation; employment; as the learned professions. We speak of the profession of a clergyman, of a lawyer, and of a physician or surgeon; the profession of lecturer on chimistry or mineralogy. But the word is not applied to an occupation merely mechanical.
3. The collective body of persons engaged in a calling. We speak of practices honorable or disgraceful to a profession.
4. Among the Romanists, the entering into a religious order, by which a person offers himself to God by a vow of inviolable obedience, chastity and poverty.”

I was thinking of #1, which was basically #1 in Joseph Smith’s time, at the time of the Book of Mormon translation. However, I also noted #4 (basically a sub-category of #1) in which the “profession” of entering into “a religious order” is basically an act of covenant. That’s very interesting, in light of the normal name of “the order of Nehors”, where “order” is likely a “religious fraternity” (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828) and the rest of the story of Ammonihah.

So there aren’t just two opposing belief systems; there are two opposing “religious fraternities” (which nevertheless involved the women, too), two priesthood, with questions of authority, power, and judgment.

According to Alma and Amulek, God is the great judge. He sets up laws, and men either obey and are blessed, or disobey and cursed, cut off, lose their light, and are finally destroyed.
Satan is the opposer. He tries to persuade men that God’s laws are not really laws that need to be obeyed, and tries to institute his own “laws”. His main goal is to set up an opposing god, and he does that well in Ammonihah–it’s money and power. In fact, this is clearly laid out with representatives of both sides in the big argument: Alma and Amulek on one side, and Zeezrom and Antionum (as surmised by Gordon Thomasson, two purposeful “money” names) on the other. Alma and Amulek use the Spirit and the word of God, and Zeezrom’s first main tool is money/ bribery–an invitation to “worship his God”–and then the cunning devices of persuasion, or power over people by use of speech.

The chief judge/ ruler of the Ammonihahites is after the order of Nehor (Alma 14:16). He uses his temporal position to lead his people in preparing to illegally “destroy the liberty of [Alma’s] people” (Alma 8:17), almost surely by exercising improper power as he did with the righteous he killed.
The lawyers and judges stir up the people and do bad things just to make money (Alma 11:20), because money is their god. By their actions, they worship their god. The people are mad with Alma and Amulek, and want to kill them.

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