Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2010, February 9

“Book of Mormon: Alma 21: Go Free Your Brothers but Don’t Go See the King because He Will Try to Kill You–Here’s the King!” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Alma 21: Go Free Your Brothers but Don’t Go See the King because He Will Try to Kill You–Here’s the King!”

(c) 2010

There is a funny way of things happening sometimes…

In this part of the story, God tells Ammon to not go to the land of Nephi because Lamoni’s father will try to kill him, but to go free his brethren. So, he goes to free his brethren, with Lamoni accompanying him; on the way, who do they run into? King Lamoni’s father! Who tries to kill Ammon? King Lamoni’s father!

Alma 20:1 And it came to pass that when they had established a church in that land, that king Lamoni desired that Ammon should go with him to the land of Nephi, that he might show him unto his father.
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.
3 Now it came to pass that when Ammon had heard this, he said unto Lamoni: Behold, my brother and brethren are in prison at Middoni, and I go that I may deliver them.
4 Now Lamoni said unto Ammon: I know, in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things. But behold, I will go with thee to the land of Middoni; for the king of the land of Middoni, whose name is Antiomno, is a friend unto me; therefore I go to the land of Middoni, that I may flatter the king of the land, and he will cast thy brethren out of prison. Now Lamoni said unto him: Who told thee that thy brethren were in prison?
5 And Ammon said unto him: No one hath told me, save it be God; and he said unto me—Go and deliver thy brethren, for they are in prison in the land of Middoni.
6 Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots.
7 And he said unto Ammon: Come, I will go with thee down to the land of Middoni, and there I will plead with the king that he will cast thy brethren out of prison.
8 And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land.
9 And behold, the father of Lamoni said unto him: Why did ye not come to the feast on that great day when I made a feast unto my sons, and unto my people?
10 And he also said: Whither art thou going with this Nephite, who is one of the children of a liar?
11 And it came to pass that Lamoni rehearsed unto him whither he was going, for he feared to offend him.
12 And he also told him all the cause of his tarrying in his own kingdom, that he did not go unto his father to the feast which he had prepared.
13 And now when Lamoni had rehearsed unto him all these things, behold, to his astonishment, his father was angry with him, and said: Lamoni, thou art going to deliver these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunning and their lyings, deceive us, that they again may rob us of our property.
14 Now the father of Lamoni commanded him that he should slay Ammon with the sword. And he also commanded him that he should not go to the land of Middoni, but that he should return with him to the land of Ishmael.
15 But Lamoni said unto him: I will not slay Ammon, neither will I return to the land of Ishmael, but I go to the land of Middoni that I may release the brethren of Ammon, for I know that they are just men and holy prophets of the true God.
16 Now when his father had heard these words, he was angry with him, and he drew his sword that he might smite him to the earth.
17 But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son; nevertheless, it were better that he should fall than thee, for behold, he has repented of his sins; but if thou shouldst fall at this time, in thine anger, thy soul could not be saved.
18 And again, it is expedient that thou shouldst forbear; for if thou shouldst slay thy son, he being an innocent man, his blood would cry from the ground to the Lord his God, for vengeance to come upon thee; and perhaps thou wouldst lose thy soul.
19 Now when Ammon had said these words unto him, he answered him, saying: I know that if I should slay my son, that I should shed innocent blood; for it is thou that hast sought to destroy him.
20 And he stretched forth his hand to slay Ammon. But Ammon withstood his blows, and also smote his arm that he could not use it.
21 Now when the king saw that Ammon could slay him, he began to plead with Ammon that he would spare his life.
22 But Ammon raised his sword, and said unto him: Behold, I will smite thee except thou wilt grant unto me that my brethren may be cast out of prison.
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.
24 Now when Ammon saw that he had wrought upon the old king according to his desire, he said unto him: If thou wilt grant that my brethren may be cast out of prison, and also that Lamoni may retain his kingdom, and that ye be not displeased with him, but grant that he may do according to his own desires in whatsoever thing he thinketh, then will I spare thee; otherwise I will smite thee to the earth.
25 Now when Ammon had said these words, the king began to rejoice because of his life.
26 And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Because this is all that thou hast desired, that I would release thy brethren, and suffer that my son Lamoni should retain his kingdom, behold, I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more—
27 And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them.
28 And it came to pass that Ammon and Lamoni proceeded on their journey towards the land of Middoni. And Lamoni found favor in the eyes of the king of the land; therefore the brethren of Ammon were brought forth out of prison.
29 And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings.
30 And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon.

Alma 22:1 Now, as Ammon was thus teaching the people of Lamoni continually, we will return to the account of Aaron and his brethren; for after he departed from the land of Middoni he was led by the Spirit to the land of Nephi, even to the house of the king which was over all the land save it were the land of Ishmael; and he was the father of Lamoni.
2 And it came to pass that he went in unto him into the king’s palace, with his brethren, and bowed himself before the king, and said unto him: Behold, O king, we are the brethren of Ammon, whom thou hast delivered out of prison.
3 And now, O king, if thou wilt spare our lives, we will be thy servants. And the king said unto them: Arise, for I will grant unto you your lives, and I will not suffer that ye shall be my servants; but I will insist that ye shall administer unto me; for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon; and I desire to know the cause why he has not come up out of Middoni with thee.
4 And Aaron said unto the king: Behold, the Spirit of the Lord has called him another way; he has gone to the land of Ishmael, to teach the people of Lamoni.
5 Now the king said unto them: What is this that ye have said concerning the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, this is the thing which doth trouble me.
6 And also, what is this that Ammon said—If ye will repent ye shall be saved, and if ye will not repent, ye shall be cast off at the last day?

2009, October 3

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.” PART 7: A Critique of the Argument of Ammon’s Party to King Limhi in Mosiah 7 by grego

“Are There ‘Others’ in the Book of Mormon?: A Critique and Partial Rebuttal of the article “When Lehi’s Party Arrived in the Land[…] Did They Find Others There?” by John L. Sorenson and other similar “‘Others’ Were in the Book of Mormon Lands” articles by Brant Gardner; Matthew Roper; Michael Ash; etc.”

PART 7: A Critique of the Argument of Ammon’s Party to King Limhi in Mosiah 7

(c) 2004-2009

PART 7: A Critique of the Argument of Ammon’s Party to King Limhi in Mosiah 7

John L. Sorenson:
The incompleteness of our picture of social and population history is further shown in the story of the entry of Ammon’s party to Zeniffite King Limhi’s territory. The Nephite explorers stumbled upon the king outside the walls of his beleaguered city, Lehi-Nephi, and were rudely seized and thrown into prison. Only after two days did they get a chance to identify themselves and explain their presence. We might have supposed that their cultural status as Nephites and strangers, if not their protestations (was there a language problem?) would have alerted Limhi and his guards as to their identity–Nephites from Zarahemla. Had the initial encounter gone as we might have thought, Ammon’s belated explanation (see Mosiah 7:13) and Limhi’s surprise when Ammon finally got through to him (see Mosiah 7:14) would both have been short-circuited. Why were Ammon and company not recognized immediately as Nephites? Was their costume and tongue or accent so much different than what Limhi’s people expected of a Nephite that this put them off? Ammon was a “descendant of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 7:13), a point that he emphasized in his introduction to the king. Does this mean that he somehow looked different than a “typical” Nephite? Or had the Zeniffites had encounters with other non-Nephite types in their area which might have prompted Limhi’s cautious reception? And what personal relationship had Ammon to the Zeniffites, after all? As a person descended from Zarahemla, that is, a “Mulekite,” why did he refer to Zeniff’s presumably Nephite party as “our brethren” and show them so much concern that he would lead this arduous expedition to find out their fate?

****Let’s take a look at what the Book of Mormon says, perhaps once more instead of searching through the haystack, the answer is out in open sight:
Mosiah 21:20: And he caused that his people should watch the land round about, that by some means they might TAKE THOSE PRIESTS THAT FLED INTO THE WILDERNESS…
Mosiah 21:21: For they were desirous to take them that they might punish them; for THEY HAD COME INTO THE LAND OF NEPHI by night, and carried off their grain and many of their precious things; THEREFORE THEY LAID WAIT FOR THEM.
Mosiah 21:24: But when he found that they were not, BUT THAT THEY WERE HIS BRETHREN, AND HAD COME FROM THE LAND OF ZARAHEMLA, he was filled with exceedingly great joy.
Mosiah 21:25: Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness.
Mosiah 21:26: Nevertheless, they did find a land which had been peopled; yea, a land which was COVERED WITH DRY BONES; yea, A LAND WHICH HAD BEEN PEOPLED AND WHICH HAD BEEN DESTROYED; and they, HAVING SUPPOSED IT TO BE THE LAND OF ZARAHEMLA, returned to the land of Nephi, HAVING ARRIVED IN THE BORDERS OF THE LAND NOT MANY DAYS BEFORE THE COMING OF AMMON.

So, the reason king Limhi was happy to see them: he had thought that Zarahemla had been destroyed, but found out that it, and his brethren, still existed. We also see that King Limhi thought that Ammon and his brethren were the priests of Noah; in other words, Ammon and his brethren were, in appearance, just like the priests of Noah–which is why he threw them in prison. Had there been a language problem, maybe king Limhi would have been alerted to their being non-priests.
Remember, not that much time had passed between the leaving of King Zeniff and this reunion.

Why did Ammon lead the party? Likely it was his job as a military leader. Or perhaps for pay:
Mosiah 7:1 And now, it came to pass that after KING MOSIAH had had continual peace for the space of three years, HE WAS DESIROUS TO KNOW concerning the people who went up to dwell in the land of Lehi-Nephi, or in the city of Lehi-Nephi; for HIS PEOPLE had heard nothing from them from the time they left the land of Zarahemla; therefore, THEY WEARIED HIM WITH THEIR TEASINGS.
Mosiah 7:2 And it came to pass that KING MOSIAH GRANTED THAT SIXTEEN OF THEIR STRONG MEN might go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi, to inquire concerning their brethren.
Mosiah 7:3 And it came to pass that on the morrow THEY STARTED to go up, having with them ONE AMMON, HE BEING A STRONG AND MIGHT MAN, and a descendant of Zarahemla; and HE WAS ALSO THEIR LEADER.
Also, the Zeniffites had been gone a while and no one had heard about them, and the first time Zeniff went to the Lamanite lands, there was an argument in the wilderness over what to do, and lots of blood was shed; perhaps his being a descendant of Zarahemla would help in some way with this.

2008, October 6

“Ammon Killed the Bad Guys to Save the King’s Flocks”: Wrong! by grego

“Ammon Killed the Bad Guys to Save the King’s Flocks: Wrong!” by grego

This is a little myth that I’ve heard before.  Since it especially seems to happen when relating the story to Primary children, I figure it’s pretty important to tell it straight.

Alma 17:28
Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: *Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren* because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already.

Alma 17:29
Now *they wept because of the fear of being slain.* Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words.

Alma 17:31
And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and *he will not slay us*.

Alma 18:4
And now, when the king heard these words, he said unto them: Now I know that it is the Great Spirit; and *he has come down at this time to preserve your lives, that I might not slay you as I did your brethren*. Now this is the Great Spirit of whom our fathers have spoken.

Alma 18:5
Now this was the tradition of Lamoni, which he had received from his father, that there was a Great Spirit. Notwithstanding they believed in a Great Spirit they supposed that whatsoever they did was right; nevertheless, Lamoni began to fear exceedingly, with fear lest he had done wrong *in slaying his servants*;

Alma 18:6
For *he had slain many of them because their brethren had scattered their flocks at the place of water; and thus, because they had had their flocks scattered they were slain*.

Ammon defended the flocks to save the servants from being killed by the king. (I won’t get into whether Ammon would have killed the bad men if the king didn’t kill his servants… Though you might want to teach your children that just because someone steals their bike doesn’t mean it’s a really good reason to try to sling stones at them and kill them!)

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2008, October 5

“Internal Consistency in the Book of Mormon: Nephite Knowledge about the Lamanites” by grego

“Internal Consistency in the Book of Mormon: Nephite Knowledge about the Lamanites” by grego

Here’s what we read about the Lamanites in Alma 17:4:  “And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who 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.”

Later, here’s what we read in Alma 18:7:  “Now it was the practice of these Lamanites to stand by the waters of Sebus to scatter the flocks of the people, that thereby they might drive away many that were scattered unto their own land, it being a practice of plunder among them.”

Notice that the first comments are what the Nephites would have known about the Lamanites from their “outside” experiences. Later, through Ammon’s experiences and report of living among the Lamanites, we learn that the Nephite knowledge about the Lamanites was incomplete; while they did bad things to the Nephites to get their gold, silver, and precious stones, they also did bad things to other Lamanites to gain their flocks.

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2008, June 30

Book of Mormon: Ammon or Aaron–Who Was Older?

Book of Mormon: Ammon or Aaron–Who Was Older?

In Mosiah 27:34, we learn that king Mosiah has four sons, and it names Ammon first, then Aaron. So, it seems that Ammon is the firstborn, and Aaron is the second. This way of giving birth order happens at other times: with Lehi’s sons, with Alma the Younger’s sons, and with Helaman’s sons, for example. However, there are a few things that make me wonder if Ammon really was the firstborn, or at least conclude that there’s more to the story than what is written.

Many people point to Ammon’s being the leader of the missionary group (Alma 17:18 ) as extra evidence of his being the firstborn; but this is a church calling, not something that has to do with age or birth order. In addition, being called the people of Ammon has to do with religious things, too, as does being high priest over them (Alma 30:20).

I see three hints that Aaron might be older:
1. while Ammon preaches to the lesser king/ prince Lamoni, it is left to Aaron to preach to the king of all the Lamanites; is that the Nephite prince teaches the Lamanite prince, and the rightful Nephite king teaches the king?
2. when the Lamanite king wants a new name for his converted people, he consults chiefly with Aaron (Alma 23:16; 17-18). Perhaps choosing a new name is more of a political decision than a religious one; consulting with the heir king and getting his approval is more appropriate. Also, the two verses afterwards, are political matters.
3. the people ask that Aaron be king, and king Mosiah says it’s Aaron’s right to be king (Mosiah 29:1-3, 6). When king Mosiah speaks about potential future problems with the right to rule the kingdom, including the possible return and oath dismissal by those who had a past right to rule as king, he speaks about Aaron–never Ammon.

So, why would Aaron have the right to rule if Ammon were the firstborn?

Was Aaron really older than Ammon, but played a less prominent role in the spiritual aspect in the Book of Mormon? Or maybe Ammon swore he would never be king. (But if that had been the case, wouldn’t king Mosiah also have spoken about that in Mosiah 29?) Could Ammon have done something much earlier to lose his right to rule, to lose his right of the firstborn–something that Aaron hadn’t done? (But weren’t they all in it together?) Was a mistake made in the writing? Was the name placing in Mosiah 27:34 done for some other reason? I don’t know.

At least, I think it would be much better to say they are brothers, than to say that Ammon is definitely older than Aaron.

Any other insights, scriptures?

[EDIT, July 7, 2017:  This topic came to my thoughts much more because of the Chinese translations of the Book of Mormon, where “older brother” is used for Ammon, and “younger brother” is used for Aaron.]
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2008, June 20

Book of Mormon: The Lamanite King Told the Truth

Years and years ago I saw this:

About to be slain by Ammon, the Lamanite king–Lamoni’s father–says he will give up to half of his kingdom for his life:
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, hearing the gospel from Aaron and desiring eternal life, he says he will give all his kingdom:
Alma 22:15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, 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.

But the story doesn’t end there. Though the Lamanite king dies right before he can forsake the kingdom, I have no doubt the king would have done the same as his son did: given up all his kingdom for the gospel:
Alma 24:2 And their hatred became exceedingly sore against them, 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.
Alma 24:3 Now the king conferred the kingdom upon his son, and he called his name Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
Alma 24:4 And the king died in that selfsame year that the Lamanites began to make preparations for war against the people of God.
Alma 24:5 Now when Ammon and his brethren and all those who had come up with him saw the preparations of the Lamanites to destroy their brethren, they came forth to the land of Midian, and there Ammon met all his brethren; and from thence they came to the land of Ishmael that they might hold a council with Lamoni and also with his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi, what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
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.
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.

I read that and think, how much have I “given up” for the gospel? How willing am I to forsake the things of this world–especially after I have already worked so hard to get them–for the gospel?

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Book of Mormon: Ammon Told the Truth

When Ammon first talks to Lamoni, this is the conversation:

Alma 17:22 And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people.
Alma 17:23 And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.

Well, Ammon sets a good example for us (and all missionaries, as I would often hear similar comments and kind of wince; yet others have truly felt the same way and done much) with his honesty:
Alma 17:4 And they [Ammon and his brothers/ brethren] had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him.

Later, we read that Ammon was still with them:
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.

So, Ammon did dwell among them for 14 years, and he stayed with them (who knows for how long?) after they went to the land of Jershon.

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