Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, July 28

“Book of Mormon: Alma 8-16: Religious Fervor of the Order of Nehor/ Nehorites’ Judges and Lawyers Subverts Nephite Law: A Study of the People of Ammonihah” by grego

Book of Mormon: Alma 8-16: Religious Fervor of the Order of Nehor/ Nehorites’ Judges and Lawyers Subverts Nephite Law: A Study of the People of Ammonihah

grego
(c)2008

We read that an angel tells Alma that the people of Ammonihah “study [to] destroy the liberty of thy people”:

Alma 8:16 And behold, I am sent to command thee that thou return to the city of Ammonihah, and preach again unto the people of the city; yea, preach unto them. Yea, say unto them, except they repent the Lord God will destroy them.

Alma 8:17 For behold, they do study at this time that they may destroy the liberty of thy people, (for thus saith the Lord) which is contrary to the statutes, and judgments, and commandments which he has given unto his people.

Amulek also says:
Alma 10:27 And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.

Is there any evidence in the Book of Mormon that this is true?

There is, and ironically, it has to do mostly with the evils of mixing religion with politics; with religion controlling politics, in Ammonihah.

“Ironically”, because the continual voices of the critics talking about people like poor Korihor and evil Captain Moroni and how the unbelievers were controlled by the believers and there was no true freedom of belief for those poor unbelievers.

We’re going to see it big-time here–but it’s the Ammonihahites that oppress, not the Nephites; and it’s a different religion that oppresses, not the “LDS Church”. (It happens elsewhere in the Book of Mormon, too. Anyone want to show where?)

There are a few main points:
1. The people, especially the leaders, are of the profession of Nehor.
2. The people, including the leaders, allow religion and emotion to subvert the law.
3. The people, including the leaders, don’t follow Nephite law, from small matters to the largest.
4. There is unfairness in all that happens, and it’s due to religious and “lawyer” fervor.

It’s important to note that the people of Ammonihah–especially the leaders–are of the order of Nehor:
Alma 14:16 Now *this judge was after the order and faith of Nehor*, who slew Gideon.
Alma 14:18 And when they had been cast into prison three days, *there came many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers, who were of the profession of Nehor*; and they came in unto the prison to see them, and they questioned them about many words; but they answered them nothing.
Alma 15:15 But as to *the people that were in the land of Ammonihah*, they yet remained a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins, ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil; for *they were of the profession of Nehor*, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins.
Alma 16:11 Nevertheless, 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. And it was called *Desolation of Nehors; for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain*; and their lands remained desolate.

Interestingly, we learn this information only near the end of the Ammonihah story; and it trickles out: “[a] judge”; “many lawyers, and judges, and priests, and teachers”; “the people that were in the land of Ammonihah”. (For those who can’t see any complexity in the narration of the Book of Mormon, take note.)

When Alma goes to Ammonihah the first time, he talks with people who say:
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.

Was it legal for them to do that? Well, whether it was or not–and I can’t see it being so–Alma couldn’t do anything to them because he didn’t have political power, so they did what they wanted to him. It seems justice and law don’t have much say in Ammonihah–just “democracy”–the voice and will of the people.

The people of Ammonihah are hypocrites. They cry for two witnesses–required by the law–otherwise God has no case against them. But when they get two witnesses, they just get angrier than when there was one, and they try to do bad things to them:
Alma 9:2 Who art thou? Suppose ye that we shall believe the testimony of one man, although he should preach unto us that the earth should pass away?
Alma 9:6 And they said: 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?
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.
Alma 10:13 Nevertheless, there were some among them who thought to question them, that by their cunning devices they might catch them in their words, that they might find witness against them, that they might deliver them to their judges that they might be judged according to the law, and that they might be slain or cast into prison, according to the crime which they could make appear or witness against them.

The people try to illegally detain Alma, twice:
Alma 9:7 And they stood forth to lay their hands on me; but behold, they did not. And I stood with boldness to declare unto them, yea, I did boldly testify unto them, saying:
Alma 9:31 Now it came to pass that when I, Alma, had spoken these words, behold, the people were wroth with me because I said unto them that they were a hard-hearted and a stiffnecked people.
Alma 9:32 And also because I said unto them that they were a lost and a fallen people they were angry with me, and sought to lay their hands upon me, that they might cast me into prison.

Here comes an interesting part.
Alma 10:13 Nevertheless, there were some among them who thought to question them, that by their cunning devices they might catch them in their words, that they might find witness against them, that they might deliver them to their judges that they might be judged according to the law, and that they might be slain or cast into prison, according to the crime which they could make appear or witness against them.
Alma 10:14 Now it was those men who sought to destroy them, who were lawyers, who were hired or appointed by the people to administer the law at their times of trials, or at the trials of the crimes of the people before the judges.
Alma 10:15 Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skilful in their profession.
Alma 10:30 And it came to pass that the lawyers put it into their hearts that they should remember these things against him.
Alma 10:31 And there was one among them whose name was Zeezrom. Now he was the foremost to accuse Amulek and Alma, he being one of the most expert among them, having much business to do among the people.
Alma 10:32 Now the object of these lawyers was to get gain; and they got gain according to their employ.
Alma 11:1 Now it was in the law of Mosiah that every man who was a judge of the law, or those who were appointed to be judges, should receive wages according to the time which they labored to judge those who were brought before them to be judged.
Alma 11:2 Now if a man owed another, and he would not pay that which he did owe, he was complained of to the judge; and the judge executed authority, and sent forth officers that the man should be brought before him; and he judged the man according to the law and the evidences which were brought against him, and thus the man was compelled to pay that which he owed, or be stripped, or be cast out from among the people as a thief and a robber.
Alma 11:3 And the judge received for his wages according to his time–a senine of gold for a day, or a senum of silver, which is equal to a senine of gold; and this is according to the law which was given..
Alma 11:20 Now, it was for the sole purpose to get gain, because they received their wages according to their employ, therefore, they did stir up the people to riotings, and all manner of disturbances and wickedness, that they might have more employ, that they might get money according to the suits which were brought before them; therefore they did stir up the people against Alma and Amulek.
Alma 11:21 And this Zeezrom began to question Amulek, saying: Will ye answer me a few questions which I shall ask you? Now Zeezrom was a man who was expert in the devices of the devil, that he might destroy that which was good; therefore, he said unto Amulek: Will ye answer the questions which I shall put unto you?

The text talks about Zeezrom being a lawyer, then lawyers making money, then immediately about what judges do (notice no mention of lawyers in this process) and how judges receive pay, then how “they” caused legal problem situations to make more money. Now, where does it talk about lawyers as being part of or having to do with the law? It doesn’t! Where does it talk about lawyers receiving pay? It doesn’t! In Alma 11:20, does “they” (mentioned five times, with no clear antecedent) refer to lawyers or judges? Or, are lawyers and judges related/ the same? Do they work together?

Note that when Nehor goes to court, he has no lawyer (Alma 1). When Korihor goes to court, he has no lawyer (Alma 30). When Nephi answers the judges, he has no lawyer (Helaman 9). The position of “lawyer” is never mentioned in the Nephite legal system (Mosiah 29, etc.).

Obviously it’s easier for a judge to hear a case and judge without lawyers–look at how fast small claims court cases go. But if a judge gets paid just for his time in court, and is not earning enough because there aren’t enough cases or they finish too quickly or are too simple, the judge has to find other work–like maybe farm or tend flocks. *Not* something that a proud judge would like to do, especially when the pay for being a judge is good. There is another way to solve this problem–increase the time spent in the judgment seat, to make it a fulltime job. This can be done by: 1. increasing the complexity, difficulty, or time of each case; 2. increasing the number of cases.

So how can that be done? The judges would need help; someone to “get the ball rolling” and keep it rolling, on both points. Because there’s another problem: it seems that judges/ officers don’t have power to act on their own/ charge others with crime; that is, there is no government officer who makes sure crimes against society are punished. I refer to Nehor and Nephi as cases.

When Nehor slays Gideon, the judges/ officers don’t make the arrest; the people do:
Alma 1:10 And the man who slew him was taken by the people of the church, and was brought before Alma, to be judged according to the crimes which he had committed.

Note this, where the judges try to incite the people to accuse Nephi:
Helaman 8:1 And now it came to pass that when Nephi had said these words, behold, there were men who were *judges*, who also belonged to the secret band of Gadianton, and they were angry, and they cried out against him, *saying unto the people: Why do ye not seize upon this man and bring him forth, that he may be condemned according to the crime which he has done*?
Helaman 8:4 And those *judges* were angry with him because he spake plainly unto them concerning their secret works of darkness; nevertheless, *they durst not lay their own hands upon him, for they feared the people lest they should cry out against them*.
Helaman 8:5 Therefore *they did cry unto the people, saying: Why do you suffer this man to revile against us?* For behold he doth condemn all this people, even unto destruction; yea, and also that these our great cities shall be taken from us, that we shall have no place in them.
Helaman 8:10 And it came to pass that those *people who sought to destroy Nephi were compelled because of their fear, that they did not lay their hands on him*; therefore he began again to speak unto them, seeing that he had gained favor in the eyes of some, insomuch that the remainder of them did fear.

There is one exception to this in the Book of Mormon, but it’s still pretty close:
Helaman 9:16 And now it came to pass that the judges did expound the matter unto the people, and did cry out against Nephi, saying: Behold, we know that this Nephi must have agreed with some one to slay the judge, and then he might declare it unto us, that he might convert us unto his faith, that he might raise himself to be a great man, chosen of God, and a prophet.
Helaman 9:17 And now behold, we will detect this man, and he shall confess his fault and make known unto us the true murderer of this judge.
Helaman 9:18 And it came to pass that the five were liberated on the day of the burial. Nevertheless, they did rebuke the judges in the words which they had spoken against Nephi, and did contend with them one by one, insomuch that they did confound them.

Did any of this rebuking have to do with the method of their bringing Nephi to judgment themselves?

Helaman 9:19 Nevertheless, [the judges] caused that Nephi should be taken and bound and brought before the multitude, and they began to question him in divers ways that they might cross him, that they might accuse him to death–
Helaman 9:20 Saying unto him: Thou art confederate; who is this man that hath done this murder? Now tell us, and acknowledge thy fault; saying, Behold here is money; and also we will grant unto thee thy life if thou wilt tell us, and acknowledge the agreement which thou hast made with him.
Helaman 9:21 But Nephi said unto them: O ye fools, ye uncircumcised of heart, ye blind, and ye stiffnecked people, do ye know how long the Lord your God will suffer you that ye shall go on in this your way of sin?
Helaman 9:22 O ye ought to begin to howl and mourn, because of the great destruction which at this time doth await you, except ye shall repent.

Does Nephi talk back to them because of their disregard for the law?

Also, note that these judges are the same ones who wanted to shut Nephi up earlier, and that they are members of the Gadianton robbers–not really great at following the law (which was the big reason Nephi got started in the first place):
Helaman 7:4 And seeing the people in a state of such awful wickedness, and those Gadianton robbers filling the judgment-seats–having usurped the power and authority of the land; laying aside the commandments of God, and not in the least aright before him; doing no justice unto the children of men;
Helaman 7:5 Condemning the righteous because of their righteousness; letting the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money; and moreover to be held in office at the head of government, to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory of the world, and, moreover, that they might the more easily commit adultery, and steal, and kill, and do according to their own wills–

So, let’s assume that a court case/ an appearance before a judge requires a citizen’s action, and that a judge can’t bring a case to court. But many people are reluctant to go to court–especially if the case isn’t clear or the people are split on whether there was a crime or not–and that’s if the people don’t need to pay a lawyer. Well, what if there were someone who helped the judges stir things up? But who would willingly do that? Well, what if someone actually got paid to do it, so that they and the judges both made money? Voila’ “the lawyer”!
In fact:
Alma 10:14 Now it was those men who sought to destroy them, who were lawyers, who were hired or appointed by the people to administer the law at their times of trials, or at the trials of the crimes of the people before the judges.
The lawyers were “hired or *appointed* by the people to *administer the law* at their times of trials”.

This sounds like lawyers are at least semi-/ quasi-officials of the government, or a special club, that helps/ works with the judges; yet there is no place for them in Nephite law. As seen with Zeezrom and Amulek’s denouncement, the lawyers are not interested in justice, as their position would seem to entail; they are interested in money and reputation, and special interests (especially their own) (see Alma 10:32). Perhaps lawyers *are* judges.

No one was off limits in their desire for money. Zeezrom and the other lawyers have no qualms about lying and tricking to get Alma and Amulek killed only for their religious beliefs.

Here’s an interesting possiblity: if order of Nehor lawyers could undermine the Church by getting the Church’s priests and teachers punished just for their beliefs and not for actual crimes of commission, then the order of Nehor could take the place of the Church in Nephite society. Were the religion and the law in the same hands of the Nehorites, it’s not hard to imagine that there would quickly be no liberty or even freedom to believe as one would.

Note also, that a system of lawyers works very well for the rich: 1. the rich can afford lawyers, and 2. they can afford the better lawyers. Did the rich Nehorites set this up?

Is it possible that the people of Ammonihah, the Ammonihahites, invented the profession of “lawyer”? Was this one of the ways in which the liberty of the people was being undermined? Was this system of using lawyers (and all that went with it) going to spread to other cities, with Ammonihahites of the profession of Nehor in particular leading the way? Was this the subject of the Ammonihahites studying to overthrow the people/ government?

The only other place lawyers are mentioned in the Book of Mormon is here (and in the story of the overthrow of the government, later in the same chapter):
3 Nephi 6:11 For there were many merchants in the land, and also many lawyers, and many officers.

There’s a little about the law:
Alma 10:15 Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skilful in their profession.
Alma 10:16 And it came to pass that they began to question Amulek, that thereby they might make him cross his words, or contradict the words which he should speak.
Alma 10:17 Now they knew not that Amulek could know of their designs. But it came to pass as they began to question him, he perceived their thoughts, and he said unto them: O ye wicked and perverse generation, ye lawyers and hypocrites, for ye are laying the foundations of the devil; for ye are laying traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God.
Alma 10:18 Ye are laying plans to pervert the ways of the righteous, and to bring down the wrath of God upon your heads, even to the utter destruction of this people.
Alma 10:19 Yea, well did Mosiah say, who was our last king, when he was about to deliver up the kingdom, having no one to confer it upon, causing that this people should be governed by their own voices–yea, well did he say that if the time should come that the voice of this people should choose iniquity, that is, if the time should come that this people should fall into transgression, they would be ripe for destruction.

Is Amulek–who, I imagine, as a successful businessman has had dealings with lawyers–saying that the lawyers are brainwashers who twist the people’s minds to get them to think and believe a certain way, against justice? To more easily stir the people up, cause problems, have cases, and win? And especially, to destroy the good while making more money?

Alma 10:20 And now I say unto you that well doth the Lord judge of your iniquities; well doth he cry unto this people, by the voice of his angels: Repent ye, repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Alma 10:21 Yea, well doth he cry, by the voice of his angels that: I will come down among my people, with equity and justice in my hands.

Amulek sees that there is no equity or justice among the lawyers, so the Lord will have to bring some.

Alma 10:22 Yea, and I say unto you that if it were not for the prayers of the righteous, who are now in the land, that ye would even now be visited with utter destruction; yet it would not be by flood, as were the people in the days of Noah, but it would be by famine, and by pestilence, and the sword.
Alma 10:23 But it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared; now therefore, if ye will cast out the righteous from among you then will not the Lord stay his hand; but in his fierce anger he will come out against you; then ye shall be smitten by famine, and by pestilence, and by the sword; and the time is soon at hand except ye repent.

Ironically Amulek, like a judge, now passes a judgment and a sentence on the people!

Alma 10:24 And now it came to pass that the people were more angry with Amulek, and they cried out, saying: This man doth revile against our laws which are just, and our wise lawyers whom we have selected.

This also reaffirms the position of the “lawyer” to me, as argued below.

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 10:26 For behold, have I testified against your law? Ye do not understand; ye say that I have spoken against your law; but I have not, but I have spoken in favor of your law, to your condemnation.
Alma 10:27 And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.

Amulek thrusts at the lawyers and judges, calling the people blind and unable to understand–once more, because they have been brainwashed?

Alma 10:28 And now it came to pass that when Amulek had spoken these words the people cried out against him, saying: Now we know that this man is a child of the devil, for he hath lied unto us; for he hath spoken against our law. And now he says that he has not spoken against it.
Alma 10:29 And again, he has reviled against our lawyers, and our judges.
Alma 10:30 And it came to pass that the lawyers put it into their hearts that they should remember these things against him.

Somehow lying makes one a child of the devil–if you’re on the wrong team. The lawyers can do it, but not others. That’s how twisted justice has become in Ammonihah.

What about the lawyers? Not only are they cunning and powerful with words, but they use lies and twisted words to trap innocent people. Zeezrom lied, which would have been a crime; but since Amulek didn’t fall for it, the lie wasn’t complete, there was no actual commision of crime:
Alma 11:25 And now thou hast lied before God unto me. Thou saidst unto me–Behold these six onties, which are of great worth, I will give unto thee–when thou hadst it in thy heart to retain them from me; and it was only thy desire that I should deny the true and living God, that thou mightest have cause to destroy me. And now behold, for this great evil thou shalt have thy reward.

But later Zeezrom does lie:
Alma 11:36 Now Amulek saith again unto him: Behold thou hast lied, for thou sayest that I spake as though I had authority to command God because I said he shall not save his people in their sins.
Alma 11:37 And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

Alma makes sure everyone remembers that Zeezrom lied:
Alma 12:3 Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit;

Compare how Zeezrom and the later judges use a similar method to trap innocent people:
Alma 11:22 And Amulek… And Zeezrom said unto him: Behold, here are six onties of silver, and all these will I give thee if thou wilt deny the existence of a Supreme Being.
with this:
Helaman 9:20 Saying unto him: Thou art confederate; who is this man that hath done this murder? Now tell us, and acknowledge thy fault; saying, Behold here is money; and also we will grant unto thee thy life if thou wilt tell us, and acknowledge the agreement which thou hast made with him.

Yet in the end, all the people of Ammonihah lie to the chief judge! These people, hypocrites demanding two witnesses, now commit a crime and break one of the 10 Commandments: they bear false witness. And a lot more, eh.

(Note, once more, that it is the people who bring the case before the judge, even in Ammonihah.)

The people desire to destroy Alma and Amulek for these reasons:
Alma 14:2 But the more part of them (the people of Ammonihah) were desirous that they might destroy Alma and Amulek; for *they were angry with Alma, because of the plainness of his words* unto Zeezrom; and they also said that *Amulek had lied unto them, and had reviled against their law and also against their lawyers and judges*.
(This, even though Amulek already answered those charges).
Alma 14:3 And *they were also angry with Alma and Amulek; and because *they had testified so plainly against their wickedness*, they sought to put them away privily.
Alma 14:4 But it came to pass that they did not; but they took them and bound them with strong cords, and took them before the chief judge of the land.
Alma 14:5 And the people went forth and witnessed against them–testifying that they had reviled against the law, and their lawyers and judges of the land, and also of all the people that were in the land; and also testified that there was but one God, and that he should send his Son among the people, but he should not save them; and many such things did the people testify against Alma and Amulek. Now this was done before the chief judge of the land.
Alma 14:7 And it came to pass that [Zeezrom] began to cry unto the people, saying: Behold, I am guilty, and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them from that time forth; but they reviled him, saying: Art thou also possessed with the devil?
(A *third* witness is despised even more.)
And they spit upon him, and cast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; and they cast them out, and sent men to cast stones at them.

The main charge against them was: people were angry with Alma and Amulek! Wow… “You didn’t break a law, but you said something true and I didn’t want to hear it, so I’m angry, so I’m going to find some reason to kill you!” Note the difference between this and the stories of the Church and the law in dealing with Sherem, Nehor, Korihor, etc. Then note how similar the Ammonihahites are to Laban, Laman, and Lemuel.

Because they were angry (due to differences of religion), they were going to kill Alma and Amulek without a trial–and due in large part to lawyers like Zeezrom.

Was it possible that the order of Nehor lawyers understood how to easily manipulate people, and that if they were to spread out, they would be able to easily manipulate/ brainwash the Nephite people to choose evil over good?

In 3 Nephi, we read that the death penalty in Nephite law can only be enforced with the consent of the governor of the land. This is also shown in the case of captain Moroni. Yet in Ammonihah, first the people, and then the chief judge, are going to enforce it. What should the punishment have been? Listen to Alma as he explains the punishment (if he and Amulek had truly committed the crimes they were accused of)–without protest from Zeezrom, the lawyers, or the people of Ammonihah–to being reviled and cast out:
Alma 12:3 Now Zeezrom, seeing that thou hast been taken in thy lying and craftiness, for thou hast not lied unto men only but thou hast lied unto God; for behold, he knows all thy thoughts, and thou seest that thy thoughts are made known unto us by his Spirit;
Alma 12:4 And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to *revile us and to cast us out*–

Here’s the story from 3 Nephi, about a hundred years later:
3 Nephi 6:21 Now there were many of the people who were exceedingly *angry because of those who testified of these things*; and those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers; yea, all those who were lawyers were angry with those who testified of these things.
3 Nephi 6:22 Now there was *no lawyer nor judge nor high priest that could have power to condemn any one to death save their condemnation was signed by the governor of the land*.
3 Nephi 6:23 Now there were many of those who testified of the things pertaining to Christ who testified boldly, who were *taken and put to death secretly by the judges*, that the knowledge of their death came not unto the governor of the land until after their death.
3 Nephi 6:24 Now behold, this was contrary to the laws of the land, that any man should be put to death except they had power from the governor of the land–
3 Nephi 6:25 Therefore a complaint came up unto the land of Zarahemla, to the governor of the land, *against these judges who had condemned the prophets of the Lord unto death, not according to the law*.
3 Nephi 6:26 Now it came to pass that they were taken and brought up before the judge, to be judged of the crime which they had done, according to the law which had been given by the people.
3 Nephi 6:27 Now it came to pass that those judges had many friends and kindreds; and the remainder, yea, even almost all the lawyers and the high priests, did gather themselves together, and unite with the kindreds of those judges who were to be tried according to the law.
3 Nephi 6:29 Therefore they did combine against the people of the Lord, and enter into a covenant to destroy them, and to deliver those who were guilty of murder from the grasp of justice, which was about to be administered according to the law.

I imagine the verdict would certainly have been death for those involved, which is why they then tried to overthrow the government.

Now, that’s in 29-30 AD instead of 82-81 BC when the Ammonihahites were.

Here’s the part about captain Moroni having to get this same consent to put the dissenters to death, in about 67 BC–only 14 years later than Ammonihah, with no major legal wickedness inbetween:
Alma 51:15 And it came to pass that he sent a petition, with the voice of the people, unto the governor of the land, desiring that he should read it, and give him (Moroni) power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.

The chief judge of the land and the other rulers are angry because of a difference in religion, apparent in the questions that Alma and Amulek are asked as they are illegally held without trial; in fact, in all the crimes the leaders commit, there is no real trial of any sorts. Because of this anger, and maybe because of the loss of followers/ believers due to some of the people repenting, the chief judge does these things:
Alma 14:7 … And *they spit upon [Zeezrom] (trying to defend Alma and Amulek)*, and *cast him out* from among them, and also *all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek*; and they cast them out, and sent men to *cast stones at them*.
Alma 14:8 And they brought their *wives and children* together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should *be cast into the fire*; and they also brought forth *their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also*, that they might be burned and destroyed by fire.
Alma 14:15 …the judge *smote them again upon their cheeks*, and asked: What say ye for yourselves?
Alma 14:20 …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 14:21 And many such things did they say unto them, *gnashing their teeth upon them*, and *spitting upon them*, and saying: How shall we look when we are damned?
Alma 14:22 And many such things, yea, all manner of such things did they say unto them; and thus they did *mock them for many days*. And they did *withhold food from them that they might hunger, and *water that they might thirst*; and they also did *take from them their clothes that they were naked*; and thus they were *bound with strong cords*, and *confined in prison*.
Alma 14:23 And it came to pass after they had *thus suffered for many days*…
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…

Were the other Nephite judges to act the same way the chief judge of Ammonihah acts–on whim and emotion, with no regard for law–Nephite society/ the Church would have quickly been destroyed.

This is the same type of situation with Amulon and his religious beliefs and actions toward Alma (the elder):
Mosiah 24:8 And now it came to pass that Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and *began to persecute him*, and *cause that his children should persecute their children*.
Mosiah 24:9 For *Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king’s priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king*, and *therefore he was wroth with him*; for he was subject to king Laman, yet he *exercised authority over them*, and *put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them*.
Mosiah 24:10 And it came to pass that *so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God*.
Mosiah 24:11 And *Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death*.

Using symbolic imagery, at the destruction of the chief judge and his and the emergence of Alma and Amulek from the prison, the people of Ammonihah flee from Alma and Amulek as:
Alma 14:29 …a goat fleeth with her young from two lions; and thus they did flee from the presence of Alma and Amulek.

Alma and Amulek represent the justice of the Lord that was so missing among the people, and the people represent those who have received a judgment and been found on the left hand of the Lord.

The conclusion: the Book of Mormon text gives some key indicators that what the angel had told Alma, and what Amulek preached, were indeed true.
Enforcement of religion by the sword, contrary to legal rights, will lead to the destruction of liberty. Or in other words, as Alma said:
Alma 1:12: …Alma said unto him: …were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction.


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