Alma 8:8-32 Welcome to Ammonihah
This chapter begins a most intriguing story, with many lessons about the work of God and the work of the devil. Alma’s initial efforts in Ammonihah look to be a brief affair: He entered the city, began preaching, was turned away, prayed harder, but was cast out. End of story? Not for Alma, who knew from personal experience that there is always hope. After this first rejection, note what Alma did and what the Lord did, and look for examples of attitude and behavior that you can seek to mirror in your life:
- Alma “labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer” (verse 10).
- He endured being reviled, spit upon, and cast out (verse 13).
- In spite of his maltreatment, he retained his love, concern, and desire for the people, being “weighed down with sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul” (verse 14).
- God sent an angel, who invited Alma to lift up his head, rejoice, and return to Ammonihah (verse 15).
- Alma obeyed the angel’s command and returned “speedily” to preach repentance (verses 16-18).
- Alma endured hunger, but the Lord prepared Amulek and led Alma to him (verses 19-21, 26).
- Alma taught Amulek and the Lord called them to go again among the people (verses 22-27).
- Alma and Amulek ministered with power and miraculous deliverance by God (verses 30-32).
Alma 8-12 How Satan and His Followers Operate
Mormon declares from the start that in Ammonihah “Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people” (8:9). These chapters describe the ways of the devil and his followers:
- They harden their hearts and do not believe in such “foolish traditions” (8:11).
- They withstand gospel teachings and revile against those who try to teach them (8:13).
- They seek to destroy the liberty of the people (8:17).
- They contend with prophets and others, saying: Who art thou?…Who is God? (9:1-2, 6).
- They are “wicked and perverse” and “persist” in their wickedness (9:8, 18).
- They seek to destroy God’s people (9:19).
- They transgress contrary to the light and knowledge which they have (9:23).
- They rebel and their hearts are “grossly hardened against the word of God” (9:24, 30).
- They are “wroth” and “angry” (9:31-32; see also 10:24).
- They question and use “cunning devices” to “catch [others] in their words” and destroy them (10:13-14).
- They are “learned in all the arts and cunning of the people” (10:15).
- They lay “traps and snares to catch the holy ones of God” and to “pervert the ways of righteousness” (10:17-18).
- They accuse, saying “We know that this man is a child of the devil, for he hath lied unto us” (10:28).
- They seek “to get gain” and stir up the people to riotings, disturbances, and wickedness (11:20).
- They are “expert in the devices of the devil” in order to “destroy that which [is] good” (11:21).
- They “deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (11:22).
- They use lies, deception, destruction, craftiness, subtlety, snares, and subjection (12:1, 3-4, 6).
Alma taught that unless such people repent, they will be “taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction” and will suffer an “awful state” and “spiritual death” (12:11, 14, 16).
Alma 9:1-18 Remember and Repent
All God’s messengers and missionaries of all dispensations must endure rejection, and this began immediately with Alma and Amulek (verses 1-7). Alma reacts boldly (verse 7) and uses questions we often see when the rebellious are being confronted: “How have ye forgotten?” and “Do ye not remember?” (verses 8-10, 13-14). This quickly turns to the never-ending prophetic call to repent (verses 12, 18; see also verses 25-30).
Think of our most recent general conference and the messages of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. What are you determined to remember? How many of them invited us to repent or otherwise change and improve? What has changed in your life as a result? This is why we are here on earth—to learn to trust the Lord and follow in His ways, as guided by Him and by His ordained representatives. This was also the work of Alma and Amulek.
Alma 9:19-26 Ways the Lord Had Blessed Them
Make a list of all the ways Alma points out in which the Lord had blessed the Nephites. Have you seen such blessings in your own life? Again we are reminded of the importance of recognizing and remembering the Lord’s hand in our lives (see also D&C 59:21). In Alma 9:26, Alma prophesied of the Lord’s coming and described Him in ways that we can recognize in our lives: “Grace, equity, and truth, full of patience, mercy, and long-suffering.”
Alma 10:5-6 “I Would Not Hear”
Amulek humbly confesses, “I was called [by the Lord] many times and I would not hear” (verse 6). Are we ever like that?
Alma 11:1-25 Why Did Mormon Explain The Nephite Monetary System?
The weights and measures that regulated the Nephites’ monetary system is interesting, and scholars have pointed out its mathematical and practical efficiency, but we may ask, Why did Mormon use precious plate-space to record it? A likely answer is that it helps us understand the significance of Zeezrom’s attempted bribery of Amulek. Zeezrom offered to give Amulek “six onties” if he would “deny the existence of a Supreme Being” (verse 22). We can calculate that six onties is the equivalent of 42 days of work for a judge! Simply put:
- A judge received a senine of gold or a senum of silver for a day of work (verse 3).
- If we assign “1” as the value of a senine/senum, then the seon/amnor = 2, the shum/ezrom = 4, and the limnah/onti = 7 (verses 7-13).
- So, an onti = seven days’ work for a judge, and Zeezrom’s offer of six onties (7 x 6) = 42 work days.
Again, in verse 22 Zeezrom said, “Behold, here are six onties of silver.” This would represent several months of a judge’s pay—a significant amount of money to have at one’s disposal and to be carrying around! But Amulek’s response in verse 23 is an ideal example for us as we encounter temptations in our lives, regardless of what the so-called “payout” may appear to be. Amulek said, “Knowest thou that the righteous yieldeth to no such temptations?” Consider what you have been “offered” in exchange for denying your testimony, and how you may recognize and reject such offers.
Alma 11:23-46 Amulek Teaches Zeezrom
In spite of Zeezrom’s evil designs, Amulek did not respond contentiously to him and the people of Ammonihah. Rather, Amulek matter-of-factly pointed out Zeezrom’s true underlying motive (verses 23-25) and then continued by teaching doctrine and testifying of its truth: God lives (verses 26-33); God has a plan of redemption for us (verses 34-40); we will all resurrect and appear before God to be judged (verses 41-45). The reaction of Zeezrom is to “tremble,” while the people are “astonished” (verse 45).
Alma 12:8-37 Alma’s Turn
As a faithful missionary companion—and as a second witness—Alma now takes his turn to teach and testify. A humbled Zeezrom asks his first sincere question, essentially saying, Tell me more about the wicked being brought before God (verse 8), thus finally taking some concern for his immortal soul. Alma warns Zeezrom that learning true doctrine obligates the learner to give “heed and diligence,” but that hardening one’s heart against truth can bring further condemnation (verses 9-11; see also verses 35-36). With that foundation, Alma shares “plainly” (verse 12) regarding mortality, death, resurrection, judgment, and eternal life, including these precious truths:
- All will resurrect, stand before God, and view His glory, power, might, majesty, and dominion (verse 15).
- God is merciful and will save all who believe on His name and repent (verses 15, 33).
- The Fall of Adam and Eve placed all into a lost and fallen state, yet the Lord gives us commandments, allows us agency to choose, and provides us a time to repent and prepare to meet God (verses 22-25, 31).
- God sent angels and others to make known the plan of redemption, by which we may one day enter into His “rest” (meaning His presence; verses 28-34).
Anyone Can Be Redeemed
Alma 8-12 gives us a glimpse into the lives of three men (Alma, Amulek, and Zeezrom) who stepped off the road toward spiritual destruction and onto the path toward Christ, thus providing proof that salvation is open to all God’s children. None are beyond His power to save—and people can change!
Those who find meaning in numerical symbolism have noted that the number 42 is often associated with destruction in the Old Testament (see the “shibboleth” incident or the story of Elisha and the “she-bears” for examples). The number is also linked to the rule of the anti-Christ in Revelation.
We can’t be sure of Mormon’s intent with this detail, but the symbolism of 42 units of pay bring an interesting nuance to the story.