As his first act of being king, Amlici commands his followers to take up arms against his brethren. This so that they could subject the Nephites unto them. What made Amlici think that he could take on the Nephites? Think back to the voting. It seems like it was close. It if hadn’t been, there wouldn’t have been so much angst around it. Well, now that he’s lost, he’s taken all those followers with him and now he wants to fight those that opposed him. Even though he doesn’t have majority, he probably had enough to give the Nephite armies, at least on paper, a run for their money. If he was planning on winning, he may have even had more men capable of fighting than the Nephites. Whatever it was, he thought he could win.
Preparation for War
The Nephites are aware of the intents of the Amlicites. Therefore they prepare to meet them. They arm themselves with the following:
- Bow and arrows
- Slings and stones
It also mentions that they arm themselves with other weapons of war. I feel like that covers all available types of warfare at the time. Unless they are breaking out trebuchets, catapults, lightsabers, etc…They have the close combat first with swords and cimeters than you have long range combat wth the bow and arrows and slings. Also, how did they know about the intents of the Amlicites? Spies probably. After the Amlicites left, Alma probably sent some to follow the mass of people that left to see what they were going to do.
Back to what I was going to write about. In addition to all these weapons, they had captains, high captains, and chief captains, all according to their numbers. Is this a Nephite set up or are they following an Israelite battle chain of command? Maybe the Old testament institute manual has something to say? Nope. Just looked at both Old Testament part one and two institute manual and there was nothing on battle formations. My only guess, and I’m stretching it here, is that it could have come from when Moses sets up captains over 10s, 50s, 100s, 1000s in order to judge and help the people. My guess is that if that is where it originated, that same system followed into battle because it was effective. Verse 13 is written much that it could be so. It says that they appointed these captains according to their numbers. My guess that if their numbers fluctuated, the number of captains would change. Also, I think the rank of captains is in ascending order. Captain, high captain, chief captain. The reason I write that is because Moroni was chief captain over the Nephite armies. He directed them. The other two logically make sense they would be under the chief captain.
Amici arms his men as well with all manner of weapons of war. He appoints rulers and leaders over the people to lead them to war. The weapons weren’t listed this time. It probably took long to write them all out in reformed Egyptian, especially twice. Not to mention that both sides were Nephites so they probably had a similar weapons load out.
Notice the structure of the army Amlici has. He appoints rulers and leaders. It’s not very clear how that was done. It may have been Amlici with his posse of closest followers divvying up the followers and saying, “I’ll take this group and go left, you take this group and go right.” I can’t say for sure how organized or skilled Amlici was in warfare. Based off the words used, I would say this was something fairly new to him. But being a wise, cunning man, he probably figured out the basics of doing things well enough. But this is all conjecture. I don’t have proof, other than my feeling. Be honest though, captain, high captains, chief captains all appointed according to their numbers sounds a lot more organized than appointing rulers and leaders
Battle on the Hill Amnihu
The Amlicites come upon the hill Amnihu, east of the river Sidon, which river runs by the land of Zarahemla and make war with the Nephites. Here is a picture.
This picture is just a guess. It seems like the Amlicites made it to the top of the hill first so it could be reasonable to surmise that Amlici believed he had the advantage. He has the high ground and he has a force comparable to that of the Nephites. Alma, being the governor of the people, went up to battle at the head of his armies. Booyah! Alma is going into battle. Watch out! Let’s review what we know about Alma. He went about destroying the church when he was younger, had a life changing experience when an angel appeared to him and his friends. After his friends left on missions and after repairing all the damage they had done, Alma is voted into the chief judge seat and becomes high priest too. This man has had a high growth life. Not long after turning around his life, he is put into high positions of leadership. Now he is going into battle. As far as I know, this is his first time going to battle. Do you think he had to prepare? Yeah! Maybe his soldiers taught him things? I think Alma’s humility is apparent when it says he went up with his people. there was obviously a connection between him as the governor and the people.
The Amlicities and Nephites have a great battle upon the hill. Many of the Nephites are slain, but the Lord strengthened the hands of the Nephites so that they slew the Amlicites with a great slaughter. Even though the Amlici had the advantage, being on top of a hill, and having a comparable force, they still lost. Why? Because the hand of the Lord helped the Nephites. All the advantages in the world cannot make up for you not having the Lord on your side. I suppose there is a life lesson right there. Another thing to point out is that is doesn’t say that the Lord miraculously killed the Amlicites. He merely strengthened the Nephites so that they could do it themselves. The Lord helps those who help themselves (Brigham Young quote). He blessed their efforts. Maybe he made them less tired, more focused, more protected, all the above.
The Amlicites see that they are being killed left and right and begin to lose heart. The decreasing chances that they will be alive for a long time becomes apparent to them. They flee. The Nephites pursue the fleeing Amlicites and continue to kill them.It comes to the point when Alma’s armies cannot pursue any longer and they pitch their tents in the valley of Gideon after the man who was killed by Nehor.
Notice how the valley was called Gideon. He must have been held in high regard by the people to have a valley named after him. We already talked about it, but Gideon did a lot of good for the Nephite people.
Death Toll of the First Battle
Back to the story. At this point 12,532 souls of the Amlicites have been slain. For those of you familiar with Utah, that’s a little less than the current population of Heber. From the Nephites there have been 6,562 souls that have passed on. That’s about 1400 more than the population of Moab, Utah. That’s a lot of people! Let’s estimate how many people were in the armies. I know there is no way to know but let’s try for fun. The armies had to have at least the number killed. After losing 12,500 souls, what is good number to cause you to retreat? 15,000? 13,000? 14,000? That’s what my guesses would be. As for the Nephite number, I would think they had about the same number of souls.
I’ve been skimming through the Old Testament institute manual part one. There is a section on numbers. A lot of the numbers have been corrupted it says. Either by mistranslation or by scribes who sought to increase the glory of Israel’s victory by adding a few zeroes. However, that is not the case with the Book of Mormon. The numbers came straight from the record as translated by the prophet Joseph Smith. There is no exaggeration of the those battle numbers. Once again, what Joseph Smith said of the Book of Mormon is true. That is, the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on the face of the earth.
Can you imagine two armies of this caliber fighting each other? We are probably talking 10,000 plus on each side! Where do you have room for a battle that big? Must have been really spread out. Must have covered the face of the land. But if it all took place on a hill/mountain (if that’s a logical possibility) then they wouldn’t have been too spread out right? It would have been lots of people close by. Close quarters. A fast and bloody battle.
Alma Sends Spies
While the Nephite army has their tents pitched in the Valley of Gideon, Alma sends spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicite army. We get the names of those spies. Zeram, Amnor, Manti, Limher. I wonder why that was put in here. If I’m not mistaken, these are the first spies that are mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon. I don’t even know if they are mentioned again. Let me check. Nope. This is the only time they are mentioned. We don’t have any reason why. But such is the life of a spy. A lot of things you do to to protect your fellow brethren, countrymen, goes unwritten, and unbeknownst to history. These military officers were probably very patriotic. I don’t know if they got a lot of credit for risking their lives to chase an army, watch what it was doing, not be found, and then return and report what was going on. I just wanted to write a little thank you note to them.
To All the Spies
I noticed you guys in the Book of Mormon. I noticed you for what you did during a time of war. Without you, the Nephites would not have known what happened to the Amlicite army. Thank you for your service to your brethren, family and country.
I would also like to thank all the spies that have come after them. From the Nephite era to the Revolutionary War, Civil War, world wars, all the way up to today. Thank you for protecting us even though a lot of the things you do go unthanked and unnoticed. I appreciate you and your loyalty to America. Here’s to the spies.
A Parallel Pattern
I like how there are four of them. As a missionary, I noticed the pattern. They each have a companion. Things that are hard like spy missions and proselyting missions are a lot more easy to do when you have someone to help you out and whom you can rely on. Like a mission companion. I bet all four of these guys were good friends. Wait a second, in the military, isn’t four people called a squad? Don’t special forces like the Navy Seals operate in teams of four? Just a random thought I had. I don’t know if it’s correct. Seems like the Nephites system of warfare could have been ahead of the time 😉
The Spies Return
The four spies return back to the camp the next day and they are greatly astonished. They had seen that the Amlicite army had joined up with the Lamanite army in the land of Minon and were chasing the inhabitants of that land toward the city of Zarehemla. I don’t know how far the land of Minon was from the city of Zarehemla, but it must have been close enough that the inhabitants of that land that fleeing to the city of Zarehemla was a good idea. Notice how Alma doesn’t direct the army to intercept the Lamanite army. It would be best if I knew where they were in relation to the Lamanite-Amlicite army. Then perhaps I could explain the possible reason for going to the city rather than meeting the Lamanite/Amlicites. Possible reasons I’m thinking of off the top of my head are two. First, the city of Zarehemla was between Alma’s army and the Lamanite-Amlicite army. Interception before them attacking the city would be impossible and therefore would be better to go to Zarehemla because it was closer. Second, there were so many people fleeing from the land of Minon that intercepting the Lamanite-Amlicite army would create chaos and there would be a lot of collateral damage having citizens mixed into the fighting.
Will the Nephite win? Will Amlici gain the object of his desires? Find out next time in the final installment of Amlici’s Contention for the Kingdom!!!!!