Moving on Finally! Alma Chapter 14!
Alma and Amulek make an end of speaking. Many people believed what was said and began to repent and search the scriptures. Unfortunately, a majority of the people wanted to destroy Alma and Amulek. Why?
- Plainness of the words Alma spake unto Zeezrom
- Amulek lied, reviled against the law, judges, and lawyers
- Both had testified plainly concerning their wickedness.
Rewind! Let’s look at the charges beginning with number one.
Charge #1: Plainness of the Words Alma Spake Unto Zeezrom
The people were angry with Alma because of the plainness of the words he spoke unto Zeezrom. The only record we have of Alma speaking is that in Alma 12. At least directly to Zeezrom. Pretty much all he said is that the adversary had deceived Zeezrom. AND THEN ZEEZROM ASKS HIM TO TALK MORE! He asks him a question concerning the resurrection and the dead. Alma didn’t say too much. At least that we have a record of.
It’s strange to me that Alma would be charged with talking too simply. If it were me, I think I would be more prone to anger for talking in thick mysteries. Guess that wasn’t the case here. “I will not have any of this plain talk! It’s heresy! Prophesy and teach us things cloaked in conundrums. Beat around the bush and wrap it up in riddles”!
Charge #2: Amulek Reviled Against the Law, Judges, and Lawyers
Moving on to the next one. Amulek lied and reviled against the law, judges, and lawyers. Amulek speaks a lot so it will be easier hopefully to pinpoint breaches of law if any. As with any law like debate, we need to define terms. According to the Collins English Dictionary and Thesaurus, to revile is to scornfully abuse. It is synonymous with mocking, deriding, and being sarcastic. These are words that describe what the people say Amulek has done to their law, judges, and lawyers.
Chapter 10 of Alma verse 26. Amulek addresses one of the charges. Speaking against the law. Remember, Amulek is a prominent member of society in Ammonihah. He is successful and educated. I think he knows the law. Probably better than the laymen accusing him. notice it is the people making the accusations, not the lawyers or judges. Amulek clarifies for them. He has spoken in favor of the law, to their condemnation. Or in other words, “I’m upholding the law by saying these things.” Because it is making you aware that the judges and lawyers are actually the ones laying…rather breaking the foundation of society (verse 27). But as we see, the people don’t want to hear this and later charge him again in chapter 14.
Reviling against the judges and lawyers. First off, Amulek never even talks to a judge as far as we know. Alma talks to a “chief ruler,” probably a judge. But that was Alma, not Amulek. And even Alma did not revile. He merely answered the questions put to him. He didn’t cuss or hit or scream. He answered in a respectful manner. FALSE CHARGE.
Going back to Amulek though. Reviling though against the lawyers. If you are using REVILING then it is a false charge. That does not describe what he did. What he did do is call out the people to the reality of what was going on in Ammonihah. It was so painfully corrupt, no one wanted to do anything about it. The city would have been destroyed. What Amulek did was say,”Look, your lawyers are a big part of the problem here. they are doing all sorts of secret combinations. And if something doesn’t change, God will destroy this city. The only reason it hasn’t already been destroyed is because of the righteous people praying.”
A Pattern for Putting People Away
An interesting thought just appeared! Amulek has put forth a charge against the people. the judges and lawyers are wicked. They are laying the foundation for the destruction of the city. It is the truth. The lawyers and judges know it. Some people probably too, the rest are most likely too ignorant to care. It’s interesting how they go about trying to get Alma and Amulek. First they try to silence them by paying them off. Here is a lot of money, just leave this place and never say these things again. That is the easiest way. That doesn’t work. The next step is to openly oppose him. Which their best lawyer, Zeezrom, does. But Amulek withstands him and that plan falls through. If he couldn’t be outspoken, perhaps he can be discredited. then a judge asks him about a particular point of law that is meant to discredit him if he can’t answer about his own beliefs. But that doesn’t work either. In fact, one of the lawyers converts. So what is the final path? If the government, or people who are doing the dirty deeds, can’t get them put away, they have to make it public opinion to put them away. Make their own “friends” turn against them till it is lawful or they are condemned and thrown out. Pattern this is. Bribe, fight, discredit, lawful condemnation. Remember theses point at any job. Because this kind of stuff happens every day. This would be a great transition to a political discussion but I have been away from politics too long and if I were to write anything my only evidence would be from things I’m sent by family. Incomplete at best.
Charge #3: Testifying Plainly Against Wickedness
The third charge we have already talked about. Talking plainly. It’s an odd charge. I have a quote I thought I’d share from the Book of Mormon Institute Manual. It is pointing out an interesting thing that the teachings of Alma and Amulek did. This quote is from Brigham Young.
“The Gospel of Salvation is perfectly calculated to cause division. It strikes at the root of the very existence of mankind in their wickedness, evil designs, passions, and wicked calculations. There is no evil among the human family, but at the foundation of which it strikes effectually, and comes in contact with every evil passion that arises in the heart of man. It is opposed to every evil practice of men and consequently it disturbs them in the wicked courses they are pursuing.”
That’s what happened in the city of Ammonihah. The gospel divided the people. It took out the gray area and either put you against God, rebelling and hating Alma and Amulek or for God, humbling and repenting of all your sins.
I’m grateful the gospel does this. Because what it means is that you can fully become a good person. The gospel will perfect you if you faithfully stick to it. You can purge all the bad habits, ideas, feelings, acts from your life through the gospel. That’s just the way it’s set up. Brigham Young said it. On the flip side, if you reject the gospel, you are controlled more and more by Satan. I’ve said this many times before in other notebooks but I’ll say it again. The time is at hand when the gray area between the light side and dark side is exponentially shrinking. Soon, if it already hasn’t happened to you, you will have the choice before you. If you do not follow your choice wholeheartedly, you’ll be taken to the opposite side.
The People Sought to Put Them Alma and Amulek Privily
It says at the end of verse 3 that the wicked people sought to put them away privily. But it didn’t happen. The people bound them in strong cords and brought them before the judge of the land.
Put them away privily? I originally thought the root word was private. And it was a British way of saying private. But I looked it up in my dictionary. Now that I think about it, I did know the root word, “privy” before but it’s been a long time since I’ve heard of it being used. Privy means to share in secret knowledge or information, AKA secret combinations. To explain verse 3, the people of Ammonihah were angry with the plainness of Alma and Amulek’s speech. Therefore, in their secret meetings, they decided to put them away (kill) them. Verses 1-3 must have taken place over a few days to allow time for secret plan making to be done.
Cross reference Acts 23:12-15. A similar thing happens with Paul. Forty Jews seek to take his life. the plot was foiled and Paul’s life was saved.
Going back through to what happened with Alma and Amulek. Perhaps the conspirators sought to kill them privately without anyone knowing. Perhaps like Paul, the plan was foiled or no opportunity arose to carry out the devilish deed. Instead, they bound Alma and Amulek with strong cords and took them before the Chief Judge of the land. I don’t know if they (the people that sought to kill Alma and Amulek) just abandoned the plan and tied them up. Maybe the general populace got to them before the killers could. I don’t know. I suppose we’ll continue to not know till more scripture comes out. But it is interesting to think of ways why they were bound rather than killed.
So they were taken before the chief judge of the land. Who was this chief judge? Because I don’t think it was the chief judge of all the land, Nephihah. Nephihah was a righteous and wise man. He also knew Alma personally. Based off what happens to Alma and Amulek later, I don’t think he would allow that to happen.
A Revised System of Judges
Enter one of my companion’s theories. His thoughts are that each Nephite city was its own city-state. An “offshoot” of Zarahemla if you will. What I mean by that is the main chief judge was in Zarahemla, that is Nephihah. but each Nephite city had their own group of judges, lesser though, to take care of things in their own city. Interesting thought right? Let’s go all the way back to Mosiah 29:28-29. It talks about the checks and balances implemented into their society as far as judges are concerned. I’m going to quote myself from my commentary on the subject. I had two theories. Both of which I will re-state and them put forth how I believe this entire situation in Ammonihah went down.
My train of though was this according to Mosiah 29:28-29. Normally judges (#1) take most of the cases. If that judgment is termed unrighteous, an appeal is made to a higher judge (#2). If that one is deemed unrighteous as well, then the lower judges (#3) and the voice of the people decide on what will happen.
My next thought is this. Maybe the “lower judges” and “judges” from the above example were the same thing. SO the process would essentially look the same just a minor change.
When I first wrote about this, I felt the first to be more logical. But as far as my knowledge is concerned, I have no idea which is right. Maybe both are wrong? An interesting thought occurred while I was reading and writing. They could both be right but explaining different levels of government. The one on the bottom of the last page could be describing locally, or within the city-state, and the one on top could be describing more nationally. Let me make some word changes to help explain what I’m thinking about. I’ll start with the one on top
and the bottom one
One thought that has been with me throughout this entire writing is the similarity of the system of judges and our own judicial system in the U.S. Granted, I have been away from the motherland a long time and maybe my knowledge of the U.S. government has melded with the scriptures. Maybe I’m remembering wrong. Nevertheless, it’s interesting. God-inspired government.
Bringing it all back to what is going on in the story, I think that the people brought Alma and Amulek to the chief judge of the city. At which point, they were both judged.
The False Testimonies Begin
The people came forth testifying against Alma and Amulek. that they had reviled against everyone and that they taught them there was one God and that he shouldn’t save them.
This shows that when a group of people has the same mindset, the laws of the land don’t matter. I mean mindset in the wrong way. Namely that these were guilty before they were even tried. Alma and Amulek were innocent and had done nothing wrong. but despite that, the law was interpreted as to make them be sentenced.
Zeezrom is watching this trial and he begins to be “harrowed” up under a consciousness of his own guilt” because he realizes just how much of a role he has played in not only moving the people along in their hatred of Alma and Amulek but also in forming the beliefs and opinions of the general populace over the past who knows how long. And how wrong it has all been. I imagine it is like waking up. He has been dreaming. In his dream, He and Ammonihah have been good and everything is alright. Alma and Amulek woke him up to the reality of the situation. Now he feels bad and is trying to repent. It says that he cried unto the people that Alma and Amulek were spotless before God. Think about if this were you. Wouldn’t you do the same? I think we all would. He is trying to take all the words he said earlier back. He is racked with torment because of what he’s done. The only way to free himself from that in his mind is to free Alma and Amulek. Once he tries to do that, though, the people revile and ask him if he is possessed by a devil. They spit on him and start to drive all the believers out of the city by casting stones at them. The situation is escalating quickly
What happens next is quite gruesome.
The Records Are Burned
The people of Ammonihah have Alma and Amulek tied up. The trial is over and they are not innocent. As Zeezrom attempts to save the two missionaries, the people chase out Zeezrom and all the believers by spitting and casting stones at them. Those that don’t manage to make it out of the city, whether man, woman, or child, are caught and brought forth, along with their records, and thrown into a fire to be burned.
Satan is a tricky one. He is all about recklessness, craziness, and having no control. These words describe what is happening. You think of the progression of the missionaries’ trip. Alma arrives, teaches Amulek and his household, they begin preaching about how it is Ammonihah’s last chance to repent. The people don’t like they attempt to quiet them. It was a simple debate that then turned into a trial and now is turning into a slaughter of the citizens of the city. Yeah, it escalated quickly. You give Satan a little chance and he’ll work within and pretty soon, you’ll be consumed and do things you hadn’t planned on originally. Like killing lots of people. Ok, maybe not on a personal level, that is a little extreme. But in the case of Ammonihah’s population, it was the case.
There is another side to this story I wish we had. We don’t have the righteous members’ side. I bet there is one. There has to be. Enough people were praying and that is what kept the city from destruction. I don’t think these people were sitting at their home unawares of what was going on in the city square. They probably went to listen to Alma and Amulek. Probably defended them along with Zeezrom. We don’t get much info other than they were cast out with the other believers. Maybe the story of their valientness, although noble and memorable, wasn’t the main message of this story. Maybe their tale is too pure to be told at the current time. I don’t know. I think there are a lot of sides in the Book of Mormon we don’t get. That’s understandable considering how many records had to be sorted through. One day I think we’ll get access to more records that will detail stories of great courage from the members and things they went through for the gospel.
In addition to throwing people in the fire, they throw their records which contained the holy scriptures. It never stuck out that these were records being burned. I imagined it as the members being burned along with their copy of the scriptures. But now that I think about it, their records were their scriptures. Because the society in which they lived was similar to the one where the records were detailing. What I mean is that these are Nephite people. Their scriptures and records were from the Nephite people. They are burning the history books and religious books.
The effects of destroying the records are bad. You begin to lose what really happened and oral tradition can be mixed with false info after many generations. Not to say that written history is pure but I feel like it takes time to record things that happen and as such, people generally write things down as they are while the memory is still fresh. Not only that but you are destroying evidence of a written language. When the rising generation has no access to visuals of a written language, I would imagine it is hard to pick up writing and keep it. Even if your parents taught you from their memory, it would be hard unless you were constantly practicing so you could remember.
I wonder what types of records they were. The brass plates were…well, brass plates. Nephi had plates. Ether had, I mean, the Jaredites had plates. Was everyone writing on plates or was that just an official way to record the history of the people? As far as throwing plates into the fire I feel like it wouldn’t do much unless it was really hot. This makes me think there must have been another medium, a more flammable one. I’m by no means discounting the plates thought, though. If not plates, then what? Some sort of paper they used dye and a writing instrument? I don’t know. It’s interesting to think about. Parchment would be a lot more satisfying to burn than plates of metal.
Wow! We have a possible answer to the question! Hurrah for cross references! Go to Jeremiah 36:21-28. This talks about rolls of scriptures being burned. That could mean the same for the people of Ammonihah. Everyone has scrolls. Perhaps the official history was carved on plates but then when given to the masses, was copied onto rolls for convenience of use. I don’t know if that is true but that is what I can pull from this cross reference.
The cross reference does bring up a good point too. Once the scrolls are burned, the Lord commands Jeremiah to rewrite what was on the previously burned scrolls. this goes to show that prophets are inspired of God and speak his word and no destroying of records can slow them down because they can just go back to the perfect author and get them back, word for word. Cool isn’t it?