Alma chapter 15! It’s about time.
Alma and Amulek were commanded to depart out of the city so they do. They make their way to Sidom. There, they find the members who had been cast out and stoned from Ammonihah.
Imagining How Alma and Amulek Left Ammonihah
I imagine it went something like this. Alma and Amulek are walking away from the fallen prison looking ragged as ever. People are fleeing from them. Guards catch them, though. They don’t resist because, well, it’s been a long day and they probably didn’t care too much. And the chances of them being tossed into prison again were zero since it had just fallen down. They are taken before a leader and he was probably scared or mad, probably both, and tells them to leave the city. So they do. No questions or complaints. They had done all they could and their sacrifice had been accepted. It was time to move on. I don’t know how they knew to go to Sidom. Maybe it was the city closest to Ammonihah. That would make sense. If not, maybe they were aware somehow that was where the saints were going. Or maybe they were led by the spirit there. It doesn’t matter how they got there what matter is they got there.
The Land of Sidom
Sidom isn’t actually a city but an area. The land of Sidom. Which means that they were probably living in the wilderness. Since they were driven out on the spot, I imagine they didn’t have much time to grab personal belongings or supplies to sustain themselves. The condition of the Saints must have been humble. I was going to write “dire” but I feel like the Nephites were good at living off the land. The land of Sidom is only mentioned in this chapter and the next one. Nowhere else is it mentioned in the Book of Mormon (see Sidom, land of).
Wow. I just learned so much about the land of Sidom. I want to go back real fast and learn everything I can about other lands or cities that have already been mentioned in our reading of the Book of Mormon together.
The Land of Zarahemla
The first one, and probably the main one is the land of Zarahemla. The index says, “The region around the city of Zarahemla, also area from the southern wilderness to the land Bountiful on the North.” The city of Zarahemla also according to the index was the major capital of the Nephites from 200 BC to 200 AD.” That’s a long time. If you read the index section of the land of Zarahemla and all the scriptures associated with it, you get a scope of just how much has happened in and around this city. And it’s fascinating! Let me write this in a way that will make Zarahemla come to life.
- Omni 1:12-13–Mosiah the first is made king over the land of Zarahemla after joining with the Mulekites
- Omni 1:24–Benjamin drives the Lamanites from Zarahemla
- Omni 1:28–Expedition seeking the land of Nephi returns to the land of Zarahemla.
- Mosiah 1–No more contention in the land of Zarahemla and the people gather to hear King Benjamin
- Mosiah 7:9–Zeniff leaves from Zarahemla
- Mosiah 7:13-14–Ammon comes from Zarahemla to inquire after the people of Zeniff
- Mosiah 21:24-26–Limhi’s expedition fails to find Zarahemla.
- Mosiah 22:11-13–Limhi’s people arrive in Zarahemla
- Mosiah 24:25–Alma and his people arrive in Zarahemla
- Mosiah 25:19-23–Alma the Elder is permitted to establish churches throughout the land of Zarahemla.
- Mosiah 27:34-35–Sons of Mosiah II preach throughout Zarahemla to repair their injuries.
- Mosiah 29:44–The reign of the judges commences in Zarahemla
- Alma 2:15-25–Lamanites and Nephites battle in the land of Zarahemla.
- Alma 5:1–Alma the Younger begins his mission in Zarahemla.
- Alma 15:18 –Alma returns from his mission with Amulek to Zarahemla.
- Alma 27:5-20–The people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi come to Zarahemla
- Alma 30:12–Korihor comes to Zarahemla
- Alma 35:14–Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah II return to Zarahemla
- Alma 59:4–Moroni sends epistles to Zarahemla
- Alma 60:30–Moroni threatens to come to Zarahemla and smite the leaders with the sword.
- Alma 62:6-8–Moroni restores Pahoran to the judgment seat in Zarahemla
- Helaman 4:5–Lamanites capture Zarahemla
- Helaman 5:16-19–Nephi and Lehi convert 8,000 Lamanites in Zarahemla.
- Helaman 6:4–Many converted Lamanites gather in Zarahemla
- Helaman 13:2 Samuel the Lamanite preaches in Zarahemla.
- 3rd Nephi 3:22-23–Zarahemla is appointed as a place of gathering in defense against enemies.
- Mormon 1:6–Mormon is taken by his father to Zarahemla.
That is most of the references to the land of or city Zarahemla. Like I wrote before the list. Zarahemla was important as a capital city for 400 years. Just reading through all these scripture summaries amazes me. So many things happened in this area. Can you imagine living there? What an incredible place it must have been. Even if you didn’t live there, imagine going there for the first time. How much history was there! How many righteous prophets had walked their roads or armies threatened their borders? If we found this city, it would be so cool! Just oozing with history. I’d just want to go there and think. Long and deep. Trying to imagine what it would have been like to live there. What an experience that would be!
The Two Hills We’ve Read About Thus Far
Another geographical location that pops up is the hill Manti. Simply stated in the index is a hill near the city of Zarahemla where Nehor was put to death. Another hill is Amnihu. That is on the eastern side of the River Sidon. I think I drew a picture when I wrote about it in my notebook.
The Valley and Land of Gideon
Next on my list is the valley and land of Gideon. Again, this place is east of the River Sidon. There are multiple scripture references here so I’ll copy them to give a brief rundown of the area.
- Alma 2:20-26–People of Alma pitch their tents in the land of Gideon (while they are fighting the Amlicites)
- Alma 6:7-8–Alma preaches in Gideon and establishes a church there.
- Alma 17:1–Alma meets the sons of Mosiah while traveling from Gideon.
- Alma 30:21–Korihor preaches in Gideon without success.
- Alma 61:5–Pahoran flees to the land of Gideon
- Alma 62:3-6 Moroni unites with Pahoran in the land of Gideon.
Taking all these scriptures into account, Gideon has seen armies trample around and only a few years later, Alma returns and establishes a church there. Must have been a strong area because they saw Korihor for who he was and kicked him out. Yet, it must have been close to Zarahemla. If I’m not mistaken, this is the first place Alma goes after giving up the judgment seat. And it is where Pahoran goes after he is driven from the city. Maybe it was the biggest city closest to Zarahemla. But far enough away from it, that the bad guys didn’t pursue when they kicked Pahoran and the others out. Why do I say it’s a big city? My initial reason was that no ordinary city or village is named after a Nephite patriot. But actually, if you read the last scripture reference for Gideon, it talks about Moroni’s march to the land of Gideon. By the time he got there, thousands had come to help him. If Gideon was a small place, it wouldn’t have been able to garrison all those troops, let along enough to outmatch the kingmen back in Zarahemla. That’s my spiel on Gideon.
The Land of Minon
Next is the land of Minon. Alma 2:24 is the only reference to it in the entire Book of Mormon. According to the index, it says it is the Nephite land on the west bank of the river Sidon. It also says it is above the land of Zarahemla. That is a tricky thing. The directions posed in the Book of Mormon are talked about in a book I have. When they say above, does it mean North? Or are we referencing something else? The book suggested since it is possible the river could flow north to south, above could mean our south is what they based them directions on (as opposed to north). But that’s too deep. Need more info. For now, let’s stick with the west bank of the river Sidon.
The Land of Nephi
Let’s talk about the Land of Nephi. Go there in the index. I’ll copy the scripture references as much as I see fit and the splurge it gives about it before the references. Here we go, land of Nephi: land of Lehites’ first inheritance, also a small part of that land called the land of Lehi-Nephi.
- 2 Nephi 5:8–Named after Nephi 1st.
- Omni 1:12–Mosiah flees from Nephi as directed.
- Omni 1:27-30–Large numbers of Nephites return to Nephi (Zeniff’s group)
- Mosiah 7:6–Ammon and his brethren go to Nephi (not the sons of Mosiah Ammon)
- Mosiah 7:7-8: Ammon and his brethren imprisoned in Nephi
- Mosiah 9-22–Record of Zeniff’s people in the land of Nephi
- Mosiah 28:1-9–Mosiah’s sons are permitted to go on a mission to Nephi
- Mosiah 29:3–Aaron goes to Nephi
- Alma 2:24–Amlicites join Lamanites in Nephi
- Alma 17-26–Account of Mosiah’s sons’ mission to the Lamanites in Nephi
- Alma 27:20–Sons of Mosiah tell of mission in Nephi
- Alma 27:26 Ammonites (Anti-Nephi-Lehis) leave Nephi
- Alma 47:1–Amalekiahites go to Nephi
- Alma 53:6–Moroni captures the city of Mulek in Nephi
- Helaman 4:12–Nephite dissenters join Lamanites in Nephi
- Helaman 5:20–Nephi and Lehi go to Nephi
The chief city of the land of Nephi is…the city of Nephi.
It seems like they name the land after the name of the chief city. Think back to the beginning of the Book of Mormon. Nephites and Lamanites are generally in the same area. Until the Nephites become wicked and Mosiah and his followers flee north. They find the Mulekites there. We don’t hear about what happened to the rest of the Nephites after they left. I like to think they joined the Lamanites. By the time Zeniff and his group come back, it is all Lamanites. But, nevertheless, as the story goes, they are given land to live. The Nephites are much more technologically advanced because of their righteousness and knowledge so their city of Nephi (remember, the Lamanites hated Nephi, no way they would name their city after him unless a Nephite started it.) was most likely better than Lamanite ones. Due to bad leadership in Nephi, the city becomes subject to Lamanite taxation until the people escape and flee to Zarahemla. Thus becoming a Lamanite city.
Cardinal Directions in the Book of Mormon
Interesting thought before moving on to the Waters of Mormon. In my Exploring the Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland book, it suggests that the land of Nephi or the land of first inheritance is in the southeastern U.S. If that is true, look back a page to the Alma 2:24 scripture reference. It says that the Amlicites joined the Nephites in Nephi. Look back two pages. It says that it is the land of Minon. Which is above Zarahemla. How to reconcile? Exactly what I was saying earlier about reference points. Using the river Sidon, if it flows north to south, then above could mean our south because the compass would be turned upside down.
The Waters of Mormon
Now for the Waters of Mormon. The place of Mormon, according to the index is the region near the city of Lehi-Nephi (also called the city of Nephi). The forest of Mormon is near the waters of Mormon and waters of Mormon is a fountain in the land of Mormon. hahaha.
The Land of Melek
Next is the land of Melek. The index says that it is Nephite land west of Sidon. This is the land that includes Ammonihah. This is also the land that the Ammonites settle in. See Alma 35:13. This was after the Nephite wars begun. The Ammonites left Jershon and moved to Melek so that the Nephite armies could fight more effectively. The last reference we have to the land of Melek is in Alma 45:18. Alma the Younger departs out of the land of Zarahemla towards the land of Melek. He’s never heard of again.
The City of Ammonihah
There are two more left, then I’m through. The city of Ammonihah and the land of Salem (or Jerusalem). I’ll refer you to my writings on Salem and Jerusalem and we’ll finish off with Ammonihah.
Ammonihah…look in the index. It says in the west, near the cities of Melek, Noah, and Aaron. I won’t follow after those other cities right now. I’ll save those for later. A majority of the scriptures regarding this city are given during the story we’ve been discussing this entire book. Therefore, I’ll just put down a few facts to summarize the history. It was named after the first possessor (Ammonihah was his name). Wicked city in which Alma preached at, was thrown out, went back, found another companion, and continued preaching till they were thrown out again. During which time, the destruction of the city was predicted (Alma 10:23) and later fulfilled (Alma 16:2-3,9). After the destruction of the city, it was called Desolation of Nehors. It wasn’t until Alma 49:3 that the city was rebuilt by Nephites and the Lamanites dared not to attack it.
Ok, that’s it for the lands.
Alma and Amulek Tell the Saints in Sidon What Happened in Ammonihah
Alma and Amulek relate everything that had happened to the Saints’ wives and children and also concerning themselves and of their power of deliverance. I can only imagine the sadness of the tale being told. Husbands weeping for their wives and children. It could have happened like this:
The member husbands went to work every day, while the kids stayed home with mom. Since Alma and Amulek were preaching and everyone was getting fired up about it, work could have been suspended temporarily to hear what the missionaries were saying. Lots of male members could have been in attendance of those sermons. Then the riots broke out and the members were stoned and driven out, leaving wives and children at home unawares of what happened. After which, the riot hunted down the rest of the members and did what they did. Or maybe entire families were attending Alma and Amulek’s sermons, only to be separated when the riot broke out. Those who escaped hoped to find their loved ones among the crowd. But finding it not so cried out in anguish. Or maybe one began to run back towards Ammonihah? Maybe a brother grabbed him and told him they’d kill him if they went back. He probably said he didn’t care because his wife and kids were back there. I don’t know how I’d respond to that. I think I’d try to comfort him by saying that God would take care of his wife and family. I’d reassure him that he did not abandon them. He was forced from the city. Circumstances beyond his control. I don’t know if I’d really do that, though. I don’t know if that would be the right thing to say. I don’t know if I’d let him go and try to find his family. That’s a hard decision. Because you both don’t feel good and are powerless to control the outcome. This reminds me a lot of the early history of the saint in this latter-day church.
Parallels with the Early Saints
The early saints were driven many times from place to place. People were shot, tar and feathered, stabbed, had houses burned, possessions were stolen or broken, and a thousand other horrors. A lot of times people got separated and if you didn’t find them, they were most likely dead. It’s hard. That’s an understatement. Even though we have an eternal outlook and hope in Jesus Christ, some days it is just hard. Days when you can’t seem to function properly or want to go on. That’s probably how the saints in Ammonihah and early church history felt. It’s at that bedrock low in your life that everyone needs God. Because they have nothing else that can get them up. They’ve tried and failed. And God will do it because He can. I’m not smart enough to say when or how. But I know that he will. He did it for me, multiple times. So I know he can do it for you. Man, it’s tough to be a member of the church sometimes. People don’t like you very much. But it’s also very rewarding and it seems like the bad times melt away with the passage of time.
Confirming Faith and Covenants
Listening to Alma and Amulek talk about how they were delivered from prison would have been amazing. Maybe the saints had heard of other miracles happening or read them in the scriptures but to actually have something like a prison falling to the ground would have been awe-inspiring. Maybe it confirmed the faith of a few.
Last bit I forgot to mention on the last page. When Alma and Amulek told about the martyrdom, you would have to have great faith in the plan of Salvation. Because that is what would carry you on. Maybe some of those families had been sealed in the temple. And when God told Alma and Amulek that he received all those people up into his glory and that death would be sweet unto them, man, that would be a confirming witness of not only the Plan of Salvation but of your temple marriage. It means you would get to see your wife and kids again.