Alma 63:1 Shiblon took possession of those sacred things
Shiblon was the son of Alma the younger and brother to Helaman. He received counsel from his father, as recorded in Alma 38. His record, Alma chapter 63, could be accurately named the Book of Shiblon, but then Alma 45-62 could just as accurately be named the Book of Helaman (see heading for Alma 45). Certainly, Shiblon's father Alma had been translated long ago and had left the 'sacred things' to his sons Helaman and Shiblon. The phrase 'sacred things' is used because Shiblon received more than just records. Traditionally, the custodian of the plates would also receive the Liahona, the sword of Laban, and the Urim and Thummim (see Mosiah 1:16, Alma 37:21).
"The book of Alma in the Book of Mormon is made up of the records of three different writers: Alma and his sons, Helaman, and Shiblon. The record of Alma in the book of Alma is unique in that it comprises 22.6 percent of the entire Nephite record and yet covers only 18 years, or merely 1.76 percent of the entire 1021 years of Nephite history from 600 BC to AD 421. The record of Alma covers the first 44 chapters of the book of Alma, the 18 years from 91 to 73 BC. The record of Helaman makes up chapters 45-62, covering the 16 years from 73 to 57 BC. Mormon's abridgement of Shiblon's record constitutes the last chapter (Alma 63)." (Fred E. Woods, Alma, the Testimony of the Word, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, p. 305.)
Alma 63:3 And it came to pass that Moroni died
Within a year or so of his retirement, Moroni died. His death within such a short time reminds us of other great figures in history-those whose deaths came very shortly after their missions were accomplished, e.g. Joseph Smith and Abraham Lincoln. With Moroni too, it seems that his life was ordained for one purpose, to preserve the Nephite nation. Once that mission was accomplished, the Lord took him.
Alma 63:5-8 they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned
Robert L. Simpson
Now, young people, as I bear my testimony to you this morning, I want to relate some very intimate happenings. I want to tell you some things that have been important in my life, things that have been main structural supports in my testimony, and I want to tell them to you in all humility. I hope you will not misconstrue these remarks. I want you to be sure and realize that I tell them to you not in a boasting way. I tell them to you just because they are a part of my life and so much a part of my life that I do not know how to separate myself from them. I give them to you in hopes that you might be able to at least remember the spirit of what I say and perhaps make it a small part of your testimony, too.
"I would like, in making reference to these wonderful people from New Zealand-especially the Maori folks here today-to turn to Alma 63:5-8, and read a very significant quotation. It talks about a man called Hagoth, a man who set sail from these Americas many centuries ago. (quotes Alma 63:5-8).
"I would like to tell you young people that in a great gathering of Polynesians held right in Salt Lake City just prior to 1915, a prophet of the Lord, President Joseph F. Smith, addressing a group of Polynesians who had come to Salt Lake City to participate in their temple endowment work, made the statement that without a doubt this man Hagoth and his company were the progenitors of the Polynesian races, and that this migration was the beginning of the Polynesian population in the South Pacific.
"Now up until very recently men of science have said, no, the Polynesians have come from the Malay States, they have come from the African, from the Asian side, and they have migrated from a westerly direction to the Polynesian islands-not from the Americas. This has been popular thinking until about 1940, when a very bold scholar by the name of Thor Heyerdahl made the observation that indeed these people must be from the Americas. He set out to prove this by building some balsa rafts on which he set himself adrift off the shores of South and Central America. He and his companions drifted for about one hundred days, and depending only on the prevailing tides and winds of that area, they found themselves cast upon the shores of these South Pacific islands, not far from Tahiti. It seems rather significant that all of a sudden scientific opinion began to change and Thor Heyerdahl, since that day, has presented additional evidences that have further made it a very important consideration-that the Polynesians did originate from the Americas.
"Now the Maoris themselves have something to say about this theory. They all have the same answer to the questions, 'Where did your people come from? Where did you originate?' The answer is always the same:
'I haere mai matou i tawhiti nui, i tawhiti roe, i tawhiti pamamau i te hono i te wai e rua.' ('We came from a great distance, from a still greater distance, from a very, very great distance, from the joining place of two great waters.')
"Perhaps by the narrow neck of land that separated the two great seas, the narrow neck of land which led into the land northward. This is Maori tradition and I want to tell you that those who have joined the Church believe without reservation, that these things I have told you are part and parcel of Mormon doctrine. (BYU Speeches of the Year, April 4, 1962, p. 6.)
Mark E. Petersen
"...the Polynesian Saints are characterized by a tremendous faith. Why do they have this great faith? It is because these people are of the blood of Israel. They are heirs to the promises of the Book of Mormon. God is now awakening them to their great destiny." (Conference Report, Apr. 1962, p. 112)
Alma 63:9 there were many people who went forth into the land northward
Up to this point, Nephite and Mulekite civilizations had remained in the land south of the narrow neck. Bountiful was the northernmost Nephite territory. However, the colonizing expeditions from 55-53 BC were the beginning of a general migration of Nephite society northward. 'And it came to pass in the forty and sixth, yea, there was much contention and many dissensions; in the which there were an exceedingly great many who departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land. And they did travel to an exceedingly great distance...' (Hel 3:3-11). By 350 AD, the land of Zarahemla had been completely abandoned and the Nephites were all in the land northward (Mormon 2:29).
Alma 63:12 all those engravings which were in the possession of Helaman were written and sent forth
"From the time that Lehi left Jerusalem to the days of Jesus, there were a great many records kept by the remnant of Joseph, upon this land. The Book of Mormon does not contain one hundredth part of the records of these prophets. Now did they keep all of them on plates, or did they multiply them by thousands of copies on this land? Let me refer you to page 388, of the Book of Mormon. 'And now behold all those engravings which were in the possession of Helaman, were written and sent forth among the children of men throughout all the land...' Now to confine the sacred records in one place, and to keep the people in ignorance in regard to their contents, would not be reasonable. Hence we are informed that they were written and sent forth throughout all the land, and this will account for the extracts from the Scriptures written in ancient Hebrew, discovered in the mounds that have been opened in Ohio, among which were the ten commandments. The people of this land were well acquainted with the Scriptures." (Journal of Discourses, 16: 56 - 57.)
Alma 63:12 those parts which had been commanded by Alma should not go forth
Alma had commanded that certain parts of the scriptural record be kept secret. These included the oaths, covenants, and plans of the secret combinations (Alma 37:27-29), the revelation of Alma which foretells the destruction of the entire Nephite nation (Alma 45:9-14), and the revelation given to the brother of Jared (Ether 3:25-4:7).
Joseph Fielding Smith
"The people of Limhi brought to Mosiah a record, '... engraven on plates of ore,' (Mosiah 21:27) which record Mosiah translated by the aid of 'two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow,' and which gave an account of the Jaredites. (See Ibid., 28:11-19.) In translating this record Mosiah kept from going forth to the people that particular part forbidden of the Lord to be revealed until after he was lifted up upon the cross. (See Ether 4:1.) These sacred revelations given to the brother of Jared were kept from the Nephite people, as well as many other things, until after the resurrection of Christ. (See Alma 63:12.) After the appearing of the Savior to the Nephites, the vision of the brother of Jared was revealed to the Nephites." ("Your Question by Joseph Fielding Smith," Improvement Era, June, 1954)