Alma 51

Alma 51:5 king-men...were overthrow the free government

In four years of diligent preaching, Helaman and company had successfully established peace among the members of the Church (Alma 48:20). With an impenetrable happiness among the saints, it seems the only way that Satan could get to the righteous was to stir up dissension and contention on political grounds. His resourcefulness can be exhausting and requires exhaustive measures to combat.

Today, there are some who are comfortable with the stability within the Church, declaring, 'All is well in Zion' (2 Ne 28:21). However, in times of internal stability, we need to be even more aware of what is going on around us. Political and social dissensions which usually begin as 'warm contentions' and 'warm disputes' (Alma 50:26; 51:4) are designed by the wicked one to destroy freedom. In other words, we need to recognize the latter-day "king-men" for what they really are-Satan's unwitting "henchmen."

Orson F. Whitney

"It is Lucifer...who seeks the overthrow of free institutions, free churches, free government, and who saps wherever he can the foundation of the rights of man. That same fallen being, once called the Morning Star, presented himself before the Father, at the beginning, and offered himself as a candidate for the saviorship of this world. He declared--had the audacity to declare--that his purpose was to save man in his sins. 'Not one soul shall be lost.' He proposed to compel all to be saved, and sought to destroy the free agency of man." (Conference Report, Oct. 1906, p. 71)

Joseph Fielding Smith

"One of our speakers yesterday said that we were living in a very critical time. For many years we have been living in peace and comparative prosperity, we have had no contentions with our neighbors; on the surface at least their feelings have been kindly, and apparently everything has been in the nature of peace and prosperity. But these are the times when Latter-day Saints should take heed concerning the revelations of the Lord and desire to keep his commandments with full purpose of heart, more perhaps than at any other time." (Conference Report, Apr. 1926, p. 54)

Alma 51:6 freemen...covenanted to maintain their rights and the privileges of their religion by a free government

Ezra Taft Benson

"The only real peace-the one most of us think about when we use the term-is a peace with freedom. A nation that is not willing, if necessary, to face the rigors of war to defend its real peace-in-freedom is doomed to lose both its freedom and its peace! These are the hard facts of life. We may not like them, but until we live in a far better world than exists today, we must face up to them squarely and courageously." (An Enemy Hath Done this, pp. 161-2 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 355)

Alma 51:7 the voice of the people came in favor of the freemen

"'It is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law-to do your business by the voice of the people.' (Mosiah 29:26.)

"This advice would not necessarily eliminate a constitutional monarchy, a parliamentary government, a unitary state, a federal republic, or even a more authoritarian form of government that truly represented the people. The test is whether the 'voice of the people' conducts the business. This principle of King Mosiah was not just a brilliant experiment-it was inspired. An illuminating test of the principle occurred some years later among the people when one faction agitated for an all-powerful king and, consequently, for the abolition of the 'voice of the people.' Two parties formed-the king-men and the freemen-and gave their 'voice' on this question. The results: 'The voice of the people came in favor of the freemen, and [the chief judge] retained the judgment-seat.' (Alma 51:7.)

"Even though these are political examples, they reflect a theological principle. Our Father himself recognized the principle of consent, and Brigham Young, in discussing celestial government, maintained that 'the eternal laws by which he and all others exist in the eternities of the Gods, decree that the consent of the creature must be obtained before the Creator can rule perfectly.' (JD, 15:134.)" (Edwin Brown Firmage, Ensign, June 1976, 11)

Alma 51:13 the men who were called king-men...refused to take up arms

Vaughn J. Featherstone

"Someone asked me once how I felt about amnesty for the draft card burner and the deserter. I told him that I thought every one of them should be taken before General Moroni to be judged." (Ensign, Nov. 1975, pp. 7-10 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 355)

Alma 51:17 Moroni commanded that his army should...pull down their pride and their nobility

"Moroni and his sword led the fight against pride, nobility and dissension (Alma 51:17-20); combated iniquity and evil (46:9-11); supported the 'cause of freedom' (35); and 'delighted in the saving of his people from destruction' (55:19).  It is likely that Mormon included so much material on Moroni for more substantial reasons than a fascination with military history.  Moroni was a man needed in his day to counter the pride, dissension, iniquity and covenant-breaking which abounded.  The term 'dissension' or its derivative appears over 26 times in these chapters, more than in any other book...

"Moroni's views concerning dissension and disunity can be best understood within his covenantal perspective.  He coupled a love of freedom and liberty was with the knowledge that these could only be secured by faithfulness and obedience to covenants.  Dissidents, in his view, were covenant-breakers.  Their lack of trust in God or concern for the community of the saints put the whole people in jeopardy.  Their alliances with Nephite enemies only compounded the problem.  Both Moroni and Mormon saw dissension as a root cause of Nephite problems." (Thomas R. Valetta, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Alma, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 244)

Alma 51:21 thus Moroni put an end to those king-men

Hugh Nibley

"[Moroni] gave the rebels the opportunity to support the common cause without punishment or prejudice, and used his special powers to deal summarily with those who held out, four thousand of them, 'for there was no time for their trials at this period' (Alma 51:19). 'And thus Moroni put an end to those king-men . . . to the stubbornness and the pride of those people who professed the blood of nobility; but they were brought down to humble themselves like unto their brethren' (Alma 51:21). There is no talk of humbling in the dust, but simply the restoration of equality, in which Moroni emerges as the champion of popular government, 'beloved of all the people of Nephi' (Alma 53:2). His methods had been admittedly severe, and all that justified them was an extreme national emergency.

"But the emergency was very real, for even at that time Amalickiah, made wise in the ways of war, was leading his greatest army yet into the weakest parts of the land and sweeping all before him. Bypassing the strongest places, he flanked the Nephites along the coast in a lightning move that knocked out the weaker fortified places one after another and sent the occupants fleeing like sheep from one collapsing fortification to the next as he 'went on, taking possession of many cities' (Alma 51:26-28). It was a well-executed operation that spread panic and converted many of Moroni's strong places into Lamanite bases (Alma 51:27). " (Since Cumorah, p. 312-13)

Alma 51:26 Amalickiah...went on, taking possession of many cities ... Nephihah ... Lehi ... Morianton ... Omner ... Gid ... Mulek

This simple verse reminds us who is abridging this work. The great Nephite commander Mormon never gives us much detail about the military successes of the Lamanites. While he will expound for quite some time on the military genius of Moroni and his captains, he just can't stomach a detailed description of the 'cunning of Amalickiah' (v. 27). Accordingly, we read of an entire Lamanite campaign in only a few verses. Of this entire campaign, the only detail we get is the part about the bold stance of Teancum's army and the bolder mission to assassinate Amalickiah.

And so, this seemingly insignificant verse is really a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true. It is just one of a thousand other unmentioned internal consistencies which could not be expected if the Book of Mormon was merely the elaborate concoction of an uneducated 24 year-old farmer.

(It should be noted that while the city of Nephihah was included on this list of cities, it was not captured by the Lamanites for 5 more years. See Alma 59:5-9. It is presumed that all the cities but Nephihah were captured in the year 67 BC, but that Nephihah was not attacked until 62 BC.)

Alma 51:34 Teancum stole privily into the tent of the king, and put a javelin to his heart

"In many ways, Teancum was a heroic extension of Moroni's own quickness, decisiveness, and boldness. Teancum's personal courage went almost to the point of recklessness, in a way that appeals to our sense of adventure even while we recognize the dangers...We do not know whether Teancum soberly calculated the cost in lives of another battle or was inflamed with fury against the renegade Nephite who had caused so much bloodshed. At any rate, while the armies slept in exhaustion, he crept through the Lamanite camp to Amalickiah's tent, killed him silently, and then withdrew...the Lamanites awoke on the first day of the new year (in 66 B.C.) to find their king dead and the Nephites poised for battle."  (Eugene England, Ensign, Sept. 1977, 29)