Alma 15

Alma 15:3 Zeezrom lay sick...with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind

The suffering of Zeezrom gives us a glimpse into the relationship between mind, spirit, and body. Many have wondered to what extent the human mind can control physical well-being. This story demonstrates that indeed the power of the human mind can definitely affect physical health.

While Zeezrom suffered in mind and spirit because of his many sins, his body was scorched with a burning heat which was more than just figurative. There was a literal burning fever which afflicted the body. The catharsis of repentance often leaves the physical body in a state of illness or weakness. So it was with Alma the younger, Saul of Tarsus, king Lamoni, etc.

When we read of the events of Gethsemane, we are reminded of this concept. As Christ prayed to the Father, there were no external forces to cause him any physical pain. There were no Roman soldiers to whip and hit him. Rather, he suffered both body and spirit from the great mental anguish and spiritual weight of the sins of the world. The physical pain came from within. It swelled and festered until it oozed out of every pore. While Zeezrom was scorched with a burning fever for his own sins, the Savior felt physical pain for the sins of Zeezrom, Alma, Paul, King Lamoni, and every other creature. Such mental and spiritual suffering would have killed the body of any mortal man. Only the Savior could suffer so much and still survive.

"Elder Orson F. Whitney shared in this feeling: 'Our little finite afflictions are but as a drop in the ocean, compared with the infinite and unspeakable agony borne by him for our sakes because we were not able to bear it for ourselves.' In an inspired effort to define his suffering, Elder Neal A. Maxwell called it 'enormity multiplied by infinity.'" (Tad Callister, Infinite Atonement, p. 128)

Boyd K. Packer

"I recently asked a doctor of family medicine how much of his time was devoted purely to correcting physical disorders. He has a large practice, and after thoughtfully considering, he answered, 'Not more than 20 percent. The rest of the time I seem to be working on problems that very much affect the physical well-being of my patients but do not originate in the body.

"'These physical disorders,' the doctor concluded, 'are merely symptoms of some other kind of trouble.'...

"There is another part of us, not so tangible, but quite as real as our physical body. This intangible part of us is described as mind, emotion, intellect, temperament, and many other things. Very seldom is it described as spiritual.

"But there is a spirit in man; to ignore it is to ignore reality. There are spiritual disorders, too, and spiritual diseases that can cause intense suffering.

"The body and the spirit of man are bound together. Often, very often, when there are disorders, it is very difficult to tell which is which." (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 59 as taken from the BOM Institute Manual, 1981, p. 240)

Alma 15:6 Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?

There is only one question which is asked of the sick who seek for priesthood administration. The healing power is administered through the priesthood but this power is accessed by faith in Jesus Christ.

Alma 15:8 If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed

James A. Cullimore

As members of the Church, is our faith sufficiently strong? Are we in tune with the Spirit that we might be blessed by these great gifts? Do we believe a miracle can be performed or a blessing given? Do we call upon the priesthood as often as we should to administer to the sick? Do we believe we can be healed? Do we have faith to heal? Is the priesthood always prepared to give a blessing? How strong is your faith?

President George Q. Cannon said:

"I have felt deeply impressed ... that the members of our Church do not value as they should the means which God has placed within their reach for the relief and healing of the sick... Instances are very common among the faithful Saints of the gift of healing being manifested in a very wonderful manner. ...

"God has not forgotten His promises, and He has not withdrawn Himself from His people. But the Latter-day Saints should make use of these means more frequently than they do, and put more trust in God and less in man's skill." (Gospel Truths, comp. Jerrald L. Newquist, Deseret Book, 1974, 2:186-87)

We have been instructed as to the administration of the sick:

"Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:
"And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed." (James 5:14-16.)

"And the elders of the church, two or more, shall be called, and shall pray for and lay their hands upon them in my name; and if they die they shall die unto me, and if they live they shall live unto me." (D&C 42:44.)

The accounts of miraculous healings in the Church are numerous. They warm one's soul and give great strength of testimony as to the divinity of this great work. ("Gifts of the Spirit," Ensign, Nov. 1974, 27-28)

Alma 15:12 Alma baptized Zeezrom...and he began from that time forth to preach unto the people

Dean L. Larsen

"Alma's administration is instantly effective. Zeezrom leaps to his feet, healed not only physically but spiritually as well. The report of this incident is spread throughout Sidom.

"One cannot reflect upon this episode without recalling the conversion of Saul of Tarsus in New Testament times. Saul, who had been a tormentor of the Christians and had condoned Stephen's martyrdom (see Acts 8:1), requires a similarly dramatic conversion experience. His sightlessness is healed under the hands of Ananias. He is brought to a recognition and acknowledgement of his folly in attempting to thwart the Lord's work. In a flood of repentant anguish he makes a dramatic reversal in the course of his life. His fervor and energy are redirected to promulgate and sustain the work he has previously sought to destroy.

"So it is with Zeezrom. He is baptized by Alma, and, just as was the case with Paul, he immediately begins to preach among the people, later becoming a trusted companion of Alma and Amulek. It is perhaps not adding too much to reality to suppose that Zeezrom's healing, his conversion, and his testifying of Christ contribute much to the missionary success enjoyed by these three servants of the Lord. The record tells us that the people 'did flock in from all the region round about Sidom, and were baptized' (Alma 15:14).

"That Zeezrom proves himself in the eyes of his mentor, Alma, is confirmed by the fact that he regularly appears in the accounts of Alma's ministry as one of his most trusted and reliable companions and fellow servants. Years after the events in Ammonihah and Sidom, when Alma undertakes one of the most difficult challenges of his life's ministry-the conversion of the Zoramites-Zeezrom is chosen along with Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Amulek, and two of Alma's sons to be a part of this seasoned missionary force (see Alma 31:6)." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, pp. 118-9)

Alma 15:15 ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil

Ironically, the wicked attribute all the power of the servants of God to their own master, Beelzebub. This is the only explanation of what is otherwise unexplainable to their wicked profession. Such was the argument which the Savior faced, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of devils (Matt 12:24). It is really a very weak argument, but what else can be said when the servants of God demonstrate such obvious power?

Alma 15:15 the profession of Nehor...did not believe in the repentance of their sins

"For they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins. The seductive appeal of Nehorism was that it promised a prize without price; a victory without effort; an eternal glory without goodness. It ignored the eternally present fact of cause and effect in spiritual phenomena. By holding that a man's misuse of his free agency was but an inconsequential element in his qualifying for exaltation, Nehor was inferentially questioning the very existence of that Free Agency. The tragedy that besets those nations who repudiate responsibility for their evil conduct, and the moral decadence which inevitably follows such repudiation, are unforgettably portrayed in chapters 14 through 16 of this great Book of Alma.

"Nehor is dead, but Nehorism lives on. Dressed in a variety of philosophical habiliments and religious disguises, its influence is found almost everywhere. It can be felt, for example, in the current mechanistic philosophies of the day, according to whose teachings man consists in nothing more than an amazingly complex biological mechanism.

"'You don't punish or condemn a broken machine'; it is argued, 'you fix it.'

"With this easy, and dangerously superficial analysis of the whole problem of human sin, they absolve mankind from any moral culpability for individual wrongdoing, and thus pave the way to spiritual corruption and death." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 229-30)

Alma 15:16 being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred

Hugh Nibley

"Here's this very pointed passage in verse 16. Remember it telling what a rich, important man Amulek was, and how everybody envied him, like Oedipus? He was the blue blood of the city, a direct descendant of Nephi, highly respected for his labor. He had made himself rich, and everybody thought a lot of him. But to go out with Alma he got rid of all his swag, and this is what happened. 'Amulek having forsaken all his gold, and silver, and his precious things, which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred.' Not only his friends cut him off cold when he didn't have any more money, his family cut him off cold when he didn't have any more money. Well, he had gotten his money by hard work, etc. They were doing the right thing [in their eyes]. I guess they all clamored to get the dough. Then they all went to court.

"My best friend Paul Springer was a chief reporter in San Francisco for many years. Then he was on the city council in San Francisco. He was in charge of the testating courts for wills, etc. And what people would do for money! They would become mortal enemies in a very rich family over a thing like a piano stool or something like that, because of greed and desire to possess. [He described] the greed in these courts where they claim the property. Who will get the most? Who will get the diamond ring? Even a pair of used shoes they would cut each others' throats for. What people do when they go after material things is astounding, isn't it? You see this is real psychology here. Amulek got rid of his money and nobody wanted to have anything to do with him anymore." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 50, p. 353)

Alma 15:18  Alma... took Amulek... to his own house, and did administer unto him

When Alma was cast out of Ammonihah, he was destitute and rejected.  The angel told him to return and provided Amulek to take care of him.  We remember that Alma spent quite a while in Amulek's home; he needed help, "And now, Amulek, because thou hast fed me and taken me in, thou art blessed; for I was an hungered, for I had fasted many days. And Alma tarried many days with Amulek before he began to preach unto the people" (Alma 8:26-27).

Now was Amulek's turn to have the favor returned to him.  "Cast thy bread upon the waters: and thou shalt find it after many days" (Ecc. 11:1).  Amulek had cast his bread upon the waters and now would find it in the hospitality of Alma. This prophetic payback was a blessing to both Alma and Amulek. 

A remarkably similar event occurred between another prophet and priesthood holder in our dispensation. Joseph Smith left New York under threat of his life.  In the middle of winter, early 1831, he and Emma arrived in Kirtland, Ohio.  They had neither a home nor means to purchase one.  Their needs were met by Newell K. Whitney and his wife Elizabeth, who took them in. 

The graciousness of the Whitneys was greatly appreciated.  Joseph even prophesied that someday the favor would be returned.  The story is remarkably similar to that of Alma and Amulek.

Elizabeth Ann Whitney

Early in the Spring of 1840 we went to Nauvoo.  Here we were all sick with ague, chills and fever, and were only just barely able to crawl around and wait upon each other.  Under these trying circumstances my ninth child was born.  Joseph, upon visiting us and seeing our change of circumstances, urged us at once to come and share his accommodations. We went to live in the Prophet Joseph's yard in a small cottage; we soon recruited in health, and the children became more like themselves.

One day while coming out of the house into the yard the remembrance of a prophecy Joseph Smith had made to me, while living in our house in Kirtland, flashed through my mind like an electric shock.  It was this: that even as we had done by him, in opening our doors to him and his family when he was without a home, even so should we in the future be received by him into his house.  We afterwards moved upstairs over the brick store. (Hyrum Andrus, They Knew the Prophet, 40)