Alma 19

Alma 19:5 as for myself, to me he doth not stink

It is hard to find much in the way of romantic love in the Book of Mormon. This may be the book's most romantic moment, when the queen protects her husband from being buried alive with the comment, to me he doth not stink.

Marion D. Hanks

"The love of this faithful wife for her beloved husband seems typical to me of the love which will obtain in the heavenly kingdom and which should here characterize our relationships with those dear to us." (Conference Report, Apr. 1957, p. 129)

Alma 19:6 Now, this was what Ammon desired

Ammon's response to Lamoni's spiritual coma is similar to Alma the elder's response to his son's affliction, they rehearsed unto his father all that had happened unto them; and his father rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God. And he caused that a multitude should be gathered together (Mosiah 27:20-21).

Jeffrey R. Holland

"Ammon delighted in this experience because he knew 'the dark veil of unbelief' had been cast away from these prominent but now deeply humble Lamanite leaders. The light coming to their minds was that which always overcomes darkness-'the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness.' This illumination infuses such joy into the souls of men and women that every cloud of darkness is dispelled and the promise of everlasting life prevails in the human heart." (Christ & The New Covenant, p. 118)

Alma 19:6 this light had infused such joy into his soul

Neal A. Maxwell

"These transcending truths do bring us a stunning perspective, a 'knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come.' (D&C 93:24.) These transcending truths restructure our understanding of ourselves and of the universe and bring within our view resplendent reality...When encountered, their sudden richness is so breathtaking and light-intensive that, like radioactive materials, they must be handled with great care. They both light up the mind and infuse joy into the soul. (Alma 19:6.)

"All true scripture is of God and for a purpose, but encountering certain verses is like walking in the woods and coming suddenly upon what C. S. Lewis called a patch of 'god light'-an illuminated place in the woods of our experiences. Then there is a special surge of gospel gladness. The weariness of mind quickly departs.

"Such sudden light can even restructure our understanding of reality and put our past, puny efforts in perspective." (Meek And Lowly, p. 46)

Hugh Nibley

"In one verse, Alma 19:6, the word light occurs six times, in every one of the familiar senses in which it meets us in the Nag Hammadi texts and in the Dead Sea Scrolls: (quotes Alma 19:6)

"Mohlin's book on the Dead Sea Scrolls, Die Söhne des Lichtes, deals extensively with the images of light and darkness; the images are so constant that the Dead Sea Scrolls people are today called the 'Sons of Light.' The title to the second of the great scrolls is in fact The War of the Sons of Light with the Sons of Darkness. It is exactly the same light and darkness of which Alma speaks, in the same sense, when talking about King Lamoni, who was overcome in this struggle." (Temple And Cosmos, p. 237)

Alma 19:8 he is not dead but sleepeth in God

When the Savior went to heal Jairus' daughter, he said the same thing, she is not dead, but sleepeth (Lu 8:52). The Savior, by so saying, was not indicating that her spirit had not left her body, but that she would rise again. This is apparent from the language he used to describe Lazarus (Jn 11:11-14). Lamoni, on the other hand, is not "all dead" just "mostly dead."

Alma 19:10 there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites

Not uncommonly, those who have not been taught the ways of the Lord demonstrate greater faith than the seasoned saints. So it was with the centurion who not only knew that Jesus could heal his servant, but knew that he could do it without even administering to him in person, saying, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed. For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, do this, and he doeth it. This prompted the Savior to declare, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel (Matt 8:8-10).

Alma 19:13 behold, I have seen my Redeemer...and he sunk again with joy

The trance of physical exhaustion caused by incredibly intense spiritual experiences can be a true "out of body experience." The words of Paul are reminiscent, whether in the body...or whether out of the body, I cannot tell (2 Cor 12:2). While the body lies in a state of dormancy, the spirit is free to suffer for sin, commune with the heavens, see a vision, etc. This is what happens to Lamoni, the queen, and Ammon.

"In the context of the New Testament we read that Peter 'fell into a trance, and saw the heaven opened,' whereupon the revelation of matchless importance was given which extended the blessings of the gospel to Gentiles as well as to Jews (see Acts 10:10-11; see also Acts 11:5).  And it is significant that Paul, the great missionary to the Gentiles, received his call to that labor in a similar state.  'While I prayed in the temple,' he testified, 'I was in a trance; and saw [the Lord] saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem:  for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me.... And he said unto me, Depart:  for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.' (Acts 22:7, 21.)...

"From what we can deduce from scriptural writ, it appears that a trance is a state in which the body and its functions become quiescent in order that the full powers of the Spirit may be centered on the revelations of heaven.  Freed from the fetters of a mortal body, man's spirit can be ushered into the divine presence; it can hear what otherwise could not be heard and see what otherwise could not be seen-even the visions of eternity and even the Almighty himself.  Yet the trance, like all other spiritual experiences, is subject to counterfeiting." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, p. 140)

Elder David B. Haight, similarly, had an out of body experience which occurred while he was very ill. He related the story during the Oct. 1989 General Conference. From the Church News:

"Elder David B. Haight expressed deep gratitude Sunday morning for the faith and prayers of countless people in his behalf, and for the divine intervention that spared his life from a serious illness...He recounted his experience the evening of his health crisis, as he pled with his Heavenly Father to spare his life a little longer to have more time to do His work, if it was His will.

"'While still praying,' he recalled, 'I began to lose consciousness. . . . I was now in a calm, peaceful setting; all was serene and quiet. I was conscious of two persons in the distance on a hillside. . . . Detailed features were not discernable. I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere.'

"During the days that followed, Elder Haight said he was shown a panoramic view of Christ's earthly ministry. He saw the Savior and His apostles on the eve of His betrayal, where the Lord instructed and prepared the sacrament as a remembrance of His coming sacrifice. 'It was so impressively portrayed to me - the overwhelming love of the Savior for each,' Elder Haight said. 'I witnessed His thoughtful concern for significant details - the washing of the dusty feet of each apostle; His breaking and blessing of the loaf of dark bread and blessing of the wine; then His dreadful disclosure that one would betray Him.'

"He said he saw Christ in Gethsemane, where 'in some manner beyond our comprehension,' the Savior took upon Himself the sins of mankind. As he witnessed these events during his days of unconsciousness, Elder Haight said the Holy Ghost blessed him with 'a more perfect knowledge' of the Lord's mission.

"'My soul was taught over and over again,' he said solemnly. 'I witnessed His struggling up the hill in His weakened condition carrying the cross, and His being stretched upon it...I cannot begin to convey to you the deep impact that these scenes have confirmed upon my soul," (Church News, Oct. 7, 1989)

Alma 19:14 he was also overpowered with joy; and thus they all three had sunk to the earth

Hugh Nibley

"Of course, the hardest thing to contain is joy. Anybody can contain all sorts of pain. It's amazing what you can put up with when you have to put up with pain. How astonishing it is-there's just no limit. But joy is a thing that scares the daylights out of you. You can't contain it and don't know what to do with it. In the Moscow Art Theatre they say, 'Suffer, suffer, suffer; that's the way you become an artist.' Well, we love to suffer; there's no limit to how much we can suffer. But joy is so much harder to take. You don't know what to do with it, do you? And yet that's the purpose of our existence-we 'are that we might have joy.' So we are learning to control joy and control ourselves when we have it. We can't contain it, you see. It's a hard thing to contain. What do you do? Do you shout and holler and run around? Do you make a fool of yourself, etc.? How can you contain that in yourself? Well, they are all sinking down here and passing out, and that's the best thing. After all, when pain becomes too great you black out automatically. So that takes care of that. It's the same thing with joy if you can't contain it. When you don't know how to handle a problem psychologically, what do you do? You black out. This is your defense." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 52, pp. 386-7)

Alma 19:16 one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish

Abish is noteworthy not just because of her pivotal role in the events of chapter 19 but because she is one of the few women mentioned by name in the Book of Mormon. The others are Sariah, Eve, Sarah, Mary, and Isabel (Alma 39:3). Some may wonder why women did not play a bigger part of the narrative of the Book of Mormon. Others may complain, but this is a great example of the authenticity of the Book of Mormon because it followed the old Hebrew cultural tradition which was male-dominated. The Lord God should not be held responsible for this cultural tradition, nor does this scant treatment of women reflect the Lord's view on the role and importance of womanhood.

Let's take a look at Abish's spiritual maturity. Assuming that it was her father who had the vision and not her, 1) she was obedient to the vision and teachings of her father, 2) she was faithful and discreet as a silent convert, 3) she had the gift of discernment by which she knew that the three lay prostrate by the power of God, 4) she was an opportunist and a missionary who gathered all to witness the power of God, 5) she was sensitive to the great conflict amongst the gathering (v. 28), and 6) she took inspired action amidst this great conflict which led to its resolution in that she took the queen and king by the hand, awakening them from their trances (v. 29-30). In the span of a very few verses, she demonstrates incredible spiritual acumen which is worthy of emulation.

Alma 19:22 one of them, whose brother had been slain with the sword of Ammon

It should be remembered that the only individual who Ammon killed by the sword was the leader of the band (Alma 17:38). The others were killed with a sling or were armless. Therefore this man who attempts to slay Ammon was the brother of the leader of the band at the waters of Sebus.

Alma 19:22 as he lifted the sword to smite him, behold, he fell dead

The Lord had given Mosiah a promise that none of his sons would be harmed among the Lamanites (Mosiah 28:7). With an armed man rushing to kill the helpless Ammon, the situation does not look good. No doubt the angel of the Lord was standing to protect Ammon and his royal converts. Abish doesn't see the angel and Mormon is silent on the subject but this is often how the Lord protects his servants (See Num 22:21-35, 2 Kgs 6:13-17, and Matt 26:53).

"One of the functions of angels is to warn and protect mortals. The Lord whispered to David, 'There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone' (Ps. 91:10-12). The angel of the Lord's presence saved Israel (Isa. 63:9). Daniel replied to the King: 'My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me...' (Dan. 6:22)." (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 42)

Joseph Smith saw an angel of the Lord in vision protecting Brigham Young.

Joseph Smith

"I saw Elder Brigham Young standing in a strange land, in the far south and west, in a desert place, upon a rock in the midst of about a dozen men of color, who appeared hostile. He was preaching to them in their own tongue, and the angel of God standing above his head, with a drawn sword in his hand, protecting him, but he did not see it." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 108)

Alma 19:28 the contention began to be exceedingly sharp

Neal A. Maxwell

"Another special challenge we face from time to time is having good motives and good intentions-and even good actions misfire. Abish, the 'Lamanitish woman' (Alma 19:16-17), was not the first nor the last Church member to think an opportunity to be present and, therefore, to act on the impulse to do good. Confusion and contention followed her deed, as did tears from conscientious Abish. Vindication was nearly immediate in her case, but it is much slower coming at other times.

"If our motives and actions are good, we should be able to endure some misunderstanding, but the pain and frustration of it will be real because we really care. Time and truth can cause lower courts of opinion to reverse themselves, hopefully soon. But if not, we will come to that final gate where Jesus Christ is the gatekeeper and 'he employeth no servant there.' The gospel guarantees ultimate, not proximate, justice." (Wherefore, Ye Must Press Forward, p. 115)

Alma 19:30 speaking many things which were not understood

Hugh Nibley refers to this event as Pentecostal. The queen is so filled with the Spirit that she begins to speak in tongues much like the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Unfortunately, there was no one available with the gift of the interpretation of tongues. This is a common problem with the expression of this particular gift of the Spirit.

Alma 19:33 their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil

For those of us with occasional evil desires, this quality is noteworthy. The concept is introduced in the Book of Mormon after the sermon of king Benjamin when the people responded, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually (Mosiah 5:2). Once one has really made the transition from carnal to spiritual, the carnal desires leave. This is part of being born again and is the state of purity which the righteous must seek. As with all things we must become like God who cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance (Alma 45:16).

This purity comes through the light of God which Lamoni first tasted while under the influence of the Spirit, the light...did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness (v. 6). The Savior reminded us of the effect this light will have on our bodies if we will receive it, The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light (3 Ne 13:22). If our hearts have evil desires, it must be because our eye is not single to the glory of God. Otherwise the light of God would have purged all the darkness from our minds, spirits, and bodies.

Delbert L. Stapley

"When the light of Christ is in one's soul there can be no darkness which leads to temptation and sin. You cannot take darkness into a lighted room any more than one can create doubt in the heart of a person where true faith and testimony exist." (Neal A. Maxwell, That My Family Should Partake, p. 88)