Alma 26

Alma 26:1 could we have supposed when we started…that God would have granted unto us such great blessings


The Lord is able to bless us with things which exceed our comprehension. We might imagine the greatest of blessings, but he is still capable of exceeding our most excellent expectations. These blessings may be realized in mortality or in the hereafter, but Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him (1 Cor 2:9).


Stephen L. Richards

“I think that is a solemn thought for all of us, and I trust that as we ponder it we shall all decide, as I have reason to believe we will, that we will aspire to the highest ideals, to the loftiest stations attainable with this holy power that God has given to us. If we aspire to attain that exaltation, work for it consciously, serve faithfully, keeping the commandments, our rewards will exceed even our fondest expectations. Of that I am convinced.” (Conference Report, Apr. 1959, p. 86)


Alma 26:4 thousands of them…have been brought into the fold of God


Conversion by the thousands seems incredible to modern day missionaries. But the Lord is capable of greater things than we can comprehend. A few instances in which thousands were gathered at once are given:


1)    On the day of Pentecost, those who had heard the word were invited to repent and be baptized, and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls (Acts 2:41)


2)    The success of the early brethren in Great Britain was astounding. By April of 1838 Heber C. Kimball had converted 1500:


 “‘The other brethren also met with remarkable success. The field was ripe, ready for the harvest, and thousands of the House of Israel were soon gathered into the fold.’ By 1841, Elder Kimball with other members of the Quorum of the Twelve reported seven or eight or ten thousand persons being baptized. ‘Of the converts made by the eight members of the Twelve during the years 1840 to 1841 few apostatized.’  During the years 1840 to 1846, British converts sailed from England bound for Nauvoo. ‘This was the beginning of a migration movement of such magnitude that the Church in America became predominantly English for the next fifty years.’” (Regional Studies in LDS History: British Isles, p. 107)


3)    George Q. Cannon reaped a similar harvest on his mission to Hawaii:


Heber J. Grant

“During the few years he (George Q. Cannon) was there he translated the Book of Mormon into the Hawaiian language, and he baptized over 3,000 natives. I have never been among a people that seemed to me to be more sincere, to have a greater love for each other and for the Gospel, and a greater reverence for those who hold places of honor in the Church of Christ than I met on our recent visit to Hawaii.” (Conference Report, Oct. 1935, p. 7)


Alma 26:5 the field was ripe


As one looks upon a field of grain, it is easy to tell that the time has come for harvest. Ammon states that the field was ripe but it must not have looked that way when they started on their journey. Rather, to mortal eyes the Lamanite field would have appeared to be a vast wasteland of weeds, briers, and thorns. Why else would Ammon’s friends have laughed him to scorn when they told them of their plans to do missionary work among the Lamanites (v. 23-24).


Thus, we see that the Lord in his omniscience knows when the field is ripe. We don’t. We should never say, “there is no hope with this person or with this group of people.” Through spiritual eyes, we may be surprised to see how ripe the field really is. Even if the task seems as formidable as preaching to the ancient Lamanites, the Lord has promised us that the people of the last dispensation are ready for the gospel, for he has said, behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul (DC 4:4).


Alma 26:5 behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into garners


“A dictionary definition of sheaves is a quantity of heads of grain bound together. Ammon’s mention here of sheaves refers to the converts brought into the church by faithful missionaries who had thrust in their sickle.


“Each of us owes his membership in the Church to another person. Someone had to teach us. We are the sheaves that they have reaped. Note the grateful words of President David O. McKay:


‘A short time ago, I stood in a little room in Wales, in which my mother was born 102 years before, the room so small that the six-foot bed covers the entire width, and its length is barely two feet longer than it is wide, and the old rafters just two feet above my head, so about eight feet high. But my thoughts on that occasion have been sacred to me. I share one or two with you.


‘I thought, as Sister McKay and I stood in that small bedroom, how different life would be now if two humble elders had not knocked at that door a hundred years ago! And how different life would be if my mother’s father and mother had not accepted that message? I looked around the village and found descendants of others who heard it at that time, descendants of some who ridiculed my grandfather and grandmother, for having accepted the truth; and they made light of their religion, scoffed at them and ostracized them for having accepted Mormonism. I realized how unenlightened those neighbors were when they condemned my grandparents.


‘…Father’s folk were way up in the north of Scotland. It was only through the gospel that Father and Mother met. So I expressed gratitude, as I sensed it probably never so keenly before, as we stood in that little room, six by eight.’ (Gospel Ideals, pp. 122-3)”

(Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 264)


David A. Bednar

The Prophet Joseph Smith declared that in all ages the divine purpose of gathering the people of God is to build temples so His children can receive the highest ordinances and thereby gain eternal life (see Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society course of study, 2007], 415–17). This essential relationship between the principle of gathering and the building of temples is highlighted in the Book of Mormon:


Behold, the field was ripe, and blessed are ye, for ye did thrust in the sickle, and did reap with your might, yea, all the day long did ye labor; and behold the number of your sheaves! And they shall be gathered into the garners, that they are not wasted” (Alma 26:5)


The sheaves in this analogy represent newly baptized members of the Church. The garners are the holy temples. Elder Neal A. Maxwell explained: “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple. The great garner into which the sheaves should be gathered is the holy temple” (in John L. Hart, “Make Calling Focus of Your Mission,” Church News,Sept. 17, 1994, 4). This instruction clarifies and emphasizes the importance of sacred temple ordinances and covenants—that the sheaves may not be wasted. (“Honorably Hold a Name and Standing” Ensign, May 2009, 97)


Alma 26:6 the storm cannot penetrate to them


Those who have built their foundation upon the rock of Jesus Christ, cannot be overcome by the fierce winds of the evil one, Therefore, whoso heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them I will liken unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock—And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not, for it was founded upon a rock (3 Ne 14:24-5).


Alma 26:7 they are in the hands of the Lord of the harvest, and they are his


By this phrase, Ammon indicates that his converts are considered the elect of God. To the elect of God, the Lord has given the promise that they will not be lost, And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day (Jn 6:39). With his apostles, except Judas, Jesus accomplished this task. In the great intercessory prayer, he said, I kept them in my name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition (Jn 17:12).


Alma 26:9-10 Aaron rebuked him


Mormon says that Aaron was rebuking his brother. Ammon had said nothing offensive to Aaron until verse 9 when he seemed to take credit for their success, saying, if we had not come up out of the land of Zarahemla. Aaron’s rebuke is actually quite gentle, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting. Aaron is saying, “now don’t get carried away thinking you are anything special.” Ammon was, of course, “something special” but a true servant of the Lord never takes credit for what the Lord has done. To do this demonstrates pride and insolence. Aaron wants to make sure that Ammon does not give himself too much of the credit. But Ammon never meant to extol his own virtues and his response is a great explanation of his own nothingness compared to the power of God.


Alma 26:11 I do not boast in my own strength


Bruce R. McConkie

“Boasting is of two kinds: either righteous, or unrighteous; either in the arm of flesh, or in the Lord and his gracious goodness and power. ‘He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord,’ Paul said in summing up a sermon on boasting, ‘For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.’ (2 Cor. 10:7-18; Ps. 44:8.) Ammon spoke similarly: ‘I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things. Therefore, let us glory, yea, we will glory in the Lord; yea, we will rejoice for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever. Behold, who can glory too much in the Lord?’ (Alma 26:8-16, 35.)


“Boasting in the arm of flesh, one of the commonest of all sins among worldly people, is a gross evil; it is a sin born of pride, a sin that creates a frame of mind which keeps men from turning to the Lord and accepting his saving grace. When a man engages in self exultation because of his riches, his political power, his worldly learning, his physical prowess, his business acumen, or even his works of righteousness, he is not in tune with the Spirit of the Lord. Salvation itself comes by the grace of God, ‘Not of works,’ that is not of the performances and outward display of the law, ‘lest any man should boast.’ (Eph. 2:4-22; Rom. 3:27.) As King Benjamin asked, after explaining the goodness of God and the comparative nothingness of men, ‘Of what have ye to boast?’ (Mosiah 2: 17-26.)


“Even when the righteous glory in the Lord, certain very definite restrictions attend their godly boasting. The elders are to proclaim against evil spirits, but ‘Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith.’ (D. & C. 50:32-33.) Spiritual gifts are poured out abundantly upon the true saints. ‘But a commandment I give unto them,’ the Lord says, ‘that they shall not boast themselves of these things, neither speak them before the world; for these things are given unto you for your profit and for salvation.’ (D. & C. 84:73.) ‘Talk not of judgments, neither boast of faith nor of mighty works.’ (D. & C. 105:24.)” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 93)


Alma 26:11 my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy


Ezra Taft Benson

“My beloved coworkers, you face the happiest years of your lives. I know whereof I speak. I have been there. I have tasted the joy of missionary work. There is no work in all the world that can bring an individual greater joy and happiness. I pray your joy will be full, and like Ammon of old, you will be able to say: (quotes Alma 26:11-12.)” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 213)


Neal A. Maxwell

“When we reach a point of consecration, our afflictions will be swallowed up in the joy of Christ. It does not mean we won’t have afflictions, but they will be put in a perspective that permits us to deal with them. With our steady pursuit of joy and with each increasing measure of righteousness, we will experience one more drop of delight-one drop after another-until, in the words of a prophet, ‘our hearts are brim with joy.’ At last, the soul’s cup finally runs over! (Brim with Joy, p. 13.)


Alma 26:12 I know that I am nothing


The nothingness of man compared to the greatness of God is truly astounding. In our world where man is the dominant creature, it is easy for some to forget God. In His absence, man becomes the dominant force in the universe. So how great are we? The scriptures put us in our place in a hurry. It is a matter of perspective, and that necessary spiritual perspective teaches us where we belong in the universal hierarchy. After Moses had seen a vision of the many worlds God has created, he conceded, I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed (Moses 1:10). King Benjamin understood this principle, asking of what have ye to boast? And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth…I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you unworthy creatures (Mosiah2:24-5; 4:11). Born of eternal perspective, this is the humility which we must foster in our lives, for He that exalteth himself shall be abased, but he that abaseth himself shall be exalted (DC 101:42).


Wilford Woodruff

“We have no chance to be lifted up in the pride of our hearts with regard to the position we occupy.  If the President of the Church or either of his Counselors or of the Apostles, or any other man, feels in his heart that God cannot do without him, and that he is especially important in order to carry on the work of the Lord, he stands upon slippery ground.  I heard Joseph Smith say that Oliver Cowdery, who was the second Apostle in this Church, said to him, ‘If I leave this Church it will fall.’  Said he, ‘Oliver, you try it.’  Oliver tried it.  He fell; but the Kingdom of God did not.  I have been acquainted with other Apostles in my day and time who felt that the Lord could not do without them; but the Lord got along with His work without them.  I say to all men--Jew and Gentile, great and small, rich and poor--that the Lord Almighty has power within Himself, and is not dependent upon any man, to carry on His work; but when He does call men to do His work they have to trust in Him.” (G. Homer Durham, Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 123-4)


Alma 26:16 we will glory in the Lord…I cannot say the smallest part which I feel


Neal A. Maxwell

“Even the gospel glimpses are difficult to convey. Brigham Young said, ‘I cannot talk all my feelings, I cannot tell you what I feel and what I see in the Spirit.’ This inability to articulate concerns not only the grand and sacred things but also the simple joys of faith: ‘I cannot say the smallest part which I feel’ (Alma 26:16). Thus it is not only that our eyes and ears have not yet experienced what lies ahead; even if they had, the tongue could not fully express our feelings in the face of such sublime and reassuring things! President Brigham Young's words remind us of Jacob's: ‘If I could take away the vail, and let you see how things really are, you would then know just as well as I know, and I know them just as well as any man on the face of the earth need to.’” (That Ye May Believe, p. 200)


Neal A. Maxwell

“’We know more than we can tell . . . we know a person's face, and can recognize it among a thousand, indeed among a million. Yet we usually cannot tell how we recognize a face we know. . . . this knowledge cannot be put into words.’ (Michael Polyani, The Tacit Dimension, Doubleday Anchor, 1967, pp. 4, 6.)


 “We do ‘know more than we can tell,’ but a disciple has an obligation to increase his communication skills in a way that is consistent with the majesty of the message. Since so much of our time is spent communicating—writing, speaking, listening—we naturally assume it is done well. But our performance level is usually poor, and this can reflect a lack of caring about the quality of our communication skills. Paul urges disciples to be ‘willing to communicate’ as an extra responsibility clearly incumbent on those who are committed.”(A Time To Choose, pp. 73-74)


Alma 26:21 what natural man is there that knoweth these things?


Paul’s words on this subject are the most sublime, the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolisness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor 2:14). See also commentary for Mosiah 3:19.


Joseph Smith

“There are but a very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God. The great majority of mankind do not comprehend anything, either that which is past, or that which is to come, as it respects their relationship to God. They do not know, neither do they understand the nature of that relationship; and consequently they know but little above the brute beast, or more than to eat, drink and sleep. This is all man knows about God or his existence, unless it is given by the inspiration of the Almighty.


“If a man learns nothing more than to eat, drink and sleep, and does not comprehend any of the designs of God, the beast comprehends the same things. It eats, drinks, sleeps, and knows nothing more about God; yet it knows as much as we, unless we are able to comprehend by the inspiration of Almighty God. If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend themselves.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 343)


Alma 26:22 he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good words, and prayeth continually


Harold B. Lee

“Frequently the question is asked by those in and out of the Church: How do we develop the spiritual quality in our natures in order to serve our earthly missions more completely and thus become attuned with that infinite power of which the Prophet Ammon speaks?


Ammon answered that question in part: ‘Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing -- unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God. . . .’ (Al. 26:22.)


“For a few moments today, I would have you hear the testimonies as found in sacred scriptures of a few of the great leaders who learned how to tap the sources of divine power and became spiritual giants among the people of their day.


“David, the psalmist, learned even as a young man the source of spiritual power. The spirit whispered, ‘Be still, and know that I am God… the God of Jacob is our refuge.’ (Ps. 46:10-11.)


“Prophets of old learned, as all must know, how to communicate with the Lord by prayer, to talk with and then receive answers in the Lord's own way. To know God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent (John 17:3), as the Master told his disciples, is to begin on the sure course that leads to eternal life in the presence of these glorified beings...” (Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 115)


Alma 26:27 Now when our hearts were depressed…the Lord comforted us


It is only after their 14-year journey, that we learn from Ammon how downtrodden they were prior to beginning their mission. Alone, out in the wilderness, away from home and family, they might have wondered if they were wasting their time. The words of their detractors may have come rushing back into their minds. Certainly, they had reason to think they were going to fail. They even had thought of turning back.


Interestingly, the Lord often allows us to sink pretty low before he comforts us. So it was with the Prophet in Liberty Jail (DC 121), so it was with Ammon and company, and so it is with us in our trials. Yet, the Lord is always there to pick us up when we cannot go any further. The author had an experience which demonstrates the Lord’s great mercy for his depressed and downtrodden servants.


As a missionary in the Orient, I was serving in a recently opened rural community. In this town, things shut down quite early. Late on a cold January night, it was too late to knock on doors, so we walked the streets without anywhere to go, without anyone to teach. My companion was a greenie, and it was my intent to set an example to him that every hour of proselyting time should be used wisely. But I was too tired to go on. The work had been slow and the strain on me mentally, physically, and spiritually had been all I could endure. Just as my strength was beginning to fail, the Spirit whispered, “the Father knows how to give good gifts to his children (Matt 7:11).” At that instant, I looked to my left where I saw an old investigator working behind the counter in his store. He invited us into his store, where he and a friend had been talking. We began discussing religion with his friend and were able to give him a Book of Mormon. I was so relieved that we had a place to go and that the Lord had not forgotten us. This may seem to have been a small blessing, but it wasn’t to me. It was a gift from God! I have ever been grateful for the warmth and comfort that filled my heart on that cold January night.


Ezra Taft Benson

“There are times when you simply have to righteously hang on and outlast the devil until his depressive spirit leaves you. As the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith: ‘thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if you endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high’ (DC 121:7-8). To press on in noble endeavors, even while surrounded by a cloud of depression, will eventually bring you out on top into the sunshine.” (Ensign, Nov. 1974 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 290)


Jeffrey R. Holland

“[An experience of Gordon B. Hinckley on his mission to England] “Elder Hinckley found some of that discouragement common to missionaries facing new circumstances in a new land. He was not well physically, and as he went to his first street meeting…he recalls: ‘I was terrified. I stepped up on that little stand and looked at that crowd of people that had gathered… They looked rather menacing and mean, but I somehow stumbled through whatever I had to say.’ Down in spirit and facing no success in missionary endeavors, Gordon wrote a letter to his father, saying: ‘I am wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.’ In due course a gentle but terse reply came from his father. That letter read: ‘Dear Gordon. I have your letter [of such and such a date]. I have only one suggestion. Forget yourself and go to work, With love, Your Father.’ President Hinckley says of that moment, ‘I pondered his response and then the next morning in our scripture class we read that great statement of the Lord: ‘For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it’ (Mark 8:35). That simple statement, that promise, touched me. I got on my knees and made a covenant with the Lord that I would try to forget myself and go to work.’” (Ensign, June 1995, p. 8 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 290-1)


Alma 26:29-30 we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon


F. Burton Howard

“I cannot remember a time when I did not know that the Book of Mormon was true…one day in preparing to teach a lesson my testimony of the Book of Mormon was fortified and the Holy Spirit touched my heart in a way that causes me to remember the moment even now after many years.


“I was reading again the twenty-sixth chapter of Alma and the story of Ammon’s mission. I read out loud, as I sometimes do, trying to put myself in the position of the characters in the book, imagining that I was saying or hearing the words, that I was there. Once more I went over the report, and, with a clarity which cannot be described and which would be difficult to comprehend by one who has not experienced it, the Spirit spoke to my soul, saying, Did you notice? Everything that happened to Ammon happened to you.


“It was a totally unexpected sentiment. It was startling in its scope; it was a thought that had never occurred to me before. I quickly reread the story. Yes, there were times when my heart had been depressed and I had thought about going home. I too had gone to a foreign land to teach the gospel to the Lamanites. I had gone forth among them, had suffered hardships, had slept on the floor, endured the cold, gone without eating. I too had traveled from house to house, knocking on doors for months at a time without being invited in, relying on the mercies of God.


“There had been other times when we had entered houses and talked to people. We had taught them on their streets and on their hills. We had even preached in other churches. I remembered the time I had been spit upon. I remembered the time when I, as a young district leader assigned by the mission president to open up a new town, had entered, with three other elders, the main square of a city that had never had missionaries before. We went into the park, sang a hymn, and a crowd gathered.


“Then the lot fell upon me, as district leader, to preach. I stood upon a stone bench and spoke to the people. I told the story of the restoration of the gospel, of the boy Joseph going into the grove and the appearance of the Father and the Son to him. I remembered well a group of teenage boys, in the evening shadows, throwing rocks at us. I remembered the concern about being hit or injured by those who did not want to hear the message.


“I remembered spending time in jail while my legal right to be a missionary in a certain country was decided by the police authorities. I didn’t spend enough time in prison to compare myself to Ammon, but I still remember the feeling I had when the door was closed and I was far away from home, alone, with only the mercies of the Lord to rely on for deliverance. I remembered enduring these things with the hope that ‘we might be the means of saving some soul’ (Alma 26:30).


“And then on that day as I read, the Spirit testified to me again, and the words remain with me even today: No one but a missionary could have written this story. Joseph Smith could never have known what it was like to be a missionary to the Lamanites, for no one he knew had ever done such a thing before.


“And so Ammon is one of my heroes, and part of my testimony of the Book of Mormon is based on the fact that I have had experiences similar to his own, and I know them to be true.” (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, pp. 124-5)


Alma 26:30-31 we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some


The Spirit is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So it should not surprise us that the doctrine of the joy of missionary work was given to Ammon long before it was revealed to Joseph Smith. The missionary work of the sons of Mosiah may demonstrate the quintessential practical example of the following scripture:


   ‘And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!

   And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!’ (DC 18:15-16)


Alma 26:36 a branch of the tree of Israel…wanderers in a strange land


Hugh Nibley

“The Nephites never ceased to think of themselves in those melancholy terms. Five hundred years after Jacob, Alma could write that his people were both blessed and sorrowful in their wandering state. Because of their isolation, he says, God gives them special revelation, and glad tidings ‘are made known to us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored’ (Alma 13:23). God, he says, has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land (Alma 26:36).” (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 142)


Alma 26:37 God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in


False conclusions can be drawn from Old Testament events which suggest that the Lord had a favorite people—that there was something exclusive about being from the House of Israel, irrespective of personal righteousness. The Savior had to put this ethno-centrism into perspective with the comment, think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham (Matt 3:9).


The message of the Book of Mormon and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that the gospel is for everyone, without regard to race, color, or creed. Nephi tells us just how mindful the Lord has been of every people—that the Lord has been speaking to nations other than just the Nephites and Jews, For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written (2 Ne 29:11).


Hugh Nibley

“It is convenient to imagine all the righteous in one camp and the wicked in another, and this has been the usual and comfortable interpretation of the Book of Mormon—it is the good guys versus the bad guys. But this is exactly what the Book of Mormon tells us to avoid. God plays no favorites. Nephi rebukes his brothers for believing that because they are Jews they are righteous; God does not judge by party, he tells them; a good man is good and a bad one is bad, according to his own behavior: ‘Behold, the Lord esteemeth all flesh in one; he that is righteous is favored of God’ (1 Nephi 17:35). Family and race and nationality account for nothing; ‘God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people’ (Alma 26:37). He numbers them as his own, not as being on one side or the other of a boundary; ‘the Lord doth grant unto all nations . . . to teach his word . . . all that he seeth fit that they should have’ (Alma 29:8)” (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 506)