Alma 46

Alma 46:4 Amalickiah was desirous to be a king...the lower judges...were seeking for power

Hugh Nibley

"'the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power' (3 Nephi 6:27; Alma 46:4).

"All these Amalickiah welded together with immense managerial skill to form a single ultraconservative coalition who agreed to 'support him and establish him to be their king,' expecting that 'he would make them rulers over the people' (Alma 46:5). Many in the church were won over by Amalickiah's skillful oratory, for he was a charming ('flattering' is the word used in the Book of Mormon) and persuasive communicator. He made war the cornerstone of his policy and power, using a systematic and carefully planned communications system of towers and trained speakers to stir up the people to fight for their rights, meaning Amalickiah's career. For while Moroni had kind feelings for the enemy, Amalickiah 'did care not for the blood of his [own] people' (Alma 49:10). His object in life was to become king of both the Nephites and Lamanites, using the one to subdue the other (Alma 46:4-5). He was a master of dirty tricks, to which he owed some of his most brilliant achievements as he maintained his upward mobility by clever murders, high-powered public relations, and great executive ability. His competitive spirit was such that he swore to drink the blood of Alma (Nibley probably means Moroni here), who stood in his way. In short, he was 'one very wicked man' (Alma 46:9), who stood for everything that Moroni loathed."(Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints, p. 502)

Alma 46:7 many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah, therefore they dissented

The purpose of the church is to perfect the saints in order to establish a Zion people. This was the goal of Helaman and his brethren as it has been with priesthood leaders of all ages. Joseph Smith taught, "Adam blessed his posterity; he wanted to bring them into the presence of God...Moses sought to bring the children of Israel into the presence of God, through the power of the Priesthood, but he could not" (Teachings, p. 159). Zion must be established upon the principles of righteousness, one of the most important of which is unity. A Zion people must be a united people.

Dissension within the Church has a devastating but cleansing effect. "Thus, even diligent care and watchfulness and righteous leadership cannot always prevent all dissent... Dissension from the church and society performs a self-cleansing function that leaves the remainder of the church or nation better able to unify and to progress in harmony. Perhaps dissension is one manifestation of the wheat-and-tares separation that is inevitable (Matthew 13:24-30; D&C 86:1-7; see also Jacob 5:65-69). In the last days things will be shaken and turned upside down in order to liberate those who have been ensnared by Lucifer (1 Nephi 14:15-17; 2 Nephi 23:6-11; 28:19; Jacob 3:11; 3 Nephi 21:8-22; D&C 45:43). Dissent appears to be one of the causes of such turmoil and unshackling." (Lynn D. Wardle, FARMS: Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 3, no. 1, Spring-1994, p. 70) Regarding the cleansing of the church which will take place prior to the Second Coming, the scriptures remind us, 'vengeance cometh speedily upon the inhabitants of the earth...And upon my house shall it begin, and from my house shall it go forth, saith the Lord' (DC 112:24-25).

The scriptures remind us not to be flattered away by any who are a source of dissension within the Church. Otherwise we will soon find ourselves wallowing in the mire of our own disobedience until the vengeance of a just God is exacted upon us.

Alma 46:8 how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God

In the normal rhythm of the pride cycle, the Nephites usually go from righteous to wicked in a matter of several years. Mormon had elsewhere lamented, thus six years had not passed away since the more part of the people had turned from their righteousness, like the dog to his vomit, or like the sow to her wallowing in the mire (3 Ne 7:8). In this instance, they had been giving thanks and praise to God with much prayer and fasting within the last year (Alma 45:1). Their gratitude had turned to dissension in less than 12 months!

Alma 46:11 Moroni...was angry with Amalickiah

Hugh Nibley

"It was a dangerous coalition to be threatening a government which had barely succeeded in making a precarious peace with a foreign enemy of vastly superior forces, 'and thus were the affairs of the people of Nephi exceedingly precarious and dangerous' (Alma 46:7). 'Thus we see,' reflects Moroni, 'how quick the children of men do forget . . . and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause' (Alma 46:8-9).

"No one saw more clearly than Moroni where this was leading--all that he had achieved with great toil and danger was going to be thrown away if he did not act quickly. 'Angry with Amalickiah,' (Alma 46:11), he reacted with that speed and decision which is the mark of the great leader in the field." (Since Cumorah, pp. 303-4)

Alma 46:12-13 he rent his coat...and wrote upon it...And he called it the title of liberty

Ezra Taft Benson

"We as a people have never known bondage. Liberty has always been our blessed lot. Few of us have ever seen people who have lost their freedom-- their liberty. And when reminded of the danger of losing our liberty and independence our attitude has usually been: It cannot happen here.

"We must never forget that nations may, and usually do, sow the seeds of their own destruction while enjoying unprecedented prosperity...

"In that sacred volume of scripture, the Book of Mormon, we note the great and prolonged struggle for liberty. We also note the complacency of the people and their frequent willingness to give up their liberty for the promises of a would-be provider.

"The record reveals that a man 'of cunning device . . . and . . . many flattering words,' . . . sought . . . 'to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, . . .' (Alma 46: 10.)

"...This great general, Moroni...'caused the title of liberty to be hoisted upon every tower which was in all the land.... and thus Moroni planted the standard of liberty among the Nephites.' (Ibid., 46:36.)

"This is our need today -- to plant the standard of liberty among our people throughout the Americas.

"While this incident occurred some seventy years BC, the struggle went on through one thousand years covered by this sacred Book of Mormon record. In fact, the struggle for liberty is a continuing one -- it is with us in a very real sense today right here on this choice land of the Americas." (Conference Report, Oct. 1962, pp. 14-15)

Ezra Taft Benson

"Of course, the war in heaven over free agency is now being waged here on earth, and there are those today who are saying 'Look, don't get involved in the fight for freedom. Just live the gospel.' That counsel is dangerous, self-contradictory, unsound...Now, part of the reason we may not have sufficient priesthood bearers to save the Constitution let alone to shake the powers of hell, is because unlike Moroni, I fear, our souls do not joy in keeping our country free, and we are not firm in the faith of Christ nor have we sworn with an oath to defend our rights and the liberty of our country.

"Moroni raised a title of liberty and wrote upon it these words: 'In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.' Why didn't he write upon it: 'Just live your religion; there's no need to concern yourselves about your freedom, your peace, your wives, or your children'? The reason he didn't do this was because all these things were a part of his religion, as they are of our religion today.

"Should we counsel people, 'Just live your religion. There's no need to get involved in the fight for freedom'? No, we should not, because our stand for freedom is a most basic part of our religion; this stand helped get us to this earth, and our reaction to freedom in this life will have eternal consequences. Man has many duties, but he has no excuse that can compensate for his loss of liberty." (Conference Report, Oct. 1966, p. 122 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 351)

Alma 46:13-14 Christians...For thus were all the true believers...called by those who did not belong to the church

Bruce R. McConkie

"Christians is an obvious name for the followers of Christ, for those who believe he is the Son of God and that salvation of all degrees comes because of him and his atoning sacrifice. Since there have been followers of Christ in successive gospel dispensations from Adam to the present, these all would have been known as Christians or some equivalent, synonymous term. By saying the saints were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26) means that for the first time in the meridian dispensation there was a sufficient church membership so that nonmembers recognized the saints as a separate and distinct organization, one severed and apart from the Jewish synagogue and community.

"As far as the rejectors and detractors of Christ were concerned, the term Christian was probably first used in derision. Such was clearly the case among the Nephites. The Book of Mormon account, recording events in about the year 73 B. C. -- well over a century before the Antioch congregation came into being -- says: 'Christians . . . For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church.' (Alma 46:13-16.)

"A somewhat analogous situation exists in this dispensation with reference to the term Mormons...It must be understood that this is not the name of the Church, but in the sense that it is used as a synonym for that name, it is not offensive to those to whom it has been applied.

"Are Mormons Christians? The answer depends on what is meant by Christians. If Christians are people with the defined view that salvation comes only through the complete gospel of Christ, Mormons are truly Christians in the precise and full meaning of the term.

"If Christians are people (and this is the standard definition of the clergy of the day) who believe in the holy trinity as defined and set forth in the Nicene, Athanasian, and Apostles creeds, meaning that God is a three-in-one nothingness, a spirit essence filling immensity, an incorporeal and uncreated being incapable of definition or mortal comprehension -- then Mormons, by a clergy-chosen definition, are ruled out of the fold of Christ.

"But if by Christians is meant the saints of God in Antioch and elsewhere who believe and live as they did; if by Christians is meant those who accept Christ as the literal Son of God; who believe that miracles and signs follow true believers; who believe in kingdoms of glory, revelation, the gathering of Israel, and Melchizedek and Aaronic priesthoods; who believe there must be apostles and prophets in the Church; and who believe in all respects as did holy men of old -- then Mormons are Christians and they have the only pure and perfect Christianity now on earth. Indeed, Mormonism is pure, unadulterated Christianity, restored anew in all its grandeur and glory." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, pp. 112-3)

Alma 46:20 whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord

Anthony W. Ivins

"I appeal to you to reflect, and to resolve, in the words of Moroni...that so long as there is a band of Christians left in the world, they will gird on their armor, the armor of righteousness, that the word of the Lord may be advocated in every nation, and if necessary the arm of every Christian be steeled to fight for the perpetuity of these eternal truths upon which the salvation of the world depends today. God give victory to the armies which are fighting in defense of these principles. May he give strength to the latter-day Saints to properly perform their part in this great struggle, and above all may he give power to spread these truths among all nations, until the world shall be converted, God's kingdom come, and his will be done upon earth, as it is in heaven.' (Conference Report, Oct. 1918, pp. 52-3)

Alma 46:21 rending their garments in token, or as a covenant

"While twentieth-century readers correctly view this moment as a time of great patriotism, it is important to note that any such feelings of the Nephites were founded in their covenants.  The focus in the record is not upon an emotional flagwaving fervor, but upon the necessity of keeping covenants with the Lord in order to be preserved in the land.  According to the record, 'the covenant which they made,' as they 'cast their garments at the feet of Moroni,' was:  'We covenant with our God, that we shall be destroyed, even as our brethren in the land northward, if we shall fall into transgression; yea, he may cast us at the feet of our enemies, even as we have cast our garments at thy feet to be trodden under foot, if we shall fall into transgression' (v 22)." (Thomas Valletta, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Alma, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 234)

Alma 46:23 a remnant of...Joseph whose coat was rent by his brethren into many pieces

Joseph's "coat of many colors" has become legendary. Yet, the language used may not be an accurate description of the garment. In fact the word "garment" may be a better description. A modern Torah commentary gives alternate translations such as "Ornamental Tunic. [Although] the meaning is not clear. Others translate as 'a coat of many colors,' or 'a robe with sleeves.'" (W. Gunther Plaut, Torah: A Modern Commentary, p. 244) Yet, apocryphal sources indicate that the garment was "the garment of Adam" which had been handed down from one patriarch to the next. This, in part, explains the anger of Joseph's elder brothers when they learned that he would be the recipient of the garment.

"In Alma 46:21-24 we read of a particular ceremony associated with the story of Joseph's garment. Because Jewish tradition indicates that Joseph's garment was the high priestly garment of Adam, this passage may have more meaning than previously supposed. In this passage, the desecration of the garment symbolizes being 'ashamed to take upon them the name of Christ.'" (Donald W. Parry, Temples of the Ancient World, p. 695, footnote 50)

"There is no shortage of traditions in the Old World about this garment of Joseph. Ginzberg recounts various stories about appearances of Gabriel to Joseph. One of these appearances was while Joseph was imprisoned in the pit before his brothers sold him into slavery. Here it is said that Gabriel placed upon him a special garment of protection which he wore throughout all his Egyptian experiences (Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909., 2:17). Ginzberg also records that after Joseph was reunited with his family in Egypt his father gave him two gifts, the first being the city of Shechem and 'the second gift was the garments made by God for Adam and passed from hand to hand, until they came into the possession of Jacob' (Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909., 2:139). He also notes that 'according to the view of later authors, Joseph's coat was the holy tunic of the priest' (Ginzberg, Louis. The Legends of the Jews. 7 vols. Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1909., 5:326)." (Millet & McConkie, Gospel Symbolism, p. 140)

Hugh Nibley

"Here the survival of Joseph's garment guarantees and typifies the survival of Joseph (Alma 46:24).

"In the tenth century of our era the greatest antiquarian of the Moslem world, Muhammad ibn-Ibrahim ath-Tha'labi, collected in Persia a great many old tales and legends about the prophets of Israel...Among other things, Tha'labi tells a number of stories, which we have not found anywhere else, about Jacob and the garment of Joseph. In one, Joseph's brethren bring his torn garment to their father as proof that he is dead, but Jacob after examining the garment ('and there were in the garment of Joseph three marks or tokens when they brought it to his father') declares that the way the cloth is torn shows him that their story is not true: 'Behold, if the bear had eaten him he surely would have rent his garment, and since he would (naturally) have fled towards the gate, verily the garment should have been torn behind.' But since this is not the case it may be that Joseph still lives...

"Most significant is Tha'labi's discussion of the two remnants of Joseph's garment, from which we quote:

"And when Joseph had made himself known unto them [his brethren] he asked them about his father, saying, 'What did my father after [I left]?' They answered, 'He lost his eyesight [from weeping].' Then he gave them his garment [qamis, long outer shirt]. According to ad-Dahak that garment was of the weave [pattern, design] of Paradise, and the breath [spirit, odor] of Paradise was in it, so that it never decayed or in any way deteriorated [and that was] a sign [omen]. And Joseph gave them that garment, and it was the very one that had belonged to Abraham, having already had a long history. And he said to them, 'Go, take this garment of mine and place it upon the face of my father so he may have sight again, and return [to me] with all your families.' And when they had put Egypt behind them and come to Canaan their father Jacob said, 'Behold, I perceive the spirit [breath, odor] of Joseph, if you will not think me wandering in my mind and weakheaded from age.' . . . [for] he knew that upon all the earth there was no spirit [breath, odor] of Paradise save in that garment alone. . . . And as-Sadi says that Judah said to Joseph, 'It was I who took the garment bedaubed with blood to Jacob, and reported to him that the wolf had eaten Joseph; so give me this day thy garment that I might tell him that thou art living, that I might cause him to rejoice now as greatly as I caused him to sorrow then.' And Ibn-Abbas says that Judah took the garment and went forth in great haste, panting with exertion and anxiety . . . and when he brought the garment he laid it upon his face, so that his sight returned to him. And ad-Dahak says that his sight returned after blindness, and his strength after weakness, and youth after age, and joy after sorrow. [Then follows a dialogue between Jacob and the King of Death].

"Note here that there were two remnants of Joseph's garment, one sent by Joseph to his father as a sign that he was still alive (since the garment had not decayed), and the other, torn and smeared with blood, brought by Judah to his father as a sign that Joseph was dead. Moroni actually quotes Jacob ('Now behold, this was the language of Jacob' [Alma 46:26]) as saying: 'Now behold, this giveth my soul sorrow; nevertheless, my soul hath joy in my son' (Alma 46:25)...

"These interesting little details are typical apocryphal variations on a single theme, and the theme is the one Moroni mentions; the rent garment of Joseph is the symbol both of his suffering and his deliverance, misfortune and preservation." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 218-20)

Alma 46:24 Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved

The book of Genesis is an abbreviation of the lives of the Patriarchs. As with so many other instances in the Book of Mormon, we see that the Nephite record was more complete than our own. Moroni was quoting scripture to rally his people. In his version of the life of Jacob, the above prophecy was included. According to our Bible, the only thing the torn garment of Joseph represented was his death by wild animals (Gen 37:32-25). In Moroni's Bible, the garment represented Joseph's posterity which would be forever preserved.

Hugh Nibley

"The Nephite prophet Moroni tells a story, which he says was common property of his people, concerning the death of the patriarch Jacob (Alma 46:24-25). I have never come across this story except in Tha'labi-who in Joseph Smith's America had access to Tha'labi? Tha'labi, a Persian in the tenth century A.D., went about collecting old stories of the prophets from his Jewish neighbors. The story in barest outline is that when the garment of Joseph was brought to Jacob on his deathbed, he rejoiced because part of it was sound and whole, signifying that some of his descendants would always remain true; but he wept because another part of the garment was befouled and rotted away, signifying that part of his descendants that would fall away. The same story is told with the same interpretation in Tha'labi and in the book of Alma, in the latter significantly as a popular folk-tale." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 249)

Alma 46:27 who knoweth but what the remnant...which shall perish...are those who have dissented from us?

Hugh Nibley

"One of the most remarkable aspects of the story is the manner in which Moroni sought to stir up patriotic fervor by appealing to ancient and traditional devices. He connected the whole business of the rent garment with the story of the tribal ancestors Jacob and Joseph, and suggested that 'those who have dissented from us' were the very 'remnant of the seed of Joseph' to which the dying Jacob prophetically referred (Alma 46:27). It was not merely a resemblance or a type, but the very event foreseen by the patriarch of old." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 213)

Alma 46:35 Amalickiahites that would not enter into a covenant...he caused to be put to death

Moroni was given power by the chief judges and the voice of the people (v. 34) to establish order. By doing so, they gave Moroni power to declare marshal law on the Amalickiahites. Their threat was so real, that reconciliation or extermination was the only option.

"What may at first seem to be harsh measures was really a very humane and just approach, and it was remarkable for two reasons. First, how many times in history does one find prisoners of war given a chance to swear their allegiance to the government and then freed, even though the war still continues? Second, once again we see the great importance these people placed on making and keeping oaths. In today's society, many would sear such an oath to escape death, with no intent of ever keeping it. But then, the oath was a very important and sacred thing to the people." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, pp. 330-1)

Hugh Nibley

"The fiction has been diligently cultivated that Moroni on this occasion put all the pacifists to death. Those put to death were not those who had refused to take up arms to defend their country, but those who had taken up arms to attack it and who were on their way to join the enemy across the border, glad in their hearts when they heard that the Lamanites were coming down to battle against their country; they were dissenters to the enemy. Pacifists? They were all members of Amalickiah's army, armed to their teeth on their way to join the enemy when Moroni caught them. 'And . . . whomsoever of the Amalickiahites that would not enter into the covenant, . . . he caused to be put to death; and there were but few' (Alma 46:35). Armed violence, not pacifism, had been their program from the beginning." (Approaching Zion, p. 98 - 99)

Alma 46:40 the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases

Long before the medicinal value of plants and roots was understood by modern science, the Nephite and Lamanite "medicine men" made good use of the only pharmacy available to them. Since then, science has found that plant derived medicines have many uses:  quinine is an effective treatment for malaria, opium is a powerful pain killer, digitalis stabilizes the heart's rhythm, and belladonna is used to make atropine, a drug with many medicinal uses.

Hugh Nibley

"They were able to control fevers because of the very good remedies they had from these tropical plants. Quinine wasn't discovered until 1840. Nobody knew that the quinine bark would cure these fevers until then. They didn't know what could cure them. They didn't know about mosquitoes or anything else. Again, here we have a wonderful insight. There are these occasional flashes of background in the Book of Mormon, which for the most part concentrate intently on the issues of salvation. But here it just happens to note in passing (it's good to note) that it was fever country and there were diseases to which men were subject by the nature of the climate, which was tropical and humid. The fevers were held under control by the most excellent quality of the plants." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 62, p. 65)

Bruce R. McConkie

"There are two opposite and almost equally unsound views held by many people as to the value and place of physicians in society. Most people rely entirely on doctors and medical science where health is concerned and make no attempt to seek the healing power of the Lord. (2 Chron. 16:12.) Some others reject hospitalization and medicinal aid, supposing that it is only by divine aid that health will or can be restored.

"Actually, of course, the Lord intends that men should exercise faith in him so as to be healed, but he also intends that men should use the agency and intelligence he has given them, in both preventing and curing sickness. It is proper that the sick should 'be nourished with all tenderness, with herbs and mild food.' (D. & C. 42:43.) The Book of Mormon speaks 'of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases.' (Alma 46:40.)" (Mormon Doctrine, p. 573)