Alma 48

Alma 48:1 he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers

Hugh Nibley

"For Amalickiah the answer to his problems and the realization of his ambitions lay in military action...Unpopular with most of the Nephites, he had to use Lamanite manpower in his various operations.

 "Question: How was he able to do that?

"Answer:  Once by poisoning he gained complete control of a renegade Lamanite army of war-protesters (Alma 47:5-19); then he got command of the main Lamanite force by assassinating the king. Putting himself forward as the champion of law and order, he then married the mourning queen and mounted the Lamanite throne (Alma 47:32-35). Then he stirred up the war-weary Lamanites to a pitch of war-fever entirely contrary to all their interests and inclinations but beneficial to his own. He accomplished that feat by masterful use of the media. As in later Mesoamerica, it seems that towers were a conspicuous part of public architecture, used among other things for public presentations and announcements. When Amalickiah became king, 'he began to inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi; yea, he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers, against the Nephites' (Alma 48:1). He saturated the airwaves, so to speak, and his [plan] worked. Finally this consummate dissembler and master liar was able to march at the head of a mighty army which he thought would make him king in Zarahemla." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 332-3)

Alma 48:7 Moroni, on the other hand, had been preparing the minds of the people

Virginia U. Jensen

"While his enemies gained power through fraud and deceit, Moroni empowered the Nephites by teaching them to be faithful to God (see Alma 48:7). How do we, like Captain Moroni, create places of security for those around us in these sometimes frightening and perilous times? We can begin by following the admonition found in 1 Timothy 4:12: 'Be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.'

"...In Primary we sing, 'Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace' (Children's Songbook, 146). Above all, Captain Moroni showed his people the Lord would guide their efforts if they followed His commandments. A woman who keeps the commandments is using our Heavenly Father's blueprint to build a place of security for herself and her family. Those around her know they can trust her. They can feel safety and peace within her influence. Adherence to the Lord's commandments is the foundation of her fortress.

"To provide safety for those around us, we as sisters need to expand our knowledge of all things spiritual. We need to learn and progress in understanding and teach our children those things that will make them less vulnerable to deceit and to the designs of those who conspire against righteousness. Ignorance is not bliss; it is dangerous.

"In the 68th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, parents have been commanded to teach their children the simple, lifesaving truths of the restored gospel. Our homes should be the great centers of gospel learning. Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: 'When parents fail to transmit testimony and theology along with decency, those families are only one generation from serious spiritual decline, having lost their savor. The law of the harvest is nowhere more in evidence and nowhere more relentless than in family gardens' ("Take Especial Care of Your Family," Ensign, May 1994, 90). Like the stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon, our children can be motivated, blessed, and, most of all, protected by the faith and wise counsel of righteous mothers.

"Sincere prayer can be more effective in protecting our families than the earthen walls Moroni erected around the Nephite cities...A righteous woman's strength and influence are great. Her opportunities to create safe havens for struggling souls are abundant...Let us be like Captain Moroni in using all available resources to protect that which is precious to us and to our Heavenly Father." ("Creating Places of Security," Ensign, Nov. 1997, 89)

Alma 48:8 erecting small forts...throwing up banks of earth...building walls of stone

Hugh Nibley

"Moroni's defenses were based on a series of strong points, being a defense in depth, as modern defense-lines are; beside specially placed 'small forts, or places of resort,' towns and cities on the line were also converted into strong points (Alma 48:8). Such an arrangement can take the momentum out of any military steamroller and slow down or stop any attacking force, no matter how formidable, by forcing it to reduce one strong place after another or else bypass the fortifications and thereby leave dangerous enemy forces in its rear to disrupt communications and launch harassing counter-attacks on invading units. With this strictly defensive program (the preparation being to fight if at all only on their own grounds), an early-warning system was all-important. And it was Moroni's idea that God himself would provide such a system if the people were only faithful: 'If they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would . . . warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; and also, that God would make it known unto them whither they should go to defend themselves' (Alma 48:15-16). In short, God was their 'Dew-line,' their radar, and warning system, and that saved them the need of constant and costly vigilance on all fronts, to say nothing of expensive and wasteful war-plans and war-games. This was Moroni's policy of preparedness, 'this was the faith of Moroni and his heart did glory in it; not in the shedding of blood but in doing good' (Alma 48:16)." (Since Cumorah, p. 307)

Alma 48:11 Moroni was a strong and a mighty man

"Mormon masterfully abridged the scriptural record about Moroni, chief captain of the Nephite armies, demonstrating to his anticipated readers that this was a man most needed not only for his day, but also for our own...In accordance with Mormon's hopes, Captain Moroni endures as a model of courage and righteousness to many Latter-day Saints.  His powerful example is obscured only by ignorance and misunderstanding of the world in which he lived.  Brigham Young taught that the scriptures can best be understood by reading them 'as though [we] stood in the place of the men who wrote them' (Journal of Discourses 7:333).  There is an immense historical and cultural distance separating Moroni from modern comprehension.  This distance can be narrowed by striving to view Moroni within the context of his own world." (Thomas R. Valetta, Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Alma, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 223)

Joe J. Christensen

"Additional character and personality traits of Captain Moroni that merit mention and emulation include the following:

  1. He had prepared himself throughout his early years so that at age twenty-five he was qualified and trusted enough to be appointed leader of all the armies of the Nephites (see Alma 43:17).
  2. He was compassionate and wise. He did not delight in bloodshed, as has been mentioned. At the earliest indications that his enemies were weakening or willing to stop the conflict, he would call a halt to the battle. He was magnanimous in forgiveness, but, as in the case of the confrontation with Zarahemnah, he was firm for the right (see Alma 44:1-20). Moroni was vitally concerned for the welfare of his people, and particularly for those who fought under his leadership. He worked diligently to assure that they were well armed, trained, and prepared for war (see Alma 43:18-21). He built up defenses of stone walls, forts, and banks of earth to help secure his people (see Alma 48:7-10; see also 49:6, 18-20; 50:1-4).
  3. He was spiritual and sensitive to ecclesiastical leadership. He sought, obtained, and followed the counsel of the prophet Alma (see Alma 43:23-26). He delighted in doing good, in preserving his people, and in keeping the commandments of God (see Alma 48:16).
  4. He was intelligent. He used a variety of tactics and strategies to defeat his enemies (for example, see Alma 43:27-35). Even some modern military leaders have indicated that Moroni's military skills were obvious and ingenious.
  5. He was a leader who surrounded himself with good and able people. 'Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni; for they did preach the word of God, and they did baptize unto repentance all men whosoever would hearken unto their words' (Alma 48:19).
  6. He demonstrated great leadership ability, including charisma, and was able to rally a people to the title of liberty (see Alma 46:13). In Moroni's day "there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi" (Alma 50:23). His leadership likely inspired the two thousand stripling warriors who were led into battle so successfully by Helaman (see Alma 53, 56-57).
  7. He knew the value of organization and labor. He knew that when he caused the Lamanite prisoners to work, it was easier to guard them (see Alma 53:5). A parallel might be that when we are busy, it is easier to guard ourselves against the influences of the adversary.
  8. He was family-oriented. The Nephite armies would not take prisoners of women and children. When the opportunity came to exchange prisoners with the Lamanites, Moroni would not exchange except on the condition that a Nephite man and his wife and children would be freed for each Lamanite prisoner exchanged (see Alma 54:11).
  9. He was a man of courage. He personally scaled the wall of a Lamanite city and directed his men to a victory through remarkable valor and strategy (see Alma 62:20-23)...

"This Moroni is a heroic ideal and model for our times. He is one whose life and characteristics should be understood by the older and taught to the younger so that they will never be able to say honestly that they do not have a hero worthy of emulation. He is one who taught us powerfully of those values-those priceless blessings-worth fighting and even dying for." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 132-3)

Hugh Nibley

"By all means, let us take Captain Moroni for our model and never forget what he fought for-the poor, outcast and despised; and what he fought against-pride, power, wealth and ambition; or how he fought-as the generous, considerate and magnanimous foe, a leader in every sense." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, p. 130)

Alma 48:12 a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God

Spencer J. Condie

"My German-born wife enjoyed our Church assignments in Vienna, Austria, and Frankfurt, Germany, very much because she had no trouble conversing with Church members and friends in their native language. But when we were called to move to France on a new assignment, her enthusiasm for living in Europe began to wane. And when we moved into a little house in the country far removed from neighbors who were members of the Church, this became a trial of her faith. Shopping in a foreign country in a foreign language was mildly traumatic, to say the least. Then one day as she was reading the Book of Mormon, she came upon a verse in Alma 48:12 which describes Captain Moroni as 'a man whose heart did swell with thanksgiving to his God, for the many privileges and blessings which he bestowed upon his people.'

"Somewhat similar to Joseph Smith's experience in reading the first chapter of James, she began to make some important connections in her own mind and heart. She began thinking: Moroni lived at a time when he had no electricity, no hot running water, no oven or microwave, no refrigerator, freezer, washer or dryer, no radio, television, or stereo system. He had no convenient supermarkets or department stores. He had no automobile for convenient and comfortable transportation. And still his 'heart did swell with thanksgiving.' Since that day of reading that passage of scripture, Sister Condie's attitude changed remarkably and she developed a great love for France and Switzerland and for the French-speaking people. She was at peace with herself and with the world in which she lived." (In Perfect Balance, p. 54-55)

Alma 48:16 the Lord would deliver them; and this was the faith of Moroni

Spencer W. Kimball

"We are a warlike people, easily distracted from our assignment of preparing for the coming of the Lord. When enemies rise up, we commit vast resources to the fabrication of gods of stone and steel-ships, planes, missiles, fortifications-and depend on them for protection and deliverance. When threatened, we become anti-enemy instead of pro-kingdom of God; we train a man in the art of war and call him a patriot, thus, in the manner of Satan's counterfeit of true patriotism, perverting the Savior's teaching:

   'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

   That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.' (Matthew 5:44-45.)

"We forget that if we are righteous the Lord will either not suffer our enemies to come upon us-and this is the special promise to the inhabitants of the land of the Americas-or he will fight our battles for us....

"What are we to fear when the Lord is with us? Can we not take the Lord at his word and exercise a particle of faith in him?" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 417)

Alma 48:17 if all men had been, and unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever

Of all the history that he abridged, we find that Mormon identified most strongly with Captain Moroni. Both had been chief captains at a young age. Both led armies which were outnumbered and impeded by the wickedness of the people. Both were men of God. And both were spiritually strong enough to shake 'the very powers of hell.' Gary Layne Hatch wrote:

"Captain Moroni, chief captain of the Nephite armies, is a man Mormon greatly admired. He devotes a large part of his abridgment to the wars fought by Captain Moroni and may even have named his son after this courageous captain. The description of Captain Moroni in the book of Alma gives some insight into Mormon's personality. He admires Moroni for his skill as a general but even more for his faith in God." (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Alma, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 223)

Maybe one of the other reasons why Mormon spent so much time discussing these Nephite wars was because he wanted us to be acquainted with the power and personality of this man, for if we were all like him, we would quickly win our war against evil. Hermann Melville, in his classic, Moby Dick, spends over 500 pages in a character study of a revengeful sea captain. In the last chapters of Alma, Mormon spends only 53 pages in a character study of a righteous chief captain. We must be thankful to Mormon for including this detail, for without it, we could never become as Moroni-mighty and unshakable in the face of the devil and his angels.

Neal A. Maxwell

"We know the tempter will be completely bound in the Millennium-but we can surely constrain him much sooner, so far as our lives are concerned." (Even As I Am, p. 77)

Hugh Nibley

"You do not expel evil from 'the hearts of the children of men' by shooting them or blowing them up or torturing them-the Inquisition operated on that theory. Nor can 'the powers of hell be shaken' by heavy artillery or nuclear warheads...Nobody knows that better than Moroni, whose efforts to avoid conflict far exceed his labors in battle. When he sees trouble ahead, he gets ready for it by 'preparing the minds of the people to be faithful unto the Lord their God' (Alma 48:7)." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 492)

Alma 48:18 he was a man like unto Ammon...and also Alma

Hugh Nibley

"Mormon tells us that Moroni 'was a man like unto Ammon . . . and also Alma' (Alma 48:18). Alma, it will be recalled, after ably functioning as commander of the armies, high priest of the church, and chief judge of the land, laid down all his high offices to go out and try to save things by 'bearing down in pure testimony' among a stiffnecked people (Alma 4:19). They gave him a bad time when he came before them without any official clout, but he knew that the gospel was the only solution. Ammon, the mightiest fighting man in the Book of Mormon, laid aside his invincible sword to go tracting from door to door among a bloody-minded enemy nation. His friends and fellow church members laughed at the deed." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 355)

Alma 48:19 Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable

Howard W. Hunter

"It was said of the young and valiant Captain Moroni: 'If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.' (Alma 48:17.)

"What a compliment to a famous and powerful man! I can't imagine a finer tribute from one man to another. Two verses later is a statement about Helaman and his brethren, who played a less conspicuous role than Moroni: 'Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni.' (Alma 48:19.)

"...Not all of us are going to be like Moroni, catching the acclaim of our colleagues all day every day. Most of us will be quiet, relatively unknown folks who come and go and do our work without fanfare. To those of you who may find that lonely or frightening or just unspectacular, I say, you are 'no less serviceable' than the most spectacular of your associates. You, too, are part of God's army.

"Consider, for example, the profound service a mother or father gives in the quiet anonymity of a worthy Latter-day Saint home. Think of the Gospel Doctrine teachers and Primary choristers and Scoutmasters and Relief Society visiting teachers who serve and bless millions but whose names will never be publicly applauded or featured in the nation's media.

"Tens of thousands of unseen people make possible our opportunities and happiness every day. As the scriptures state, they are 'no less serviceable' than those whose lives are on the front pages of newspapers." ("No Less Serviceable," Ensign, Apr. 1992, 64)

Alma 48:20 they were free from wars and contentions among themselves

Among the Nephites, the greatest threat to peace came from within. The civil war brought on by Amalickiah was followed, four years later, by the treachery of the king-men (Alma 51:5). The intervening four years were marked by plenty of wars and contentions, but they were not civil wars nor were they internal contentions. Significantly, as long as there was peace at home and within the Church, the Nephites were able to prevail against the Lamanites. This shows the importance of the internal stability that Helaman and his brethren were working so hard to establish, Helaman did also maintain order in the church; yea, even for the space of four years did they have much peace and rejoicing in the church (Alma 46:38).

Alma 48:21-24 they were compelled reluctantly to contend with their brethren

Hugh Nibley

"[Moroni's] magnanimous nature as a lover of peace and fair play always prevailed. He always calls the enemy his brothers, with whom he is loathe to contend. You cannot ask for a less warlike spirit than that of an army who 'were compelled reluctantly to contend with their brethren, the Lamanites,' who waged war 'for the space of many years, . . . notwithstanding their much reluctance'; who were 'sorry to take up arms against the Lamanites, because they did not delight in the shedding of blood; yea . . . they were sorry to be the means of sending so many of their brethren out of this world' (Alma 48:21-23). In battle Moroni always calls an end to the fighting and proposes a settlement the moment the enemy shows signs of weakening (Alma 43:54; 44:1, 20); and though surprise and deception are the essence of strategy, he refused to take advantage of an enemy who was too drunk to fight-that would be an 'injustice' (Alma 55:19). He even made special excuses for sending spies behind enemy lines (Alma 43:27-30). With never a thought of punishing a beaten foe, Moroni sought no reprisals even after the gravest provocations. He was satisfied to take his defeated adversaries at their word and trust them to return to their homes or settle among the Nephites as they chose (Alma 44:6, 11, 19-20), even granting them Nephite lands for their rehabilitation (Alma 62:16-17). His attitude is well expressed in an exchange of letters with his friend Pahoran, who writes: 'We would not shed the blood of the Lamanites if they would stay in their own land. We would not shed the blood of our [Nephite] brethren if they would not rise up in rebellion and take the sword against us. We would subject ourselves to the yoke of bondage if it were requisite with the justice of God'" (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 353)