Mosiah 19

Mosiah 19:4 Gideon

"One of the most dissatisfied among the people was Gideon, an officer of the king's army. There is no reason to suspect that he was a wicked man, although he held an office under King Noah. Later he proved that he possessed all the virtues of a good, pure, and wise man...We judge from the course he then pursued and the whole tenor of his after life that he had no hand in the martyrdom of Abinadi, or in Noah's other crimes. When the minority of the people revolted, Gideon, being exceedingly angry, drew his sword and sought to kill the king...

"Gideon appears in his day to have been an officer of high standing in the Nephite forces and a man of much wisdom and intelligence. In the war that resulted from the seizure of a number of Lamanite maidens by the Priests of Noah, Gideon took a prominent part in bringing about a cessation of hostilities. It was he who suggested who the men really were that committed this vile act (Mosiah 20:17-22). In later years, when the people of Limhi escaped from the Lamanites and returned to Zarahemla under the guidance of Ammon, Gideon took a leading part, by his advice and example, in effecting their deliverance and directing that march (Mosiah 22:3-11). We next read of Gideon when he had become exceedingly old (Alma 1:7-9). He was still actively engaged in the service of the Lord. He was a teacher in the church, yet we cannot help thinking that, like many in these days, though acting as a teacher, he held a higher office in the priesthood. One day he met, in the streets of the city of Zarahemla, an apostate named Nehor, who had grown very popular and with his popularity, very conceited, headstrong and ambitious, he having built up a church composed of persons who accepted his pernicious doctrines. On this occasion Gideon plead with him to desist from his evil ways and strongly remonstrated against the course he was taking. Nehor, ill-used to such opposition, drew his sword and slew the aged teacher. For this crime he was arrested, tried, convicted and executed (B.C. 91). Gideon's memory was held in great respect among the Nephites and one of their most important cities was named after him." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 220-5)

Mosiah 19:5-20 The cowardice of king Noah

If perfect love casteth out all fear (Moroni 8:16), then Noah must lack any charity. Indeed, fear is one of his best emotions. A coward's response to danger and fear is to run away, and this is precisely how Noah responded. His wickedness left him without any hope that the Lord would preserve him personally or his people collectively. As the servant of Satan, Noah had only the evil one to come to his rescue, but the devil will not support his children (Alma 30:60).

His first problem is Gideon, a leader in a group of dissidents unhappy with Noah's rule. As is typical, Noah's only concern is the preservation of his life. Accordingly, when chased to the tower, Noah sees a Lamanite army approaching. This is his great opportunity to divert Gideon's attention. Mormon makes it clear that Noah was only concerned with himself, saying, now the king was not so much concerned about his people as he was about his own life (v. 8). His argument implied that the people needed him to face the Lamanites, but he had no intention of facing them. His typical response was the directive, "run for your lives." But why not trust in the Lord and face the Lamanites with faith? The Nephites had beaten Lamanite armies before, even when greatly outnumbered, but their successes in these instances were predicated upon faith in the Lord. Noah lacked the spiritual leadership to draw upon the powers of heaven in preserving his people. His cowardice only increases as the story continues.

Next, after being caught by the Lamanite armies, his people begin to get slaughtered. This is a time of great crisis for his people, but Noah is again more concerned with preserving his own life. If captured, Noah may well have been imprisoned, tortured, or killed, and so Noah commands the men to leave their women and children and flee. Again this is a ruse designed to preserve his own life. Some of the people left their families to preserve their own lives. Finally, their consciences began to bother them and they decided to return to the aid of their families, Noah, who had no conscience, commanded them that they should not return (v. 20). This was his final cowardly command. The people, apparently realizing at last that Noah was the source of most of their problems, turned on him and killed him by fire.

While there are many villains and evil men in the history of the Nephites and Lamanites, there are no individuals as self-centered and cowardly as Noah. Who has less integrity? Who has less faith? Who has less fortitude? Unquestionably, Noah represents the antithesis of manhood and integrity.

Elder John H. Smith

"May the spirit of cowardice, fear and trembling never come to you. May you stand [tall] in the majesty of the cleanest, sweetest manhood, not blushing in the presence of your mothers, sisters or wives, nor even in the presence of the Lord, but be confident of His mercy.

"Again I say to you young men, be not afraid of the enemies of Zion, bow not in fear and trembling before any hand that may be raised. Accept the responsibilities that may be imposed upon you by the Divine Master, and preach His Gospel in the world. Stand for right, not only for your own house hold and those of your own faith, but see to it that the Catholic, the Jew, the Methodist, the Presbyterian, the atheist and the pagan shall enjoy that right of conscience which you yourself wish to enjoy, and that you with them shall stand up and maintain it with your lives, if necessary. May the spirit of heroism, faith, love, charity, forbearance, kindness and consideration, without fear or trembling, characterize the lives of all of you, that wherever you go you may mingle among men as honorable men or women, understanding yourselves, resolved upon the maintenance of purity of life, that the finger of God, if it should touch you, would not cause you to shrink with fear because of wrongdoing." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1906, pp. 25-6)

Mosiah 19:20 they...caused that he should suffer, even unto death by fire

Noah had brought all his problems on himself through his wicked ways. His treatment of the prophet Abinadi now comes back to haunt him. Abinadi promised him, ye shall be hunted, and ye shall be taken by the hand of your enemies, and then ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire. Thus God executeth vengeance upon those that destroy his people (Mosiah 17:18-19). The greatest difference between the death of Abinadi and the death of Noah can be found in the following scripture, those that die in me shall not taste of death, for it shall be sweet unto them; and they that die not in me, wo unto them, for their death is bitter (DC 42:46-7). Thus, the justice of God renders Noah his due reward.

"Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein:  and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him (Proverbs 26:27).  God has promised to 'recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man' (D&C 1:10).  'I will visit upon you the evil of your doings' (Jeremiah 23:2), he promised; 'and will recompense upon thee all thine abominations' (Ezekiel 7:3).  'It is a righteous thing with God,' Paul wrote, 'to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you' (2 Thessalonians 1:6).  Kings and kingdoms, the great and the small, all are subject to the law of recompense by a just God who either in this life or the world to come balances all accounts (see Jeremiah 25:14; Jeremiah 50:29; Ezekiel 7:9)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 2, p. 268)

Mosiah 19:21 the priests...fled before them

The escape of Noah's wicked priests is unfortunate for the Nephites. These priests become the source of a lot of pain and suffering for Limhi's people. As with all apostates, they become more bitter and vicious in their hatred of the truth than those who had never known the goodness of God.