Alma 50

Alma 50:1-36 Moroni did not stop making preparations for war

Hugh Nibley

"Peace again brought prosperity (Alma 49:30), but Moroni was not idle. He launched out on an ambitious program of national fortifications, displaying his usual genius in the design and disposal of the strong places (Alma 50:1-6). First of all, it was necessary to remove a dangerous bulge or salient over on the east coast. The area was cleared of Lamanites and settled by local people and colonists from Zarahemla (Alma 50:7, 9). Thus Moroni was able to shorten and straighten his defense line (Alma 50:8), and having determined the best possible course for the line, he proceeded to fortify it along its entire length from the east wilderness (north of Jershon on the coast) to the west sea (Alma 50:9, 11), again employing not a single wall but a defense in depth, including even the founding of new fortified towns at strategically located places 'by the borders' (Alma 50:13-15). At the same time he effected a gradual buildup of military power within the country (Alma 50:10), though his principal concern was ever to keep the peace at home, knowing that it had 'been their quarrelings, and their contentions . . . and their abominations, which were among themselves, which brought upon them their wars and their destructions' (Alma 50:21).

"Accordingly, when as the result of a land-squabble a group of people under a loud and hot-tempered man named Morianton (another of those ambitious masters of 'flattering words') decided to move out of the country, Moroni fearing that he would add to his supporters among the people of Bountiful and thereby 'lay a foundation for serious consequences' (Bountiful being the most important Nephite military base), lost no time heading off the migration, sending his most mobile commander, Teancum, to stop them. Morianton was killed in the tussle that ensued, and all his people were 'brought back.' 'And upon their covenanting to keep the peace they were restored, . . . and a union took place between them and the people of Lehi' (Alma 50:25-36). Again Moroni's quick action had averted disaster but, more important, his humane policy, foregoing all reprisals and reparations, gave a happy ending to the episode with the original antagonists joined in friendship. Though the Nephites never lived in a time of greater danger, 'there never was a happier time . . . than in the days of Moroni ' according to the verdict of the younger Moroni at the very end of Nephite history (Alma 50:23). For their security was not in an absence of enemies but in the faith that they would be 'delivered at all times' if they kept 'the commandments of the Lord' (Alma 50:22)." (Since Cumorah, p. 311)

Alma 50:22 those who were faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord were delivered at all times

"In the last section of Alma, the lengthy description of war could, at first glance, seem to contradict the assertion that the theme of the book of Alma is the word of God.  However, a careful reading of the war chapters reveals just the opposite.  Mormon uses the drama of war to verify the old promise of prosperity if the Nephites keep God's word-and of adversity and affliction if they do not.  His purpose is to show that the Nephites as a whole brought their own problems upon themselves through iniquity and dissension, but God protected and delivered the faithful among them (Alma 50:20-22).

"The irony of the wars in the book of Alma is that the Nephites were righteous enough to win the wars, but not righteous enough to prevent them from taking place.  According to President Spencer W. Kimball, God had given a special promise to the Nephites which is valid to all the peoples of America:  if they would stay sufficiently righteous, they would not have to fight." (Gerald Hansen, Jr., Book of Mormon Symposium Series, Alma, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 277-78, italics added)

Alma 50:23 there never was a happier time among the people of Nephi

Joseph Smith

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness and keeping all the commandments of God." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 255.)

Neal A. Maxwell

"First Questioner: How much real happiness is possible in this vale of tears?

"The Disciple: That depends directly on our righteousness. The saints of the first century A.D. in the Americas were described as follows: '. . . surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.' (4 Nephi 16.) Even in the period around 70 B.C. (which saw much intergroup warfare), the righteous and faithful were happy. Indeed, Alma wrote, 'But behold there never was a happier time among all the people of Nephi, since the days of Nephi, than in the days of Moroni.' (Alma 50:23.) Fortunately happiness is not totally dependent on what those around us do, therefore.

"Second Questioner: Even so, I see some sad-faced members of the Church, don't you?

"The Disciple: Too many, of course, but not among those who have received 'his image' in their 'countenances.' (Alma 5:14.) None among those who've gotten outside their confining circle of selfishness. Indeed, the Brethren are happy while they cope with serious and somber problems. Someone said it is too bad we don't preserve the small talk of great men; so, too, the humor of holy men who serve as special witnesses." (Deposition of a Disciple, p. 18 - 19)

Alma 50:39 Pahoran was appointed judge and governor over the people, with an oath and sacred ordinance to judge righteously

John K. Carmack

"We notice the explicit and direct obligations Pahoran undertook as chief judge and governor. No modern official has a similar charge. His responsibilities were akin to those given judges and kings in ancient Israel. The oath administered to the chief judge obligated him to:

  • Judge righteously
  • Keep peace and freedom intact
  • Guard the privilege of worshipping God
  • Support and maintain the cause of God
  • Bring the wicked to justice according to their crimes

"As in ancient Israel, spiritual and temporal duties intermingled. We don't know who administered the sacred ordinance or of what it consisted, but likely the high priest of the Church officiated in some kind of formal anointing as prophets did for kings in Israel. Pahoran took office at the end of the twenty-fourth year of the reign of judges instituted by King Mosiah. Little did he realize what he would face, and almost immediately. Perhaps for most of us it is well that we don't know much in advance about the trials we must face." (Heroes From the Book of Mormon, pp. 136-7)