Helaman 6:3 they did fellowship one with another...and did have great joy
Robert D. Hales
"Brothers and sisters, the Church is growing rapidly as our missionary force introduces the gospel in all parts of the world to those who are prepared with ears to hear. They join the Church with great faith, with a testimony of Jesus Christ, with love in their hearts, and then they face the realities of reordering their lives to reflect the Lord's will. They lose the close association with the missionaries who brought them the light.
"They come to our wards and branches feeling as though they are strangers. 'Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God' (Eph. 2:19). We read in the scriptures about seeds and about the sower of seeds (see Matt. 13; Alma 32). We are taught that a seed can grow, become a tree, and bear fruit. But we have to have good soil to accept the good seed, and that is one of our roles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-that we provide the soil which nurtures the seed so it can grow and bear fruit and that the fruit remains (see John 15:16). Many are strong enough to endure to the end. Without receiving a warm hand of fellowship, some become discouraged and unfortunately may lose the spirit that brought them to the waters of baptism. What was once a centerpiece in their existence is pushed aside for what they may perceive to be an offense, more pressing matters of the day, or it is simply lost in the shuffle of living. To labor for the conversion of one's self and others is a noble and joyful task." (Conference Report, May 1997 Ensign, p. 80)
Helaman 6:8 they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell
Never in Nephite history had the trade barriers been completely broken down as at this time. As soon as the righteousness of the Lamanites opened up all the Lamanite markets, the Nephite merchants were there to buy and sell. The result was an increase in trade and intercourse with the motive of getting 'gain, according to their desire'. The laws of economics teach that whenever commerce and trade increase, the economy is strengthened. Whenever the economy is strengthened, the merchants benefit. This is precisely what happened among the Nephites. Their increase in trade had strengthened their economy until 'they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites' (v. 9).
Helaman 6:10 the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek
"To the ancient Nephites the whole of North America was known as the Land of Mulek, and South America as the Land of Lehi. The reason why these names were so given was because the Lord brought Mulek to the Land North, and Lehi into the Land South when He led them from Judea to this greater Land of Promise. From the days of the first Mosiah to the Christian era, South America was divided into two grand divisions. These were the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi. During this period, except in times of war, the Lamanites occupied the Land of Nephi, and the Nephites inhabited the Land of Zarahemla." (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 5, p. 249)
Helaman 6:15 Cezoram was murdered
In the span of 35 years, the chief judges among the Nephites were always in danger. Pahoran was driven from Zarahemla by the kingmen (Alma 61:5,80). His son, Pahoran was the first chief judge to be assassinated (Hel 1:9). Pahoran's successor, Helaman survived an assassination attempt by Kishkumen (Hel 2:3-9). Helaman's son, Nephi, after serving for nine years, wisely gave up the judgment-seat to Cezoram (Hel 5:1). Four years later, Cezoram and his son were both killed. The record states that Cezoram was killed by an unknown hand, but, as with the others, that hand belonged to Gadianton's band (v. 19). This pattern of wickedness will continue among the Nephites as long as the Gadianton robbers are tolerated.
Helaman 6:17 they began to set their hearts upon their riches
The adage, "it is not money which is the root of all evil, but the love of money which is the root of all evil" (see 1 Tim 6:10), applies perfectly to the Nephites. Their riches would not have been a problem had they not set their hearts upon them. This is the great lesson and warning for the latter-day saints.
"The sequence is a natural one: with easy wealth comes the feeling of superiority which makes people status-conscious; and with a feeling for status comes a desperate need to acquire the one thing that will give status; and with the recognition of the all-importance of that one thing, any scruples that may stand in the way of its acquisition are pushed aside, even murder being permissible as long as one is not found out." (Since Cumorah, p. 363)
Bruce R. McConkie
"One of the great purposes of this mortal probation is to allow men to choose between the riches of the world and the riches of eternity. Those who set their hearts on the things of this world lose their souls. 'Wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their God. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.' (2 Ne. 9:30.) 'For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?' (Mark 8:36-37.) Those who set their hearts on the things of the Spirit inherit eternal riches which consist of eternal life." (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. P. 94)
Dallin H. Oaks
"The message of the modern prophets is the same as the ancient ones: If we set our hearts upon riches, we have set a worldly god ahead of the eternal God of Israel.
"President Brigham Young feared that the Latter-day Saints would succumb to materialism. Less than two years after their arrival in the valley of the Great Salt Lake, he spoke these words to the people:
'The worst fear that I have about this people is that they will get rich in this country, forget God and His people, wax fat, and kick themselves out of the Church and go to hell. This people will stand mobbing, robbing, poverty, and all manner of persecution, and be true. But my greater fear for them is that they cannot stand wealth; and yet they have to be tried with riches, for they will become the richest people on this earth.'" (Pure in Heart, p. 81)
Helaman 6:18 they were called Gadianton's robbers and murderers
"As the type and model of secret combinations to be avoided, the Book of Mormon gives us the Gadianton Society. Let us look at it. Gadianton history really begins with the skilled professional killer, Kishkumen...who 'murdered Pahoran as he sat upon the judgment-seat' (Helaman 1:9). Then they all took an oath, following Kishkumen's instructions (for he had 'the goods' on them and they could not refuse) to support Kishkumen and preserve complete secrecy regarding their operations; after which they went forth and 'did mingle themselves among the people' as respectable citizens (Helaman 1:11-12).
Thus they became an underground organization, whose members' identity was 'not known unto those who were at the head of the government' (Helaman 3:23). And that explains how it was possible later on, in the midst of great peace and prosperity, for the chief of state, Cezoram, and after him his son and successor, to be murdered in office in such a way that the assassins were never discovered (Helaman 6:15). It is significant that the times of great prosperity and abundance were also the times when murder and intrigue were the order of the day." (Since Cumorah, p. 363-4)
"Let us summarize the essential nature of what some have called 'Gadiantonism':
- 'Power and gain,' the two being interactive: power wins gain and gain wins power for whoever has either.
- Control or overthrow of the government; using political office 'to rule and do according to their wills, that they might get gain and glory' (Helaman 7:5).
- Secret agreements between individuals and groups. The Gadiantons are essentially an underground movement.
- Assassination. These two things, 'secret combinations' and 'that men should shed blood,' have been forbidden by God 'in all things . . . from the beginning of man' (Ether 8:19).
- "Payola": 'Akish did offer them money' (Ether 9:11); 'letting the guilty . . . go unpunished because of their money' (Helaman 7:5).
- Skillful propaganda and public relations: 'flattering words.'
- The hate campaign: a steady output of charges, accusations, and rumors, in the manner of Amalickiah: Accuse--always accuse. Eagerness to accuse is from the devil, as Brigham Young often taught.
- Intimidation: 'breathing out many threatenings,' operating 'by the hand of secrecy,' wearing fearsome disguises (3 Nephi 4:7).
- Showmanship, e.g., the picturesque uniforms and romantic appeal to the young (3 Nephi 1:29).
- Tight control of members--death penalty for betrayal (Ether 8:14; Helaman 1:11).
- The Gadiantons were totally partisan, the laws and interests of the combination taking priority over all other laws and interests.
- All were ambitious, hence the labor for power and gain: Cain is the type and model.
- The combinations were highly competitive, feuding fiercely among themselves.
- They sought to project a noble image, with much talk of rights and wrongs, high courage and upright character (the letter to Lachoneus).
- They professed piety and religion, swearing their forbidden oaths not by the demons but 'by the God of heaven' (Ether 8:14), 'by their everlasting Maker' (Helaman 1:11).
- They were paranoid, always attributing their troubles to the wickedness of others; never the aggressors, they are constantly seeking to avenge their wrongs. Vengeance is their watchword.
- They flourish best in an affluent business society, and wither in times of poverty.
- They crystallize around ambitious individuals.
- They readily coalesce with king-men, would-be nobility, great families, ambitious local officials, and rapacious Lamanite overlords, i.e., with all who are opposed to popular government among the Nephites.
- They have destroyed every civilization in the New World in which they have been able to thrive.
- They cannot thrive or even survive without the acceptance and encouragement of the society in general. Being predatory and non-productive, i.e., parasites, they must have a complacent society to host and support them. Such a society is one which accepts as desirable the Gadianton goals of power and gain.
- They can become dormant for long periods of time and then, when circumstances are favorable, suddenly appear in full strength and vigor, their plans having been buried and preserved intact against the day of opportunity.
"The Gadiantons, terrible as they were, are treated more as a symptom than as a disease: the society that has them is sick, but they are like maggots that prey only on dead tissue; they simply exploit the evil situation that gives them their opportunity." (Adapted from Since Cumorah, pp. 370-2)
Helaman 6:21-22 their covenants and their oaths...their secret signs, and their secret words
Lucifer knows nothing more than what he has seen the Father do. Therefore, when Satan established his kingdom, it was patterned after the old one where he used to live. This imitation act encompasses all of what he has done, including the establishment of secret combinations. Indeed, the Gadianton robbers are Satan's "temple recommend holders." He substitutes secret combinations for sacred covenants, sinister oaths for solemn promises, secret signs for sacred signs, and secret words for holy phrases. To these wicked men, he has administered his sinister covenants, secret oaths, signs and words 'that they might distinguish a brother who had entered into the covenant' of wickedness.
James E. Talmage
"Satan from the first has been a great imitator; he is an experienced strategist. Never has the Lord set his hand to do a specific thing for the good of his people upon the earth, of outstanding feature, but that Satan has attempted to imitate it in some degree." (Conference Report, Apr. 1931, p. 27)
Helaman 6:23 thus they might murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms
M. Russell Ballard
The Book of Mormon teaches that secret combinations engaged in crime present a serious challenge, not just to individuals and families but to entire civilizations. Among today's secret combinations are gangs, drug cartels, and organized crime families. The secret combinations of our day function much like the Gadianton robbers of the Book of Mormon times... Among their purposes are to "murder, and plunder, and steal, and commit whoredoms and all manner of wickedness, contrary to the law of their country and also the law of their God."
If we are not careful, today's secret combinations can obtain power and influence just as quickly and just as completely as they did in Book of Mormon times. (Ensign, Oct. 2011, 50)
Helaman 6:24 The squeelers are punished
One of the most characteristic qualities of a secret combination is that they covenant not to disclose their wickedness. To do so was punishable according to the band's internal code. Traditionally, disclosing murderous intentions and actions was punishable by death (Ether 8:14). In our day, inner city gangs adopt this same, internal "justice" system. They never allow members to leave the group. If they do, they are punished with severe beatings or sometimes death.
M. Russell Ballard
"Today's young people, just as those 'of the rising generation' in Book of Mormon times, are the most susceptible to the influence of gangs. Our young men and young women see it all around them. There is an entire subculture that celebrates contemporary gangs and their criminal conduct with music, clothing styles, language, attitudes, and behaviors. Many of you have watched as trendy friends have embraced the style as something that was 'fashionable' and 'cool,' only to be dragged into the subculture because of their identification with gangs....
"The Book of Mormon teaches that the devil is the 'author of all sin' and the founder of these secret combinations. He uses secret combinations, including gangs, 'from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men.' His purpose is to destroy individuals, families, communities, and nations. To a degree, he was successful during Book of Mormon times. And he is having far too much success today. That's why it is so important for us as priesthood holders to take a firm stand for truth and right by doing what we can to help keep our communities safe." (Conference Report, Nov. 1997 Ensign, p. 37)
Helaman 6:27 if he would murder his brother Abel it should not be known unto the world
The Book of Mormon teaches that 'the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell' (Alma 30:60). This is vividly demonstrated in the interaction between Satan and Cain. Cain is promised that if he would kill his brother, no one would know. What happened, of course, was the exact opposite! Everyone found out that Cain killed his brother. He quickly learned the lesson that 'these things are not hid from the Lord' (Moses 5:39). For his murder, he was cursed, left to roam the earth as a 'fugitive and a vagabond', and given a mark by which everyone would know that he was a murderer (Moses 5:18-40). Cain's embarrassment was not limited to the people of his day. All through the ages, his actions have been famous. Even today, among those who have no religion and have never read the Bible, Cain's murderous deed is well known. So is his pathetic reply to the Lord, 'Am I my brother's keeper?' And so we learn, again, that we should never believe the words that are spoken by a serpent's forked tongue.
Helaman 6:36 the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites
Spencer W. Kimball
"The converted Lamanite is devout. Few ever apostatize. Some lose their way as they partake of the worldliness about them, but generally the children of Lehi of the twentieth century have inherited that grace and ability to believe like their ancestors of the long ago. We read in Hel. 6:36: 'And thus we see that the Lord began to pour out his Spirit upon the Lamanites, because of their easiness and willingness to believe in his words' " (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 178)
Helaman 6:37 the Lamanites did hunt the band of robbers
The righteous Lamanites knew a bad thing when they saw it. They knew they had to exterminate the Gadiantons, but the language here is interesting. Mormon records that they "did hunt" the robbers. Was this big game hunting? Was this just a sport? Obviously not, it was serious business.
The principle which we need to learn is that if secret societies are among us, they will remain unless society does everything in its power to get rid of them (v. 20). In contrast to the Nephites who supported them, their strategy was to kill or convert. The Lamanite Gadiantons were among the more wicked part of the Lamanites (v. 18), so one way to put an end to the secret societies was to preach to the robbers when they were disguised as common citizens. The righteous Lamanites could proselyte among the most wicked of their brethren. When they did so, they were preaching to the members of the secret band, and they knew it. We don't know how successful this preaching was. It appears the strategy was to preach to them during the day and hunt them at night. Whichever worked was fine, but something must be done to get rid of them. Otherwise, they will continue to hide in their secret places, conduct their secret business, and accomplish their evil designs. When it comes to secret combinations, putting up an apathetic resistance constitutes offering full support.
Helaman 6:38 the Nephites did build them up and support them
Bruce R. McConkie
"Our Book of Mormon authors speak a great deal about the secret combinations that arose among the Jaredites and among the Nephites and that were destined to arise among the Gentile nations in the last days. They tell us that these secret combinations brought to pass the destruction of the Jaredites and the Nephites and will bring similar destruction on any latter-day nations that permit them to gain an ascendancy. Writing of nations in the last days, Moroni says: 'Whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; for the Lord will not suffer that the blood of his saints, which shall be shed by them, shall always cry unto him from the ground for vengeance upon them and yet he avenge them not.' (Ether 8:22.)
"What are these secret combinations which have such powers that whole civilizations are destroyed by them? They wear many guises and appear in many forms. They were the Gadianton robbers among the Nephites, and the perpetrators of the Spanish inquisition in the dark ages. Among us they include some secret and oath-bound societies and such Mafia-like groups as engage in organized crime. They include some political parties, some revolutionists who rise up against their governments and those evil and anarchist groups which steal and kidnap and murder in the name of this or that political objective. They are always groups that seek money and power and freedom from the penalties that should attend their crimes." (The Millenial Messiah, p. 64)
Helaman 6:39 they did obtain the sole management of the government
"If the reader has imagined to himself the Gadianton band as abandoned wretches or street Arabs lurking in dark alleys and fleeing from the light of day in dingy and noisome hideouts, let him disabuse his mind of such a concept. They were a highly respected concern that made their handsome profits by operating strictly within the letter of the law, as they interpreted and controlled it. They were the government, the well-to-do, the respectable, and the law-abiding citizens." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 385)
"So this is the situation: they were in office to get gain and the glory of the world, and they did everything with an eye single to their glory. They were politically, socially, and economically ambitious. They were opposed by the common people organized by Moroni, who made them conscious of themselves as the poor and humble afflicted outcasts of Israel, always calling upon the Lord. Here we have the two totally different, clearly defined ideologies; the one prevails throughout the world today and throughout ancient, medieval, and modern history." (Approaching Zion, p. 101)
Helaman 6:39 turn their backs upon the poor and the meek
"It seems to be a fact of human nature that those engaged in pursuing 'the good life' also spend much energy, time, and money seeking association with the wealthy, powerful, and famous. They live where there are no poor, socialize in private clubs where there are no poor, travel first class, and otherwise isolate themselves from regular exposure to the needy except for occasional giving on the street or to the seasonal charities. Such benign neglect can often be as devastating as a deliberate reviling of the poor. This is in contrast to Him whom we claim to follow, who deliberately lived with and, for the most part, regularly sought out the poor and needy." (Quinn G. McKay, Ensign, June 1987, p. 20)