The Lord Redeems His Covenant Children
Alma 1 -- Alma 44
Alma 14:3 They Sought to Put Them Away Privily:
According to the Webster's New World Dictionary, the primary meaning of the word "privily" (see Alma 14:3) has to do with something being done in a non-public, private, confidential manner. However, an older use of the term connotes something done in a "hidden," secret," or "clandestine" manner. [Websters New World Dictionary of the American Language, College Edition, p. 1160) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 14:8-14 fire . . . fire . . . fire . . . fire (Epistrophe):
Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that many Hebrew literary forms are found in the Book of Mormon; among them are epistrophe and amoebaeon. Epistrophe is defined as "the repetition of an identical word and/or expression at the end of successive sentences. While epistrophe is used in the poetic writing of sentence endings, Amoebaeon is used in narrative writings for paragraph endings. While these literary techniques seem awkward and redundant to the modern reader, they were quite fashionable in ancient times.58
A good example of epistrophe is found in Alma 14:8-19:
And they brought their wives and children together, and whosoever believed or had been taught to believe in the word of God they caused that they should be cast into the fire,
And they also brought forth their records which contained the holy scriptures, and cast them into the fire also,
that they might be burned and destroyed by fire
. And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.
And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire. he also was pained.
And he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of God which is in us, and save them from the flames.
But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hands; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.
Now Amulek said unto Alma: Behold, perhaps they will burn us also.
And Alma said: Be it according tot he will of the Lord. But, behold, our work is not finished; therefore they burn us not.
Now it came to pass that when the bodies of those who had been cast into the fire were consumed, and also the records which were cast in with them
the chief judge of the land came and stood before Alma and Amulek, as they were bound; and he smote them with his hand upon their cheeks, and said unto the: After what ye have seen, will ye preach again unto this people, that they shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone?
Behold, ye see that ye had not power to save those who had been cast into the fire.
. . .
Know ye not that I have power to deliver you up unto the flames?
Other Book of Mormon examples of epistrophe and amoebaeon can be found in 1 Nephi 10:12-13; Mosiah 1:6; Alma 9:2-3, 323-33; 14:4-5, 8-14, 18-19; 26:31-32; 29:11-12; 31:7-8; 33:11-18; 35:1-2; 37:9-10; 39:16-->40:2; 40:18-20; 62:18; Helaman 7:23-24; 10:8-10. Biblical examples of epistrophe and amoebaeon include Deuteronomy 27:16-26; Job 1:15-19; Psalms 115:9-11; 118:10-12; 136:1-26; Isaiah 9:12, 17, 21; Joel 2:26-27; Amos 4:6-11. [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 262]
Alma 14:11 The Spirit Constraineth Me That I Must Not Stretch Forth Mine Hand:
Amulek and Alma were led by the leaders at Ammonihah to the place of martyrdom where the believers--men, women, and children--were destroyed by fire. Amulek plead with Alma to save them from the flames, but Alma replied, "the spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand" (Alma 14:11). In a personal comment, Hugh Nibley says: "I went on a mission quite shortly after World War I, of all times, in German towns, and everybody had the same story. Nobody would believe anything. They wouldn't accept religion because God would not allow that [the atrocities of war] to happen. . . . Would he allow the holocaust? Would he allow the fire raids and things like that of World War II? Well, it is not God who is being tested here. It is men who are being tested here. We say he has failed to pass our test. We are not giving tests to him. . . . God has always permitted the great religious persecutions. Religion has been the main cause of persecution. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 345]
Alma 14:14 He Smote Them with His Hand upon Their Cheeks:
According to McConkie and Parry, the persecutions endured by the Book of Mormon prophets Alma and Amulek were, in many ways, similar to the oppressions known to the Messiah during his final week of mortality. All three were smitten upon their cheeks. All "answered nothing" and kept silent before their oppressors. And all were as majestic lions before the lowly goats (Alma 14:14-29). [Joseph Fielding McConkie & Donald W. Parry, A Guide to Scriptural Symbols, p. 13]
Alma 14:27 The walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth (Illustration): Alma and Amulek, Prison Fell in [Gary Kapp, Verse Markers, Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 2]
Alma 14:27 The walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth (Illustration): Alma and Amulek in Prison. After Alma and Amulek prayed for deliverance, the prison walls "fell to the earth" and killed the wicked people. alma and Amulek, however, "came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt." Artist: Gary Kapp. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 307]
Alma 14:29 Even As a Goat Fleeth with Her Young from Two Lions:
As the prison walls fall down as Alma and Amulek emerge from the prison, Mormon uses a "simile" phrase to describe the scene: "they . . . fled from the presence of Alma and Amulek even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions" (Alma 14:29). Although there were no true Old World lions in Mesoamerica, two Mesoamerican Jaguars or two Pumas (both foreign to the vocabulary of Joseph Smith) could be substituted for the two lions in the cultural imagery here. However, it is just as likely that Mormon was using scriptural imagery from the brass plates. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]