The Lord Redeems His Covenant Children
Alma 1 -- Alma 44
Alma 25:1 They Swore Vengeance upon the Nephites:
In Alma 25:1 it says, "behold, now it came to pass that those Lamanites were more angry because they had slain their brethren; therefore they swore vengeance upon the Nephites." What Nephites were the Lamanites so upset with? Was it all Nephites wherever they might live? If the Anti-Nephi-Lehi's did not fight back, and if the main part of the slaughter was done by Amalekites and Amulonites (Alma 24:28), then why were the Lamanites so upset with Nephites? What was their motivation? And if they were upset with the Nephites in general, why would they travel all the way to the city of Ammonihah, which was three days journey north of the land of Melek (Alma 8:6), before they started destroying Nephites? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 25:1 They Swore Vengeance upon the Nephites
According to Brant Gardner, with the Anti-Nephi-Lehi movement crushed and their royal protector (Anti-Nephi-Lehi, the former Lamanite king) out of the way, the Lamanites were ready to seat their own king. In the canons of known Maya kingship rituals, the seating of the king was intimately linked with the capture and sacrifice of prisoners of war.110 The translation of the glyphs makes it clear that captives were an important part of the seating rituals. With the passive resistance of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, there would have been no war captives to use in the ascension of the new king. Under such circumstances, it would make sense that the army that was still intact, and lacking the real combat they had expected, would be willing to engage in another battle to supply the requisite ritual prisoners for the seating of the new king. Indeed, when we read the story of this invasion in Alma 16 we read that captives were taken, and were being taken back to Lamanite territory.
It is noteworthy that the attack on Ammonihah lacks any attempt to establish tribute or a Lamanite outpost. Indeed, this would have been virtually impossible, given the location of Ammonihah so deep in Nephite territory. This war had only one real purpose, and that was the acquisition of the captives that were being led back to the land of Nephi. The need for these captives in the situation of the installation of a new Maya king provides a direct parallel to the situation described in the Book of Mormon. [Brant Gardner, Book of Mormon Commentary, http://www.highfiber.com/~nahualli/LDStopics/Alma/Alma25.htm, pp. 1-2]
Alma 25:2 They Took Their Armies:
In Alma 25:2 we find that the Lamanites took their "armies." Does the word "armies" imply a major invasion? If so, what were the Lamanites trying to accomplish? The reader should note that this war is also recorded from a Nephite perspective in Alma 16. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Alma 16:2]
Geographical Theory Map: Alma 25:1-3 Lamanites Destroy Ammonihah (11th Year)
Alma 25:3 Many Battles:
After the destruction of Ammonihah, we find mention of "many battles," in the which the Lamanites were "driven and slain" (Alma 25:3). In the parallel account of the attack on Ammonihah in Alma 16, there is no mention of "many battles" previous to the confrontation in the south wilderness on the east of the Sidon river (Alma 16:6-8). Therefore, one might wonder about the chronology and location of these "many battles." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 25:4 Among The Lamanites Who Were Slain Were Almost All the Seed of Amulon:
Apparently after the destruction of Ammonihah by the Lamanites (Alma 25:2), there were "many battles with the Nephites, in the which [the Lamanites who had destroyed Ammonihah] were driven and slain" (Alma 25:3). In Alma 25:4 it states: "And among the Lamanites who were slain were almost all the seed of Amulon and his brethren, who were the priests of Noah, and they were slain by the hands of the Nephites." There are some questions here. First, one might wonder, Was there a particular reason that "the seed of Amulon" were targeted? In other words, was there a way to single them out from the Lamanites or Amalekites?
Second, if we refer to Alma's account after the destruction of Ammonihah (Alma 16:11) it says that "the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years. And it was called Desolation of Nehors; for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate. Alma 24:28 tells us that "the greatest number [of the Amalekites and Amulonites] were after the order of the Nehors" So the question is, Why would this group of Lamanites, who originally were led by Amalekites and Amulonites (Alma 24:28-29) who belonged to the order of the Nehors, go and destroy a city that was of the same profession or order? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Alma 25:5-9 East Wilderness:
This first part of chapter 25 is somewhat hard to follow. Alma 25:5 mentions "the seed of Amulon" being "almost all slain" "by the hands of the Nephites." Then in verse 6 it says "the remainder" (of the seed of Amulon) "fled into the east wilderness," and "usurped power over the Lamanites." Where and how was the "seed of Amulon" "almost all slain?" And where was this first "east wilderness"? East of what? What is the reference point? And where was the second "east wilderness" mentioned in verse 8?
It might be that the phrase "east wilderness" does not mean, in these verses, a particular "East Wilderness", but rather just a location "east" of where the Amulonites were located. I feel that most all these battles in which the Lamanites were "driven" (Alma 25:3) and the Lamanites fled (Alma 25:8) have their beginning with the battle at the Sidon river in the "south wilderness." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]
Geographical Theory Map: Alma 25:5-9 Amulonites Flee into the East Wilderness (11th Year)
Alma 25:13 The People of God:
According to Louis Midgley, the name and description of the community (or church) in the Book of Mormon was People of God (Mosiah 25:24; Alma 2:11, 19:14; 4 Nephi 1:40), or Covenant People of the Lord (1 Nephi 14:14; 2 Nephi 30:2; Mormon 8:15,21). Those names, as well as a complex of related language, are linked with the making and renewal of the covenant binding the faithful to God. The covenant was at times renewed through rituals involving the entire community. Those rituals admonished and constituted, as they did with ancient Israel, what the Book of Mormon calls "ways of remembrance" (1 Nephi 2:24).
The constant stress on cursings and blessings, and the offering of sacrifices, coupled with the reading and explication of an account of the creation functioned as the historical prologue to the covenant, and formed the emblematic and dogmatic horizon in which the life and sacrificial death of Jesus of Nazareth was taught and understood. In this day and age, are we not to remember as the Nephites of old remembered? And are we not to remember curses brought upon the Nephites, which they inflicted upon themselves by forgetting the terms of the covenant? Are we not to understand that we are cut off from the presence of God--that is, in bondage and captivity--to the extent that we do not remember the terms of our covenants, including the Book of Mormon? The sacred records . . . provide us with prophetic direction and warning by preserving and enlarging our own memory of God's mighty deeds, and of the terms of the covenant that made them (and us) the People of God. [Louis Midgley, "Prophetic Messages or Dogmatic Theology? Commenting on the Book of Mormon: A Review Essay," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, 1989, pp. 98-99]
Alma 25:13 Many of Them [Lamanites] Came Over to Dwell:
According to John Sorenson, in light of what happened in the east wilderness where many Amulonite overlords were killed, I surmise that the land from which these Lamanites "came over" (Alma 25:13) might have been the land of Amulon. [John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, p. 251]
Alma 25:15 The Law of Moses Was a Type of [Christ's] Coming:
In Alma 25:15 the comment is made that "the law of Moses was a type of [Christ's] coming." According to Philip Allred, the Lord has instructed his people throughout time with types and symbols. Types can be defined as "persons, events, or things" that are real "and at the same time point to qualities of Christ or his kingdom."111
As a whole, the sacrificial ordinances described in the Mosaic law display significant features designed to point to Christ. There could be no broken bones in the animals offered--typical of Jesus' literal fulfillment of Psalm 34:20 (John 19:32-36). The sacrifice had to be without blemish--representing the purity and sinlessness of the Son of God (Deuteronomy 15:21; 17:1; Hebrews 4:15; 7:25-27; 9:11-15; D&C 45:4). On the most holy day in Israel, Yom Kippur, or Day of Atonement, the priest laid his hands on the animals and dedicated them to God as his representatives and substitutes (Leviticus 1:4; 16:21; Numbers 8:10, 12). This pointed to the fact that Jesus was the Anointed One to perform the great atoning sacrifice (Isaiah 61:1-3).112 The blood was the means of atonement (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 8:15; 16:18; 17:11; 1 Nephi 12:10-11; Mosiah 3:11, 14-18) and was applied to all people and things in order to purify them (Exodus 24:6-8).
Moses required Israel to observe both weekly and seasonal festivals to keep them in remembrance of the Lord. The weekly reminder came in the Sabbath. Earlier in Exodus, Moses had taught that the Lord had ordained that day as a reminder of the creation of the earth (see Exodus 20:10-11). However, in Deuteronomy's recitation of the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) Moses changed the rationale for the Sabbath observance (see Deuteronomy 5:15). No longer was it to commemorate the creation (at least not that alone), but now it was to keep the children of Israel in remembrance of the glory of their deliverance from bondage by the Lord.
Israel's seasonal reminders came in the triennial festivals of Passover (Pesah), Weeks (Shavuot, or Pentecost), and Tabernacles (Sukkoth). These were held in the spring and fall--naturally timed with the agrarian cycle of planting and harvesting (Deuteronomy 16; see also Deuteronomy 11:13-17). Not only was the timing significant, but the activities themselves 'commemorated the great events of Israel's history, the occasions when in an unmistakable way God had stepped in to deliver his people."113 These three festivals typify three roles of the Messiah: "Passover is the festival of redemption and points toward the Torah-revelation of the Feast of Weeks; the harvest festival in the autumn celebrates not only creation, but especially, redemption."114
Moses also reiterated the command to celebrate a Sabbatical year while in the promised land (Exodus 21:2; 23:11; Leviticus 25:2, 20; Deuteronomy 15:1-18). Every seventh year was to be observed in a way similar to how the weekly Sabbath was observed. The fields were to receive a rest. People were to have faith in God for their needs rather than labor by the strength of their arms. Slaves were freed and debts were canceled. The symbolism is unmistakable. Israel was to recall, just as during the weekly Sabbath, that God is powerful to save and deliver them. The people were to totally rely on the Lord. The freeing of slaves kept the people mindful of the one who had unlocked their prison and thereby invited them to emulate the loving kindness of their Savior. [Philip A. Allred, "Moses' Charge to Remember," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, pp. 58-64]
Note* John Tvedtnes notes the following:
In 1972, I mentioned to President and Sister Harold B. Lee (then on a visit to Jerusalem) that our April and October conferences corresponded with the timing of the ancient festivals of Passover and Tabernacles. [John Tvedtnes, "King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles," in By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W Nibley, vol. 2, p. 230, n. 20.]