Alma 48


The Lord Confirms the Covenant Way

      Alma 45 -- 3 Nephi 10



Alma 48:1 [Amalickiah] Did Appoint Men to Speak unto the Lamanites from Their Towers, against the Nephites:


     In Alma 48:1 it says that "as soon as Amalickiah had obtained the kingdom he began to inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi; yea, he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers, against the Nephites." Karl von Clausewitz's great work Vom Kriege, or On War, has been the Bible of the military for 150 years. According to Hugh Nibley, the Book of Mormon reads as if it were written by a diligent student of this work. In this work, Clausewitz writes:

           In the great combats which we call wars . . . there is usually no historical feeling of individual against individual. . . . National hatred . . . becomes a more or less powerful substitute for personal hostility of individuals. Where this is also absent, . . . a hostile feeling is kindled by the combat itself; an act of violence . . . will excite in us the desire to retaliate and be avenged." This is the circle. Amalickiah has to get the Lamanites to hate so they can go to war, so he has his people preach from towers--gets the propaganda machine going (see Alma 48:1-3). Such hatred is artificial. It has to be stirred up, but once the killing starts, there follows the idea of vengeance . . . The good guy sees his friends bullied; so he seeks vengeance -- the theme of almost all TV shows, so many on World War I and II. . . . Revenge is the whole thing.

[Hugh Nibley, "Warfare in the Book of Mormon," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, p. 143]


Alma 48:5 Amalickiah Did Appoint Chief Captains of the Zoramites:


     In Alma 48:5 we find that Amalickiah "did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites." According to John Tvedtnes, these Zoramites had probably been military leaders among the Nephites prior to their defection to the Lamanites. We learn that Amalickiah appointed Zoramites as chief captains because they were "the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities" (Alma 48:5). When they led the Lamanite armies against Nephite cities fortified by Moroni, they "were astonished exceedingly" because of the changes (Alma 49:5). In the same account, we learn that it was the Zoramite chief captains who had introduced shields, breastplates, and armor (thick clothing) to the Lamanites. These implements had aided the Nephites during previous battles against the Lamanites (e.g., Alma 43:19-21) [John A. Tvedtnes, "Book of Mormon Tribal Affiliation and Military Castes," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 320]


Alma 48:6 Toward the Land of Zarahemla in the Wilderness:


     Alma 48:6 says that the Lamanite army led by Zoramite chief captains "took their camp and moved forth toward the land of Zarahemla in the wilderness." Because their destination was the city of Ammonihah, Amalickiah's army probably did not intend to get there via the land of Manti and the local land of Zarahemla. Another possible route might have been along the west coast in the wilderness strip which went "round about" the land of Zarahemla (see Alma 22:27). Assuming a Mesoamerican setting (and that Chiapas, Mexico = the general land of Zarahemla), the Lamanite armies would have traveled up the western coastal corridor of Guatemala and then turned north through the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See Geographical Theory Maps]


Alma 48:8 Also Building Walls of Stone . . . Round About Their Cities and the Borders of Their Lands:


     In Alma we find that Moroni strengthened the armies of the Nephites by not only erecting forts and throwing up banks of earth, but by also "building walls of stone to encircle them about, around about their cities and the borders of their lands" (Alma 48:8). Is there any archaeological evidence in Mesoamerica to substantiate this practice? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Alma 48:11 A Man of a Perfect Understanding:


     Mormon describes Captain Moroni as "a man of a perfect understanding" (Alma 48:11). According to Thomas Valletta, today's readers, living in an age of excessive and empty flattery, can miss the power and intent of Mormon's tribute . . . Mormon's descriptive phrase "perfect understanding" has profound significance when we view it in historical context, for it shows that Moroni himself excelled at keeping covenants. . . .

     In the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, "perfect" means "finished or complete," which is consistent with the Hebrew terms translated "perfect" in the King James Version of the Bible. To state, therefore that Captain Moroni was "a man of a perfect understanding" is to declare that he diligently studied and lived by the sacred word of God, and that he understood the consequences of not giving heed to the covenants. Moroni's own testimony to Zerahemnah supports this conclusion:

           we have gained power over you, by our faith, by our religion, and by our rites of worship, and by our church, and by the sacred support which we owe to our wives and our children, by that liberty which binds us to our lands and our country yea, and also by the maintenance of the sacred word of God, to which we owe all our happiness and by all that is most dear unto us. (Alma 44:5)

[Thomas R. Valletta, "The Captain and the Covenant," in The Book of Mormon: Alma, The Testimony of the Word, pp. 230,232]