Alma 47


The Lord Confirms the Covenant Way

      Alma 45 -- 3 Nephi 10



Alma 47:1 Amalickiah . . . Went up in the Land of Nephi among the Lamanites:


     Alma 47:1 states that "Amalickiah . . . went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites. According to Michael Hobby, one might wonder why a Mulekite or Zoramite dissenter (see Alma 52:3; 54:23) could receive such a warm welcome from the Lamanites who were ever bent on destroying the Nephites. But Lamanite tradition held that the right to government held by Laman and Lemuel, Nephi's older brothers, had been robbed in violation of tradition by Nephi. Therefore a traditional hatred and distrust surrounding this sore point was ingrained in Lamanite culture. When Mulekites or Zoramites dissented to the Lamanites, they seem to have been especially effective in arousing Lamanite ire with an argument that probably went something like: "First, the Nephites robbed you of your right to rule. Now, they are robbing us of our right to rule."

     In Lamanite eyes, this was evidence that the Nephites were still up to their old tricks and needed to be brought into subjection. Many a Nephite-Lamanite war seems to have been instigated in this way, with the Nephites accused of being the perpetrators of injustice, when Lamanite or dissenter dominion was the actual motive. [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, p. 38]


Alma 47:5 Onidah (Oneidah)?:


     In 1999, the Zarahemla Research Foundation (RLDS) finished an exhaustive review of all known manuscripts and editions of the Book of Mormon in order to restore the text "to its purity." The result was the Restored Covenant Edition of the Book of Mormon. One of their "restorations" involves the geographical place name "Onidah" (Alma 47:5), which has been changed to read "Oneidah." [Zarahemla Research Foundation, "Geography Concordance" in The Book of Mormon: Restored Covenant Edition, p. 1009]

     Note* This must be considered tentative subject to the verification of Royal Skousen, director of the Book of Mormon manuscript project, who will not comment at this time relative to such changes. [Personal communication, 11/22/1999]


Alma 47:5 They Had Fled to Onidah, to the Place of Arms:


     When Amalickiah went forth to "compel" the Lamanites to arms, the remainder of the Lamanite army fled to a "place which was called Onidah" (Alma 47:5). Here the abridger Mormon gives the reader a clue as to why the Lamanites fled there---it was "the place of arms". It is hard to tell what this phrase means. It might mean a location where weapons were either made or stored.

     According to John Sorenson, in Mesoamerica, what constitutes a "place of arms" is obvious; it can hardly be anything other than an obsidian outcrop. This volcanic glass was the most convenient, most effective, and cheapest substance for manufacturing arms or any cutting tools. (Note that Alma 49:2 informs us that "arrows and stones" were the chief weapons of the Lamanites.) Trade in obsidian was the mainstay of commerce from earliest times. Some routes over which it moved extended as much as 700 miles. It happens that one of the most extensive sources of this key material is the hilly zone called El Chayal, approximately sixteen miles northeast of Kaminaljuyu. Spots within the kilometers-wide obsidian exposures at El Chayal are virtually paved with waste chips, where cutting implements have been shaped by chipping. Obsidian from El Chayal was exported widely as early as Jaredite times. El Chayal is not the only possible obsidian source near Kaminaljuyu, as these references make clear, but it is the most likely one. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 252, 385]


Geographical Theory Map: Alma 47:1 Amalickiah Goes to the Land of Nephi (19th Year)


Lamanite Army Goes to the Place Onidah (19th Year)


Alma 47:7 The Mount Which Was Called Antipas:


     If in Alma 47:5 Amalickiah went toward the "place called Onidah" (the place of arms), and if in verse 47:7 Amalickiah finds the Lamanites "upon the top of the mount which was called Antipas" (Alma 47:7), then these two places were probably close to one another geographically. Mount Antipas might have even been just part of a militarily defendable area.


Alma 47:9 In the Valley Which Was near the Mount Antipas:


     Amalickiah caused his army to pitch their tents "in the valley which was near the mount Antipas" (Alma 47:9). In the verses that follow, the following things happened between "the night" and "the dawn" that give us an idea of the distance between the camps and the height of the mount:

     1. Amalickiah sends a "secret embassy" into the mount to ask Lehonti to come down--Lehonti refuses. Alma 47:10-11)

     2. Amalickiah sends a second invitation--Lehonti refuses. (Alma 47:11)

     3. Amalickiah sends a third invitation--Lehonti refuses. (Alma 47:11)

     4. Amalickiah sends a fourth invitation. (Alma 47:12)

     5. Lehonti comes down with his guards to Amalickiah who asks Lehonti to go back and have his army make a nighttime attack. (Alma 47:13)

     6. Lehonti goes back and gets his army to come down and surround Amalickiah's men, who awoke "at dawn." (Alma 47:14)


     Thus we might presume that Mount Antipas did not reach very high from the valley floor. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Alma 47:20: To the Land of Nephi, to the City of Nephi:


     It is hard to tell how far away mount Antipas was from the city of Nephi, however it was at least farther than the borders of the local land of Nephi because Amalickiah marched "to the land of Nephi" (Alma 47:20). The distance was signficant because when Amalickiah marched in to greet the king, the king was unaware of anything that had gone wrong with the original plans, even though there had been enough time after the surrender to administer poison "by degrees" (Alma 47:18) to Lehonti (thus allowing time to reach the king). [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Alma 47:22-24 When he had raised the first from the ground, behold he stabbed the king to the heart (Illustration): Amalickiah caused his servants to stab the Lamanite king in the heart. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3, p. 3115]


Geographical Theory Map: Alma 47:29-30 Servants of Lamanite King Flee to Melek (19th Year)


Alma 47:36 Now These Dissenters, Having the Same Instruction and the Same Information of the Nephites:


     According to John Sorenson, since the Nephites and Lamanites were so often at war with each other, it may seem odd to speak of their being united in a single civilization, but there is good evidence to conclude that. Consider especially how often the two factions were in intimate contact with each other. To begin with, they came out of the same Jerusalem background. We are safe in supposing that the culture the two groups shared was far greater than the ways in which they differed. Circumstances and preferences moved them farther apart as years went on, but both groups were still close to each other in important ways. The Nephites were joined by Lamanite refugees from time to time (see Alma 26:13-16; 35:6-9; 62:17). The reverse is also true. Dissenters from among the Nephites united with the Lamanites "from the reign of Nephi down to the . . . time" of Amalickiah, according to Alma 47:35, and the process continued later. Mormon added the perceptive note, "Now these dissenters, [had] the same instruction and the same information [as] the Nephites" (Alma 47:36). They became rulers, commanders, and teachers among the Lamanites (for example, see Alma 24:1,4-7;43:6; 47:35; 48:1-6; Helaman 4:1-4).

     Can conflict actually be a manifestation of a kind of unity? Wars between factions are now being recognized by some historians as evidence of a close relationship between the antagonists rather than a total separation. One scholarly analysis of civilization in relation to war recently concluded, "Conflict, hostility, and even warfare, when durable (habitual, protracted, or inescapable), are forms of association that create a social relationship between, and a social system composed of, the contestants, antagonists, and foes."13 The author, political scientist David Wilkinson, argues that such rivals (in the case we are considering, Lamanites and Nephites) need each other as much as, say, the English and the Irish, opposing Hindu castes, or fighting spouses. Enmity actually helps the parties define their identities. [John L. Sorenson, Mormon's Map, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 94-95]