Helaman 13


The Lord Confirms the Covenant Way

      Alma 45 -- 3 Nephi 10



Helaman 13:2 Samuel, a Lamanite:


     In the Book of Mormon story, we encounter a character named "Samuel" (Helaman 13:2) who preaches to the Nephites during the final years of the reign of the judges (Helaman 13-15), and prophesies of the coming of the King of Israel (Christ) to the Nephites.

     It is interesting that in the Old Testament, we find the prophet Samuel providing the transition from the era of the judges to the period of the Monarchy, or to the King of Israel (see 1 Samuel---2 Samuel). He died in Ramah and was buried there (1 Samuel 25:1). (Tyndale House, The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Vol. 3, pp. 1384-1385)

     Does the historical significance of the name "Samuel" have anything to do with the prophet Samuel in the Book of Mormon? Perhaps the name "Samuel" and the role the character plays in the Book of Mormon is a coincidence, or perhaps this is an example of Metonymic naming (after-the fact editorial naming) by Mormon. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Metonymic naming in 1 Nephi 3:3]


Helaman 13:8 Thus Saith the Lord:


     According to Donald Parry, ancient scriptures contain a number of revelatory speech forms or formulaic expressions which are unique to the prophetic writings. That is to say, the prophetic speech forms are present in sections of scripture where God reveals his word directly to the prophets (i.e., Isaiah, Amos, Nephi, Joseph Smith). As might be expected, the same prophetic forms are also present in the Book of Mormon, for it too, consists of prophetic writings. In the writings of Samuel the Lamanite (Helaman 13-15), six speech forms can be identified:

     1. Messenger Formulas -- "Thus saith the Lord" (Helaman 13:8)

     2. Proclamation Formula -- "Listen to the words of Christ" (Helaman 13:21)

     3. Oath Formula -- "As the Lord liveth" (Helaman 15:17)

     4. Woe Oracle -- The characteristic woe oracle consists of the accusation, the addressee, the

           intent of the accusation, and the promise of judgment. (Helaman 13:11-12, 14-17, 24; 15:2-3)

           Helaman 13:16-17, for example, contains the following elements:

           a. Accusation: Yea and Wo

           b. Addressee: Be unto all the cities which are in the land round about

           c. Intent: Because of wickedness and abominations which are in them

           d. Promise of Judgment: And behold, a curse shall come upon the land, saith the Lord of


     5. Announcement Formula -- "I say unto you" (Helaman 15:6, 12, 14)

     6. Revelation Formula -- "The word of the Lord came to me, saying" (Helaman 13:3)


     These speech forms and others dealing with the commission and divine workings of a prophet are indicative of the prophetic authority and prerogative contained within the verses of the Book of Mormon. [Donald W. Parry, "Thus Saith the Lord": Prophetic Language in Samuel's Speech," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Fall 1992, pp. 181-183]


Helaman 13:11-16 Wo . . . Wo . . . Wo (Anaphora):


     Allen & David Richardson and Anthony Bentley note that the Book of Mormon was written by prophets who were conversant with Hebrew customs and language (1 Nephi 1:2). This is made evident by the frequent use of an ancient Hebrew literary device known as anaphora. Anaphora is defined as "the repetitions of the same word at the beginning of successive sentences."77

     An excellent example of anaphora is found in Helaman 13:11-16:

           Yea, wo unto this great city of Zarahemla . . . wo be unto this great city because of the wickedness and abominations which are in her. Yea, and wo be unto the city of Gideon . . . Yea, and wo be unto all the cities which are in the land round about . . . because of the wickedness and abominations which are in them.


[Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson, and Anthony E. Bentley, Voice from the Dust-500 Evidences Supporting the Book of Mormon, p. 261] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 9:31-38]      


Helaman 13:28 Ye Will Lift Him [the Proclaimed Prophet] Up:


     In Helaman 13:27-28 it says:

           But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth--and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet. Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.


     Hugh Nibley notes that [a unique] surviving book from the Mayan civilization of Central America is the Chilam Balam. It tells us that when a man was acclaimed as a prophet, the people would dress him in fine apparel, put him on a sedan chair, lift him up and carry him around town on their shoulders. That is exactly what happens here. . . . Well, this is a picture from the Chilam Balam. The prophet is accepted. He is dressed in fine apparel. You notice the outrageous overdressing of these people. They put him on a sedan chair, lift him up and carry him around town. Well, every word of this rings true. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 3, p. 276]


Helaman 13:28 Ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance (Illustration): The higher the prestige of the person being carried, the fancier the litter. This is an artist's representation of the Aztec ruler's plush "vehicle." John Sorenson notes that this form of transport was reserved for nobility and others of the upper social levels. To have used any other mode would have been to give up privilege and demean oneself. Privileged and sacred leaders were similarly carried in the stretch of the Old World from the eastern Mediterranean through southeast Asia in earlier times. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 58]


Helaman 13:31 The Time Cometh That [the Lord] Curseth Your Riches, That They Become Slippery:


     [See the commentary on Mormon 1:18]


Helaman 13:33 O That We Had Remembered the Lord Our God in the Day That He Gave Us Our Riches:


     According to Hugh Nibley, a quotation from an Enoch text, discovered in 1888 (58 years after the Book of Mormon was published), occurs in the thirteenth chapter of Helaman. In the Enoch text, Enoch says:

           Ye have not remembered the Lord in the days he gave you your riches; ye have gone astray that your riches shall not remain, because you have done evil in everything. Cursed are you and cursed are your riches.


     In Helaman 13, Samuel the Lamanite is speaking to the wicked Nephites. He had access to the plates of brass and other records. He says the following:

           O ye wicked and ye perverse generation . . . behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches . . . And then shall ye lament and say . . . O that we had remembered the Lord our God in the day that he gave us our riches, . . . our riches are gone from us. . . . they have slipped away from us, because of the curse of the land. (Helaman 13:29-35)

[Hugh Nibley, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol. 2, p. 8]


Helaman 14:2 Behold I give unto you a sign (Illustration): Chart: "Samuel the Lamanite's Prophecies." [John W. & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart #48]


Helaman 14:2 Behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming (Illustration): Chart: "The Coming of Christ to the Nephites: A Pattern for His Second Coming." The recorded conditions that prevailed on the American continent preceding Jesus Christ's visitation to the Nephites and Lamanites can be compared to the prophesied conditions of the world before his second coming. [John W. & J. Gregory Welch, Charting the Book of Mormon: Visual Aids for Personal Study and Teaching, F.A.R.M.S., Chart #51]