Alma Chapter 25
1 And 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; and they did no more attempt to slay the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi at that time.
verse 1 The attacking Lamanites had done something they knew in their hearts was wrong. Rather than admit their guilt, however, they sought to justify themselves by blaming the Nephites who had converted the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
2 But they took their armies and went over into the borders of the land of Zarahemla, and fell upon the people who were in the land of Ammonihah, and destroyed them.
verse 2 The land of Ammonihah seems to have been in the northwest of the land of Zarahemla (see the Hypothetical Map of Book of Mormon Lands). Dr John L. Sorenson has suggested that the Lamanites seemed to have chosen to make a "flank" attack. They avoided coming straight north into the land of Zarahemla but traveled instead along the western coastal plain. They entered Zarahemla through the mountain pass connecting the coastal plain with the land of Zarahemla. Along this route, the first Nephite city they would have first encountered was Ammonihah (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 241). As you know this proved to be most unfortunate for the people of Ammonihah (see Alma 16:1-11).
This destruction of the wicked of Ammonihah is an example of a prophecy that will be written by the prophet Mormon: "It is by the wicked that the wicked are punished" (Mormon 4:5).
3 And after that, they had many battles with the Nephites, in the which they were driven and slain.
verse 3 Mormon's account here of "many battles" (see also Alma 27:1) does not completely square with the account in Alma 16:6-9 wherein the Lamanites were defeated in one decisive battle. This discrepancy is probably the result of Mormon's trying to edit the account of two complex interacting stories.
4 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;
5 And the remainder, having fled into the east wilderness, and having usurped the power and authority over the Lamanites, caused that many of the Lamanites should perish by fire because of their belief-
verse 5 "And the remainder" These were the descendants of Amulon and his brethren who escaped death at the hands of the Nephites. They "caused that many of the Lamanites [who had been part of the attacking party] should perish by fire because of their belief." After their defeat by the Nephite army, many of the invading Lamanites, because of their own afflictions, were "stirred up in remembrance" of the preachings of Ammon and Aaron and their brethren. They became convinced that the power of God was with the Nephites, and they were persuaded to believe that the sons of Mosiah had been teaching the truth after all (see the following verse). The Amulonites, however, remained steadfast in their wickedness. They held positions of leadership over the Lamanites and exercised their authority in a tyrannical manner, even executing many of the Lamanites because of their beliefs in Christ.
6 For many of them, after having suffered much loss and so many afflictions, began to be stirred up in remembrance of the words which Aaron and his brethren had preached to them in their land; therefore they began to disbelieve the traditions of their fathers, and to believe in the Lord, and that he gave great power unto the Nephites; and thus there were many of them converted in the wilderness.
7 And it came to pass that those rulers who were the remnant of the children of Amulon caused that they should be put to death, yea, all those that believed in these things.
verses 5-7 The prophet Abinadi, as he was being burned to death, had cried out a prophecy that some among the seed of Amulon would, in the future, cause many people to suffer death by fire because of the people's belief in Jesus Christ: "Behold, even as ye have done unto me, so shall it come to pass that thy seed shall cause that many shall suffer the pains that I do suffer, even the pains of death by fire; and this because they [those who suffer death] believe in the salvation of the Lord their God" (Mosiah 17:15).
8 Now this martyrdom caused that many of their brethren should be stirred up to anger; and there began to be contention in the wilderness; and the Lamanites began to hunt the seed of Amulon and his brethren and began to slay them; and they fled into the east wilderness.
9 And behold they are hunted at this day by the Lamanites. Thus the words of Abinadi were brought to pass, which he said concerning the seed of the priests who caused that he should suffer death by fire.
verse 9 "they are hunted at this day by the Lamanites" The prophet Mormon is the author or first person here. "This day" refers to his day. This verse thus makes the remarkable suggestion that even in Mormon's day the remnants of the Amulonites were regarded as legendary enemies among the Lamanites and were hunted by them.
"Thus the words of Abinadi were brought to pass" Abinadi had prophesied of the descendants of Amulon and his brethren: "Ye shall be afflicted with all manner of diseases because of your iniquities. Yea, and ye shall be smitten on every hand, and shall be driven and scattered to and fro, even as a wild flock is driven by wild and ferocious beasts. And in that day ye shall be hunted, and ye shall be taken by the hand of your enemies, and then ye shall suffer, as I suffer, the pains of death by fire" (Mosiah 17:16-18).
10 For he said unto them: What ye shall do unto me shall be a type of things to come.
verse 10 Mormon quotes the prophet Abinadi. This quote is found in Mosiah 13:10. The following verse suggests that this statement of Abinadi refers to the righteous Lamanites who were martyred for their beliefs, rather than to the descendants of Amulon. The previous verse (verse 9) refers to the descendants of Amulon.
11 And now Abinadi was the first that suffered death by fire because of his belief in God; now this is what he meant, that many should suffer death by fire, according as he had suffered.
12 And he said unto the priests of Noah that their seed should cause many to be put to death, in the like manner as he was, and that they should be scattered abroad and slain, even as a sheep having no shepherd is driven and slain by wild beasts; and now behold, these words were verified, for they were driven by the Lamanites, and they were hunted, and they were smitten.
verse 12 Again, here is a reiteration of Abinadi's prophecy found in Mosiah 17:16-18.
13 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites saw that they could not overpower the Nephites they returned again to their own land; and many of them came over to dwell in the land of Ishmael and the land of Nephi, and did join themselves to the people of God, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
verse 13 "many of them . . . did join themselves to the people of God, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi" Hugh Nibley has pointed out: "For many years it was only because Nephite dissenters stirred them up that the Lamanites came to war against the Nephites. It was hardened Lamanite troopers who had sworn vengeance upon the Nephites [verse 1] who, upon returning from a campaign, of their own free will went over in large numbers [and joined with the Anti-Nephi-Lehies]" (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 7, 344-45).
14 And they did also bury their weapons of war, according as their brethren had, and they began to be a righteous people; and they did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe to keep his commandments and his statutes.
verse 14 "they did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe to keep his commandments and his statutes" Though these Lamanites had been defeated by the Nephites and forced to surrender, it is apparent that their conversion was far more that a conversion of convenience and coercion.
15 Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.
16 Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.
verses 15-16 These two verses contain what is probably the clearest statement in all the scriptures on the law of Moses as a "type" or symbol of the mission of Jesus Christ. The faithful among the Book of Mormon people observed the law of Moses while looking forward to the coming of Christ. They knew that salvation did not come through the law of Moses, rather through Christ. Yet the law strengthened their faith in Christ and taught them of him. The reader may review the many ways in which the law of Moses pointed to or contained types of Christ in the commentary for 2 Nephi 11:4. See also Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 3, chapter 16, The Law of Moses.
verse 16 "they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come" For a review of the relationship of faith and hope, see "The Fruits of Faith" in volume 1, chapter 11, Other Notes on Faith in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine. Consider the advantages we have today over these early valiant and faithful brethren. They had no access to eye-witness accounts of the mortal ministry and miracles of Jesus as we do today. The mortal Christ would not be born for several decades. They had only their incomparable faith and consummate hope that the Christ would indeed be born some day.
17 And now behold, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni, and their brethren did rejoice exceedingly, for the success which they had had among the Lamanites, seeing that the Lord had granted unto them according to their prayers, and that he had also verified his word unto them in every particular.
verse 17 "seeing that the Lord had granted unto them according to their prayers" See Alma 17:9-11. The sons of Mosiah had prayed unto the Lord that they might become instruments in the hands of the Lord to bring many of their Lamanite brethren to a knowledge of the truth.