Alma Chapter 35
1 Now it came to pass that after Amulek had made an end of these words, they withdrew themselves from the multitude and came over into the land of Jershon.
verse 1 Beyond this verse we will read nothing further about the activities of Amulek. He will be quoted by Helaman (Helaman 5:10) and Aminadab (Helaman 5:41), and he will be referred to by Moroni as an example of faith (Ether 12:13). We are left to wonder how, where, and with whom he spent his later years.
2 Yea, and the rest of the brethren, after they had preached the word unto the Zoramites, also came over into the land of Jershon.
verse 2 You will recall that the land of Jerson was the dwelling place of the people of Ammon, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
3 And it came to pass that after the more popular part of the Zoramites had consulted together concerning the words which had been preached unto them, they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft; therefore they would not hearken unto the words.
verse 3 The "more popular part of the Zoramites" are the Zoramite majority or the mainstream Zoramites who are here contrasted with the poor Zoramites who accepted the gospel.
"they were angry because of the word, for it did destroy their craft" This same phrase is found in the New Testament when Paul's missionary efforts threatened the idol makers in Ephesus who were angry because their "craft is in danger to be set at nought" (Acts 19:27). Zoram led his people "to bow down to dumb idols" (Alma 31:10). Perhaps part of the priestcraft of the Zoramite leaders involved the making and selling of idols. The preaching of Alma and Amulek threatened to interfere with this lucrative enterprise. Perhaps, also, the Zoramite church hierarchy were supported by donations from the Zoramite church members. Any exodus from their church threatened to decrease the amount of money they could collect.
4 And they sent and gathered together throughout all the land all the people, and consulted with them concerning the words which had been spoken.
5 Now their rulers and their priests and their teachers did not let the people know concerning their desires; therefore they found out privily the minds of all the people.
verse 5 "Desires" may be better rendered motives. "Privily" means in secret or secretly. The Zoramite leaders were trying to ascertain which, among their people, had supported and accepted the teachings of the missionaries. So they surveyed the people in a way that did not betray the leaders motives to the people being surveyed.
6 And it came to pass that after they had found out the minds of all the people, those who were in favor of the words which had been spoken by Alma and his brethren were cast out of the land; and they were many; and they came over also into the land of Jershon.
verses 5-6 Hugh Nibley has pointed out: "The Zoramites, as we have seen, had a thought-police, 'therefore they found out privily the minds of all the people,' and forthwith deported 'those who were in favor of the words . . . spoken by Alma'" (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 7, 350-51).
7 And it came to pass that Alma and his brethren did minister unto them.
8 Now the people of the Zoramites were angry with the people of Ammon who were in Jershon, and the chief ruler of the Zoramites, being a very wicked man, sent over unto the people of Ammon desiring them that they should cast out of their land all those who came over from them into their land.
9 And he breathed out many threatenings against them. And now the people of Ammon did not fear their words; therefore they did not cast them out, but they did receive all the poor of the Zoramites that came over unto them; and they did nourish them, and did clothe them, and did give unto them lands for their inheritance; and they did administer unto them according to their wants.
verse 9 Note again the association of the city of Jershon with the concept of land of inheritance (see the commentary for Alma 27:22).
10 Now this did stir up the Zoramites to anger against the people of Ammon, and they began to mix with the Lamanites and to stir them up also to anger against them.
11 And thus the Zoramites and the Lamanites began to make preparations for war against the people of Ammon, and also against the Nephites.
verse 11 One of the reasons Alma and his missionary group had traveled to Antionum to preach to the Zoramites was to prevent the Zoramites from entering into a "correspondence" or military treaty or alliance with the Lamanites. Obviously this aspect of Alma's plan had not succeeded.
12 And thus ended the seventeenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
13 And the people of Ammon departed out of the land of Jershon, and came over into the land of Melek, and gave place in the land of Jershon for the armies of the Nephites, that they might contend with the armies of the Lamanites and the armies of the Zoramites; and thus commenced a war betwixt the Lamanites and the Nephites, in the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges; and an account shall be given of their wars hereafter.
verse 13 The city of Melek may well have been selected for the physical security it offered the people of Ammon. The Nephite army had committed themselves to the protection of the conscientious-objector people of Ammon. See the suggested location for the city of Melek on the map Book of Mormon Lands, a Proposed Setting. See also the Hypothetical Map of the Book of Mormon. To the southwest Melek is secured by a range of impassable mountains, and to the northeast, the city of Zarahemla, the Nephite stronghold provided protection.
Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines betwixt as, "Between; in the space that separates two persons or things."
14 And Alma, and Ammon, and their brethren, and also the two sons of Alma returned to the land of Zarahemla, after having been instruments in the hands of God of bringing many of the Zoramites to repentance; and as many as were brought to repentance were driven out of their land; but they have lands for their inheritance in the land of Jershon, and they have taken up arms to defend themselves, and their wives, and children, and their lands.
verse 14 "but they have lands for their inheritance in the land of Jershon" Again, the association of the concept of a land of inheritance is seen in association with the land of Jershon (see the commentary for Alma 27:22).
15 Now Alma, being grieved for the iniquity of his people, yea for the wars, and the bloodsheds, and the contentions which were among them; and having been to declare the word, or sent to declare the word, among all the people in every city; and seeing that the hearts of the people began to wax hard, and that they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word, his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.
16 Therefore, he caused that his sons should be gathered together, that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately, concerning the things pertaining unto righteousness. And we have an account of his commandments, which he gave unto them according to his own record.
verse 16 "And we have an account of his commandments, which he gave unto them according to his own record" This statement by the author Mormon may be referred to as a "colophon." A colophon is a statement of authorship and an indication or explanation of what is to come. This statement serves as the header for Alma chapters 36 through 42. Please review the commentary for 1 Nephi 1:1-3 in which Dr. Hugh Nibley explains the meaning of the colophon and teaches that they are characteristic of ancient Egyptian documents.
In the past several years there have been discovered several pieces of evidence connecting the Book of Mormon text with the Jewish pilgrimage festivals. See the supplementary article, The Jewish Pilgrimage Festivals and Their Relationship to King Benjamin's Speech. One article ("The Sons of the Passover," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, 196-98) suggests a relationship between the traditional Israelite observance of Passover and Alma 36-42. "Passover, of course, commemorates the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt by the power of God. As part of this celebration, fathers would gather their sons in accordance with Exodus 10:2, which told the Jews 'to tell in the ears of thy son, and of thy son's son, what things I have wrought in Egypt.' . . . After gathering his family the father then instructed his sons and answered their questions. . . . Each of Alma's admonitions to his sons, Helaman (Alma 36-37), Shiblon (Alma 38), and Corianton (Alma 39-42), does this precisely, each in his own way. Alma's admonitions to his three sons which follow in chapters 36-42 may well have been spoken in conjunction with a Nephite observance of the feast of the Passover."