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Alma Chapter 57

1 And now it came to pass that I received an epistle from Ammoron, the king, stating that if I would deliver up those prisoners of war whom we had taken that he would deliver up the city of Antiparah unto us.

verse 1 It is obvious that Ammoron knew that he did not have sufficient man power to hold the city of Antiparah against the now powerful Nephite army. He hoped to strike a bargain with Helaman, yet he was now dealing from a position of weakness rather than a position of strength. He attempted a clever ploy and offered to surrender the city in exchange for all of the Lamanite prisoners taken by the Nephites.

2 But I sent an epistle unto the king, that we were sure our forces were sufficient to take the city of Antiparah by our force; and by delivering up the prisoners for that city we should suppose ourselves unwise, and that we would only deliver up our prisoners on exchange.

verse 2 "we would only deliver up our prisoners on exchange" Helaman was not taken in by Ammoron's sly attempt to at deception. Helaman proposes his own plan for prisoner exchange. He would exchange one Lamanite prisoner for the release of one Nephite prisoner held captive by the Lamanites.

3 And Ammoron refused mine epistle, for he would not exchange prisoners; therefore we began to make preparations to go against the city of Antiparah.

verse 3 So Ammoron called off the prisoner exchange.

4 But the people of Antiparah did leave the city, and fled to their other cities, which they had possession of, to fortify them; and thus the city of Antiparah fell into our hands.

verse 4 "the people of Antiparah did leave the city" The Lamanite defenders of the city abandoned the city when they realized their hopeless plight. The Nephites took control of Antiparah without having to engage anyone in battle.

5 And thus ended the twenty and eighth year of the reign of the judges.

6 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the twenty and ninth year, we received a supply of provisions, and also an addition to our army, from the land of Zarahemla, and from the land round about, to the number of six thousand men, besides sixty of the sons of the Ammonites who had come to join their brethren, my little band of two thousand. And now behold, we were strong, yea, and we had also plenty of provisions brought unto us.

7 And it came to pass that it was our desire to wage a battle with the army which was placed to protect the city Cumeni.

8 And now behold, I will show unto you that we soon accomplished our desire; yea, with our strong force, or with a part of our strong force, we did surround, by night, the city Cumeni, a little before they were to receive a supply of provisions.

verse 8 Helaman organized a military blockade of Cumeni and cut the supply line for the Lamanites in the city.

9 And it came to pass that we did camp round about the city for many nights; but we did sleep upon our swords, and keep guards, that the Lamanites could not come upon us by night and slay us, which they attempted many times; but as many times as they attempted this their blood was spilt.

10 At length their provisions did arrive, and they were about to enter the city by night. And we, instead of being Lamanites, were Nephites; therefore, we did take them and their provisions.

verse 10 "instead of being Lamanites, were Nephites" Helaman implies that his Nephite guards surprised the Lamanites who were delivering provisions to the Lamanites in the city of Cumeni. They captured the Lamanites and the provisions they were delivering.

11 And notwithstanding the Lamanites being cut off from their support after this manner, they were still determined to maintain the city; therefore it became expedient that we should take those provisions and send them to Judea, and our prisoners to the land of Zarahemla.

12 And it came to pass that not many days had passed away before the Lamanites began to lose all hopes of succor; therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands; and thus we had accomplished our designs in obtaining the city Cumeni.

verse 12 Helaman's blockade was successful. He had starved the Lamanites out and forced them to surrender.

verses 13-18 Hugh Nibley has a delightful way of succinctly summarizing the historical events in the Book of Mormon and, at the same time, adding his own editorial spice:

By now the Nephites were simply swamped with prisoners of war, who, seeing the embarrassment of their captors, began to stage prison riots, for behold, they would break out in great numbers, and would fight with stones, and with clubs" and had to be bloodily suppressed. A very large body of prisoners was being escorted back to the capital by crack Nephite troops when they collided with a Lamanite army escorting a large supply train . . . The [Nephite] guards forgot about their prisoners and high-tailed it back to Helaman's headquarters or command post to report the new danger; only just as they arrived there they found the headquarters company hotly engaged with the advanced elements of the same Lamanite army, and were able to join in the fighting just in time to turn the tide and save the command post" (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 7, 319-20).

13 But it came to pass that our prisoners were so numerous that, notwithstanding the enormity of our numbers, we were obliged to employ all our force to keep them, or to put them to death.

14 For behold, they would break out in great numbers, and would fight with stones, and with clubs, or whatsoever thing they could get into their hands, insomuch that we did slay upwards of two thousand of them after they had surrendered themselves prisoners of war.

15 Therefore it became expedient for us, that we should put an end to their lives, or guard them, sword in hand, down to the land of Zarahemla; and also our provisions were not any more than sufficient for our own people, notwithstanding that which we had taken from the Lamanites.

16 And now, in those critical circumstances, it became a very serious matter to determine concerning these prisoners of war; nevertheless, we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla; therefore we selected a part of our men, and gave them charge over our prisoners to go down to the land of Zarahemla.

verse 16 We will learn that those chosen to escort the prisoners to Zarahemla were some from among the 2,060 of the sons of Helaman. They were led by Gid, and a more detailed account of this prisoner-transporting incident is found in verses 28-34 of this chapter.

17 But it came to pass that on the morrow they did return. And now behold, we did not inquire of them concerning the prisoners; for behold, the Lamanites were upon us, and they returned in season to save us from falling into their hands. For behold, Ammoron had sent to their support a new supply of provisions and also a numerous army of men.

18 And it came to pass that those men whom we sent with the prisoners did arrive in season to check them, as they were about to overpower us.

verse 18 "did arrive in season to check them" To check means to stop; to restrain; to curb.

19 But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them.

20 And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.

verse 20 Undaunted means not cowed by fear; intrepid.

21 Yea, and they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them.

verse 21 "they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness" Obviously there is real power in obedience "with exactness." The Lord has taught: "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (D&C 82:10). Notice how the young warriors intuitively understood that obedience to their leaders was an extension of their obedience to God. Their obedience to their leader Helaman was immediate and exact. Would it have been possible to obey God without obeying Helaman? Here is the ultimate test of obedience: to show one's allegiance to a perfect and infallible God by how we obey those less than perfect who are called to lead us.

22 And now behold, it was these my sons, and those men who had been selected to convey the prisoners, to whom we owe this great victory; for it was they who did beat the Lamanites; therefore they were driven back to the city of Manti.

23 And we retained our city Cumeni, and were not all destroyed by the sword; nevertheless, we had suffered great loss.

24 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had fled, I immediately gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed.

25 And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.

verse 25 Each and every one of the 2,060 sons of Helaman had been wounded, but not one had been killed!

26 And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe-that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.

27 Now this was the faith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

28 And now it came to pass that after we had thus taken care of our wounded men, and had buried our dead and also the dead of the Lamanites, who were many, behold, we did inquire of Gid concerning the prisoners whom they had started to go down to the land of Zarahemla with.

29 Now Gid was the chief captain over the band who was appointed to guard them down to the land.

30 And now, these are the words which Gid said unto me: Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla with our prisoners. And it came to pass that we did meet the spies of our armies, who had been sent out to watch the camp of the Lamanites.

31 And they cried unto us, saying-Behold, the armies of the Lamanites are marching towards the city of Cumeni; and behold, they will fall upon them, yea, and will destroy our people.

verse 31 "the armies of the Lamanites are marching towards the city of Cumeni" It is interesting that the original text of the Book of Mormon rendered this phrase "the Lamanites are a marching towards the city (italics added)." This latter form is actually better Hebrew (see John 21:3).

32 And it came to pass that our prisoners did hear their cries, which caused them to take courage; and they did rise up in rebellion against us.

33 And it came to pass because of their rebellion we did cause that our swords should come upon them. And it came to pass that they did in a body run upon our swords, in the which, the greater number of them were slain; and the remainder of them broke through and fled from us.

34 And behold, when they had fled and we could not overtake them, we took our march with speed towards the city Cumeni; and behold, we did arrive in time that we might assist our brethren in preserving the city.

35 And behold, we are again delivered out of the hands of our enemies. And blessed is the name of our God; for behold, it is he that has delivered us; yea, that has done this great thing for us.

36 Now it came to pass that when I, Helaman, had heard these words of Gid, I was filled with exceeding joy because of the goodness of God in preserving us, that we might not all perish; yea, and I trust that the souls of them who have been slain have entered into the rest of their God.

verse 36 "the rest of their God" For a discussion of the concept of the rest of the Lord, see the commentary for 2 Nephi 21:10.

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