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Alma Chapter 62

1 And now it came to pass that when Moroni had received this epistle his heart did take courage, and was filled with exceedingly great joy because of the faithfulness of Pahoran, that he was not also a traitor to the freedom and cause of his country.

verse 1 Elder Neal A. Maxwell commented upon the effect Pahoran's reply to Moroni had on the chief military commander:

Pahoran's was not a resentful rejoinder lamenting the fact that Moroni was foolish without the facts. Pahoran did not engage in sarcasm or bitterness by lamenting that things were at least as rough for him as they were for Moroni and the army. He could have been sarcastic, saying he no longer had any throne to sit upon "in a state of thoughtless stupor." He could have justifiably boiled over at the accusation of his being a traitor, telling Moroni to do his job as chief captain and that Pahoran would do his job as governor. Instead, this exchange permitted these two leaders to rally themselves and their forces to retake the city. Moroni, when he received Pahoran's reply, indicated that his "heart did take courage," and that he rejoiced "because of the faithfulness of Pahoran" (Meek and Lowly, 24-25).

2 But he did also mourn exceedingly because of the iniquity of those who had driven Pahoran from the judgment-seat, yea, in fine because of those who had rebelled against their country and also their God.

verse 2 "In fine" means in conclusion or in summary. Here Mormon states that Moroni mourned over those who had driven Pahoran from office, in fact over all those who had rebelled.

3 And it came to pass that Moroni took a small number of men, according to the desire of Pahoran, and gave Lehi and Teancum command over the remainder of his army, and took his march towards the land of Gideon.

4 And he did raise the standard of liberty in whatsoever place he did enter, and gained whatsoever force he could in all his march towards the land of Gideon.

verse 4 Brother Hugh Nibley comments: "This was the third time that his Title of Liberty had been called out to put down a royalist coalition, timed to take advantage of a great national crisis; yet he pardoned without penalty or punishment all who would prove their loyalty by willingness 'to take up arms in defence of their country'" (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 7, 328).

5 And it came to pass that thousands did flock unto his standard, and did take up their swords in the defense of their freedom, that they might not come into bondage.

verse 5 "did take up their swords" One weapon described by Mesoamerican historians is called the macuahuitl. Although some critics of the Book of Mormon have argued that the macuahuitl is merely a club studded with obsidian, there is documentation of several witnesses of this instrument describing it clearly as a sword (Matthew Roper, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5/1 [1996], 150-58; see also Brother Roper's "Swords and Cimeters in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 [1999], 34-43).

6 And thus, when Moroni had gathered together whatsoever men he could in all his march, he came to the land of Gideon; and uniting his forces with those of Pahoran they became exceedingly strong, even stronger than the men of Pachus, who was the king of those dissenters who had driven the freemen out of the land of Zarahemla and had taken possession of the land.

7 And it came to pass that Moroni and Pahoran went down with their armies into the land of Zarahemla, and went forth against the city, and did meet the men of Pachus, insomuch that they did come to battle.

8 And behold, Pachus was slain and his men were taken prisoners, and Pahoran was restored to his judgment-seat.

9 And the men of Pachus received their trial, according to the law, and also those king-men who had been taken and cast into prison; and they were executed according to the law; yea, those men of Pachus and those king-men, whosoever would not take up arms in the defense of their country, but would fight against it, were put to death.

verse 9 We may be assured that the Nephite law dealt fairly and reasonably with these king-men. Those who were executed not only failed to take up arms in support of their government, but also took up arms and fought against their government with the intent of bringing it down. Though the Nephite law and its enforcement were fair, these king-men had clearly picked the wrong time to break this law as is evidenced in the following verse.

10 And thus it became expedient that this law should be strictly observed for the safety of their country; yea, and whosoever was found denying their freedom was speedily executed according to the law.

verse 10 In times of national crisis and emergency, it was necessary to strictly enforce the laws for the "safety" or security of the country.

11 And thus ended the thirtieth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; Moroni and Pahoran having restored peace to the land of Zarahemla, among their own people, having inflicted death upon all those who were not true to the cause of freedom.

12 And it came to pass in the commencement of the thirty and first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, Moroni immediately caused that provisions should be sent, and also an army of six thousand men should be sent unto Helaman, to assist him in preserving that part of the land.

13 And he also caused that an army of six thousand men, with a sufficient quantity of food, should be sent to the armies of Lehi and Teancum. And it came to pass that this was done to fortify the land against the Lamanites.

14 And it came to pass that Moroni and Pahoran, leaving a large body of men in the land of Zarahemla, took their march with a large body of men towards the land of Nephihah, being determined to overthrow the Lamanites in that city.

15 And it came to pass that as they were marching towards the land, they took a large body of men of the Lamanites, and slew many of them, and took their provisions and their weapons of war.

verse 15 "they took a large body of men of the Lamanites" The verb "to take" here obviously means to engage in battle and defeat. Brother Nibley comments: "[Moroni's] first interest was to retake Nephihah, lost by his own miscalculation, and during the operation who should assist him but Pahoran, familiarizing himself with the war's problems at first hand. On the way to Nephihah, the two commanders ran into a special task-force of Lamanites and defeated it. What followed showed that the tide of war was turning and there was a new spirit in the air-Moroni's patience and humanity in dealing with the defeated was beginning to bear fruit. For, instead of making prisoners of the beaten Lamanites, Moroni permitted all of them who would accept the usual covenant (about four thousand of them) to go off and settle peaceably among the people of Ammon! (verse 17) (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 7, 328).

16 And it came to pass after they had taken them, they caused them to enter into a covenant that they would no more take up their weapons of war against the Nephites.

17 And when they had entered into this covenant they sent them to dwell with the people of Ammon, and they were in number about four thousand who had not been slain.

verse 17 Brother Nibley comments on these converted Lamanites: "If the Nephites are not all good, the Lamanites are by no means all bad. 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 (Alma 25:1) who, upon returning from a campaign, of their own free will went over in large numbers 'and did join themselves to the people of God, who were the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi' (Alma 25:13). It was fierce tribesmen with a long record of savagery and bloodshed who suddenly decided to bury their weapons and became the most righteous people in the New World (Alma 24:19). It was also the Lamanite veterans of a long war who later went over in droves to join them, becoming overnight model Nephite citizens (Alma 62:17; Alma 62:29)" (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 7, 344-45).

Moroni and Pahoran obviously had great confidence in the oral covenant or oath which the Lamanites made in this instance.

18 And it came to pass that when they had sent them away they pursued their march towards the land of Nephihah. And it came to pass that when they had come to the city of Nephihah, they did pitch their tents in the plains of Nephihah, which is near the city of Nephihah.

19 Now Moroni was desirous that the Lamanites should come out to battle against them, upon the plains; but the Lamanites, knowing of their exceedingly great courage, and beholding the greatness of their numbers, therefore they durst not come out against them; therefore they did not come to battle in that day.

20 And when the night came, Moroni went forth in the darkness of the night, and came upon the top of the wall to spy out in what part of the city the Lamanites did camp with their army.

verse 20 To climb to the top of a wall from the outside of a Nephite-fortified city must have been a daunting task. See the commentary for Alma 49:18. No wonder the attacking Nephites needed strong cords and ladders to be let down from the top of the wall (described in the following verse).

21 And it came to pass that they were on the east, by the entrance; and they were all asleep. And now Moroni returned to his army, and caused that they should prepare in haste strong cords and ladders, to be let down from the top of the wall into the inner part of the wall.

22 And it came to pass that Moroni caused that his men should march forth and come upon the top of the wall, and let themselves down into that part of the city, yea, even on the west, where the Lamanites did not camp with their armies.

23 And it came to pass that they were all let down into the city by night, by the means of their strong cords and their ladders; thus when the morning came they were all within the walls of the city.

24 And now, when the Lamanites awoke and saw that the armies of Moroni were within the walls, they were affrighted exceedingly, insomuch that they did flee out by the pass.

verse 24 "insomuch that they did flee out by the pass" Here the "place of entrance" of this Nephite city is referred to as "the pass." See the commentary for Alma 49:18.

25 And now when Moroni saw that they were fleeing before him, he did cause that his men should march forth against them, and slew many, and surrounded many others, and took them prisoners; and the remainder of them fled into the land of Moroni, which was in the borders by the seashore.

26 Thus had Moroni and Pahoran obtained the possession of the city of Nephihah without the loss of one soul; and there were many of the Lamanites who were slain.

27 Now it came to pass that many of the Lamanites that were prisoners were desirous to join the people of Ammon and become a free people.

verse 27 Brother Nibley comments: "Plainly everybody was getting rather tired of war when thousands of Lamanite warriors began to see the light-that the people of Ammon were the really sensible people after all. And so the wicked Lamanites, who had made life a hell for the Nephites for as long as anyone could remember, whose territories and resources still remained intact and unravaged by war, and who still outnumbered the Nephites by an immense margin, were dismissed without even a reprimand, and in short order became model citizens of the Nephite realm (verse 29). This also solved the vexing prisoner of war problem" (Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, volume 7, 328-29).

28 And it came to pass that as many as were desirous, unto them it was granted according to their desires.

29 Therefore, all the prisoners of the Lamanites did join the people of Ammon, and did begin to labor exceedingly, tilling the ground, raising all manner of grain, and flocks and herds of every kind; and thus were the Nephites relieved from a great burden; yea, insomuch that they were relieved from all the prisoners of the Lamanites.

30 Now it came to pass that Moroni, after he had obtained possession of the city of Nephihah, having taken many prisoners, which did reduce the armies of the Lamanites exceedingly, and having regained many of the Nephites who had been taken prisoners, which did strengthen the army of Moroni exceedingly; therefore Moroni went forth from the land of Nephihah to the land of Lehi.

31 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites saw that Moroni was coming against them, they were again frightened and fled before the army of Moroni.

32 And it came to pass that Moroni and his army did pursue them from city to city, until they were met by Lehi and Teancum; and the Lamanites fled from Lehi and Teancum, even down upon the borders by the seashore, until they came to the land of Moroni.

33 And the armies of the Lamanites were all gathered together, insomuch that they were all in one body in the land of Moroni. Now Ammoron, the king of the Lamanites, was also with them.

34 And it came to pass that Moroni and Lehi and Teancum did encamp with their armies round about in the borders of the land of Moroni, insomuch that the Lamanites were encircled about in the borders by the wilderness on the south, and in the borders by the wilderness on the east.

35 And thus they did encamp for the night. For behold, the Nephites and the Lamanites also were weary because of the greatness of the march; therefore they did not resolve upon any stratagem in the night-time, save it were Teancum; for he was exceedingly angry with Ammoron, insomuch that he considered that Ammoron, and Amalickiah his brother, had been the cause of this great and lasting war between them and the Lamanites, which had been the cause of so much war and bloodshed, yea, and so much famine.

36 And it came to pass that Teancum in his anger did go forth into the camp of the Lamanites, and did let himself down over the walls of the city. And he went forth with a cord, from place to place, insomuch that he did find the king; and he did cast a javelin at him, which did pierce him near the heart. But behold, the king did awaken his servants before he died, insomuch that they did pursue Teancum, and slew him.

verse 36 Teancum had previously slain Amalickiah, Ammoron's brother. Now Teancum gives his life shortly after killing Ammoron.

37 Now it came to pass that when Lehi and Moroni knew that Teancum was dead they were exceedingly sorrowful; for behold, he had been a man who had fought valiantly for his country, yea, a true friend to liberty; and he had suffered very many exceedingly sore afflictions. But behold, he was dead, and had gone the way of all the earth.

38 Now it came to pass that Moroni marched forth on the morrow, and came upon the Lamanites, insomuch that they did slay them with a great slaughter; and they did drive them out of the land; and they did flee, even that they did not return at that time against the Nephites.

39 And thus ended the thirty and first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi; and thus they had had wars, and bloodsheds, and famine, and affliction, for the space of many years.

40 And there had been murders, and contentions, and dissensions, and all manner of iniquity among the people of Nephi; nevertheless for the righteous' sake, yea, because of the prayers of the righteous, they were spared.

verse 40 President Spencer W. Kimball taught that God had given a special promise to the Nephites which applies to all the peoples of America. This promise was that if they would remain sufficiently righteous, they would not have to fight ("The False Gods We Worship," Ensign [June 1976] 6:3-6). Gerald Hansen Jr. observed: "The irony of the wars in the book of Alma is that the Nephites were righteous enough to win the wars, but not righteous enough to prevent them from taking place" (The Book of Mormon: Alma, the Testimony of the Word, edited by Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate, Jr. 278). The principle here is that a righteous minority may save a nation from destruction.

41 But behold, because of the exceedingly great length of the war between the Nephites and the Lamanites many had become hardened, because of the exceedingly great length of the war; and many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility.

verse 41 "many were softened because of their afflictions, insomuch that they did humble themselves before God, even in the depth of humility" Regarding the nature of the Lord's chastening, Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught: "Afflictions can soften us and sweeten us, and can be a chastening influence. We often think of chastening as something being done to punish us, such as by a mortal tutor who is angry and peevish with us. Divine chastening, however, is a form of learning as it is administered at the hands of a loving Father (Helaman 12:3)" (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience, 39).

42 And it came to pass that after Moroni had fortified those parts of the land which were most exposed to the Lamanites, until they were sufficiently strong, he returned to the city of Zarahemla; and also Helaman returned to the place of his inheritance; and there was once more peace established among the people of Nephi.

verse 42 "there was once more peace established among the people of Nephi" An interesting pattern may be discerned in the Book of Mormon. Here a period of peace follows the death of the Nephite dissenter Ammoron. When we look at the truly vicious villains in the Book of Mormon, the record shows that beginning with Laman and Lemuel they came almost exclusively from the Nephite groups. Ammoron was a Nephite-Zoramite (Alma 54:23-24), and thus so were his brother Amalickiah and his son Tubaloth. Others of these vicious dissenters of Nephite or Mulekite origin were: Sherem, Noah and his priest Amulon, Nehor, Amlici, the people of Ammonihah, Korihor, the Zoramites, Jacob(Alma 52:20), Pachus and the king-men (Alma 51:5-8; Alma 62:6), Morianton (Alma 50:25-36), Paanchi (Helaman 1:3-7), Kishkumen and Gadianton (Helaman 1:9-12; Helaman 2:4-14), and probably Zerahemnah. Even when the record calls some of these lesser-known villiains such as Tubaloth (see the commentary for Helaman 1:16) and Coriantumr "Lamanites" or even "bold Lamanites," we have already been told that their true parentage was Nephite or Mulekite (see the commentary for Helaman 1:15 and 16). To be sure, the Nephites did not consider the Lamanites to be peaceful neighbors, and these unrighteous Lamanites did send armies from time to time to attack the Nephites, but there is no mistaking that the record emphasizes that the majority of the time, it was the Nephite dissenters who were the true "hard hearts" who continually stirred up, recruited, and inspired the reluctant Lamanites to go into battle (see Alma 21:3; Alma 23:13-15; Alma 23:24; Alma 27:2-3; Alma 43:44; Alma 47:1-6; Alma 48:1-3; Alma 52:1-4; Alma 62:35-38; Alma 63:14-15; Helaman 1:14-33; Helaman 4:4). Indeed here in this verse we learn that within two verses of the death of the dissenting Nephite Ammoron, the great Nephite-Lamanites wars were over (see Alma 62:36-38), and the peace was not broken for another eight years when more Nephite dissenters will stir up Lamanite hearts yet again (see Alma 63:14-16).

43 And Moroni yielded up the command of his armies into the hands of his son, whose name was Moronihah; and he retired to his own house that he might spend the remainder of his days in peace.

44 And Pahoran did return to his judgment-seat; and Helaman did take upon him again to preach unto the people the word of God; for because of so many wars and contentions it had become expedient that a regulation should be made again in the church.

verse 44 "because of so many wars and contentions it had become expedient that a regulation should be made again in the church" Apparently during this time of dissension, war, and national crisis, there had been something of a general apostasy from the church. The church organization needed to be set in order and the people re-taught and rebaptized.

45 Therefore, Helaman and his brethren went forth, and did declare the word of God with much power unto the convincing of many people of their wickedness, which did cause them to repent of their sins and to be baptized unto the Lord their God.

46 And it came to pass that they did establish again the church of God, throughout all the land.

47 Yea, and regulations were made concerning the law. And their judges, and their chief judges were chosen.

verse 47 Also the organization of government had deteriorated and needed to be re-established and reorganized.

48 And the people of Nephi began to prosper again in the land, and began to multiply and to wax exceedingly strong again in the land. And they began to grow exceedingly rich.

49 But notwithstanding their riches, or their strength, or their prosperity, they were not lifted up in the pride of their eyes; neither were they slow to remember the Lord their God; but they did humble themselves exceedingly before him.

50 Yea, they did remember how great things the Lord had done for them, that he had delivered them from death, and from bonds, and from prisons, and from all manner of afflictions and he had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies.

51 And they did pray unto the Lord their God continually, insomuch that the Lord did bless them, according to his word, so that they did wax strong and prosper in the land.

52 And it came to pass that all these things were done. And Helaman died, in the thirty and fifth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.

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