Mosiah Chapter 24
1 And it came to pass that Amulon did gain favor in the eyes of the king of the Lamanites; therefore, the king of the Lamanites granted unto him and his brethren that they should be appointed teachers over his people, yea, even over the people who were in the land of Shemlon, and in the land of Shilom, and in the land of Amulon.
verse 1 Amulon and the former priests of Noah were granted favored status in the kingdom of the Lamanite king, not only in Helam but in the land of Lehi-Nephi. They became teachers of the Lamanites in secular matters. The antecedent of "his people" is apparently the Lamanite king Laman.
2 For the Lamanites had taken possession of all these lands; therefore, the king of the Lamanites had appointed kings over all these lands.
3 And now the name of the king of the Lamanites was Laman, being called after the name of his father; and therefore he was called king Laman. And he was king over a numerous people.
4 And he appointed teachers of the brethren of Amulon in every land which was possessed by his people; and thus the language of Nephi began to be taught among all the people of the Lamanites.
verse 4 We have previously commented on the fact that the Nephites and the Lamanites do not seem to have any trouble communicating with one another (see Mosiah 23:33; Mosiah 23:36). Perhaps in this verse these Lamanites were actually being taught how to write (see Mosiah 24:6). It is also possible that the ordinary Lamanite might have been unable to communicate with the average Nephite and that most of the communication which took place occurred between the leaders of the groups who may have shared a common language.
5 And they were a people friendly one with another; nevertheless they knew not God; neither did the brethren of Amulon teach them anything concerning the Lord their God, neither the law of Moses; nor did they teach them the words of Abinadi;
6 But they taught them that they should keep their record, and that they might write one to another.
7 And thus the Lamanites began to increase in riches, and began to trade one with another and wax great, and began to be a cunning and a wise people, as to the wisdom of the world, yea, a very cunning people, delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren.
verse 7 "the Lamanites . . . began to . . . wax great" One of the definitions of wax in Webster's 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language is, "To increase in size; to grow; to become larger."
"delighting in all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren" John L. Sorenson sees in this verse some evidence that the Lamanites were not simply a homogeneous group-one in which all descended from a common ancestor or ancestors (Laman and Lemuel):
Mosiah 24:7 reports the Lamanites' practicing "all manner of wickedness and plunder, except it were among their own brethren." Now, given this verse's context, those plundered do not appear to have been Nephites. Who is referred to? Possibly the statement means that the Lamanites considered it acceptable to plunder any community other than those involving immediate relatives or neighbors, but such a limited sense of "their own brethren" is without precedent in the text. Rather it seems to me that this expression tells us that certain portions of the Lamanites classified other segments of the population in their lands as being of different origin and thus subject to less protection. That is, Mosiah 24:7 could mean that Lamanites were plundering "Lamanites" not of that bloodline, and vice versa. Amulonites and Amalekites [actually Amlicites-see the commentary for Alma 21:2] could have fallen into the target category as well as the Zeniffites, who certainly were "plundered" (see Mosiah 9:14). Yet it seems to me that the plunderable "others," of non-Lehite stock, may have been at odds with "the [real] Lamanites" and thus have come into conflict with them (compare Mormon 8:8) (Journal of Book of Mormon Studies: "When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land, Did They Find Others There," 31).
8 And now it came to pass that Amulon began to exercise authority over Alma and his brethren, and began to persecute him, and cause that his children should persecute their children.
9 For Amulon knew Alma, that he had been one of the king's priests, and that it was he that believed the words of Abinadi and was driven out before the king, and therefore he was wroth with him; for he was subject to king Laman, yet he exercised authority over them, and put tasks upon them, and put task-masters over them.
verse 9 "he was wroth with him" Amulon was angry with Alma.
"for he was subject to king Laman" This might be more clearly rendered "for even though Amulon was subject to king Laman, Amulon was able to exercise authority over Alma and his people" (cf. Mosiah 23:39).
10 And it came to pass that so great were their afflictions that they began to cry mightily to God.
11 And Amulon commanded them that they should stop their cries; and he put guards over them to watch them, that whosoever should be found calling upon God should be put to death.
verse 11 In later generations the descendants of Amulon (the Amulonites) will retain their specific identity even though they will integrate with the Lamanites. They will become noted for their wickedness, extreme hatred, and impenetrable hearts (see Alma 21:3; Alma 23:14; Alma 24:1-2; Alma 24:20-22; Alma 24:28-30).
12 And Alma and his people did not raise their voices to the Lord their God, but did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts.
13 And it came to pass that the voice of the Lord came to them in their afflictions, saying: Lift up your heads and be of good comfort, for I know of the covenant which ye have made unto me; and I will covenant with my people and deliver them out of bondage.
14 And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions.
15 And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.
verse 15 "the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light" The question has been asked as to why the Lord allowed Alma's people to be placed in bondage since they had repented and made covenants with the Lord. The answer is that it was necessary to fulfill the prophecy of Abinadi. When Abinadi first came among the Zeniffites in the land of Nephi, he warned that if they did not repent they would be brought into bondage (Mosiah 11:21). Two years later, however, his warning and prophecy was different. Then he proclaimed that they would be placed in bondage (Mosiah 12:2). It was too late to avoid being placed into bondage. Furthermore he added that if they continued to refuse to repent, they would be destroyed (Mosiah 12:8).
It is instructive to compare the degree of bondage under which the Lord allowed Alma's people to be placed with that of the people of Limhi. In this verse, for example, we learn that the Lord himself did ease the burdens placed upon those in Alma's group. For Limhi's people, the Lord acted more indirectly. He softened the hearts of the Lamanite captors, so that they eased the burdens on the people of Limhi (Mosiah 21:15). Among Alma's people there was no bloodshed, whereas among Limhi's people there was considerable (Mosiah 21:8-9). The Lord was quick to hear the cries of Alma's people (Mosiah 24:13) but slow to respond to those of Limhi's people (Mosiah 21:15). For the actual deliverance of Alma's people from bondage the Lord acted directly. He delivered them without their having to devise a plan for their own deliverance (Mosiah 24:16). He put the guards to sleep (Mosiah 24:19). He led them to Zarahemla (Mosiah 24:23-25). On the other hand, Limhi's people had to devise their own plan of escape (Mosiah 22:9). They had to ensure themselves that the guards were asleep from drunkenness (Mosiah 22:7; Mosiah 22:10), and Ammon had to lead them back to Zarahemla (Mosiah 22:11).
"they did submit . . . with patience to all the will of the Lord" It is interesting to note that Hebrew is decidedly lacking in adverbs. Instead of adverbs, it frequently uses the prepositions meaning "in" or "with." Here, for example, we read "with patience" instead of patiently. Another example is found in 1 Nephi 18:11 where we read with much harshness instead of very harshly.
16 And it came to pass that so great was their faith and their patience that the voice of the Lord came unto them again, saying: Be of good comfort, for on the morrow I will deliver you out of bondage.
17 And he said unto Alma: Thou shalt go before this people, and I will go with thee and deliver this people out of bondage.
18 Now it came to pass that Alma and his people in the night-time gathered their flocks together, and also of their grain; yea, even all the night-time were they gathering the flocks together.
19 And in the morning the Lord caused a deep sleep to come upon the Lamanites, yea, and all their task-masters were in a profound sleep.
verse 19 We have commented upon the contrasting methods of escape of the people of Limhi and the people of Alma. Limhi's people had to provide wine to the Lamanites to ensure that they would be in a drunken stupor. There was no wine involved, however, in Alma's escape. The Lord simply, yet miraculously, caused a deep sleep to come upon the Lamanites.
20 And Alma and his people departed into the wilderness; and when they had traveled all day they pitched their tents in a valley, and they called the valley Alma, because he led their way in the wilderness.
21 Yea, and in the valley of Alma they poured out their thanks to God because he had been merciful unto them, and eased their burdens, and had delivered them out of bondage; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it were the Lord their God.
22 And they gave thanks to God, yea, all their men and all their women and all their children that could speak lifted their voices in the praises of their God.
23 And now the Lord said unto Alma: Haste thee and get thou and this people out of this land, for the Lamanites have awakened and do pursue thee; therefore get thee out of this land, and I will stop the Lamanites in this valley that they come no further in pursuit of this people.
24 And it came to pass that they departed out of the valley, and took their journey into the wilderness.
25 And after they had been in the wilderness twelve days they arrived in the land of Zarahemla; and king Mosiah did also receive them with joy.
verse 25 By combining the information in this verse to that in Mosiah 23:3 and Mosiah 24:20, we learn that the trip from the Waters of Mormon to Zarahemla was twenty-one days. The Waters of Mormon were probably not more than a few days journey from the city of Nephi (Mosiah 18:4). Note that when the sixteen strong men led by Ammon in search of the Zeniffites had traveled this route in reverse (Mosiah 7:4), they took some forty days to make the journey. This might well have been because they "knew not the course they should travel in the wilderness to go up to the land of Lehi-Nephi." Alma's party which included women, children, and "flocks" would probably not have traveled more than ten or eleven miles per day. Thus the distance from the city of Nephi to Zarahemla, then was probably about 250 miles. The distance as the crow flies would probably be more like 180 miles (John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, 8).
Alma's people arrived in Zarahemla somewhat after the arrival of Limhi and his people probably by at least a few months. This is suggested by the phrase "king Mosiah did also receive them with joy" (italics added). Also, the same Lamanite army that pursued the people of Limhi into the wilderness happened onto the people of Alma and kept them captive for probably a few months.
We are not told what eventually became of this special covenant group of people. Did they merge back into Nephite society? Did they remain apart from the other Nephites? They were likely happy to be in Zarahemla where they could enjoy the blessings of the temple. They had, after all, lived in the wilderness for nearly thirty years.
Please see the illustration Book of Mormon History Diagram 1 Nephi 1 through Mosiah 22. It is well worth committing to memory.