Alma

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-Book of Alma



THE BOOK OF ALMA
THE SON OF ALMA

CHAPTER 1

Priestcraft: Whoring and babbling in the promised land
Alma the son of Alma becomes the first Nephite judge--Nehor preaches that all will be saved--Gideon opposes his teachings--Nehor kills Gideon with a sword--He is forced to confess and is then executed--Non-believers persecute believers--The Nephites treat everyone equally--The church prospers and church members become wealthy--Those who do not belong to the church commit all manner of wickedness.

LDS.org Cartoon Version - Chapter 20: Alma and Nehor


1:1 Now it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi, from this time forward, king Mosiah having gone the way of all the earth, having warred a good warfare, walking uprightly before God, leaving none to reign in his stead; nevertheless he had established laws, and they were acknowledged by the people; therefore they were obliged to abide by the laws which he had made. (1:1-6) In the first year of the reign of Alma
After Mosiah died, Alma, the son of Alma, became the first judge of the Nephites. In his first year as judge, a named Nehor (v. 15) was brought before Alma. Nehor said that priests should be popular among, and supported by, the people, and hat everyone will be saved. Many of the people believed him and supported him by giving him money. He wore expensive clothes and established his own church.
1:2 And it came to pass that in the first year of the reign of Alma in the judgment-seat, there was a man brought before him to be judged, a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength.
1:3 And he had gone about among the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church; declaring unto the people that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people.
1:4 And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life. (1:4) All mankind should be saved
Nehor preached the doctrine of universalism (i.e., that everyone will be saved). Since Nehor's doctrines were condemned by Gideon, and Gideon was speaking for the church of God, universalism must be contrary to LDS teaching.
1:5 And it came to pass that he did teach these things so much that many did believe on his words, even so many that they began to support him and give him money.
1:6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching.
1:7 And it came to pass as he was going, to preach to those who believed on his word, he met a man who belonged to the church of God, yea, even one of their teachers; and he began to contend with him sharply, that he might lead away the people of the church; but the man withstood him, admonishing him with the words of God. (1:7-9) Gideon withstood him with the words of God.
One day while Nehor was preaching, he met an elderly member of the Church of God, whose name was Gideon. Gideon opposed Nehor, admonishing him with the words of God. This upset Nehor so much that he killed Gideon with a sword.
1:8 Now the name of the man was aGideon; and it was he who was an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage.
1:9 Now, because Gideon withstood him with the words of God he was wroth with Gideon, and drew his sword and began to smite him. Now Gideon being stricken with many years, therefore he was not able to withstand his blows, therefore he was slain by the sword.
1:10 And the man who slew him was taken by the people of the church, and was brought before Alma, to be judged according to the crimes which he had committed.
1:11 And it came to pass that he stood before Alma and pleaded for himself with much boldness.
1:12 But Alma said unto him: Behold, this is the first time that priestcraft has been introduced among this people. And behold, thou art not only guilty of priestcraft, but hast endeavored to enforce it by the sword; and were priestcraft to be enforced among this people it would prove their entire destruction. (1:10-14) His blood would come upon us for vengeance
Alma sentenced Nehor to death for introducing priestcraft, trying to enforce priestcraft with the sword, and for killing a righteous man. If the Nephites didn't kill Nehor, "his blood would come upon us for vengeance". Whatever that means.
1:13 And thou hast shed the blood of a righteous man, yea, a man who has done much good among this people; and were we to spare thee his blood would come upon us for vengeance.
1:14 Therefore thou art condemned to die, according to the law which has been given us by Mosiah, our last king; and it has been acknowledged by this people; therefore this people must abide by the law.
1:15 And it came to pass that they took him; and his name was Nehor; and they carried him upon the top of the hill Manti, and there he was caused, or rather did acknowledge, between the heavens and the earth, that what he had taught to the people was contrary to the word of God; and there he suffered an ignominious death. (1:15) There he suffered an ignominious death.
The people carried Nehor to the top of a hill, and forced him to confess that he had taught things contrary to the word of God. Then they killed him in such a way that "he suffered an ignominious death" -- more for heresy than for murder.
Were there laws against disbelief?

(1:16-18) This did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft.
So Nehor was gone, but there were many more challengers to the church after him. Alma couldn't just kill them off, though, because they weren't committing any crimes. They didn't rob, or murder, or even lie. Their doctrines were wrong, but they weren't technically liars, since they claimed to believe in their preaching, and the law couldn't punish a man for his beliefs.

1:16 Nevertheless, this did not put an end to the spreading of priestcraft through the land; for there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of riches and honor.
1:17 Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief; and now the law could have no power on any man for his belief.
1:18 And they durst not steal, for fear of the law, for such were punished; neither durst they rob, nor murder, for he that murdered was punished unto death.
1:19 But it came to pass that whosoever did not belong to the church of God began to persecute those that did belong to the church of God, and had taken upon them the name of Christ. (1:19-20) Because of their humility
Non-believers persecuted believers by calling them names, because the believers were so darned humble and because they preached the word of God for free.

(1:21)
There should not any man ... persecute those that did not belong to the church.
The Nephites had a strict law against persecuting those that didn't belong to the church.
Were there laws against disbelief?

(1:22-24) They would smite one another with their fists.
But the church had its problems. Some members were proud and began to smite one another with their fists. Some had hard hearts and so their names were blotted out.

1:20 Yea, they did persecute them, and afflict them with all manner of words, and this because of their humility; because they were not proud in their own eyes, and because they did impart the word of God, one with another, without money and without price.
1:21 Now there was a strict law among the people of the church that there should not any man, belonging to the church, arise and persecute those that did not belong to the church, and that there should be no persecution among themselves.
1:22 Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud, and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.
1:23 Now this was in the second year of the reign of Alma, and it was a cause of much affliction to the church; yea, it was the cause of much trial with the church.
1:24 For the hearts of many were hardened, and their names were blotted out, that they were remembered no more among the people of God. And also many withdrew themselves from among them.
1:25 Now this was a great trial to those that did stand fast in the faith; nevertheless, they were steadfast and immovable in keeping the commandments of God, and they bore with patience the persecution which was heaped upon them.
1:26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength. (1:26-27) They were all equal.
On the whole, though, the Nephites had a pretty nice system. Everyone was treated equally and each person worked according to his or her strength. Everyone gave to help the poor, needy, sick, and afflicted. No one wore expensive clothes but everyone was neat and comely.

(126) "They were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength."

(1:27) "They did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted."

(1:28-29) They began to be exceedingly rich.
There was continual peace and the people became exceedingly rich -- thanks to the steadiness of the church.

(1:29) Abundance of silk and fine-twined linen
They even had an abundance of silk and linen, though neither silk nor linen existed in the New World at the time (supposedly 91 BCE).

(1:30) They were liberal to all.
"They did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need."

1:27 And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
1:28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.
1:29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need -- an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
1:30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
1:31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church. (1:31-32) They did prosper and become far more wealthy
Church members were far more wealthy than those who didn't belong to the church, who were all a lazy, wicked, babbling, idolatrous, and proud bunch of whores, thieves and murderers.
1:32 For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness; nevertheless, the law was put in force upon all those who did transgress it, inasmuch as it was possible.
1:33 And it came to pass that by thus exercising the law upon them, every man suffering according to that which he had done, they became more still, and durst not commit any wickedness if it were known; therefore, there was much peace among the people of Nephi until the fifth year of the reign of the judges.

And it came to pass (1:1, 2, 5, 7, 11, 15, 19, 33)

Exceedingly (1:29)

Behold (1:12)

(1:25a) Stand fast in the faith. -- 1 Corinthians 16:13

(1:25b) Be ye steadfast, unmoveable. -- 1 Corinthians 15:58

8a This is the Gideon that accused King Noah's priests of stealing the Lamanite daughters (Mosiah 20:17-18) and came up with the plan to get the Lamanites drunk and escape through the back door (Mosiah 22:3-8).


Next Chapter

Dwindling in Unbelief
What the Book of Mormon says about the poor (and why Mitt Romney should be concerned about them) (Alma 1:27-30

The Annotated Book of Mormon
Alma 1