Alma 10

Alma 10:2 Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple

Although legendary for this feat, the story of Aminadi's interpretation doesn't make it into the Book of Mormon anywhere else but in this little vignette from Amulek. At any rate, the Aminadi interpretation has obvious similarities to the story of Daniel interpreting the writing on the wall of king Belshazzar's palace (Dan 5:5,25-28). Unfortunately, we do not know what the message was that Aminadi interpreted. As Mormon admits more than once, some things had to be left out, I cannot write the hundredth part of the things of my people (W of M 1:5).

Alma 10:3 Lehi...who was a descendant of Manasseh

Lehi and Nephi never mentioned which tribe they were from other than to say that they were of Joseph (1 Ne 5:14). It is only through Amulek that we learn that they were through Manasseh. Not all the Nephite blood was through Manasseh. Joseph Smith taught that in the 116 lost pages, the genealogy of Ishmael was given to be through Ephraim. Also, we know that Mulek was of Judah. Therefore, among the Nephites and Lamanites, there were descendants of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah.

Erastus Snow

"The Prophet Joseph Smith informed us that the record of Lehi was contained on the one hundred sixteen pages that were first translated and subsequently stolen, and of which an abridgment is given us in the First Book of Nephi, which is the record of Nephi individually, he himself being of the lineage of Manasseh; but that Ishmael was of the lineage of Ephraim, and that his sons married into Lehi's family, and Lehi's sons married Ishmael's daughters, thus fulfilling the words of Jacob upon Ephraim and Manasseh in the 48th chapter of Genesis [verse 16] which says: 'And let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.'  Thus these descendants of Manasseh and Ephraim grew together upon this American continent, with a sprinkling from the house of Judah, from Mulek descended, who left Jerusalem eleven years after Lehi, and founded the colony afterwards known as Zarahemla found by Mosiah -- thus making a combination, an intermixture of Ephraim and Manasseh with the remnants of Judah, and for aught we know, the remnants of some other tribes that might have accompanied Mulek.  And such have grown up upon the American continent." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, pp. 184, 185)

Alma 10:4 I am also a man of no small reputation

Hugh Nibley

"(speaking of Amulek) A model citizen, hardworking, rich, well-born, immensely respectable: 'And behold, I am also a man of no small reputation among all those who know me' (Alma 10:4). But to get rich this man could not neglect his business; he was contracted to Mammon instead of God: 'Nevertheless, after all this, I never have known much of the ways of the Lord,' even though he had the best opportunity to know them, 'for I have seen much of his mysteries and his marvelous power. . . . Nevertheless, I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear. . . . I knew concerning these things, yet I would not know; therefore I went on rebelling against God, in the wickedness of my heart' (Alma 10:5-6). That went on until an angel stopped him (Alma 10:7). Being thus admonished, Amulek forsook 'all his gold, and silver, and his precious things which were in the land of Ammonihah, for the word of God' (Alma 15:16). It had to be one or the other. But all was not lost, you might say, he still had his old friends and admirers and loved ones. Please let us not underestimate the power of money. Having lost his fortune, he was promptly 'rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred' (Alma 15:16)." (The Prophetic Book of Mormon, p. 562)

Alma 10:6 I did harden my heart, for I was called many times and I would not hear

"The voice of the Lord calls to us regularly.  It is not wickedness or carnality alone which keep us from feeling and hearing the word; it is preoccupation.  We need not be guilty of gross sin to be unready for the impressions of the Spirit; we need only have our minds and hearts focused upon other things, to be so involved in the thick of thin things that we are not taking the time to ponder or meditate upon matters of substance.  Excessive labor in secondary causes leads to a lessening of spiritual opportunities.  President Ezra Taft Benson told the following story, which highlights the need for being attentive and open to heavenly guidance:

'Bishop John Wells, a former member of the Presiding Bishopric, was a great detail man and was responsible for many Church reports.  President David O. McKay and President Harold B.Lee used to relate an experience from his life that is instructive to all of us.

'A son of Bishop and Sister Wells was killed in a railroad accident in Emigration Canyon, east of Salt Lake City.  He was run over by a freight car.  Sister Wells could not be consoled.  She received no comfort during the funeral and continued her mourning after her son was laid to rest.  Bishop Wells feared for her health, as she was in a state of deep anguish.

'One day, soon after the funeral, Sister Wells was lying on her bed in a state of mourning.  The son appeared to her and said, 'Mother, do not mourn, do not cry. I am all right.'  He then related to her how the accident took place.  Apparently there had been some question-even suspicion-about the accident, because the young man was an experienced railroad man.  But he told his mother that it was clearly an accident.

'He told her that as soon as he realized that he was in another sphere, he had tried to reach his father but could not.  His father was so busy with the details of his office and work that he could not respond to the promptings.  Therefore, the son had come to his mother.  He then said, 'Tell Father that all is well with me, and I want you not to mourn anymore.'

President McKay used this experience to teach that we must always be responsive to the whisperings of the Spirit.  These promptings come most often when we are not under the pressure of appointments and when we are not caught up in the worries of day-to-day life. (Come unto Christ, p. 18.)"

(McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 3, pp. 68-69)

Alma 10:7 an angel of the Lord appeared unto me and said...thou shalt feed a prophet

Again we see the Lord sending an angel to someone whose lifestyle would not seem to deserve the visit (see commentary for Mosiah 27:11). This visitation comes not by Amulek's faith but by that of Alma who had labored in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer (Alma 8:10). Just as the faith of Alma the elder had opened the heavens to send an angel to his wayward son, Alma the younger's faith was now operative in Amulek's visitation. Amulek was to be the answer to Alma's fervent prayer.

Angels appear unto men by the exercise of faith.

   'Behold I say unto you...neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

   For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

   ...for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have cease wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain' (Moroni 7:30-37).

Alma 10:10 he sent his angel to make these things manifest unto me...while this Alma hath dwelt at my house

This represents a second and separate angelic ministration. Unlike the first one, which was because of Alma's faith, this visitation was in answer to Amulek's search for a testimony. Although his testimony came in a very unusual way-by the visitation of an angel, this was a necessary part of Amulek's witness to Ammonihah. Now two men could testify that they had seen angels who warned of imminent destruction if the people did not repent. The result was that the people began to be astonished, seeing there was more than one witness (v. 12)

Alma 10:13-16 that by their cunning devices they might catch them in their words

Alma 10 gives us the first introduction into the legal profession among the Nephites. The similarities between Nephite lawyers and some of today's attorneys are truly striking. Inherent in the profession, is the ability to win an argument. A great lawyer can make his case whatever the case may be-whether right or wrong. The best can make a brilliant argument for one side on one day and make an equally brilliant argument for the opposing side on the next. The underlying motive, then, is not the pursuit of truth, but the ability to make one's position appear to be true.

Among the lawyers of Ammonihah, we see this same pattern. None of them are interested in the truth. Whether Amulek saw a vision or not is immaterial to them, their job is to make Alma and Amulek look foolish, to catch them in their words, and to win the argument with verbal sophistry. Their master is Satan who tells them:

   'Deceive and lie in wait to catch, that ye may destroy; behold, this is no harm. And thus he flattereth them, and telleth them that it is no sin to lie that they may catch a man in a lie, that they may destroy him.

   And thus he flattereth them, and leadeth them along until he draggeth their souls down to hell' (DC 10:25-26)

Hugh Nibley

 "Alma 10 is the legalistic chapter. It's on legalism and lawyers. It packs a real wallop and shows immense insight. This was [translated] in 1829 before Joseph Smith had had any of his experience with lawyers. He was hauled into court and went through the routine 42 times. They were always bringing him to court. Americans were just as legalistic [then] as they are today. But remember that this was written before he had any of that experience at all. He knew nothing about lawyers or anything else; he had just lived on the farm all his life. This chapter is really something, and we're on verse 13 now. They began to question Amulek using 'cunning devices [that] they might catch them in their words, that they might find witness against them, that they might deliver them to their judges that they might be judged according to the law, and that they might be slain or cast into prison, according to the crime [they would make it all legal] which they could make appear or witness against them.'

"That's the whole business of lawyers-to make your side appear whatever it is. And that's the art of rhetoric, as Plato said, and that's why he damned it. The Greeks were shocked by this new art, the art of the lawyer, which...made the worse appear the better reason. That's the skill of rhetoric. You can take either side and make it win. Whether it was good or bad had nothing to do with it; you won the case. That's what you are supposed to do. To make the worse appear the better reason shocked everybody. That's what we have here." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Lecture 48, p. 311)

Joseph Fielding Smith

" We must be prepared to defend the truth, and as men holding the holy priesthood which was restored by the opening of the heavens and the laying on of hands by holy messengers sent from the presence of the Lord, be prepared to protect the members of the Church against the cunning devices that are being employed in opposition to the gospel, to wean away our members who are not sufficiently informed and who lack the abiding testimony which faithfulness and obedience will ensure to every soul.

"War, quietly, insidiously, and with some fear because of the spread of the truth, is being waged against the restoration of divine truth." (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, p. 311)

Alma 10:17 as they began to question him, he perceived their thoughts

To recognize a trap before it is stepped in is far preferable to treating the wounds it inflicts. With the gift of discernment, one's spiritual vision becomes sharper, the camouflaged landmines become visible, and the enemy's wicked motivation becomes evident. Filled with the Spirit, Amulek perceives their wicked thoughts, and condemns their secret plans of perversion. No mortal, though they are the wisest as to the arguments of men, can argue with the power of the Spirit of God. The scribes and Pharisees could never show up Jesus of Nazareth. Joseph Smith could never be confounded in an argument about religion. And Amulek is not going to be outdone by the wisest in Ammonihah.

Alma 10:23 it is by the prayers of the righteous that ye are spared

The most famous relevant story comes from Genesis, when the prophet Abraham bargains with the Lord on how many righteous individuals it takes to offer protection to the wicked city of Sodom.

   'And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?

   Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?

   ...Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it.

   And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty's sake.

   And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there.

   And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake.

   And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.' (Gen 18:23-32)

Apparently, the Lord will preserve a city if there are but ten righteous individuals. In Ammonihah, there were a lot more than ten. However, these were soon killed (Alma 14:8)-leaving only the wicked. When that happens, as with Sodom, the people are visited with utter destruction.

The same principle applies to the preservation of every nation on earth, including the United States.

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

"The Lord has made it plain to us that if we are not a prayerful people, if we fail to remember the king of this land, Jesus Christ, we can lose all of these blessings. We should hearken to the words of Amulek when he said to his people: (quotes Alma 10:22-23.)

"And so it seems to me that what we need in this fair land of ours is a shining example of prayerfulness and the Latter-day Saints are the people who are chosen to exemplify to the world the power of prayer. Every Latter-day Saint home should be a house of God, where the altar of prayer is ever in use and where the proper example is set to our children in supplicating God for divine guidance in all of our endeavors." (Conference Report, Apr. 1949, p. 159)

Spencer W. Kimball

"Our world is now much the same as it was in the days of the Nephites prophet who said: '...if it were not for the prayers of the righteous...ye would even now be visited with utter destruction' (Alma 10:22). There are many upright and faithful who live all the commandments and whose lives and prayers keep the world from destruction." (Ensign, June 1971, p. 16 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 262)

Alma 10:27 the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges

Hugh Nibley

'Such men are dangerous enough on their own, but when their position becomes official (either in education or government) they have a powerful lever for achieving their aims by force." (An Approach to the Book of Mormon, p. 327)