Alma 2:4 it was his intent to destroy the church of God
Amlici's popularity was built upon his cunning words and wisdom of the world (v. 1). Likely, he did not openly reveal his hatred for the church of God. Rather, the typical approach is to instill doubts, fears, and prejudices into the hearts of one's followers. How else could such a group feel so threatened by those who had been specifically commanded that they would not persecute those that did not belong to the church? (Alma 1:21) He likely argued that they needed to establish a king from among the followers of Nehor so that they would be free from a perceived political oppression. Whatever his stated motives were, his real motives were not hidden to Mormon or Alma, for they understood that his real intent was to destroy the church of God.
Much like Amlici, the followers of Satan, whose intent is to destroy the kingdom of God are rarely forthcoming with their real motivation and goals. So it is that the anti-Mormons tend to concentrate on their professed concern for the individual who has been duped by Mormonism. They will work to instill doubts, fears, and prejudices, but they will rarely openly admit their real motives as they kick against the pricks (Acts 9:5).
George F. Richards
"One hundred sixteen years ago today the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized, by direct command of God, in Fayette, Seneca County, New York, under the laws of that state. Since its organization, the Church has been the object of bitter opposition and persecutions. This has come at different periods, from different sources, and in various forms, but always instigated by Lucifer, the devil, through willing emissaries, with the object and intent to destroy the Church, and defeat the purpose of God in his planning for the salvation of the children of men." (Conference Report, Apr. 1946, p. 95)
Alma 2:6 they did assemble themselves together to cast in their voices
The Nephite practice of Democracy was way ahead of its time. Even the Roman Empire, famous for a republican form of government and a contemporary of the Nephites, had a class system whereby the upper class could be distinguished. Naturally, the lower class was not allowed to vote. With the Nephites, however, egalitarianism had reached a pinnacle. Everyone assembled and voted without class distinctions. The result was to temporarily put down this seemingly small insurrection.
"Latter-day Saints believe that democracy is the ideal form of political government. We respect other forms of government and encourage our members living thereunder to obey the laws of the land and sustain their rulers 'while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments...' (DC 134:5) However, democratic government is more consistent with the ideals and purposes of religion and life, we believe, than other forms of government. This is beautifully portrayed in advice given by King Mosiah in Book of Mormon history." (Lowell Bennion, An Introduction to the Gospel, pp. 271-2)
Alma 2:8 Amlici did stir up those who were in his favor to anger
The great wickedness of Amlici should be underscored. Before his self-perpetuated rise to power, Nephite society was riddled with little conflict. In essence, the pot of political unrest was not even close to boiling until Amlici showed up to "stir" things up. The rest of the chapter shows how much trouble one wicked man can stir up.
Alma 2:12 What is a cimeter?
Experts have determined that a cimeter is a curved, ax-like weapon commonly represented in the art of the period. It has a near-Eastern corollary in the scimitar.
Alma 2:19 there were slain of the Amlicites twelve thousand five hundred
Mormon doesn't clearly state whether this battle took place in one day or several days. He certainly doesn't indicate that it was a long conflict to this point. At any rate, it is useful to compare this Nephite civil war with the American Civil War. The records indicate that the scale of the Nephite conflict was often on par with or even greater than that of the Civil War.
The battle of Antietam is well known as the bloodiest battle in the history of the Civil War. The following is taken from an encyclopedic website on Antietam, "In the ensuing action, the Union army suffered about 12,000 casualties, including 2,108 killed. Lee lost some 25 percent of his force; at least 2,700 Confederate soldiers were killed, and about 10,000 were wounded or missing." Let's compare the Nephite Civil War with this bloodiest of battles. In the Nephite conflict, there was a total of 19,094 fatalities. At Antietam, there was a total of about 4,800 fatalities and many more wounded. By comparison, the brutality of the slaughter among the Nephites is truly amazing. In World War II, less than 4,000 Allied soldiers died on the first day of fighting on the beaches of Normandy, June 6, 1944. Yet the Nephites, in brutal hand-to-hand combat, killed each other on just as large a scale. The next battle demonstrates how devastating and ghastly the Nephite battles were as the banks of the river had to be cleared of dead bodies by throwing the bodies of the Lamanites...into the waters of Sidon (v. 34).
Alma 2:29-30 Alma fought with Amlici
In classic Nephite tradition, the spiritual leader is also the political leader and the military leader. Alma wears the hat of the high priest, chief judge, and commanding general of the Nephite armies. If the principle among the Nephites is that the leader is no better than his subject then it is not surprising that Alma did not command his armies from a position placed delicately in the rear. Rather, he led the troops in the most literal sense of the word, fighting with Amlici face to face.
The conflict is both dramatic and symbolic. As the two men struggle, as a metaphor for the classic struggle between good and evil, good prevails because of Alma's ability to call upon a greater source of power. Being exercised with much faith, [he] cried saying: O Lord, have mercy and spare my life, that I may be an instrument in thy hands to save and preserve this people. The Lord had been the source of the extra strength needed to win this symbolic struggle.
Alma 2:37 wilderness, which was called Hermounts
"Now where does the word Hermounts come from? This is certainly not a Latin word. It's not a Greek word, a Hebrew word, or a Semitic word. Where was it? It was the land on the borders that was infested at times by wild beasts, at certain seasons of the year. It was way up in the borders. They went way up there. So it is the Egyptian word hr-Mntw, obviously. Month or Monthis was the Egyptian Pan; he was the god of wild places, wild animals, and the wild country. Hr-Mntw was the outmost part of Egypt where the land was sometimes visited by lions and crocodiles and things like that. It was under cultivation, but it was a place that was in danger from animals. They called it hr-Mntw because it was Month's country, wild animal country." (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 44, p. 242)