Alma 35:5 they found out privily the minds of all the people
The purpose of this secret poll was not just to gauge public opinion. It was fostered by that wicked one who loves to work in secret combinations. The same approach was used by the scribes and chief priests to privately plan and execute the murder of the Son of God (Jn 7:19, Mark 11:18). This is in contrast to the way in which the Lord works, For the Lord worketh not in secret combinations (Ether 8:19).
"But if all have free agency in the Book of Mormon, all do not have civil liberties. The Zoramites, as we have seen, had a thought-police, 'therefore they found out privily the minds of all the people,' and forthwith deported 'those who were in favor of the words . . . spoken by Alma'" (Since Cumorah, p. 350)
Alma 35:6 those who were in favor...were cast out of the land
A recurring theme in the Book of Mormon is that the righteous are cast out of their homes and driven out of their cities. This happened to the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, the men of Ammonihah, and the repentant Zoramites, to name a few. The parallels to the history of the early saints are striking. Certainly, to patiently endure such persecution is a demonstration of great faith and restraint. The Lord has promised, every one that hath forsaken houses...or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life (Matt 19:29). Thus we see that the poor Zoramites, by their sacrifice, had earned the riches of eternity.
Alma 35:9 the people of Ammon did not fear their words
The generosity of the people of Ammon is not surprising, neither is their courage. Their conviction and devotion never faltered, and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end...and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ (Alma 27:27-8). Their courage is in perfect harmony with the counsel from the scriptures.
'Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings.' (Isa 5:7)
'And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.' (Matt 10:28)
'I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear.' (Moroni 8:16)
Alma 35:9 the people of Ammon...did give unto them lands for their inheritance
At this point, the people of Ammon had been in the land of Jershon for a little over two years. They had been welcomed by the Nephites and given the land of Jershon for their inheritance. Now, they were given an opportunity to return the favor. This is an important principle of humility. At times, when we need financial help from the Church, we should not feel guilty about having to accept "charity." Rather, we should understand that this is according to the pattern of the Lord and that we will likely have an opportunity to return the favor sometime later.
Alma 35:10 this did stir up the Zoramites to anger...they began to mix with the Lamanites
Before Alma and his brethren had gone to the Zoramites to preach the word, the Nephites had great fears regarding the Zoramites. Now the Nephites greatly feared that the Zoramites would enter into a correspondence with the Lamanites, and that it would be the means of great loss on the part of the Nephites (Alma 30:4). The Zoramites were in a strategic location directly south of the land of Jershon. If they were to join with the Lamanites, this would expose the people of Ammon to the armies of the Lamanites. This, of course, is exactly what happened and the Nephites greatest fears were realized.
Alma 35:15 they began to be offended because of the strictness of the word
One quality of righteousness that is seldom discussed is to develop a faith that cannot be easily offended. Whether offended by the word, or more commonly, by someone at church, our testimonies should be strong enough to withstand such offense. Even if the bishop calls you an "incompetent, stupid idiot" that is not a justification for leaving the Church. The Lord taught, And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Matt 11:6).
The phenomenon of falling away from the Church because of being offended is part of the parable of the sower. The seed which fell among stony ground did well for awhile, until tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended (Matt 13:20). The Savior says that He cannot be easily offended. He holds no animosity toward the offenders but forgives them all, And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him (Matt 12:32). If all of us had the same attitude, there would be none who had fallen away because of offense.
There are so many who have fallen away because someone has said or done something offensive to them. More often than not the offender meant no harm and has been misunderstood. Nevertheless, once offended, its tough to come back, A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city (Prov 18:19). Although we have a responsibility to seek out the offended, straying sheep, we also have a responsibility, as members, to develop a faith which can withstand any blows to our personal pride.
Spencer W. Kimball
"We may get angry with parents, or a teacher, or the Bishop, and dwarf ourselves into nameless anonymity as we shrivel and shrink under the venom and poison of bitterness, little realizing the suffering of the hater, the latter cheats himself...To terminate activity in the Church just to spite leaders or to give vent to wounded feelings is to cheat ourselves." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 242-3 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 318)
Alma 35:16 that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately
"From our experience as parents it is our feeling that parent-child interviews should be conducted separately with each child, one on one and one by one, even as Alma did. The Savior set the pattern for this idea as recorded in 3 Nephi, when Jesus 'took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them' (3 Nephi 17:21; emphasis added). The principle of individual attention and concern is an important guideline for all parents. Having interviews with our children is one of the best ways to apply this principle in order to reap its rewards." (D. E. Brinley & D. K. Judd, Eternal Families, "Parent-Child Interviews")
"In the beginning of marriage and family life, Lucy [Mack Smith] had led the way for the Smith family's search for religion, studying the Bible and discussing their findings. Many years later, when Father Smith lay dying, the tender family circle about him showed the literal pattern of their lifestyle according to the Word. Just before he died Father Smith followed the exemplary pattern of bestowing a father's blessing upon each child individually and having it recorded as did Jacob of old, and Alma, who 'caused that his sons should be gathered together, that he might give unto them every one his charge, separately, concerning the things pertaining unto righteousness' (Alma 35:16)." (Heroines of the Restoration, p. 7)