30 January 2014

Alma 2: Amlici seeks to become king, and Alma puts a stop to it

One of the new challengers to the church was named Amlici. He drew away many followers of the old church, and he even started to consider becoming king himself.
And it came to pass in the commencement of the fifth year of their reign there began to be a contention among the people; for a certain man, being called Amlici, he being a very cunning man, yea, a wise man as to the wisdom of the world, he being after the order of the man that slew Gideon by the sword, who was executed according to the law -- 2.1 
Now this Amlici had, by his cunning, drawn away much people after him; even so much that they began to be very powerful; and they began to endeavor to establish Amlici to be king over the people. 2.2
This was concerning for members of the church, because they tended to decide things (somewhat) democratically, and if Amlici got too popular, the people might elect him as king. If he became king, he might destroy their church and do all kinds of bad stuff.
Now this was alarming to the people of the church, and also to all those who had not been drawn away after the persuasions of Amlici; for they knew that according to their law that such things must be established by the voice of the people. 2.3 
Therefore, if it were possible that Amlici should gain the voice of the people, he, being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church; for it was his intent to destroy the church of God. 2.4

Everyone in town decided to get together and hold an election (their government worked a lot like Canada's--they could call an election at any time). They all told the judges what they thought and then the Judges decided whether or not Amlici should be king.
And it came to pass that the people assembled themselves together throughout all the land, every man according to his mind, whether it were for or against Amlici, in separate bodies, having much dispute and wonderful contentions one with another. 2.5 
And thus they did assemble themselves together to cast in their voices concerning the matter; and they were laid before the judges. 2.6
Either Amlici didn't have popular support, or the judges decided that they would rather retain control over the kingdom. Amlici gathered his people together, and declared himself king anyways. Then the Amlicites declared war on the Nephites.
And it came to pass that the voice of the people came against Amlici, that he was not made king over the people. 2.7 
And it came to pass that they gathered themselves together, and did consecrate Amlici to be their king. 2.9 
 Now when Amlici was made king over them he commanded them that they should take up arms against their brethren; and this he did that he might subject them to him. 2.10
The Nephites decided to get ready for battle. They armed themselves (with all kinds of weapons: swords, cimiters [scimitars], bows and arrows, slings, and every other type of weapon, of course. I wonder what else they had!) They appointed captains, and higher captains, and chief captains, and Alma himself led the Nephites into battle.
Therefore the people of the Nephites were aware of the intent of the Amlicites, and therefore they did prepare to meet them; yea, they did arm themselves with swords, and with cimeters, and with bows, and with arrows, and with stones, and with slings, and with all manner of weapons of war, of every kind. 2.12 
And thus they were prepared to meet the Amlicites at the time of their coming. And there were appointed captains, and higher captains, and chief captains, according to their numbers. 2.13 
And it came to pass that Amlici did arm his men with all manner of weapons of war of every kind; and he also appointed rulers and leaders over his people, to lead them to war against their brethren. 2.14 
And it came to pass that the Amlicites came upon the hill Amnihu, which was east of the river Sidon, which ran by the land of Zarahemla, and there they began to make war with the Nephites. 2.15
It was a bloody battle, with lots of deaths on both sides. The Nephites fared much better, though, because God "strengthened their hand". 12,500 Amlicites died, while the Nephites lost only 6500.
Now Alma, being the chief judge and the governor of the people of Nephi, therefore he went up with his people, yea, with his captains, and chief captains, yea, at the head of his armies, against the Amlicites to battle. 2.16 
And they began to slay the Amlicites upon the hill east of Sidon. And the Amlicites did contend with the Nephites with great strength, insomuch that many of the Nephites did fall before the Amlicites. 2.17 
Nevertheless the Lord did strengthen the hand of the Nephites, that they slew the Amlicites with great slaughter, that they began to flee before them. 2.18 
And it came to pass that the Nephites did pursue the Amlicites all that day, and did slay them with much slaughter, insomuch that there were slain of the Amlicites twelve thousand five hundred thirty and two souls; and there were slain of the Nephites six thousand five hundred sixty and two souls. 2.19
The Nephites chased the Amlicites until they couldn't chase them any farther. Then Alma sent a few spies to keep an eye on them, and everyone else pitched camp in the valley of Gideon.
And it came to pass that when Alma could pursue the Amlicites no longer he caused that his people should pitch their tents in the valley of Gideon, the valley being called after that Gideon who was slain by the hand of Nehor with the sword; and in this valley the Nephites did pitch their tents for the night. 2.20 
And Alma sent spies to follow the remnant of the Amlicites, that he might know of their plans and their plots, whereby he might guard himself against them, that he might preserve his people from being destroyed. 2.21
Sending the spies to follow the Amlicites was a good idea. It turned out that the Lamanites had already teamed up with the Amlicite army, and they were attacking Nephites in the surrounding villages. The spies told Alma that the huge army was making their way toward their city.
Now those whom he had sent out to watch the camp of the Amlicites were called Zeram, and Amnor, and Manti, and Limher; these were they who went out with their men to watch the camp of the Amlicites. 2.22 
And it came to pass that on the morrow they returned into the camp of the Nephites in great haste, being greatly astonished, and struck with much fear, saying: 2.23 
 Behold, we followed the camp of the Amlicites, and to our great astonishment, in the land of Minon, above the land of Zarahemla, in the course of the land of Nephi, we saw a numerous host of the Lamanites; and behold, the Amlicites have joined them; 2.24 
And they are upon our brethren in that land; and they are fleeing before them with their flocks, and their wives, and their children, towards our city; and except we make haste they obtain possession of our city, and our fathers, and our wives, and our children be slain. 2.25
Alma told his people to pack up, and to meet the Amlicite/Lamanite army in battle. The Lamanites must have had a lot of soldiers, because now the army was impossibly large: "As numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea". Almost.
And behold, as they were crossing the river Sidon, the Lamanites and the Amlicites, being as numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea, came upon them to destroy them. 2.27
Still, the Nephites defeated them easily, because the Lord strengthened their hand again. Alma even killed Amlici himself on the battlefield. He almost got the king of the Lamanites, too, but his guards rushed in and saved him.
 Nevertheless, the Nephites being strengthened by the hand of the Lord, having prayed mightily to him that he would deliver them out of the hands of their enemies, therefore the Lord did hear their cries, and did strengthen them, and the Lamanites and the Amlicites did fall before them. 2.28 
And it came to pass that Alma fought with Amlici with the sword, face to face; and they did contend mightily, one with another. 2.29 
And it came to pass that Alma, being a man of God, being exercised with much faith, 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. 2.30 
 Now when Alma had said these words he contended again with Amlici; and he was strengthened, insomuch that he slew Amlici with the sword. 2.31 
And he also contended with the king of the Lamanites; but the king of the Lamanites fled back from before Alma and sent his guards to contend with Alma. 2.32 
But Alma, with his guards, contended with the guards of the king of the Lamanites until he slew and drove them back. 2.33
Despite outnumbering the Nephites, the Lamanite/Amlicite army started retreating, and the Nephites chased them and killed as many of them as they could. They drove them into a land called Hermounts, which was infested with "wild and ravenous beasts".
And it came to pass that when they had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them, notwithstanding they were so numerous that they could not be numbered. 2.35 
And they fled before the Nephites towards the wilderness which was west and north, away beyond the borders of the land; and the Nephites did pursue them with their might, and did slay them. 2.36 
Yea, they were met on every hand, and slain and driven, until they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached the wilderness, which was called Hermounts; and it was that part of the wilderness which was infested by wild and ravenous beasts. 2.37
Apparently piles of bones have been found in the wilderness there. Someone should alert the anthropologists!
And it came to pass that many died in the wilderness of their wounds, and were devoured by those beasts and also the vultures of the air; and their bones have been found, and have been heaped up on the earth. 2.38

26 January 2014

Alma 1: Priestcraft: Whoring and Babbling in the promised land

In Alma's first year as Chief Judge, he had an interesting murder case brought before him. There was a man named Nehor who had started a new church, and his church was getting pretty successful. Many people were believing his words, and some of them were even giving him money, and it sounds like he was buying lots of nice clothes and stuff with it.

Then one day, as he was heading somewhere to preach, he got into a religious fight with a member of the old church named Gideon (Remember him from Mosiah 19?). Nehor killed Gideon with his sword, and then he was brought to Alma for judgement.
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. 1.2 
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. 1.3 
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 
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. 1.5 
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. 1.6 
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 
Now the name of the man was Gideon; and it was he who was an instrument in the hands of God in delivering the people of Limhi out of bondage. 1.8 
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. 1.9
Alma sentenced Nehor to death, because Gideon was a righteous man, and if he didn't, "his blood would come upon us for vengence". Whatever that means.
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. 1.13
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. 1.14
They took him to teh top of the hill Manti, and there he confessed that his teachings were against the true God. It sounds a bit like a coerced confession, though, if you read the verse below:
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
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 comitting 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.
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. 1.16 
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. 1.17 
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. 1.18
The new priestcraft order of people started to persecute the old church members. They were calling them names and stuff... It was getting pretty bad. Feelings were getting hurt and no one was apologizing.
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. 1.20 
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. 1.23 
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. 1.25
But I guess they just dealt with it. Living well is the best revenge, right? They worked hard, shared with the poor, avoided idleness, and everyone made sure not to flaunt their wealth or wear expensive clothes. Members of the church grew very rich and prosperous, and it sounds like they even created a substantial social safety net-- taking care of both people in the church and out of the church. I hope all of Alma is like this!
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. 1.27 
And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions. 1.28 
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. 1.29 
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. 1.30
And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church. 1.31

Of course, everyone else in town was either a babbling, idle, thieving, murderer or an envying, lying, robbing sorceress-whore.
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. 1.32
But all of those people could live on welfare, so it all worked out. At least until the fifth year of the reign of the Judges.
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. 1.33
You'll just have to wait to see what happens after that.

22 January 2014

Mosiah 29: The End of Mosiah

Mosiah asked the people who they wanted to be king, and the people answer, "Your son, Aaron!"
Now when Mosiah had done this he sent out throughout all the land, among all the people, desiring to know their will concerning who should be their king. 29.1
And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: We are desirous that Aaron thy son should be our king and our ruler. 29.2
Of course, Aaron couldn't be king because he had already left on his mission (with his three brothers) to convert the Lamanites. None of his sons were willing to accepted the throne, anyways.
Now Aaron had gone up to the land of Nephi, therefore the king could not confer the kingdom upon him; neither would Aaron take upon him the kingdom; neither were any of the sons of Mosiah willing to take upon them the kingdom. 29.3
So Mosiah sent another proclamation to the people. This time he even wrote it down! In it, he explained why they shouldn't have a king, and why they should elect judges instead. You see, a bad king is very hard to dethrone, and they can cause all kinds of trouble (remember king Noah?) Mosiah says that he prefers kings if you can be guaranteed a good one, like king Benjamin, but it's just not worth the risk if you might get a bad one.
Therefore king Mosiah sent again among the people; yea, even a written word sent he among the people. And these were the words that were written, saying: 29.4 
Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to consider -- for ye are desirous to have a king. 29.5 
Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom. 29.6 
And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise contentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and draw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people. 29.7
Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead. 29.8
And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin. 29.9 
And now let us be wise and look forward to these things, and do that which will make for the peace of this people. 29.10 
Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God. 29.11 
Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just. 29.12 
Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people -- I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you. 29.13 
And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity; 29.14 
And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers. 29.15 
Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you. 29.16 
For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! 29.17 
Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage. 29.18 
And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now. 29.19 
But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him. 29.20 
And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood. 29.21 
For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God; 29.22 
And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness. 29.23 
And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you. 29.24 
Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord. 29.25 
Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law -- to do your business by the voice of the people. 29.26 
And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land. 29.27 
And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge. 29.28 
If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people. 29.29 
And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads. 29.30 
For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings. 29.31 
And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land. 29.32

Apparently Mosiah actually said much more than is recorded in this chapter. I feel sorry for his scribe.
And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and troubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them. 29.33 
And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part. 29.34 
And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous king to rule over them; 29.35 
Yea, all his iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated -- telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God. 29.36
After the people had considered his words, they gave up on the idea of a king. Or maybe his filibuster just wore them out. Either way, they voted for a chief judge "by the voice of the people".
And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were convinced of the truth of his words. 29.37 
Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins. 29.38 
Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them. 29.39

They elected Alma as the first chief judge (which was convenient, since he already had all of the seer stones, brass plates and whatnot.)
And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church. 29.42
Alma was a good Judge.
And now it came to pass that Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land. 29.43
Alma's father, and Mosiah died.
And now it came to pass that his father died, being eighty and two years old, having lived to fulfil the commandments of God. 29.45 
And it came to pass that Mosiah died also, in the thirty and third year of his reign, being sixty and three years old; making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem. 29.46

And that's it! The end of Mosiah. Next I'll be blogging the book of Alma. I'm shooting for one chapter a day.

21 January 2014

Mosiah 28: Mosiah's sons go on a mission

After Mosiah's sons were done preaching to everyone in Zarahemla, they wanted a bigger challenge. They decided to ask the king if they could go to the land of Nephi and preach to the Lamanites.
Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites -- 28.1
Mosiah's sons had good intentions. They wanted to improve relations with the Lamanites, and they thought that if they only bring the Lamanites knowledge of the Lord that they might all get along. They wanted everyone to be saved, and they were really scared at the idea of anyone being tormented forever in hell. (Who can blame them? If I really believed in hell, I'd quake and tremble too!)
That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them. 28.2
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. 28.3

Mosiah didn't know whether or not he should let his sons go on this mission... so he asked God. God gave him a surprisingly straightforward answer: Let them go. They'll do a good job, and I'll protect them.
And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word. 28.6
And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites. 28.7
So his sons left. Mosiah was reassured by God's words, but he was still nervous about one thing. If his sons were off on the mission, who would succeed him?
And it came to pass that Mosiah granted that they might go and do according to their request. 28.8 
And they took their journey into the wilderness to go up to preach the word among the Lamanites; and I shall give an account of their proceedings hereafter. 28.9 
Now king Mosiah had no one to confer the kingdom upon, for there was not any of his sons who would accept of the kingdom. 28.10
 Now that his sons were gone, Mosiah decided to pick up an old project that he had put off for a while. He started translating the brass plates and the plates of Nephi. His people really wanted to know what had happened to their ancestors, and since his sons were off who knows where and he might be the last true seer in a while, he decided to get to work.
Therefore he took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, and also the plates of Nephi, and all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God, after having translated and caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold which had been found by the people of Limhi, which were delivered to him by the hand of Limhi. 28.11 
And this he did because of the great anxiety of his people; for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed. 28.12
He used the seer stones that were prepared from the very beginning, passed down from generation to generation and preserved by the hand of the Lord. The two stones were fastened into the two rims of a bow, but it's unclear whether or not he used the Joseph Smith Hat Method. 

And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow. 28.13

Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages; 28.14
And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people; 28.15
So what did Mosiah learn from the long lost plates? Just about everything. They told the history of his people right back to the very beginning, all of the way to the tower of Babel and even to the creation of Adam. It doesn't get much better than that.
 Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records, behold, it gave an account of the people who were destroyed, from the time that they were destroyed back to the building of the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and they were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth, yea, and even from that time back until the creation of Adam. 28.17
The people, as usual, were both really happy and really sad to hear the story.
Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; nevertheless it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice. 28.18
After Mosiah was done translating, he gave everything to Alma: The plates, the seer stones, all of the records, everything. It looks like we have our new king, ladies and gentlemen! (Although Mosiah didn't want to call him that, as we learn in the next chapter.)
And now, as I said unto you, that after king Mosiah had done these things, he took the plates of brass, and all the things which he had kept, and conferred them upon Alma, who was the son of Alma; yea, all the records, and also the interpreters, and conferred them upon him, and commanded him that he should keep and preserve them, and also keep a record of the people, handing them down from one generation to another, even as they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem. 28.20


20 January 2014

Some Bible Stories for kids
(to help the Bible Society with its new campaign)

The Bible Society announced a new campaign for Christian parents that encourages them to read Bible stories to their kids. And I think that's a great idea.

Here are a few Bible stories to get them started. (I've added links to the Brick Testament stories whenever possible.)

  1. "The sons of God came in unto the daughters of men." Genesis 6:2-4

    Angels had sex with women producing giant offspring.

  2. "All flesh died that moved upon the earth." Genesis 7:21-23

    God drowned everything that breathes air. From newborn babies to koala bears -- all creatures great and small, the Lord God drowned them all.

  3. "Noah ... drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent." Genesis 9:20-25

    Noah gets drunk and curses his grandson (and all his descendants) because his son saw him naked.

  4. "I pray thee, go in unto my maid ... And Abraham harkened unto the voice of Sarah." Genesis 16:2

    Abraham impregnates his wife's slave girl.

  5. "Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes." Genesis 19:1-8

    The just and righteous Lot offers his daughters to a sex-crazed mob of angel rapers.

  6. "Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father." Genesis 19:30-38

    Lot gets drunk and impregnates his virgin daughters.

  7. "Sarah ... said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son ... And God said unto Abraham ... hearken unto her voice." Genesis 21:9-12

    Abraham abandons his first son, Ishmael.

  8. "And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." Genesis 22:2-13

    Abraham shows his willingness to kill his second son, Isaac, for God.

  9. "Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes."Genesis 30:16

    Leah buy sex with her son's mandrakes.

  10. "When he went in unto his brother's wife, that he spilled it on the ground." Genesis 38:8-10

    God killed Onan for ejaculating outside of a vagina.

  11. "Bring her forth, and let her be burnt." Genesis 38:13-18

    Judah has sex with his daughter-in-law and then orders her to be burned to death.

  12. "The LORD met him, and sought to kill him." Exodus 4:24

    God tries to kill Moses. (It had something to do with foreskins.)

  13. "The LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt." Exodus 12:29-30

    God kills all the firstborn Egyptian children. "There was not a house where there was not one dead."

  14. "Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and ... slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour." Exodus 32:27-28

    God forces the people to kill each other for dancing naked around Aaron's golden calf.

  15. "And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts." Exodus 33:20-23

    God shows Moses his backparts.

  16. "The sons of Aaron ... offered strange fire before the LORD... And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD... And Aaron held his peace." Leviticus 10:1-3

    Aaron watched in silence as his sons were burned to death by God.

  17. "Bring forth him that had cursed out of the camp, and stone him with stones." Leviticus 24:10-23

    Moses orders the people to stone to death a man who cursed. "And the children of Israel did as the LORD commanded Moses."

  18. "When the people complained, it displeased the LORD: and the LORD heard it; and his anger was kindled; and the fire of the LORD burnt among them." Numbers 11:1

    God burned people alive for complaining.

  19. "And while the flesh was yet between their teeth ... the LORD smote the people with a very great plague." Numbers 11:4-33

    God sent a great plague on the people for complaining about the food.

  20. "A man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day." Numbers 15:32-36

    God commands the people to stone to death a man who gathered sticks on the Sabbath.

  21. "And the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up." Numbers 16:20-35

    Because of a dispute between Korah and Moses, God has the ground open up and swallow Korah, his companions, "and their wives, and their sons, and their little children."

  22. "And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died." Numbers 21:6

    For complaining (again) about the lack of food and water, God sent fiery serpents to bite the people, and many of them died.

  23. "And the LORD opened the mouth of the ass, and she said unto Balaam..." Numbers 22:23-30

    Balaam and his donkey have a nice little chat. Apparently, they do this often, since Balaam isn't the least bit surprised when his donkey starts talking to him.

  24. "Phinehas ... thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel." Numbers 25:1-13

    One of the Israelite men brings home a foreign woman. When Phinehas sees the happy couple, he throws a spear "through the man .. and the woman through her belly." This act pleases God so much that "the plague was stayed from the children of Israel." But not before 24,000 had died.

  25. "Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves." Numbers 31:1-54

    Under God's direction, Moses' army defeats the Midianites. They kill all the adult males, but take the women and children captive. When Moses learns that they let some live, he angrily says: "Have you saved all the women alive? Kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman that hath known man by lying with him. But all the women children, that have not known a man by lying with him, keep alive for yourselves."

  26. "I have a message from God unto thee." Judges 3:15-22

    Ehud delivers a "message from God" to the king of Moab: a knife thrust so deeply into the king's belly that it could not be extracted, "and the dirt came out."

  27. "Then Jael Heber's wife took a nail of the tent, and took an hammer in her hand, and went softly unto him, and smote the nail into his temples, and fastened it into the ground." Judges 4:17-23

    Jael offers food and shelter to a traveler (Sisera, Jabin's captain), saying "turn in my Lord ... fear not." Then after giving him a glass of milk and tucking him in, she drives a tent stake through his head.

  28. "As a dog lappeth" Judges 7:4-7

    God picks the men to fight in Gideon's army by the way they drink water. Only those that lap water with their tongues, "as a dog lappeth," shall fight in Gideon's Holy War.

  29. "At the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed." Judges 11:29-39

    Jephthah sacrifices his daughter to God.

  30. "Samson went and caught three hundred foxes." Judges 15:4-5

    Samson catches 300 foxes, ties their tails together, and sets them on fire.

  31. "Behold, here is my daughter a maiden, and his concubine; them I will bring out now, and humble ye them, and do with them what seemeth good unto you." Judges 19:22-30

    After taking in a traveling Levite, the host offers his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine to a mob of perverts (who want to have sex with his guest). The mob refuses the daughter, but accepts the concubine and they "abuse her all night." The next morning she crawls back to the doorstep and dies. The Levite puts her dead body on an ass and takes it home. Then he chops the body up into twelve pieces and sends a piece to each of the twelve tribes of Israel.

  32. "And they had emerods in their secret parts." 1 Samuel 5:6-12

    God smites the people of Ashdod with hemorrhoids "in their secret parts."

  33. "Thus saith the LORD of hosts ... slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass." 1 Samuel 15:2-3

    God orders Saul to kill all of the Amalekites: men, women, infants, sucklings, ox, sheep, camels, and asses. Why? Because God remembers what Amalek did hundreds of years ago.

  34. "And David brought their foreskins, and they gave them in full tale to the king, that he might be the king's son in law. And Saul gave him Michal his daughter to wife." 1 Samuel 18:25-27

    David buys his first wife with 200 Philistine foreskins.

  35. "Absalom went into his father's concubines in the sight of all Israel." 2 Samuel 16:21-22

    Because David caused people to blaspheme, God had David's concubines publicly raped by his son, Absalom.

  36. "The child also that is born unto thee shall surely die." 2 Samuel 12:13-18

    To punish David for having Uriah killed and causing others to blaspheme, God kills Bathsheba's baby boy.

  37. "Being stronger than she, forced her, and lay with her." 2 Samuel 13:14

    David's son rapes David's daughter.

  38. "So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel ... and there died of the people ... seventy thousand men." 2 Samuel 24:1-15

    Because of David's census (which God inspired), God killed 70,000 men (and probably around 200,000 women and children).

  39. "And the damsel was very fair, and cherished the king, and ministered to him: but the king knew her not." 1 Kings 1:1-4

    Poor old king David could get no heat. So they searched throughout the kingdom for a beautiful virgin. They found one (Abishag), and she "cherished the king, and ministered to him," but he still couldn't get any heat.

  40. "Go up thou bald head." 2 Kings 2:23-24

    God sends two bears to rip up 42 little children for making fun of Elisha's bald head.

  41. "Son of man, behold I take away from thee the dire of thine eyes ... So ... my wife died; and I did in the morning as I was commanded." Ezekiel 24:16-17

    God kills Ezekiel's wife and tells him not to mourn her.

  42. "The whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters." Matthew 8:28-34

    The devils ask Jesus to cast them into a herd of pigs. He does, and the poor pigs run off into the sea and drown.

  43. "For the time of figs was not yet." Mark 11:13

    Jesus curses a fig tree for not having fruit (even though it was not the right season for figs).

  44. "But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me." Luke 19:11-27

    Jesus explains in a parable that those who refuse to submit to him will be killed while he watches.

  45. "Behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost." Acts 5:1-10

    Peter scares Ananias and his wife to death for not giving the church all of the money that they made when selling their land.

  46. "The hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind." Acts 13:8-11

    Paul and the Holy Ghost make Elymas (the sorcerer) blind.

  47. "The angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost." Acts 12:23

    The "angel of the Lord" killed Herod by having him "eaten of worms" because "he gave not God the glory."

18 January 2014

Mosiah 27: A visit from God's angel

The unbelievers were not behaving themselves. Apparently they were persecuting the believers so badly that Mosiah had to consult with his priests and then make a proclamation.
And now it came to pass that the persecutions which were inflicted on the church by the unbelievers became so great that the church began to murmur, and complain to their leaders concerning the matter; and they did complain to Alma. And Alma laid the case before their king, Mosiah. And Mosiah consulted with his priests. 27.1 
And it came to pass that king Mosiah sent a proclamation throughout the land round about that there should not any unbeliever persecute any of those who belonged to the church of God. 27.2
There was also a "strict commandment" throughout the churches that there should be equality among all men, and that there shouldn't be any persecutions among the members of the church. While this is a nice thought, you wouldn't think that this would be necessary among the church members. Weren't they behaving themselves already? In any event, the commandment was followed, and the people grew more and more prosperous throughout the land.
And there was a strict command throughout all the churches that there should be no persecutions among them, that there should be an equality among all men; 27.3 
And there began to be much peace again in the land; and the people began to be very numerous, and began to scatter abroad upon the face of the earth, yea, on the north and on the south, on the east and on the west, building large cities and villages in all quarters of the land. 27.6
And the Lord did visit them and prosper them, and they became a large and wealthy people27.7
But there were still those damned unbelievers to deal with. Mosiah's own sons were unbelievers, and Alma's son too!  Alma's son, Alma (we'll call him Alma Jr.) was a real smooth talker (a man of many words) and he convinced many church members over to whoredom, baby eating*, and other evil stuff unbelievers do.
Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the unbelievers; and also one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called Alma, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities. 27.8 
And he became a great hinderment to the prosperity of the church of God; stealing away the hearts of the people; causing much dissension among the people; giving a chance for the enemy of God to exercise his power over them. 27.9
But one day, just as they were about to destroy some more innocent lives, an angel of the lord went and visited them. He said he came because Alma (senior) prayed and prayed for his son to see the light.
And now it came to pass that while he was going about to destroy the church of God, for he did go about secretly with the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the church, and to lead astray the people of the Lord, contrary to the commandments of God, or even the king -- 27:10 
And as I said unto you, as they were going about rebelling against God, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto them; and he descended as it were in a cloud; and he spake as it were with a voice of thunder, which caused the earth to shake upon which they stood; 27.11 
And so great was their astonishment, that they fell to the earth, and understood not the words which he spake unto them. 27.12 
Nevertheless he cried again, saying: Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God? For the Lord hath said: This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people. 27.13
And again, the angel said: Behold, the Lord hath heard the prayers of his people, and also the prayers of his servant, Alma, who is thy father; for he has prayed with much faith concerning thee that thou mightest be brought to the knowledge of the truth; therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith. 27.14 
And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God. 27.15
Alma and his buddies were pretty impressed. This guy's voice shook the earth! They knew that nothing besides the voice of God could shake the friggin' earth. (This was before the Seahawks and the Beastquake, so we'll forgive them).
And now Alma and those that were with him fell again to the earth, for great was their astonishment; for with their own eyes they had beheld an angel of the Lord; and his voice was as thunder, which shook the earth; and they knew that there was nothing save the power of God that could shake the earth and cause it to tremble as though it would part asunder. 27.18
Alma was so astonished that he couldn't talk or move afterwards. His friends carried him back to his father, laid him at his feed, and told Alma Sr. the story.
And now the astonishment of Alma was so great that he became dumb, that he could not open his mouth; yea, and he became weak, even that he could not move his hands; therefore he was taken by those that were with him, and carried helpless, even until he was laid before his father. 27.19 
And they rehearsed unto his father all that had happened unto them; and his father rejoiced, for he knew that it was the power of God. 27.20
Alma brought a bunch of people together, and then they fasted and prayed for Alma Jr. After two days, Alma regained strength and his speech. Then, of course, it was time for his speech.
And he caused that a multitude should be gathered together that they might witness what the Lord had done for his son, and also for those that were with him. 27.21 
And he caused that the priests should assemble themselves together; and they began to fast, and to pray to the Lord their God that he would open the mouth of Alma, that he might speak, and also that his limbs might receive their strength -- that the eyes of the people might be opened to see and know of the goodness and glory of God. 27.22  
And it came to passafter they had fasted and prayed for the space of two days and two nights, the limbs of Alma received their strength, and he stood up and began to speak unto them. 27.23 
He proceeds to give a long speech explaining how the Lord saved him, how awful things were before he knew God, etc.
For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. 27.24 
And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; 27.25 
And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. 27.26 
I say unto you, unless this be the case, they must be cast off; and this I know, because I was like to be cast off. 27.27 
Nevertheless, after wading through much tribulations, repenting nigh unto death, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an everlasting burning, and I am born of God. 27.28 
My soul hath been redeemed from the gall of bitterness and bonds of iniquity. I was in the darkest abyss; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was racked with eternal torment; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more. 27.29 
I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all. 27.30 
Yea, every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess before him. Yea, even at the last day, when all men shall stand to be judged of him, then shall they confess that he is God; then shall they confess, who live without God in the world, that the judgment of an everlasting punishment is just upon them; and they shall quake, and tremble, and shrink beneath the glance of his all-searching eye. 27.31
From then on, Alma and his merry men (the sons of Mosiah: Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni) spent their days preaching to the people, teaching them and "publishing peace" throughout Zarahemla. Glory!
And now it came to pass that Alma began from this time forward to teach the people, and those who were with Alma at the time the angel appeared unto them, traveling round about through all the land, publishing to all the people the things which they had heard and seen, and preaching the word of God in much tribulation, being greatly persecuted by those who were unbelievers, being smitten by many of them. 27.32 
But notwithstanding all this, they did impart much consolation to the church, confirming their faith, and exhorting them with long-suffering and much travail to keep the commandments of God. 27.33 
And four of them were the sons of Mosiah; and their names were Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and Himni; these were the names of the sons of Mosiah. 27.34 
And they traveled throughout all the lands of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church, confessing all their sins, and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them. 27.35 
And thus they were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer. 27.36 
And how blessed are they! For they did publish peace; they did publish good tidings of good; and they did declare unto the people that the Lord reigneth. 27.37

*Just kidding. I'm pretty sure they didn't eat babies.

16 January 2014

Mosiah 26: What to do with the unbelievers?

Just as things are starting to go really well for the new church, it starts to be threatened by the "rising generation" of unbelievers. Sound familiar? Maybe the Book of Mormon was prophesying about today.
Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers. 26.1 
They did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ. 26.2
The unbelievers started to flatter and deceive the church members, so it became clear that the church had to do something about them. The unbelievers were gathered up and brought before Alma.
For it came to pass that they did deceive many with their flattering words, who were in the church, and did cause them to commit many sins; therefore it became expedient that those who committed sin, that were in the church, should be admonished by the church. 26.6 
And it came to pass that they were brought before the priests, and delivered up unto the priests by the teachers; and the priests brought them before Alma, who was the high priest. 26.7

Alma didn't know what to do with them, so he brought them before king Mosiah.
Now there had not any such thing happened before in the church; therefore Alma was troubled in his spirit, and he caused that they should be brought before the king. 26.10 
And he said unto the king: Behold, here are many whom we have brought before thee, who are accused of their brethren; yea, and they have been taken in divers iniquities. And they do not repent of their iniquities; therefore we have brought them before thee, that thou mayest judge them according to their crimes. 26.11

King Mosiah didn't know what to do with them, so he gave them back to Alma
But king Mosiah said unto Alma: Behold, I judge them not; therefore I deliver them into thy hands to be judged. 26.12
Alma still didn't know what to do with them, so he asks God.
And now the spirit of Alma was again troubled; and he went and inquired of the Lord what he should do concerning this matter, for he feared that he should do wrong in the sight of God. 26.13
After he pours out his whole soul, God answers: If the unbelievers repent, let them back in the church. If not, Let 'em burn.
And it came to pass that after he had poured out his whole soul to God, the voice of the Lord came to him, saying:
Blessed art thou, Alma, and blessed are they who were baptized in the waters of Mormon. Thou art blessed because of thy exceeding faith in the words alone of my servant Abinadi.
Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life; and thou shalt serve me and go forth in my name, and shalt gather together my sheep. 26.20 
For behold, this is my church; whosoever is baptized shall be baptized unto repentance. And whomsoever ye receive shall believe in my name; and him will I freely forgive. 26.22 
And it shall come to pass that when the second trump shall sound then shall they that never knew me come forth and shall stand before me. 26.25 
And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 26.27
Alma "blotted out" the names of those who did not repent, and the church lived happily every after.
And those that would not confess their sins and repent of their iniquity, the same were not numbered among the people of the church, and their names were blotted out. 26.36
And it came to pass that Alma did regulate all the affairs of the church; and they began again to have peace and to prosper exceedingly in the affairs of the church, walking circumspectly before God, receiving many, and baptizing many. 26.37 
And now all these things did Alma and his fellow laborers do who were over the church, walking in all diligence, teaching the word of God in all things, suffering all manner of afflictions, being persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God. 26.38

15 January 2014

The Thinking Atheist Podcast and other news

We are busy working on the Skeptic's Annotated Book of Mormon at the moment, but there have been a few interesting things come up about the SAB that we wanted to share. First off, Steve was on the Thinking Atheist Podcast with Seth Andrews yesterday. Here's the link to listen to the show: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpkVCU2TA4s

Also, we donated 3 cases of Skeptic's Annotated Bibles to the Center For Inquiry's Freethought Prison Project. We thought it was a pretty cool program, and worthwhile to support. The folks over at The Blaze wrote a surprisingly informative article about the situation: 

Maybe Steve will get invited to go on Glenn Beck. Fingers crossed.