Sunday School Lesson 31

Lesson 31: Alma 43-52

The manual gives this overview of the material in the lesson:

a. Alma 43–44. Led by Zerahemnah, the Lamanites come to battle against the Nephites, seeking to bring them into bondage. The Nephites, led by Moroni, fight to defend their families and their liberty. The Nephites prevail because they are “inspired by a better cause” and because they exercise faith in Jesus Christ.

b. Alma 45:20–24; 46. Amalickiah desires to be king and causes dissension among the Nephites. Captain Moroni raises the “title of liberty” to inspire the people, and they covenant to follow God. Amalickiah and a few of his followers join the Lamanites.

c. Alma 47–48. Through treachery, Amalickiah becomes king of the Lamanites. He incites the Lamanites to fight against the Nephites. Captain Moroni prepares the Nephites to defend themselves righteously.

d. Alma 49–52. War continues between the Nephites and the Lamanites. The king-men desire to set up a king over the Nephites, but they are defeated. Teancum kills Amalickiah, who is succeeded as king of the Lamanites by his brother Ammoron.

The Book of Mormon was written for us and for our day. What do these chapters have to do with us and our day? What spiritual purpose does this account of Lamanite and Nephite wars serve? Or, instead of having a spiritual purpose in themselves, are they primarily part of the background necessary for what follows?

I will concentrate on pieces from Alma 43-48.

Chapter 43

Verse 9: What is the difference between the motivation of the Lamanites, Amelekites, and Zoramites, on the one hand, and the Nephites, on the other? Based on what we see here, what kinds of circumstances justify warfare?

Verses 11-13: What additional circumstance might justify war? Are the people of Ammon (the Anti-Nephi-Lehites) being fair to the Nephites? Why don’t the Nephites demand their help in the battles against the Lamanites?

Verses 16-17: What is the relation of this Moroni to the Moroni who finished the abridgment of the gold plates and buried them? Why might Mormon have named his son Moroni?

Verse 23: Moroni sends spies to watch the movements of the Lamanites and messengers to ask the prophet. Why both? Why not just one or the other?

Verses 29-30: Why does Alma feel he must defend Moroni’s use of “stratagem”? What do we learn about the Nephites from this? Does it suggest anything about our own behavior in war? Why or why not?

Verses 45-47: This is the third time Alma has told us the reasons the Nephites are fighting (cf. verses 9 and 29-30). Why does he emphasize this? What application might what he says have for us?

Verse 54: Why does Moroni stop the battle? What’s the point?

Chapter 44

Verses 1-7: How does this compare to contemporary diplomacy and peace negotiations? Are there any lessons to be learned?

Verse 5: What does Moroni mean by “rites of worship”? By “the sacred support which we owe to our wives and children”? By “liberty”? How can liberty bind one to his land and country? What does Moroni mean when he says that the Nephites have gained power over the Lamanites by their faith, by their religion, by their rites, by their church, by the support they owe their wives and children, by their liberty, and by maintaining the sacred word of God? How did these things give them power over the Lamanites?

Verse 10: Why does Moroni give back the weapons of the Lamanites, knowing that they are going to use them to kill his people? Isn’t that stupid?

Verses 15 and 19-20: Moroni seems to behave very oddly in these circumstances. He lets them go if they promise to leave him and his people alone! What makes him think he can trust them?

Chapter 45

Verses 20-24: These verses show the two things that the Book of Mormon mentions over and over again as bringing the Nephite’s destruction: dissension in the Church and riches. What effect did riches have on the Nephites? How did they lead to destruction? How did dissensions come about among the Nephites? Are there similar dissensions among us? If not, could the happen? How do riches affect our relations to each other?

Chapter 46

Verses 1-7: In what ways was Amalickiah a threat to the Nephites?

Verses 8-10: Mormon seems to be interjecting his commentary in the abridgement at this point. Compare what he says to Doctrine and Covenants 98:9-10. What does this say about our own times? About our responsibilities to government?

Chapter 48

Verses 7-10: How did Moroni prepare his people for war?

Verses 11-13 and 17-18: What characteristics of Moroni do we see here? What, for example, does it mean to say that he was a man like Ammon?

Verses 14-16 and 23-25: What was the Nephites’ “foreign policy”? How did they know against whom they should defend themselves? Is the Nephite attitude toward war “normal”? How did they manage to have such an attitude? Does what we see here have any implications for our own times?

2 comments for “Sunday School Lesson 31

  1. August 2, 2004 at 9:45 am

    43: 13-14

    … and the descendants of the priests of Noah.

    Now these descendants were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites; …

    Another internal reference that can be read as supporting the limited number, controlling elite thesis.

    No, I don’t say it proves it, I don’t even say it may not be a proof text use or a strong misreading, but it is one of a number of scattered references that go to the theme of the literal descendants of Lehi vs. the political groupings and author’s labels.

    Remember, later in the book, Mormon will consider it significant to say, “And I, Mormon, being a descendant of Nephi …” where the strong thesis (all of the peoples in the Americas were descended from Lehi, with small groups added in [and I know that doesn’t fit the text either]) would make that comment irrelevant. With interbreeding, who could avoid being a descendant of Nephi? Proper ritual language, yes, but it may have more meaning as well. Espescially as Moroni doesn’t use it.

    Anyway, just a thought to add.

  2. Anonymous
    November 2, 2004 at 12:15 pm

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