The War Chapters- Three Brief Notes

A few quick references for the War Chapters-

  • While unlikely to make its way into the average Gospel Doctrine class, I’d call attention to the covenant/curse ritual in Alma 46:21-22, with its symbolic actions or “simile curses.” Very briefly, covenanters called down curses on themselves for violation of the covenant, but blessings for keeping it.  Further discussion of this passage (here), cursing (previous post of mine, here), and covenants (here). I wanted to dissertate on curses, so it holds interest for me, and for people interested in covenant in general.
  • In a paper I worked on for a while in grad school (and haven’t touched for at least six years, still rough in spots), I look at Amalickiah as a proto-typical usurper, and propose that he took “Amalickiah” as a propaganda name meaning “Yahweh has made me king.” The etymology is, of course, speculative and perhaps over-detailed, but would fit. In any case, I hope it’s an interesting overview. PDF
  • Many people, including me, have trouble keeping track of what’s happening in these chapters. John Welch, in an underread FARMS volume, has some very helpful summaries. Here I reproduce the relevant wars for these chapters.


6. The Zoramite War

Source: Alma 43-44.

Date: 18 R.J. (74 B.C.).

Location: Between Antionum and Jershon, northeast of Zarahemla.

Causes: After the Zoramites separated from the Nephites, they entered into a correspondence with the Lamanites. War was precipitated after many of the Zoramite working class defected from the city of Antionum, having been converted by Alma and given refuge in Jershon.

Tactics: Buildup of troops on the border between the lands of Antionum and Jershon, followed by Lamanite attempt to flee, Nephite pursuit, and battle at the river Sidon.

Results: Important use of innovative armor; Zoramite men all took an oath of peace never to attack Nephites again.


7. The First Amalickiahite War

Source: Alma 46:1-50:11.

Date:  20 R.J. (72 B.C.).

Locations: Ammonihah, Noah, and the east seacoast near the narrow neck of land.

Causes: Political ambitions of Amalickiah, a Zoramite in Zarahemla, who dissented from the Nephites. He seized an opportune moment to rebel at the time of Alma’s departure and Helaman’s succession (see Alma 46:1). Amalickiah defected with a few Nephite leaders and, after becoming king of the Lamanites, recruited large armies from the land of Nephi.

Tactics:  Strike against what were thought to be the weakest parts of the land of Zarahemla.

Results: Amalickiah defeated, but he swore to return and kill Moroni. Never was there a happier time than the brief period immediately following the war (see Alma 50:23).


8. The Second Amalickiahite War (Seven Years’ War)

Source: Alma 51-62.

Dates: 25-31 R.J. (67-61 B.C.).

Location: Throughout the land of Zarahemla.

Causes:  Return of Amalickiah, coinciding with the armed revolt of the king-men and his brother Ammoron’s assumption of Lamanite kingship. Initial Lamanite successes in the east and west were partly attributable to the king-men issue at home.

Tactics:Protracted warfare; full-scale attempts to conquer cities and occupy lands surrounding Zarahemla on the west, south, and north; concurrent campaigns on several fronts, including Nephite efforts to control internal insurrection. This time, commanders who personally knew the Nephite lands and cities led the Lamanite forces.

Results: A very costly Nephite victory. These wars were evidently hard on the Nephite rulers, for Helaman, Moroni, Pahoran, Shiblon, Corianton, and others were all dead or gone by Alma 63.

2 comments for “The War Chapters- Three Brief Notes

  1. Tom D
    August 15, 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I have wondered about the wording of 3 Ne. 7:9 about the leader of a secret combination who’s people “did call Jacob”. It rather sounds like “Jacob” is not his personal name, but rather a title or new name with strongly religious overtones. A rather extreme and awful form of apostasy seems to be going on here.

    Mormon doesn’t give us very many details here other than saying that this particular secret combination was at the heart of the conspiracy that destroyed the Nephite’s central government. However, the Savior speaking in 3 Ne. 9:9 strongly condemns them as being wicked “above the wickedness of the whole earth”.

  2. jader3rd
    August 19, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    While these write ups obviously don’t delve into spiritual insights or modern day applications, I think that if the gospel doctrine student pamphlets had summaries like these, it would really help us retain the bigger picture view of what was going on with the people as a whole at the time of these wars. Many times, the problem we have in reading the scriptures is that we can’t separate the forest from the trees.

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