Part 6: Alma 26-Alma 38
The introduction to this series on internal consistency in the Book of Mormon is found in part 1 here.
This part covers the Zoramite mission and Alma’s words to his sons.
39. Alma 26:27 and Alma 17:10-11 — “the Lord comforted us”
Ammon reflects on the early phase of their mission, saying
Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success. (Alma 26:27)
This is consistent with Alma 17:10-11 which describes them leaving for their mission.
10 And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted.
11 And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.
40. Alma 33:15 and Helaman 8:20 — the prophet Zenock
Zenock is mentioned for the first time in the dictation in Alma 33:15.
14 Now behold, my brethren, I would ask if ye have read the scriptures? If ye have, how can ye disbelieve on the Son of God?
15 For it is not written that Zenos alone spake of these things, but Zenock also spake of these things
He is described as a prophet who spoke about the Son of God. He is not brought up again until Helaman 8:20, where he once again is described as one of the prophets testifying of the Son of God.
14 Yea, did he not bear record that the Son of God should come? …
19 And now I would that ye should know, that even since the days of Abraham there have been many prophets that have testified these things; yea, behold, the prophet Zenos did testify boldly; for the which he was slain.
20 And behold, also Zenock…
41. Alma 35:10-13 and Alma 43:3 — An editorial promise about a war
Alma 35:10-13 describes an upcoming war
10 Now this did stir up the Zoramites to anger against the people of Ammon, and they began to mix with the Lamanites (a) and to stir them up also to anger against them.
11 And thus the Zoramites and the Lamanites began to make preparations for war against the people of Ammon, and also against the Nephites.
12 And thus ended the seventeenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
13 And the people of Ammon departed out of the land of Jershon, and came over into the land of Melek, and gave place in the land of Jershon for the armies of the Nephites (b), that they might contend with the armies of the Lamanites and the armies of the Zoramites; and thus commenced a war betwixt the Lamanites and the Nephites, in the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges (c); and an account shall be given of their wars hereafter (d).
Instead of giving us the details about the war, Mormon makes another editorial promise to get back to it later and interrupts his narrative with an account of Alma’s words to his sons. After that, he returns to the war preparations right where he left off. In doing so, he reminds the reader of some of the details that had already been given.
3 And now I return to an account of the wars (d) between the Nephites and the Lamanites, in the eighteenth year of the reign of the judges (c).
4 For behold, it came to pass that the Zoramites became Lamanites (a); therefore, in the commencement of the eighteenth year the people of the Nephites saw that the Lamanites were coming upon them; therefore they made preparations for war; yea, they gathered together their armies in the land of Jershon (b).
42. Alma 36 and Mosiah 27 — A reminder of Alma’s conversion story
Although Alma speaks in first person and includes more details, this is a repetition of a story that Mormon abridged in Mosiah 27, where Alma was converted along with the Sons of Mosiah after an angelic visitation. This was a remarkable story, but still something the author would need to remember in detail for 38 modern chapters in addition to all these other details, unless they had notes or manuscript. Below is a table outlining ten specific details that are consistent between the two accounts.
|Detail||Mosiah 27||Alma 36|
|went about the the sons of Mosiah seeking to destroy the Church of God||10||6|
|an angel appeared unto them||11||6|
|voice of thunder||11||7|
|the earth shook||11||7|
|fell to the earth||12||7|
|The angel tells Alma to arise||13||8|
|could not speak||22||10|
|could not move||22||10|
|for three days and three nights||19, 23*||10|
|gall of bitterness||29||18|
|*Mosiah 27:19 states that he lost his strength at the time the angel appeared and was “carried helpless” to his father. Verse 23 tells us the people prayed and fasted for “two days and nights” before he regained his strength.|
43. Alma 37:3-5 and 1 Nephi 5:14,17-19 — “it has been prophesied by our fathers”
Compare Alma’s description of the brass plates
3 And these plates of brass, which contain these engravings, which have the records of the holy scriptures upon them, which have the genealogy of our forefathers, even from the beginning—
4 Behold, it has been prophesied by our fathers, that they should be kept and handed down from one generation to another, and be kept and preserved (b) by the hand of the Lord until they should go forth unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, that they shall know of the mysteries contained thereon.
5 And now behold, if they are kept they must retain their brightness; yea, and they will retain their brightness; yea, and also shall all the plates which do contain that which is holy writ.
…with Nephi’s account when they had obtained the same plates in 1 Nephi 5:14,17-19
And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers…And now when my father saw all these things, he was filled with the Spirit, and began to prophesy concerning his seed— That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time.
44. Alma 37:21, Mosiah 8:9 (and Ether 1:2) — “those twenty-four plates”
Alma is talking about the plates that Limhi’s people found.
And now, I will speak unto you concerning those twenty-four plates…
The frequent reader of the Book of Mormon would perhaps remember that there were 24 of them. But in the dictation sequence, this detail has only been mentioned once before, in Mosiah 8:9 (a). The third and last reference to the number of Jaredite plates in the Book of Mormon is in Ether 1:2 (b), another 83 modern chapters later.
45. Alma 37 – 1 Nephi 16 — the Liahona
The order of dictation complicates things yet again. In this chapter, Alma refers to the Liahona that…
…was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness. (Alma 37:39)
But the story has not yet been dictated and will not be for another 123 chapters. In the meantime, there is no more mention of the Liahona.
It is also interesting to note that Alma borrows from Nephi’s words on the small plates when talking about the Liahona
Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works (Alma 37:41)
Compare with 1 Nephi 16:29, where Nephi talks about the Liahona
And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things
46. Alma 37 and Mosiah 1 — Consistent instructions for record-keepers
Two verses in Mosiah 1 mirror details found in Alma 37. See the table below. Both passages involve the passing of records and sacred artifacts. In Mosiah 1, Benjamin transfers these items to his son Mosiah. In Alma 37, Alma passes along the same items to his son Helaman.
|Mosiah 1||Alma 37|
|“Plates of Brass”||16||3||“Plates of Brass”|
|“Plates of Nephi”||16||2||“Plates of Nephi”|
|“the ball or director…” (with four shared descriptive elements)||16||38||“the ball or director” (with four shared descriptive elements)|
|(1) “…which was prepared by the hand of the Lord…”||16||38||(1) “The Lord prepared it.”|
|(2) “…that thereby they might be led…”||16||39||(2) “it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.”|
|(3) “…every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him.”||16||40||(3) “it did work for them according to their faith in God”|
|(4) “Therefore, as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey, but were driven back, and incurred the displeasure of God upon them; and therefore they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty.”||17||41-42||(4) “They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey; Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst.”|
47. Alma 38:1 – Alma 36:1 — “even as I said unto Helaman”
Alma 36 and Alma 38 contain Alma’s words to his sons, Helaman and Shiblon, respectively. The similarities between the beginning of these chapters is striking.
In Alma 38:1, we read
My son, give ear to my words, for I say unto you, even as I said unto Helaman, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land
This is indeed what he said to Helaman also, in Alma 36:1
My son, give ear to my words; for I swear unto you, that inasmuch as ye shall keep the commandments of God ye shall prosper in the land.
This is not the only thing he said to both of his sons. Comparing the first 6 verses of Alma 38 with the first 5 verses of Alma 36 shows a message repeated twice to each of his faithful sons. This may not seem all that impressive, given the small interval between the two passages. We included this as an example not just because of the similarities between these words, but also because of a notable difference found in the next example.
48. Alma 38:3-4 – Alma 31:7 — Shiblon’s deliverance
As discussed in the previous item, Alma repeats a part of what he said to Helaman also to Shiblon. There is one notable exception, found in Alma 38:3-4
3 I say unto you, my son, that I have had great joy in thee already, because of thy faithfulness and thy diligence, and thy patience and thy long-suffering among the people of the Zoramites.
4 For I know that thou wast in bonds; yea, and I also know that thou wast stoned for the word’s sake; and thou didst bear all these things with patience because the Lord was with thee; and now thou knowest that the Lord did deliver thee.
In his admonition to Helaman, Alma only asks him to remember the captivity of their fathers:
I would that ye should do as I have done, in remembering the captivity of our fathers; for they were in bondage, and none could deliver them except it was the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he surely did deliver them in their afflictions.
This difference makes a lot of sense considering the fact that Shiblon had been among the Zormaites and Helaman had not. Alma 31:7 describes the mission to the Zoramites and states:
Now the eldest of his sons he took not with him, and his name was Helaman; but the names of those whom he took with him were Shiblon and Corianton; and these are the names of those who went with him among the Zoramites.
Later, when talking to Corianton in Alma 39, Alma again refers to the Zoramite mission.
End of Part 6
We’re up to 48 examples of internal consistency, and we’re not even done with the Book of Alma! The updated arc diagram is found below. As you review this diagram, consider the vast and varied amount of detail displayed in the Book of Mormon.
Jeff Markham has been an avid student of the Book of Mormon his entire life. He recently joined the FairMormon group. He has practiced radiology in the Dallas, Texas area since 2011, having obtained his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University (B.S. in 2000), a medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA (M.D. 2005), and post-graduate training in diagnostic radiology and neuroradiology at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, TX. He served as a full-time missionary in the Germany Hamburg Mission from 1996-1998. His favorite callings include teaching primary and early morning seminary. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and children. He blogs at BookofMormonNotes.com.