Alma Chapter 49 Critique
Setting: The invading Lamanites
are unable to take the fortified cities of Ammonihah and
Noah—Amalickiah curses God and swears to drink the blood of
Moroni—Helaman and his brethren continue to strengthen the Church.
About 72 B.C.
Verses 1-5: And now it came to
pass in the eleventh month of the nineteenth year, on the tenth day of
the month, the armies of the Lamanites were seen approaching towards
the land of Ammonihah. And behold, the city had been rebuilt, and
Moroni had stationed an army by the borders of the city, and they had
cast up dirt round about to shield them from the arrows and the stones
of the Lamanites; for behold, they fought with stones and with arrows.
Behold, I said that the city of Ammonihah had been rebuilt. I say unto
you, yea, that it was in part rebuilt; and because the Lamanites had
destroyed it once because of the iniquity of the people, they supposed
that it would again become an easy prey for them. But behold, how great
was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge
of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could
not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take
effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of
entrance. Now at this time the chief captains of the Lamanites were
astonished exceedingly, because of the wisdom of the Nephites in
preparing their places of security.
Note: Solomon Spalding didn’t know that Pre-Columbian Indians didn’t use the European calendar.
A trecena is a 13-day period used in pre-Columbian Mesoamerican
calendars. The 260-day calendar (the tonalpohualli) was divided into 20
trecenas. Trecena is derived from the Spanish chroniclers and
translates to "a group of thirteen" in the same way that a dozen (or in
Spanish docena) relates to the number twelve. It is associated with the
Aztecs, but is called different names in the calendars of the Maya,
Zapotec, Mixtec, and others of the region. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 6-9: Now the leaders of
the Lamanites had supposed, because of the greatness of their numbers,
yea, they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as
they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with
shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves
with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their
nakedness. And being thus prepared they supposed that they should
easily overpower and subject their brethren to the yoke of bondage, or
slay and massacre them according to their pleasure. But behold, to
their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner
which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were
prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the
instructions of Moroni. And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the
Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of
preparation for war.
Note: Solomon Spalding didn’t know that breastplates didn’t exist.
Unlike in other metallurgy traditions where metals gain importance due
to their widespread use in fields ranging from weaponry to everyday
utensils, metals in South America (and later in Central America) were
mainly valued as adornments and objects representative of a high
status. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 10-14: Now, if king
Amalickiah had come down out of the land of Nephi, at the head of his
army, perhaps he would have caused the Lamanites to have attacked the
Nephites at the city of Ammonihah; for behold, he did care not for the
blood of his people. But behold, Amalickiah did not come down himself
to battle. And behold, his chief captains durst not attack the Nephites
at the city of Ammonihah, for Moroni had altered the management of
affairs among the Nephites, insomuch that the Lamanites were
disappointed in their places of retreat and they could not come upon
them. Therefore they retreated into the wilderness, and took their camp
and marched towards the land of Noah, supposing that to be the next
best place for them to come against the Nephites. For they knew not
that Moroni had fortified, or had built forts of security, for every
city in all the land round about; therefore, they marched forward to
the land of Noah with a firm determination; yea, their chief captains
came forward and took an oath that they would destroy the people of
that city. But behold, to their astonishment, the city of Noah, which
had hitherto been a weak place, had now, by the means of Moroni, become
strong, yea, even to exceed the strength of the city Ammonihah.
Note: Solomon Spalding didn’t know that mound builders didn’t exist in South America.
The varying cultures collectively called Mound Builders were
inhabitants of North America who, during a 5,000-year period,
constructed various styles of earthen mounds for religious and
ceremonial, burial, and elite residential purposes. Wikipedia
Verses 15-19: And now, behold,
this was wisdom in Moroni; for he had supposed that they would be
frightened at the city Ammonihah; and as the city of Noah had hitherto
been the weakest part of the land, therefore they would march thither
to battle; and thus it was according to his desires. And behold, Moroni
had appointed Lehi to be chief captain over the men of that city; and
it was that same Lehi who fought with the Lamanites in the valley on
the east of the river Sidon. And now behold it came to pass, that when
the Lamanites had found that Lehi commanded the city they were again
disappointed, for they feared Lehi exceedingly; nevertheless their
chief captains had sworn with an oath to attack the city; therefore,
they brought up their armies. Now behold, the Lamanites could not get
into their forts of security by any other way save by the entrance,
because of the highness of the bank which had been thrown up, and the
depth of the ditch which had been dug round about, save it were by the
entrance. And thus were the Nephites prepared to destroy all such as
should attempt to climb up to enter the fort by any other way, by
casting over stones and arrows at them.
Note: Behold, the Sidon River is pure fiction.
The Amazon basin, the largest in the world, covers about 40% of South
America, an area of approximately 7,050,000 square kilometres
(2,720,000 sq mi). It drains from west to east, from Iquitos in Peru,
across Brazil to the Atlantic. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 20-25: Thus they were
prepared, yea, a body of their strongest men, with their swords and
their slings, to smite down all who should attempt to come into their
place of security by the place of entrance; and thus were they prepared
to defend themselves against the Lamanites. And it came to pass that
the captains of the Lamanites brought up their armies before the place
of entrance, and began to contend with the Nephites, to get into their
place of security; but behold, they were driven back from time to time,
insomuch that they were slain with an immense slaughter. Now when they
found that they could not obtain power over the Nephites by the pass,
they began to dig down their banks of earth that they might obtain a
pass to their armies, that they might have an equal chance to fight;
but behold, in these attempts they were swept off by the stones and
arrows which were thrown at them; and instead of filling up their
ditches by pulling down the banks of earth, they were filled up in a
measure with their dead and wounded bodies. Thus the Nephites had all
power over their enemies; and thus the Lamanites did attempt to destroy
the Nephites until their chief captains were all slain; yea, and more
than a thousand of the Lamanites were slain; while, on the other hand,
there was not a single soul of the Nephites which was slain. There were
about fifty who were wounded, who had been exposed to the arrows of the
Lamanites through the pass, but they were shielded by their shields,
and their breastplates, and their head-plates, insomuch that their
wounds were upon their legs, many of which were very severe. And it
came to pass, that when the Lamanites saw that their chief captains
were all slain they fled into the wilderness. And it came to pass that
they returned to the land of Nephi, to inform their king, Amalickiah,
who was a Nephite by birth, concerning their great loss.
Note: Swords, breastplates, head-plates, and shields did not exist in Pre-Columbian America.
The word sword comes from the Old English sweord, cognate to swert, Old
Norse sverš, from a Proto-Indo-European root *swer- "to wound, to cut".
Non-European weapons called "sword" include single-edged weapons such
as the Middle Eastern saif, the Chinese dao and the related Japanese
katana. The Chinese jian is an example of a non-European double-edged
sword, like the European models derived from the double-edged Iron Age
sword. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 26-27: And it came to
pass that he was exceedingly angry with his people, because he had not
obtained his desire over the Nephites; he had not subjected them to the
yoke of bondage. Yea, he was exceedingly wroth, and he did curse God,
and also Moroni, swearing with an oath that he would drink his blood;
and this because Moroni had kept the commandments of God in preparing
for the safety of his people.
Note: Pre-Columbian Indians had elaborate human sacrifice rituals.
The practice of child sacrifice in Pre-Columbian cultures, in
particular Mesoamerican and South American cultures, is well documented
both in the archaeological records and in written sources. The exact
ideologies behind child sacrifice in different pre-Columbian cultures
are unknown but it is often thought to have been performed in order to
placate certain gods. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Verses 28-29: And it came to
pass, that on the other hand, the people of Nephi did thank the Lord
their God, because of his matchless power in delivering them from the
hands of their enemies. And thus ended the nineteenth year of the reign
of the judges over the people of Nephi.
Note: Pre-Columbian calendars were not based on European years.
The basic unit in the Maya calendar was one day, or k'in. This was
multiplied by twenty to form a winal. The next unit, instead of being
multiplied by 20, as called for by the vigesimal system, was multiplied
by 18 in order to provide a rough approximation of the solar year
(hence producing 360 days). This 360-day year was called a tun. Each
succeeding level of multiplication followed the vigesimal system.
Verse 30: Yea, and there was
continual peace among them, and exceedingly great prosperity in the
church because of their heed and diligence which they gave unto the
word of God, which was declared unto them by Helaman, and Shiblon, and
Corianton, and Ammon and his brethren, yea, and by all those who had
been ordained by the holy order of God, being baptized unto repentance,
and sent forth to preach among the people.
Note: Sidney Rigdon finished this chapter with his baptism thoughts.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not
with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no
effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are
perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1
Note: Baptism is not the Christian Gospel or Good News.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX