Part 8: Alma 61 – Helaman 6
The introduction to this series on internal consistency in the Book of Mormon is found in part 1 here.
This part covers the end of Alma and the first part of Helaman.
60. Alma 61:3-4,8 and Alma 51:2-5 — Internally consistent politics
In Alma 61, Pahoran (the chief judge) responds to Moroni’s chastisement and threats with a remarkably calm request for help. He explains the problem:
3 But behold, there are those who do joy in your afflictions, yea, insomuch that they have risen up in rebellion against me, and also those of my people who are freemen, yea, and those who have risen up are exceedingly numerous.
4 And it is those who have sought to take away the judgment-seat from me that have been the cause of this great iniquity; for they have used great flattery, and they have led away the hearts of many people, which will be the cause of sore affliction among us; they have withheld our provisions, and have daunted our freemen that they have not come unto you.
8 They have got possession of the land, or the city, of Zarahemla; they have appointed a king over them, and he hath written unto the king of the Lamanites, in the which he hath joined an alliance with him; in the which alliance he hath agreed to maintain the city of Zarahemla, which maintenance he supposeth will enable the Lamanites to conquer the remainder of the land, and he shall be placed king over this people when they shall be conquered under the Lamanites.
This is consistent with a problem encountered about 4 years earlier, as described in Alma 51:
2 Nevertheless, they did not long maintain an entire peace in the land, for there began to be a contention among the people concerning the chief judge Pahoran; for behold, there were a part of the people who desired that a few particular points of the law should be altered.
3 But behold, Pahoran would not alter nor suffer the law to be altered; therefore, he did not hearken to those who had sent in their voices with their petitions concerning the altering of the law.
4 Therefore, those who were desirous that the law should be altered were angry with him, and desired that he should no longer be chief judge over the land; therefore there arose a warm dispute concerning the matter, but not unto bloodshed.
5 And it came to pass that those who were desirous that Pahoran should be dethroned from the judgment-seat were called king-men, for they were desirous that the law should be altered in a manner to overthrow the free government and to establish a king over the land.
This contention had been settled by the voice of the people.
Like many instances of internal consistency in the Book of Mormon, this detail draws no attention to itself. The ten chapters in between Alma 51 and 61 are filled with intricate details about a totally separate crisis — the war with the Lamanites.
61. Alma 62:9 and Alma 51:19 — The delay of the king-men’s trial
Related to the previous item, there is a very subtle reference in Alma 62:9
And the men of Pachus received their trial, according to the law, and also those king-men who had been taken and cast into prison
What king-men, now? This chapter was about Pachus and his men. We need to rewind 11 chapters to understand the reference. In Alma 51, we are introduced to a group called king-men, who desire to have a king. But they have nothing to do with Pachus.
19 And it came to pass that there were four thousand of those dissenters who were hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period.
We are reminded that there was no time for the trial of the dissenters called king-men in the middle of the war with the Lamanites. In Alma 62, the war was finally over and the king-men finally received their trial along with the men of Pachus.
62. Alma 63:12 and Alma 37:27 — Scripture withheld from the people
In Alma 63:12, we learn that Helaman-2 distributed (most of) the words that were written on the plates when they came into his possession:
12 Now behold, all those engravings which were in the possession of Helaman were written and sent forth among the children of men throughout all the land, save it were those parts which had been commanded by Alma should not go forth.
This of course requires the people to have had at least one writing system.
The caveat is that some of the engravings had been commanded not to be given to the people. Mormon goes out of his way to mention that in publishing the words, Helaman did not disobey the commands of his grandfather Alma-2, which we can read in Alma 37:
27 And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed.
Mormon brings up these “secret oaths” on several other occasions, too. (See Helaman 6:25 and Helaman 8:3.)
63. Helaman 2:13 and Mormon 8:3 — “almost the entire destruction”
Notice the wording in verse Helaman 2:13:
this Gadianton did prove the overthrow, yea, almost the entire destruction of the people of Nephi.
This is a perfect opportunity to insert a big plot hole into the book. Without the word “almost,” we’d have to explain how Mormon, who is killed 96 chapters later (prior to the entire destruction of the Nephites), knew the full extent of the damage Gadianton would do.
By including the word “almost” in the sentence, Mormon reflects an accurate understanding of the effect of Gadianton up to the time of writing, leaving it to Moroni to describe the brutal end of the Nephites. It’s a subtle detail, but a very important one, and the Book of Mormon gets it right.
We read that the Gadianton robbers play a key part in the eventual destruction of the Nephites in 4.Nephi 1:42, 46, Mormon 1:18 and Mormon 2:27.
64. Helaman 5:9 and Mosiah 3:17 — “no other way nor means”
Helaman-2 names his two sons, Lehi and Nephi, after their forefathers. His admonitions in Helaman 5 include repeated uses of the word, “remember.” One of the things he wants to remind them of is found in verse 9
O remember, remember, my sons, the words which king Benjamin spake unto his people; yea, remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ
This is a reference to something King Benjamin said in Mosiah 3:17, close to the beginning of Joseph Smith’s dictation
And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ
65. Helaman 5:10 and Alma 11:34 — Saving the people from (not in) their sins
In Helaman 5:10 we find another reminder from Helaman-2 to his sons.
And remember also the words which Amulek spake unto Zeezrom, in the city of Ammonihah; for he said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins.
The reference includes the names of those involved (Amulek and Zeezrom), where it occurred (the city of Ammonihah) and what was said
And Zeezrom said again: Shall he save his people in their sins? And Amulek answered and said unto him: I say unto you he shall not, for it is impossible for him to deny his word (Alma 11:34)
66. Helaman 5:21 and Mosiah 7:7 — “that same prison”
When we read about Ammon, we typically think about one of the four sons of Mosiah. The Book of Mormon has not forgotten the other Ammon, who went up to the land of Nephi to search for his brethren who had left the land two generations earlier and who they had heard nothing from. Helaman 5:21 contains a reference to this.
And it came to pass that they were taken by an army of the Lamanites and cast into prison; yea, even in that same prison in which Ammon and his brethren were cast by the servants of Limhi.
The account of Ammon being cast into prison by the servants of Limhi is found in Mosiah 7:7, many chapters and years prior to this.
67. Helaman 5:41 and Alma 31:32 — Zeezrom as missionary
Item 65 just showed a reference in Helaman 5 to Zeezrom, who discussed with Amulek in Ammonihah. Some verses later, in Helaman 5:41, we get a reference to Zeezrom as a missionary.
You must repent, and cry unto the voice, even until ye shall have faith in Christ, who was taught unto you by Alma, and Amulek, and Zeezrom…
Zeezrom not only repented after that event in Ammonihah, he even became a missionary. This is consistent with Alma 31:32
O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me—yea, Ammon, and Aaron, and Omner, and also Amulek and Zeezrom…
68. Helaman 6:25 and Alma 37:27 — “secret oaths and covenants”
Mormon comments on one of Alma’s specific commandments to his son in Helaman 6:25.
Now behold, it is these secret oaths and covenants which Alma commanded his son should not go forth unto the world, lest they should be a means of bringing down the people unto destruction.
This is a reference to Alma 37:21-29, specifically verse 27.
And now, my son, I command you that ye retain all their oaths, and their covenants, and their agreements in their secret abominations; yea, and all their signs and their wonders ye shall keep from this people, that they know them not, lest peradventure they should fall into darkness also and be destroyed.
End of Part 8
That concludes the eighth part of this series. Below is an updated version of the arc diagram which includes each of the internally consistent details we’ve described so far.
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.