Thoughts on Amulek in the Book of Mormon

I had some insights while reading in Alma (I have always loved that book), and keep having the thought that I need to write them down. So here are the insights.

I’ve been trying to read bigger sections so I can get a better picture. I’ve had bits and pieces of the following come to me over the years, but the past 2 days as I read Alma chapters 5-14, I have had a greater appreciation for Alma, and especially for Amulek.

King Mosiah dies and the reign of the judges commences. Alma is high judge of the land and high priest of the church. Seeing great wickedness start to creep in, so much so “that Alma, having seen the afflictions of the humble followers of God, and the persecutions which were heaped upon them by the remainder of the people, and seeing all their inequality, began to be very sorrowful; nevertheless the Spirit of the Lord did not fail him.” (see Alma 4:15). Alma decides to turn over his judgment seat to “a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people…” (Alma 4:16)

Then Alma goes out to perform his duties as “high priest over the church” (Alma 4:18). He teaches in

  • Zarahemla (where there’s been some struggles) – Alma ch. 5&6

  • Gideon (where they are doing good) – Alma ch. 7

  • Melek (doing good) – Alma 8:1-6

  • Ammonihah (doing really bad) – Alma 8:7-end, 9-14

  • Sidom (baptizes many, including healing & baptizing the lawyer Zeezrom from Ammonihah) – Alma 15

So now that I mention the overview so the overall picture can perhaps be seen.

After Alma leaves Melek, he goes to Ammonihah to “preach the word of God unto them. Now Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people of the city of Ammonihah; therefore they would not hearken unto the words of Alma. Nevertheless Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer, that he would pour out his Spirit upon the people who were in the city.” (Alma 8:8-10)

Alma is “reviled and they spat upon him, and caused that he should be cast out of their city.” (Alma 8:13). He is feeling really down, because “of the wickedness of the people who were in Ammonihah” (Alma 8:14). Then in verses 15-17 he sees an angel. It’s the same angel that came to him as a youth and told him to shape up or else! After giving Alma some comforting words, he tells Alma to go back to Ammonihah. And he does – “speedily” (Alma 8:18)

I mention the above because this man was not going to all these cities because he wanted to score high membership numbers in his quarterly reporting. He was doing it because he was genuine in his desire to see people come unto Christ. This is why I love Alma so much. His heart ached for people to be good, and do good, and to become like Christ.

Then here is where Amulek enters. Alma comes into Ammonihah a back way and asks the first person he sees if he would “give to an humble servant of God something to eat?” (Alma 8:19) Later in verse 26 Alma tells Amulek that he had been fasting for many days. So Alma was clearly doing his best to have the Spirit with him.

Amulek says that an angel came to him earlier and said that a prophet would be stopping by, and that Amulek needed to bring into his home. Alma stays in Amulek’s home “many days” before they went out to preach. When they do go out to preach and Amulek stands up to serve as a second witness to the things that Alma has been preaching, Amulek says that “he hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk.” (Alma 10:11) So there was plenty of time for Amulek’s family to get to know the prophet and the teachings. Now whether or not all of the kinsfolk were fully converted…..I’ll get to that at the end.

The lawyer Zeezrom tries to bribe Alma and Amulek into denying their testimonies with gold. (Alma 11:22) But they see through him, denounce him, and start to teach the gospel to him and those gathered around. Zeezrom starts to change his attitude, so much that HE then starts to tell the people,

“I am guilty and these men are spotless before God. And he began to plead for them [Alma & Amulek] from that time forth; but they [the people] reviled him saying; Art thou also possessed with the devil? And they spit upon him and cast him out from among them, and also all those who believed in the words which had been spoken by Alma and Amulek; ” (Alma 14:7)

“And they [the people] brought their [Amulek?] wives and children together, and whosoever believed…and caused that they [the believers, women and children] should be cast into the fire.” (Alma 14:8)

Now here is where I start to really appreciate Amulek.

Did Amulek’s family, his “women and children”, get thrown into the fire? Were they believers? Think about it… His family hosted Alma for many days, and Alma “blessed them”. Had they been given priesthood blessings by Alma (the prophet) and Amulek (their husband/father)? Had Amulek’s women and children believed the prophet and their husband’s/father’s testimony?

He was a resident of the city. He was a “man of no small reputation..and acquired much riches by the hand of [his] industry.” (Alma 10:4) If the wicked people wanted to get revenge, it would seem likely to go after the person telling them to shape up. Especially if that person was a local celebrity of sorts? A mob mentality of “ha! I’ll show you.”

“And it came to pass that they took Alma and Amulek, and carried them forth to the place of martyrdom, that they might witness the destruction of those who were consumed by fire.

“And when Amulek saw the pains of the women and children who were consuming in the fire, he also was pained; and he said unto Alma: How can we witness this awful scene? Therefore let us stretch forth our hands, and exercise the power of god which is in us, and save them from the flames.

“But Alma said unto him; The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mind hand; for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this thing unto them, according to the hardness of their hearts, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea and cry mightily against them at the last day.” (Alma 14:8-11)

Did Amulek see his family burned?

To those that were witnessing the whole course of events, how did they view Alma and Amulek?

In Alma 14:15 they tell the prophet and his companion that they are fakes because they couldn’t do anything to save those thrown into the fire.

Alma and Amulek are put in prison, stripped of their clothes, the lawyers come and taunt them, hit and spit on them for “many days”. Finally Alma says, “O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance.” (Alma 14:26) The prison walls crumble and crush all the bad guys and Alma & Amulek walk out unharmed.

They go to Sidon to preach. This is where “Zeezrom lay sick with a burning fever, which was caused by the great tribulations of his mind on account of his wickedness.” (Alma 15:3) He hears they are coming to Sidon and sends for them. He is miraculously healed according to his faith (Alma 15:6-12) and becomes a great teacher.

Zeezrom is another story that I love, which will be for another time.

After Alma and Amulek finish their business in Sidon, Alma decides to go back to his home in Zarahelma. But where does Amulek go?

He takes Amulek with him. Why?

If you were Amulek, would you go back to the city that kicked you out? Plus, what would you have to go back to?

In Alma 15:16 is says Amulek “was rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred,” (Alma 15:16)

Wow. Amulek was rejected by his father and his kindred. That is tough, especially back in those days, where family connections were of the utmost importance, especially with your father. At the beginning of this saga in Alma 10:11 Amulek said “he [Alma] hath blessed mine house, he hath blessed me, and my women, and my children, and my father and my kinsfolk.”

If his father and kindred were blessed by the prophet, why did they later turn and reject Amulek?

Did Amulek’s “women and children” die in the fire?

If yes, did Amulek’s father doubt and blame Amulek for not saving his very own family?

If so, where does Amulek go now?

“Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.” (Alma 15:18)

What a greater appreciation I have for Amulek. A husband, father, a man of “no small reputation” with riches, honor, gives it all up “for the word of God” (Alma 15:16).

How grateful for Amulek’s testimony and example. And how grateful I am to Alma who took him in “and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.” That is the true spirit of the priesthood and the gospel. Strengthening each other. Especially in our tribulations.

I love the Book of Mormon. It is so plain, yet has so many hidden treasures waiting for us to discover and enrich our souls. How incredibly grateful I am for the scriptures and for the prophet Joseph Smith who translated directly from the plates written by those prophets a millenia ago. Their exact words. The plain and simple points of Christ’s gospel.

I love my Savior, even Jesus Christ. The fullness of His gospel is here, alive and well!