Mosiah 17:2 — Who was Alma — & — scriptural testimonies of the Saviour — LeGrand Baker
2 But there was one among them whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. And he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken, for he knew concerning the iniquity which Abinadi had testified against them; therefore he began to plead with the king that he would not be angry with Abinadi, but suffer that he might depart in peace.
Abinadi had come into the city and permitted himself to be arrested because there was a young prince who sat in Noah’s council with whom he was assigned by God to teach. Alma listened and the Spirit taught him that Abinadi’s testimony of the Savior is true. I contemplated the power of that testimony while I was looking through some things I had done 20 years ago. I found this list of scriptures. As I read it and reflected, I decided I wanted to share what I was feeling with my friends. Perhaps as a reflection of the power of Alma’s testimony.
Who was Alma
When Zeniff begins his short autobiography, the very first thing he says is that he has a royal education. “I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance…. (Mosiah 9:1)” So the second circumstantial evidence is that Alma’s grandfather had a royal education (OK, so that bit about their relationship was a leap of logic that needs to be dealt with. Just hang on and we’ll get there.)
The circular evidence that Zeniff was a prince is based on that logical leap, but it is still the strongest evidence of all: Mosiah II could not have given the rule of the Nephite nation to just anyone. Mosiah could never have acknowledged Alma as a legitimate claimant to the Nephite throne if Alma’s grandfather had not also been a legitimate heir to the kingdom.
Now our next problem is to establish that Alma was, in fact, a young Nephite prince. The first evidence is that Mormon tells us so. When Mormon introduces us to Alma, he describes Alma’s heritage with the same words as he describes his own. He writes, “But there was one among them whose name was Alma, he also being a descendant of Nephi. And he was a young man, and he believed the words which Abinadi had spoken (Mosiah 17:2).”
In a footnote in Who Shall Ascend into the Hill of the Lord, Stephen and I examined the evidence that Alma was a prince — a younger brother of King Noah. There are several indications that Alma was a young prince. Evidence of his age is found when his son Alma II spoke to the people of Zarahemla, saying:
5 And behold, after that, they were brought into bondage by the hands of the Lamanites in the wilderness; yea, I say unto you, they were in captivity, and again the Lord did deliver them out of bondage by the power of his word; and we were brought into this land, and here we began to establish the church of God throughout this land also (Alma 5:5).
So “they” were brought into bondage, and “we” came out. When Luke wrote “we” and “they” in Acts, it is taken as a key to knowing when he was and was not with Paul’s party. If that same principle can be applied here, it says that when they were brought into bondage Alma II was not with them, but he was when they came out—indicating that he had been born while they were there.
It was customary that a boy be married by the age of 18 to 20, but if one were not a “young man,” he could not sit in the councils of the Israelites, until he was 32, married, and had a child. If Alma II were his father’s oldest child, or at least his oldest son, and born when his father was in his early twenties, then Alma I may have been only in his late teens when he heard Abinadi. That was too young to sit in the king’s Council unless one was a prince.
Another indication of Alma’s high rank (and probably of his popularity among the people) is that Noah did not arrest him, as he would have done a commoner, but rather sent someone to assassinate him.
Probably the strongest evidence is that after he got to Zarahemla and the king’s sons refused to accept the throne, Alma was next in line for the throne. That could only be true if Zeniff, the king of the Nephites in the land of Nephi, were also a Nephite prince, and if Alma were his son and Noah’s younger brother, and, therefore, a legal heir to both Nephite thrones.
After Alma and his people came to Zarahemla and he was made Chief Judge he did not have the title of king, but he did have all of the authority of the royal office, including his status as High Priest of the Church.
In pre-exilic Israel the king was both head of government and the head of the state religion. That is evident by the facts that Solomon dedicated the Temple and offered sacrifices. Later the temple appears to have been the “royal chapel” during the reign of Isaiah’s friend King Hezekiah. We see the same relationship of church and state in the reign of King Benjamin who presided at the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles.
SCRIPTURAL TESTIMONIES OF THE SAVIOUR IN THE BEGINNING
Testimony of Abraham and Moses – – Abraham 3: 22-28; Moses 4: 2-3; Moses 1: 31-33; Moses 2: 27-
Testimony of John – – John 1: 1-5; Joseph Smith Translation, John 1: 1-19,29-33 (pages 807-8 of new LDS Bible); D&C 93: 1-17
TESTIMONIES OF THOSE WHO KNOW HIM BEFORE HE WAS BORN
Enoch – – Moses 7: 2-4, 35-36, 53 Brother of Jared – – Ether 3: 6-18 Job – – Job 19: 23-27
Moses – – Exodus 3: 1-15
Isaiah – – Isaiah 6: 1-13, 7: 14-15, 9: 6-7, 52: 6-10 Jeremiah – – Jaremiah 1: 4-6
Ezekiel – – Ezekiel 1: 3-28, 3: 12-14
Nephi – – 1 Nephi 11: 13-36, 2 Nephi 11: 2-3 Lehi and Jacob – – 1 Nephi 1: 8-14, 2 Nephi 1: 15 Alma – – Alma 5: 46-48
Nephi III – – 3 Nephi 1: 12-14
THOSE WHO KNEW HIM ON EARTH
His mother Mary – – Luke 1: 26-38, 2: 4-19 John – – Mark 1: 9-12
Peter, James and John – – Matthew 17: 1-9 The Saviour’s testimony – – John 16: 12-16, John – – John 19: 17-30
16: 33 – 17: 26
THOSE WHO KNEW HIM AFTER HIS DEATH
Joseph F. Smith – – D&C 138: 18-24, 36-37
Mary, John and Peter – – John 20: 1-17
The Twelve – – John 20: 26-29, 21: 15-17; Matthew 28: 16-20; Acts 1: 7-11
In America – – 3 Nephi introduction before chapter 11; 3 Nephi 11: 9-17, 3l-39; 3 Nephi 17: 8-25
Stephen – – Acts 7: 55-56
Paul – – Hebrews 1: 1-3
Peter – – 2 Peter 1: 16-19, 3: 17-18 Moroni – – Ether 12: 38-41
John – – Revelation 1: 10-18
Joseph Smith – – Joseph Smith 2: 16-17; D&C 20: 21-25; D&C 110: 1-4; D&C 45: 3-5, 51-52; D&C 76: 19-24