Alma 19:2-29, LeGrand Baker, The Queen’s Conversion.
Mormon’s remarkable ability to tell nothing, yet tell all that needs to be told rises to surpurb heights in his recounting of the queen’s conversion. The story begins after king Lamoni’s apparent death. His body is taken to the queen and she summons Ammon to attend her.
3 And it came to pass that Ammon did as he was commanded, and went in unto the queen, and desired to know what she would that he should do.
4 And she said unto him: The servants of my husband have made it known unto me that thou art a prophet of a holy God, and that thou hast power to do many mighty works in his name;
The fact that Ammon can do “many mighty works” might simply have been known from the incident with the flocks, but that he is “a prophet of a holy God” could only have been known from some additional evidence. That source of that evidence is easy to recognize, for Mormon tells us that Ammon taught the king and also his servants (probably meaning those who were privy to his person). (18:37) When Ammon arrived, the queen did not ask for a miracle, she only asked for his assurance that her husband was not dead. They entered the king’s chamber:
8 And he said unto the queen: He is not dead, but he sleepeth in God, and on the morrow he shall rise again; therefore bury him not.
9 And Ammon said unto her: Believest thou this? And she said unto him: I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants; nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou hast said.
10 And Ammon said unto her: Blessed art thou because of thy exceeding faith; I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites.
Just as we are told only the barest of details about the conversations between Ammon and the king, so are we told almost nothing about the conversation between Ammon and the queen. Her simple answer, as it is recorded here, seems not so insightful as to rank her faithfulness above all the women of the Nephites, yet that is Ammon’s his response. So we may assume that there is a complex background, and a great deal happening within their conversation that is only barely suggested by Mormon’s report of it. There is an echo in the way Mormon tells the story that reflects John’s solemnity: “He who has ears, let him hear.”
11 And it came to pass that she watched over the bed of her husband, from that time even until that time on the morrow which Ammon had appointed that he should rise.
12 And it came to pass that he arose, according to the words of Ammon; and as he arose, he stretched forth his hand unto the woman, and said: Blessed be the name of God, and blessed art thou.
13 For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth, and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name. Now, when he had said these words, his heart was swollen within him, and he sunk again with joy; and the queen also sunk down, being overpowered by the Spirit.
The queen lay there until Abish,
29 …took the queen by the hand, that perhaps she might raise her from the ground; and as soon as she touched her hand she arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with a loud voice, saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, have mercy on this people!
30 And when she had said this, she clasped her hands, being filled with joy, speaking many words which were not understood; and when she had done this, she took the king, Lamoni, by the hand, and behold he arose and stood upon his feet.
The queens affirmation that Jesus “has saved [past tense] me from an awful hell!” and her prayer, “O blessed God, have mercy on this people!” is intriguing. If “Jesus” is, as it must be, a reference to the premortal Jehovah, and if her appeal to “God” is a prayer to Heavenly Father (Elohim), then her words suggest she, like her husband, has had a sode experience.
Sode is the Hebrew word meaning the secret deliberations of a council, and many scholars use the phrase “sode experience” to identify visions where a prophet is returned to the Council in Heaven to re-experience and re-commit himself to the covenants he made there. (such as Isaiah 6 and 1 Nephi 18-15) Amos 3:7 assures us “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret [sode] unto his servants the prophets,” and Jeremiah 23:18-22 defines a false prophet as one who presumes to speak for God without having “stood in the counsel [sode] of the Lord.”
If this story and the queen’s response are, in fact, evidence that she has had a sode experience, then this is one of the few places in scripture that records a woman’s returning to the Council.
The accounts Mormon gives of their being “as dead” during those experiences reflect a truth that is attested in many places. Experiences in sacred time also require the passage of linear time. Three other examples are Lehi’s going to lay down on his bed before he had his sode experience; Alma laying as though he were dead for three days; and Enoch’s great vision taking 60 days. (The Book of the Secrets of Enoch, 68:2, in R. H. Charles, The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913] 2:469)