Remember back in Mosiah 18 where Alma starts a secret church in the woods after defending Abinadi and almost gets killed by King Noah? Well, Mosiah 23 picks up where 19 left off. Alma and his people depart into the wilderness (with their flocks, and their grain, and their precious things...)
Now Alma, having been warned of the Lord that the armies of king Noah would come upon them, and having made it known to his people, therefore they gathered together their flocks, and took of their grain, and departed into the wilderness before the armies of king Noah. 23.1They travelled for eight days and then came to a beautiful land. They decided to settle the place and call it home. The first order of business was to pick a king, and naturally the people wanted to make Alma king, but he refused.
And they came to a land, yea, even a very beautiful and pleasant land, a land of pure water. 23:4
And they pitched their tents, and began to till the ground, and began to build buildings; yea, they were industrious, and did labor exceedingly. 23.5
And the people were desirous that Alma should be their king, for he was beloved by his people. 23:6
But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king. 23.7
Instead, Alma modestly became the high priest. This gave him the power to consecrate all of their priests and teachers.
And now, Alma was their high priest, he being the founder of their church. 23:16
And it came to pass that none received authority to preach or to teach except it were by him from God. Therefore he consecrated all their priests and all their teachers; and none were consecrated except they were just men. 23:17Alma's priests did a good job. They watched over the people, and even nourished them with things pertaining to righteousness.
Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness. 23:18But things were starting to get boring for God, with all of the progress and nourishing and whatnot. It was time to try their patience and test their faith.
God could have been a little more creative with his chastening in my opinion (sending fiery serpents, hemorrhoids, or forcing them to eat each other). Instead he decides to guide the Lamanite army to Alma and his people, and watch them fight it out.
And behold, they had found those priests of king Noah, in a place which they called Amulon; and they had begun to possess the land of Amulon and had begun to till the ground. 23:31
Now the name of the leader of those priests was Amulon. 23:32
And it came to pass that Amulon did plead with the Lamanites; and he also sent forth their wives, who were the daughters of the Lamanites, to plead with their brethren, that they should not destroy their husbands. 23.33
And the Lamanites had compassion on Amulon and his brethren, and did not destroy them, because of their wives. 23:34
And Amulon and his brethren did join the Lamanites, and they were traveling in the wilderness in search of the land of Nephi when they discovered the land of Helam, which was possessed by Alma and his brethren. 23.35
|Alma strikes a deal with the Lamanites and Amulon. If Alma and his people would show them the way to the Land of Nephi, then they wouldn't kill or enslave Alma's people.|
And it came to pass that the Lamanites promised unto Alma and his brethren, that if they would show them the way which led to the land of Nephi that they would grant unto them their lives and their liberty. 23.36As it turns out, though, the Lamanites didn't keep their word. The Lamanites enslaved Alma's people and made Amulon King over them. He was really more of a steward, though, since he still had to report to the Lamanite King and file monthly expense reports.
And the king of the Lamanites had granted unto Amulon that he should be a king and a ruler over his people, who were in the land of Helam; nevertheless he should have no power to do anything contrary to the will of the king of the Lamanites. 23:39