Alma had been traveling around, preaching and establishing churches throughout the land. On one of his trips, when he was heading South from the land of Gideon, he ran across the sons of Mosiah, who had been preaching to the Lamanites for 14 years now. (Remember from Mosiah 27 how Mosiah's 4 sons all wanted to preach, so there was no one left to succeed him as king? That's why Mosiah established the Judges, with Alma as the chief judge. Small world, huh?)
And now it came to pass that as Alma was journeying from the land of Gideon southward, away to the land of Manti, behold, to his astonishment, he met with the sons of Mosiah journeying towards the land of Zarahemla. 17.1
Now these sons of Mosiah were with Alma at the time the angel first appeared unto him; therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God. 17.2
And they had been teaching the word of God for the space of fourteen years among the Lamanites, having had much success in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth; yea, by the power of their words many were brought before the altar of God, to call on his name and confess their sins before him. 17.4Mosiah's sons start telling their story from the very beginning. They cover all of the important introductory details: what weapons they brought on their trip, how long they wandered in the wilderness, their conversations with God, and finally arriving on the border of the Lamanite lands.
Nevertheless they departed out of the land of Zarahemla, and took their swords, and their spears, and their bows, and their arrows, and their slings; and this they did that they might provide food for themselves while in the wilderness. 17.7
And it came to pass that they journeyed many days in the wilderness, and they fasted much and prayed much that the Lord would grant unto them a portion of his Spirit to go with them, and abide with them, that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren, the Lamanites, to the knowledge of the truth, to the knowledge of the baseness of the traditions of their fathers, which were not correct. 17.9
And it came to pass that the Lord did visit them with his Spirit, and said unto them: Be comforted. And they were comforted. 17.10
And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls. 17.11Mosiah's sons thought that they could cover more ground if they split up and each preach to a different set of Lamanites. It was a pretty bold decision, because the Lamanites were a pretty wild group of people. They were ferocious, hardened, greedy, lazy idolworshipers that delighted in stealing and murdering Nephites. It wasn't really their fault, though. They were cursed because of something their fathers did ('cause that's how God rolls).
And it came to pass when they had arrived in the borders of the land of the Lamanites, that they separated themselves and departed one from another, trusting in the Lord that they should meet again at the close of their harvest; for they supposed that great was the work which they had undertaken. 17.13
And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands. 17.14
Thus they were a very indolent people, many of whom did worship idols, and the curse of God had fallen upon them because of the traditions of their fathers; notwithstanding the promises of the Lord were extended unto them on the conditions of repentance. 17.15So, after blessing all of them, Ammon (and everyone else) went on their way. The rest of this chapter will follow Ammon's story.
Now Ammon being the chief among them, or rather he did administer unto them, and he departed from them, after having blessed them according to their several stations, having imparted the word of God unto them, or administered unto them before his departure; and thus they took their several journeys throughout the land. 17.18Ammon traveled to the land of Ishmael. He wasn't very lucky: right away he was spotted, tied up and brought before the King.
And Ammon went to the land of Ishmael, the land being called after the sons of Ishmael, who also became Lamanites. 17.19
And as Ammon entered the land of Ishmael, the Lamanites took him and bound him, as was their custom to bind all the Nephites who fell into their hands, and carry them before the king; and thus it was left to the pleasure of the king to slay them, or to retain them in captivity, or to cast them into prison, or to cast them out of his land, according to his will and pleasure. 17.20But it turns out that the King (his name was Lamoni) turned out to be a pretty reasonable guy. He asked Ammon if he was there for business or pleasure, and how long he planned on staying. After Ammon told him that he planned for staying for a while, Lamoni untied him and asked if he wanted to marry one of his daughters.
And thus Ammon was carried before the king who was over the land of Ishmael; and his name was Lamoni; and he was a descendant of Ishmael. 17.21
And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people. 17.22
And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die. 17.23
And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife. 17.24Ammon didn't take Lamoni up on his offer, but he did become his trusted servant. Next thing he knew, he was managing the royal flocks.
But Ammon said unto him: Nay, but I will be thy servant. Therefore Ammon became a servant to king Lamoni. And it came to pass that he was set among other servants to watch the flocks of Lamoni, according to the custom of the Lamanites. 17.25Three days later, when Ammon was watching the flocks near a popular watering hole called "The water of Sebus," a group of Lamanite troublemakers started scattering the flocks. The other shepherds that Ammon was with started panicking, because last time a flock got scattered the shepherds who were responsible were executed by the king.
And after he had been in the service of the king three days, as he was with the Lamanitish servants going forth with their flocks to the place of water, which was called the water of Sebus, and all the Lamanites drive their flocks hither, that they may have water -- 17.26
Therefore, as Ammon and the servants of the king were driving forth their flocks to this place of water, behold, a certain number of the Lamanites, who had been with their flocks to water, stood and scattered the flocks of Ammon and the servants of the king, and they scattered them insomuch that they fled many ways. 17.27
Now the servants of the king began to murmur, saying: Now the king will slay us, as he has our brethren because their flocks were scattered by the wickedness of these men. And they began to weep exceedingly, saying: Behold, our flocks are scattered already. 17.28Ammon saw this as a golden opportunity to show off his godly powers, and maybe make convert a few Lamanites in the process. He convinced the other shepherds that they wouldn't have any trouble rounding up the flocks. Before they knew it, they were back at the watering hole with all of their sheep.
Now they wept because of the fear of being slain. Now when Ammon saw this his heart was swollen within him with joy; for, said he, I will show forth my power unto these my fellow-servants, or the power which is in me, in restoring these flocks unto the king, that I may win the hearts of these my fellow-servants, that I may lead them to believe in my words. 17.29
And now, these were the thoughts of Ammon, when he saw the afflictions of those whom he termed to be his brethren. 17.30
And it came to pass that he flattered them by his words, saying: My brethren, be of good cheer and let us go in search of the flocks, and we will gather them together and bring them back unto the place of water; and thus we will preserve the flocks unto the king and he will not slay us. 17.31
And it came to pass that they went in search of the flocks, and they did follow Ammon, and they rushed forth with much swiftness and did head the flocks of the king, and did gather them together again to the place of water. 17.32But, wouldn't you know it, those dang Lamanites were at it again! But before they could scatter the flocks, Ammon decided to put a stop to it. He ordered the other shepherds to circle the flocks and make sure they wouldn't scatter. Then he went down to deal with the troublemakers himself, even though "They were in number not a few".
And those men again stood to scatter their flocks; but Ammon said unto his brethren: Encircle the flocks round about that they flee not; and I go and contend with these men who do scatter our flocks. 17.33
Therefore, they did as Ammon commanded them, and he went forth and stood to contend with those who stood by the waters of Sebus; and they were in number not a few. 17.34But Ammon dealt with them pretty easily. He killed "a certain number of them" with his sling. When the rest of them rushed at him with clubs, be chopped off all of their arms. He only killed their leader, though. Everyone else he let walk away with only "a flesh wound". Then he carried all of their arms back to King Lamoni, so that he would believe their story.
But Ammon stood forth and began to cast stones at them with his sling; yea, with mighty power he did sling stones amongst them; and thus he slew a certain number of them insomuch that they began to be astonished at his power; nevertheless they were angry because of the slain of their brethren, and they were determined that he should fall; therefore, seeing that they could not hit him with their stones, they came forth with clubs to slay him. 17.36
But behold, every man that lifted his club to smite Ammon, he smote off their arms with his sword; for he did withstand their blows by smiting their arms with the edge of his sword, insomuch that they began to be astonished, and began to flee before him; yea, and they were not few in number; and he caused them to flee by the strength of his arm. 17.37
Now six of them had fallen by the sling, but he slew none save it were their leader with his sword; and he smote off as many of their arms as were lifted against him, and they were not a few. 17.38
And when he had driven them afar off, he returned and they watered their flocks and returned them to the pasture of the king, and then went in unto the king, bearing the arms which had been smitten off by the sword of Ammon, of those who sought to slay him; and they were carried in unto the king for a testimony of the things which they had done. 17.39
I hope he had a wheelbarrow or something to carry all those arms.