17 July 2014

Alma 20: The Release of Ammon's Brethren

After Ammon and king Lamoni had established a church, Lamoni wanted to take Ammon to the land of Nephi and introduce him to his father. (Things were getting serious...)
And it came to pass that when they had established a church in that land, that king Lamoni desired that Ammon should go with him to the land of Nephi, that he might show him unto his father. Alma 20.1
God had other plans for Ammon, though. He told Ammon not to go visit the king, because he would try to kill him. Instead, he wanted Ammon to go rescue his brother Aaron and his two buddies Muloki and Ammah who were in prison in the land of Middoni.
And the voice of the Lord came to Ammon saying: Thou shalt not go up to the land of Nephi, for behold, the king will seek thy life; but thou shalt go to the land of Middoni; for behold, thy brother Aaron, and also Muloki and Ammah are in prison. 20.2
King Lamoni asked to go with Ammon. He thought he might be of some help since he knew the Antiomno, the king of Middoni. Lamoni also asked how the heck he knew about this

Now Lamoni said unto Ammon: I know, in the strength of the Lord thou canst do all things. But behold, I will go with thee to the land of Middoni; for the king of the land of Middoni, whose name is Antiomno, is a friend unto me; therefore I go to the land of Middoni, that I may flatter the king of the land, and he will cast thy brethren out of prison. Now Lamoni said unto him: Who told thee that thy brethren were in prison? 20.4
Ammon told him that nobody told him, he just heard it from God. That was good enough for Lamoni to get his chariot ready.

And Ammon said unto him: No one hath told me, save it be God; and he said unto me -- Go and deliver thy brethren, for they are in prison in the land of Middoni. 20.5 
Now when Lamoni had heard this he caused that his servants should make ready his horses and his chariots. 20.6
So they left together for the land of Middoni. On the way, they ran across Lamoni's dad, who was the king of all the land. He was a little mad that they didn't come to the big feast that he had invited them to. He also asked them where they were going, after insulting Ammon a little bit.

And it came to pass that as Ammon and Lamoni were journeying thither, they met the father of Lamoni, who was king over all the land. 20.8 
And behold, the father of Lamoni said unto him: Why did ye not come to the feast on that great day when I made a feast unto my sons, and unto my people? 20.9 
And he also said: Whither art thou going with this Nephite, who is one of the children of a liar? 20.10
Lamoni told him the truth, that they were going to rescue Ammon's brethren in the land of Middoni. The king wasn't too pleased with this, and he ordered Lamoni to run Ammon through with his sword.

And it came to pass that Lamoni rehearsed unto him whither he was going, for he feared to offend him. 20.11 
And he also told him all the cause of his tarrying in his own kingdom, that he did not go unto his father to the feast which he had prepared. 20.12 
And now when Lamoni had rehearsed unto him all these things, behold, to his astonishment, his father was angry with him, and said: Lamoni, thou art going to deliver these Nephites, who are sons of a liar. Behold, he robbed our fathers; and now his children are also come amongst us that they may, by their cunning and their lyings, deceive us, that they again may rob us of our property. 20.13 
Now the father of Lamoni commanded him that he should slay Ammon with the sword. And he also commanded him that he should not go to the land of Middoni, but that he should return with him to the land of Ishmael. 20.14
Lamoni told his father that he wouldn't kill Ammon, and so his father pulled out his own sword to kill Lamoni. Ammon told him that he probably shouldn't kill his own son (it's bad politics).

But Lamoni said unto him: I will not slay Ammon, neither will I return to the land of Ishmael, but I go to the land of Middoni that I may release the brethren of Ammon, for I know that they are just men and holy prophets of the true God. 20.15 
Now when his father had heard these words, he was angry with him, and he drew his sword that he might smite him to the earth. 20.16
 But Ammon stood forth and said unto him: Behold, thou shalt not slay thy son. 20.17
And again, it is expedient that thou shouldst forbear; for if thou shouldst slay thy son, he being an innocent man, his blood would cry from the ground to the Lord his God, for vengeance to come upon thee; and perhaps thou wouldst lose thy soul. 20.18
Lamoni's father thought about it for a bit, and then decided that he shouldn't kill his son after all. He should kill Ammon, since Ammon had been the one that was responsible for his son turning wicked. He started hitting Ammon with his sword, but Ammon "withstood his blows", and then hit his arm so hard that he couldn't use it anymore.
Now when Ammon had said these words unto him, he answered him, saying: I know that if I should slay my son, that I should shed innocent blood; for it is thou that hast sought to destroy him. 20.19 
And he stretched forth his hand to slay Ammon. But Ammon withstood his blows, and also smote his arm that he could not use it. 20.20
Once he was sure he was beat, Lamoni's dad started begging for his life. Ammon used this opportunity to demand that his brethren be freed from prison, and that Lamoni could continue to rule however he pleased.
Now when the king saw that Ammon could slay him, he began to plead with Ammon that he would spare his life. 20.21 
But Ammon raised his sword, and said unto him: Behold, I will smite thee except thou wilt grant unto me that my brethren may be cast out of prison. 20.22 
Now the king, fearing he should lose his life, said: If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom. 20.23 
Now when Ammon saw that he had wrought upon the old king according to his desire, he said unto him: If thou wilt grant that my brethren may be cast out of prison, and also that Lamoni may retain his kingdom, and that ye be not displeased with him, but grant that he may do according to his own desires in whatsoever thing he thinketh, then will I spare thee; otherwise I will smite thee to the earth. 20.24
The king happily agreed. He was willing to offer up to half of his kingdom to Ammon in exchange for his life, but Ammon was a stand up guy and didn't take it. Then the king had a bit of a change of heart about Ammon. After all, he did spare his life, so maybe there was something to his teachings after all. He invited Ammon to bring his brethren up to the palace sometime for a chat, once they were released.

Now when Ammon had said these words, the king began to rejoice because of his life. 20.25And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly, and said: Because this is all that thou hast desired, that I would release thy brethren, and suffer that my son Lamoni should retain his kingdom, behold, I will grant unto you that my son may retain his kingdom from this time and forever; and I will govern him no more. 20.26
And I will also grant unto thee that thy brethren may be cast out of prison, and thou and thy brethren may come unto me, in my kingdom; for I shall greatly desire to see thee. For the king was greatly astonished at the words which he had spoken, and also at the words which had been spoken by his son Lamoni, therefore he was desirous to learn them. 20.27
And just like that, Ammon's brethren were freed. They were in pretty rough shape: they were naked, and had rashes from being tied up in thick rope, and they were very hungry, thirsty and had other medical problems. They didn't complain, though. I guess they knew that their suffering must have all been part of God's plan. Or something like that.
And it came to pass that Ammon and Lamoni proceeded on their journey towards the land of Middoni. And Lamoni found favor in the eyes of the king of the land; therefore the brethren of Ammon were brought forth out of prison. 20.28 
And when Ammon did meet them he was exceedingly sorrowful, for behold they were naked, and their skins were worn exceedingly because of being bound with strong cords. And they also had suffered hunger, thirst, and all kinds of afflictions; nevertheless they were patient in all their sufferings. 20.29
Ammon's brethren told him the short version of the story of how they ended up in prison: people didn't believe their preaching, they were cast out of each town they came to, and then eventually they were thrown in prison for "many days" until he came to let them out.
And, as it happened, it was their lot to have fallen into the hands of a more hardened and a more stiffnecked people; therefore they would not hearken unto their words, and they had cast them out, and had smitten them, and had driven them from house to house, and from place to place, even until they had arrived in the land of Middoni; and there they were taken and cast into prison, and bound with strong cords, and kept in prison for many days, and were delivered by Lamoni and Ammon. 20.30
The next chapter covers Aaron's trip to Jerusalem. It will be nice to get away from Ammon for a little while.

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