23 July 2014

Alma 23: The Anti-Nephi-Lehies

Remember king Lamoni's proclamation from the last chapter? We never heard exactly what it was, but it's all explained in the first few verses of Chapter 23. The proclamation was to protect Mosiah's sons. The Lamanites were prohibited from doing the following things to Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni (or any other of their preachers):

1. Lay their hands on them
2. Bind them
3. Cast them into prison
4. Spit on them
5. Smite them
6. Cast them out of their synagogues
7. Scourge them
8. Cast stones at them
9. Prevent them from going to their homes, temples, or sanctuaries
Behold, now it came to pass that the king of the Lamanites sent a proclamation among all his people, that they should not lay their hands on Ammon, or Aaron, or Omner, or Himni, nor either of their brethren who should go forth preaching the word of God, in whatsoever place they should be, in any part of their land. 23.1 
Yea, he sent a decree among them, that they should not lay their hands on them to bind them, or to cast them into prison; neither should they spit upon them, nor smite them, nor cast them out of their synagogues, nor scourge them; neither should they cast stones at them, but that they should have free access to their houses, and also their temples, and their sanctuaries. 23.2
This proclamation made it much easier for Aaron and his brothers to do their job. They went freely from city to city, and they started converting thousands of Lamanites. They also established churches and consecrated priests in all the places they visited, so they wouldn't lose members when they went somewhere else to preach. And it worked. They retained every single member that they converted.
And now it came to pass that when the king had sent forth this proclamation, that Aaron and his brethren went forth from city to city, and from one house of worship to another, establishing churches, and consecrating priests and teachers throughout the land among the Lamanites, to preach and to teach the word of God among them; and thus they began to have great success.  23.4 
And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord, yea, thousands were brought to believe in the traditions of the Nephites; and they were taught the records and prophecies which were handed down even to the present time. 23.5 
And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them -- yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away. 23.6
Here's the list of people they converted:

1. The people in the land of Ishmael
2. The people in the land of Middoni
3. The people in the city of Nephi
4. The people in the land of Shilom
5. The people in the land of Shemlon
6. The people in the city of Lemuel
7. The people in the city of Shimnilom

Now, these are they who were converted unto the Lord: 23.8 
The people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Ishmael; 23.9  
And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Middoni; 23.10 
And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the city of Nephi; 23.11  
And also of the people of the Lamanites who were in the land of Shilom, and who were in the land of Shemlon, and in the city of Lemuel, and in the city of Shimnilom. 23.12
That's a pretty good haul! But not everyone was converted. They had a tough time with the Amalekites--they only converted a single one. But Amalekites are notoriously hard to deal with. 
And the Amalekites were not converted, save only one; neither were any of the Amulonites; but they did harden their hearts, and also the hearts of the Lamanites in that part of the land wheresoever they dwelt, yea, and all their villages and all their cities. 23.14
The Lamanites who had converted had a problem, though. They didn't want to be associated with the other, wicked Lamanites.  They needed a new name... something fresh... snappy... descriptive... something that just rolls of the tongue. The king consulted Aaron and his priests, and they thought long and hard about it. Then they came up with the perfect name: The Anti-Nephi-Lehies! (Luckily for them, the URL Anti-Nephi-Lehies.com is still available!)
And now it came to pass that the king and those who were converted were desirous that they might have a name, that thereby they might be distinguished from their brethren; therefore the king consulted with Aaron and many of their priests, concerning the name that they should take upon them, that they might be distinguished. 23.16  
And it came to pass that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites. 23.17
 They worked hard, and became a successful, industrious people. Because of their conversion and name change, God's curse didn't follow them any longer. It's unclear whether or not their skin became lighter after the curse was lifted. We'll get back to that later.
And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them. 23.18

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