Did LDS Bishops and Stake presidents ever receive a percentage of the tithing they collected for the services they performed?
For the sake of time, I will not be citing all the parallel phrases and words form the New Testament that are in the Book of Mormon text. While it can be argued that some of the parallels are coincidental, most are so strong that it is impossible to not conclude that their, true source is from the King James Bible. For a complete transcript of this lesson, please click on the link in the description below.
We have been reading about Alma and Amulek’s preaching to the citizens in Ammonihah. They had been confronted by Zeezrom who was, a lawyer and by Antionah, a chief ruler. The plan of redemption and the resurrection were debated. Alma now emphasizes the importance of righteous priesthood leaders and teachers.
Alma 13:1 “And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people.” I think he meant “cite your minds back to the time” not, “forward to the time.” Joseph Smith makes a mistake by having Alma “cite” the minds of the people “forward” to something yet to happen and then speaks of it in the past tense.
Alma 13:2 “And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption.” Remember, we have discussed in previous lessons that these Nephite priests were not “ordained” to the Aaronic priesthood since none of those traveling with Lehi and Nephi to the land of promise were from the tribe of Levi. They were operating under the direction of Lehi, the high priest of another priesthood.
Alma 13:3 “And this is the manner after which they were ordained – being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.” A Latter-day Saint might interpret this to mean these men were foreordained in the premortal life to be priests. Even though the Book of Mormon never clearly teaches the doctrine of “pre-existence.” The phrase “according to the foreknowledge of God” is also in 1 Peter 1:2 and, “good or evil” is in Romans 9:11 and, “holy calling” is also in 2 Timothy 1:9.
Alma 13:4 “And thus they have been called to this holy calling on account of their faith, while others would reject the Spirit of God on account of the hardness of their hearts, and blindness of their minds, while, if it have not been for this they might have had as great privilege as their brethren.” In other words, because of their unbelief, the people of Ammonihah are missing out having ordained priests to teach them. The phrase “the hardness of their hearts” is in Mark 3:5.
Alma 13:5 “Or in fine, in the first place they were on the same standing with their brethren; thus this holy calling being prepared from the foundation of the world for such as would not harden their hearts, being in and through the atonement of the Only Begotten Son, who was prepared –“ Once again, this is inferring that faithful men held the priesthood first in the pre-existence and then again on earth.
Alma 13:6 “And thus being called by this holy calling, and ordained unto the high priesthood of the holy order of God, to teach his commandments unto the children of men, that they also might enter into his rest.” This priesthood was a calling, not a self-appointment. Again, these priests were operating under the direction of the “high priesthood” since they did not have the Aaronic priesthood. The words “enter into his rest” are in Hebrews 3:18.
Alma 13:7 “This high priesthood being after the order of his Son, which order was from the foundation of the world; or in other words, being without beginning of days or end of years, being prepared from eternity to all eternity, according to his foreknowledge of all things – “
Alma 13:8 “Now they were ordained after this manner – being called with a holy calling, and ordained with a holy ordinance, and taking upon them the high priesthood of the holy order, which calling, and ordinance, and high priesthood, is without beginning or end.” The “holy ordinance” here in this verse is probably referring to the laying on of hands, which the LDS believe to be essential in order to receive this priesthood.
Alma 13:9 “Thus they become high priests forever, after the order of the Son, the Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years, who is full of grace, equity, and truth. And thus it is. Amen.” Wait a minute! How does a Latter-day Saint explain the “Only Begotten of the Father, who is without beginning of days or end of years?” Because in Mormonism, Jesus was created when His heavenly Father and heavenly Mother gave birth to Him in the pre-existence. So, in Mormonism He DID have a beginning of days both in the pre-mortal existence, and then here in mortality.
This verse also states, “they become high priests forever.” Under the Levitical priesthood, there was only one living “high priest” at time. Here, under Book of Mormon priesthood there are forever numerous high priests. That contradicts what we learn from the Bible. As well, there were no “high priests” in the Melchizedek priesthood. Hebrews 3:1 tells us that Jesus is our High Priest. He is our Great High Priest as stated in Hebrews 6:20. Jesus was a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek (see Hebrews 5:6, 9-10). No one other than Christ ever had been a high priest after the order of Melchizedek – including these many “high priests” in Alma’s day and those claiming to be “high priests” in modern times.
Alma 13:10 “Now, as I said concerning the holy order, or this high priesthood, there were many who were ordained and became high priests of God; and it was on account of their exceeding faith and repentance, and their righteousness before God, they choosing to repent and work righteousness rather than to perish.” The words “priests of God; and” are in Revelation 20:6.
Alma 13:11 “Therefore they were called after this holy order, and were sanctified, and their garments were washed white through the blood of the Lamb.” By saying these men “were sanctified”, a Latter-day Saint would say they were made worthy to exercise their priesthood powers.
Alma 13:12 “Now they, after being sanctified by the Holy Ghost, having their garments made white, being pure and spotless before God, could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence; and there were many exceedingly great many, who were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God.” The phrase “being sanctified by the Holy Ghost” is in Romans 15:16. Goodness, it sounds like these priests lived perfect lives. They were made pure and entered celestial exaltation.
Alma 13:13 The words “and bring forth fruit” is also in John 15:16.
Alma 13:14 “Yea, humble yourselves even as the people in the days of Melchizedek, who was also a high priest after this same order which I have spoken, who also took upon him the high priesthood forever.” First, of all “Melchizedek” is more of a title than a personal name. The title comes from two Hebrews words meaning “king” and “righteousness” Thus, he was “King of Righteousness.” In, Genesis 14:18 this person is labeled a priest and the king of Salem. Salem means peace. He was the priest of the most-high God. Nowhere in the Bible does is it say Melchizedek was a “high priest.” The High Priest was a hereditary office in ancient Israel, that began with Aaron. He was considered the highest, ranking spiritual leader among the Israelites. There was only one high priest alive at a time. It being an office held for life. Melchizedek was not called after the order of Aaron.
Alma 13:15 “And it was this same Melchizedek to whom Abraham paid tithes; yea, even our father Abraham paid tithes of one-tenth of all he possessed.” According to Joseph Smith in D&C 84:14 Abraham received the priesthood from Melchizedek – which goes all the way back to Adam (see D&C 84:15-16). That is not supported by the Bible. There does not seem to be a single reference in the entire Book of Mormon to show that any Nephite, Lamanite, or Jaredite ever paid tithing. Of the four times it does appear, two are a direct quote from Malachi 3:8, 10. The remaining two are in an indirect quote from Hebrews 7, and where it here speaks about Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek. The Abraham references in Genesis 14:16-20 are in fact the very first references to tithing in the Bible. While Adam sacrificed with burnt offerings, he was not recorded as having been given the law of tithing. After all, who would he have paid it to? The following generations did not pay tithing either. From the time of Adam to Abraham – a period of well over 2,000 years – there is no mention of tithing. Then, do we suddenly have the introduction of tithing as we know it today? No! The “tithe of all” mentioned in Genesis 14, is really the spoils of war Abraham received after rescuing Lot and defeating the kings (see Hebrews 7:4). In fact, this is the only recorded instance of Abraham paying tithing and it was not at the reproach of God, but rather as thanks for the safe return of those taken captive.
In the early decades of the LDS Church, Bishops and Stake Presidents were paid for their services. They were entitled to keep 8% of all the tithing they collected. Stake Presidents kept 2% of the total tithing from their Stake in payment for their services. The custom of paying local leaders was discontinued in April 1896. Yet, in Book of Mormon times, apparently God did not want the Priest (they did not have Bishops) to receive any money. They were to support themselves (see Mosiah 18:26). (We have 3 episodes dedicated to this topic. The Law of Tithing Part 1, The Law of Tithing Part 2, The Law of Tithing Part 3)
Alma 13:16 “Now these ordinances were given after this manner, that thereby the people might look forward on the Son of God, it being a type of his order, or it being his order, and this that they might look forward to him for a remission of their sins, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord.” Exactly what “ordinances” is Alma referring to here? Temple ordinances? Those ordinances are never mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
Alma 13:17 “Now this Melchizedek was a king over the land of Salem; and his people had waxed strong in iniquity and abomination; yea, they had all gone astray; they were full of all manner of wickedness;” Melchizedek was king of Jerusalem about 2000 B.C. The words “waxed strong in” are the same in Luke 2:40.
Alma 13:18 “But Melchizedek having exercised mighty faith, and received the office of the high priesthood according to the holy order of God, did preach repentance unto his people. And behold they did repent; and Melchizedek did establish peace in the land in his days; therefore he was called the prince of peace, for he was the king of Salem; and he did reign under his father.” But it says in Hebrews 7:3 that Melchizedek was “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.” So, Melchizedek could not have reigned under his father.
Alma 13:19 “Now, there were many before him, and also there were many afterwards, but none were greater; therefore, of him they have more particularly made mention.” Better than Jesus or Joseph Smith? What!
Alma 13:20 “Now I need not rehearse the matter; what I have said may suffice. Behold, the scriptures are before you; if ye will wrest them it shall be to your own destruction.” The word “wrest” means to intentionally twist or pervert the scriptures. In the 1830 edition page 260, the word was “arrest” which was changed in the 1964 edition to “wrest”. The words “may suffice” are also in 1 Corinthians 15:4.
Alma 13:21 But, enough about Melchizedek. Alma warns that now is the time for the people in Ammonihah to repent because the Lord is coming soon. The phrase “had said these words unto them” is in John 7:9.
Alma 13:22 He tells them that the Lord’s angels are declaring these things to all nations. What are these nations? The phrase “tidings of great joy” is in Luke 2:10 and, “these glad tidings” is in Luke 1:19.
Alma 13:23 “And they are made known unto us in plain terms, that we may understand, that we cannot err; and this because of our being wanderers in a strange land; therefore, we are thus highly favored, for we have these glad tidings declared unto us in all parts of our vineyard.” Interesting that they still feel like “wanderers in a strange land.” The descendants of Lehi have been in this land over 500 years. This is about the same time frame from the year Christopher Columbus landed in 1492 to our present year 2020. Today, we wouldn’t consider ourselves “wanderers in a strange land” even though our ancestors came across the ocean from different countries.
Alma 13:24 “For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.” Alma is referring to the resurrected Christ’s appearance in about 118 years. So, most of them will not be around, but their children will be. The 1830 edition page 261 read, “preparing the hearts of the children of men for to receive the word” The word “for” has been deleted in later editions.
Alma 13:25 Did they know when Christ would come? We will see in this verse they did not. “And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.” This is a contradiction to what Nephi wrote on the plates that Alma had in his possession. 1 Nephi 10:4 “Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews – even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world.” (see also, 1 Nephi 19:8 and 2 Nephi 25:19). The words “of his coming; for” are also in 2 Peter 3:4.
Alma 13:26 Angels will make it known to holy men when He is born. The words “may be fulfilled” are in Luke 21:22.
Alma 13:27 It is time to repent. And, do not procrastinate.
Alma 13:28 “But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering;” The phrase “watch and pray” is also in Mathew 26:41.
Alma 13:29 “Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” As a Mormon that means celestial exaltation. The phrase “the love of God” is also in Luke 11:42 and, “up at the last day” is in John 6:40.
Alma 13:30 “And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.” The “second death” meaning spiritual death – or, being cut off from the presence of God forever. The words “the Lord grant unto” are in 2 Timothy 1:18 and, “the second death” in Revelation 21:8.
Alma 13:31 Alma spoke many more words to the people, which Mormon decided not to include in the book. The phrase “which are not written in this book” is from John 20:30.
Alma 14:1 Many of the people believed Alma and started repenting. Even searching the scriptures. How did they do that in 82 B.C? They did not have their own personal set of plates that they carried around with them. The words “search the scriptures” are also in John 5:39.
Alma 14:2 But the response of the crowd was mixed. The majority wanted to kill Alma and Amulek. They did not like the way Alma and Amulek spoke against their lawyers and judges.
Alma 14:3 They also did not like these missionaries talking about their wickedness.
Alma 14:4 So, they tied them up with strong cords and brought them before the chief judge of the land.
Alma 14:5 The people witnessed against them – testifying that Alma and Amulek had claimed there was only one God, and He would send His Son among them, who would not save them. The words “but one God” is also in 1 Corinthians 8:6.
Alma 14:6 By now Zeezrom has been converted, recognizes the damage he caused, and has a very guilty conscience. The words “the blindness of” are in Ephesians 4:18.
Alma 14:7 Zeezrom began to plead for Alma and Amulek’s innocence. But the crowd accused him of being possessed and they spit on him. He and the other believers were run out of town. In the 1830 edition page 262, it read “And it came to pass he began to plead for them”. In the 1964 edition, “it came to pass” was deleted. The words “he began to cry” are also in Mark 10:47, and “possessed with the devil” are in Mark 5:18 and, “they spit upon him” are in Matthew 27:30 and, “out from among them” are in 2 Corinthians 6:17.
Alma 14:8 These wicked men gathered up the wives and children of those new converts and along with their scriptures, burned them. So, perhaps the scriptures were written on something other than on metal. The phrase “the holy scriptures” is in Romans 1:2.
Alma 14:9 Alma and Amulek were brought to the place of martyrdom and made to watch everyone burn to death.
Alma 14:10 Amulek says to Alma, how can we watch this awful scene? Let’s use the power of God to save them. The phrase “the power of God” is in Matthew 22:29.
Alma 14:11 “But Alma said unto him: The Spirit constraineth me that I must not stretch forth mine hand;” (How could he – he was bound with cords) “for behold the Lord receiveth them up unto himself, in glory; and he doth suffer that they may do this thing, or that the people may do this things unto them, according to the hardness of their heart, that the judgments which he shall exercise upon them in his wrath may be just; and the blood of the innocent shall stand as a witness against them, yea, and cry mightily against them at the last day.” I guess it is more important to God that evil people get punished than saving innocent women and children. That doesn’t make too much sense. The words “at the last day” are in John 6:39.
Alma 14:12-13 Amulek was worried that he and Alma might be burned. But Alma said God won’t let us burn – we still have stuff to do for him.
Alma 14:13 The phrase “the will of the Lord” is also in Acts 21:14.
Alma 14:14-15 After everyone is burned, the chief judge stood before Alma and Amulek and slapped them around a few times. He asked them after what they have seen – if they are going to keep preaching?
Alma 14:15 The words “of thy faith” are in Philemon 1:6.
Alma 14:16 This judge was after the order of Nehor, which meant he practiced priestcraft. In other words, this judge made a living by telling people what they wanted to hear.
Alma 14:17 Alma and Amulek remained silent, so he threw them into prison. The words “answering him nothing” are in Luke 23:9 and, “cast into prison” are in Matthew 4:12.
Alma 14:18-23 They were not treated very well in prison. They were visited by lawyers, judges, priests, and teachers who questioned them, but Alma and Amulek would not respond. Bound with cords, they were slapped, and spit upon, and were mocked for many days. Food and water was withheld from them, and they were stripped naked.
Alma 14:18 The words “the profession of” are also in Hebrews 10:23.
Alma 14:24 “And the chief judge stood before them, and smote them again, and said unto them: If ye have the power of God deliver yourselves from these bands, and then we will believe that the Lord will destroy this people according to your words.” The words “we will believe” are in Matthew 27:42.
Alma 14:25 After being slapped around by the chief judge’s entourage one more time, the two missionaries just could not take it any longer. The power of God suddenly came upon Alma and Amulek, and they stood upon their feet. The phrase “stood upon their feet” is in Revelation 11:11.
Alma 14:26 “And Alma cried, saying: How long shall we suffer these great afflictions, O Lord? O Lord, give us strength according to our faith which is in Christ, even unto deliverance. And they broke the cords with which they were bound; and when the people saw this, they began to flee, for the fear of destruction had come upon them.” The phrase “faith which is in Christ” is also in 2 Timothy 3:15.
Alma 14:27 “And it came to pass that so great was their fear that they fell to the earth, and did not obtain the outer door of the prison; and the earth shook mightily, and the walls of the prison were rent in twain, so that they fell to the earth; and the chief judge, and the lawyers, and priests, and teachers, who smote upon Alma and Amulek, were slain by the fall thereof.” The phrase “rent in twain” is from Matthew 27:51.
Alma 14:28 “And Alma and Amulek came forth out of the prison, and they were not hurt; for the Lord had granted unto them power, according to their faith which was in Christ. And they straightway came forth out of the prison; and they were loosed from their bands; and the prison had fallen to the earth, and every soul within the walls thereof, save it were Alma and Amulek, was slain; and they straightway came forth into the city.” The words “faith which was” are in Jude 1:3 and, “they straightway” are in Matthew 4:20.
Alma 14:29 “Now the people having heard a great noise came running together by multitudes to know the cause of it; and when they saw Alma and Amulek coming forth out of the prison, the walls thereof had fallen to the earth, they were struck with great fear, and fled from the presence of Alma and Amulek even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions; and they did flee from the presence of Alma and Amulek.” Probably because they were butt, naked. Remember, they had been stripped of their clothes. The phrase “came running together” is also in Mark 9:25.
Alma 15:1 “And it came to pass that Alma and Amulek were commanded to depart out of that city;” (Let’s hope they found some clothes to put on) “and they departed, and came out even into the land of Sidom; and behold, there they found all the people who had departed out of the land of Ammonihah, who had been cast out and stoned, because they believed in the words of Alma.”
Alma 15:2 Alma and Amulek told them how their wives and children had been burned to death, but how wonderful it is that they, themselves had been delivered from prison. Not sure how comforting that would be to those grieving husbands and fathers.
Alma 15:3-4 As it turns out, Zeezrom was in Sidom, too. He was sick with a fever caused by guilt. He thought Alma and Amulek were dead, and he blamed himself for their death. When he heard the boys were back in town, he sent a message to them to come see him.
Alma 15:3 The words “with a burning” are in James 1:11 and “for he supposed” are in Acts 7:25.
Alma 15:5 When they found Zeezrom on his sick bed, he pleaded for them to heal him. Remember when we first met Zeezrom, he was a highly skilled lawyer in Ammonihah who was set out to destroy Alma and Amulek and their gospel message. But he was ultimately converted by their teachings and driven out of the city after trying to defend the missionaries. We meet him here sick because of his former wickedness. The words “and besought them” are in Acts 16:39.
Alma 15:6 “And it came to pass that Alma said unto him, taking him by the hand: Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?” The words “Believest thou” are in John 11:26.
Alma 15:7 Zeezrom, answered “Indeed!”
Alma 15:8 “And Alma said: If thou believest in the redemption of Christ thou canst be healed.” The phrase “said: If thou believest” is in Acts 8:37.
Alma 15:9 Zeezrom said “I believe!”
Alma 15:10 “And then Alma cried unto the Lord saying: O Lord our God, have mercy on this man, and heal him according to his faith which is in Christ.” Apparently Zeezrom’s faith passed the test. The phrase “and heal him” is in Matthew 8:7 and, “faith which is in Christ” is in 2 Timothy 3:15.
Alma 15:11 “And when Alma had said these words, Zeezrom leaped upon his feet, and began to walk; and this was done to the great astonishment of all the people; and the knowledge of this went forth throughout all the land of Sidom.” The phrase “great astonishment” is in Mark 5:42 and, “went forth throughout” is in Luke 7:17.
Alma 15:12 Alma decides immediately to baptize Zeezrom while he is hot. And from that point on Zeezrom began preaching to the people. The words “to preach unto the people” are in Acts 10:12.
Alma 15:13 “And Alma established a church in the land of Sidom, and consecrated priests and teachers in the land, to baptize unto the Lord whosoever were desirous to be baptized.” The words “to be baptized” are in Acts 10:48.
Alma 15:14 There was much success as many people flocked in from around the region of Sidom to get baptized. The phrase “all the region round about” is in Luke 7:17.
Alma 15:15 “But as to the people that were in the land of Ammonihah, they yet remained a hard-hearted and stiffnecked people; and they repented not of their sins, ascribing all the power of Alma and Amulek to the devil; for they were of the profession of Nehor, and did not believe in the repentance of their sins.” The phrase “and they repented not” is in Revelation 16:9.
Alma 15:16 Almulek had given up all his wealth, his house, and his relatives back in Ammonihah. The words “those who were once” are in Hebrews 6:4.
Alma 15:17 Alma established the church at Sidom, and saw that members were beginning to meet in their sanctuaries or churches to worship God before the altar. The words “to worship God” are in Acts 18:13. The ancient Israelites had two altars in their temple – the brazen altar for burnt offerings and the golden altar for burning incense. Two times in the Book of Mormon – here in Alma 15:17 and in Alma 17:4 – altars seem to have nothing to do with altars used in temples to offer sacrifices or burn incense. These Book of Mormon altars refer to the type of altars used in Christian churches where people pray and confess their sins.
Alma 15:18 “Now as I said, Alma having seen all these things, therefore he took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord.” Alma wanted to help Amulek start a new life, which was very, kind of him.
Alma 15:19 This all happened in 81 BC. which ended the tenth year of the reign of the judges.
Alma 16:1 It had been eleven years now since Alma the Younger became president of the Church. There had been peace in the land of Zarahemla, but suddenly a cry of war was heard throughout the land.
Alma 16:2 The Lamanites attacked the city of Ammonihah and began to kill the people and destroy the city.
Alma 16:3 Before the Nephites had time to gather an army together, the Lamanites had killed most of the people in Ammonihah – taking others captive into the wilderness.
Alma 16:4 The Nephites wanted to rescue those captives.
Alma 16:5 “Therefore, he that had been appointed chief captain over the armies of the Nephites, (and his name was Zoram, and he had two sons, Lehi and Aha) – now Zoram and his two sons, knowing that Alma was high priest over the church, and having heard that he had the spirit of prophecy, therefore they went unto him and desired of him to know whither the Lord would that they should go into the wilderness in search of their brethren, who had taken captive by the Lamanites.” Zoram and Aha are not mentioned again in the Book of Mormon, but Lehi may be the great military commander we will read about in Alma 43 through Helaman 1. They wanted Alma to ask God what to do. The phrase “the spirit of prophecy” is also in Revelation 19:10.
Alma 16:6 So, Alma asked God, and God laid out the battle plan for Zoram’s army.
Alma 16:7-8 The plan worked beautifully. They caught the Lamanites by surprise in the wilderness and they scattered – leaving behind all, of the Nephites who had been taken captive by the Lamanites.
Alma 16:9 Thus, at the end of the eleventh year of the judges, every one of the Ammonihahites had been killed and their great city destroyed. The words “every living soul” are in Revelation 16:3. In the 1830 edition page 267, it read “every living soul of the Ammonihahites were destroyed.” Now in later editions it reads “was destroyed.”
Alma 16:10 Being left desolate, the carcasses of the dead were mangled by dogs and wild beasts.
Alma 16:11 “Nevertheless, after many days their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth, and they were covered with a shallow covering. And now so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years. And it was called Desolation of Nehors; for they were of the profession of Nehor, who were slain; and their lands remained desolate.”
Alma 16:12 The Nephites experienced continual peace for the next three years.
Alma 16:13 “And Alma and Amulek went forth preaching repentance to the people in their temples, and in their sanctuaries, and also in their synagogues, which were built after the manner of the Jews.” First, of all there has been no evidence of these buildings ever being found. The words “in their synagogues” are in Matthew 4:23. In the 1830 edition, the word “temples” was misspelled “tempels” and corrected in later editions. While there are mention of temples in the Book of Mormon, it seems to have been used just for open assembly (see Jacob 1:17), not like the restricted access of current modern-day LDS temples. Unlike the Jewish temple, where the priests were engaged in many sacrificial rituals or the Mormon temples where sealings and various works for the dead are performed, the ancient Nephite temples appear to be more of a gathering place to hear their religious leaders preach.
How could Alma and Amulek know how the Jews built synagogues, when the Jews were not building them before Lehi left for the new world in 600 BC? They could not have known that the Jews even built synagogues at all. But, a writer in the early 19th century who was able to read the entire Bible would indeed know. What can we do in, light of all this? We could ignore the evidence and try to pretend that all is well, and that the Book of Mormon is still God’s Word. Or, we can recognize that to use the term “synagogues” in the Book of Mormon narrative is a complete anachronism.
The term “synagogue” (including the plural) occurs 25 times in the Book of Mormon. Beginning in 2 Nephi 26:26, about 550 BC. Most Bible scholars believe that synagogues did not come into existence until the Babylonian captivity, which was after Lehi had left Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple had been destroyed.
Alma 16:14-15 As Alma and Amulek and others preached the word, the Church was established throughout the land of the Nephites.
Alma 16:16 “And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming – “ The 1830 edition page 268 read, “did pour out his spirit on all the face of the land, for to prepare.” The word “for” has been deleted in later editions.
Alma 16:17 “That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God.” The phrase “receive the word with joy, and” is in Luke 8:13 and, “the true vine” is in John 15:1.
Alma 16:18 Their priests preached against all types of sins and vices. The phrase “these things ought not so to be” is in James 3:10.
Alma 16:19 “Holding forth things which must shortly come; yea, holding forth the coming of the Son of God, his suffering and death, and also the resurrection of the dead.” The phrase “things which must shortly come” is in Revelation 1:1 and, “coming of the Son of” is in Matthew 24:27.
Alma 16:20 People wanted to know where and when would the, Son of God come. They were told He would appear to them, after his resurrection in the old world. This made them very joyful. The words “after his resurrection” are in Matthew 27:53.
Alma 16:21 The church was doing really, well under Alma’s leadership. The Lord was pouring out his blessing upon his people. And, this was the end of the fourteenth year of reign of judges. The words “the victory over the” are also in Revelation 15:2.
In preparation for our next lesson, I want to remind you that Alma’s friends – the sons of Mosiah – have now been on their missions for 14 years.
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God Bless! And remember, Jesus is enough!