Scriptural Giants: Gideon (Part One of Two)


Gideon, an enemy of King Noah, could no longer bear to see Noah leading people to do evil. A few other people also contended with the Nephite king to try to get him to repent. Because Noah would not repent, Gideon, a very strong man, drew his sword and swore that he would slay the wicked king. They began to fight, and when Noah saw that Gideon would defeat him, he fled to a tower.

Gideon chased Noah up into the top of the tower, and as Noah looked for some way to escape, he saw an army of Lamanites crossing over the borders of the land. Thinking fast, he cried out, “Gideon, spare me, for the Lamanites are upon us, and they will destroy us; yea, they will destroy my people.”

Noah didn’t really care about the people, only about himself. Gideon knew this, but he spared Noah’s life, anyway.

Noah commanded the people to flee from the Lamanites. He himself led the escape. But the Lamanites soon caught up to the people and began to slay them. Fearing for his own life, and seeing that it was the women and children who were slowing them down, Noah commanded the men to leave their wives and children and flee with him.

Some did go with Noah and his priests into the wilderness, but Gideon and the rest of the men stayed with the women and children. They sent their young women to plead with the Lamanite army to spare the lives of the people. Charmed by the beauty of the women, the Lamanites had compassion on the Nephites and allowed them to go back to their homes. But the Lamanites put guards around the land and required the Nephites to pay a tribute of one half of all that they possessed to the Lamanite king.

One of the sons of King Noah, Limhi, became the king of the Nephites. He was not wicked like his father; he was a good man who loved the ways of righteousness.

A while after they had returned and settled, Gideon sent a secret search party into the wilderness to find King Noah and the men who had fled with him. They found some of the men as they were on their way back to the land of Nephi. The men were sorry for deserting their families and were now determined to help them or perish with them.

The search party took the men back to Gideon, and they reported to him that when they had told King Noah that they were going back, he had commanded them not to return. So they put him to death in the same way that Noah had put the prophet Abinadi to death—they burned him with fire. They had also tried to kill the priests who supported King Noah, but the priests had fled.

For two years the people of Limhi, though prisoners of the Lamanites, lived in peace. Then one day they were invaded by a Lamanite army. King Limhi saw the army coming from a tower, but he did not know why they were coming. Quickly he called his people to prepare for battle. The Nephites took their weapons and hid in the fields and forests. Then, when the Lamanites came to battle with them, the Nephites attacked, fighting ferociously to protect their homes and families. Finally they pushed the Lamanites back.

When the battle was over, the weary Nephites found the Lamanite king lying wounded on the battlefield. “What cause have ye to come up to war against my people?” Limhi asked him. “Behold, my people have not broken the oath that I made unto you; therefore, why should ye break the oath which ye made unto my people?”

The Lamanite king answered, “I have broken the oath because thy people did carry away the daughters of my people.”

Limhi commanded that a search be made of the land to find the daughters. When Gideon, who was now King Limhi’s captain, heard about the search, he hurried to King Limhi and said, “Do not search this people, and lay not this thing to their charge.

“For do ye not remember the priests of thy father, whom this people sought to destroy? And are they not in the wilderness? And are not they the ones who have stolen the daughters of the Lamanites?”

When Limhi explained this to the Lamanite king, he, in turn, explained it to his armies, who then returned to their own land.

(To be continued.)

[illustrations] Illustrated by Dale Kilbourn