Lesson 105: Alma 59–63

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

Captain Moroni rejoiced in Helaman’s success in regaining some of the Nephite cities that had been lost to the Lamanites. However, when he learned that the city of Nephihah had been captured by the Lamanites, he was angry at the government for neglecting to send reinforcements. In a letter to Pahoran, the chief judge, he lamented the suffering of the righteous and rebuked Pahoran for not supporting the cause of freedom. Unknown to Moroni, Pahoran had fled to the land of Gideon because of the rebellion of the Nephite king-men. Pahoran did not take offense at Moroni’s chastisement; rather, he rejoiced in Moroni’s love of liberty. The Lord strengthened the Nephites, and together, Moroni, Pahoran, and their people defeated the king-men and the Lamanites. After several years of war, the Nephites again experienced peace, and Helaman reestablished the Church.

Suggestions for Teaching

Alma 59

The Nephites lose a stronghold, and Captain Moroni grieves because of the wickedness of the people

Begin the lesson by asking the following question:

  • What are some situations in which one member of the Church could be offended or hurt by another member of the Church? (List students’ responses on the board.)

Invite students to consider if they have ever been hurt or offended by the words or actions of a fellow Church member.

As students study Alma 59–63 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them when others say or do hurtful or offensive things.

Summarize Alma 59 by explaining that when Moroni heard of the success of Helaman and his armies, he rejoiced and sent an epistle to Pahoran, the Nephite chief judge in Zarahemla, requesting additional soldiers to fortify Helaman’s armies. None arrived, and in the meantime a large Lamanite army attacked the city of Nephihah, killing many people and driving the rest out of the city.

Invite a student to read Alma 59:11–13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Moroni and his chief captains reacted to the loss of Nephihah.

  • How did Moroni and his chief captains react to the loss of Nephihah? (They began to fear that the lack of support from their government and the Nephites’ wickedness would cause the Lamanites to be victorious.)

  • If you had been in Moroni’s situation, how would you have felt in the face of these challenges?

Alma 60–62

Moroni falsely accuses Pahoran, who responds with love and respect

Explain that in his anger, Moroni wrote another letter to Pahoran. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 60:5–11. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moroni accused Pahoran and other government leaders of.

  • What did Captain Moroni accuse Pahoran and other government leaders of?

  • Do you think Moroni was justified in making these accusations? Why or why not? (You might point out that given the available information, Moroni’s conclusions appeared to be reasonable.)

Write the following scripture reference on the board: Alma 60:17–20, 23–24. Explain that these verses contain more of Moroni’s words to Pahoran. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from these verses. Encourage them to imagine how they would have felt in Pahoran’s place.

  • In what ways might Captain Moroni’s accusations have been hurtful to Pahoran?

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 60:33–36. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Captain Moroni was prepared to do if Pahoran did not respond favorably to his requests.

  • What was Captain Moroni prepared to do?

  • Which words or phrases in these verses indicate Moroni’s reasons or motives for making his requests?

Explain that in Alma 61 we learn that Pahoran responded in an epistle to Moroni explaining the situation in Zarahemla.

Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 61:1–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Moroni had not received reinforcements.

  • What information did Pahoran share with Moroni?

  • What are some ways people respond when they are falsely accused of something?

Invite students to read Alma 61:9–10, 15–18 silently. Ask them to look for, and consider marking, anything that reveals the greatness of Pahoran’s character. After sufficient time, call on a few students to share what they have found.

  • What lesson can we learn from the way Pahoran responded to Moroni’s accusations? (Help students identify the following truth: We can choose to not be offended by the words and actions of others. You may want to write this truth on the board.)

To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what we can do when someone says or does something we consider offensive.

Elder David A. Bednar

“Pahoran might easily have resented Moroni and his message, but he chose not to take offense. …

“One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others. A thing, an event, or an expression may be offensive, but you and I can choose not to be offended—and to say with Pahoran, ‘it mattereth not.’ …

“… If a person says or does something that we consider offensive, our first obligation is to refuse to take offense and then communicate privately, honestly, and directly with that individual. Such an approach invites inspiration from the Holy Ghost and permits misperceptions to be clarified and true intent to be understood” (David A. Bednar, “And Nothing Shall Offend Them,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 91, 92).

  • What did Elder Bednar say we should do if a person does something we consider offensive?

Consider asking students if they are willing to share any experiences they have had in choosing not to be offended when people have said unkind or untrue things about them. You might also consider telling about an experience of your own. Testify of the importance of choosing to not take offense at others’ words or actions against us.

To help students apply this principle, give them a few minutes to write in their class notebooks or study journals a letter to themselves in a future moment when someone says or does something hurtful or offensive. Ask students to consider what they have learned from Pahoran that they could remember and apply in that moment. Encourage them to commit to follow Pahoran’s example the next time someone says or does something they consider to be offensive.

Invite a student to read Alma 62:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Moroni felt when he received Pahoran’s response. Invite students to report what they find.

Summarize Alma 62:3–38 by explaining that Captain Moroni brought a portion of his army to help Pahoran overthrow the king-men in Zarahemla. Then, with their united army and the help of other Nephite forces, Moroni and Pahoran retook the remaining cities that had been lost to the Lamanites. They drove the Lamanites from the land and established peace among the people.

  • What are some challenges that individuals and families might face after a time of war?

Invite students to read Alma 62:39–41 silently to see how the Nephites were affected by the trials of war.

  • What truth can you identify in Alma 62:41? (Students should identify a truth similar to the following: In times of adversity, some people humble themselves before God while others become hardened. Write this truth on the board, and ask students to consider writing it in their scriptures next to verse 41.)

  • Why do you think some people grow closer to God when they face trials? Why do some people turn away from God when they face trials? (Help students understand that in times of adversity, our choices determine whether we will grow closer to God.)

To help students better understand and feel the importance of this truth, read aloud the following account given by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Before you read, explain that Elder Oaks referred to a time when a hurricane destroyed thousands of homes in Florida, USA. Ask students to listen for the different ways in which two individuals responded to the devastation.

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“A news account quoted two different persons who had suffered the same tragedy and received the same blessing: each of their homes had been totally destroyed, but each of their family members had been spared death or injury. One said that this tragedy had destroyed his faith; how, he asked, could God allow this to happen? The other said that the experience had strengthened his faith. God had been good to him, he said. Though the family’s home and possessions were lost, their lives were spared and they could rebuild the home. … The gift of moral agency empowers each of us to choose how we will act when we suffer adversity” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Adversity,” Ensign, July 1998, 8).

  • What in this account stands out to you?

You may want to tell about someone who has faced adversity and affliction and has chosen to have a soft heart and an increased trust in God. Consider inviting students to share a personal experience in which they, or someone they know, chose to humble themselves and draw closer to God during a time of adversity.

Invite students to choose to humble themselves before God when they suffer adversity.

Consider concluding your study of Alma 43–62 by asking the following question:

  • As you have read Mormon’s account of the wars recorded in Alma 43–62, what have you learned about being a disciple of Jesus Christ in times of war and contention?

Invite students to apply what they have learned.

Alma 63

Many Nephites travel to the land northward

Summarize Mormon’s words in this chapter by explaining that many Nephites started to migrate northward, by land and by sea. Shiblon conferred the sacred records to Helaman. Captain Moroni died, and his son Moronihah led an army that drove back another Lamanite attack.

Commentary and Background Information

Alma 62:41. Responding to adversity

Referring to Alma 62:39–41, President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:

President Boyd K. Packer

“The same testing in troubled times can have quite opposite effects on individuals. …

“Surely you know some whose lives have been filled with adversity who have been mellowed and strengthened and refined by it, while others have come away from the same test bitter and blistered and unhappy” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Mystery of Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1983, 18).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that we choose how we will respond to adversity:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“Surely these great adversities are not without some eternal purpose or effect. They can turn our hearts to God. … Even as adversities inflict mortal hardships, they can also be the means of leading men and women to eternal blessings.

“Such large-scale adversities as natural disasters and wars seem to be inherent in the mortal experience. We cannot entirely prevent them, but we can determine how we will react to them. For example, the adversities of war and military service, which have been the spiritual destruction of some, have been the spiritual awakening of others” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Adversity,” Ensign, July 1998, 7–8).

Alma 63:4–10. Hagoth and his descendants

Latter-day prophets have said that Hagoth’s people settled on the islands that are now known as New Zealand.

In the dedicatory prayer for the Hamilton New Zealand Temple, President David O. McKay (1873–1970) said:

President David O. McKay

“We express gratitude that to these fertile Islands Thou didst guide descendants of Father Lehi, and hast enabled them to prosper” (David O. McKay, “Dedicatory Prayer Delivered by Pres. McKay at New Zealand Temple,” Church News, May 10, 1958, 2).

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said:

President Spencer W. Kimball

“It is reasonable to conclude that Hagoth and his associates were about nineteen centuries on the islands, from about 55 BC to 1854 before the gospel began to reach them. They had lost all the plain and precious things which the Savior brought to the earth, for they were likely on the islands when the Christ was born in Jerusalem” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, New Zealand Area Conference 1976, 3).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Alma 60:23. “The inward vessel shall be cleansed first”

Explain that even though Captain Moroni was wrong in his accusations of Pahoran, he taught true principles that we can apply in our lives. Invite a student to read Alma 60:23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a gospel truth that Moroni wrote to Pahoran.

  • What gospel truth did Moroni recite to Pahoran? (Students should identify the following truth: The inward vessel shall be cleansed first. Invite students to mark this truth in verse 23.)

Point out that Moroni’s words about cleansing the “inward vessel” can apply to anyone who needs to repent. Explain that a vessel is a container, such as a cup or bowl. Put dirt or mud on the inside and outside of a cup (if available, a clear cup works best). Ask students if they would like to drink from the cup. Clean the outside of the cup and ask if students would now feel comfortable drinking from it.

Read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994):

President Ezra Taft Benson

“We must cleanse the inner vessel (see Alma 60:23), beginning first with ourselves, then with our families, and finally with the Church” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” Ensign, May 1986, 4).

  • Why is it important that we be clean on the inside (what people cannot see) as well as on the outside (what people can see)?

  • Why is it important to cleanse the inner vessel of our lives before we can be fully effective in the Lord’s kingdom?

Alma 61:9. Pahoran’s response to Moroni

Explain that Pahoran’s response to the letter from Moroni revealed the strength and goodness of his character. He was not easily offended. Read the following statement by President Thomas S. Monson:

President Thomas S. Monson

“I am acquainted with a family which came to America from Germany. The English language was difficult for them. They had but little by way of means, but each was blessed with the will to work and with a love of God.

“Their third child was born, lived but two months, and then died. Father was a cabinetmaker and fashioned a beautiful casket for the body of his precious child. The day of the funeral was gloomy, thus reflecting the sadness they felt in their loss. As the family walked to the chapel, with Father carrying the tiny casket, a small number of friends had gathered. However, the chapel door was locked. The busy bishop had forgotten the funeral. Attempts to reach him were futile. Not knowing what to do, the father placed the casket under his arm and, with his family beside him, carried it home, walking in a drenching rain.

“If the family were of a lesser character, they could have blamed the bishop and harbored ill feelings. When the bishop discovered the tragedy, he visited the family and apologized. With the hurt still evident in his expression, but with tears in his eyes, the father accepted the apology, and the two embraced in a spirit of understanding” (Thomas S. Monson, “Hidden Wedges,” Ensign, May 2002, 19).

  • What blessings can come to people who, like this family, choose not to be offended? What can we learn from this account?