Alma Became Dumb, and His Companions Carried Him to His Father

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

When his companions found that Alma could neither speak nor move his limbs, they carried him to his father and related to him all that had happened. Strange as It must have seemed to them, the elder Alma's heart was filled with joy, and he praised God when he saw the apparently dead body of his much-loved son, for he realized it was the Lord's power that had wrought this manifestation, and that his long continued prayers had now been answered.

In his joy, Alma's father gathered the people together so that they also might witness this great showing of the goodness and the power of God. He assembled the priests, sought their cooperation, and unitedly they fasted and prayed for the stricken youth.

If we recall the parable of Jesus' concerning another son who chose to do evil and thereby brought misery to his devoted father, we can understand, somewhat more fully, the joy that flowed from the elder Alma's heart when he beheld his own son lying unconscious before him.

Jesus told of a father who had two sons, the younger of whom asked that he be given his portion of his father's estate. When he had gathered it all together, he went to a distant land and "there wasted his substance in riotous living. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine," a labor thought by the Jews to be contemptible.

The son grew hungry and no one "gave unto him," whereupon he was glad to eat the food prepared for the swine.

One day as he meditated his lot, he thought of the home of his father. He remembered the fine clothes he wore and the abundance of good food there. Even his father's servants had more to eat than what they needed, "and I perish with hunger," he said.

The poor Prodigal was afar off, serving a strange master in a strange land, feeding on husks.

"I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee!"

His father, in the meantime had all along expected his son to return, and when he saw him, he was yet a long way off. However, the father called to his friends to prepare with him, the ring for his son's withered finger, the robe for his naked body, the shoes for his sore feet, and the fatted calf which always he had in readiness for this time when it should come, and together with them he rejoiced, for he said, "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." (Luke 15:11-24)

Also, let us hear the Prophet Habakkuk. The East Wind had sowed destruction broadcast throughout the land; the fig tree did not blossom, there was no fruit on the vines, the labor of the olive failed, the flock was cut off from the fold, and there was no herd in the stalls. "Yet," said the prophet, "I will rejoice in the Lord, I will joy in the God of my salvation." (Hab. 3:17)

This same exultant cry left the heart of the elder Alma as he beheld his son, for he "knew it was the power of God."

For two days they continued their supplications to heaven. At the end of three days Alma, the younger, stood upon his feet and spoke. In his own account of the time he was unconscious, he stated, as we have noted, three days. The apparent discrepancy between the times mentioned may not be actual. Let us realize it may have been some distance that the young men had to travel in bringing the body of Alma to his father. It may have consumed a full day.

What Alma said when he had recovered sufficiently from his ordeal, were words of comfort to his father and to those gathered about him. We think the words, as divinely translated through the Prophet Joseph Smith, cannot be bettered. Here are the words that Alma, many years later related to his son, Helaman, in explaining the details of his conversion:

For I went about with the sons of Mosiah, seeking to destroy the church of God; but behold, God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way.

And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet, for the fear of the Lord came upon us.

But behold, the voice said unto me: Arise. And I arose and stood up, and beheld the angel.

And he said unto me: If thou wilt of thyself be destroyed, seek no more to destroy the church of God.

And it came to pass that I fell to the earth; and it was for the space of three days and three nights that I could not open my mouth, neither had I the use of my limbs.

And the angel .spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words-If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God-I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.

But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.

Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.

Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto, destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.

Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in thee presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.

And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.

And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.

Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.

But behold, my limbs did receive strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God.

Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Yea, and now behold, O my son, the Lord doth give me exceeding great joy in the fruit of my labors;

For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God. (Alma 36:6-26)

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2