“Thou Hast Shed the Blood of a Righteous Man”

Brant Gardner

Although Mormon did not record Nehor’s defense, Alma2’s first reaction is a sharp denunciation of his priestcraft. It strikes the modern reader as odd—that Alma2 seems more concerned with priestcraft than with the murder of a venerable and respected authority in the community. I hypothesize that Alma2 was looking beyond the loss of a single man to the ultimate effect—that Nehor’s priestcraft had the potential of undermining Zarahemla’s entire social structure, fomenting dissension and schism. Such dissensions had erupted into the civil war in Benjamin’s time, motivating many to leave and join with the Lamanites (W of M 1:15–16). Thus, Alma2 is taking the long view—that Nehor’s religion was a more dangerous crime than murdering one man in the heat of passion.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4