“Ammonihah Destroyed in One Day”

Monte S. Nyman

The entire eleventh year of the reign of the judges is covered in these eleven verses, but there are only three events discussed. The first event is the destruction of the city of Ammonihah by the Lamanites. The exact day of the destruction is emphasized because, when Alma and Amulek began preaching in the city following Alma’s being cast out but sent back by an angel, the people mocked these two prophets. The angel had told Alma to tell these people that if they didn’t repent the Lord would destroy them (Alma 8:16). Alma had apparently done as he was commanded, although the text does not give us the words of Alma’s conditional prophecy. They refuted Alma by saying they would not believe him even if he said their “great city should be destroyed in one day” (Alma 9:4). Their statement was probably meant to be an exaggeration of what Alma had said. Nevertheless, the Lord took them by their word and showed them that what they said was an impossibility could be done. Furthermore, he allowed the Lamanites to destroy the city in one day (Alma 16:2–3; 9–11). Thus, he showed them that man’s power was great enough to destroy them in one day without relying on the power of God. The destruction of the city is also an example of a principle stated later by Mormon: “it is by the wicked that the wicked are destroyed” (Mormon 4:5).

The second event is the successful attempt by the Nephite army to recapture those who had been taken away captive (Alma 16:4–8). They were so successful that not even one soul of those captives was lost (v. 8). Credit for their victory must be given to Alma’s inquiring of the Lord and obtaining the travel routes of the Lamanites in the wilderness (vv. 5–7). Zoram, the chief captain, and his two sons carried out their maneuvers through the spirit of prophecy that was poured out upon Alma (vv. 7–8). The Lord did deliver the captives as he had promised.

The third event is the designation of the area where the dead bodies were heaped up as the “Desolation of Nehors” (v. 11). The name was most appropriate because those who followed the order of Nehor instead of the priesthood were left in spiritual desolation as well.

Book of Mormon Commentary: The Record of Alma