EVIDENCE: Following the Law of Apostate Cities (Alma 16:9–11)

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

The destruction of the corrupt city of Ammonihah by the Lamanites conforms to an ancient Israelite law described in Deuteronomy 13:12–16. As chief judge over the land of Zarahemla, Alma would have certainly known this law, which requires the utter annihilation of apostate cities by the sword. Many specifics of the destruction of Ammonihah fit the elements required in the ancient law. For instance, before a city could be destroyed, a thorough investigation was required to determine if the inhabitants had indeed completely forsaken the Lord to worship false gods. The law also demanded the testimony of at least two righteous witnesses as to the sinful state of the city, fulfilled in this case by Alma and Amulek. When these two prophets preached repentance and proclaimed that Ammonihah would be destroyed if its people did not turn to their true God, another portion of the law was satisfied. Interestingly, the city was declared untouchable for approximately seven years, probably a ritual cleansing period in either the Nephite or Israelite world, or both. (Eight years and nine months pass between Alma 16:1 and Alma 49:1, when we learn that the city of Ammonihah had been rebuilt and fortified.) (See Echoes, 369–372.)

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1