“And He Saw That the Countenance of the King Was Changed”

George Reynolds, Janne M. Sjodahl

After Ammon‘s work was done wherein he made ready the king’s horses and chariots so that Lamoni could go in regal style to the festival arranged by his father, Ammon, as the king desired, went in as though nothing had happened, to see Lamoni. To Ammon, Lamoni did not appear the same as did the king when first he visited the royal household only a few days previously. Lamoni’s countenance was changed. He was undoubtedly worried. Sorrow and meditation were plainly to be seen upon his face. Ammon remembered an old Israelitish custom, that unless requested to do so, never visit a man in the hour of his affliction. Therefore, Ammon was about to return out of the king’s presence.

Seeing that Ammon was perturbed by the evident lack of formality which in the king’s presence was expected, one of the king’s servants said unto him: “Rabbanah, the king desireth thee to stay.”

Rabbanah is a wonderful word. Translated, it means powerful, or great king. In applying that name to Ammon, the servants of Lamoni did not know that in reality he was a prince, the son of the mighty king of the Nephites. But after Ammon’s miraculous exploits at the Waters of Sebus, they regarded him, as did their master, something more than a man. Whether rabbanah is a Nephite, or a Lamanite word is uncertain, as the Lamanites of that period (91 B.C.) had been taught by royal command in the language of the Nephites. It is, however, of little moment to which of these kindred tongues it belonged, but its Hebrew derivation is most unmistakable. Its origin is evidently abba, father. Max Müller, the great authority on such points, says the word king originally meant father; having doubtlessly taken this form in the earliest patriarchal days when the king ruled by right of his fatherhood, and represented God, the Great Father of us all. This ancient word confirms Professor Müller’s statement; at the same time it manifests how remarkably the unities of the Book of Mormon are preserved, consistent only with its claim to Divine inspiration. It would be the height of folly to ascribe such a coincidence to chance; a man must be far more credulous so to believe, than it can possibly be claimed those are who place implicit confidence in the realities of Nephite and Lamanite history.

Upon his being made certain that the king did want to see him, Ammon returned to the king’s presence. But when he entered Lamoni’s chamber, or the room in which the sovereign received visitors, he saw that the king was filled with emotion, far too much so even to speak. Ammon realized the king’s deeply perplexing problem, and thereupon seized this favorable circumstance to lay before Lamoni the reason for his coming among the king’s subjects. But, to Ammon’s obeisance, the king said not a word. What wilt thou that I should do for thee, O king? For an hour, according to their reckoning, or to us what would have been a much prolonged period, the king remained silent, for the king, being greatly troubled, knew not what to say

Again Ammon drew to the attention of the king that, as he requested, his servant stood before him, and wished to know what were the king’s commands. Ammon’s repeated request, What desireth thou of me? brought forth from the king no reply.

Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3