“She Took the King Lamoni by the Hand and Behold He Arose”

Alan C. Miner

Kevin and Shauna Christensen note that in Alma 18:23-24, king Lamoni, having believed Ammon's preaching, falls to earth as if dead. He is mourned by his family and, after two days and nights, they are about to bury the king. Having heard of the fame of Ammon, the queen desired of him what she should do:

And he said unto the queen: He is not dead, but he sleepeth in God, and on the morrow he shall rise again . . . And Ammon said unto her: Believest thou this? And she said unto him: I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants; nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou has said. And Ammon said unto her: Blessed art thou because of thy exceeding faith; I say unto thee, woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites.

According to the Christensens, this signals us to pay attention. When the king rises from his near-death state, he reaches out to the queen and declares that "I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth, and be born of a woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who shall believe on his name" (Alma 19:13). At this, the king and the queen are both overpowered by the Spirit. Upon seeing this, a servant Abish "having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known . . . ran forth from house to house, making [the king's situation] known unto the people. And they began to assemble themselves together unto the house of the king." (Alma 19:17-18). . . .

And it came to pass that [Abish] went and took the queen by the hand, that perhaps she might raise her from the ground; and as soon as she touched her hand she [the queen] arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with a loud voice saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed god, have mercy on this people! And when [the queen] had said this, she clasped her hands, being filled with joy, speaking may words which were not understood; and when she had done this, she took the king, Lamoni, by the hand, and behold he arose and stood upon his feet. (Alma 19:29-30)

According to the Christensens, here we have women involved in prophecy, healing, speaking in tongues, and visions. . . . Significantly, the story of Abish and the Lamanite queen qualifies as a "type-scene," a prophetic prefiguring not only of the resurrection of Christ, but also of the role of women in that event. As Robert Alter remarks, "The type-scene is not merely a way of formally recognizing a particular kind of narrative moment; it is also a means of attaching that moment to a larger pattern of historical and theological meaning." Compare the general features of this account in Alma with a conspicuous pattern in ancient Near Eastern religion:

One of the most striking features of the ancient Sacred Marriage cult was that the goddess had an important part to play in the resurrection of her husband. . . . We will recall how Anath made possible Baal-Hadad's resurrection by attacking and destroying his enemy, Mot, the god of death. In Mesopotamian myth it was Inanna-Ishtar who descended into the realm of death to destroy Erishkigal's power so that dead Dumuzi-Tammuz could be restored to life. Aristide's Apology describes how Aphrodite descended into Hades in order to ransom Adonis from Persephone. Cybele likewise made possible the resurrection of Attis on the third day, while in Egypt it was Isis who made possible the restoration of her husband, Osiris. . . . But no matter what the details of these ubiquitous Near Eastern death-and-resurrection legends, the underlying theme is the same: the god is helpless without the ministrations of his consort. . . .

The same motif also appears in the Mesoamerican Popol Vuh in the story of One Hunahpu's death and the maiden daughter of the underworld lords, through whose courageous actions life was renewed.

The stories of Abish and the Lamanite kings and queens also resonate with these traditions. Given the growing recognition that Book of Mormon authors consciously selected stories that present archetypal patterns, it is likely that these stories attracted the attention of Mormon as significant type-scenes, and as such, they receive due attention and prominence in the text.

The prominence of type-scenes in the overall narrative suggests that we might gain insights into what was included in the Book of Mormon and the significance of those selections by reading them against larger contexts. [Kevin and Shauna Christensen, "Nephite Feminism Revisited: Thoughts on Carol Lynn Pearson's View of Women in the Book of Mormon," in FARMS Review of Books, Volume 10, Number 2, 1998, pp. 15-19]

Question: Could the type and shadow of this experience be the "resurrection" of the gospel among the Lamanites through the ministerings of "Ammon" or God, and a "servant" who had "been converted unto the Lord for many years on account of a remarkable vision of her father [Joseph]" (Alma 19:16)?

Question: Could this also represent a type and shadow of the resurrection process? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary