“Seek Not After Riches”

Brant Gardner

This specific instruction suggests that a significant part of Corianton’s apostasy has been abandoning the egalitarian Nephite ideal and desiring wealth. Throughout the Book of Mormon, economic differences were the basis for social class and resulting disunity. The Book of Mormon prophets continually decry wealth’s deleterious effects in making class distinctions. Corianton has been seeking riches in the context of the “vain things of this world.” The commandment to forsake the search for wealth was not just economic but doctrinal.

In the Nephite world, there were no stores, no banks. Wealth did not buy large houses and cars. Food, according to the Nephite egalitarian ideal, should have been available to all. Corianton was pursuing riches so he could acquire the trappings of power those riches defined. Corianton apparently began seeking wealth on his mission, in the very setting—and probably because of—the highly refined Zoramite art of publicly displaying wealth to define social differences. (See commentary accompanying Alma 31:13–23.) When Corianton pursues wealth, it is literally a “vain thing,” for the function of the wealth was not comfort but public display and self-aggrandizement.

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