Nephihah was the second chief judge in Zarahemla, succeeding Alma the Younger around 83 BC. Alma had become increasingly concerned about the declining spirituality of the people and felt moved upon by the Spirit to shift his emphasis away from political involvements and toward the ministry. “And he selected a wise man who was among the elders of the church, and gave him power according to the voice of the people, that he might have power to enact laws according to the laws which had been given, and to put them in force according to the wickedness and the crimes of the people”. Alma retained his office as chief high priest.
And this he did that he himself might go forth among his people, or among the people of Nephi, that he might preach the word of God unto them, to stir them up in remembrance of their duty, and that he might pull down, by the word of God, all the pride and craftiness and all the contentions which were among his people, seeing no way that he might reclaim them save it were in bearing down in pure testimony against them.
Nephihah served in his public leadership capacity until his death around 67 BC, “having filled the judgment-seat with perfect uprightness before God”. Among the important events during his tenure was the destruction of the city of Ammonihah by Lamanite invaders, the establishment of the protectorate at Jershon for the Lamanite converts from the missionary labors of the sons of Mosiah, the dissention of the Zoramites, and the insurrection of Amalickiah and his involvement in Lamanite invasions.
During Nephihah’s years of service, the people increased not only their commercial ventures, but also their prosperity. Nephihah had declined Alma’s invitation to manage the sacred records of the people; thus Alma had conferred this commission on his son Helaman. Pahoran, son of Nephihah, succeeded his father as chief judge and governor of the land.