Book of Mormon Commentary - Alma 57

by Don R. Hender

Scriptural Text [& Editorial]
Commentary & Explanation
Footnotes ~ References ~ JST
             CHAPTER 57

Helaman recounts the taking of Antiparah and the surrender and later the defense of Cumeni—His Ammonite striplings fight valiantly and all are wounded, but none slain—Gid reports the slaying and the escape of the Lamanite prisoners. [Abut 64—63 B.C.]

1 AND now it came to pass that I received an epistle from Ammoron, the king, stating that if I would deliver up those prisoners of war whom we had taken that he would deliver up the city of Antiparah unto us.
2 But I sent an epistle unto the king, that we were sure our forces were sufficient to take the city of Antiparah by our force; and by delivering up the prisoners for that city we should suppose ourselves unwise, and that we would only deliver up our prisoners on exchange.
3 And Ammoron refused mine epistle, for he would not exchange prisoners; therefore we began to make preparations to go against the city of Antiparah.

4 But the people of Antiparah did leave the city, and fled to their other cities, which they had possession of, to fortify them; and thus the city of Antiparah fell into our hands.
5 And thus ended the twenty and eighth year of the reign of the judges.
6 And it came to pass that in the *commencement of the twenty and ninth year, we received a supply of provisions, and also an addition to our army, from the land of Zarahemla, and from the land round about, to the number of six thousand men, besides sixty of the asons of the Ammonites who had come to join their brethren, my little band of two thousand. And now behold, we were strong, yea, and we had also plenty of provisions brought unto us.

 6* [63 B.C.]
   a Alma 53:16

7 And it came to pass that it was our desire to wage a battle with the army which was placed to protect the city aCumeni.
8 And now behold, I will show unto you that we soon accomplished our desire; yea, with our strong force, or with a part of our strong force, we did surround, by night, the city Cumeni, a little before they were to receive a supply of provisions.
9 And it came to pass that we did camp round about the city for many nights; but we did sleep upon our swords, and keep guards, that the Lamanites could not come upon us by night and slay us, which they attempted many times; but as many times as they attempted this their blood was spilt.

 7a Alma 56:14

10 At length their provisions did arrive, and they were about to enter the city by night. And we, instead of being Lamanites, were Nephites; therefore, we did take them and their provisions.
11 And notwithstanding the Lamanites being cut off from their support after this manner, they were still determined to maintain the city; therefore it became expedient that we should take those provisions and send them to aJudea, and our prisoners to the land of Zarahemla.
12 And it came to pass that not many days had passed away before the Lamanites began to lose all hopes of succor; therefore they yielded up the city unto our hands; and thus we had accomplished our designs in obtaining the city Cumeni.

 11a Alma 56:9

13 But it came to pass that our prisoners were so numerous that, notwithstanding the enormity of our numbers, we were obliged to employ all our force to keep them, or to put them to death.
14 For behold, they would break out in great numbers, and would fight with stones, and with clubs, or whatsoever thing they could get into their hands, insomuch that we did slay upwards of two thousand of them after they had surrendered themselves prisoners of war.
15 Therefore it became expedient for us, that we should put an end to their lives, or guard them, sword in hand, down to the land of Zarahemla; and also our provisions were not any more than sufficient for our own people, notwithstanding that which we had taken from the Lamanites.

16 And now, in those critical circumstances, it became a very serious matter to determine concerning these prisoners of war; nevertheless, we did resolve to send them down to the land of Zarahemla; therefore we selected a part of our men, and gave them charge over our prisoners to go down to the land of Zarahemla.
17 But it came to pass that on the morrow they did return. And now behold, we did not ainquire of them concerning the prisoners; for behold, the Lamanites were upon us, and they returned in season to save us from falling into their hands. For behold, Ammoron had sent to their support a new supply of provisions and also a numerous army of men.
18 And it came to pass that those men whom we sent with the prisoners did arrive in season to check them, as they were about to overpower us.

 17a Alma 57:28

19 But behold, my little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did aadminister death unto all those who opposed them.
20 And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted.
21 Yea, and they did aobey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their bmothers had taught them.

 19a Alma 62:11
 21a TG Trustworthiness
     b Alma 56:47-48

22 And now behold, it was these my sons, and those men who had been selected to convey the prisoners, to whom we owe this great victory; for it was they who did beat the Lamanites; therefore they were driven back to the city of Manti.
23 And we retained our city Cumeni, and were not all destroyed by the sword; nevertheless, we had suffered great loss.
24 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had fled, I immediately gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed.

25 And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of the loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was anot one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds.
26 And now, their apreservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous bpower of God, because of their exceeding cfaith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.
27 Now this was the afaith of these of whom I have spoken; they are young, and their minds are bfirm, and they do put their trust in God continually.

 25a Alma 56:56
 26a 1 Chr. 5:20 (18-22)
     b TG God, Power of
     c TG Faith

28 And now it came to pass that after we had thus taken care of our wounded men, and had buried our dead and also the dead of the Lamanites, who were many, behold, we did inquire of Gid concerning the aprisoners whom they had started to go down to the land of Zarahemla with.
29 Now Gid was the chief captain over the band who was appointed to guard them down to the land.

 28a Alma 57:17 (16-17)

30 And now, these are the words which Gid said unto me: Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla with our prisoners. And it came to pass that we did meet the spies of our armies, who had been sent out to watch the camp of the Lamanitesa.
31 And they cried unto us, saying—Behold, the armies of the Lamanites are marching towards the city of Cumeni; and behold, they will fall upon them, yea, and will destroy our people.

 30a it came to pass that we did meet the spies of our armies, who had been sent out to watch the camp of the Lamanites To understand why it was that Gid's army, which was transporting the Lamanite capties to Zarahemla, ran into the Nephite spys returning from the 'camp' of the Lamanites; it is imporant to understand the lay of the land and the relavent locations of CUMENI and MANTI in respect to each other, and in respect to the route to be taken to go down to the land of Zarahemla.

[Click Image to See Simplified Diagram]
CUMENI would have been located in the highlands above the western parallel valley to the valley of the river Sidon. And MANTI was located in the highlands of the upper Sidon valley near the headwaters of the river. CUMENI was to the west of MANTI and MANTI was a little further south than was CUMENI. To travel from Cumeni to Zarahemla, one would have to first travel west over and into the upper highland Sidon Valley and the first segment of that journey west to the Sidon Valley was the same course one would take if they were going to Manti, Manti being in that upper Sidon River highland valley. Once in the Sidon valley from those highlands of the parallel valley, one could change their course to go north down the Sidon valley without continuing on to Manti. As the Nephite spies where returning from Manti, the camp of the Lamanites, they met Gid's army transporting the Lamanite captives upon the latter end of that first segment of Gid's journey to Zarahemla. In their excitement and hurry, they did not take care in giveing their warning that the Lamanites were coming to Gid as they were passing them by, but they 'cried' it out to them. Thus the Lamanites did also hear the warning. Now as all such event take time to develop, Gid would have likely began to hurry his army north off of the road to Manti, making their turn to Zarahemla in order that they might not be discovered by the coming army of the Lamanites. Thus while the Lamanites spread he word among themselves and contrived what they might do in the added hurry confusion, Gid's army had traveled a goodly distance away from that adjoining road to Cumeni from Manti. And thus when the Lamanites did pass by the Zarahemla turnoff crossroads intersection of the road from Manti to Cumeni, they missed running into Gid's army and also became in advance of them. But eventually the Lamanite prisoners had determined what they would do, and they broke upon their Nephite guards as explained. And thus without having to any longer take care of the Lamanite prisoners, Gid's army did retrace their course back to Cumeni. By the time they arrived, the Lamanites were upon the city of Cumeni and they arrived just in time to help preserve the city as explained.
   When one studies out such detail of events and why the army of Gid met the returning spies from Manti and not the Lamanite army, also traveling there from, it does add to the understanding of the geography of the land. Now if the Lamanites had not broke from their captivity, Gid's army would not have returned in time to preserve Cumeni from being taken by the Lamanites. And if the spies would have quietly communicated the fact rather than crying it out, the Lamanites would not have known of the coming of the Lamanite army upon Cumeni, and Gid would have continued peacably on down to Zaraheml. But Zarahemla was not at that juncture of time in a state which would have been favorable to an additional group of Lamanite captive to be cared for, because the government was under the treat of being overthrown from within at that time. Thus is was well that all occured as it did to the best advantage of the Nephites with the army of Gid coming upon the Lamanite forces from the rear at just the right nick of time to save the day for the Nephites. And one must recognize the hand of the Lord in the matter for it to be so precisely orchrestrated to have eventuated exactly as it did to the Lamanite disadvantage in all respects.
32 And it came to pass that our prisoners did hear their cries, which caused them to take courage; and they did rise up in rebellion against us.
33 And it came to pass because of their rebellion we did cause that our swords should come upon them. And it came to pass that they did in a body run upon our swords, in the which, the greater number of them were slain; and the remainder of them broke through and fled from us.
34 And behold, when they had fled and we could not overtake them, we took our march with speed towards the city Cumeni; and behold, we did arrive in time that we might assist our brethren in preserving the city.

35 And behold, we are again delivered out of the hands of our enemies. And blessed is the name of our God; for behold, it is he that has delivered us; yea, that has done this great thing for us.
36 Now it came to pass that when I, Helaman, had heard these words of Gid, I was filled with exceeding joy because of the goodness of God in preserving us, that we might not all perish; yea, and I trust that the souls of them who have been slain have aentered into the rest of their God.

 36a Alma 12:34

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