Alma the Elder
According to the "
Book of Mormon", Alma (IPAEng|ˈɑlmə) (c. 173 BC – c. 91 BC) was a Nephiteprophet who established the Church of Jesus Christin the Americas during the reign of the wicked King Noah. One of the Book of Mormon's greatest figures, he is sometimes referred to as "Alma the Elder" to avoid confusion with his son, also named Alma, who is often called " Alma the Younger."
Alma was born about 173 BC. While a young man, Alma was one of several corrupt priests who served King Noah in the land of Nephi. About 148 BC, a prophet named
Abinadiwas arrested for preaching repentance and condemning the wickedness of Noah and his people. Brought before the king and his priests, Abinadi emphatically urged them to repent and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of all who heard him, only Alma was touched by Abinadi's words. When Alma began to defend Abinadi the king had Alma cast out and had Abinadi killed. Alma went into hiding and wrote down Abinadi's words. Alma began to teach Abinadi's words in secret, emphasizing repentance and faith in Christ.
At a hidden retreat in the wilderness called the waters of Mormon, Alma baptized his listeners and organized the church of Christ among them. In time, King Noah found out where Alma's congregation was meeting, and sent his army to destroy them. Being warned by God of the army's coming, Alma quickly led his band of approximately 450 converts into the wilderness for eight days, stopping in an uninhabited area which they named the land of Helam. The people of Alma established the city of Helam there and prospered for many years, remaining faithful to God's commandments.
Return to Zarahemla
As the years passed, the
Lamanites invaded the land of Helam and placed Alma's people under their jurisdiction, taxing them heavily. Finally, in about 120 BC, Alma's people escaped the Lamanites and were led by God through the wilderness for twelve days until they arrived in the land of Zarahemla, then the chief Nephite population center. The people of Alma joyfully united with the Nephites and helped to strengthen the church of Christ in Zarahemla. Zarahemla's King Mosiah soon authorized Alma to serve as the first high priest over the Church in Zarahemla. Alma continued in this capacity for many years.
When Alma's son,
Alma the Younger, and the four sons of King Mosiah came of age they rebelled against the church and "were numbered among the unbelievers" (sourcetext|source=Book of Mormon|book=Mosiah|chapter=27|verse=8) However, as they went about to destroy the church an angel appeared and, in an experience similar to that of Saul on the road to Damascus, they were all converted. Like Saul, their subsequent efforts on behalf of the church overshadowed their previous efforts to destroy the church. Shortly before his death, Alma conferred the office of high priest upon his son.
The Book of Mormon states that Alma the Elder "lived to fulfil the commandments of God" (sourcetext|source=Book of Mormon|book=Mosiah|chapter=29|verse=45). He died in about 91 BC.
Alma had several notable descendants in the Book of Mormon narrative as shown in the family tree below:
The Record of Zeniff
* [http://scriptures.lds.org/gsa/almthldr Alma the Elder] - The "Alma the Elder" entry in the Guide to the Scriptures at LDS.org
* [http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/book_of_mormon/people/alma_1.html Alma the Elder] by L. Gary Lambert
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