If I could ask them one question . . .
Come Follow Me, Lesson 26
For Come Follow Me, lesson 26, Jun 29 - Jul 5, Alma 23-29
If I wanted to encourage thought and try to understand devout believers better, I might ask:
“Would they really have buried all their weapons?”
Things to consider:
- This reading tells us about the Lamanites who converted and decided they would bury all their weapons deep in the earth (Alma 24:15-17). It tells us that later even more Lamanites converted and buried their weapons (Alma 25:13-14).
- Alma 23:5 tells us these converts numbered in the thousands.
- Alma 23:8-12 says these converts were the people of seven cities and lands.
- As I point out in my annotations, swords are likely an anachronism in the Book of Mormon, but for the sake of discussion, let’s assume they had swords and consider how unlikely it would be for them to bury so much as described in Alma 24:16-17, and regardless of whether or not they had swords, the author(s) repeatedly tell us that different metals, including iron and steel, were part of their technology, so obviously we would expect such useful technology to be employed in making weapons.
- Think about the resources required to make metal weaponry. They would have gathered ore, transported it to the smelting facilities, gathered the fuel and any other materials needed, and then smelted the ore. From that point the metal would have to be forged and finishing touches would have to be added like edges and handles.
- I suppose one could argue that it would be a poetic or symbolic gesture of faith to make such a sacrifice, but even ritual sacrifice didn’t typically work like this in the House of Israel. Sure, sacrifices were made to God, but very little of it was buried or otherwise kept from the use of mortals. How much more poetic and symbolic would it have been for these converts to take their weapons of war and convert them to tools of peace, productivity, and prosperity? They could have made knives (not the weapon variety), farming instruments, nails or other pieces to secure wooden joints, leather working tools, etc.
- Even if you want to assume that by “sword,” “iron,” and “steel” they really meant something other than what those words mean to a modern English reader—so that they couldn’t just melt them down to retool them—the Lamanite converts could have gifted the weapons to their Nephite benefactors who later protected the Lamanites. This could have been a gesture of sacrifice, humility, and unity with their Nephite sisters and brothers.
- But, we’re to believe that these convert Lamanites wasted valuable resources. Remember, they did not have the efficiencies of mass production that we have today. Given their production methods, how much time and value might one weapon of war represent in pre-Columbian America? What a colossal waste it would have been to bury these weapons.
Other observations about this lesson’s reading:
- Swords seem to be anachronistic (Alma 24:12-13, 15-17, 21, 23-24, Alma 26:19, Alma 27:29).
- It claims that more than 500 years after Lehi and Co. left Jerusalem, thousands “were actual descendants of Laman and Lemuel,” so lack of DNA evidence is a challenge (Alma 24:29).
- A less than favorable, sweeping generalization about apostates (Alma 24:30, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 25 about whether faith in men can be harmful).
- Domestic sheep are anachronistic (Alma 25:12, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 22 about sheep in pre-Columbian America).
- A reference to the sickle and a sickle’s implication of grain do not seem anachronistic to me (Alma 26:5).
- The apparently misleading terms “eternal” and “endless” are used to describe “despair” and “wo” (Alma 26:19 and Alma 28:11).
- Another blow to the moral agency defense against the problem of evil (Alma 26:29, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 23 about the problem of evil).
- It says God is mindful of everyone, but it doesn’t seem that way to me (Alma 26:37)
- Bold and precise revelation by a missionary seems to contrast with the administrative changes modern prophets seem to focus on (Alma 27:11-12, see also my If I Could Ask … Lesson 24 about the incredible Book of Mormon prophecies).
- Another fall to the earth out of joy (Alma 27:17).
- It refers to the Exodus which seems to be a myth (Alma 29:12).
If you could ask believers questions about the scriptures for this lesson, what would you ask?
Have fun studying!
If I could ask them one question, Lesson 26