Chapters 56-58 are an epistle from Helaman to Moroni regarding his stripling warriors’ successes against the Lamanites.
Alma 56 – The armies of Antipus and Helaman are victorious over the strongest army of the Lamanites.
Definition: Stripling means young.
VS3-8 – Helaman tells of Stripling Warriors
Helaman explained to Moroni about how his little army came to be, how they stepped in to fight for their fathers who had made an oath to never take up arms again.
VS9-17 – Helaman goes to help Antipus
Helaman led the 2,000 stripling warriors to the city of Judea to assist a Nephite army led by Antipus. The Lamanites had captured several Nephite cities and had greatly reduced Antipus’s army. Antipus and his army were working hard to fortify Judea, and were very depressed. They rejoiced when Helaman and his soldiers arrived to help.
VS10 – Helaman called his warriors “sons.”
VS11 – Those Nephites who had been slain from Antipus’ army died for a good cause and are happy.
VS18-29 – Will the Lamanites attack Judea?
Because Antipus’ army received more strength, the Lamanites did not attack Judea. Ammoron commanded them to retain the cities they had already taken. The Nephites wanted the Lamanites to attack because they didn’t want to attack them in their strongholds. They sent spies to watch the Lamanites, but the Lamanites never made preparations to attack. Helaman’s army got more provisions and more men; they were ready for war. Only when the Lamanites saw this strength, did they want to fight to prevent them from receiving more strength and provisions.
VS30-43 –Antiups and Helaman strategize to slay the Lamanites.
Antipus used Helaman and his 2,000 warriors as a decoy to draw the strongest army of the Lamanites out of the city of Antiparah. Most of the Lamanite army left Antiparah to pursue Helaman’s army, giving Antipus’s army the opportunity to follow and attack them from behind. When the army of Antipus caught up with the Lamanite army, they attacked according to their plan. When the Lamanite army halted their pursuit of Helaman’s army, Helaman could not tell whether the Lamanite army was trying to lure his warriors into a trap or if the army of Antipus had engaged the Lamanites in battle at their rear. Helaman and his young soldiers had to decide whether to continue fleeing or attack the Lamanites.
VS44-48 (read) – When we act in faith, we can receive strength from God.
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that parents can only give what they themselves already have: “When a parent’s teaching and helping job is done well and when there are receptive children to receive the message, then we encounter those marvelous situations such as the one involving young men in the Book of Mormon who had been taught so well by their mothers [Alma 56:47–48]. …“The reliance, of course, by these young men on their mothers is touching and profound, but the mothers first had to know ‘it’ in such a way that the young men, observing them closely and hearing them (as is always the case with children observing parents), did ‘not doubt’ that their mothers knew that ‘it’ was true” (That My Family Should Partake , 58–59).
- Sister Julie B. Beck: “The responsibility mothers have today has never required more vigilance. More than at any time in the history of the world, we need mothers who know. … When mothers know who they are and who God is and have made covenants with Him, they will have great power and influence for good on their children” (in Conference Report, Oct. 2007, 80; or Ensign, 2007, 76).
- Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Women … rock a sobbing child without wondering if today’s world is passing them by, because they know they hold tomorrow tightly in their arms. …“When the real history of mankind is fully disclosed, will it feature the echoes of gunfire—or the shaping sound of lullabies?” (Woman , 96).
- “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”: “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
… By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners” (Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
VS49-54 – Helaman helps Antipus’ army and the Lamanites fall into their hands.
Helaman’s army found the army of Antipus in a difficult situation. Antipus and many of the army’s other leaders were dead, and the weary and confused Nephites were close to defeat. When Helaman’s army started to slay the Lamanites from behind, they halted and turned around to start fighting with Helaman. The army of Antipus then started slaying the Lamanites from behind, so the Lamanites were surrounded. They gave up their weapons and became prisoners of war.
VS55-56 (read) – Helaman numbered his men. None were slain.
Review 53:20-21. How did these young men’s attributes bless them in battle?
Alma 57 – Helaman and his stripling warriors retake the city of Cumeni and are preserved in battle.
VS1-5 – Ammoron tries to negotiate.
Ammoron offered to give Helaman Antiparah if he gave up the Lamanite prisioners. Helaman said they could handle taking the city back by force, and the only wise exchange would be prisoners for prisoners. Ammoron refused, so Helaman’s army prepared for battle. The Lamanites were scared and fled, so the city fell into Helaman’s hands.
VS6-12 – Taking Cumeni
Helaman got more provisions and 6000 more men, as well as 60 more sons of the people of Ammon. His army surrounded Cumeni at night before the Lamanites were going to get provisions. They camped for many nights, and slayed any Lamanites who tried to kill them while sleeping. They took the provisions sent to the Lamanites, as well as the men who delivered the provisions. Those provisions were sent to Judea and the prisioners were sent to Zarahemla. A few ways later the Lamanites gave the city of Cumeni to the Nephites because they didn’t have enough food/supplies.
VS13-16 –Problems with prisoners
There were so many prisoners, Helaman had to use his whole army to watch them. Many of the prisoners would break out and fight, so about 2000 of them ended up being slain. They had to take the prisoners to Zarahemla – there weren’t enough provisions for everyone.
VS17-23 – The Lamanites attack Cumeni
The next day the Lamanites attacked Cumeni because Ammoron had sent provisions and a numerous army. The men who took the prisoners to Zarahemla arrived just in time to help. The stripling warriors fought firmly and killed all who opposed them. They never held back, but obeyed every command with exactness. The stripling warriors and the men in charge of the prisoners achieved victory over the Lamanites and drove them back to Manti. They were able to retain Cumeni, though many died.
(VS20) President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) discussed the importance of staying firm and undaunted: “You reflect this Church in all you think, in all you say, and in all you do. Be loyal to the Church and kingdom of God. …If you put your trust in the Almighty and follow the teachings of this Church and cling to it notwithstanding your wounds, you will be preserved and blessed and magnified and made happy. You’re in the midst of Babylon. The adversary comes with great destruction. Stand above it, you of the noble birthright. Stand above it’” (“Prophet Grateful for Gospel, Testimony,” Church News,21, 1996, 4).
Q – Helaman said that his warriors “did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21). What do you think this means? How was this obedience an expression of their faith?
(VS21) Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “[You] will encounter people who pick which commandments they will keep and ignore others that they choose to break. I call this the cafeteria approach to obedience. This practice of picking and choosing will not work. It will lead to misery. To prepare to meet God, one keeps all of His commandments. It takes faith to obey them, and keeping His commandments will strengthen that faith” (“Face the Future with Faith,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 34).
VS24-27 –Wounded treated and stripling warriors counted
Helaman ordered that the wounded be taken from the dead and their wounds dressed. Two hundred of the stripling warriors were wounded greatly, but none died. This was astounding because 1000 of the Nephite men died in this battle. It was because of their perfect faith, no doubt, and perfect trust in God.
- In some instances, the righteous will suffer or die, just as the stripling warriors suffered and just as some in the Nephite army were killed. However, God will always honor those who honor Him, and the righteous who die will be blessed.
- Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Today we are fighting a battle that in many ways is more perilous … than the battle between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Our enemy is cunning and resourceful. We fight against Lucifer, the father of all lies, the enemy of all that is good and right and holy. … We battle literally for the souls of men. The enemy is unforgiving and relentless. He is taking eternal prisoners at an alarming rate. And he shows no sign of letting up. While we are profoundly grateful for the many members of the Church who are doing great things in the battle for truth and right, I must honestly tell you it still is not enough. We need much more help. … We need you. Like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, you too can be endowed with power to build up and defend His kingdom. We need you to make sacred covenants, just as they did. We need you to be meticulously obedient and faithful, just as they were” (“The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 46–47).
VS28-36 – Gid recounts what happened with the prisoners on the way to Zarahemla.
After the dead were buried on both sides, and the wounded treated, Helaman asked Gid about what happened with the Lamanite prisoners. On the way to Zarahemla, Nephite spies told him that the Lamanites were headed towards Cumeni to attack. The prisoners rose up in rebellion when they heard the Lamanites would destroy the Nephites in Cumeni. Most of the prisoners were slain and the rest ran away. Gid’s soldiers could not overtake them, so they marched quickly back to Cumeni. Gid and Helaman were happy that God delivered them from the enemy once again. (read vs35-36)
Alma 58 – After receiving assurance from the Lord, Helaman, Gid and Teomner take back the city of Manti.
VS1-9 – Helaman and his army need provisions
Helaman wanted to take the city of Manti back, but couldn’t because the Lamanites knew their tricks, and they didn’t have a big enough army. Instead, they maintained the lands they already regained. Other than that, they waited for more provisions from Zarahemla. The Lamanites kept getting more strength and tried to fight the Nephites often, but they couldn’t because they didn’t have enough strength. For months, Helaman’s army waited for help until they were about to starve. Finally they got food and two thousand men. This would not be enough to fight the innumerable army of the Lamanites.
VS10-12 – Praying for Help
Helaman and his warriors prayed to God for deliverance. God gave them peace, faith and hope. Through this, they were determined to conquer their enemies and defend their families and freedoms.
- Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy wrote about this Book of Mormon circumstance: “It may be that the Nephites hoped for a miracle. Maybe they wanted angels to come to deliver them, as had happened a time or two in the Old Testament. But what did they receive? The Lord gave them assurance, peace, faith, and hope. He didn’t directly destroy their enemies, but he did give them the gifts they needed so they could deliver themselves. …In other words, the Lord put inside these men the will and the power to do what they desired—to begin with a strong resolve and then to see it through. After their prayer was answered, the Nephites went on to secure their liberty. When the Lord instills hope and faith and peace and assurance in people, they can bring great things to pass. This, then, is often what we should look for when we ask for help—not a miracle to solve our problem for us, but a miracle inside, to help us come to the solution ourselves, with the Lord’s help and the Lord’s power” (Receiving Answers to Our Prayers , 156–57).
- While serving as a member of the Seventy, Elder Dennis E. Simmons explained that God’s peace is not dependent on outward circumstances: “If all the world is crumbling around us, the promised Comforter will provide His peace as a result of true discipleship. … We can have His peace with us irrespective of the troubles of the world. His peace is that peace, that serenity, that comfort spoken to our hearts and minds by the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, as we strive to follow Him and keep His …Just as Helaman discovered in the midst of battle that ‘he did speak peace to our souls’ (Alma 58:11) … , all sincere seekers can have that same peace spoken to them. That peace comes from the assurances spoken by a still, small voice” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1997, 41–42; or Ensign, May 1997, 31).
VS13-30 – Overtaking of Manti
Helaman marched to Manti to overtake it. The Lamanites, after spying, assumed it would be easy to overtake this small army and made preparations for battle. Helaman had Gid and Teomner both take sets of men into the wilderness (on the right and on the left) to hide. The rest of the army stayed with Helaman. The next day, when the Lamanites were about to attack, Helaman’s army ran into the wilderness and passed by Gid and Teomner. When the army passed, Gid and Teomner cut off the spies so they couldn’t tell the rest of the Lamanites what was going on. Then, Gid and Teomner’s armies took Manti back by destroying the few guards left behind. Helaman’s army marched toward Zarahemla, and the Lamanites went back into the wilderness, fearing there was a bigger plan to destroy them. They then camped in the wilderness. At night, Helaman’s men marched to the land of Manti in another direction and arrived in Manti before the Lamanites. No blood was shed in taking the city of Manti. When the Lamanites arrived, they were afraid and ran back into the wilderness.
VS31-36– Reasons to be sad
Though the Lamanites fled, they had with them many Nephite women and children. Helaman’s army is so small to be able to maintain so many cities. Helaman does not know why he hasn’t received more strength and has no knowledge of what is going on with Moroni. He fears there is something wrong with the government.
(VS 35) Elder Neal A. Maxwell helped us better understand a cause of murmuring: “In a happy day ahead, ‘They that murmured shall learn doctrine’ (Isaiah 29:24; 2 Nephi 27:35). This suggests that doctrinal illiteracy is a significant cause of murmuring among Church members” (“A Choice Seer,” in Brigham Young University 1985–86 Devotional and Fireside Speeches , 115).
VS37-41 – Reasons to be grateful
They trust God will deliver them despite their weak armies. They have possession of their own lands and the Lamanites have fled. The Lord has supported the stripling warriors and spared all of them. Despite their wounds, they stand fast in their liberty, remember their God, and keep his commandments.
Chapter 59 – Moroni wrote to Pahoran asking for help, the Nephites lose a stronghold and Moroni grieves at the wickedness of the people.
VS1-4 – Moroni’s reaction to Helaman’s epistle
Moroni rejoiced at Helaman’s success and told everyone about it. He wrote to Pahoran and asked for help for Helaman. He started to plan how to get back the rest of the Nephite lands.
VS5-8 – Nephihah is lost to the Lamanites
Nephihah was attacked by the Lamanites. The people there were slain with a terrible slaughter as the Lamanites were so numerous (the ones that fled from Manti joined this army). The people of Nephihah were forced to flee and join the army of Moroni.
VS9-13 – Moroni’s reaction to this loss
VS9 – Mormon records that it is far easier to keep a city from falling than to retake it (Alma 59:9). As with cities, so it is with people. It is much more difficult and dangerous to reclaim one who has fallen than to help keep them from falling. In the words of President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), “It is better to prepare and prevent, than to repair and repent” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson , 285).
Q – Why is staying faithful in the Church easier than returning to the Church after a period of being less active? Why is it easier to maintain a testimony than it is to regain a testimony after falling away?
VS11-12 – The loss of the city of Nephihah illustrates the strong correlation between the wickedness of the Nephites and their inability to defeat their enemies in the “strength of the Lord” (see Mosiah 9:16; 10:10–11; Alma 60:16). The leaders of the Nephite armies were often men who “had the spirit of revelation and also prophecy” (3 Nephi 3:19). These righteous military leaders attributed Nephite defeats not to the Lamanites but to Nephite wickedness. By contrast, faithful Nephites were usually able to defend themselves and recover lost cities, often with relatively minimal loss of life (see Alma 52:19; 56:53–56; 57:7–12; 58:25–28; 62:22–26). The Lord has repeatedly taught that while we may face difficulties and serious problems, if we are righteous and rely on Him, we can always have confidence that He will be with us and His work will ultimately prevail (see D&C 6:34; 10:69; 33:13).