Friday, July 9, 2010

Lessons from the battle in Alma 43

In Alma 43, the chapter about Zerahemnah's attack on the Nephites and Moroni's defense at the waters of Sidon, there are several things that puzzled me. One is that it seemed like the Nephite armies got weaker as the battle progressed and that the other was that it seemed like the Lamanites seemed to get stronger.

Nephites getting weaker: At the beginning of the battle, the Nephite army headed by Lehi meets the Lamanites and administered "death almost at every stroke." But further on, the Nephites were "about to shink and flee" from the Lamanites when they saw their fierceness and anger.

Lamanites getting stronger: At the beginning of the battle, the Lamanites were getting slaughtered almost with every blow, and then nearer the end, they were smiting in two the Nephites headplates, piercing their breastplates, and smiting off many of their arms, fighting like dragons.

The simple explanation for this is that there was a range of skills and abilities represented in the Nephite army. Lehi's army seemed to be full of the more experienced and skilled warriors. They seem to have known exactly how to wield their weapons in the most effective and efficient way both to protect themselves and to bear down all Lamanite defense. Of course these men would be at the front of the battle, to buffer the less experienced warriors from the full strength of the enemy. When we also consider that Moroni raised part of his army from the Manti populace to help defend their lands, it is easy to understand that the Manti militia would be substantially less experienced and hardened to the rigors of battle. Thus, the Lamanite enemy that was a piece of cake for Lehi's army to beat, seemed to the less-experienced Nephite army to be fighting like dragons. That the Lamanites could suddenly render the Nephite armor ineffective indicates that the Nephite armor wasn't much help without good fighting skill.

Nevertheless, the account shows that the Manti militia, when they called upon God for their liberty and freedom, were able to stand with power equal to their more experienced brethren in Lehi's crack army, driving the Zarahemnah's Lamanite army to the river. I think this is the message that Mormon was trying to get across in his account. Another message that we can get from this is that spiritual armor makes the most difference in our lives when it is coupled with experience and skill at resisting temptation and that for those who don't yet have the experience and skill, praying is what can make up the difference.