Sunday, September 15, 2013

Thoughts on Amalickiah’s Rise to Power Through Treachery, Alma 47-48

--> In Alma 47:1- 48:3, we see how Amalickiah rose to power among the Lamanites, and it is mostly through betraying people’s trust in him.
1)   He was trusted with the loyal part of the Lamanite king’s army.  He betrayed the army by making a secret agreement with Lehoni by which he tells Lehonti how to conquer the army.
2)   He betrays Lehonti’s trust by having him poisoned by degrees, even when Amalickiah was second in command.
3)   He betrays the Lamanite king by having him murdered.  This also betrays the part of his army that loves the Lamanite king.
4)   He betrays the trust of the part of the army that didn’t want to fight by having speakers of propaganda stir the Lamanites up to anger against the Nephites so that they want to go to war.
Clearly Amalickiah was an equal opportunity betrayer.  Being this guy’s friend was dangerous.

I used to have this idea that uniting his army with Lehonti’s automatically made the army united in purpose, but now I don’t think so.  I suspect that much of Amalickiah’s shenanigans after Lehoni’s death were efforts to keep the army together.  He had to play each side off the other and take turns giving each side what they wanted.  

I suspect that he promised Lehonti a united army would be more effective at resisting the Lamanite king’s command to fight.

He probably used the pro-war part of his army to administer poison to Lehonti, making them think this was all part of the plan to remove the anti-war resistance.

For the march back to the Lamanite capital, he probably assured the pro-war faction that they had succeeded, and then soothed the anti-war faction into compliance with the return by suggesting that assassinating the Lamanite king would be the perfect means of ensuring that they would not be subjected to go to war.

When the Lamanite king was assassinated (most likely by the anti-war faction of Amalickiah’s army), Amalickiah’s pretended anger and gave the pro-war faction opportunity to get revenge by allowing them to go after the supposed culprits, the king’s servants. 

The escape of the Lamanite king’s servants to Zarahemla was probably  a great excuse for Amalickiah to start war.  He could accuse the Nephites of planting assassins in the palace and make avenging the death of the king the reason why the Lamanites should go to war.  And the anti-war faction would have to go along with it or risk having their crime exposed.

Amalickiah is a very true type of Satan. Just like Amalickiah was not loyal to those who allied themselves with him, Satan does not support those who trust in wickedness.  A lot of people think they can break the commandments, keep the evil consequences under control, and have evil serve them, but Amalickiah’s treatment of Lehonti shows how Satan prefers to make us think we’re in control while his other forces take control and destroy us.

Another thing we learn about Satan from watching Amalickiah is that Satan’s forces are not united.  Satan uses this by playing each part off the other until he gets what he wants.  He gives side A chance to destroy side B for a while, then gives side B chance to destroy side A for a while, then vice versa.  Each side thinks they are the favored ones, but Satan’s only concern is to get more power and to destroy.

And notice, Amalickiah never does the dirty work himself; he only incites others to do it.  Likewise, Satan might argue he’s not personally responsible for the evil of the world; he doesn’t have a body, but he tries to influence people by giving them the bad ideas.  He tries to make those ideas look attractive and like they will give them what they want. 

Reading about Amalickiah, I always find myself wondering how Lehonti could ever have known Amalickiah was a bad guy.  How could he have protected himself?  John Bytheway has noted that Lehonti should never have come down from his mountain to talk to Amalickiah, yet something about that bothers me just a little bit.  What if it had been Captain Moroni with an army that was asking for a parley?  To me, to refuse to come down and even listen to a proposal before you even know what it is sounds close-minded. 

Eventually I realized that Amalickiah tipped his hand when he offered to betray his own army to Lehonti.   While this sounded like a very attractive offer to Lehonti, it should have been a big red flag that Amalickiah was not a man to be trusted.  A man who betrays his own people as a goodwill gesture to make friends with someone will think nothing of eventually betraying the new friend when advantage is to be gained elsewhere.


catania said...

I love this analysis. This story is so provocative in so many ways it's so "shakespearean".

Whenever I read this account, I watch it unfold and think, "No! Guys! What are you thinking."

Then, I realize, isn't this how it often happens in our own lives? It can be so easy to be tricked. Amalickiah is treacherous, and they way he does it is through lying and flattery. You are right in that Amalickiah is a lot like Satan. The devil works in the same way, and I find that really the only way to see through the lies and flattery is by having the Spirit.


Michaela Stephens said...

I totally agree--the story really IS "shakespearean." Every time I read it I feel like it is Othello on a national scale.

Yes, the Spirit is needed to see through this, and particularly the gift of discernment.