Thursday, September 01, 2005


Moroni I - Ammoron

Ammoron: Child of Hell
The Lamanites soon chose a new leader. They selected a man called Ammoron, the brother of Amalickiah. Ammoron soon demonstrated his adherence to the same principles of evil in the pursuit of power that had dominated his brother. Amalickiah's dark exploits had provided the path to power for Ammoron. Ammoron continued the war against the Nephites with venomous vigor.

The Lamanites had lost many men in capturing Nephite cities. Ammoron desired to maintain these blood-won fortifications and therefore took measures to maintain the captured Nephite cities. Teancum, after determining that the Lamanites would not come forth to battle, waited and made preparations for action at such time as Moroni could send reinforcements. Teancum's preparations included the construction of earthworks and places of resort.

Moroni eventually sent a large number of men to strengthen Teancum along with orders instructing Teancum to take and keep as many prisoners as possible as a ransom for the prisoners which the Lamanites had taken. Moroni also instructed Teancum to fortify the land Bountiful and secure the narrow pass to prevent the Lamanites from getting into the lands to the north. Finally, Moroni exhorted Teancum to faithfully defend that quarter and to retake the cities by stratagem if possible. Moroni informed Teancum that the defense of the west borders against the Lamanites prevented him from moving to aid Teancum.

The following year Moroni established armies to protect the south and west borders. Moroni then marched to Bountiful to assist Teancum. Moroni gathered Teancum and other chief captains to council concerning how they might draw the Lamanites out of the city of Mulek. The Lamanite leader at Mulek, a Zoramite named Jacob, preferred to remain within the walls of the city, refusing to come forth and fight upon the plains. After taking council with his captains, Moroni resolved to decoy the Lamanites out from the protective fortifications.

Moroni directed Teancum to lead a small force near the city by the seashore while the rest of the army shifted into the wilderness during the night. When the bulk of the Lamanite force left the city in pursuit of Teancum's small force, Moroni marched out of the wilderness and recaptured the city. The small garrison must have been taken utterly by surprise. Instead of the victorious return of their leader Jacob, a substantial force of seasoned Nephite soldiers lead by Moroni himself overcame the city, killing all of the defenders who would not deliver up their weapons. After leaving a detachment of his own to guard the city, Moroni advanced with the remainder of the army to meet the Lamanites who were returning from their pursuit of Teancum.

The Lamanites under Jacob's command had also been disappointingly surprised in their pursuit of Teancum. Teancum had led the pursuing Lamanites toward a body of fresh Nephite troops who had been waiting under Lehi's command. The Lamanites turned back to escape Lehi's troops only to encounter Moroni's force. Again as at the hill Riplah, Moroni had placed the enemy at a disadvantage and attacked from two sides. The Lamanites suffered not only from their long march in pursuit of Teancum and their subsequent retreat from Lehi, but also from the demoralization and confusion of attacks from both the front and the rear. Moroni commanded that his men "should fall upon [the Lamanites] until they had given up their weapons of war." Alma 52:32.

The Lamanites, finding themselves attacked from both sides, fought fiercely. Jacob, chosen as a leader by Amalickiah or Ammoron because he was a Zoramite indoctrinated in the hatred of the Nephites, led his exhausted troops into the battle with fury. Jacob was unaware of the fall of the city of Mulek and hoped to cut a killing path through Moroni's force and escape to that stronghold. In spite of Jacob's "unconquerable spirit" and his furious onslaught, Moroni's faithful withstood the attack. Jacob was killed and Moroni received a wound in the fighting. The loss of their leader and the double attack by Moroni and Lehi, threw the wearied Lamanites into great confusion. Lehi pressed his advantage with such intensity that the Lamanites facing him began to surrender their weapons and the remaining combatants "being much confused, knew not whether to go or to strike." Alma 52:36. The Lamanites had only just recently been in hot pursuit of a near defenseless Teancum. The anticipation of a rapid and convincing victory over the slayer of Amalickiah had incited their hunger for battle to the very utmost extreme. That keen hunger soon gave way to the sickness of one gorged on bitter fruit. The Lamanites found themselves bereft of their leader and caught between two of the Nephite captains whose names they most feared. The Chief Captain Moroni, a veritable destroyer of Lamanite armies, barred the path of anticipated escape; Lehi, famous for his part in the ambush at the river Sidon and his staunch defense of cities, attacked the Lamanites in ruthless pursuit. Turmoil, terror, chaos and bewilderment thwarted the Lamanites' attempts at manuever and defense. Moroni saw their confusion and shouted for them to surrender their weapons so that their lives might be spared. Considering their hopeless situation, it is not surprising that many Lamanites did surrender; the remainder were slain or had their weapons taken from them. Moroni caused the Lamanite prisoners to bury the dead of both sides. He then sent the prisoners to labor in fortifying the city of Bountiful.

With the use of a simple stratagem and the indispensable aid of Teancum and Lehi, Moroni had achieved a great victory; a large Lamanite army had been destroyed and a city had been recaptured. Additionally, the Nephites had taken many prisoners and built a stronghold to guard them. For the rest of the year, Moroni employed his forces in making fortifications and providing food for the women, children and armies.

We may expect the same fate as Jacob and his comrades when we allow ourselves to be lured away from the protective defenses of gospel principles in pursuit of worldly will-o'-the-wisps. The parents who neglect children for the praise and accoutrements of worldly success, may find, like Jacob's garrison, that other influences have prevailed in their absence. They may also discover, like Jacob, that the attraction was merely a false attraction, providing neither lasting satisfaction nor real benefit.

Moroni placed Lehi in command of the city of Mulek. Lehi "was a man like unto Moroni, and they rejoiced in each other's safety; yea, they were beloved by each other, and also beloved by all the people of Nephi." Alma 53:2. This newly captured city might have been a key position. Perhaps, Moroni anticipated an attempt by the Lamanites to retake the city and he desired to have his beloved and trusted friend, who was feared by the Lamanites, commanding this vital position. Lehi may also have possessed important skills needed for the rehabilitation of the city and the surrounding area following the enemy occupation.

While Moroni, with the aid of Lehi and Teancum, had been making progress in the east, dissensions among the Nephites in the west had allowed the Lamanites to capture some cities in that area. Perhaps, as a result of these dissensions and the Lamanite successes, the people of Ammon felt a special desire to provide more substantial aid to the Nephites. Helaman warned the people of Ammon of the terrible consequences which they would face in taking up weapons in violation of their oath against shedding blood. However, the people of Ammon had many sons who had not entered into this covenant against taking up weapons in defense. These two-thousand young warriors assembled and declared themselves to be Nephites and entered into their own covenant. They covenanted, much like the Nephites under Moroni had covenanted, "to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives...that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage." Alma 53:17. Helaman consented to be their leader and led them by the west sea against the invaders from the south. These young men would prove to be a great help to the Nephites for "they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all--they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted." Alma 53:20.

In the twenty-ninth year of the reign of the judges, Ammoron wrote to Moroni expressing a desire to exchange prisoners. Moroni sought relief from the burden of the Lamanite prisoners; he also wanted to liberate as many captive Nephites as possible. He wrote back to Ammoron with words of powerful condemnation for Ammoron's continuation of this war which his wicked brother had instigated. Moroni warned Ammoron of the Lord's wrath and promised him that:

[A]s the Lord liveth, our armies shall come upon you except ye withdraw, and ye shall soon be visited with death, for we will retain our cities and our lands; yea, and we will maintain our religion and the cause of our God.

But behold, it supposeth me that I talk to you concerning these things in vain; or is supposeth me that thou art a child of hell.
Alma 54:10-11.

Moroni did offer to exchange one Lamanite prisoner for each entire captured Nephite family.

Ammoron, enraged by Moroni's epistle, warned Moroni that he would avenge his brother's death. Ammoron, nevertheless, offered to end the war if the Nephites would agree to surrender their weapons and acknowledge his leadership. In other words, Ammoron would agree to stop the fighting and bloodshed if the Nephites would give up their liberty and submit to his tyranny. He also agreed to the terms for prisoner exchange, and promised to use the strength from the return of his men to carry on the war to the subjection of the Nephites or their eternal extinction. Ammoron declared that the war was an effort to avenge wrongs done by Nephi against Laman and Lemuel and to obtain rights to the government. Like many who endeavor to gain influence or power by force and violence, Ammoron wished to cloak his heinous and manifold crimes within the claim of righting past wrongs and obtaining his rightful voice in the government.

Moroni must have read Ammoron's epistle with growing disgust. He became "more angry" because he knew that Ammoron "had a perfect knowledge of his fraud in waging war against the Nephites." Alma 55:1. Moroni therefore determined not to exchange prisoners with Ammoron, which exchange would increase the strength of Ammoron's forces, unless Ammoron would cease entirely from waging war. Moroni reaffirmed his determination to overcome Ammoron and promised to spread death among the Lamanites until they sued for peace.

Moroni combined this determination to overcome Ammoron with preparation. Moroni inquired among his own men for a Lamanite. He discovered a Lamanite who had been one of the servants of the Lamanite king whom Amalickiah had murdered. This former servant of the king and a small number of men took wine to the Lamanites guarding the Nephite prisoners. After the guards had become drunk, Moroni and his men entered the city and armed all of the prisoners, including the women and children. Yet Moroni did not fall upon the Lamanites and slaughter them in their drunken stupor. He waited until the Lamanites awoke to find themselves surrounded. The Lamanites finally regained consciousness to discover their former prisoners teamed with the dreaded Moroni and his army ready to inflict death upon them. After assessing their tenuous position, the Lamanites determined that "it was not expedient that they should fight with the Nephites." Alma 55:23. Moroni took them prisoner and engaged them in strengthening the fortifications of the city of Gid.

We might liken ourselves unto the Lamanites in the city of Gid. They received wine into their fortification for their own pleasure and gratification. Even though they were not enticed away like Jacob from the city of Mulek, they became so intoxicated upon that which they willingly took into their fortification, that the fortification no longer protected them. The Lamanites, too inebriated to man the fortifications, surrendered the very defenses which they had sought to hold and whose protections they had enjoyed. There are things that we take into our homes that may be likened unto the wine given to the Lamanites. Videos, television, written and photographic materials of our modern days have also been "prepared in [their] strength" by those who oppose gospel principles. Even though we may not be lured away from our homes, the influences which we allow to enter our homes also has the power to subdue and overcome the heavenly atmosphere and haven that our homes should be.

Following the fortification of the city of Gid, Moroni removed his prisoners to the city Bountiful where a strong force guarded them. Although the Lamanites, under Ammoron's stinging lash of hatred for Moroni, made attempts to liberate the prisoners and seize additional cities, the Nephites succeeded in maintaining both the prisoners and the ground which they had retaken. "And it came to pass that the Nephites began again to be victorious, and to reclaim their rights and privileges." Alma 55:28.

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