Things aren't always as they appear. There is so much to be learned in discussing the following story. There are hundreds of questions you could ask with every chapter you read. Ask as many questions as you can, and then dig deeper and find more questions to ask. In this process you'll find your greatest treasures. Teenagers and young adults love such things.
Questions for Discussion
Why did Amalickiah's small group have to flee into the wilderness? Why was Moroni able to see through Amalickiah's subtle plans? How did Moroni respond when he heard what Amalickiah was doing? How were Amalickiah's plans received by the Nephites? (See Moroni 46)
Have you ever been stirred up to anger? How? Have you ever stirred others up to anger? What was your motive? What were Amalickiah's motives in going up against the Nephites to battle? What did Amalickiah say and do to persuade the king to go to battle with the Nephites? What did the king think he was going to gain from this battle? How did Amalickiah use anger to control the Lamanites and get them to carry out his plan?
1 Now we will return in our record to Amalickiah and those who had fled with him into the wilderness; for, behold, he had taken those who went with him, and went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites, and did stir up the Lamanites to anger against the people of Nephi, insomuch that the king of the Lamanites sent a proclamation throughout all his land, among all his people, that they should gather themselves together again to go to battle against the Nephites.
Who usually starts a battle? What are the motives of leaders who declare war? What are wars fought over? Do the ones on the battle field want to be there? Why did the Lamanites fear to displease the king? Why did they fear to go against the Nephites to battle? What would you have done? Did they have to obey the king? Can you be forced to fight and go to war?
2 And it came to pass that when the proclamation had gone forth among them they were exceedingly afraid; yea, they feared to displease the king, and they also feared to go to battle against the Nephites lest they should lose their lives. And it came to pass that they would not, or the more part of them would not, obey the commandments of the king.
Before Amalickiah came into their land, did the king have a desire to go to war? How did Amalickiah control the king? Why did the king listen to and follow Amalickiah? How did Amalickiah gain control of the army? Is the king even listening to his people? How well does force and control work? How would you feel if you were compelled to go to battle?
3 And now it came to pass that the king was wroth because of their disobedience; therefore he gave Amalickiah the command of that part of his army which was obedient unto his commands, and commanded him that he should go forth and compel them to arms.
What was Amalickiah's plan? How did Amalickiah get the king to go along with his plan? What does it mean to lay a plan in your heart? Can you lay a good plan in your heart? Which has more power: a plan in your heart or a plan in your mind? What was clouding the king's vision so that he could not see through Amalickiah's plan? Definition of Subtle: making use of clever and indirect methods to achieve something. How was Amalickiah's plan subtle?
4 Now behold, this was the desire of Amalickiah; for he being a very subtle man to do evil therefore he laid the plan in his heart to dethrone the king of the Lamanites.
How did Amalickiah gain favor with the king and the Lamanites? Did he use flattery? (see Alma 46:10) Why were the Lamanites so open to Amalickiah's suggestions? Why did Amalickiah choose to gain favor with both armies instead of compelling them to arms? Since the rebel army won't be forced to go to battle, can Amalickiah accomplish his plan through flattery and appealing to lusts of the flesh?
5 And now he had got the command of those parts of the Lamanites who were in favor of the king; and he sought to gain favor of those who were not obedient; therefore he went forward to the place which was called Onidah, for thither had all the Lamanites fled; for they discovered the army coming, and, supposing that they were coming to destroy them, therefore they fled to Onidah, to the place of arms.
If these Lamanites were fixed in their minds with a determined resolution that they would not be subjected to go against the Nephites, how come Amalickiah succeeded in getting them to go to battle against the Nephites? (see Alma 48:1-3) Why did Amalickiah need to keep his real plan from these people? Did they even know they were being manipulated?
6 And they had appointed a man to be a king and a leader over them, being fixed in their minds with a determined resolution that they would not be subjected to go against the Nephites.
Why would these Lamanites rather fight the Lamanites than fight the Nephites? Were they on the offensive or the defensive when they were on top of Mount Antipas?
7 And it came to pass that they had gathered themselves together upon the top of the mount which was called Antipas, in preparation to battle.
How is Amalickiah's subtlety shifting the Lamanites' perception? Would you have seen through Amalickiah's hypocrisy? Explain. Was Amalickiah ever loyal to the king? Why did everyone trust this newcomer?
8 Now it was not Amalickiah’s intention to give them battle according to the commandments of the king; but behold, it was his intention to gain favor with the armies of the Lamanites, that he might place himself at their head and dethrone the king and take possession of the kingdom.
Why is Amalickiah having his army pitch their tents so near the rebellious Lamanites?
9 And behold, it came to pass that he caused his army to pitch their tents in the valley which was near the mount Antipas.
What was the purpose of this secret embassy? Why did Amalickiah want to speak with Lehonti?
10 And it came to pass that when it was night he sent a secret embassy into the mount Antipas, desiring that the leader of those who were upon the mount, whose name was Lehonti, that he should come down to the foot of the mount, for he desired to speak with him.
Did Lehonti trust Amalickiah? Did he have a reason to distrust Amalickiah? Why wouldn't Lehonti go down to talk with Amalickiah?
11 And it came to pass that when Lehonti received the message he durst not go down to the foot of the mount. And it came to pass that Amalickiah sent again the second time, desiring him to come down. And it came to pass that Lehonti would not; and he sent again the third time.
Was it Amalickiah's plan to harm Lehonti while Lehonti still had suspicions of him?
12 And it came to pass that when Amalickiah found that he could not get Lehonti to come down off from the mount, he went up into the mount, nearly to Lehonti’s camp; and he sent again the fourth time his message unto Lehonti, desiring that he would come down, and that he would bring his guards with him.
How is Amalickiah abusing his position over the king's army? What did Amalickiah do to gain favor with Lehonti? When Amalickiah offered Lehonti command of the whole army, did he gain Lehonti's trust? Why would Lehonti trust a man who would betray his own army? How did Lehonti's lust for power cloud his vision? Why was Amalickiah okay with being a second leader?
13 And it came to pass that when Lehonti had come down with his guards to Amalickiah, that Amalickiah desired him to come down with his army in the night-time, and surround those men in their camps over whom the king had given him command, and that he would deliver them up into Lehonti’s hands, if he would make him (Amalickiah) a second leader over the whole army.
Why did Lehonti go along with Amalickiah's plan? Had he even considered Amalickiah's motives? Why was the king's army unaware of Amalickiah's betrayal?
14 And it came to pass that Lehonti came down with his men and surrounded the men of Amalickiah, so that before they awoke at the dawn of day they were surrounded by the armies of Lehonti.
How did Amalikiah get the king's army to want to surrender to Lehonti's army? What were they afraid of? How is fear used to motivate both armies? How did Amalickiah know what to do and say to get the Lamanites to move in the direction he wanted them to go?
15 And it came to pass that when they saw that they were surrounded, they pled with Amalickiah that he would suffer them to fall in with their brethren, that they might not be destroyed. Now this was the very thing which Amalickiah desired.
How are the king, the king's army, Lehonti, and Lehonti's army being used as pawns in the hands of Amalickiah? What was Amalickiah's end goal? Why was it so easy for Amalickiah to gain the trust of the Lamanites?
16 And it came to pass that he delivered his men, contrary to the commands of the king. Now this was the thing that Amalickiah desired, that he might accomplish his designs in dethroning the king.
If this was the custom among the Lamanites, to appoint the second leader to be their chief leader, why wasn't Lehonti suspicious of Amalickiah's plan?
17 Now it was the custom among the Lamanites, if their chief leader was killed, to appoint the second leader to be their chief leader.
Why did Amalickiah choose to have poison administered by degrees to Lehonti? Would the Lamanites be suspicious if Lehonti was murdered in another way?
18 And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison by degrees to Lehonti, that he died.
When there is an automatic line of succession, can mischief go undetected?
19 Now, when Lehonti was dead, the Lamanites appointed Amalickiah to be their leader and their chief commander.
Are any of the Lamanites noticing how Amalickiah is gaining his desires?
20 And it came to pass that Amalickiah marched with his armies (for he had gained his desires) to the land of Nephi, to the city of Nephi, which was the chief city.
Why did the king suppose that Amalickiah had fulfilled his commands?
21 And the king came out to meet him with his guards, for he supposed that Amalickiah had fulfilled his commands, and that Amalickiah had gathered together so great an army to go against the Nephites to battle.
How are the servants of Amalickiah using a false pretense to approach the king? Does the king expect people to reverence him because of his greatness?
22 But behold, as the king came out to meet him Amalickiah caused that his servants should go forth to meet the king. And they went and bowed themselves before the king, as if to reverence him because of his greatness.
Where did the Nephites get this token of peace? What does the stretching forth of the hand token mean?
23 And it came to pass that the king put forth his hand to raise them, as was the custom with the Lamanites, as a token of peace, which custom they had taken from the Nephites.
How close was the army to Amalickiah's servants and the king? Did anyone from the army witness what happened?
24 And it came to pass that when he had raised the first from the ground, behold he stabbed the king to the heart; and he fell to the earth.
Why did the servants of the king flee? What would have happened if they had stayed? Why did the servants of Amalickiah immediately blame the servants of the king? Is it even reasonable that the king's servants would kill him right in front of so many people? They are with him every day. If they were going to kill him, wouldn't they have chosen a more private location? Did anyone see the obvious?
25 Now the servants of the king fled; and the servants of Amalickiah raised a cry, saying:
26 Behold, the servants of the king have stabbed him to the heart, and he has fallen and they have fled; behold, come and see.
Why did Amalickiah have the army march forth to see the dead king? Did this make his story more believable? How did Amalickiah use his pretended anger to deceive the Lamanites? How did Amalickiah use an emotional appeal to automatically try and convict the king's guards of murdering the king? Was it insinuated that the army would be guilty of not loving the king if they did not pursue the king's servants? How is Amalickiah manipulating the army with his words? Were the Lamanites acting or being acted upon? (see Free to Act . . . Obtaining Peace)
27 And it came to pass that Amalickiah commanded that his armies should march forth and see what had happened to the king; and when they had come to the spot, and found the king lying in his gore, Amalickiah pretended to be wroth, and said: Whosoever loved the king, let him go forth, and pursue his servants that they may be slain.
Why did those who loved the king pursue the king's servants? Did they even know what was going on? Do we ever fall into such traps? “If you love the Lord you'll do . . . If you are righteous you'll do . . . If you have good desires you'll do . . . etc.” Do we stop an evaluate each claim or do blindly rush forward doing what we're told? How was revenge used to cloud their vision?
28 And it came to pass that all they who loved the king, when they heard these words, came forth and pursued after the servants of the king.
What would have happened if the servants of the king weren't frightened? How is fear used to control us? Why does the Lord give us this commandment, “Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.”? D&C 6:36 If we don't trust in the Lord, is our only other alternative to fear men?
29 Now when the servants of the king saw an army pursuing after them, they were frightened again, and fled into the wilderness, and came over into the land of Zarahemla and joined the people of Ammon.
Amalickiah not only gained control of the Army, but he gained the hearts of the people. How was he able to gain their hearts? Does this mean they loved and trusted him? How was this accomplished?
30 And the army which pursued after them returned, having pursued after them in vain; and thus Amalickiah, by his fraud, gained the hearts of the people.
Why would the Lamanite army come and take possession of their own city?
31 And it came to pass on the morrow he entered the city Nephi with his armies, and took possession of the city.
Because Amalickiah was the one responsible for informing the queen, did this make him more believable? Why did he only inform her with the information he wanted her to hear? How did Amalickiah show the queen that he had acted responsibly to take vengeance on those who killed the king? How did these communications add to the credibility of Amalickiah's story?
32 And now it came to pass that the queen, when she had heard that the king was slain—for Amalickiah had sent an embassy to the queen informing her that the king had been slain by his servants, that he had pursued them with his army, but it was in vain, and they had made their escape—
Why did the queen need to ask Amalickiah to spare the people of the city? Why did the queen want witnesses of the king's murder brought to her? Just because someone is a witness, does it follow that they are telling the truth? Do witnesses ever have ulterior motives?
33 Therefore, when the queen had received this message she sent unto Amalickiah, desiring him that he would spare the people of the city; and she also desired him that he should come in unto her; and she also desired him that he should bring witnesses with him to testify concerning the death of the king.
What secret combination did Amalickiah have with his servants that held them loyal to each other to accomplish this evil plan? What motive did Amalickiah's servants have to lie to the queen? How was the queen to know the truth? What was the king's guards motive for fleeing? Can a story be twisted to make it appear different than what happened?
34 And it came to pass that Amalickiah took the same servant that slew the king, and all them who were with him, and went in unto the queen, unto the place where she sat; and they all testified unto her that the king was slain by his own servants; and they said also: They have fled; does not this testify against them? And thus they satisfied the queen concerning the death of the king.
How do you suppose Amalickiah gained the favor of the queen? How come all these people are giving their hearts to Amalickiah? Is he charming? Witty? Charismatic? Believable? Pleasant to be with? How did Moroni see through Amalickiah's subtle plans yet the Lamanites do not? Did Amalickiah immediately become king of the Lamanites or did the queen need to fall in love with him first? Did he come in the front door with force, or did he use flattery to get these Lamanites to follow him?
35 And it came to pass that Amalickiah sought the favor of the queen, and took her unto him to wife; and thus by his fraud, and by the assistance of his cunning servants, he obtained the kingdom; yea, he was acknowledged king throughout all the land, among all the people of the Lamanites, who were composed of the Lamanites and the Lemuelites and the Ishmaelites, and all the dissenters of the Nephites, from the reign of Nephi down to the present time.
Does instruction and information change hearts? What must be the condition of our hearts to be able to understand the Lord? When we turn away from the light we have received, do we go back to our previous state or do we become worse than we were in the first place? Why do people forget the Lord their God?
36 Now these dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information of the Nephites, yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God.
How does the devil use anger, fear, jealousy, flattery, revenge, lust for power and control, etc. to blind you and move you around like a pawn on his chest board?