This round through Alma 17-22, I thought a lot about how each interaction that Aaron and Ammon have with the Lamanites could be being affected by the fact that Ammon and Aaron are princes who have given up their position. Or, maybe they were seen as being dethroned? Maybe they were seen as impostors? (not the real princes). When King Lamoni offers his daughter as a wife for Ammon, it could very well be because he is a prince. It could be setting up alliances between the Nephites and Lamanites. It could be that he thinks Ammon has defected to the Lamanites for real, but a prince would still make a good match for his daughter. It could be that he thinks he’s defected and that he’s a wise, impressive guy, and he wants to have someone like that in his family and ready to take up his place someday. All of these are possibilities if King Lamoni recognizes him as the son of King Mosiah (and I can’t tell how likely that would be or not).
The father of King Lamoni is less impressed with Ammon. Does his distrust and outrage go beyond the simple fact that Ammon is a Nephite and therefore “is one of the children of a liar”? If the father of King Lamoni recognizes Ammon as a prince, why else might he be upset? Does he suspect that this prince is here to trick his son out of his land?
Later, when Ammon is in the position to slay the father of Lamoni, he pleads “If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom.” Does he think that this is really why Ammon is here?
This same language comes up later still, after he realizes that Ammon is only here on honest goodwill efforts. When Aaron is teaching him, the father of Lamoni says that he will give up all his possessions to be filled with the joy that comes from the Spirit — “yea, I will forsake my kingdom that I may receive this great joy.” Note here that he’s not offering his kingdom to Aaron, as he did to Ammon, but simply says he will “forsake.” That is exactly what Aaron and Ammon did! If he is aware of this, then he’s listening to a man who forsook his kingdom because of the joy he felt in preaching this gospel, and here the father of Lamoni is saying “I will give up my own kingdom, like this man, in order to have the joy that he has.”
What an interesting thread woven into this story!