Tag Archives: Abish story

Alma 19:15-36: Another bunch of notes

Some more notes from our month-long study group on the Abish story:

  • v. 15 The servants are praying because “the fear of the Lord had come upon them also.” Is this fear spiritual or physical? Have they understood enough of what has happened to be praying for mercy, like the King did? Or is this a different sort of fear? Are they afraid for their physical lives, since they had seen that Ammon could not be killed, and yet now they see him falling because of the power of God?
  • v. 15-16 We assumed that the people watching sheep were all men, but here it says all the servants fell except one woman. Does that imply that the group of servants watching sheep included women? children?
    • Are there men who serve the King and women who serve the Queen? Later it appears that Abish is specifically the Queen’s servant
    • Ammon does call the people watching sheep his brethren
  • v. 15-16 Another possibility is that all the servants were gathered, both those who were with Ammon and others who happened to be in the palace that day.
  • One clue that Abish and other women are connected to the sheep-watching servants is that they are both called “Lamanitish.” We searched and couldn’t find that word elsewhere. (We noted that Lamanite and Nephite are rarely used as adjectives at all.) Where did this word come from?
    • Perhaps inventing an adjective. But why here? Why not used again?
    • On original plates? Mormon is borrowing the term for this story?
    • Are they only kind-of Lamanites?
      • They are in the Land of Ishmael. Is Mormon pointing out that they aren’t literally Lamanites? But elsewhere Ishmaelites are grouped together with Lamanites for simplicity, so why would that change here? Could it be that true-Lamanites have more power and they are trying to set themselves up as true Lamanites (through proving loyalty, through certain customs) to join the power structure?
      • Are they children of marriages of one Lamanite and one not-Lamanite? An Ishmaelite or a Lemuelite marrying a Lamanite?
      • Are they actually from neighboring tribes? (Not Lehi’s children at all?) Are they from other tribes but have chosen to live with the Lamanites? Are they from other tribes but have been captured or forced to live with the Lamanites and that’s why they are servants?
      • Are they children of a marriage between a Lamanite and a person from another tribe?
      • Are they the spouse of in a marriage of a Lamanite and non-Lamanite? A “Lamanite-in-law” as it were?
      • Could they be Nephite dissenters who have chosen to live with the Lamanites? They are Lamanitish because of how they have chosen to live rather than because of mixed lineage?
      • Are they children of Nephites who dissented at some point? Perhaps several generations back? Is this part of why they are servants? They are the lesser race in this culture?
      • Are they perhaps children of a Nephite and a Lamanite?
  • v. 16 Depending on which one of the above readings of “Lamanitish” we pick, it changes the story of Abish. She was Lamanitish. What did that imply about her social status in the palace? In the community? About her relationship to the Queen?
  • v. 16 What does it tell us about her vision? She has a “remarkable” vision of her father. (We discussed the ambiguity here: is it a vision he had or a vision she had about him?) Is he/she having visions because they are actually Nephites?
  • v. 17 This vision has converted her, but it also seems to prompt her to go about taking the “opportunity” to show others God’s power. Someone suggested that her vision (or her father’s vision) included the promise of the Lamanites and Nephites being reconciled, or at least of the Lamanites being converted. Perhaps she was waiting for this opportunity for a long time.
  • v. 23 Ammon is saved on account of his father, while Abish is converted on account of her father
  • v. 22-23 perhaps allusions to David & Saul (Also someone named Abishai in David’s time – interesting!) and/or Nephi & Laban
  • v. 28 it seems to me that their contentions happened so fast and so sharp because they have already been thinking about these things for some time (distrust in their king, or in the Nephites, or in Ammon’s arrival, etc.)
  • v. 28 If Abish’s vision/her father’s vision had shown the Lamanites converting, then would add to the reasons why she was so distraught
  • v. 29 “perhaps” – similar to “opportunity” – she is not being told by God what to do, but using her faith and mind to try and see what can be done. Similar to righteous women elsewhere
  • v. 29 King blesses name of God, she blesses Jesus (gives a name)
  • v. 29 King wakes up and talks about Queen as blessed because God will be born of a woman, she wakes up and blesses the childhood name “Jesus” (she continues her position as the typological mother-figure) (beautiful, really)
  • v. 29 she prays that God will bless her people, also a maternal cry
  • v. 29 But her cry is similar to the King’s cry before he passes out. Both of them are concerned about their people. A father/mother, Adam/Eve, Lehi/Sariah kind of pair.
  • v. 30 it’s of course interesting that servant raises Queen, and Queen raises King. Again, this story undoes all sorts of hierarchies, or at least ones that we have, or that perhaps the Nephites had, and we expect that the Lamanites had too.
    • remember though that the Lamanites were known for treating women better than the Nephites did (See Jacob 2-3 for example)

Alma 19: comparing the Queen’s exclamation with the King’s prayer

This is one of (what I hope will be) many short posts on my notes from the Alma 19 study group nights. 

We noted early on the differences between what the King says when he wakes up and what the Queen says when she wakes up. That will make another interesting post. 🙂 For now I want to point out the similarities between what the Queen says when she wakes up and what the King says before he falls asleep:

Alma 18: 41 And he began to cry unto the Lord, saying: O Lord, have mercy; according to thy abundant mercy which thou hast had upon the people of Nephi, have upon me, and my people.

Alma 19:29 …she arose and stood upon her feet, and cried with a loud voice, saying: O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, have mercy on this people!

Both of them focus on the mercy of God. And both of them start by pointing out that God has already had mercy, and asking for that to be extended to another person or group. The King believes that God has shown mercy to the Nephities, and asks for mercy to be shown to himself and his people. The Queen has already had an experience with God and believes that God has shown mercy to her (saved her), and now asks for mercy to be shown to her people.


Alma 19: Lamanitish

This is one of (what I hope will be) many posts on my notes from the Alma 19 study group nights. 

One of the words that confused and interested us was “Lamanitish.” We couldn’t find that word used anywhere else besides this story. We realized that Nephite and Lamanite themselves were very rarely used as adjectives. But they were on occasion, so that didn’t leave any reason for Mormon to have to use the word “Lamanitish.” We played around with a few possibilities:

  • people who don’t follow all of the Lamanite customs and traditions, but who are still Lamanite by birth?
  • people who aren’t Lamanite by birth, but do follow the customs and traditions?
    • perhaps these are Nephite dissenters?
    • perhaps these are non-Lehite peoples who lived in the area?
  • people who have been captured by the Lamanites during war?
  • descendants of Ishmael rather than Laman? (but elsewhere always lumped in with Lamanites…) Perhaps descendants of Ishmael who were trying to be more like Laman’s people in order to be higher up in some political structure?
  • (My personal favorite:) People who married a Lamanite or children of a Lamanite/non-Lamanite couple. “Lamanite-in-law” was one term we floated around.
  • note that the term is only applied to servants. So maybe these were captured, maybe dissenters finding their place in a foreign culture, maybe married in and left to live separately, maybe children of married-in parent, maybe local tribes who had been subjected — maybe any of these, but what is clear is that these are people who are servants to the king and queen.

Each of these ideas could shift the meaning of the story slightly. Think of how they would affect these questions: Why is Ammon sent to work among the Lamantish servants? Why is Abish (Lamanitish) converted? Why was her father receiving visions of Nephite religion? Why do the Lamanitish women servants work so closely with the queen? Why does the king feel like he can kill off the Lamantish men who watch his sheep? Why are the other sheep-watchers who scatter the king’s sheep called “Lamanite” and why aren’t they the ones being killed?