May 14, 2014 by FHElessons
This post is part of my Book of Mormon story series. To view where this story falls in the Book of Mormon timeline, click HERE. To read the story that comes before this one, go HERE. To read all the stories that I have summarized so far, click on the “Scripture Stories” tab at the top of the page.
I don’t have an illustration of this story to share, but my wonderful sister, Amanda, has kindly allowed me to share some of the photos she took on a trip to Central America. I thought these would give us an idea of what the landscape may have looked like during this time period. Although the structure above was labeled as a temple on my sister’s tour, I can imagine that King Noah’s watchtower may have looked something like this, especially when you see it next to the surrounding buildings as shown below. I would think that for the people of this time period to build a tower tall enough to see out over the jungle, it would have to have been shaped something like this.
King Noah’s Betrayal
(found in Mosiah 19 in the Book of Mormon)
You’ll remember that when Abinadi preached repentance to the people, those same people bound him and brought him before King Noah, who had him burned at the stake. Just three years later, with Alma and his righteous followers gone, a portion of the remaining people began to see that King Noah really was a wicked man. There began to be a division among the people between those who still supported the king and those who opposed him. One of the leaders of those who opposed the king was a man named Gideon. He was, in a word, a stud, and we’ll talk more about him later. Suffice it to say that just as he was about to kill King Noah and free the people from the king’s tyranny, King Noah looked out from the top of his watchtower where Gideon had him cornered and saw that the Lamanites were on their way to the Nephite city to attack.
All of the Nephites fled before the attacking Lamanite army, but as the attackers began to overtake them, King Noah cowardly commanded the men to leave the women and children who were slowing them down and run away more swiftly. Some of the men obeyed the king and some stayed with their families, refusing the king’s order. Can you imagine actually leaving your wife and children to perish by the hand of your enemies while you try to save your own skin? I don’t think I know any men who would do such a thing. But, perhaps, in the fear of the moment and with the added pressure of the command of their king, we can understand how some men made this choice.
Those who stayed with their families were spared because their beautiful wives and daughters pleaded with and charmed the Lamanite men into merely taking them captive rather than killing them. They submitted to be in bondage to the Lamanites and pay a tax of half of everything they possessed or earned to the Lamanite king from there on out.
(You can see how a dense jungle may have been a good place to escape to and hide in.)
Those who fled, leaving the women and children behind, soon came to regret their actions. Once they were safely away in the wilderness and realized that they had left their wives and children unprotected, they became furious with King Noah and his priests for commanding them to do so. They turned on King Noah, and put him to death by burning him at the stake. If you remember, Abinadi had prophesied that King Noah would suffer the same death that he had inflicted upon Abinadi himself (Mosiah 17:15-18), and this prophecy now came to pass. The men would also have burned Noah’s priests, but the priests escaped into the wilderness.
The men who had fled then vowed to return and find out what had happened to their wives and children. If their families had been killed, they planned to seek revenge by killing the Lamanites who had killed their families and also be killed themselves. Fortunately, they met a group of men, sent out by Gideon, who had come searching for them. They discovered that their families had not been killed but only captured, and so they returned to the land of Nephi, rejoicing.
Limhi, a righteous man who was the son of King Noah, became the new king. He promised to continue to pay the 50% tax to the Lamanite king, and the Lamanite king promised the Nephites safety in return for this payment. However, he also set guards round about them so that they could not escape, thus keeping the Nephites as virtual slaves. Their bondage would become even more difficult to bear as the years progressed and the Lamanites began to exercise authority over them, hit them, and place heavy burdens upon them, just as Abinadi prophesied would happen (Mosiah 12:2-5).
(You can see how a tall tower would be necessary to see out over the jungle.)
Points to Ponder:
· What was it about King Noah that made the people like him enough to join with him in killing Abinadi? Why did the people change their minds about King Noah in such a short time period? Compare King Noah to leaders you know of today or in recent history. Are these leaders persuasive to the people?
· What makes people want to follow someone who is wicked? When do people begin to realize that they chose wrongly in following that person?
· When King Noah commanded the men to leave the woman and children so that they could have a better chance of escaping, some obeyed him and some did not. Do you think it took courage to disobey the king and stay with the women and children? What choice would you make in that situation?
· How do you think the men who fled their families felt about what they had done? How do you feel after you have done something wrong? How can you forgive yourself?
· How do you think the families of the men who fled felt about their husbands and fathers when they returned? Would it be hard to forgive? Why does Heavenly Father ask us to forgive all men?
· King Noah suffered the same death he had inflicted on Abinadi, just as Abinadi prophesied. He also prophesied that the people would be brought into bondage if they did not repent, which also comes to pass. How do prophets know what the future holds? How can we live better lives by listening to our prophets?
· Although King Noah was a wicked man, his son, Limhi, was righteous. How does it happen that a wicked man raises a righteous son?