In the 25th year, there begins to be contention in the land about altering the law. Pahoran refuses to change the law, which would favor the king-men (those who want a king again in the land). The rest of the people are called freemen “and thus was the division among them.” (6) Uh-oh. Contention. Division. They are setting themselves up for bondage again.
A vote is held, and the voice of the people comes in favor of liberty. The freemen win the day, silencing the king men.
Now those who were in favor of kings were those of high birth, and they sought to be kings; and they were supported by those who sought power and authority over the people.”Alma 51:8
High birth? Were these maybe descendants of King Mosiah, who wanted power?
This was a critical time for such contentions to be among the people of Nephi; for behold, Amalickiah [that snake] had again stirred up the hearts of the people of the Lamanites against the people of the Nephites, and he was gathering together soldiers from all parts of the land, and arming them, and preparing for war with all diligence; for he had sworn to drink the blood of Moroni.”Alma 51:9
His army isn’t as great as before, due to all the soldiers who were slain by the Nephites the first time, but it was still “a wonderfully great army, insomuch that he feared not to come down to the land of Zarahemla.” (11)
When the king-men see the Lamanites coming against them, they refuse to take up arms. They’re ticked that the people didn’t vote for them, so they won’t fight for freedom.
I love Moroni’s response. When he saw this rebellion “he was exceedingly wroth because of the stubbornness of those people whom he had labored with so much diligence to preserve; yea, he was exceedingly wroth; his soul was filled with anger against them.” (14)
He had done so much to preserve their freedoms, and they don’t even care. They are selfish and only want power for themselves. Forget everyone else. I’d be angry too. Any righteous person would. This goes against every principle we fought for in the war in heaven.
Moroni writes to Pahoran, asking for “power to compel those dissenters to defend their country or to put them to death.” (15) He gets it.
And it came to pass that Moroni commanded that his army should go against those king-men, to pull down their pride and their nobility and level them with the earth, or they should take up arms and support the cause of liberty.”Alma 51:17
Four thousand king-men are “hewn down by the sword; and those of their leaders who were not slain in battle were taken and cast into prison, for there was no time for their trials at this period.” (19) This shows how many there were, because this isn’t the end of the king-men. They will cause havoc later on for Pahoran, making the chief judge flee for his life and not be able to support the Nephite armies who are fighting to protect the land.
The rest of them, after seeing so many killed, surrender “and were compelled to hoist the title of liberty upon their towers, and in their cities, and to take up arms in defence of their country.” (20)
While Moroni is busy establishing peace among his own people and putting down the king-men, Amalickiah attacks and take over the city of Moroni (which was one of the newer cities established, so it probably didn’t have as strong as fortifications as others because there just hadn’t been time). He goes on and takes control of all the Nephite cities on the borders by the seashore. Not until he comes against Teancum and his army is Amalickiah thwarted.
But behold he met with a disappointment by being repulsed by Teancum and his men, for they were great warriors: for every man of Teancum did exceed the Lamanites in their strength and in their skill of war, insomuch that they did gain advantage over the Lamanites.”Alma 51:31
Despite this victory, the Lamanites have taken over the cities of Moroni, Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton, Omner, Gid, and Mulek. All these cities “were strongly fortified after the manner of the fortifications of Moroni; all of which afforded strongholds for the Lamanites.” (27) Now these strongholds belong to the enemy.
How did they get overrun so easily?
We studied all of the fortifications and layers of protection Moroni had built around each city. They were well-defended. Yet, Amalickiah takes seven of them in one fell swoop.
I believe, the dissension and discord from within the Nephites, caused their fall. Moroni couldn’t stay aware and protect from the Lamanites, because he was busy protecting from within. The king men had stirred up contention and insurrection, and when a nation is divided from within, it is easier for an enemy to attack from without.
Unity works as the bond that keeps all of the other fortifications working well. When unity is lost, the people don’t work as a whole unit, and the Lamanites gain the advantage over them. This lesson teaches us that we will never gain strength by fighting among ourselves over politics, religion, or other social issues. We don’t necessarily have to agree on everything, but we must be united in what counts—freedom and righteousness.
Teancum has had enough of the wicked Amalickiah. In his anger, he goes to his camp at night while the enemy is sleeping and “put a javelin to his heart; and he did cause the death of the king immediately that he did not awake his servants.” (34)
Amalickiah’s wicked reign ends. This marks the end of the 25th year. We live in a time of great discord and dissension in the world today. What can we do to promote more unity? Promote the cause of freedom? Promote more Christlike charity?