Tuesday, December 17, 2019

"Remember/Forget" -- A poetic pairing in the first part of Alma-2's sermon to the people of Ammonihah

In Alma 9, Alma-2 preaches to the wicked people of Ammonihah, according to his own record.  The sermon begins in verse 8, and the poetry is immediately apparent when we look at his three-fold use of the contrasting pair "remember/forget" in the first 6 verses, building up to God's promise given to Nephi and Lehi:

8 Behold, O ye wicked and perverse generation, how have ye forgotten the tradition of your fathers; yea, how soon ye have forgotten the commandments of God.
9 Do ye not remember that our father, Lehi, was brought out of Jerusalem by the hand of God? Do ye not remember that they were all led by him through the wilderness?
10 And have ye forgotten so soon how many times he delivered our fathers out of the hands of their enemies, and preserved them from being destroyed, even by the hands of their own brethren?
11 Yea, and if it had not been for his matchless power, and his mercy, and his long-suffering towards us, we should unavoidably have been cut off from the face of the earth long before this period of time, and perhaps been consigned to a state of endless misery and woe.
12 Behold, now I say unto you that he commandeth you to repent; and except ye repent, ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. But behold, this is not all—he has commanded you to repent, or he will utterly destroy you from off the face of the earth; yea, he will visit you in his anger, and in his fierce anger he will not turn away.
13 Behold, do ye not remember the words which he spake unto Lehi, saying that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land? And again it is said that: Inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.
Notice how Alma matches the spiritual and the temporal:

Verse 8: "The tradition of your fathers" and "the commandments of God"
Verses 9-11: Comparing the deliverance from Jerusalem and the matchless power, mercy, and long-suffering of Jesus Christ.

He seems to be building a rhetorical case that the blessings of the Lord extend beyond worldly prosperity. Alma then issues a prophetic command to repent (that word shows up three times in verse 12), or else face utter destruction.

He's building to something here.

In the next post, I'll outline an absolutely gorgeous example of chiasmus in the following verses which demonstrates how the Nephites were made to prosper in the land both spiritually and temporally.

Scriptural repetition -- An introduction

In this paper , Alan Goff makes a good case for intentional repetition in ancient Hebrew scripture (including the Book of Mormon whose write...