Background: Abt 90 BC
After Ammon defended King Lamoni's flocks by cutting off the arms of the attackers (Alma 17) he was afraid of him and thought he was the Great Spirit. Ammon reassured the King that he wasn’t and then taught him about the gospel of Jesus Christ, starting with the creation of the world, the fall of Adam, and eventually teaching him about the plan of redemption and the Atonement (Alma 18:36-40). Lamoni was receptive to the Holy Spirit and was so overcome by it that he fell to the earth. His servants were convinced he was dead and so they brought him to his wife where he "lay as if he were dead for the space of two days and two nights". (Alma 18:43)
Facts About Her:
- She, along with her daughters and her sons, mourned for the King "after the manner of the Lamanities, greatly lamenting his loss” (Alma 18: 43);
- After two days and two nights she was preparing to lay Lamoni in a sepulchre, yet she had doubts if he was really dead. She had heard from her servants that Ammon was a great prophet and so she called him in to verify if her husband was dead or not (Alma 19: 1-5);
- Ammon examined the body and told her that Lamoni was not dead but "sleepeth in God" (Alma 19:8). He told her that she should not bury him because he would rise the next day. Then he asked her, "Believest thou this?" and she replied, "I have had no witness save thy word, and the word of our servants: nevertheless I believe that it shall be according as thou hast said." (Alma 19:9) Ammon was amazed by her faith and exclaimed, "I say unto thee woman, there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites." (Alma 19: 10);
- She watched over her husband's body all night and in the morning he arose, took her hand, and proclaimed, "Blessed be the name of God, and blessed art thou. For as sure as thou livest, behold, I have seen my Redeemer; and he shall come forth, and be born of woman, and he shall redeem all mankind who believe on his name." (Alma 19: 13) Both she and her husband were so overcome with the spirit that they both fell to the ground, as did Ammon and all of the servants present-- except for one woman named Abish;
- Abish had been converted to the Lord for a long time and recognized the Spirit of God. She wanted others to experience it and so she ran out and gathered a multitude of people together in the King’s house (Alma 19:16-18). Yet when the crowd saw everyone laying of the ground they supposed that Ammon was to blame and tried to kill him. When they were unable to harm him they became afraid and got into a heated argument over whether Ammon was the Great Spirit or not (Alma 19:19- 27). Seeing that the people were contentious and not inspired like she’d hoped made Abish sorrowful and she went and took the queen by the hand, “that perhaps she might raise her from the ground.” (Alma 19:29);
- As soon as Abish touched the Queen she stood up and bore testimony of Christ. She also “clasped her hands, being filled with joy, speaking many words which were not understood” (Alma 19:30);
- The queen then took the King’s hand and he rose up and began to teach his people. Eventually many of them believed and they established a church among them (Alma 19:30-36);
- Later, after the conversion King Lamoni’s father and mother by Aaron and his brethren (Alma 22), the Queen, Lamoni, all of their family, and much of their kingdom changed their names to the “Anti-Nephi- Lehi’s” and took an oath never to raise their weapons of war again (Alma 23).
Speculations About Her:
- Although the text doesn't say one wonders if she, like her husband, also saw the Savior. Her exclamation upon arising from her coma was, “O blessed Jesus, who has saved me from an awful hell! O blessed God, have mercy on this people!” (Alma 19:29) which indicates that she had come to know more of the character of Christ during her short time of being unconscious. Some of the servants who had been overcome by the spirit testified that they had conversed with angels (Alma 19: 34). It is possible that her experience may have been similar to both her husband’s and the servants’ in that she may have seen the Savior, been ministered to by angels, or both.
- After Ammon and Lamoni woke up they went among the people and bore testimony of what they had learned, as did many of the servants who had been overcome by the spirit (Alma 19:31-36). While we don’t know for sure it is likely that she also bore testimony of her experiences to the people and helped in the formation of the church. Her testimony may have also had a particular impact upon the other Lamanite women.
"Such Great Faith" by Walter Rane (Image Source)
I don't know if there is a better of example of faith in the scriptures than the wife of King Lamoni. In Alma 32:21 we are taught that faith is, "not to have a perfect knowledge of things;therefor if you have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true." This Queen had no reason logical reason to believe Ammon, or to have faith that her husband was still alive. Her only witness was the Holy Ghost, which she had never been taught about before, but her soul recognized it and had the faith to believe in things she had not seen. Her faith is even more powerful when we compare her reaction to her husband’s sudden collapse to that that of her mother-in-law, the wife of King Lamoni’s father, in a similar situation. In Alma 22 we read how Aaron and his brethren taught King Lamoni’s father about the gospel and that, like his son, he too was overcome by the spirit and fell to the ground. Yet when the queen came in and saw the King she thought he was dead and was angry with Aaron and his brethren. She commanded that they should be killed but when she saw that her servants, who had witnessed the whole episode, were afraid to touch Aaron she too became afraid. Yet she wasn't afraid of doing the wrong thing, she was merely afraid that something bad would befall her if she was directly involved in their deaths and so she commanded her servants to go and “call the people, that they might slay Aaron and his brethren.” It wasn’t until Aaron, fearing for his life, raised the King from the earth, that the queen was pacified and was later converted to the Lord.
The Queen of King Lamoni could have easily responded in the same way her mother-in-law had, yet she didn't. Instead of angering and being fearful King Lamoni's Queen was faithful and trusting. She didn't understand why things were the way they were but instead of jumping to conclusions she let the Holy Spirit teach her and guide her. Her reaction shows a strength of character and spirit that is truly remarkable. King Lamoni and his Queen would later lead their people to make a covenant with God in which they buried their weapons of war and changed their name to the "Anti-Nephi-Lehi's". Their covenant would later cause them to send their sons off to war with the prophet Helaman. These "stripling warriors" would exhibit enormous faith and spiritual power, which they credited to the faith and the teachings of their mothers (Alma 56:47-48; 57:21-27). While we don't know any of the names of those mothers who do know that the Queen of King Lamoni would have been one of their female leaders. She would have been very instrumental is teaching and modeling the type of faith that the mothers of the stripling warriors would be come so famous for, and may have also sent some of her own sons or grandsons with Helaman.
It is also beautiful to note that she was also blessed with the gift of tongues, for after Abish raised her from the ground we read that she “clasped her hands, being filled with joy, speaking many words which were not understood” (Alma 19:30). The gift to speak in tongues is a gift of the Spirit given to followers of Christ and it is yet another testament to this woman's character that, as such a young convert to the gospel, she was blessed to posses such a powerful spiritual gift. Every time I read her story I am so overcome with her great example. She is truly one of the most powerful women of faith in all of the scriptures and her faith has left a incredible legacy.
Questions to Think About:
- She is one of the few women in the Book of Mormon whose actual words are recorded. In fact the only other woman I can think of who is quoted in the Book of Mormon is Sariah and it is only one line. Yet in Alma 19 we have several long quotes of this queen’s words. Who do you think took the time to write them down and why would they have been preserved?
- Like the Nephites, modern Later-day Saints, often get conceited in thinking that we have the monopoly on faith and testimony. Yet, just like this Lamantie woman of whom Ammon declared “there has not been such great faith among all the people of the Nephites” there are many, many people of faith who have much stronger faith in God and in Christ than many of the best Later-day Saints. Can you think of someone you know who is of a different religion (not LDS) who has faith similar to this Lamanite woman? What can you learn from them?
- Why do you suppose Lamoni, his Queen, Ammon and so many others fell to the ground when they were overcome by the spirit? It seems like a strange reaction and one that doesn't happen very often today. Why do you think they reacted this way?
- How do you imagine that her faith impacted her daughters and the other women in her kingdom? Can you recognize in her the characteristics we so often ascribe to the mothers of the stripling warriors? How can you demonstrate similar faith in your own life?