- Ammonites (Book of Mormon)
According to the
Book of Mormon, the Ammonites were a group of Lamaniteswho had been converted to the Christian religion of the Nephites by the missionary efforts of Ammon and his brothers. They rejected the traditions of their fathers and embraced the traditions of the Nephites. To distinguish themselves from the Lamanites, they took upon themselves the name Anti-Nephi-Lehies. The name refers to the original leaders that lead their family out of Jerusalem and, guided by God, traveled to the Americas: Nephi and his father Lehi. In the usage here, "Anti" means "to imitate".
Prior to their conversion, the Ammonites were Lamanites, traditional enemies of the Nephites, and they had taken part in wars and battles against the Nephites. Following their conversion, they felt that their past sins were so great that they took a vow to never shed blood again and to avoid all forms of warfare, even in their own defense. To indicate the serious covenant they were making to this end, they buried all their weapons deep in the ground.
Forced from their homeland by their former Lamanite brethren, the Ammonites were re-located to the Nephite land of Jershon and the Nephites took up their defense in their behalf. The Ammonites, in return, provided provisions and material help to support the Nephite armies. When the Nephite and Lamanite nations entered into escalated warfare, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies volunteered to help the Nephites fight.
Helaman, who was the leader of the church at that time, forbade them from doing so for fear that God would punish them for breaking their oath. Instead, they sent their sons who had not taken their oath to not fight under the command of Helaman. This group was called the two thousand stripling warriors.
The History of the names of the Ammonites.
The name that the converted
Lamanitesused to discern themselves from the Lamaniteswas in Anti-Nephi-Lehies. (sourcetext|source=Book of Mormon|book=Alma
chapter=23|verse=17). Following their relocation to the land of Jershon they were known by the Nephites as the people of Ammon (sourcetext|source=Book of Mormon|book=Alma
Detailed account of the People of Ammon
About 90 B.C., the sons of Mosiah, (Ammon, Aaron, Omner and Himni) begin to convert thousands of Lamanites to Christianity. So firm was their faith, according to the text, not one of the thousands they converted ever left the Church.
They decide as a group to discern themselves from the Lamanites by taking up the name of Anti-Nephi-Lehies and after which begin to have a friendly relations with the Nephites. According to the text they are no longer cursed by God. The king over all the Lamanites, a convert and Lamoni's father, anoints his son to be the new king and gives him the name of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. The unconverted Lamanites rebel and choose their own king.
Unconverted Lamanites, provoked to violence by Nephite dissenters (known as Amulonites and Amalekites), take up arms against them. Honoring the oath they had taken in covenant to God, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies refuse to take up arms in their own defense and 1005 are slain. Conscience-stricken by the murders they had committed upon their own people, a thousand attackers are converted due to the example of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies.
The Anti-Nephi-Lehies begin to observe the law of Moses and look forward to the prophesied coming of Christ. Amalekites again stir up the unconverted Lamanites to violence. To preserve themselves, the Anti-Nephi-Lehies flee into the wilderness near Zarahemla. Seeking a permanent solution, they propose to Ammon that they travel to the land of the Nephites (believers in Christ) and offer to be slaves to the Nephites if they allow them to live among them. Rather than accepting them as slaves, the Nephites agree to give the Anti-Nephi-Lehies the land of Jershon as a place to live as equals among them. Mindful of their covenant of peace, the Nephites agree to protect them with their armies in return for food and supplies for those armies. After this point they are called the People of Ammon, or Ammonites, after the chief missionary among them and advocate for them to the nephites. The Ammonites become mighty members of the Church and are distinguished by their zeal and strict obedience to the commandments.
When a group of refugees from a neighboring city are given protection and homes among the Ammonites, the people who had persecuted the refugees for their belief in Christ, the Zoramites, become angry with the Ammonites. For not ejecting the converted Zoramites from their land, the Zoramites join the Lamanites and prepare to wage war with the Ammonites and Nephites. In response to the imminent threat of war, the Ammonites give the Land of Jershon as a place for the Nephite armies and move to the land of Melek.
Although the Ammonites provide tremendous material support for the Nephite armies during their wars with the Lamanites, they begin to feel desires to take a more active role in defending the land. Hearing that they are thinking of breaking their oath to never again take up weapons against another, Helaman, the leader of the Church, convinces them that doing so would break their covenant with God and result in disaster. Instead, the Ammonites agree to send their sons, who had not taken the oath, to fight under the command of Helaman as their military leader. This small army of some 2000 young men, become renowned for their valor and strength in battle. They are miraculously protected by God as they obey every command given by Helaman and, although all suffer wounds, none are killed in battle. This group is known as the Army of Helaman, and also as the Stripling Warriors.
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