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The Treachery of a Self-Made King: Amalickiah

Updated on March 31, 2018
Rodric29 profile image

The Book of Mormon has touched Rodric's life in ways that words cannot convey; but he tried to write about it anyway! Enjoy his perspective.


Of all the kings of all the people of the Lamanites, The Book of Mormon presents Amalickiah as the most ruthless and ambitious! Coming from a culture alien to tyranny, his reign of ambition started in the free society and government he rejected for absolute power.He thought that somehow he was destined for greater things than to have an equal voice to citizens in a nation full of sheep, the Nephites. As with any great ambition, or goal to accomplish it takes a man of vision with an unyielding supply of determination to win the day--exactly what Amalickiah would do by any means necessary!

The Influence of Amalickiah

There began to be a great political movement among the Nephites after the departure of Alma the Younger following his expropriation of ecclesiastical responsibility of the Church of Christ to his son Helaman. Captain Moroni had just led a winning conquest against the enemies of the state, the Lamanites, which sent them scampering back to their own territories in disgrace as Helaman, exercising his new ministerial powers, was in the process of regulating the church in Zarahemla.

Alma had been a force among the Nephites for good with his missionary efforts. His influence was substantial being that he was the Chief Judge (similar to a US Supreme Court Justice with executive powers) of the nation for many years and the leader of the church. With him gone, it was the perfect opportunity for enterprising people to usurp authority over the people.

Amalickiah took this opportunity of changes and shifting among his people to exercise his religious and political rights, with many of his supporters, by leaving the Church of Christ. The record does not explicitly mention that Amalickiah was a member of the church; nevertheless, it is likely that he was a member owing to the record stating he recruited many followers from the church.

Amalickiah wanted to destroy the church, Mormon suggests, which makes sense being that the government supported the church as an institution. Separation of church and state existed as a practice among the Nephites to the extent that the laws of the church did not dictate the governmental laws; conversely, most of the leaders of the government were members of the dominant religion of Christianity. By modern standards, since all the people tended to attend the same church, there existed no separation. Evidence suggests that the laws of the nation and the laws of the church paralleled for many years until the number of secular Nephites increased to a point where the laws of state and religion could not adequately apply to the citizens—precisely as it is in modern American society. After convincing his followers to betray their religion, his true desire to be elected as King came into view.

A large and strong man in influence and stature is the description Mormon gives Amalickiah physically and inferentially, politically. The people listened to him because he told them what they wanted to hear. Amalickiah wanted to be king, and he promised those who supported his ambitions power and authority in his kingdom.

These power-hungry people assented to this new political ploy designing to go to war, a civil war to make Amalickiah’s desires a reality. Politically, Amalickiah supporters were leaders of the nation. Nephite Dissenters as Mormon described them, they held the position of lower level judges of the people (similar to circuit court judges with executive powers). With political influence and power, these people were ready to act.

The fact that their actions stood in defiance of the mandate placed upon the inhabitants of that land from God meant nothing to them; consequently, they successfully ejected themselves from the church and joined Satan “to destroy the foundation of liberty which God had granted unto them, or which blessing God had sent upon the face of the land for the righteous’ sake,” Alma 46:10.

Liberty with Her Eyes Wide Open

Anytime a free society’s existence is threatened, the antibodies of resistance form in pockets, then droves to repel the infection of tyranny. Amalickiah did not conduct his political aspirations in a corner. He did so openly at variance with the majority of the people of his nation!

King Mosiah, the founding father of the democratic Nephite society, taught the best type of government for the people would be under the leadership of a King if that king we perpetually righteous even through succession. Until that possibility, which he assured would occur during the personal reign of Jesus Christ, he offered the rule of Judges with executive and legislative powers.

Subsequently, the laws guaranteed that all men had equal say in the function of the government in a true democracy. In other words, if the Nephites decided to cast a vote to become a different type of government, say a kingdom, they could do so because they scripted no constitution to indicate otherwise. The law of their nation was majority rules.

Captain Moroni supported a referendum among his compatriots. Every place where there was dissension about the possibility of Amalickiah creating a kingdom the people gathered together to support freedom or kingdom. Amalickiah shouted his ambitions for regal grandeur only to discover that the people in an overwhelming majority desired to continue with equality. The Nephites, with the help of Captain Moroni who launched a grassroots counter political movement called the Title of Liberty, wanted to speak for themselves, freedom!

Abreast of the knowledge that he lost equitably to Liberty, Amalickiah decided to take his political designs and separate from his nation! He and his supporters craved power and authority above liberty and equality.

The Title of Liberty (covered in another article) was the new Nephite party movement. Amalickiah’s political efforts galvanized his nation to hoist the title on every rooftop and tower where citizens could gain access. In this political environment, Amalickiah designed to seek shelter among the Lamanites.



Bad Signs

  • Amalickiah and his followers, the Amalickiahites, left the church.
  • Amalickiah and his followers wanted absolute rule over the people.
  • Amalickiah and his followers dissent when they did not gain the point.

Catch Amalickiah if You Can!

Amalickiah encouraged his followers to take flight out of the land of Zarahemla with the intention of taking the group of people who desired him to be their king and seeking coronation at their hands in the Land of Nephi among the Lamanites.

The people of Amalickiah had been duped! Mormon, with his 20/20 historical hindsight suggests that the people started to doubt the propriety of their cause for an imperial nation. This lack of confidence among his supporters was the catalyst that propelled Amalickiah out of the nation and into dissension.

Captain Moroni attempted to stop Amalickiah’s flight to the Lamanites, but to no avail. The great majority of Amalickiah’s followers were captured or killed by the Nephite military, but a small contingency escaped ghosting Amalickiah into a new political system where his goal for regal recognition could more easily be met since the Lamanites already subsisted within a monarchy politically.

Amalickiah Rising

As soon as Amalickiah entered the land of Nephi, he entreated the king against his former nation by ingratiating his intention to become a Lamanite subject and exploiting his new standing with the king to solicit war! Apparently, Amalickiah played the life-size version of the game Monopoly save he did not pass Go or collect his $200 on the way to power. With determinations fueling his ambition, Amalickiah intended to be royalty by every means possible. Therefore, he made a plan to achieve his goal to usurp Nephite power by usurping Lamanite power.

I Declare War!

First, his plans to poison the mind of the King and his court against the Nephites succeeded. Captain Moroni feared that if Amalickiah joined with the Lamanites, he would cause them to break the covenant of peace they had made in a battled a year or so prior. These events transpired quickly following the departure of Alma the Younger, between the18th and 19th years of the Reign of Judges among the Nephites. His success with the Lamanite king to incite a new war startled the Lamanites who did not desire another war with the Nephites.

Led by a determined Lehonti, a large segment of the Lamanites revolted from the kingdom, established a political platform with the sole purpose of avoiding war with the Nephites, and established a short-lived kingdom. King Lehonti and his new subjects fixed themselves on the Mt, Antipus in the land of Onidah to defend themselves against an advancing army of loyal Lamanites lead by Amalickiah.

The Lamanites had not so easily forgotten the great slaughter they suffered at the command of Captain Moroni. It is understandable that they did not want to go to war regardless of the commands of their former king. At the horrific battle during the 18th years of the Nephi Judges, Zerahemnah warned Captain Moroni that his people would not honor a covenant of peace when Moroni offered it to the Lamanites on pain of death. He, a former Nephite himself, understood the cultural and philosophical leanings of his people and did not want to waste Moroni’s time by agreeing to peace when it amounted to another covenant the Lamanites would break.

Amalickiah, a dissenter from the Nephites, his kind being the cause of much Lamanite-Nephite aggression, succeeded in breaking the peace covenant. It is interesting to note that Lehi, the father of the Nephite and Lamanite peoples, pronounced that the Lamanites would be a plague to the Nephites to remind them of their dependence on the Lord for safety, but it was the wicked Nephite turncoats who inspired the Lamanite scourges. In retrospect, the Nephites destroyed themselves using the Lamanites as their literal weapon of mass annihilation. As long as a traitor did not exist, the Nephites would have peace, but it was never so!

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We Will Not Come Down - Lehonti's Determination

Secondly, Amalickiah wanted command of all the Lamanites. It worked in his favor that such a large number of Lamanites rebelled when the king called for another conflict with the Nephites. Unbeknownst to the Lamanites at Mt. Antipus, the ambitious new commander Amalickiah had no intention of attacking them or compelling them to take up arms under the banner of the king to combat the Nephites at that time. Therefore, Amalickiah’s design was to gain the favor of a new king and unite the Lamanites under one head again.

King Lehonti


Of course, Amalickiah did not intend to repeat the mistakes he made with the Nephites at Zarahemla. He knew he could not achieve his goal to rule all the people of Lehi if there were a civil war at the staging ground So began the entreaty of King Lehonti.

Nehemiah, the great civil servant tasked with the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem by the King of Persia as recorded in the Holy Bible, specifically the Book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament, was in a similar position that King Lehonti found himself. Nehemiah’s enemies sent word to him to meet them in the plains south of Jerusalem to discuss a matter, to which he would not consent being apprised that the invitation to meet in actuality was a ruse to thwart the fortification of Jerusalem. Nehemiah would not stop his work to rebuild Jerusalem to meet these deceivers and he lived.

Unfortunately, Lehonti did not have the same fortitude as did Nehemiah. It took four attempts and a bold advance on the part of Amalickiah, but down from Mt. Antipus went Lehonti. During Amalickiah’s meeting with Lehonti, he devised a plan after assuring him that he had no desire to war with him over the king’s commands to go to war against the Nephites.

Successfully, Amalickiah and Lehonti executed the plan, which was to have Lehonti’s army surround the king’s army in the night. In this manner, Lehonti gained the entire army of his former king! It was a brilliant strategy because the surrounded army pled with their command to desert the king and join Lehonti to avoid death, to which he gladly acquiesced. The only compensation Amalickiah requested for doing this deed for Lehonti and preserving peace came in the form of second in command. Surely Lehonti did not think things through.

Amalickiah Pleading with Lehonti


Bad Sign/Red Flag/Warning!

  • Amalickiah convinced your king to break a peace covenant.
  • Amalickiah was sent after you to compel you to comply with the king’s commands.
  • Amalickiah made a deal to betray the king’s army to you.
  • Amalickiah wants to be your second in command.
  • Amalickiah becomes the leader if you die.

Possibly, King Lehonti felt such relief that he would not need to fight against the army of the king that he graciously accepted Amalickiah’s feigned gracious offer to follow him. For his trust of a dissenter, Lehonti was murdered in degrees by one of Amalickiah’s servants. As is the custom among the Lamanites, the second in command became the new leader. Amalickiah obtains his first kingdom at Mt. Antipus by intrigue. He possessed the entire Lamanite army united under his rule as he marched to meet the pathetic leader of the Lamanites, who Amalickiah deceived into thinking had his allegiance.

Scandalous Intrigue Much?

Celebrations probably ensued at the king’s court in the city of Nephi as his servants announced the return of his military commander with all of his army! Deceptively, this army was not what the king expected and he would never get the chance to know that in mortality.

The king went out to meet his supposed hero in congratulations for reuniting his armies so that the Lamanite kingdom could wage war against the hated Nephites. Interestingly enough, that sentiment is exactly what would happen, save the king would not be there to see it. Amalickiah did not go himself to the king but sent a contingent of his men to greet the ruler. Brazenly, as the king went to raise Amalickiah’s servants from paying homage to his supremacy, the first person he raised stabbed the king in the heart and to death.

Amalickiah’s servants accused the king’s servants of his death and sent an alarm throughout Nephi and surrounding lands that the king’s servants betrayed and killed him. Amalickiah was nowhere near the king at his death purposely so that his next actions would not arouse suspicion, and they did not.

Ordering his armies to investigate the claims of his servants that the king was indeed murdered, Amalickiah went to view the deed. Upon seeing their leader in all his ghastly dishonor, Amalickiah interjected a most passionate plea, “Whosoever loved the king, let him go forth, and pursue his servants that they may be slain,” Alma 47:27.

A Nephite, who dissented from his government where freedom of thought and practice prevailed, joined the Lamanites to be subjected to a kingdom where the only rights applied to the king. He then conspired and succeeded to have King Lehonti killed. He followed by having the unnamed king of the Lamanites killed successfully with subterfuge! Nephite dissenters are truly gangster in word and deed both literal definition and pop culture reference!

What followed was the crowning event of his ascension to the throne in Nephi. The queen of the Lamanites received by messenger that her husband had been slain as Amalickiah and his army occupied the city of Nephi. For whatever reason, the queen besought him to spare the city. Without a king to protect it, the city lay vulnerable to attack.

The queen requested an audience with Amalickiah and his servants with the desire to have proof of her husband’s death and an explanation of how it occurred. Villainously, Amalickiah used the very servant who killed her husband to inform the queen of the truth of her husband’s death. These men lied convincingly for their leader Amalickiah who then pursued the hand of the queen in marriage and acquired it!

Through scandal and intrigue, Amalickiah paved his ascension to the throne with bodies of people who trusted him as an ally. With his marriage to the Queen, he and his cohort had met the goal of obtaining a kingdom.

Mormon thought it was pertinent to mention that these former Nephites who had now usurped the Lamanite kingdom, were no strangers to the law of God. Unlike the Lamanites who had little to no exposure to the Church of Christ, these people had matured within the culture of the gospel. This group of Nephites now ruled the Lamanites. They invaded their kingdom under the guise of service took possession of a nation without war!

Amalickiah and his supporters rejected their birthright and consumed the culture of the Lamanites in epoch manner. Mormon pensively correlated the behavior of the dissenters proportionate to the knowledge they possessed about God that “it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and wilder, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God” Alma 47:36.

An absconder like Amalickiah and his elite group of new Lamanites ejects themselves from their church and nation, but they cannot leave either alone! They become more hardened in their hearts than if they never experienced the gospel.

In conclusion, Amalickiah tops the list among Lamanite kings as the cruelest and most merciless authority-seeker to have ever possessed the throne. Having met the first part of his plan, he set his sight on his original love, Zarahemla. All Hell King Amalickiah!

© 2016 Rodric Johnson


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