I have always admired the words of Abinadi or the power of God in the language before King Noah. We read in Mosiah from 12 to 16, the strategy of his speech in a situation of great tension, surrounded by enemies, in an example of intelligence and planning. Few people can on the march so coherently and effectively spin the nearly three thousand five hundred words that Abinadi uses in his warning message to Noah.
However there is more than skill and memory, a careful analysis of these chapters show us a power capable of dominating those who could have closed Abinadi’s mouth instantly. It is the power of God applied to language. In this article I am not going to focus on the teachings of Abinadi but on how he does it, in what way the power of God builds his discourse. How language is an instrument in your hands more powerful than the sword.
Before his arrest
- «Your life will be like a gartmenty in a furnace of fire»
- «thou shalt be as a stalk, even as a dry stalk of the field, which is run over by the beasts and trodden under foot»
- «thou shalt be as the blossoms of a thistle, which, when it is fully ripe, if the wind bloweth, it is driven forth upon the face of the land.»
The town of Zeniff was in minority in relation to its enemies, nevertheless it had been successful in its development and defense. Pride was evident in the words of its leaders. Abinadi came to break that image, starting with the king and showing the opposite: destruction if they did not repent.
Alma’s question (12: 20-24)
In the story, until now, the priests who surround Abinadi seek to confuse him in his words without success. But one of them (almost without a doubt Alma) asks him a sincere question about the meaning of a writing, with the intention of knowing. The scripture corresponds to Isaiah 52: 7-10
«How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!
Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion.
Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem. The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God»
- Even when under pressure, it dominates the times and does not answer Alma’s question until the end. This control of their emotions is difficult not to be strengthened by a force that compensates for their helpless situation.
- It asks open, rhetorical and closed questions alternating them. The effect is one of bewilderment and therefore of a conquest of space in the debate. Let’s look.
- Rhetorical Questions . … are you priests? Why do you give your hearts to riches? Why do you commit fornications?
- Guiding questions What, then, do you teach this people? Here he awaits the answer he already knows, the law of Moses.
- Questions closed , is salvation coming by the law of Moses?
- He continues to teach the commandments of Moses, but at the same time stops to provoke an intervention of the king, until now spectator. It is not understood any other way that Abinadí continues with rhetorical questions, which he answers.
«Have ye done all this? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. And have ye taught this people that they should do all these things? I say unto you, Nay, ye have not. « (12:37)
The key questions
- At the beginning, Abinadi asks a directive question: «what teach ye this people?» (12:27)
With this question Abinadi leads those who listen to the law of Moses. This is the message of the Lord, the main objective. Admonish the king and the people to obey the commandments, chapter 13
- Then he asks a closed question: «Doth salvation come by the law of Moses? What say ye?» (12:31)
I do not know if I had in mind to talk about this, what is clear is that Alma gave him the alibi and hence the chapter 14, 15 and 16
Abinadi shows his power and message (13)
What do you teach this people?
It was a pulse, a demonstration of the power that assisted him and that balanced the forces in his favor. In a way it is a situation similar to that of Christ in his arrest, «Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?» (Matthew 26:53)
In fact «… the people of king Noah durst not lay their hands on him, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster …» (13: 5)
The answer for Alma (15)
Does salvation come by the law of Moses?
In the chapter of Mosiah 15 Abinadi teaches about Christ and his atonement , his compassion, his intercession before justice, the breaking of the bonds of death. All this he does from verses 1 to 9.
Then after this Abinadi does something curious in verse 15:10, he asks a question:
«And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? …»
This question is not related to Isaiah 52, which is the chapter from where the priest of Noah mentions verses 7-10, but the next the 53. In this he speaks of Christ, of the Messiah and in verse 8 he tells us «He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? … «
After this Abinadi declares that that generation, the posterity of Christ are the prophets who declare his words and those who follow him, those of the first resurrection. It is the answer to the first question.
How could Abinadi as he taught the commandments of the Law of Moses to Noah and his priests, prepare another message as he spoke, based on two consecutive chapters of Isaiah and relating both messages to one at the end?
«Having ascended into heaven, having the bowels of mercy; being filled with compassion towards the children of men; standing betwixt them and justice; having broken the bands of death, taken upon himself their iniquity and their transgressions, having redeemed them, and satisfiedthe demands of justice. » (15:9)
I have not read anything like it talking about Christ . In the rhythm of their language, action predominates, overflowing with energy and content. Their verbs reflect a continuous and well-directed movement. Only in these two verses there are ten different actions composing the panorama of redemption. The description of the Messiah overflows with power and majesty. It is not strange that Alma recognized in Abinadi someone intrepid «but he answered them boldly, and withstood all their questions, yea, to their astonishment» (12:19)
I am presenting is not complete, but it gives an idea of the power of inspired language, shows us that « Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.» (D & C 33: 8 )
It is not a miracle the translation of the Book of Mormon in a time of approximately 85 days, under heavy pressure, persecution and all kinds of difficulties?
Only analyzing Abinadi’s speech has taken me several days and still I have not reached all its depth.