CLICK HERE to read Helaman 1.
Helaman (the grandson of the first Helaman) begins the story of the fall of the Nephites, who abandon their covenants for dissension until they are destroyed, and the Lamanites, who begin to become converted.
This abandoning of covenants unto their own destruction is a “serious difficulty” (verse 1), even so much that the people fight over who should be their leader (instead of asking God) (verse 2). Pahoran had many sons, and three were serious contenders to take their father’s place (verse 3), and the fight over this position caused “three divisions among the people” (verse 4): the people voted, and elected the one named after his father: Pahoran (Junior) (verse 5), but one of the other sons did not agree (verse 6), and the third son tried to “flatter away those people to rise up in rebellion” against the other two brothers (verse 7).
This third son was busted for causing a rebellion amongst the people (verse 8), and his followers were so angry that they retaliated by killing Pahoran, Junior, who had been elected by the people (verse 9). This broke both the laws of God and the laws of the people!
The guy who did the actual murder, Kishkumen, got away (verse 10). The people who hired him to do the job promised never to tell that it was him (verse 11), as long as he got the job done – so no one knew it was him (verse 12).
So the remaining son was appointed the leader (verse 13)
In the meantime, once again while the Nephites were fighting amongst themselves, the enemy Lamanites prepared to attack them (verse 14).
This is true of us, whether in our families or our wards or our communities: the adversary knows we stand too strong to be attacked when we stand together, so he likes to separate us through contention and dissension, and then he makes his move while we are distracted. We must remain vigilant, which includes remaining at-one (at-peace!) with each other.
But here we have the Nephites fighting amongst themselves again, and the Lamanites prepare for battle, led by Coriantumr (verse 15). He was chosen as the leader by the king of the Lamanites because of his strength and wisdom and power (verse 16).
This is another good reminder to us, that we must not assume the adversary is weak or clueless. He is paying attention to us and knows our weaknesses and wants to overpower us. We must be vigilant!
Coriantumr motivated his armies by stirring up their anger (verse 17), and headed to the weakest places of the Nephites – where they had “not kept sufficient guard… because of so much contention and so much difficulty” (verse 18). In fact, the Nephites were so distracted by their own bickering that the Lamanites launched a surprise attack and the Nephites had no time to prepare for battle (verse 19). In this way, the Lamanites killed many and retook the whole city for a Lamanite victory (verse 20), even killing their new leader (verse 21) – which left them without one, since all three contenders had now been killed by their own bickering and contention.
This easy victory made Coriantumr even more courageous than he had been (verse 22), so he did not even wait to attack the next city (verse 23). In this way, he gave no time for the Nephites to spread word that they were under attack or to assemble into armies to defend themselves (verses 24-25). He went straight into the center of their land, where the people had been prideful enough to assume was safe (verse 26), and marched through taking city after city and killing men, women, and children (verse 27).
When Moroni’s son, Moronihah (in Hebrew, the -ihah ending implies that his parents were followers of the Savior, and taught him the covenants as well, so we know he is a good guy), immediately responded with a battle plan (verse 28). He did this so well that the Lamanites were forced to retreat some and slow their slaughter of the Nephites (verse 29). Moronihah pursued them even in their retreat, so well that “it became an exceedingly bloody battle”, and many were killed – including the Lamanite leader Coriantumr (verse 30).
In this way, the Nephites surrounded the Lamanite army and reclaimed their land (verse 31). The Lamanites surrendered (verse 32), and the Nephites retook their own cities, though they had lost many of their people. The Nephites took the Lamanite prisoners, and sent them out of the land in peace (verse 33), wanting only to maintain their own lands, liberty, and freedom of worship.