Alma the Elder

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According to the Book of Mormon, Alma (/ˈælmə/; c. 173 BC – c. 91 BC) was a Nephite prophet who established the Church of Jesus Christ in the Americas during the reign of the wicked King Noah.[1] One of the Book of Mormon's greatest figures, he is sometimes referred to as "Alma the Elder" as seen on the website of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [2] to avoid confusion with his son, also named Alma, who is often called "Alma the Younger."


Alma's conversion[edit]

While a young man, Alma was one of several corrupt priests who served King Noah in the land of Nephi.[3] About 148 BC, a prophet named Abinadi was arrested for preaching repentance and condemning the wickedness of Noah and his people. Brought before the king and his priests, Abinadi emphatically urged them to repent and obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Of all who heard him, only Alma was touched by Abinadi's words. When Alma began to defend Abinadi the king had Alma cast out and Abinadi burned alive. Fleeing for his life, Alma went into hiding and wrote down what Abinadi had said before the court. Alma began to teach Abinadi's words in secret, emphasizing repentance and faith in Christ.

Alma's followers[edit]

The illustration called "Alma Baptizing in the Waters of Mormon" was published in the book called Cities in the Sun, published by Elizabeth Rachel Cannon in 1910.

At a hidden retreat in the wilderness called the waters of Mormon, Alma baptized his listeners and organized the church of Christ among them. In time, King Noah found out where Alma's congregation was meeting, and sent his army to destroy them. Being warned by God of the army's coming, Alma quickly led his band of approximately 450 converts into the wilderness for eight days, stopping in an uninhabited land which they named Helam. The people of Alma established the city of Helam there and prospered for many years, remaining faithful to God's commandments.

Return to Zarahemla[edit]

As the years passed, the Lamanites invaded the land of Helam and placed Alma's people under their jurisdiction, taxing them heavily. Finally, in about 120 BC, Alma's people escaped the Lamanites and were led by God through the wilderness for twelve days until they arrived in the land of Zarahemla, then the chief Nephite population center. The people of Alma joyfully united with the Nephites and helped to strengthen the church of Christ in Zarahemla. Zarahemla's King Mosiah soon authorized Alma to serve as the first high priest over the Church in Zarahemla. Alma continued in this capacity for many years.

When Alma's son, Alma the Younger, and the four sons of King Mosiah came of age they rebelled against the church and "were numbered among the unbelievers" (Mosiah 27:8) However, as they went about to destroy the church an angel appeared and, in an experience similar to that of Saul on the road to Damascus, they were all converted. Like Saul, their subsequent efforts on behalf of the church overshadowed their previous efforts to destroy the church. Shortly before his death, Alma conferred the office of high priest upon his son.

The Book of Mormon states that Alma the Elder "lived to fulfil the commandments of God" (Mosiah 29:45). He died in about 91 BC.


Alma had several notable descendants in the Book of Mormon narrative as shown in the family tree below:

Alma the Elder
Alma the Younger
Son of Helaman
Son of Helaman
Son of Helaman
Nephi the Disciple
Son of Nephi
Son of Amos
Son of Amos


At the time the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith into English, the name Alma was known only as a woman's name. This was used as a detraction to make Smith look like he borrowed a Latin name. However, the name Alma has been found in recent historical research to be a masculine name that might have been known to the Jewish people around the time the people of the Book of Mormon were supposed to have left the Old World for America.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ L. Gary Lambert. "To All the World: The Book of Mormon Articles from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism - Alma1". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  2. ^ "Alma the Elder". 2012-02-21. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  3. ^ Bassett, Arthur R. (February 1977). "Alma the Elder". Ensign. Retrieved 2013-07-24. 
  4. ^ Paul Y. Hoskisson. "What's in a Name? Alma as a Hebrew Name - Paul Y. Hoskisson - Journal of Book of Mormon Studies - Volume 7 - Issue 1". Retrieved 2013-07-24. 


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • Alma the Elder - the "Alma the Elder" entry in the Guide to the Scriptures at