Abish (Book of Mormon)

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This article is about the Book of Mormon figure. For Walter Abish, the author, see Walter Abish.

According to the Book of Mormon, Abish (/ˈ.bɪʃ/[1]) was a Lamanite woman who lived in the 1st century BC, and one of only three women named in the Book of Mormon (other than those who also appear in the Bible). She is mentioned in the narrative of the Book of Alma,[2] and is notable as a figure in the dramatic narrative of the conversion of King Lamoni by the missionary Ammon.

History[edit]

Abish plays a key role in the conversion of an entire kingdom of Lamanites (an ancient tribe in the Americas that had rejected a religion focused on Jesus Christ). Abish is introduced in the 19th chapter of the Book of Alma in the Book of Mormon. She is a servant of a Lamanite king (King Lamoni) and one of the few Lamanites who believe in Jesus Christ.

Prior to Abish’s introduction, the Book of Mormon discusses the missionary efforts of several Nephites (another ancient tribe in the Americas that continued to follow a religion focused on Jesus Christ and was traditionally hated by the Lamanites). These missionaries desired to preach their religion in the lands of the Lamanites in spite of great danger to themselves. In the words of the Book of Mormon, “[The missionaries] were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish.”[3]

One of these missionaries, Ammon, begins to preach in the land of King Lamoni. He wins the king’s friendship by first becoming the king’s servant and serving well. After gaining the king’s friendship, the king asks Ammon to teach him about God and Ammon’s religion. The king is converted and faints from joy as does his wife, the queen, their servants who are present, and Ammon himself. Of all who are present, only Abish does not faint for she had already been converted several years earlier due to “a remarkable vision of her father.”[4]

When Abish sees that everyone has fainted she knows it is the result of the power of the Lord.[5] Upon recognizing this, she hopes that the experience will help others also be converted to following God and so she begins to run from house to house calling the people to come and see. However, Abish is heartbroken when many of the people begin arguing about what has happened. Some people think it is “a great evil that had come upon them”.[6] One of the people even attempts to kill Ammon while he lies in a faint, yet falls down dead when he lifts his sword.[7] The people continue arguing and Abish is “exceedingly sorrowful, even unto tears.”[8] She goes to the queen and tries to raise her and the queen wakes up and joyfully proclaims her conversion.[9] The queen then wakes the king who also tells of his conversion and begins to teach his people about God. As a result, many more people are converted. Thus Abish eventually gets her wish that the people be converted by coming to see the miracle that had occurred. This event begins a chain of great conversion among the people of the Lamanites.[10]

References[edit]