Amalickiah: The Model Scheming Leader

Art by James H. Fullmer

… I did liken all scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning. (1 Nephi 19:23)

In a talk given several times over the last 35 years, President Hinckley amplified the warnings of the Nephite prophets. Paraphrasing him, he said that the Book of Mormon is as “current as the morning newspaper” and that “the people succumbed to the wiles of ambitious and scheming leaders” causing lascivious living, burdensome taxes and ultimately wars which led to the destruction of both the Jaredites and the Nephites. (President Gordon B. Hinckley – A Testimony Vibrant and True most recently Ensign August 2005) This pointed declaration seems to have gone unnoticed by many a Latter Day Saint. I believe that we, the LDS culture, endeavor to fight the adversary with one half of the Book of Mormon behind our backs. To begin to remedy this situation I propose that we take a moment and study the epitome of the “ambitious and scheming leader,” Amalickiah. Forgive me as I liken the scriptures unto us. You may not like where this goes.

First off, I must disabuse you of the mistaken notion that this story is irrelevant to us in our day.Moroni and Mormon, Nephi and Jacob, and many other prophets saw our day. (Mormon 8:35-41 is particularly enlightening.) They saw us, the readers of the book containing the history of the house of Lehi. It was written for those of us that would read it, not for their contemporaries, not for the unbelievers in our generation. They included only the “hundredth part” of their record. (3 Nephi 26:6, Words of Mormon 1:5, 3 Nephi 5:8, Jacob 3:13, Helaman 3:14, Ether 15:33) It is critical that we not make the mistake of brushing off these seemingly non-doctrinal events found in the most correct book on the earth that was written specifically for us.

Now let us embark on the story of Amalickiah.

… and thus Amalickiah, by his fraud, gained the hearts of the people. (Alma 47: 30)

Whoa, wait a minute here. I’m starting at the end. Why? Because we ought to be concerned about the hearts and minds of the people these days. Mass media, military activity, political maneuvering, and societal discourse all center around gaining, influencing, winning or deceiving the hearts of the people. By succeeding in this pursuit great wealth, power, and gratification are achieved. Nations are moved to war, to tax, to ignore, and even to collapse. Ok, now let us start at the beginning.

 Now the leader of those who were wroth against their brethren was a large and a strong man; and his name was Amalickiah. And Amalickiah was desirous to be a king; and those people who were wroth were also desirous that he should be their king; and they were the greater part of them the lower judges of the land, and they were seeking for power. And they had been led by the flatteries of Amalickiah, that if they would support him and establish him to be their king that he would make them rulers over the people. Thus they were led away by Amalickiah to dissensions, notwithstanding the preaching of Helaman and his brethren, yea, notwithstanding their exceedingly great care over the church, for they were high priests over the church. And there were many in the church who believed in the flattering words of Amalickiah… (Alma 46:3-7)

Who was Amalickiah? Amalickiah, of Zoramite lineage, was an elite member of the Nephite aristocracy. He was supported by the lower judges of the land. Amalickiah was also a leader of certain parts of the Nephite armies. (Alma 46:32)

Why is this important? We ought to ask ourselves that question. Why do men in high places always desire more? Power corrupts. What power and money one wicked man already has is never enough. We ought not surrender our mental faculties to the thought that there is no reason for men of unimaginable power and money to desire more. It’s enough herein to establish the simple fact that they do. The Book of Mormon attests to it. Yea, and we also see the great wickedness one very wicked man can cause to take place among the children of men. (Alma46:9)

It was only the 19th year of the reign of the judges among the people of Nephi. Amalickiah sought control of the nation and proceeded to wage an info-war against this free people. Moroni was angry and presented immediate opposition by raising the Title of Liberty. Thankfully Moroni won. His message? In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children. (The Title of Liberty)

The model of the scheming and ambitious leader is beginning to develop:

  1. They desire more power and gain than they already have.
  2. They use flattery (definition: excessive and insincere praise, esp. that given to further one’s own interests.) to gain the hearts of the people. Interesting that we find further proof in Alma 47 and 48 that Amalickiah was adept at marshalling the mechanisms of propaganda in his day.
  3. He made agreements with others in power to obtain and share the spoils. I suppose that if a concerned citizen had brought this to the attention of the Nephites who were deceived by the flattery of Amalickiah they might have brushed this off as simply a “conspiracy theory.” Captain Moroni knew it to be a fact. Ezra Taft Benson emphatically stated on multiple occasions “There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon — it is a conspiracy fact.”
  4. Many believe the lies. Even the members of the church are susceptible. *gasp* “many in the church”

Well I’m sure I’ve lost a few readers at this point (probably disgusted family members), but there it is in black and white, the hundredth part that Mormon chose to tell us about Amalickiah’s background.

As you know, Captain Moroni won the war of ideas. He was a man of “perfect understanding.” Mormon had high praise for Captain Moroni. Where do you think he got the idea for his son’s name? We ought to pay close attention. Amalickiah fled to the land of Nephi and Moroni did not pursue. He only headed the segment of the Nephite armies that Amalickiah had co-opted, of which he had ultimate charge (Alma 46:34), and he enforced their covenants. If ever anyone had a reason for preemptive war, Moroni probably could make the best case. Yet he refrained. (For more perspective on Moroni, please read The Virtue of Captain Moroni and/or other related works by this same author. And/or read Alma 48:10-20 in conjunction with D&C 130:20-21) Amalickiah escaped with his servants and immediately began meddling in the affairs of the Lamanites.

Now we will return in our record to Amalickiah and those who had fled with him into the wilderness; for, behold, he had taken those who went with him, and went up in the land of Nephi among the Lamanites, and did stir up the Lamanites to anger against the people of Nephi, insomuch that the king of the Lamanites sent a proclamation throughout all his land, among all his people, that they should gather themselves together again to go to battle against the Nephites. And it came to pass that when the proclamation had gone forth among them they were exceedingly afraid; yea, they feared to displease the king, and they also feared to go to battle against the Nephites lest they should lose their lives. And it came to pass that they would not, or the more part of them would not, obey the commandments of the king. And now it came to pass that the king was wroth because of their disobedience; therefore he gave Amalickiah the command of that part of his army which was obedient unto his commands, and commanded him that he should go forth and compel them to arms. Now behold, this was the desire of Amalickiah; for he being a very subtle man to do evil therefore he laid the plan in his heart to dethrone the king of the Lamanites. (Alma 47:1-4)

More characteristics are developing:

  1. These men may meddle in the affairs of multiple nations to achieve their end goals.
  2. They are adept at manipulating the mechanisms of public information and are able to effectively inculcate the public with propaganda. This was especially important in Amalickiah’s case. We see, however, that he was not effective at first because the Lamanites were war weary.
  3. They are adept at manipulating public officials and moving up the ladder of public and/or military office.
  4. They operate in a subtle and secret manner, always working towards their ultimate goal of power.

The main body of the Lamanite armies fled to Onidah (their place of arms) and ascended the Mount Antipas. They were determined not to be forced to fight the Nephites. They had elected Lehonti as their king and leader. (Alma 47:5-7) Now Lehonti was probably not your average spring chicken. My guess is that he had been around the block. Mormon indicates that these soldiers were quite resolute in their desire not to fight. They appointed one of their best I am sure, but he had no idea who he was up against. But neither do we it seems. Yet we have the benefit of this inspired history. Lehonti did not.

What follows is a classic example of conspiracy, deceit, murder, and a false-flag terrorist attack. This is classic secret combination activity. After three unsuccessful attempts Amalickiah finally coaxes Lehonti into “peace-talks,” if you will, near the top of Mount Antipas. He offers his army in exchange for the position of second in command to Lehonti. (Alma 47:8-13) Don’t do it Lehonti. Lehonti agrees to the plan. Amalickiah allows him to surround his armies by night to take them by force. In the morning he of course acts surprised. All the necessary parties have been deceived. (Alma 47:14-16)

Amalickiah then murders Lehonti. Well actually he had a servant do it by administering poison to him “by degrees.” He didn’t even have to get his hands dirty. Plausible deniability? Thus he gains control of the entire Lamanite army. (Alma 47:17-19) To this point we have seen some undeniable conspiracy, deceit, and murder. But remember the Lamanites are still vehemently opposed to fighting the Nephites for the most part. What follows next is Amalickiah’s artful manipulation of the entire Lamanite nation. His actions are necessary to set up the war that he wishes to prosecute. It is naïve to think that Amalickiah did not calculate this well in advance. His preliminary intention was to become the Lamanite king. Mormon tells us three times of this milestone. (Alma 47:4,8,16) Notwithstanding, we know that his ultimate goal was to reign over all the land (Alma 48:2).

False-flag attacks and terrorism are some of the oldest tricks in the book. If you are unaware of the implications or the history of either of these terms thank the public school system and begin your research (i.e. google). In a nutshell, the goal of these strategies is to create fear in a populace to induce a reaction. Generally the reaction is war or increased governmental control. In either case, the natural rights of the people at large are generally obliterated. Terrorism is an act against a non-military target, an assassination, or some other equivalent high-profile crime intended to provoke massive public reaction. The term “false-flag” stems from naval warfare, where a ship would display the flag of an adversary while executing some heinous crime against a port city or ship or other target, likely inflicted against oneself.  The adversary would of course be blamed and mayhem ensues.

Back to the story, Amalickiah brings the united Lamanite armies home. The king comes out to meet Amalickiah and Amalickiah sends his servants to greet him. They bow before the king and when the first one is raised up, that servant stabs the king through the heart, dead. In that moment of treachery the dead king’s loyal servants fled whilst Amalickiah’s minions raised a cry that the king’s servants had killed the king. (Alma 47:20-26) Now on its face, this makes absolutely no sense. Why would the servants of the king kill the king? And why then and there?They must have had ample opportunity previously. Why would they do it with the armies so near?

Regardless of any flaws in the manufactured narrative, Amalickiah was expert in his craft. He immediately orders the armies to pursue the alleged terrorists who have conveniently fled to the land Jershon in the Nephite nation. His speech must have been inspiring. Whosoever loved the king, let him go forth, and pursue his servants that they may be slain. (Alma 46:27)  And it came to pass that all they who loved the king, when they heard these words, came forth and pursued after the servants of the king. (Alma 46:28) In their haste the masses followed the direction of the scheming leader for love of king and country in spite of any cognitive dissonance.

… and thus Amalickiah, by his fraud, gained the hearts of the people. (Alma 47: 30)

That is textbook folks. That is how it is done. Machiavelli could not have written a better script. But the story is not over. Amalickiah still had to woo the queen and then set men upon the towers and engage in a full scale propaganda campaign to finally persuade the Lamanites to go to war. (Alma 47:31-36; Alma 48:1)

More characteristics of those leaders we read about in the “morning newspaper”:

  1. These men are exceedingly expert at flattery. Many people who should know better fall for their lies.
  2. They have absolutely no scruples. They will lie directly to you and stab you through the heart, literally or figuratively, at their first opportunity. They would sell their own mother down the river.
  3. They are able to successfully deceive a necessary majority of their followers for lengthy periods of time.
  4. They have a group of loyal servants who do their dirty work. This may be large or small. They are in league together. Amalickiah must have made promises to many, many people and groups.
  5. They use any pretense, false or real, for as long as it serves their purpose to gain their ultimate end.
  6. They understand pride. It is universal. They endeavor to enlist the masses in erroneous actions. Any soul who has committed to an idea and verbally supports it or actively works toward its accomplishment will be difficult to convince that they are in error. This is stubborn pride.

Propaganda defined: information, esp. of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.

THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. These are the opening lines of Edward Bernays famous book Propaganda published in 1928. Bernays was part of the first official American state propaganda apparatus, The Committee on Public Information. This group played a crucial role in convincing the peace loving people of America to go to war in Europe in 1917 (WWI). The closing lines of the book are these: Propaganda will never die out. Intelligent men must realize that propaganda is the modern instrument by which they can fight for productive ends and help to bring order out of chaos. What we must understand is that whether we feel it plausible or not, men in power are, and have been, and ever will be studying how to and attempting to manipulate the masses to achieve their corrupt goals or in other words their “order out of chaos.”

I can imagine in my mind the full extent of Amalickiah’s rhetoric and the sound bites he must have employed; the ideas he implanted. If spoken today I would imagine it would sound something like this in our modern parlance: If you loved your king, if you love your country, stand with us. You are either with us or you are with the terrorists who killed the king. Those Nephites hate us. They want to destroy our way of life. We are justified in our attack. They are harboring the terrorists. We must seek out and destroy those terrorists and force our way of government upon the Nephites. It is our birthright.

2073 years later this was the actual language that was used: “We will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation, in every region, now has a decision to make. Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” (Pres. Bush Joint Session of Congress 9/20/2001)  Of course G.W. Bush didn’t write that speech. See V. Lenin’s quote on “useful idiots.” No, I am not saying that G.W. Bush is Amalickiah. No, I am not saying that the Afghans or the Iraqis are the Nephites. However, President Packer did say that our youth have been “raised in enemy territory.” (General Conference Oct. 2011)

Therefore he had accomplished his design, for he had hardened the hearts of the Lamanites and blinded their minds, and stirred them up to anger, insomuch that he had gathered together a numerous host to go to battle against the Nephites. (Alma 48:3) Eleven years later we ought to ask ourselves, to what end are we working? What is the fruit of our efforts? Are we so blinded by stubborn pride that we cannot see the error of our ways?

Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. (Mormon 8:20)

Dear readers, we are already at war here on our own soil. The war of ideas is on in earnest. The bombs are exploding all around us. Casualties to falsehoods abound, but the truth is sharper than a two-edged sword, to the dividing asunder of both joints and marrow. Please prayerfully use the Book of Mormon as a reference as you attempt to sort out the truth from the error in our day.

18 thoughts on “Amalickiah: The Model Scheming Leader”

  1. Thank you for your post, Dan. I know these take a lot of effort. I myself have just recently started opening my eyes to just how specifically the Book of Mormon is speaking to us in our day and how it an oracle for our times. As such, it is a window into the mind and nature of God and of the laws that govern the universe; it by contrast also enlightens us as to the designs and methods of Satan. Know your enemy. Something else struck me as I was reading concerning the corrupting influence of power – that is that I no longer feel comfortable with power (not that I’ve ever had much). The thought of exercising power over people is repulsive to me. I feel comfortable with influence, but also feel a strong obligation to exercise that influence only in righteousness.

  2. It was not the Lamanite king’s servants that killed the Lamanite king – it was Amalikiah’s servants that killed the Lamanite king. This is my understanding when I read Alma 47.

    21 And the king came out to meet him with his guards, for he supposed that Amalickiah had fulfilled his commands, and that Amalickiah had gathered together so great an army to go against the Nephites to battle.
    22 But behold, as the king came out to meet him[,] Amalickiah caused that HIS [OWN] servants should go forth to meet the king. And they went and bowed themselves before the king, AS IF to reverence him because of his greatness. [THIS IS PART OF THE DECEIT.]
    24 And it came to pass that when he had raised the FIRST [SERVANT OF AMALIKIAH] from the ground, behold he [AMALIKIAH’S SERVANT

    1. Julie,

      You are correct in how you read Alma 41:21-24 … I thought that was what I wrote so maybe you can shed some light on how you would have worded it better. Here’s what I said:

      The king comes out to meet Amalickiah and Amalickiah sends his servants to greet him . They bow before the king and when the first one is raised up, that servant [AMALICKIAH’s] stabs the king through the heart, dead. In that moment of treachery the dead king’s loyal servants fled whilst Amalickiah’s minions raised a cry that the king’s servants had killed the king. (Alma 47:20-26)

      That’s the manufactured narrative. Amalickiah and his syndicate made up the story that the kings servants had killed the king. That oddity is what should have alerted the army.

  3. I see no flaws in the story — there is no “manufactured narrative”. I would be happy to hear back from you about this and my previous reply. Thank you! GREAT ARTICLE.

    1. I think maybe it was this sentence that led to the confusion:
      Regardless of any flaws in the manufactured narrative, Amalickiah was expert in his craft.

      Regardless of any inconsistencies in the lie he told, Amalickiah was an expert at getting the army (and thus the nation at large) to buy it. That’s the crazy part. There’s so much of this going on today. Maybe I should consider re-wording that section but the crux of it is this. He created a moment of crisis and evoked immediate action from his army. When we are supportive of a lie and defend it in word and deed, it is much harder to swallow our pride, repent and admit we were wrong.

      I may change that to read: Regardless of any flaws in HIS manufactured narrative, Amalickiah was expert in his craft.

  4. D. Rolling Kearney

    I understood what you meant when you said:

    “Why would the servants of the king kill the king? And why then and there?They must have had ample opportunity previously. Why would they do it with the armies so near?”

    You meant that any thinking person should have picked up on the inconsistencies in what they were being told, but they did not. Kind of like… how did an airliner completely pulverize an enormous skyscraper, including its tenants, desks, computers, copy machines, and so forth, but yet the government was able to find objects made of paper including passports, etc., enough to prove who committed the act, almost immediately (!). We were duped just like this.

    1. D. Rolling Kearney

      There are always “flaws in the manufactured narrative” but there are other factors at work in favor of the fraudulent. For instance, Joseph Goebbels said “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” This worked in Amalickiah’s favor because this was so unbelievable, no one wanted to think he would make up such a thing!

  5. Great article! I wish this concept were more prevalent among church members. Sadly, it is not. My guess is that the members aren’t reading the BoM like they should be.

    Do you think that Mormon warned us about Amalickiah to make us generally aware of his technique’s? OR, do you think that there is an actual modern day individual who will be a shadow of Amalickiah?

  6. Apparently we are too occupied with worldly matters and worrying about our own image, that we let ourselves be influenced by the propagada of the media. History repeats itself, That is why we have the Book of Mormon to help us identify with the past and learn how to combat those who are glib but deceptive as Amalickiah was. He was a fantastic example of goal striving and fortitude.

  7. Richard C Bishop

    Elder David O McKay Conference Report, Apr 1942, 72.
    There are, however, two conditions which may justify a truly Christian man to enter—enter, not begin—a war: (1) An attempt by others to dominate and to deprive another of his free agency, and (2) Loyalty to his own country. Possibly there is a third, viz., Defense of a weak nation that is being unjustly crushed by a strong, ruthless one.

  8. Excellent article. I am studying the Book of Mormon again after many, many years of being without it. Your insight helps me adapt it to the present world. I appreciate that. Than you.


  9. Dan, GREAT article !!! I give you my sincerest complements. I sometimes wish that these things were not taught so indirectly by the church (i.e. “read the Book of Mormon”), but rather directly, as you have spoken. I believe the work you and I are doing begins with convincing people in the church to by loyal to principles. Please consider joining and working with us at

    Also, I wouldn’t use the word “democratic society” since it feeds into the notion that the U.S. is a democracy and not a Republic. I’d just say “society.” This constructive criticism is merely one spot against the Sun, however. Great job!

    1. Kelly – Thanks for the comments. The words “democratic society” are part of the quote from Bernays. Not my words, his words. However I would point out that for all intents and purposes, the United States of America is (and has been for many years) behaving like a “democratic society” regardless of the original intent of its founders.

  10. great job!!



  11. Dan,
    thank you for the inspired work, I’ve read your articles on LDSLIBERTY.ORG and have shared these insights at family home evening many times.
    If only more saints would “awaken to our awful situation” and open hearts and minds to the deeper truths shared in the Book of Mormon. I love the Lord for His eternal love that He gave us this book to learn, watch, pray and prepare to live in harmony with the Lord’s gospel and to watch for the enemy. I wish I could fellowship in person with men and women here and in many parts of the world who understand these truths. Let us continue in truth no matter the cost.

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