For some strange reason, the small nation of Nephites that followed Zeniff to make their home among the Lamanites had a major impact on the course Nephite history. Names like King Noah, Amulon, Alma, and Abinidi are found scattered throughout the reaming pages of the Book of Mormon.
So, it makes sense to take a closer look at each of these notable figures to better understand why they were so influential. Let’s start with King Noah.
King Noah succeeded his father, Zeniff, to the throne. Though he was king, Noah lacked a very important character trait that any strong leader must possess – integrity. Instead, Noah saw the throne merely as an opportunity for exploitation.
My guess is it didn’t take Noah long to view the government structure set up by his father as too constraining. Zeniff had a group of priests, or government ministers, who advised him on spiritual and temporal issues.
Noah had other ideas. He was tired of feeling boxed in by commandments. He despised the Spartan live style advocated by his father. If he was king, he should look like a king, dress like a king, and be rich like a king.
Because the priests appointed by Zeniff were staunch opponents to Noah’s bohemian ways, the king was highly motivated to replace the old guard as quickly as possible. In their place, Noah appointed priests who supported his hedonistic lifestyle.
Chief among these new, corrupt priests was Amulon.
Because of the hereditary nature or the job, Amulon knew he could never become king. But he also knew that Noah lacked backbone. Noah was easily swayed by flattery. Amulon excelled in feeding Noah’s ego.
This makes for a tragic combination — a titular king and a power-hungry advisory.
We can see this dangerous interplay between Noah and Amulon when Abinidi is on trial. At one point, Noah is ready to admit the prophet is correct and that he and his priests had truly led the people astray. But Amulon, sensing his power slipping from his grasp, quickly took charge and adroitly convinced the king to execute Abinidi.
Predictably, Amulon soon grew tired of being #2. He needed to dispose of the king. His best opportunity arose when the Lamanite army was posed to destroy Noah’s people. The king convinced his staunchest followers to flee, leaving behind their families.
My guess is this was Amulon’s idea. Amulon knew that once cooler heads prevailed, those who foolishly chose to abandon their families would get angry with the king. He was right. When the men realized their act of cowardice, they burned King Noah just as Abinidi had predicted.
Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as originally planned. Sure, Amulon got his wish. The king was dead. But Noah’s executors painted Amulon and other corrupt priests with the same brush. Now Amulon was the target of their anger.
If you think this is the end of Amulon’s desire for power, stay tuned for the next post.