Book of Mormon Villains - and What We Can Learn From Them. (The B.O.M. Series 5 of 7)

When you hear, (or read in this case,) the names Laman & Lemuel, King Noah, Nehor, Coriantumr, Zeezrom, and Korihor what comes to mind?


Dissenters? Murderers? Fornicators? Adulterers? Preachers of false doctrines? Anti-Christs? Megalomaniacs? Warmongerers? Etc., etc., etc. 


If you thought any of these things, you’d be right—these men collectively, amongst others, were all these things. But we want to dive into things they did that are lesser-known or at least less talked about so we can learn from them, because sometimes the worst example is the best example. 

Laman & Lemuel


Who are they? 


They are the sons of the prophet Lehi and the brother of Nephi. Their stories can be found in 1 & 2 Nephi. 


What’s their crime? 


While these brothers are well known for murmuring, they also rebelled against their father, beat their brothers (Nephi more than once that we read about), tied up their brother Nephi with the intention of killing him (more than once that we read about,) mutinied against their brother Nephi after their father’s death, and then, eventually, abandon the gospel. 

Whew. That’s a lot. 

Keep in mind that they had a visit from an angel telling them that Nephi, whom they had just beaten with a rod, would eventually lead the family, and yet, they still did all these things. 


Lesser-known misdeed?


In 1 Nephi 14: 7-9 we read “And they [Laman & Lemuel] said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the Gentiles. And I [Nephi] said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord? And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.” 

What can we learn from them?

Laman and Lemuel limited God’s power and influence in their life. They didn’t learn because they didn’t want to. When we compare this to Nephi’s “I will go and do” attitude, you see where the problem lies. 

In 1 Nephi 15: 10-11 Nephi says, “[...] How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that you will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts? Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.”

Nephi believed that the Lord could do all things. He believed that he could do all things through the Lord and because of this belief he did many great things, including, but not limited to, getting the plates of brass from Laban, leading his family through the wilderness for years to the land of Bountiful, building a ship that could carry his family from the old world to the new one (not a small feat, I assure you), where he became a leader over his people and built a prosperous and faithful community.
The takeaway?

Don’t limit the Lord in your life. 




Who is he?


“[...] a man who was large, and was noted for his much strength,” Alma 1:2,  who founded an apostate sect. You can read his story in Alma 1:1-15.


What’s his crime?


He taught that salvation would come to all and that there was therefore no reason to repent, and told the religious leaders in his community that they should be paid for their preachings and hold privileged statuses. Priestcraft. 

“And he’d gone about the people, preaching to them that which he termed to be the word of God, bearing down against the church,” Alma 1:3.


“And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of his preaching,” Alma 1:6 

He came upon a member of the church named Gideon who rebuked him. He became “wroth” with Gideon, drew his sword, and killed him, becoming a murderer also.  


Lesser-known misdeed?


Teaching false doctrines. 


What can we learn from him?


There’s a lot of emphasis on the false doctrines he taught, but what about the simple teaching of scripture mixed with the philosophies of men? 

In Alma 1:4 we read “And he also testified unto the people that all mankind should be saved at the last day, and that they need not fear nor tremble, but that they might lift up their heads and rejoice; for the Lord had created all men, and had also redeemed all men; and, in the end, all men should have eternal life.”

Why did these lies so easily lead away so many? Because they’re mixed with truths. Look at the scripture above again. Go ahead, we’ll wait. 


God wants to save us. Truth. So is it so difficult to believe that we’ll automatically be saved without repentance? 

God loves us. Truth. So, is it so hard to believe that he doesn’t want us to be afraid? 

Heavenly Father prepared a way, through our Savior Jesus Christ, for us to be redeemed. Truth. So is it so hard to believe that means we’ll all have eternal life?  


The takeaway? 


Don’t stray from the scriptures. 



Who is he?


A Nephite dissenter. He had aspirations to reestablish a monarch. You can read his story in Alma 46-51


What’s his crime?


He aspired to be king using treachery, murder, and intrigue to do so, he led people away from the church, caused them to want to and actually seek to destroy the church, incited the Lamanites against the Nephites, and with their help invaded the Nephites. He cursed God and Moroni and promised to drink Moroni’s blood. He and the Lamanites captured many fortified cities and proceeded to terrorize the people with wickedness and abominations. 


So, on the whole, not a nice guy.


Lesser-known misdeed?


He was selfish. All of his actions were taken because he wanted more. Wanted to be king. Wanted to rule all the land. Wanted total power. 


What can we learn from him?


Amalickiah was seeking power for himself, and where did this lead? Treachery, murder, intrigue. He stole lives, land, and freedom from people so he could have more. Always more. There was never enough. He was so dissatisfied, even as he got more and more power and stuff, that he just kept on going. 


The power Amalickiah sought didn’t make him happy. He arguably had everything he’d ever wanted for a time, but he was never happy. How do we know this? He spent his life preoccupied with getting more, with fighting the Nephites. He was so distracted with Moroni that he cursed God and pledged to drink Moroni’s blood. 


And while the scriptures don’t say, I doubt he trusted anyone around him. How could he? He got where he was with murder and deceit and ruining lives. So I’d be willing to bet that he spent a lot of time worrying about the day someone turned on him or Moroni caught up to him or another Nephite as it ended up. 


And for argument’s sake, let’s say he did care about some of the people around him—men who fought in his armies, and the thousands that died in battle against the Nephites—the ones who didn’t turn against him and join the Nephites, that is. If he did care about any of them, could you imagine the guilt of that? (Again, making assumptions, here.)


He was eventually assassinated in his tent at night by Teancum. 


Is that any kind of real life? Not a very good one. 


Then there was Captain Moroni who was so angry with Amalickiah and what he was doing that he actually “rent his coat” Alma 46:12, and wrote on it the following, “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children,” then he fastened this to the end of a pole for everyone to see. We know this as the Title of Liberty. 


His objective was to help his people keep their personal liberties and to be able to worship God as they chose, and he accomplished this, ultimately, keeping many people from having to go to war. Many of his tactics were revolutionary, and he led his armies by prayer and through divine intervention. 


He was always well-loved by his people. He handed his armies over to his son, Mornihah, and went home to spend the rest of his days in peace. 


The takeaway?


Not everything is about you. Haha! 


Also, living a righteous life has a happier, and longer, in Moroni’s case (he has way more chapters in Alma than Amalickiah,) ending than not. Moroni had a family and was able to end his days in “peace.” 


In peace. Even after everything he’d been through. 


It’s my firm belief that no word in the Book of Mormon is chosen lightly, so the fact that he ended his days in “peace” is significant. 


The church defines peace as thus: Many people think of peace as the absence of war. But we can feel peace even in times of war, and we can lack peace even when no war is raging. Peace comes through the gospel—through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the ministration of the Holy Ghost, and our own righteousness, sincere repentance, and diligent service.


That sounds pretty good to me, especially compared to the spear in the heart that Amalickiah got. 


Here are two Book of Mormon quotes for this week:


"Regardless of how many times you previously may have read the Book of Mormon, there will come into your lives and into your homes an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God."

 - Gordon B. Hinckley


"The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ has the nourishing power to heal starving spirits of the world."

- Boyd K. Packer 


This was such a fun project, that we’d like to invite you to search for other lessons that can be learned from Book of Mormon villains with your family and write those lessons down. You won’t be disappointed. We know we weren’t! And if you already have one, hit that reply button and let us know—we’ll be posting some of them on our Instagram account here! We love hearing from you. Also, stay tuned for next week’s email; we’re diving into the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and it’s amazing! 



The Cedar Fort Family 


P.S. Catch the whole B.O.M. Series here:

The Book of Mormon and Science  (The B.O.M. Series 1 of 7)

The Book of Mormon and Personal Revelation (The B.O.M. Series 2 of 7)

The Book of Mormon and Kids/Teens (The B.O.M. Series 3 of 7)

Proofs of the Book of Mormon (The B.O.M. Series 4 of 7)

Book of Mormon Villains and What We Can Learn from Them. (The B.O.M. Series 5 of 7)

The Coming Forth of the Book of Mormon (The B.O.M. Series 6 of 7)

Miracles of the Book of Mormon (The B.O.M. Series 7 of 7)


P.P.S. Learn more about our Book of Mormon Collection here. If you’re searching for more “interesting” lessons with takeaways you can get from the Book of Mormon, check out Life Lessons from the Book of Mormon, Captain Moroni’s Command, Judah and Joseph Reunited, and Questions of the Soul Answers from the Book of Mormon, and more!