The Stripling Warrior’s Missing Fathers

41
“It’s True Sir – All Present and Accounted For”  Clark Kelley Price

 

The story of the 2,000 stripling warriors is one of the great Book of Mormon stories. It demonstrates the power of faith, and how God can bless and protect those that serve Him.

I will get on to the point of the post, but first, a brief recap for those unfamiliar with their story:

The disarming missionary Ammon, helped a group of Lamanites come to the knowledge of the gospel. They became known as the “Anti-Nephi-Lehis,” or “Ammonites.”  These converts (and you know we love our converts here on MMM) were so aghast at the lives they had lived to that point, that they repented and made a special covenant with God “that they would never use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood” and that “rather than shed the blood of their brethren, they would give up their own lives.”. They were so intent on keeping this covenant, that they buried all their weapons and vowed that they would never fight again.

The strength of their covenant was tested in short order. The remaining Lamanites did attack, and were stunned to find the Ammonites willing to die rather than fight. Apparently, the Lamanites did not have the stomach for such a slaughter, and many of the attackers repented and joined with the Ammonites.

Eventually, the Ammonites moved to where the Nephites could protect them, and lived peacefully.  But, as things happen in the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites showed up and began attacking the Nephites. Because of their covenant, the Ammonites could not help defend their protectors, or themselves. They were distraught to the point that they even considered breaking their covenant and joining the fight –  but at the last minute, the prophet/General Helaman convinced them not to do it.

But the sons of the Ammonites had not made the same covenant that their parents did, and they were ready to fight. There were 2,000 of them. They joined up with the Nephite arrmy and were lead by Helaman.

These young men were described as “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity” and “were true at all times to whatsoever thing they were entrusted.” They were “men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.”

Their contribution to the war effort was huge, and filled with miracles.  God protected these young men. They fought valiantly, and many were wounded, but none were killed.

(To read the story as it should be read, start at Alma 53, and go from there.)

Quick note:  They are never called “Stripling Warriors” in the Book of Mormon.  The term is used in one of the chapter headings, but never in the actual scriptures.  They are referred to as “stripling Ammonites,” or “stripling soldiers”, or as Helaman liked to call them “stripling sons,” But never “stripling warriors.”  Oh, and there were 2060 of them.

Now to the main point of this post:

Moms love the story of the 2,000 sons of Helaman.  It had become associated with the role of Motherhood, and has become the go-to Mother’s day story from the scriptures.  Why? Passages like this:

Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it. (Alma 56:47-48)

I have heard these verses a thousand times, and I am happy that moms in our day get to see the impact that mothers can have on their sons.  But I always asked myself…

Where were the fathers of the stripling warriors? Surely they must have been involved, right?  But we only hear about the mother, and how they taught their sons to have faith, and to be obedient. Besides, someone had to have taught these boys to fight like they did…?
Where are the dads?

I found them. Yes, I found the fathers of the stripling warriors in Alma 56:27. In the middle of the war, buried in the middle of the chapter, it says this:

And now it came to pass in the second month of this year, there was brought unto us many provisions from the fathers of those my two thousand sons.

What were the dads doing? Keeping their boys alive.  The supply lines were always a problem during this war. The dads were providing for their sons. Probably in the same manner they had been providing for them their entire lives.
Wanna read something interesting?

“By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.”

 
Where is that written in ancient scripture?  It’s not.  It is from 1995. “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

From one covenant people to another – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Father’s Day next Sunday. Don’t leave them out of the story.

SIMILAR ARTICLES

41 COMMENTS

  1. Awesome perspective. Thanks for the reminder of the vital role that good fathers fill in providing for their families. Without provident fathers, mothers could not be available to nurture their children, but would be (as too many must be) out in the fields trying to provide for their children.

    But, I can tell you that many mothers, while loving the story of the stripling warriors, at the same time do not love it. We know our weaknesses and failures all too well, and wonder and worry that we have not taught our sons and daughters as these young men were taught, that we have not given them the legacy of faith. As we see some of our beloved children leave the church, we know that we have not.
    Some like myself, also know that I am more like the father who cried unto Jesus, “I believe. Help thou my unbelief.” I think of Ammon and Amulek constrained to watch faithful innocents burned alive or the sainted pioneers who sacrificed so much to reach Zion – some of them not making it to Zion on earth, or wonderful young people who die while serving their missions today. I know the Lord CAN save, but wonder if He WILL. He doesn’t always. I do not have the confidence to make the promises those mothers did. I can only think that those 2000 mothers received personal revelation for their sons, in which case I could, too.

    • I think you describe exactly why this story is so oft repeated, and in the scriptures. It is about faith overcoming fear, and doubt. I am sure that those mothers had to overcome much fear and doubt, and even regret for making the covenant in the first place. Had they focused on that stuff, the faith wouldn’t have worked, and the miracles could not have happened, and there probably would have been many dead sons.

    • Although sometimes children leave the church because they were not taught, that is not always the case. Sometimes parents do everything right and yet children use their agency to choose to leave.

  2. I imagine that many of the fathers of those boys died earlier doing another of those patriarchal callings– protecting their families. They hadn’t gone out to fight, but their act of laying down their lives softened the hearts of the warring Lamanites, thus protecting those at home. These families are examples of people who were converted and understood the plan of Heavenly Father. They taught their families and lived their covenants even when it was hard. I love and admire men who understand the calling that Heavenly Father gave them and fulfill it. I am very cognizant that I have been blessed by being surrounded by such men all of my life. I am always grateful for that.

    • That was my first thought–many of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi fathers may well have died in battle. Still, good to recognize the valued role that *each* parent plays in this story. We don’t give women nearly enough credit for the hard work they do, and our world actively devalues fathers and the traditional family structure as a whole.

    • I agree. I have a hard time when it is always mentioned about the moms, but nothing is said about the dads. They were a team. If nothing else, the fathers taught their sons about repentance by example. Together they were wonderful parents for the sons.

  3. I love this part in the scriptures as a mother, perhaps because of my eight children six of them are sons…LOL. I love seeing the very real working out of family life in the Book of Mormon. It does go in line with everything we hear today even. This quote from President Packer’s talk These THings I Know in the last General Conference seems perfect, with the father and mother aspect both addressed.

    “The consummate power of the priesthood has been given to protect the home and its inhabitants. The father has the authority and responsibility to teach his children and to bless and to provide for them the ordinances of the gospel and every other priesthood protection necessary. He is to demonstrate love and fidelity and honor to the mother so that their children can see that love.

    I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother.”

    I can see this very thing playing out with these 2060 young men. Their fathers have covenanted not to fight but will still do absolutely everything they can to provide for their sons, and those mothers who taught and nurtured spend war time with prayers constantly raised to God for their sons’ protection and blessing.

  4. Thank you so much for this. I love this!! I am teaching RS next Sunday and may have to use this in the lesson. It was nice to discuss this topic with my husband this morning as we got ready for church. I get so sick of the world making dads look stupid or incompetent in sitcoms or reality shows. Dads are so wonderful and so special to their sons, and daughters. What would we do without you all! Love your blog, btw.

  5. “Moms love the story of the 2,000 sons of Helaman. It had become associated with the role of Motherhood, and has become the go-to Mother’s day story from the scriptures. Why?”

    I would suggest that the reason why is that there are very few mentions of women at all in the scriptures, much less mothers, especially referring to them more than in just passing. It is one of the few instances in the scriptures that women get a role that us in the modern day can learn from. I am not trying to “sound” cranky; I don’t know how else to “say” it in writing. Just know that my tone is not sarcastic or snide. It really is one of the scriptures I treasure because it specifically applies to me as a woman and a mother.

    • So true. There are far too few stories about women in the scriptures. Maybe this story is not leaving the men out- so much as focusing more on the role good women played and shows how strong a righteous woman’s influence and teachings can be.
      There are so many examples of great fathers in the scriptures…. and Heavenly Father is of course, the ultimate example. Why is our Heavenly Mother never mentioned in the scriptures? Talk about neglect! Maybe you could write about Her?

    • EXACTLY!!(in reference to Heavenly Mother)….By the by, this is my BAR NONE FAVORITE all encompassing event in Scriptures. Encompassing meaning I start(and have begun when relating it to my grandchildren)with Alma(the elder)and wicked King Noah. I end with the Stripling Warriors. To me there is NO GREATER(other than our BELOVED SAVIOR)REAL LOVE STORY than the powerful love many of these fathers had than to lay their lives down by prostrating themselves to be slaughtered rather than break their covenant with Father. Perhaps I’m a hopeless romantic but I feel BECAUSE of the people the fathers had become the influence was a WHOLE unit(meaning father, mother, children)and the moms continued that influence even with the fathers on the other side as they were a unit of one.

  6. Thank you. I had a great dad. Before he passed, I asked him what he was proudest of in his life. And he told me things he had done that were really quite remarkable and done very quietly. And I had had no idea.

    Beloved was his equal in character. More than one of my children has remarked since his passing that he was a better father to them in one short year than their dad had been in many years. My three youngest do not remember when their dad was a good provider and a protector.

    My sons in law and stepsons who have kids, are all great dads. It is such a pleasure to watch them interact with their kids.

  7. I love this story in the scriptures and the insights you gave about fathers. I have often thought that Mormon had a reason for including those particular verses about mothers teaching their sons and the impact it had on them. Mormon saw our day and picked out those parts of the records that would be of most value to us. Perhaps he saw that in our day, motherhood would not be valued. This story has strengthened me many times in knowing that my role as a mother has a huge impact on my children as I try to teach them to have faith and follow the principles of the gospel.

  8. I am drawn to the story of the stripling 2000 (then 2060), and I appreciate your observation of the dads’ role in their efforts.

    The link of moms to their sons is a tender one — both for moms who relate because their sons do believe, and especially for moms who teach their sons who do not believe. In the end, the 2000 (and later 2060) chose to believe their mothers and to honor them. That act of honor and faith on the part of those boys is significant.

    Similarly, the act of fathers to provide for their sons is significant and bears mention as you have done. Thanks for that.

  9. I love this post! Thank you for the reminder of how important Dads are at providing for families. I know our family would not be able to effectively function without my husband and his willingness to work.

    • Valid point. Roughly 1000 people were killed after they made their covenant, but after the slaughter, more than 1000 joined with the Anti-Nephi-Lehis. So, I imagine there was a net gain of people overall, but there were a lot of widows.

  10. This post and the subsequent comments have given me precious insight into my family and marriage covenants. Thank you for being my first Tender Mercy of the day!

  11. Beautiful perspective. As the father of 4 daughters, it wasn’t until I had sons in law that I even wondered about caring for sons!

    Actually, I’ve been in YM all my life, but that’s a different story.

    Thank you.

  12. I love this and have often thought about this. These fathers were so worried about their families and the Nephites protecting them that they were tempted to break their covenant to never fight again. But they DID NOT break their covenant. How hard it must have been to watch their sons go fight, but they did it, and taught great lessons by their faithfulness.

  13. I have pondered this story for many many weeks feeling impressed to write down thoughts and study it. lo and behold, i’m speaking in church on Father’s day and this will be my talk. Thank you for the excellent article which has aided me in this endeavour.

  14. Thank you, what a spiritual uplift today. I had never considered where the fathers of those young men were. They were being fathers and caring for their boys needs.

Add your 2¢. (Be nice.)