ZENIFF CONFERRED THE KINGDOM upon Noah, one of his sons; therefore Noah began to reign in his stead; and he did not walk in the ways of his father.
For he did not keep the commandments of God. And he did cause his people to commit sin, and do that which was abominable in the sight of the Lord.
And there was a man among them whose name was Abinadi; and he went forth among them, and began to prophesy, saying: Thus saith the Lord—Wo be unto this people… except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord…
Now it came to pass that when Abinadi had spoken unto them they were wroth with him, and sought to take away his life. And they took him and carried him bound before the king. And king Noah caused that Abinadi should be cast into prison; and he commanded that the priests should gather themselves together that he might hold council with them what he should do with him. And the king commanded that Abinadi should be brought before them. And they began to question him.
And they attempted to lay their hands on him; but he withstood them, and said unto them: Touch me not, for God shall smite you if you lay your hands upon me, for I have not delivered the message which the Lord sent me to deliver.
Now it came to pass that the people of king Noah durst not lay their hands on him, for the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses’ did while in the Mount of Sinai.
When Abinadi had finished his message, the king commanded that the priests should take him and cause that he should be put to death.
Abridged from the Book of Mosiah
In the words of the artist:
“After many years, even centuries, the next scene was ABINADI DELIVERS HIS MESSAGE TO KING NOAH. In the book we read that those of the court could not touch the prophet until he had delivered his message. For a mighty, divine force surrounded him, repelling those who tried to lay hands upon him.
To express this superhuman force in picture form, I have shown the guards hurled backwards, the king astonished, the animals snarling. The animals were included for three reasons:
- Chained to the throne, they suggest a touch of savage royalty.
- Though spotted like the leopard, these beasts are jaguars, more compactly built animals, which are native to central America, thus adding an authenticity of geographic location.
- Animals are known to be receptive to psychic forces, so by snarling, they react to the spiritual force surrounding Abinadi.
There is in art an approach called the principle of the jewel, such as a large stone dominating a setting. In a picture, the area at the center of interest contains the greatest richness; the full color chord, in contrast to more neutral tones surrounding and echoing the center. In this picture the artist has reversed this principle, using the rich color and opulence of the surrounding court to contrast and emphasize with neutral tones the humble bold simplicity of the prophet. It is by such means that a picture can enhance the emotional content of a historical event. This picture recalls a personal incident: When I was a boy of seven in Arizona, my family was converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by a man named Altop, who was working as a carpenter alongside my father. After losing contact for over 30 years, the Altops paid a surprise visit to the artist’s Utah home, at the time the king Noah picture was being painted.
Impressed with Altop’s remarkable shape for age 70, I immediately headed for the studio and put his visitor to work as his model for Abinadi. The scene in King Noah’s court leads directly to the next picture, ALMA BAPTIZES IN THE WATERS OF MORMON. For it was one of Noah’s priests, one called Alma, who was so impressed with the words of Abinadi that, with repentance, he in turn became a mighty spiritual leader, drawing unto himself an attitude hungering to hear his words and to be baptized in the waters of Mormon. Rather than a picture of Alma preaching, the artist has chosen to paint the lovely seen of baptism. Both Alma and his followers were in great danger. We see in the foreground armed guards, alert to any threat from the soldiers of King Noah. Yet even with its danger, it is a scene of transcendent tranquility. I here sought to drench the whole scene, from one corner of the canvas to the other, in the divine spiritual beauty of the scene. While the physical facts are there, the more important is the invisible part, the part more felt than seen, that portion that we hold within our hearts. In painting this picture, the artist’s deepest inspiration sprang from the eloquent words of Mosiah: “Yea, the place of Mormon, the waters of Mormon, the forest of Mormon, how beautiful are they to the eyes of them who there came to the knowledge of their redeemer.” Arnold Friberg
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