We learn of Aminadi from Amulek when Amulek begins his message to the rebellious Ammoniha-ites

2 I am Amulek; I am the son of Giddonah, who was the son of Ishmael, who was a descendant of Aminadi; and it was that same Aminadi who interpreted the writing which was upon the wall of the temple, which was written by the finger of God.

3 And Aminadi was a descendant of Nephi, who was the son of Lehi, who came out of the land of Jerusalem…(Alma 10:2-3)

That little bit about Aminadi interpreting the writing upon the walls of the temple which was written by the finger of God is so fascinating. It is one of those places where I just want to shake Mormon for not putting in more detail, but at the same time, I know that adding more detail would have disrupted Amulek’s narrative flow.

It is fascinating how briefly Amulek refers to the story of his ancestor Aminadi. It suggests that Aminadi’s interpretation was so widely known to the people that it was an important part of their historical narrative of faith and could be referred to in a much abbreviated form, much as we speak of Joseph Smith’s first vision.

The finger of God writing on the wall of the temple would have been a great story to include, and I can’t imagine that it wasn’t included in the abridgement of the large plates of Nephi. I think it may have been a casualty of the 116 pages being lost. Yet we have just enough details for it to evoke our knowledge of the story of Daniel interpreting the writing on the palace wall for the king of Babylon. We can sort of piece together the story of Aminadi based on the story of Daniel.

In the Bible, the finger of the Lord wrote the message for the Babylonian king, but because the king didn’t understand it, Daniel was the one to interpret the writing. So, I suppose that in the Americas, the Lord wrote the message for someone or some people, but because they didn’t understand it, Aminadi was called to interpret (or came forward to interpret) the writing on the temple wall.

That the writing is on the temple wall is very intriguing. In Daniel’s story, the writing was on the palace wall where the king was. In the Book of Mormon, the writing was on the temple wall, suggesting that the priests (or a priest-king) administering in the temple were being condemned for idolatry and abominations, and a view of the writing finger of God was needed to convince them of the existence, power, and authority of God.

I think it was probably the highest-ranking priest (or possibly priest-king, since at that time kings often held the top religious authority as well) that was getting the message from the finger of God. If it had just been lower ranking priests, then the higher-ranking one(s) could admonish them. But when it is the highest ranking doing the bad stuff and leading the people astray, that would definitely be grounds for direct admonishment from God.

The writing comes to the place and person(s) who need(s) it. That the writing needs interpretation indicates that the person(s) to whom it comes is so out of tune that they don’t understand it. The person needing the interpretation must find an interpreter, so both the writing (and the subsequent interpretation) will become very publicly known. It seems to me that this is the way the Lord rebukes a person in power who should have known better; He does it in order to make sure everyone else known’s not to do those same sins.

Why does Amulek mention this story of his ancestor at the beginning of his talk to the Ammonihah-ites? I think he is setting some context for his message of repentance by locating himself as a fitting person to deliver the message. Just as Aminadi interpreted a message from God to the people of his day who were out of tune with the Lord, Amulek will be interpreting a warning message from God (along with Alma) to the people of his day who are very much out of tune with God. I think Amulek drew strength from the story of his ancestor as he delivered the difficult message.

How does this little story help us today? I think knowing the valiant and righteous choices of our ancestors can help us make valiant and righteous choices in our own lives. Hearing how our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and more distant ancestors sacrificed for the truth can encourage us when we find ourselves called upon to do it too. As a small example, I know that when my mom told me about how she worked to dress modestly in the ‘60s even when she was made fun of at high school, it helped give me strength to follow her good example and dress modestly.

How have the stories of your ancestors inspired you? Have there been times when you have found yourself doing something good that was very similar to what one of your ancestors did? How did it make you feel? How are you working to transmit those stories to your family?

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