A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon/Noah
NOAH. The son of Zeniff and second king over the Nephite colony which returned from Zarahemla to the land of Lehi-Nephi. Unlike his father, he was not a righteous man, but gave way to drunkenness and harlotry, and, as is often the case with monarchs of his disposition, grievously oppressed his people. He surrounded himself with creatures after his own heart, and placed the holy priesthood in the hands of men who were as corrupt as himself. He greatly beautified the temple in the city of Lehi-Nephi, which he befouled with his debaucheries; while the cost of the rich adornment with which he lavishly ornamented it was wrung from his unwilling subjects in a tax of one-fifth of all they possessed. Not only did he greatly beautify the temple, but he built himself a magnificent palace, and erected many other costly buildings in the city of Lehi-Nephi, and in the neighboring valley of Shilom. He also built two very high watch towers, one of which stood near the temple, and the other on the hill to the north of the land of Shilom. Later, he planted many vineyards and made an abundance of wine, which resulted in him and his people becoming drunkards.
Noah had not been long on the throne before small marauding bands of Lamanites began to harass the Nephites and drive off their flocks. The king set guards around his possessions to keep the Lamanites off, but he did not post them in sufficient numbers, and they were slain or driven away. He finally sent his armies and drove the Lamanites back. This victory made him and his people conceited and boastful, and developed a delight in them to shed the blood of the Lamanites.
At this time, (about B. C. 150,) a prophet, named Abinadi, appeared among them, and predicted that they would be brought into bondage to their enemies unless they repented of their wickedness. The king and the people were very angry with Abinadi, and sought to take his life. Two years after he came among them in disguise. This time he uttered, in the name of the Lord, very terrible prophecies against Noah and his people, all of which were fulfilled in a very few years. But the people would not heed Abinadi, and the more he exposed their iniquities the more furious raged their anger against him. They finally took him, bound him, and hurried him, with railing accusations, before the king. There the priests began to cross-question him, that they might confuse him and cause him to say something that would give them a pretext for slaying him. This conduct gave Abinadi the chance in turn to question his accusers, by which he exposed their deceit and iniquity; and it also enabled him to explain many of the principles of the gospel of life and salvation. His teachings were, however, exactly what Noah's infidel priests did not want. They charged Abinadi with having reviled the king, and on this charge obtained Noah's consent for his execution. And, finally, Abinadi was cruelly tortured and burned to death by his fellow citizens in the sin-stained city of Lehi-Nephi.
Abinadi's cruel death was, in the providences of the Lord, made the means of establishing the church of Christ among Noah's subjects. One of the young priests, named Alma, was converted by the prophet's teachings; he wrote them down and taught them to others. A church was organized on the outskirts of the city, but, in a little while, the movement reached the ears of the king, and he sent his soldiers to capture the believers. Being warned of the Lord, the latter fled and escaped their pursuers.
Soon after the return of Noah's army from their unsuccessful attempt to capture Alma and his people, a great division grew up among that monarch's subjects. They were heartily tired of his tyranny and his debaucheries. One of those most dissatisfied was an officer of the king's army named Gideon. In the disturbances that now arose between Noah and his people, Gideon sought to slay the king. But Noah fled to the tower near the temple. From its top he beheld an advancing host of the Lamanites. Pleading with Gideon for his life, he ordered his people to flee. They did so, but being encumbered with their families, the Lamanites soon overtook them and began to slay them. The craven-hearted king then commanded his men to leave the women and children to the mercy of their savage foes and flee into the wilderness. Some obeyed, while others refused. Those who followed Noah soon grew ashamed of their cowardice and desired to return to meet the Lamanites to avenge the slaughter of their wives and little ones, or perish as they had done. King Noah objected, and his unworthy priests sustained him. At this, the soldiers grew exceedingly angry; all love for him as a man was crushed out, all respect for him as a monarch was lost; they took him and burned him to death, as he had done Abinadi, and would have sacrificed the priests in the same way had they not fled from them. They then turned their faces towards Lehi-Nephi and were overjoyed to meet some messengers who bore the welcome tidings that the Lamanites had spared the lives of those who had been left behind, though they held them in bondage. Noah was succeeded by his son Limhi.