Jacob, Ammon, and the Prodigal Son

What could be more joyful than to be with loved ones? And when you’ve been separated for a time, how joyful is your reunion?

After more than twenty years apart from his twin brother, Esau was enthusiastic to see him again. He had been angry the last time they were together, but his heart had changed, and he now eagerly awaited his brother’s arrival. As Jacob approached him, “Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Many years later, Jacob experienced a similar reunion with one of his sons: “Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel [Jacob] his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive” (Genesis 46:29-30).

Jesus used similar imagery in the parable of the prodigal son to describe the reunion of the wayward son with his father: “When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20)

To fall on someone’s neck is to embrace them. The New International Version of the Bible uses the phrase “threw his arms around him” in all three of these passages. Running, hugging, kissing, and crying all convey the powerful emotions evoked by these reunions.

When Alma was reunited with his friends, the sons of Mosiah, after fourteen years of separation, they also experienced profound joy. The record doesn’t speak of running, hugging, kissing, or crying. In fact, the only physical manifestation of their joy was Ammon fainting. But Mormon’s description of that unplanned encounter conveys the depth of their feelings:

It came to pass that as Ammon was going forth into the land, that he and his brethren met Alma, over in the place of which has been spoken; and behold, this was a joyful meeting.

Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth [as he had when King Lamoni was converted].

Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness.

Now the joy of Alma in meeting his brethren was truly great, and also the joy of Aaron, of Omner, and Himni; but behold their joy was not that to exceed their strength.

Alma 27:16-19

Today, I will savor opportunities to spend time with my loved ones. I will also anticipate joyful reunions with friends and family whom I am not able to be with right now.

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