The Book of Mormon has three men named Helaman.
The first Helaman (c. 130 BC) was one of the three sons of King Benjamin and is mentioned only once (see Mosiah 1:2–8).
The second Helaman (c. 100–57 BC) was the eldest son of Alma the Younger and brother to Shiblon and Corianton. He was also the father to the third Helaman mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
The second Helaman is perhaps the best known. He was a prophet and military leader. His father, Alma, entrusted him with the records of the Nephites, the plates of brass, the 24 plates of the Jaradites, the interpreters, and the liahona (see Alma 37:1–47). Alma also commanded Helaman to continue writing the history of their people (see Alma 45–62).
- When other Lamanites attacked their Nephite protectors, the Ammonites offered to break their oath in order to help the Nephite army defend their families and land. It was "Helaman and his brethren" who persuaded them not to break their covenant. They did welcome 2,060 Ammonite young men, who were not under their parents' oath, who volunteered to fight in the Nephite cause and chose Helaman to lead them (53:10-22). Accepting their invitation, he became both military leader and spiritual father, an observation found in Helaman's long letter to his commander Moroni 1 (Alma 56-58). While Helaman led these "stripling soldiers" (53:22) into many battles, none was killed, although all received wounds (56:56; 57:25; 58:39). These young men credited God with their protection and paid solemn tribute to their mothers who had trained them in faith (56:47). During Helaman's military campaign as leader of these young men, he won victory after victory, often capturing enemies without shedding blood. Exhibiting extraordinary ingenuity and character, he always acknowledged God's blessings in his successes (56:19; 57:35; 58:33).
The third Helaman, son of the second Helaman was a record keeper and chief judge in the land of Zarahemla. The book of Helaman is named after him, which he and his son Nephi wrote. During his fourteen years as chief judge, the Book or Mormon says of him: “Helaman did fill the judgment-seat with justice and equity; yea, he did observe to keep the statutes, and the judgments, and the commandments of God; and he did do that which was right in the sight of God continually; and he did walk after the ways of his father, insomuch that he did prosper in the land" (3:20). Verses 24 through 26 note that tens of thousands were baptized and prosperity of the church was astonishing. “And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.”
After his death in 39 BC, he gave the responsibility for the records to his son Nephi.