Mosiah 11


Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah



Mosiah 11:1 And Now It Came to Pass That Zeniff (Shift from First Person to Third Person):


     Brant Gardner writes that in Mosiah 11, the first person writing style of Zeniff's account is now replaced with a clearly synoptic third person account. One might ask, Why did Mormon make this shift in editorial method and why did he make the change here? The answer is another subtle proof of the veracity of Mormon's text.

     To begin with, the original account of Noah is likely to have been long. As evidenced from Mormon's report of Noah's public building projects and his excess show of wealth, Noah was a self-absorbed man. Such a man would make sure his official record was impressive. Noah's only problem, however, was that Mormon was apparently not impressed with such a prejudiced record. In fact, Mormon's introduction to Noah begins unflatteringly, which is certain to be in contrast to the tone of Noah's official record. But more importantly, Mormon shifts to telling us about Noah in a third-person synoptic style because Noah's original records would not have revealed the real Noah. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," ~nahualli/LDStopics/Mosiah/Mosiah11.htm, p. 1]


Mosiah 11:1 Noah Began to Reign:


        According to Alan Goff, there are parallels between two kings within the Book of Mormon: Noah (in the book of Mosiah) and Riplakish (in the book of Ether). Critics of the Book of Mormon claim that since the portraits of the two kings are so similar to each other, the Book of Mormon author must be manipulating history and is engaging in fictional writing in drawing the parallel.134 However, parallels to biblical kings are much stronger than might be realized. Many of the parallels between Noah and Riplakish are also shared by Solomon135 Both scriptures are describing the concentration of power that occurs with an oriental despot. The portrayal is intended to be typical. The biblical portrait should include other abusive kings besides Solomon: Ahab, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Manasseh, and Ahaz. [Alan Goff, "Scratching the Surface of Book of Mormon Narratives," in FARMS Review of Books, Vol. 12, Num. 2, 2000, pp. 72-73]


Mosiah 11:1 Zeniff conferred the kingdom upon Noah (Nephite Record Keepers) [Illustration]: Nephite Record Keepers. Adapted from [Church Educational System, Book of Mormon Student Manual: Religion 121 and 122, 1989, p. 155]


Mosiah 11:3 Noah builds two towers to overlook Shemlon. (Illustration) Proposed details in the Land of Nephi (Valley of Guatemala)


Geographical Theory Map Mosiah 9:14--11:1 The Lamanites Invade Shilom on the North & Soutp: h (Year 419)


Mosiah 11:2 Concubines . . . Whoredoms:


     Concubines in the Old Testament "were considered to be secondary wives, that is, wives who did not have the same standing in the caste system then prevailing as did those wives who were not called concubines" (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 154). Concubines had full protection as wives and did not violate the law of chastity when the marriages were approved by the Lord (see D&C 132:34-43). In the time of King Noah, however, the word "concubines" (Mosiah 11:2) referred to the wicked practice of a man living with more than one woman, in or out of marriage, without God's approval.

     The word "whoredoms" (Mosiah 11:2) refers to any perversion of the laws of chastity and virtue. [Book of Mormon Student Manual for Religion 121 and 122, p. 62]


Mosiah 11:5 [Noah] Put down All the Priests That Had Been Consecrated by His Father:


     Rodney Turner notes that in Mosiah 11:5 we find that Noah "put down all the priests that had been consecrated by his father, and consecrated new ones in their stead, such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts." According to Turner, this was done according to precedent. Apparently, before leaving Zarahemla, Zeniff very likely had been ordained a high priest of the Melchizedek order. [Rodney Turner, "Two Prophets: Abinadi and Alma," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, pp. 241, 257]

     Question: If this is so, then why did not Limhi have any authority to consecrate righteous priests who could baptize? After the arrival of Ammon we find in Mosiah 21:32-33 that king Limhi and many of his people had "entered into a covenant with God" and "were desirous to be baptized; but there was none in the land that had authority from God." Yet even before this time we find in Mosiah 19:17 that Limhi was "a just man." Could it be that even though King Noah had been wicked, he did not directly confer kingship power to his son? and with the Priests of Noah also gone there became a void in direct-line authority? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 11:5 Such As Were Lifted Up in the Pride of Their Hearts:


     King Noah put down all the priests that his father had consecrated, and consecrated new ones in their stead, "such as were lifted up in the pride of their hearts" (Mosiah 11:5). What does this say about the actions of Alma1, who was one of those priests (Mosiah 17:1-2; 24:9)? Looking at Mosiah 11:6, was Alma1 "lazy," was he a practitioner of "idolatry," and did he commit "whoredoms"? Did Alma1 also have "wives" and "concubines" (Mosiah 11:4)? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 11:8 Gold:


     According to John Sorenson, gold and silver specimens are well known in ancient America. Some show the "lost-wax" method of casting, known in Mesoamerica, Peru, and also the Near East. However, the only form specified in the scriptures is the flat "plate" on which historical and religious records were kept. It would not be feasible to manufacture those plates other than by hammering. Thin hammered metal we know well, but metal sheets for record keeping are not yet attested archaeologically in the New World. (A nineteenth-century historian in Oaxaca, Mexico said that the ancestors of the Mixtecs made very thin gold plates on which were engravings of ancient hieroglyphs, but we do not know the source of his information.) [John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 282]


Mosiah 11:8 Silver:


     In an annotated bibliography by John Sorenson of sources relating to metals and metallurgy mentioned in the Book of Mormon, he notes that according to Warwick Bray, "estimates are given for the Spanish 'take' of 350 kg. of silver and 4,000 of gold from Mexico."

     Sorenson notes that there was a special metal in ancient America called tumbaga, in which the silver content--up to 25%--was not intentional but was a natural impurity of the gold derived from Mexico to the Northern Andes. [John L. Sorenson, "Metals and Metallurgy Relating to the Book of Mormon", F.A.R.M.S., pp. 14-15]


Mosiah 11:8 Iron:


     According to John Sorenson, iron use was documented in the statements of early Spaniards, who told of the Aztecs using iron-studded clubs. A number of artifacts have been preserved that are unquestionably of iron; their considerable sophistication, in some cases, at least suggests interest in this metal. . . . Few of these specimens have been chemically analyzed to determine whether the iron used was from meteors or from smelted ore. The possibility that smelted iron either has been or may yet be found is enhanced by a find at Teotihuacan near Mexico City. A pottery vessel dating to about A.D. 300, and apparently used for smelting, contained a "metallic-looking" mass. Analyzed chemically, it proved to contain copper and iron.

     Without even considering smelted iron, we find that peoples in Mesoamerica exploited iron minerals from early times. Lumps of hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite were brought into Valley of Oaxaca sites from some of the thirty-six ore exposures located near or in the valley. These were carried to a workshop section within the site of San Jose Mogote as early as 1200 B.C. [John Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 284-285]


Mosiah 11:8 Iron:


     According to Diane Wirth, a famous Swedish archaeologist, Sigvald Linne, found a piece of smelted iron in a tomb at Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico. Yet the Smithsonian still claims no smelted iron was found in Mesoamerica. [Diane E. Wirth, A Challenge to the Critics, p. 28]


Mosiah 11:8 He Ornamented Them with . . . All Manner of Precious Things . . . Iron:


     According to an article by John Welch, at various times in history when iron was scarce, it was used as a precious decorative metal. Welch cites a recent article by Alan R. Millard ("King Og's Iron Bed--Fact or Fancy?") that documents the early use of iron to decorate beds (see Deuteronomy 3:11) and thrones, as well as bracelets and jewelry, weapons and royal swords. Such things were not of solid iron, but they were plated, veneered, or studded with the metal. He relates that because iron was hard to obtain it was "highly prized"; The product of a difficult technique, a bed or a throne, could be a treasure in a king's palace.

     With this point in mind, we can reread the account of King Noah, who built many elegant buildings and "ornamented them with . . . all manner of precious things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron" (Mosiah 11:8).

     Thus, although iron was present in the city of Nephi during Noah's time, it was apparently rare and precious. This was probably always the case in Book of Mormon society, for all New World references to iron in the book mention it together with gold and silver and other precious things (see 2 Nephi 5:15; Jarom 1:8; Ether 10:23). [John W. Welch, "Decorative Iron in Early Israel," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 133] [See the commentary on Jarom 1:8]


Mosiah 11:8 Brass:


     According to John Sorenson, a different alloy than "brass" is "bronze," made of copper with tin. The word bronze does not occur in the Book of Mormon, but "brass" does. The "brass plates of Laban" were brought from Jerusalem by Nephi, as we know. Until a few years ago it was supposed that what we call brass (an alloy including zinc) was developed only in the last few centuries. Yet the Bible speaks of "brass." Bible scholars have dealt with that apparent misstatement by saying that the word translated "brass" was actually bronze. The Hebrew word now known to refer to both copper and bronze was translated in the King James Version of the Bible as several different English words (in Ezekiel 1:4, 27 it comes out as "amber"). Within the last few years, however, some ancient artifacts from the Mediterranean area have been tested by more sophisticated scientific techniques than before, and the tests reveal that actual brass, with zinc in it, was in use among the Etruscans, probably as early as Lehi's time. That means that perhaps the brass plates of Lehi's day are neither an anomaly of cultural history nor an oddity of linguistic labeling, but of the literal metal.

     Bronze was used in Mesoamerica, although its composition (that is, the proportion of tin) was not as standardized as in the Old World. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 283]


Mosiah 11:8 Ziff:


     According to John Sorenson, it is tempting to see "ziff" as another name for an ancient American metal called tumbaga, for it is mentioned twice in direct connection with brass and copper (Mosiah 11:3, 8). Several derivations of "ziff" are possible in Hebrew with two general senses--"bright" or "shining" on the one hand and "plated" on the other. Both meanings would be appropriate for an alloy with a gilded surface similar to tumbaga. But "ziff" could also have been tin, another metal known in Mesoamerica. In fact, even mercury is a possibility, for it too occurred. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 284]


Mosiah 11:8 Ziff:


     According to Verneil Simmons, since the metallurgists of Mesoamerica used lead and tin, perhaps ziff refers to one of these metals. The word Zif or Ziv, probably of Caananite origin, was given to the second month of the early Hebrew calendar. Its supposed meaning is "brightness." Possibly this word was applied to the shiny white metal we call tin.

     That metallurgy came late to Mesoamerica is a position firmly entrenched in the scientific mind and any reports of metal from an earlier period are regarded with suspicion. While metal objects are known from various sites they are few in number and, so far, dated to the Late Classic or Postclassic. It is the position of most archaeologists that the knowledge of metallurgy arrived, fully developed, from South America about A.D. 800-900. (Gold has been found in Peru in the Chavin culture--c. 1000 B.C.) However, Dr. Alfonso Caso, who discovered and excavated the famous treasure of Tomb 7 in Oaxaca, points out that the Oaxaca gold work was far superior to that of other regions of the American continent. This leads to the uncomfortable conclusion that within a very short time the goldsmiths of Oaxaca had far surpassed in craftsmanship those nations which had known metallurgy for over 1,500 years. [Verneil W. Simmons, Peoples, Places and Prophecies, p. 136]


Mosiah 11:8 Copper:


     According to John Sorenson, copper, as mentioned in Mosiah 11:8, was well known anciently. . . One alloy used in many parts of nuclear America was tumbaga, a mixture of gold and copper. Treated properly it had the "appearance of gold" but weighed less and probably was cheaper. R. H. Putnam has argued persuasively that the Book of Mormon plates that were in Joseph Smith's hands were of tumbaga. (Had they been unalloyed gold, they would have been too heavy for a single person to carry.) A tumbaga specimen from Belize (British Honduras) shows that this material was known in the Maya lowlands no later than the fifth century A.D. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 283]


Mosiah 11:9-12 [Noah] Built Him a Spacious Palace and . . . a Tower near the Temple:


     According to John Welch, King Noah's projects are reminiscent of typical ancient Near Eastern kings who built and maintained magnificent administrative complexes, complete with a temple, palace, and fortifications, to enhance and solidify their political power over their territory.136 As was the case during the monarchy in Israel, where "priests were civil servants appointed by the king,"137 the priests who served in the temple [of Nephi?] under King Noah were likewise his appointees (see Mosiah 11:5). [John W. Welch, "The Temple in the Book of Mormon," in Temples of the Ancient World, pp. 340-341]


Mosiah 11:9 And [king Noah] also built him . . . a throne (Illustration): Maya and other rulers made a big show of their sanctity and power by sitting on ornate thrones like that shown with this Late Classic figurine. However, the newly deciphered inscriptions make clear that their power constantly had to be justified in the eyes of the public. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 111]


Mosiah 11:12 A Tower near the Temple, Yea a Very High Tower:


     According to John Sorenson, a "tower," both in Mesoamerica and in the Book of Mormon story (see Mosiah 11:12-13), was much more than a vertical structure from which one could see a long distance. The concept of a tower goes back to Mesopotamia, dating to perhaps before 3200 B.C. The "great tower" mentioned in the first chapter of the book of Ether was the same type of structure whose destruction is told in Genesis 11 and is popularly called "the tower of Babel," although nobody knows which ruined structure would have been the one referred to by the Jaredites. It was a giant platform with stepped, sloping sides, called in the Babylonian (Akkadian) language "ziqquratu" (ziggurat in English). They were thought of as artificial mountains on whose tops deity could dwell, or come down to visit men, in sacred privacy. A ziggurat also modeled the relationships between heavens, earth and underworld, for the topmost layer stood for the highest level of creation above the earth, with other layers representing supposed multiple heavens. By around 2,000 B.C. the sacred tower in the south Mesopotamian city of Ur measured 80 feet high. Fourteen centuries later, when Lehi left Jerusalem, the famous ziggurat of Nebuchadnezzar at Babylon rose to over 270 feet. It may seem strange to modern readers, used to considering narrow, soaring castle and cathedral spires as "towers," that bulky mounds or ziggurats would also be termed "towers" by the Book of Mormon scribes. But according to the historical accounts, when the Spanish invaders saw the Mesoamerican temple platforms, they immediately called them "torres" (towers) so height, not shape, must be the main criterion. [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, p. 171]


Mosiah 11:12 A tower near the temple (Illustration): The Palenque palace tower that is near the temple. Photograph [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 365]


Mosiah 11:12 He Built a Tower:


     From the top of Noah's "very high tower" near the temple (Mosiah 11:12), he could apparently "overlook" the lands of Shilom and Shemlon and "even look over all the land round about." The distance implied from the viewing tower to, or even across, Shemlon could not be great. [Adapted from John Sorenson, Source Book, p. 223]


Mosiah 11:12 He could stand upon the top [of the tower] and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon (Illustration): This view is of the lower portion of the Valley of Guatemala. [According to John Sorenson] it meets the textual requirements to have been the land of Shilom of the Nephites. This section occupies several square miles and lies only about ten miles from Nephi, thought to have been at Kaminaljuyu. At the city of Nephi, King Noah climbed on a tower or pyramid where he could "overlook the land of Shilom" (Mosiah 11:12). [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 195]


Mosiah 11:12 He could stand upon the top [of the tower] and overlook the land of Shilom, and also the land of Shemlon (Illustration): [According to John Sorenson] the near shore of Lake Amatitlan seen in this photograph qualifies as the Lamanite land of Shemlon. What could be the land of Shilom lies above the bluffs across the lake. According to Mosiah chapters 11 and 19 through 22, Lamanite forces consistently went "up" (roughly five hundred feet in elevation here) from Shemlon through Shilom to attack Nephi. [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 198]


Mosiah 11:13 The Hill North of Shilom:


     King Noah "caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land of Shilom" (Mosiah 11:13). He apparently built the tower on this hill in order to counter the advantage the Lamanites previously sought when they "came upon the north of the land of Shilom" (Mosiah 10:7-8). This hill was not just a hill but was designated as the hill north of Shilom. Mormon makes a subtle editing note that this hill had been "a place of resort" for the people of Mosiah1 when they fled to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 11:13). It is interesting that although the flight of Mosiah and his people from the land of Nephi is documented on the small plates (see Omni 1:12), there is no mention of any "hill" or any "place of resort." This information would have been gleaned by Mormon from the large plates.

     If the people of Noah (or Zeniff) considered this hill north of Shilom a strategic location (or "resort"), were they verifying the same geographical, cultural, and military situation that had existed with the Nephites under Mosiah1? In other words, did Nephi and thus the people of Mosiah1 originally populate only this area of land before? And did they have the same relationship with "the people who were now called Lamanites" (2 Nephi 5:14) or what we might otherwise term the native population? And did the Nephite people from the time of Nephi to Mosiah1 defend themselves against that native population in the same strategic manner as the people of Zeniff? Whatever the case, a strategic geographical setting for the city of Lehi-Nephi, if not also for the original city of Nephi, seems to be implied. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 11:13 A Great Tower . . . on the Hill North of Shilom:


     According to John Sorenson, just northwest of the valley of Guatemala lies a prominent but gently sloping hill elevated a few hundred yards above the pass adjacent to it. This elevation sits in such a position that anyone coming from the northwest would immediately seek it out in order to overlook the entire valley. On the top of that hill are the remains of an archaeological site, including a pyramid structure, named Alux by archaeologist Edwin Shook, who first reported it. No study of the ruin has been made, so a date for its construction cannot be given, but if it is like many other sites in the area it will prove to have been used over a long time, probably beginning in the Late Pre-Classic period, which is when king Noah "caused a great tower to be built on the hill north of the land Shilom" (Mosiah 11:13). The construction found by Shook is in the proper spot to have been that very tower (see Mosiah 7:5, 16). [John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 167]


Mosiah 11:13 A great tower (Illustration): This unique tower was part of the palace at Palenque, Mexico. Archaeologists and astronomers believe it was constructed so Mayan royalty could observe the sunlight falling into the Temple of Inscriptions at winter solstice. [Scot and Maurine Proctor, Light from the Dust, p. 180]


Geographical Theory Map: Mosiah 11:3--16:15 Noah Builds Two Towers to Overlook Shemlon (Year 442-451)


Mosiah 11:13 A Resort:


     Mormon notes that the hill north of Shilom had been "a place of resort" for the people of Mosiah1 when they fled to the land of Zarahemla (Mosiah 11:13). One should note that in all other appearances of the word "resort" in the Book of Mormon, a strategic location providing protection is implied (see Mosiah 18:5; Alma 48:5,8; 52:6). This is quite different from our modern-day connotation linking "resort" to pleasure or a vacation atmosphere. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 11:14 His Wives and His Concubines:


     If Noah had many "wives" and "concubines" (Mosiah 11:14), he must have had many other children besides Limhi.


Mosiah 11:14 He spent his time in riotous living with his wives and his concubines (Illustration): A series of figurings made in the Gulf Coast area of the Mexican state of Campeche and dating to about A.D. 700 shows this "dirty-old-man" theme. The man and woman are thought to represent a particular god and goddess, but the behavior pictured suggests practices open to the top social rank, such as the priests of Noah and their "harlots" (Mosiah 11:14). [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 80]


Mosiah 11:15 Wine:


     According to Stan Larson, all occurrences of "grapes" in the Book of Mormon are contained in biblical quotations. It could conceivably be argued that such quotations refer only to the Old World plants. The four instances of the term "grapes" in 2 Nephi 15:2-4 are imbedded within a thirteen-chapter-long quotation from Isaiah. . . . Native grapes were used in northern Mexico (La Barre, "Native American Beers," American Anthropologist 40 (April-June 1938): 232). In the sixteenth century Diego de Landa mentioned the existence of wild vines with edible grapes, though Mayan wine or balche was made by fermenting tree bark, honey, and water (Landa's Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan, 92, 198). [Stan Larson, Quest for the Gold Plates, pp. 179-180]

     According to Joseph Allen, if the Mesoamerican culture pattern is followed, the "wine in abundance" produced by king Noah (Mosiah 11:15) may have been made from the maguey plant or from something similar. The maguey plant is a relative to the century plant and has a large center with the appearance of a giant pineapple. The unfermented pulque juice is processed into Tequila or Mescal. In the Guatemalan climate, fruits of all kinds, including grapes, are grown today. [Joseph L. Allen, Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon, p. 174]

     According to Richard Hauck, another interesting factor that many further correlate Mixco Viejo as ancient Nephi came from a North American residing in Guatemala City. About five years ago he was involved in developing agricultural and commercial contacts throughout the country. At that time he made a pertinent comment. . . . He said that the Mixco Viejo locality is the only place in Guatemala where the climate permits the successful cultivation of grapes. I wondered what grapes had to do with the Nephites at ancient Nephi. His response made me laugh. He states that if the wine bibbers in King Noah's court were actually drinking wine and not the traditional Mayan liquor made from fermented agave plants, they were cultivating grapes; since Mixco Viejo is the only place in Guatemala where grapes can be produced, Mixco Viejo is a viable candidate for ancient Nephi. [F. Richard Hauck, "In Search of the Land of Nephi," in This People, Fall 1994, pp. 62-63]


Mosiah 11:15 He made wine-presses, and made wine in abundance (Illustration): The most popular fermented drink in modern times is pulque, made from fermented juice of the agave plant. In central Mexico its use was very ancient, although other wines were also made. Incidentally, the Spaniards spoke of the plantings of the agave cactus as vineyards (recalling Mosiah 11:15).138 [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 45]


Mosiah 11:15 Wine:


     According to Glenn Scott, ancient American legends say "Tezcatlipoca gave Quetzalcoatl [Topiltzin] . . . white wine . . . from the maguey . . . called teumetl" (Hubert Bancroft 1882, Native Races, 3:243). [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust, p. 132]


Mosiah 11:18 They Returned Rejoicing in Their Spoil:


     According to Brant Gardner, it is interesting that after Noah sent his army against the Lamanites, they return with "spoil" (Mosiah 11:18). From a defensive perspective, it is possible that the attacks on the Lamanites were initially justified. However these attacks apparently turned into an offensive campaign against hamlets rather than against those specific bands responsible for the thefts because the armies returned with "spoil." [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," LDStopics/Mosiah/Mosiah11.htm, p. 17]


Mosiah 11:19 Their Fifty Could Stand against Thousands of the Lamanites:


     What kind of military training, equipment, fortifications, and strategy could inspire the people of Noah to make a boast that "their fifty could stand against thousands of the Lamanites" (Mosiah 11:19)? Because of their wickedness, certainly the people of Noah did not have true faith that the Lord would help them at this time, so perhaps the site of Lehi-Nephi was extremely defensible. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 11:20 Abinadi:


     According to Todd Parker, the name "Abinadi" is very interesting because it appears to be symbolic. In Hebrew, ab means "father," abi means "my father," and nadi is "present with you," so the name Abinadi may reflect his mission; it may mean something like "my father is present with you." That is actually why they said they killed him--because he said God would come down and would be with man (see Mosiah 15:1-7). That was the charge of blasphemy they finally used to put him to death (Mosiah 17:8). [Todd Parker, "Abinadi: The Man and the Message (Part 1)," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 1-2]


Mosiah 11:20 Abinadi:


     According to John Tvedtnes, despite the paucity of genealogical details in the Book of Mormon, clearly the people were very concerned about their tribal affiliation. For example, Book of Mormon personal names containing such Semitic patronymic elements as Abi- ("father") and Ami- ("paternal kinsman/clan") fit the biblical pattern and are evidence for a strong patrilineal kinship system. Note the names "Abinadi" (Mosiah 11:20), "Abinadom" (Omni 1:10), "Aminadab" (Helaman 5:39), and "Aminadi" (Alma 10:2). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Book of Mormon Tribal Affiliation and Military Castes," in Warfare in the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 297]


Mosiah 11:22 I . . . Am a Jealous God:


     According to Donna Nielsen, a knowledge of the biblical marriage imagery can greatly enrich our understanding of how God relates to us through covenants. In Mosiah 11:22 we find the Lord declaring to his covenant people that "they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people." Nielsen notes that the biblical definition of "jealous" (or "zealous") includes having a fiery concern and determination to protect the intimacy of the covenant relationship. It is not about being possessive in a selfish way or showing immature insecurity. It is an appropriate reaction to the intense preciousness of the relationship with the other partner.139

     In the period of preparation for a Jewish marriage, after the covenant betrothal, the bridegroom's first task was to prepare a nuptial chamber or new home for his bride. This was done under the supervision of his father. It was often attached to a family compound where several other families also lived. When the father gave his approval of the new dwelling, the bridegroom could go and get his new bride and bring her to his father's house. The father was the one who determined that time: "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me, In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:1-2).

     While the bridegroom was away-preparing a place for his bride, the "friend of the groom" would act as a liaison between them. He could pass messages, deliver additional gifts, watch over her chastity, and comfort and reassure the bride that her groom would surely return. Paul told us of his feelings concerning this weighty assignment to watch over God's "bride": "For I am jealous over you [the Church] with Godly jealously: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2). [Donna B. Nielsen, Beloved Bridegroom: Finding Christ in Ancient Jewish Marriage and Family Customs, pp. 2, 63, 122-123]


Mosiah 11:23 None Shall Deliver Them, Except It Be the Lord the Almighty God:


     [For a fulfillment of this prophecy, see Mosiah 23:23-24.]


Mosiah 11:25 Sackcloth and Ashes:


     According to McConkie and Millet, biblical sackcloth, which was made of goat's hair, was dark in color and coarse in texture. Traditionally it was worn by those in mourning and thus it becomes an appropriate symbol for the godly sorrow and contrition of a soul that must be a part of true repentance. The strewing of ashes upon oneself was also a symbolic gesture representing the depth of humility and the fulness of penitence. (See 1 Kings 20:31-32; Matthew 11:21.) [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. II, pp. 203-204]

     Whether the "sackcloth" mentioned in Mosiah 11:25 was exactly the same as biblical sackcloth is not known, although "goats" are mentioned in Enos 1:21. One also has to wonder about the symbolism. Did the coarseness of the sackcloth symbolize the relative coarseness of the character of man with respect to the Lord's ways? And did the black ashes smeared on the skin represent a "skin of blackness"? And would the atonement of the Lord wipe clean the darkness and smooth away the coarseness? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 11:25 They Repent in Sackcloth and Ashes:


     The Book of Mormon records that the Nephites practiced the ancient Israelite custom of putting ashes on one's head while fasting (Mosiah 11:25). Richardson, Richardson and Bentley note that the ancient Israelites had a custom of covering the head with ashes as a means of cleansing and purification and in times of grief, mourning, and fasting (Daniel 9:3; Isaiah 58:5; Esther 4:3). They also point out that a Mayan fasting ritual is similar to this ancient Israelite practice and provides additional evidence that the Book of Mormon is true. According to Mesoamerican historian Diego de Landa, it was the custom of the Maya to cover themselves with soot or black paint while fasting. (Diego de Landa, Relacion de las Cosas de Yucatan, translated by Alfred M. Tozzer, pp. 103, 152, 165, cited in Cheesman, The World of the Book of Mormon, p. 17.)140 [Allen H. Richardson, David E. Richardson and Anthony E. Bentley, 1000 Evidences for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Part Two-A Voice from the Dust: 500 Evidences in Support of the Book of Mormon, p. 42]


Mosiah 11:27 Who Is Abinadi? . . . Who Is the Lord?:


     Todd Parker asks, "do any of those words [in Mosiah 11:27] sound familiar?" "Who is Abinadi?" "Who is the Lord?" Have you heard those words before? In Exodus 5:2, the Pharaoh says: "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." You can go back even farther in time to Moses 5:16 and see where Cain said the same thing: "Who is the Lord that I should know him?" King Noah's reply here is the same as some of the devil's most distinguished servants of the past. [Todd Parker, "Abinadi: The Man and the Message (Part 1)," F.A.R.M.S., p. 3]


Mosiah 11:27 Who Is the Lord . . . ?:


     According to Alan Goff, the Book of Mormon has a considerable number of narrative analogies--stories similar to other stories in the book or to biblical stories. The normal pattern for non-believers when they come across these stories is to dismiss these parts of the Book of Mormon as a superficial plagiary, either of the Bible, or of other parts of the Book of Mormon. However, the faithful Book of Mormon student should realize that both Hebrew narrative and biblical narrative relish repetition. Moreover, other than the Bible, there is no book more intertextual than the Book of Mormon. Narrative mirroring is so common in biblical literature that Robert Alter has given it the name of "type-scenes."141

     In Mosiah 11:21-26, Abinadi calls the people of Noah to repentance in language heavy with Exodus symbolism. King Noah's responds: "Who is Abinadi, that I and my people shall be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such great affliction" (Mosiah 11:27). This is not only reminiscent of Pharaoh who said to Moses: "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice" (Exodus 5:2), but also of the Israelite who challenged Moses' right to lead: "Who made thee a prince and a judge over us?" (Exodus 2:14). It is also reminiscent of Moses himself, who said to the Lord: "Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh?" (Exodus 3:11).

     Regarding the debate between Moses and Pharaoh about to whom the children of Israel belonged, the Lord's command was, "Let my people go" (Exodus 5:1). This is the context for Pharaoh's reply, "Who is the Lord?" Similarly, in the Book of Mormon narrative, the Lord and king Noah struggle over to whom these people belong: are they the Lord's servants or Noah's? The prophet Abinadi begins by calling them "this people" (Mosiah 11:23), but after king Noah calls them "my people" (Mosiah 11:27,28) Abinadi begins to state assertively: "Thus has the Lord commanded me, saying--Abinadi, go and prophesy unto this my people" (Mosiah 12:1). He does this in spite of the fact that the people assert that they belong to Noah, not the Lord (Mosiah 12:13).

     The Book of Mormon student will observe that the claim that the people are the Lord's will continue throughout the Abinadi narrative in the book of Mosiah. [See the commentary on Mosiah 12:1; 12:2; 12:3; 12:11] [Alan Goff, "Uncritical Theory and Thin Description: The Resistance to History," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 7, Num. 1, F.A.R.M.S., 1995, pp. 188-189, 193]