Mosiah 28


Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah



Mosiah 28:9 I Shall Give an Account of Their Proceedings Hereafter:


     According to John Tvedtnes, an author may promise in the course of writing to return to a subject later to supply further details. Actually keeping such a promise can prove difficult. Even with modern writing aids, memory can betray a person into failing to tuck in the corners of plot or information. Mormon, the editor of much of the Book of Mormon as we have it, made these types of promises at least seven times. In each case, he or his son Moroni followed through perfectly.

     The preaching mission of the sons of Mosiah was related in Alma 17-25, eighteen chapters after Mormon had said in Mosiah 28:9 and 19-20 that he would later tell about it. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Mormon's Editorial Promises," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, p. 29]


Mosiah 28:10 There Was Not Any of His Sons Who Would Accept of the Kingdom, Therefore He Took the Records:


     When the time came for Mosiah2 to relinquish the kingdom, none of his sons were available to accept it; they had declined the opportunity for kingship and gone on a fourteen-year-long mission to the Lamanites (see Alma 17-25). This was a delicate situation because apparently no Mulekite was even entitled to any consideration for becoming king under the law imposed on the people of Zarahemla by Mosiah1 (see Mosiah 25:13), even though they constituted the majority of the population (Mosiah 25:2). In his editing process, Mormon chooses this time to not only document the transfer of kingship symbols from Mosiah2 to another Nephite (Alma2 -- Mosiah 28:20) but to especially detail an account of Mosiah translating the 24 gold plates. (Mosiah 28:11-19). Why was translating the 24 gold plates so important to Mosiah2? Because they contained the Jaredite history (see Ether 1:1-2). Why was the Jaredite history important to Mosiah2? Perhaps Mosiah2 realized that if kingship continued among the Nephite-Mulekite mixture of people which he ruled, the right of the Mulekites to rule sooner or later could not be suppressed. And if a Mulekite were to become king, it could ultimately spell the end of priesthood rule by the tribe of Joseph. By bringing to light the story of the demise of a Jaredite civilization driven by kingship (or kingcraft) which Mosiah presumably knew was recorded on the 24 plates, Mosiah was perhaps hoping to warn his people to keep away from such a calamity. Perhaps King Mosiah reasoned that if the ancestors of his Mulekite people had observed or even been a part of the downfall of Jaredite civilization, by bringing the Jaredite story on the 24 plates to light at this particularly sensitive time of power transfer in government, he might pacify the Mulekites enough to allow the Nephite royal line of the tribe of Joseph to retain control (by means of a system of judges -- see Mosiah 29:25,28-29), and he might avoid the re-emergence of a Jaredite system of kingcraft of which the Mulekite culture had been part of for many years. Sadly however, the reader will see that the rise in power of the Mulekite "kingmen" who desired the ways of Jaredite kingship (or kingcraft) is a major part of the continuing Book of Mormon story. It is interesting that Mormon includes Mosiah's discourse on kingcraft immediately following the account of Mosiah translating the 24 plates. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [For more information on this Jaredite-Mulekite kingship (kingcraft) tradition, see the commentary on Mosiah 28:12; Alma 2:1; 2:11]


Mosiah 28:12 They Were Desirous beyond Measure to Know concerning Those People:


     Why were the people of Zarahemla “desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people [the Jaredites]” (Mosiah 28:12)? According to Michael Hobby, the feverish interest of Mulekites in the affairs of the Jaredites stemmed from their history among them! It was not simply an interest in history for history's sake. . . . The stela found in the reign of King Mosiah1 (see Omni 1:20), two generations before Mosiah2 translated the gold plates of Ether, apparently provided only basic information concerning the Jaredite king, Coriantumr. In all likelihood, the people of Zarahemla, prior to their migrations (or flight?) from the land northward, had considered Coriantumr to be their king; and they still considered the Jaredites to be their brethren (see Alma 46:22). . . . One must bear in mind when studying pre-Columbian cultures that there was no evening news, no radio, no on-the-spot satellite television coverage of the great wars. For those who had fled with Zarahemla, great uncertainties remained which they could only lay to rest once the full outcome of the great struggle was known. [Michael M. Hobby, The Mulekite Connection, pp. 23-24] [See the commentary on Alma 2:1; 2:11]


Mosiah 28:13 Two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow (Illustration): Various Concepts of the Urim and Thummim and the Breastplate. (1) Various concepts which have been advanced regarding the possible appearance of the Urim and Thummim, and of the Breastplate. (2) Various Mesoamerican sculptures appearing to involve spectacles. [Glenn A. Scott, Voices from the Dust, p. 124]


Mosiah 28:16 Whosoever Has These Things Is Called a Seer, after the Manner of Old Times:


     According to John Sorenson, peering into special stones was widespread in Mesoamerica197 and elsewhere in the world.198 In Mesoamerica, the role of seer seems to have been connected with rulership--and particularly with the possession and use of mirrors. Use of a mirror was a special manifestation of the widespread Mesoamerican use of polished stones into which priests gazed to divine the future. Concave mirrors were formed from a mosaic of polished fragments of iron ore or from a single polished stone, such as obsidian; they were used from Olmec to Aztec times. They sometimes served to divine the future. One of their characteristics, which must have seemed magical, was that as the convex face was moved toward one's eyes, at a certain distance related to its focal length, the image suddenly flipped upside down, an impressive phenomenon. Also, the use of a mirror to concentrate the sun's rays and start a fire must have been impressive.199 (The use of bronze mirrors in a number of similar ways was highly developed in China.)200 Moctezuma (the Aztec "Montezuma") saw his coming tragic fate at the hands of the Spaniards in a prophetic mirror said to be fixed in the forehead of a magical crane (bird). The Aztec lord of Tacuba saw in a clouded mirror that Mexico would be lost to the Spanish. The Motul dictionary of the Maya language relates nen, "mirror," with rulership. Certain gods were directly connected with, used, or are depicted wearing mirrors, such as Aztec Tezcatlipoca, who bore the title "Smoking Mirror."201 There probably was a mirror ceremony involved with transfer of royal power; among the Maya, "the mirror ceremony might have conferred the all-encompassing office of wiseman, seer, and priest as well as of secular leader of the people."202 [John L. Sorenson, "The Book of Mormon as a Mesoamerican Record," in Book of Mormon Authorship Revisited, pp. 464-465] [See the commentary on 4 Nephi 1:34]


Mosiah 28:19 And This Account Shall Be Written Hereafter:


     [See the commentary on Ether 1:1]


Mosiah 28:20 The Interpreters:


     Mosiah 28:20 says the following:

           "after king Mosiah had done these things, he took the plates of brass, and all the things which he had kept, and conferred them upon Alma, who was the son of Alma; yea, all the records, and also the interpreters, and conferred them upon him, and commanded him that he should keep and preserve them, and also keep a record of the people, handing them down from one generation to another, even as they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem."


     Mosiah 28:20 uses the phrase "they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem." Does this phrase refer to "all the things that he had kept”? In other words, were "all the records, and also the interpreters" "handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem"? Or are the interpreters not meant to be included in that reference? If the interpreters are part of that reference, then they were handed down from generation to generation either by the Nephites or the Mulekites.

     According to Bruce R. McConkie, there is no record that Lehi brought a Urim and Thummim to this continent, but King Mosiah had one prior to the discovery of the Book of Ether, and it was handed down from prophet to prophet. (Omni 1:20-21; Mosiah 8:13-19; Mosiah 21:26-28; Mosiah 28:11-20; Alma 63:12; Ether 4:1-7). [Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 818]

     According to Verla Birrell, the Book of Mormon does not explain how Mosiah2 received these stones. Were they given to the people of Zarahemla by Coriantumr, and then to the Nephites by the people of Zarahemla? Were they found with the stone tablet of Coriantumr? Mosiah2 apparently was in possession of them before the plates of Ether were found and brought back to him by Limhi (Mosiah 8:13-19) [Verla Birrell, The Book of Mormon Guide Book, pp. 264-265]

      The first edition (1830) of the Book of Mormon names Benjamin as the king of Zarahemla who possessed the interpreters (see p. 200). If so, how did Benjamin get them?

     One other option is that the interpreters were a gift of God to either King Benjamin or King Mosiah2. In Mosiah 8:13, Ammon said, "I can assuredly tell thee . . . of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all the records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters" (my italics). If all the italicized phrases refer to the interpreters, then we can say that either King Benjamin or King Mosiah2 received the interpreters as a gift from God, whether by angelic messenger or from Ether himself. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to Bruce R. McConkie, Joseph Smith received the same Urim and Thummim had by the Brother of Jared for it was the one expressly provided for the translation of the Jaredite and Nephite records. (D. & C. 10:1; 17:1; Ether 3:22-28) It was separate and distinct from the one had by Abraham and the one had by the priests in Israel. [Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 818] [See the commentary on Omni 1:20; see also the extended commentary on Ether 3:22-28] [See 1 Nephi 5:4]