Mosiah 7

 

Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah


 

 

Mosiah 7-8 (Types and Shadows):

 

     The story in Mosiah 7-8 is full of types and shadows and parallels. First of all, Who do Limhi and his people represent? They represent the Nephites (or covenant people) who have strayed away and essentially become lost and in bondage. Who is Ammon and what does he represent? Ammon is one who has been sent from the presence of the people of the Lord to gather those that have been lost. The name Ammon is another name for God (see the commentary on Alma 17:19). Symbolically in the Book of Mormon, Ammon is a messenger who represents and at times symbolically personifies Christ. Now there are those of you who will probably say, Isn't there another character in the Book of Mormon that drove away those who were preventing the sheep from drinking from the living waters of Sebus? Yes! And did he represent Christ and his messenger? Yes! But that is another story. (See the commentary on Alma 17:19)

     So Why are the people of Limhi lost and in bondage? They have covenanted with another king--king Laman. (Mosiah 7:21, 25). What is the type and shadow of the name Laman? He represents those people who rebel against the Lord's anointed, seek power unrighteously, and do not follow Christ.

     So what specifically did the people of Limhi do that was so bad? What did they do? They killed a prophet (see Mosiah 7:26). Who was that prophet? Abinadi? What is the symbolism of Abinadi's name? According to Todd Parker, it means something like "my father is present with you" (see the commentary on Mosiah 11:20) So the people of Limhi had essentially killed the man who represented God. What was Abinadi's message? His message was of Christ, his law and covenant. But Limhi does not speak about Abinadi's message here, he does something else. Limhi has Ammon rehearse to them the message of Benjamin. (Mosiah 8:3) What was the message of Benjamin? According to Todd Parker, it was almost exactly what the message of Abinadi was (see the commentary on Mosiah 13-16).

     Do you get the idea that Mormon the Abridger seems to be on to something here? What is his motivation? As with all stories in Mormon's abridgment, we should look first to his main purpose, and what is the main purpose of the Book of Mormon? "To show unto the Lamanites what great things the Lord has done for their fathers--that they might know the covenants of the Lord" (Title Page). So where is the initiation of the covenant? We find evidence of it in Mosiah 8:7, although it is only implied:

           "And the king said unto [Ammon]: Being grieved for the afflictions of my people, I caused that forty and three of my people should take a journey into the wilderness, that thereby they might find the land of Zarahemla, that we might appeal unto our brethren to deliver us out of bondage."

 

     What kind of actions does being grieved and afflicted imply? Prayer and promises. What was Limhi inspired to do that such promises might be fulfilled? Send out a group in the wilderness in search of Zarahemla (or the promised land). Is there any evidence that Limhi's actions were of a covenant nature? In Mosiah 7:14 we find: "And now, it came to pass that after Limhi had heard the words of Ammon, he was exceedingly glad, and said: Now, I know of a surety that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive." The words "I know of a surety" are covenant related and are also repeated by Sariah (see 1 Nephi 5:8) in the covenant story of Nephi's obtaining the plates of brass (see the commentary on 1 Nephi 5:8; 3:7, 5:2, 5:4).

     So what about this group that Limhi, sent out? Did they find Zarahemla (or the "promised land.")? They thought they found it, but weren't sure (compare Mosiah 8:8, 21:26). But they brought back a sign or testimony that they had discovered evidence of it. What was the sign or testimony that they found? A book! (see Mosiah 8:9). A book was the answer that Limhi received when he apparently ask the Lord for a sign concerning when his people would be led out of bondage and gathered to their brethren.

     There is a parallel here. What is the parallel? We find it in the heading of 3 Nephi 21. To preface this chapter, Christ has come to the Nephites who have just suffered destruction. He has revealed to them his message and something of the future which also involves bondage and destruction. They ask him for a sign as to when that bondage will be lifted and when their descendants will be gathered. He tells them that the sign is a book!

     Now let us return to Limhi. Limhi makes some assumptions here. First of all he assumes that the book (24 plates) deals with the destroyed people, and more importantly the cause of that destruction. "I am desirous" (Mosiah 8:12). Why was Limhi so desirous to know the cause of their destruction? The reason in the context of this story is because first, the book was a sign given in response to Limhi's apparent prayers concerning his people's bondage, and so consequently, the reasons for the destruction recorded in the book would also be part of the answer to Limhi's prayers. Otherwise, I find it a great oddity that in the midst of celebration of actually establishing a true contact with the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla, that someone would be overly concerned with artifacts brought back from a 43 man mission to find that same land of Zarahemla, but which now has to be considered a failed mission.

     In response to Limhi's query, Ammon says the following:

           I can assuredly tell thee, O king, of a man that can translate the records; for he has wherewith that he can look, and translate all records that are of ancient date; and it is a gift from God. And the things are called interpreters, and no man can look in them except he be commanded lest he should look for that he ought not and he should perish. And whosoever is commanded to look in them, the same is called seer. And behold, the king of the people who are in the land of Zarahemla is the man that is commanded to do these things, and who has this high gift from God. (Mosiah 8:13-14)

 

     So what is a seer? Before you answer that question, let's focus on a key word here; that word is "ancient". You see, ancient history was not written as just a chronicle of facts. Ancient History was written as a series of cycles, patterns, types and shadows. So what is a seer? A seer is one who can read historical facts and see these patterns. Notice how apparently king Limhi immediately picks up on this: "And the king said that a seer is greater than a prophet" (Mosiah 8:15) So Ammon expands on what a seer is:

           And Ammon said that a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God. But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known. (Mosiah 8:16-17)

 

     Now why is a seer greater than a prophet? It is because a seer gets his understanding from the past and then prophesies of the future. The understanding of why things happen is seen in the cycles, parallels, types and shadows of past, present, and future. So once Ammon explains this the king starts rejoicing here, but why? Notice his words:

           Doubtless a great mystery is contained within these plates . . . O how marvelous are the works of the Lord, and how long doth he suffer with his people; yea, and how blind and impenetrable are the understandings of the children of men; for they will not seek wisdom neither do they desire that she should rule over them! Yea, they are as a wild flock which fleeth from the shepherd, and scattereth, and are driven, and are devoured by the beasts of the forest. (Mosiah 8:19-21)

 

     The mystery is that the Lord works with man down through the ages (especially as recorded in ancient scripture) with types, shadows, patterns and cycles. And the greatness of the Lord is that by means of the covenant process, man can know of these things. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:1 The City of Lehi-Nephi:

 

     It is interesting that in the narrative text, the city where Zeniff and his followers decided to return to is sometimes called Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:1-3, 21; 9:6, 8) and sometimes called Nephi (Mosiah 20:3; 21:1, 12). According to John Tvedtnes, it is possible that the Lamanites who had moved into the city following Mosiah's departure changed the name to Lehi, not wanting to commemorate the name of the hated Nephi. But the Nephites continued to call it Nephi, though they often merged the Lamanite and Nephite names in the form Lehi-Nephi. Zeniff readily convinced the Lamanite king to move his people out of the cities of Lehi-Nephi and to allow the newly arrived Nephites to settle in their place (Mosiah 9:6-7). One might wonder why the Lamanites would so readily desert their houses and lands. The answer probably lies in the fact that they were still principally a nomadic people (Enos 1:20; Alma 22:28). They had evidently not kept the former Nephite cities in repair, for Zeniff's people were obligated "to build buildings, and to repair the walls of the city, yea, even the walls of the city of Lehi-Nephi, and the city of Shilom" (Mosiah 9:8). [John A. Tvedtnes, "Contents of the 116 Lost Pages and the Large Plates," in The Most Correct Book, pp. 45-46]

 

Mosiah 7:3 Ammon:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, Amon (or Ammon) . . . is the commonest proper name in the Book of Mormon, and also the commonest and most revered name in the Egyptian Empire (which embraced Palestine at Lehi's time). The reverence shown the name of Amon in no way indicates the slightest concession to paganism on the part of the Jews, since Amon is no less than the Egyptian version of their own universal, one, creator-God, the Great Spirit . . . (see Alma 18:4). [Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, F.A.R.M.S., p. 21]

 

Mosiah 7:3 Ammon . . . a Descendant of Zarahemla:

 

     In Mosiah 7:3, Mormon notes that this particular Ammon (Ammon1) was "a descendant of Zarahemla," or of Mulekite blood, and the reader should be careful not to confuse this person with the Ammon who was the son of Mosiah2 (Ammon2), who was of Nephite blood. One might wonder why a Mulekite would be sent to rescue Nephites that had returned into a previous Nephite territory? Perhaps there had been more interaction previously between the Mulekite people and the Nephite or Lamanite people than is mentioned in the text. And why did Mormon even mention this relationship? Perhaps if descendants of Mulek originally accompanied Zeniff, it would not be apparent to Mosiah2 whether Zeniff's group were now governed by Nephite leadership or Mulekite leadership. Nephite leadership would readily trust a Nephite king but Mulekite leadership would need some reassurance. This could have been accomplished by Ammon, who would have probably been either a great-grandson of Zarahemla or a grandson, depending on whether Zarahemla was much older than Mosiah1 or about the same age. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:4, 5 They Had Wandered Forty Days:

 

     If Ammon and his group had "wandered forty days" in their journey from Zarahemla to Lehi-Nephi (Mosiah 7:4,5), then it seems that 40 days would probably represent more of a maximum number of days for traveling from the local land of Zarahemla to the local land of Nephi. According to John Sorenson, in central (mountainous) Guatemala, the following times and distances have been encountered for merchant travel:

     The average rate from Chichicastenango to various destinations was 14 miles per day. From Coban and two other places to seven different destinations averaged ten and one-half miles per day. (Lawrence H. Feldman, Moving Merchandise in Protohistoric Central Quauhtemallan)

     Two men driving a herd of pigs through mountainous Guatemala traveled 70 rugged trail miles in eight days--less than nine miles per day (the animals were equipped with rawhide sandals to protect their feet!) (Felix Webster McBryde, Cultural and Historical Geography of Southwest Guatemala)

 [John L. Sorenson, The Geography of Book of Mormon Events: A Source Book, F.A.R.M.S., 1992, p. 395]

     If we allow ten miles a day, then 400 miles would represent a fair estimate for the maximum distance between the land of Zarahemla and the local land of Lehi-Nephi.

 

Mosiah 7:5; 9:14 A Hill Which Is North of the Land of Shilom (Directions):

 

     The term "north" in Mosiah 7:5 is the first directional term in Mormon's abridgment of the large plates. Because the book of Mosiah is part of the Large plates and because it follows after that portion of Mormon's abridgment (the lost 116 pages of manuscript) which was replaced by the small plates, we cannot directly compare the way Nephi or the other authors of the small plates oriented themselves to the directions which Mormon used. However, I feel that certain circumstances within this part of the book of Mosiah speak out for the idea that the directional terms as used throughout our present Book of Mormon are consistent:

     1. The large plates were started on the American continent by Nephi soon after he arrived (1 Nephi 19:1-5). Perhaps ten to twenty years later, from the location of the land of Nephi, the prophet Nephi started the small plates (2 Nephi 5:28-34). Thus, the directions on the small plates were most probably patterned after those on the large plates.

     2. Mormon apparently includes in his account on Zeniff's group, a first person account by Zeniff himself (Mosiah 9:1-10:22). This section apparently came directly from the large plates which Mormon was abridging. Within this section we find the directional term "south" (Mosiah 9:14) and "north" (Mosiah 10:8). Thus, we have directional terms from the large plates that we can compare with directional terms from Mormon himself.

     3. While it is entirely possible that Mormon translated Zeniff's directional terms into his own system of directions, if we allow Mormon the right to standardize directions in translating and producing his abridgment, we must also allow Joseph Smith the right to standardize directions in his translation process. Thus, the position can be taken that whether the directional terms were left intact or translated, they are apparently of the same standard.

     There are many good Book of Mormon scholars, however, who don't share this point of view. They feel that the directions on the small plates could be derived from an entirely different cultural system than those on Mormon's abridgment. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

     According to David Palmer, there is evidence "to show that the Mesoamerican directions were indeed not the same as ours." North Americans live in a land where directions are not hard to find. The mountain ranges run essentially north and south. We can look into the night sky and find Polaris, today the practically stationary "north star." . . . However, Polaris described a circle in the sky with a diameter of 24 degrees at the time of Lehi. . . . Thus, the average person would have had great difficulty in finding "north" from the night sky.

     Perhaps the Nephites used Solstice readings to determine their directions. The solstices occur on June 21 and December 21 of each year, where the sun reaches its extreme on the horizon. These are the longest and shortest days of the year. Those directions were quite easily observed. The solstice directions in Mexico are 115/295 degrees. That would imply a shift of "north" by sixty-five degrees counterclock-wise. That conforms with the winter-sunrise--summer-sunset solstice.

     Vincent Malmstrom (1978) has discovered that many of the important preclassic sites in Mesoameria were deliberately placed so that the solstice could be measured when the sun passed over nearby peaks. . . .

     One of the more important native accounts that speaks of the beginning of time is the Popul Vuh (Recinos, et al, 1950:68,69,207). John Sorenson notes that "The Toltec rulers of the Quiche, along with other pre-Spanish groups, called the lowland zone bounding the Gulf near the Isthmus of Tehuantepec 'the East,' forcing the translators of the Popul Vuh into the bizarre statement, 'In the lands to the north, that is, in the East.'" Those same authors also stated:

           The Gulf of Mexico, however it is situated in relation to land--eastward in northern Mexico, northward in the southern Gulf Coast area, or westward off the coast of Campeche--is the "East Sea," while in the same manner, the Pacific Ocean is the "West Sea." In the center of the land, then, around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, west is on the Pacific side and east is on the southern Gulf coast area.

 

     Thus, from the supporting data (which Palmer includes but which is not totally presented here) it appears plausible that the Nephites might have used a directional system based in part on the solstice measurements. [David A. Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, pp. 227-234] [See the commentary on 1 Nephi 16:13]

 

Mosiah 7:5 They Came to a Hill:

 

     The journey of Ammon's group ended at a "hill" apparently not very far "north" of the land of Shilom (Mosiah 7:5). From that location they "pitched their tents" (Mosiah 7:5) and then went "down into the land of Nephi" (Mosiah 7:6). Thus, the city of Shilom and the city of Lehi-Nephi were probably visible from the hill. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:5 They came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom (Illustration): The valley seen here, where Guatemala City lies, has been identified by a number of students of Book of Mormon geography as the immediate land of Nephi, the first area settled by Nephi, and his party after separating from the Lamanite faction. [According to John Sorenson] the view from the vantage point of the photographer of this scene is the same as that Ammon1 and his group would have had when they came into the land and paused "at a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom" (Mosiah 7:5). From there "they went down into the land of Nephi," where they met King Limhi (Mosiah 7:6). [John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America, p. 195]

 

Mosiah 7:5 They came to a hill, which is north of the land of Shilom (Illustration): Looking to the north across the ruins at Mixco Viejo in Guatemala towards hills where ruins have also been discovered. This is much like the description of the view from the Land of Nephi of Shemlon and Shilom in the Book of Mormon. [F. Richard Hauck, "In Search of the Land of Nephi," in This People, Fall 1994, p. 53. (Photography by Scot Facer Proctor)]

 

Mosiah 7:5 Shilom:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, the name "Shilom," or the land of Shilom means the higher lands, the high and dry lands. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 158]

 

Mosiah 7:6 Amaleki, Helem, and Hem:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, in Mosiah 7:6 we get these interesting names, "Amaleki, Helem, and Hem," who were sent as representatives of king Mosiah with Ammon to communicate with the remnants of Zeniff's original group who returned to the land of Nephi. The lexicon gives some references that are very interesting. First, the name Amaleki with a prophetic A. It's Aramaic from melekh. They all mean the same thing, the king, lord or ruler. The second name, Helem, . . . . it's an Aramaic name, halam, which means strong, good humored, close to one. Finally we come to the name Hem, which is interesting for two reasons. Of course, Hem is the first king of Egypt on the records; and [the name] also means warrior. It's not an uncommon name, meaning warrior chief. On the other hand . . . Ham means father-in-law in all Semitic languages. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p. 22]

     Would the possible meaning of the names (titles?) of the representative group sent by king Mosiah (Ammon--Lord; Amaleki--Prophetic king or ruler; Helem--a strong close good friend; and Hem--warrior chief or father-in-law) give added validity and strength to their mission as they presented themselves to king Limhi? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:6 Amaleki, Helem, and Hem:

 

       These men were sent as representatives of king Mosiah with Ammon to communicate with he remnants of Zeniff's original group who returned to the land of Nephi. Are these Jaredite-Mulekite names? Notice the "mimmation." Notice also that Ammon "was a descendant of Zarahemla" (Mosiah 7:3). What is going on here. Why does a Nephite king send Mulekite men to retrieve "Nephites" who have returned to inherit land in the land of Nephi? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:6 Hem:

 

     According to Hugh Nibley, it is most interesting that the brother of Ammon (a Mulekite) actually bears the name of Hem (Mosiah 7:6). The chief governor of Egypt was "the high priest of Amon" (or Ammon), his title being in Egyptian neter hem tep -- "chief servant (Hem) of the God." Hem is an element in Egyptian proper names and means . . . "servant of God." [Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, F.A.R.M.S., p. 21]

 

Mosiah 7:6 Down into the Land of Nephi:

 

     In Mosiah 7:6 is found the only statement in the Book of Mormon that refers to going "down" to the land of Nephi. This might imply that the local land of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi) was not only in the mountains but in a mountain valley. Assuming a Mesoamerican setting, the ruins of Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala City (proposed by some as the local land of Nephi) are located 4800 feet above sea level, down in a valley. The same criteria can be applied to Hauck's proposed site for the city of Nephi, Mixco Viejo. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on 2 Nephi 5:8]

 

Mosiah 7:9 And [Limhi] Said unto Them:

 

     According to an article by John Gee, direct quotations of Limhi occur in the following places in the record: (1) the trial of Ammon, Amaleki, Helem, and Hem (Mosiah 7:8-15); (2) an official address given to all his subjects at a covenant renewal ceremony (Mosiah 7:17-33); (3) the discussion with Ammon about the records (Mosiah 8:5-21); and (4) the interrogation of the king of the Lamanites (Mosiah 20:13-22). Something subtle and quite authentic has been done here in the Book of Mormon. All the direct quotations derive from situations where an official scribe would be on hand to write things down . . . those accounts that do have large quotations are all from official documents. . . . Although no scribe is mentioned, we can be assured that they were unobtrusively in the background. It was an ancient practice to employ scribes to record all the official statements or acts of kings, a practice dating back to the first dynasty of Egypt. [John Gee, "Limhi in the Library," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Fall 1992, pp. 55-56]

 

Mosiah 7:15 It Is Better That We Be Slaves to the Nephites:

 

     When he started thinking about returning to the land of Zarahemla, King Limhi made a curious remark. He said, "it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites" (Mosiah 7:15). Did Limhi feel that if they went back to the land of Zarahemla they might be slaves of the Nephites? Why would he even bring up the idea? Had the people of Zeniff originally forsaken their loyalties to Mosiah1 and the Nephites in Zarahemla when they returned to Lehi-Nephi? Was slavery practiced in Nephite society? [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:15 We Will Be Their Slaves

 

     It is interesting that Limhi apparently assumed that in return for being delivered out of bondage by his "brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla," his people in the land of Lehi-Nephi would become "their slaves" (Mosiah 7:14-15) One might ask, Was slavery part of Nephite culture?

     In Alma 27:9, Ammon credits his father Mosiah2 with establishing a law forbidding slavery: "It is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should be any slaves among them . . ." Thus, at least by the reign of Mosiah2 slavery had been legally eliminated. Did slavery exist during the reign of king Benjamin? All we find is that Benjamin did not condone slavery. In his farewell address, Benjamin notes that "Neither have I suffered . . . that ye should make slaves one of another." (Mosiah 2:13) Considering the power of kingship ("your wish is my command"), one might assume that Benjamin also established a policy of non-slavery. However, John Sorenson notes the possibility that perhaps Benjamin forbade the making of new slaves but permitted the institution to continue where it already existed. (Sorenson, Nephite Culture and Society, p. 235.) Whatever the case, if Zeniff and his people departed the land of Zarahemla during the reign of Mosiah1, it is possible that they carried with them the practice of slavery under certain conditions and circumstances.

 

     With these ideas of slavery in mind, it is interesting that John Tvedtnes supports the idea that the speech of king Benjamin and the coronation of king Mosiah2 took place at the festival of Sukkot ("booths" or "tabernacles"). (John A. Tvedtnes, "King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles," in Lundquist and Ricks, eds., By Study and Also by Faith, 2:197-237.) More importantly, Tvedtnes mentions John Welch's argument that Benjamin's speech took place during a jubilee year and claims that this is consistent with a Feast of Tabernacles setting because the jubilee year is announced in the same seventh month that this festival occurs. So one might ask, Why is a jubilee year associated with the Feast of Tabernacles so significant? and What does this have to do with slavery and returning to the Nephite land of Zarahemla?

     According to Jennifer Lane, the jubilee year (and possibly sabbatical years) would have been a very significant setting for King Benjamin to give a message about spiritual redemption because it was the time when Israelite slaves were to be freed (Deuteronomy 15:12-18; Leviticus 25:39-42) and people were freed from their debts (Deuteronomy 15:1-3), and it is only in the jubilee year that the land is returned to its original owners (Leviticus 25:25-28). [Jennifer Clark Lane, "The Lord Will Redeem His People: Adoptive Covenant and Redemption in the Old Testament and Book of Mormon," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 2/2, Fall 1993, pp. 49-50]

     It is also worth noting that the very next day ("on the morrow") after king Limhi made his remark about slavery ("it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites"--see Mosiah 7:15), he brought his people to the temple to announce a formal message of redemption from bondage:

           if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:33)

 

     It is also noteworthy that immediately after king Limhi addressed his people, Ammon reinforced Limhi's message of redemption from bondage with the teachings of king Benjamin (at the jubilee year Feast of Tabernacles): "he rehearsed unto them the last words which king Benjamin had taught them, and explained them to the people of king Limhi, so that they might understand all the words which he spake." (Mosiah 8:3) [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:17 King Limhi Sent a Proclamation among All His People, That Thereby They Might Gather to the Temple to Hear the Words Which He Should Speak unto Them (Covenant Tradition):

 

     According to Blaine Ostler, the clearest examples of covenant renewal festivals are found at the time King Benjamin gave his speech (see Mosiah 1-6) and at the time of King Limhi's gathering (Mosiah 7). The reader should note that although King Limhi gathered his people just three years after King Benjamin's speech and assembly, Limhi's people had been separated from the rest of the Nephites for many years.

     Covenant renewal is such a basic Israelite tradition. It is reported in the Bible in Exodus, Deuteronomy, Ezra, and Joshua. The pattern included these eight features:

     1. Gathering of the Nation. The entire nation was called by proclamation to be present (usually at the temple) for an important event. [For examples see Mosiah 7:17; Mosiah 1:10, 18; Joshua 24:1]

     2. Preamble and Designation of Titles. The covenant ceremony was preceded by a short introduction of the person who would state the terms and the conditions of the covenant, standing as the representative of the people before God. [For examples see Mosiah 7:18; Mosiah 2:1, 9; Joshua 24:2]

     3. Covenant Speech/Mighty Acts of God. The king or high priest next gave a speech reminding the people of the mighty deeds that God had done for them. [For examples see Mosiah 7:18-20; Mosiah 2:21; Joshua 24:2-13]

     4. The Terms of the Covenant. After this speech, the leader listed the terms of the covenant, usually specifying obedience. [For examples see Mosiah 7:33; Mosiah 2:22-24; Joshua 24:14]

     5. Curses and Blessings. The covenant speech in Israel reminded the people of the blessings God had promised them if they obeyed and the cursings he had threatened them with if they failed. [For examples see Mosiah 7:20, 29-32; Mosiah 5:8-10; Joshua 24:20, 8:34; Deuteronomy 27:11-13]

     6. Witness Formula. The people were made witnesses of the covenant and of the events taking place. [For examples see Mosiah 7:21; Mosiah 2:14; Joshua 24:22]

     7. Covenant Recorded. The words of the covenant, and sometimes even the names of those entering into the covenant, were written down so that they could be read later as evidence that the covenant had indeed been entered into and was valid. [For examples see Mosiah 8:2-3; Mosiah 6:1; Deuteronomy 29:20-22; Joshua 24:25-27 Note* Limhi also renewed the covenant made at Benjamin's ceremony, because he had all of King Benjamin's words read to his people.]

     8. Formal Dismissal. The gathering concluded when the king or high priest dismissed the people to return to their dwellings. [For examples see Mosiah 8:4; Mosiah 6:3; Joshua 24:28]

 

     The Book of Mormon is the only writing coming out of the nineteenth century that faithfully reflects the ancient Israelite covenant tradition. None of the books, articles, or sermons written in Joseph Smith's day presents the eight elements of the ritual pattern that I [Blaine Ostler] have shown are found in the Book of Mormon. Nor do any of his "everyday" writings contain anything like this pattern. [Blaine T. Ostler, "The Covenant Tradition in the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 230-240]

 

Mosiah 7:18 The Time Is at Hand, or Is Not Far Distant:

 

     Just after the arrival of Ammon, King Limhi proclaims to his people that "the time is at hand, or is not far distant when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies" (Mosiah 7:18). We can assume by this statement that Limhi felt that it wasn't very long before his people would be free from the bondage of the Lamanites. What made Limhi think that 16 men could make a difference? Perhaps it was the fact that Ammon knew the way back to Zarahemla, although the text says that his group "had wandered for 40 days" (Mosiah 7:5). Perhaps it was the political acceptance and power that Ammon extended to Limhi in behalf of King Mosiah2. In view of his previous remarks about slavery to the Nephites ("it is better that we be slaves to the Nephites than to pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites" -- Mosiah 7:15), Limhi might have been thinking that ultimately more Nephites from the land of Zarahemla might come to their rescue, but that his people would have to repay the people of Mosiah2 in the land of Zarahemla with some sort of servitude or "slavery." [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 9:6]

 

Mosiah 7:19 Put Your Trust in God . . . That God Who Brought the Children of Israel out of the Land of Egypt:

 

     According to Kent Brown, it is possible, indeed, to see Alma the elder as a type of Moses. The parallels are intriguing. Each was a member of a royal court and was forced to flee because of an injustice. Each led his people from the clutches of enslaving overlords. Each led them through the wilderness to the land from which their ancestors had originated. Moreover, each gave the law to his people and placed them under covenants to obey the Lord. The terms of the covenant are rehearsed in Mosiah 18:8-10; the sign of the covenant consisted of baptism (18:12-16); the name of the covenant people was "the church of God, or the church of Christ" (18:17); and the terms of the new law, including the priesthood offices are outlined in 18:18-28).

     In addition, because of Alma's unusual spiritual gifts, he was commissioned by King Mosiah, whom he had never met prior to his arrival in Zarahemla, to lead and direct the affairs of the church there, even superseding in position and authority those priests who surrounded Mosiah and who were obviously in positions to influence and make policy (see Mosiah 27:1). Moses, too, was placed by the Lord at the head of his people who had been served by other priests. [S. Kent Brown, "The Exodus Pattern," in BYU Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990), pp. 114-115,124]

 

Mosiah 7:20 It Is because of Our Iniquities and Abominations That He Has Brought Us into Bondage:

 

     In relating how his people were brought into bondage (Mosiah 7:20-22), Limhi links "iniquity" (v. 20) with the fact that Zeniff was "overzealous" (v. 21) to inherit the land of his fathers. In what manner was Zeniff "overzealous"? We find in Mosiah 9:1-2 that on the first recorded trip back to the land of Nephi (occupied by Lamanites), Zeniff "saw that which was good among them" and "was desirous that they should not be destroyed." He contended with his brethren in the wilderness, "for I would that our ruler should make a treaty with them." Perhaps Zeniff too hastily agreed to the terms of King Laman’s treaty because he wanted to justify all the problems stemming from that first mission when he had contended against his leader and the party had to return. Perhaps Zeniff was "overzealous" in trying to justify all his previous actions related to leaving the rule of King Mosiah1. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes] [See the commentary on Mosiah 9:5]

 

Mosiah 7:21-22 He Being . . . Being . . . Who Having . . . Having:

 

     According to Brian Stubbs, "Book of Mormon language frequently contains lengthy structures of rather awkward English. Some may consider these to be instances of poor grammar, weakness in writing (Ether 12:23-26), or the literary ineptness of a fraudulent author; however, I see them as potentially significant support for a translation from a Near Eastern language in an ancient American setting. Many of these lengths of awkward English parallel Semitic (and Egyptian) patterns, particularly the circumstantial or hal-clause."

     Stubbs quotes from a previous article of his in Encyclopedia of Mormonism ("Book of Mormon Language," 1:179-181):

           Long strings of subordinate clauses and verbal expressions . . . are acceptable in Hebrew, though unorthodox and discouraged in English: "Ye all are witnesses . . . that Zeniff, who was made king, . . . he being over-zealous, . . . therefore being deceived by . . . king Laman, who having entered into a treaty . . . and having yielded up [various cities], . . . and the land round about--and all this he did, for the sole purpose of bringing this people . . . into bondage" (Mosiah 7:21-22).

 

     This Book of Mormon excerpt (or sentence) contains eight clauses or verbals, most of which feature -ing participial verb forms. The Book of Mormon is replete with similar examples.

     John Gee ("La Trahison des Clercs: On the Language and Translation of the Book of Mormon," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, 6/1, pp. 51-120), discloses a choice example from the Jewish Publication Society's translation of Genesis 1:1-3:

           "When God began to create heaven and earth--the earth being unformed and void, with darkness over the surface of the deep and a wind from God sweeping over the water--God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light."

 

     In the Hebrew text, everything between the dashes consists of three hal-clauses (also known as circumstantial clauses) that begin with wa- (and) + noun/pronoun; the three nouns heading the three hal-clauses are earth, darkness, and wind/spirit, respectively. Ignoring semantic disagreements, the above is structurally a nice translation of hal-clauses: three verses into one sentence, no less. In stark contrast, the King James Version makes separate sentences or independent and-clauses of the three parenthetical hal-clauses:

           "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." (Genesis 1:1-3 KJV)

 

     The fact that the King James translators left many of the Hebrew circumstantial clauses inconspicuous by translating them as and-clauses quite undermines the accusation that Joseph Smith was simply mimicking the King James biblical style, because the Book of Mormon employs -ing participial expressions much more frequently than does the King James Old Testament. [Brian D. Stubbs, "A Lengthier Treatment of Length," in Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol 5/2, pp. 82-84,96] [See the commentary on Alma 2:1-2]

 

Mosiah 7:26-28 A Prophet of the Lord Have They Slain:

 

     Although no name is mentioned, Mormon records that king Limhi tells Ammon that "a prophet of the Lord" had been slain for his teachings (Mosiah 7:26). What the reader should notice is that this statement reflects on the future content of the record. Had Joseph Smith been inventing the script as he went along, he would have been very foolish to insert phrases such as this which would put requirements on what he might write in the future. Mormon, however, could add such comments because he would have read ahead in order to know what to put next in his abridgment of the large plates. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

 

Mosiah 7:29-31 For Behold, the Lord Hath Said:

 

     According to Kent Brown, Limhi clearly saw the parallels between the difficulties that the people of his colony faced in their bondage and those that both the earlier Israelites and the family of Lehi had faced. Of course Limhi knew the reason for the suffering of his people. He laid it squarely at the feet of his father and the earlier generation's rejection of the word of the Lord brought by the prophet Abinadi (Mosiah 7:25-28). In telling the story of what happened to the prophet Abinadi, king Limhi immediately quotes in succession three sayings of the Lord that are not part of Abinadi's recorded preaching, nor do they come from any known source:

           For behold, the Lord hath said: I will not succor my people in the day of their transgression; but I will hedge up their ways that they prosper not; and their doings shall be as a stumbling block before them.

           And again, he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the chaff thereof in the whirlwind; and the effect thereof is poison.

           And again he saith: If my people shall sow filthiness they shall reap the east wind, which bringeth immediate destruction. (Mosiah 7:29-31)

 

     Furthermore, the three passages all share a concern for "my people," a term familiar from the exodus narrative that also denotes a covenant relationship (see Exodus 6;7; 8:20-21,23; 9:13; 10:3-4; etc.). [S. Kent Brown, "The Exodus Pattern," in BYU Studies, Vol. 30 No. 3 (Summer, 1990), pp. 114,124]

 

Mosiah 7:31 East Wind, Which Bringeth Immediate Destruction:

 

     According to McConkie and Millet, the phrase "East wind" is an Old World cultural symbol. The people of the Bible recognized the existence of four prevailing winds as issuing, broadly speaking, from the four cardinal points: north, south, east, and west. This is inferred from the custom of using the expression "four winds" as equivalent to the four quarters of the earth (see Ezekiel 37:9; Daniel 8:8; Zechariah 2:6; Matthew 24:31). The character of the directional winds was so consistent, varying not in nature but only in degree throughout the seasons, that they came to be viewed as messengers from God. The north wind is cold; the west wind coming from the Mediterranean Sea is moist; the south, warm; and the east, which crosses the sandy wastes of the Arabian Desert before reaching Palestine, can be violent and destructive. It was called "the wind of the wilderness" (Job 1:19; Jeremiah 13:24; cf. Genesis 41:6, 23, 27; Ezekiel 27:26; Psalm 78:26). [Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. II, p. 187]

 

Mosiah 7:31 The East Wind:

 

     King Limhi identified for his subjects three results of bondage. According to Monte Nyman, these three results were apparently all drawn from their scriptures, the plates of brass, since he was quoting the Lord. Abbreviated, the results are:

     (1) The people do not prosper, and their activities are stumbling blocks. (Mosiah 7:29)

     (2) If the Lord's people sow filthiness, they will reap chaff; the effect is poison. (Mosiah 7:30)

     (3) If the Lord's people sow filthiness, they will reap the east wind and destruction. (Mosiah 7:31)

 

     The last result needs a little explanation. In Palestine, from which the plates of brass came, the east wind brings in the hot temperatures from the desert, resulting in drought and famine. In contrast, the winds from the west bring in the rains from the Mediterranean Sea, resulting in good crops. [Monte S. Nyman, "Bondage and Deliverance," in Studies in Scripture: Book of Mormon, Part 1, p. 264]

 

Mosiah 7:33 Turn to the Lord, with Full Purpose of Heart:

 

     In speaking to his people who are in bondage, Limhi apparently paraphrases the words of the Lord concerning the actions which might free them from bondage:

           But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own pleasure, deliver you out of bondage. (Mosiah 7:33)

 

     In a cultural note, Blair Van Dyke writes that the word heart here could be a translation of the Hebrew word leb. Figuratively, leb encompasses all dimensions of human existence. It signifies intellect, wisdom, vitality, emotion, conscience--indeed the very essence of a person lies within the leb (see Psalm 22:15; 27:3; 33:21; 45:2).122 [Blair G. Van Dyke, "Profiles of a Covenant People," in Covenants Prophecies and Hymns of the Old Testament, p. 49, n. 9]