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Mosiah 13


Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah



Mosiah 13-16 (Abinadi's Teachings):


     According to Todd Parker, there might be a connection between Abinadi and King Benjamin. There are many things both Benjamin and Abinadi taught that are basically the same. Is this just coincidence? Although in the book of Mosiah, the teachings of King Benjamin (Mosiah 1-5) come before the teachings of Abinadi (Mosiah 11-17), the prophet Abinadi actually lived and died before King Benjamin ever climbed on his tower to give his farewell sermon. In view of this fact, and the fact that so many similarities exist between the teachings of the two great prophets, one might question from where Benjamin got his material. In a fascinating statement, King Benjamin himself says that "the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God" (Mosiah 3:2). Is it possible that this angel is none other than our friend Abinadi? Well, you can make your own decision there, but I think there's definitely a correlation between those two messages. The following chart lists twenty-five teachings of Benjamin and Abinadi that are basically the same:

     Gospel Principles Upon Which Both Benjamin and Abinadi Focus

     Mosiah 3 and Mosiah 13-16


1. God himself shall come down (Mosiah 3:5; 15:1).

2. He will work mighty miracles (Mosiah 3:5; 15:6).

3. He will suffer temptation (Mosiah 3:7; 15:5).

4. He will be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God (Mosiah 3:7,8; 15:2,21).

5. He is the Father of heaven and earth (Mosiah 3:8; 15:4).

6. He will bring salvation (Mosiah 3:9; 15:1).

7. He will be scourged and crucified (Mosiah 3:9; 15:8).

8. He will overcome death (Mosiah 3:10; 15:8).

9. He will do these things that men can be judged (Mosiah 3:10; 15:9).

10. His atonement redeems those who have ignorantly sinned (Mosiah 3:11; 15:24).

11. Those who willfully rebel are not redeemed (Mosiah 3:12; 15:26).

12. All prophets declare this message (Mosiah 3:13; 16:6).

13. Prophets spoke as if he had already come (Mosiah 3:13; 16:6).

14. Because Israel was stiffnecked, a law was given them (Mosiah 3:14; 13:29).

15. The law included types of things to come (Mosiah 3:15; 15:11).

16. Prophets spake concerning his coming (Mosiah 3:15; 15:11).

17. Israel hardened their hearts against the prophets (Mosiah 3:15; 13:32).

18. Law of Moses is ineffectual without the atonement (Mosiah 3:15; 13:28).

19. The atonement provides eternal life for little children (Mosiah 3:16; 15:25).

20. Salvation is in Christ. There is no other way (Mosiah 3:17; 16:13).

21. The natural man is an enemy to God (Mosiah 3:19; 16:5).

22. The knowledge of a Savior shall spread to every nation (Mosiah 3:20; 15:28).

23. Receiving this message makes one accountable (Mosiah 3:22; 16:12).

24. Every man will be judged according to his works (Mosiah 3:24; 16:10).

25. Prophets' words stand as a testimony (Mosiah 3:24; 17:10).

[Todd Parker, "Abinadi: The Man and the Message (Part 1)," F.A.R.M.S., pp. 4-5] [See the commentary on Mosiah 3:2-3]


Mosiah 13:5 [Abinadi's] Face Shone with Exceeding Luster, Even As Moses' Did While in the Mount of Sinai:


     According to Daniel Ludlow, the reader should notice the following interesting reference concerning Abinadi as he made his defense before Noah and the wicked priests: "the Spirit of the Lord was upon him; and his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses' did while in the mount of Sinai, while speaking with the Lord" (Mosiah 13:5).

     This statement is of particular interest because of the controversy among Biblical scholars and translators concerning the facial appearance of Moses after he had talked with the Lord on the mount of Sinai. The King James Version renders Exodus 34:30 as follows: "And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him." However, the Catholic translators of the Douay Version followed the pattern of the Septuagint Bible by translating the same verse as follows: "And he knew not that his face was horned from the conversation with the Lord. And Aaron and the children of Israel seeing the face of Moses horned, were afraid to come near." Because of this faulty interpretation, the great sculptor Michelangelo put horns on his famous statue of Moses!

     The Book of Mormon again comes to the support of its companion scripture, the Bible, and clarifies an area of controversy; the face of Moses "shone" when he came off the mount. [Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, pp. 182-183]


Mosiah 13:6 [Abinadi] Spake with Power and Authority from God:


     According to John Tvedtnes, when Noah replaced his father Zeniff as king of the Nephites living in the land of Nephi, "he 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" (Mosiah 11:5).

     We are also told that when Abinadi came among the people he "spake with power and authority from God" (Mosiah 13:6). One might ask, Amid the political and religious corruption in the land of Nephi, how did he receive this divine authority? It is possible that Abinadi was one of the deposed priests who had served under the righteous king Zeniff. [John A. Tvedtnes, "Unanswered Questions in the Book of Mormon," in The Most Correct Book, pp. 323-324]


Mosiah 13:10 What You Do with Me, after This, Shall Be As a Type and a Shadow of Things Which Are to Come:


     Jeffrey R. Holland writes that the Book of Mormon prophet who probably thought about scriptural symbolism and taught it more effectively than any other is Abinadi. Very early he warned King Noah that whatever Noah would do to him would be "a type and a shadow of things which are to come" (Mosiah 13:10), and indeed it was.

     Abinadi also stressed that the performances and ordinances of the law of Moses "were types of things to come" (Mosiah 13:31) and shadows "of those things which are to come" (Mosiah 16:14). But the most striking symbolic statement Abinadi ever made was his own living pre-figuration of Christ.

     Consider these foreshadowing links and parallel possibilities between Abinadi, the first Book of Mormon martyr, and Christ, the great and last sacrifice.









Mosiah 11:20

Called to preach repentance to those sinning

Matthew 9:13


Mosiah 11:21-23; 12:1-8

To deny message was to be afflicted by the hand of enemies and brought into bondage

Matthew 23:37-38; 24:3-51


Mosiah 11:20-25

Denounced unbelievers in public discourse

Matthew 2:39


Mosiah 12:9

Stood alone against accusers

Matthew 26:56


Mosiah 12:17-18

Bound and taken before religious priests and political ruler

John 18:12-40


Mosiah 12:19


Matthew 26:59-60


Mosiah 13:1

Dismissed as mad

John 10:20


Mosiah 13:6

Spoke with power and authority

Matthew 7:28-29


Mosiah 13:7

Could not be slain until message / mission was completed

John 10:17-18


Mosiah 17:6

Three-day imprisonment (entombment)

Luke 24:4-8, 46


Mosiah 17:8

Condemned for blasphemy

Matthew 26:63-66


Mosiah 17:9

Would not recall words

Matthew 27:12-14


Mosiah 17:10

Innocent blood

Matthew 27:24


Mosiah 17:11-12

Leader tempted to release him but yielded to detractors and delivered him to be slain

John 18:4-25





     Abinadi is the most extensively developed prophetic prefiguration of Christ in the Book of Mormon and one of the most conspicuously developed types in any of the scriptures. And it is yet another conspicuous irony that he, like Christ, died lamenting that those who claimed a belief in the law of Moses could not recognize the Messianic teachings--to say nothing of the Messiah himself--toward which that law in its purity had always been directed. [Jeffrey R. Holland, Christ and the New Covenant, pp. 171-173]


Mosiah 13:11 I Read unto You the Remainder of the [Ten] Commandments:


     According to Millet and McConkie, some have mistakenly supposed that the Ten Commandments were a part of the law of Moses. In fact, they are a part of the higher law or the fulness of the gospel. This is illustrated by their reiteration to us as part of the restoration of all things (see D&C 59:5-12). The Ten Commandments were a part of the fulness of the gospel as first given to Moses on Sinai. Though the higher priesthood and its ordinances were taken from Israel because of her transgressions, when Moses returned to Sinai to receive what we know as the law of Moses the Ten Commandments were retained as a part of Israel's covenant with God. [Robert Millet and Joseph McConkie, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, p. 216]


Mosiah 13:28 Salvation Doth Not Come by the Law Alone:


     According to Avraham Gileadi, a better understanding of the Atonement can be realized by understanding the ancient Near Eastern suzerain ("Lord")--vassal ("servant") covenant relationship.

     Death came into the world when Adam and Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17). Knowing "good" and "evil," in ancient Near Eastern covenant language, means to experience God's blessing and curse. People experience God's blessing when they obey the law of the covenant. Conversely, people experience God's curse when they disobey; Adam and Eve had transgressed a law. Yet, God's covenanting with men affords them vassal status. And vassal status allows them to enter into the presence of their suzerain (Lord). They enter the suzerain's presence at the feast he prepares for his vassals (see Exodus 24:9-11; see also Isaiah 25:6-8).

     When he transgressed God's commandment, "Adam fell that men might be" (2 Nephi 2:25; Moses 6:48). By transgressing, Adam incurred God's judgment: God, for a time, cut the man off from His presence, from being His worthy "son" or vassal. God exiled the man to a telestial earth, a land cursed instead of blessed. Bereft of God's protection, humanity became subject to death and every power of chaos. The price Adam and Eve paid to beget physical offspring was to suffer exile in mortality. Moreover, people in mortality cannot redeem themselves from the Fall (2 Nephi 9;6-7); they cannot, of themselves, regain God's presence. Rather, partaking of man's fallen (telestial) nature, they are further prone to transgress and incur God's judgment.

     For people to be delivered from death, therefore, they must also be delivered from what made them subject to death in the beginning--Adam's transgression; and from what continues to make them subject to death--personal sins. Abinadi thus teaches that "salvation doth not come by the law alone" (Mosiah 13:28). A vassal's keeping the law of the covenant puts the burden on the suzerain to deliver the vassal from a mortal threat, in this case from death itself. But what of the underlying cause of death that humanity has inherited? For that reason, Abinadi adds, "Were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people . . . they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses" (Mosiah 13:28).

     Jacob teaches that this atonement for transgression must be an infinite atonement, or else "the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration" (2 Nephi 9:7). Having transgressed the law of an infinite God, who endures forever, the man and his posterity must be redeemed by the payment of an infinite ransom, one that endures forever. Otherwise "this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more" (2 Nephi 9:7)--otherwise the "first judgment," death, must have remained in force.

     How does God, then, both deliver his people from death, because of his covenant, and also ransom them from their sins? To deliver them from death, he must, as their suzerain, come and conquer death. But how, as their suzerain, does he ransom them from their sins? Abinadi answers that question also. He quotes Isaiah 53, a passage near the one the priests of King Noah have quoted (see Mosiah 14:1-12). That chapter speaks of a "man of grief/sorrows" (Isaiah 53:3), who pays the price of his people's salvation by making his life an offering for their sins (Isaiah 53:5,8,10). Before and after Abinadi quotes this chapter, he says that "God himself" must come down among the children of men to redeem his people (Mosiah 13:34-35; 15:1). The "man of grief/sorrows," therefore, as Abinadi implies, is God himself.

     The nature of the suffering that Isaiah 53 depicts, however, is twofold:

      First, the passage speaks of one whom men lead like a "lamb" to slaughter (Isaiah 53:7). He is "taken" (Hebrew luqqah), "cut off from the land of the living for the crime of my people to whom the blow was due" (Isaiah 53:8). God wills to crush him, causing him "suffering" or "sickness." God makes his life "an offering for guilt." (The reader should note here that the Hebrew word for offering (asam-) is used in conjunction with a sacrificial "trespass offering" in Leviticus 5:15-19.) This imagery attests to an atoning death by a sacrificial proxy. Like the Passover lamb, the suffering figure dies in order to secure the salvation of his people. He is crushed because of their iniquities, he pays "the price of our peace," or salvation (Isaiah 53:5).

     Second, Isaiah 53 fuses the imagery of a sacrificial proxy with that of a vassal who suffers on account of his people. In other words, though the Lord is himself Israel's suzerain, he additionally assumes vassal status in order to take his people's sins upon himself. (The reader should note that Paul stated that God took upon him the form of a "servant" (Philippians 2:7)--a vassal.) He takes Israel's sins upon himself as a [covenant] king would do, who answers to his suzerain for his people's loyalties, or rather, for their disloyalties. For example, King Hezekiah, as a righteous proxy of his people, suffers "sickness" on their behalf in order to merit their divine protection (Isaiah 38:1-6; compare Isaiah 53:11). . . .

     The Lord thus functions on three levels to redeem his people: (1) as Israel"s suzerain, delivering his vassal(s) from death; (2) as a vassal answering to his suzerain for his people's loyalty; and (3) as a proxy sacrifice for sin. The latter two proxy roles combine in Isaiah 53 to establish the concept of human blood atonement for the sins or disloyalty of the Lord's people. In effect, two biblical types of proxy functions here merge in a single individual, Israel's King or suzerain. Nowhere else in the scriptures does the concept of human blood atonement function legitimately, therefore, except in Jehovah/Jesus Christ. No other person, who is both God and man, represents Israel. [Avraham Gileadi, The Last Days: Types and Shadows from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, pp. 236-239]


Mosiah 13:28 The Atonement Which God Himself Shall Make:


     According to John Welch, building upon the foundational testimony of Christ, each Book of Mormon prophet distinctively accented certain attributes of Jesus Christ. Judging simply from the names and titles that they used in referring to the Lord, we can see that each Book of Mormon prophet related to and testified of Jesus in his own personal ways, revealing to us things about Jesus Christ and also about the prophets who knew him.

     Abinadi stands out as a lone prophetic voice, singularly and courageously decrying the perversions of King Noah and his priests. After spending two years as a fugitive, Abinadi returned to the city of Nephi by himself to deliver his prophetic warnings and condemnations. He was alone in his preaching, alone in his tenacious rebuttal against Noah's court, and alone in the flames of martyrdom. He suffered, an innocent victim, who had done no evil, although four different legal allegations were leveled against him.152

     The attributes of Christ featured by Abinadi correlate readily with these personal experiences of Abinadi. Primarily, Abinadi depicted Christ as one who would innocently suffer, alone, to redeem his people. Three times Abinadi emphatically asserted that God himself would bear the iniquities of His people: "Were it not for the atonement which God himself shall make" (Mosiah 13:28); "God himself should come down among the children of men" (Mosiah 13:34); "God himself shall come done among the children of men, and shall redeem his people" (Mosiah 15:1). This major point of emphasis for Abinadi was also a new formulation. No other Book of Mormon prophet before Abinadi had used these exact words, and only one other will do so after him (see Alma 42:15). So unequivocal was Abinadi's formulation that the priests of Noah found it the basis of their blasphemy charge: "For thou hast said that God himself should come down among the children of men" (Mosiah 17:8) Just as Abinadi himself went down alone into the pit of certain martyrdom that awaited him in Noah's court, so God himself would come into the world.

     The dominant feature of Abinadi's teaching is about the redemption and that it will come through suffering (the words "redeem" or "redemption" appear nineteen times in Abinadi's words). Despite God's mighty power, he himself will be "oppressed" and "afflicted" (Mosiah 13:35). Abinadi drew these words from the prophecies of Isaiah that the servant will be "despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; . . . afflicted, . . . wounded for our transgressions, . . . oppressed, and he was afflicted" (Isaiah 53:3-7; Mosiah 14:3-7). As Isaiah prophesied, "he hath poured out his soul unto death" (Isaiah 53:12; Mosiah 14:12), and "so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death" (Mosiah 15:7). Of all Book of Mormon prophets, Abinadi was similarly called upon to surrender his will to God, even unto death by fire. [John W. Welch, "Ten Testimonies of Jesus Christ from the Book of Mormon," F.A.R.M.S., 1994, pp. 9-10]


Mosiah 13:33 Did Not Moses Prophesy unto Them:


     In Mosiah 13:33 we find the following words of Abinadi:

           For behold, did not Moses prophesy unto them concerning the coming of the Messiah, and that God should redeem his people? Yea, and even all the prophets who have prophesied ever since the world began--have they not spoken more or less concerning these things?


     According to Brant Gardner, it is not clear to which part of the scriptures Abinadi is referring when he proclaims Moses as prophesying the redemption of Israel through the Messiah. The modern Book of Moses is certainly clear on this point, but those are sections of the Book of Moses that do not correspond to our received text of Genesis. Perhaps there were some differences in the brass plates and these included more specific prophecies from Moses which we do not have now.

     It is fascinating that it is Moses that is mentioned, and not Isaiah. Abinadi is going to cite Isaiah, but he first references Moses. The rhetorical reason for so doing is obvious. He has spent time showing the gospel of the Messiah as superior to the law of Moses. He clinches the argument by declaring that Moses himself knew this, and prophesied of this Messiah that the priests deny.

     While this is a tremendous rhetorical ploy, it is a poor one for a clever writer who is writing the Book of Mormon as a novel or a fantasy. Here would be an easy place to submit a proof text that is accepted (such as the Isaiah citations that will come). However, rather than the safe entry, we have this odd one that would appear to be deniable from the current Bible. A good imposter would have avoided this argument, even though it is powerful. [Brant Gardner, "Book of Mormon Commentary," LDStopics/ Mosiah/Mosiah13.htm, pp. 16-17]