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Mosiah 2


Out of Bondage through Covenants

      Jarom -- Mosiah



Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Address):


     King Benjamin's speech and the covenant made by his people have been the topic of intensive and insightful study. Scholars connect it with many different biblical and ancient Near Eastern patterns. Surprisingly, this speech not only fits into many genres, but it manages to do so without one description contradicting another.

     Hugh Nibley compares King Benjamin's speech to ancient Near Eastern coronation rites associated with New Year's festivals (Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6). John W. Welch describes it as a "classic ancient farewell address" and claims it is the most complete example of the characteristics found in ancient farewell speeches (John W. Welch, "Benjamin's Speech: A Classic Ancient Farewell Address," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 120-123). John A. Tvedtnes argues that the speech and coronation took place at the festival of Sukkot ("booths" or "tabernacles") (John A. Tvedtnes, "King Benjamin and the feast of Tabernacles" in By Study and Also by Faith, Vol. 2, pp. 197-237). Stephen D. Ricks notes that not only was the Feast of Tabernacles the ritual setting for covenant renewal ceremonies in the Old Testament (following an even older Near Eastern pattern), but also that king Benjamin's speech closely follows this biblical and ancient Near Eastern treaty/covenant pattern (Stephen D. ricks, "The Treaty/Covenant pattern in King Benjamin's Address (Mosiah 1-6), BYU Studies 24 (Spring 1984), pp. 151-162). [Quoted from 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. 48-49]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech):


     According to John Welch and Stephen Ricks, with the exception of the words of Christ himself, no speech in sacred literature surpasses that of King Benjamin. . . .

     Mormon abridged many Nephite sources, but not Benjamin's speech. Mormon may well have copied the text directly from Benjamin's original or from one of the copies that Benjamin caused to be "written and sent forth" (Mosiah 2:8). . . .

     What kind of a text is Benjamin's speech? Is it a prophetic text? A coronation text? A covenant renewal text? A farewell speech? Is it religious exhortation? A doctrinal discourse? A judgment speech? A temple text? Is it a royal confession? A personal testimony? It is all of these things, and more. . . .

     Our studies have convinced us that if a person were to sit down to write such a speech, that person would need to know hundreds of facts and details; and after years of research seeking to grasp all of those details correctly, that author would still be left with the staggering task of embedding all that information fluently and purposefully into an organized composition that accomplishes simultaneously multiple objectives and does so in an unassuming and artistically lucid manner. Benjamin's speech is not a creation that just happened. Its very existence, with all that it enfolds, testifies of God, that he is, that he loves his children despite their weaknesses, and that he blesses those that keep his commandments.

     We conclude, both on spiritual and intellectual grounds, that Benjamin's speech bears true and valuable testimony of the prophesied atonement of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth and All Things That in Them Are. We apologize if it takes the reader more than a day and a half to read [the book of articles written about King Benjamin's speech] but we remind the impatient that Joseph Smith took only about that long to translate this section in the Book of Mormon. [John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks, "Introduction" to King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," pp. ix, xiv-xv]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech):


     According to John Welch, in addition to many marvelous literary structures, Benjamin's facility with language is evident in his use of distinctive words and phrases. One study analyzed 470 phrases in Benjamin's speech; many of these phrases are sensible, insightful, and memorable verbal gems. Of those phrases, 84 appear for the first time in scripture on the lips of Benjamin; 28 appear to be entirely unique to Benjamin.43 Interestingly, 27 of those 28 expressions occur in the verses written by Benjamin himself, with only one appearing in the words of the angel in Mosiah 3. Similarly, Benjamin spoke with originality; he does not quote Isaiah, Zenos, or other prophetic predecessors. [John W. Welch, "A Masterful Oration," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," p. 71]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech) [Illustration]: "Twenty Eight Phases Unique to King Benjamin's Speech." [Cory Chivers and John W. Welch, "Exact Words and Phrases in Benjamin's Speech in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon and Other LDS Scriptures," unpublished FARMS research project, 1988]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech):


     According to John Welch, it is worth noting that many of the religious and social policies articulated by Benjamin were also implemented by Alma2 when he established the church in the first years of the reign of the judges. The reader should compare the following: Alma 1:19 -- Mosiah 5:9, Alma 1:27 -- Mosiah 4:26, Alma 1:24 -- Mosiah 5:11, Alma 3:27 -- Mosiah 2:32, Alma 4:14 -- Mosiah 4:12, Alma 5:14 -- Mosiah 5:2, Alma 7:23 -- Mosiah 3:19; 2:20.

     No one in the Nephite culture who was familiar with King Benjamin's speech would easily miss Alma's allusions to the order established by Benjamin. No doubt Alma was following the covenant pattern established by his father Alma at the waters of Mormon (see Mosiah 18), but the specific terminology that Alma2 used around 90 B.C. in implementing that ecclesiastical order was Benjamin's. [John W. Welch, "Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," p. 44]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech):


     According to John Welch, twelve qualities stand out in King Benjamin's speech that make it a masterful oration and consummate work of sacred literature:

1. It is the embodiment of the spirit of an age. (A great oration captures and distills the spirit of an age)

2. It is a dramatic occasion and presentation. (Memorable oratory is dramatic)

3. It has the sincerity of a farewell setting. (The roots of successful oration are deep and honest sincerity)

4. It has humility that instills confidence. (Great oration delivers "eternal truths uttered with disarming humility.")

5. It has a voice of pure authority. (Great orators speak "as one having authority" (Matthew 7:29)

6. It has a purposeful and effective organization. (Classic speeches do not happen accidentally)

7. It has an elegance of verbal detail and arrangement.

8. It has a trove of timeless themes. (Classic orations deliver timeless themes and key values of society)

9. It has a practical approach in touch with real life. (Great oratory touches real life)

10. It is a source of unmistakable instructions to enable success.

11. It has a profound and ethical logic. (Persuasive orations supply logical reasons for ethical behavior)

12. It has a compelling presentation of ultimate human choice. (The most famous orations in world history have impelled people to critical action)


     All of these impressive features are found in an oration that contains only about 5,000 words and was translated and dictated by Joseph Smith in approximately a day and a half. [John W. Welch, "A Masterful Oration," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," pp. 55-84]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech as a Farewell Address) [Illustration]: Kurz's Attributes of Typical Ancient Farewell Addresses, Table 1. Farewell Speeches in the Book of Mormon. [John W. Welch and Daryl R. Hague, Benjamin's Sermon as a Traditional Ancient Farewell Address," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," pp. 105]


Mosiah 2-5 (Benjamin's Speech as a Farewell Address) [Illustration]: Kurz's Attributes of Typical Ancient Farewell Addresses, Table 2. Farewell Speeches in the Old Testament and Benjamin's Speech. [John W. Welch and Daryl R. Hague, Benjamin's Sermon as a Traditional Ancient Farewell Address," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," pp. 106]


Mosiah 2-4 (Benjamin's Farewell Speech) [Illustration]: Chart: Elements Found in Great Farewell Addresses [John W. Welch and Morgan A. Ashton, "Charting the Book of Mormon," Packet 1, F.A.R.M.S.]


Mosiah 2:1 The People Gathered Themselves Together . . . [to] Go up to the Temple (Kingship Feast Celebration):


     According to John Welch, there were three main Israelite holy festivals:

1. The New Year's holiday complex, which later developed into a composite observance of:

     a. Rosh Ha-Shanah (New Year and Day of Judgment)

     b. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement)

     c. Sukkot (Tabernacles)

2. Pesach (Passover) which began the feast of Unleavened Bread in the Spring.

3. Shavuot (Pentecost) which came fifty days after Passover.

     There is abundant evidence that an ancient New Year's festival was observed at the time of King Benjamin's speech. In the earliest periods of Israelite history, the New Year's festival appears to have been a single celebration. Its many elements were not sharply differentiated until later times, when the first month of the year was made to begin with Rosh Ha-Shanah, followed by eight days of penitence, followed further on the tenth of the month by Yom Kippur and on the fifteenth Sukkot, concluding with a full holy week. King Benjamin's speech weaves together all the major themes of these sacred holidays, just as one would expect in a pre-Exilic Israelite community in which the New Year was not a separate feast, but rather a consolidated fall Feast of Ingathering, or "an unusually solemn new moon, the first day of a month which, at that time, was full of feasts." Thus one finds in Benjamin's speech the themes of Rosh Ha-Shanah (simply meaning "the beginning of the year") interwoven with the announcement of and the celebration of the festivals of Yom Kippur and Sukkot, set alongside coronation and other ritual and covenantal materials traditionally linked with the New Year. [John W. Welch, "King Benjamin's Speech in the Context of Ancient Israelite Festivals," 1985, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 2, 12-13]


Mosiah 2:1 The People Gathered Themselves Together . . . [to] Go up to the Temple (Kingship Coronation Rites):


     According to Hugh Nibley, in the Bible in the book of Kings, you read that there were many kings and how they got to be kings. We are told how they got to the throne and how they lost the throne. There's a lot said about it. But not one instance in the Bible tells us how a coronation was performed--what they did at a coronation. Yet that is one thing on which we are best informed in all ancient records. In Egypt we know every step of a coronation, and in Babylon, and wherever you go, because it's in the government records. The coronation is a great ritual. It's a solemn rite, and it's a historical event, too. There's the great assembly. I wrote this here about the great assembly. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 440]

     Let us mark the various details descriptive of the rite in the Book of Mormon, numbering them as we go:

     1. The first thing King Benjamin did in preparation was to summon his successor, Mosiah, and authorize him (for it is always the new king and never the old king that makes the proclamation) to "make a proclamation throughout all this land among all this people . . . that thereby they may be gathered together44; for on the morrow I shall proclaim unto this my people out of mine own mouth that thou art a king and a ruler over this people, whom the Lord our God hath given us." (Mosiah 1:10)

     2. "I shall give this people a name, that thereby they may be distinguished above all the people which the Lord God hath brought out of the land of Jerusalem." (Mosiah 1:11)

     3. "He [Benjamin] gave him [Mosiah] charge concerning all the affairs of the kingdom" (Mosiah 1:15). King Benjamin also consigned the national treasure to Mosiah's keeping: the plates, the sword of Laban, and the Liahona, with due explanation of their symbolism.45 (Mosiah 1:16-17)

     4. Obedient to Mosiah's proclamation, "all the people who were in the land of Zarahemla . . . gathered themselves together throughout all the land, that they might go up to the temple to hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them." (Mosiah 1:18, 2:1)

     5. There was so great a number, Mosiah explains, "that they did not number them." This neglect of the census being apparently an unusual thing. (Mosiah 2:2)46

     6. Since these people were observing the Law of Moses and their going up to the temple was in the old Jewish manner "they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses." (Mosiah 2:3)

     7. The "firstlings' (Mosiah 2:3) mark this as a New Year's offering.

     8. Just as the great Hag was celebrated after the Exodus in thanksgiving for the deliverance from the Egyptians, so the Nephite festival was "to give thanks to the Lord their God, who had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, and who had delivered them out of the hands of their enemies" in the New World. (Mosiah 2:4)

     9. The multitude pitched their tents round about the temple, "every man according to his family . . . every family being separated one from another." (Mosiah 2:5) This is a Passover practice according to the Talmud.

     10. Every tent was erected "with the door thereof towards the temple . . ." (Mosiah 2:6) This was the festival of the "booths."

     11. In theory, these people should all have met "within the walls of the temple," but because of the size of the crowd the king had to teach them from the top of a specially erected tower. (Mosiah 2;7)47 Even so, "they could not all hear his words," which the king accordingly had circulated among them in writing. (Mosiah 2;8)48

     12. King Benjamin's formal discourse begins with a silentium, that is, an exhortation to the people to "open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of god may be unfolded to your view." (Mosiah 2:9)49

     13. The people were there for a particularly vied and dramatic form of instruction "unfolding to view" the mysteries of God.

     14. Then Benjamin launches into his discourse with a remarkable discussion of the old institution of divine kingship. Throughout the pagan world the main purpose of the Great Assembly, as has long been recognized, is to hail the king as a god on earth;50

     15. Benjamin is aware of this, and he will have none of it (see Mosiah 2:10-11). Benjamin will go just so far in the traditional claim to divine rule, but no farther: he has been elected by acclamation of the people, as the king always must at the Great Assembly,51 and the Lord has "suffered" him to be a ruler and a king.

     16 Benjamin says to the people, "I have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you" (Mosiah 2:12), which is a reminder that the king at the Great Assembly everywhere requires all who come into his presence to bring his rich gifts as a sign of submission.52

     17. "This day" is the formally appointed time for settling all accounts between the king and the people: ". . . ye yourselves are witnesses this day . . . I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day." (Mosiah 2:13-15) It is also the time to enter and seal covenants, while restating the fundamental principles on which the corporate life of the society depends.53 Benjamin states these principles with great clarity (see Mosiah 2:16-19).

        18-19. King Benjamin tells the people that they are there not to acclaim "the divine king," but rather "your heavenly King . . . that god who has created you, and has kept and preserve you, and caused that ye should rejoice, and . . . live in peace one with another." (Mosiah 2:20-21)54 These are the very two motifs (18 & 19) emphasized by Benjamin in the verses just quoted. (see also Mosiah 2:25-26)

     20. Then comes the king's farewell, when he declares that he is "about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth . . . (Mosiah 2:26-29)

     21. Now one of the best-known aspects of the Year-drama, is the ritual descent of the King to the underworld--he is ritually overcome by death, and then ritually resurrected or (as in the Egyptian Sed festival) revived in the person of his son and successor, while his soul goes to join the blessed ones above.55

        22-23. Now comes the main business of the meeting: the succession to the throne. Benjamin introduces his son to the people and promises them that if they "shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him" (22) prosperity and (23) victory shall attend them, as it always did when they kept the commandments of the king. (Mosiah 2:30-31) . . . the people will have prosperity and victory (the two blessing that every ancient king must provide if he would keep his office) provided they remember "that ye are eternally indebted to your heavenly father" (Mosiah 2:34-35)

     24. Another requirement of the people is to preserve the records and traditions of the fathers. (Mosiah 2;34-35). If they do that they will be "blessed, prospered, and preserved," (Mosiah 2:36) . . . blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful tot he end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. "O remember, remember that these things are true. . . ." (Mosiah 2:41)

     25. After this blissful foretaste of "never-ending happiness" which is always part of the Year Rite,56 King Benjamin proceeds to look into the future, reporting a vision shown him by an angel in a dream (Mosiah 3:1-2).

     26. Divination of the future is an essential and unfailing part of the Year Rite and royal succession everywhere and always in the Old World,57 but again Benjamin gives it a spiritualized turn, and what he prophesies is the earthly mission of the Savior, the signs and wonders shown the ancients being according to him "types and shadows showed . . . unto them, concerning his coming." (Mosiah 3:15)

     27. The whole purport of Benjamin's message for the future is that men should be found blameless before the Great King, who will sit in judgment (Mosiah 3:21), exactly as the King sat in judgment at the New Year.58

     28. On the theme of eternity, the closing sound of every royal acclamatio,59 King Benjamin ended his address, which so overpowered the people that they "had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them." (Mosiah 4:1) This was the kind of proskynesis at which Benjamin aimed! The proskynesis was the falling to the earth (literally, "kissing the ground") in the presence of the king by which all the human race on the day of the coronation demonstrated its submission to divine authority; it was an unfailing part of the Old World New Year's rites as of any royal audience.60 A flat prostration upon the earth was the proper act of obeisance in the presence of the ruler of all the universe. So on this occasion King Benjamin congratulated the people on having "awakened . . . to a sense of your nothingness . . . and come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power . . . and also the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world . . for all mankind which ever were since the fall of adam, or who are, or who ever shall be, even unto the end of the world." (Mosiah 4:5-7)

     29. The King then discourses on man's nothingness in the presence of "the greatness of God" (Mosiah 4:11), and the great importance of realizing the equality of all men in the presence of each other. This is a very important aspect of the Year Rites, which are everywhere supposed to rehearse and recall the condition of man in the Golden Age before the fall, when all were brothers and equals.61 Benjamin does not mince matters: "For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have. . . . And now if God, who has created you . . . doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right. . . . O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another." (Mosiah 4:19-21)

     30. When this speech was finished the people approved it by a great acclamatio, when they "all cried with one voice," declaring, when the king put the question to them, that they firmly believed what he had told them, and that they "have great views of that which is to come." (Mosiah 5:1-3)62

     31. Then they took a significant step, declaring, "we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things . . . all the remainder of our days. . . ." (Mosiah 5:5)

     32. Then King Benjamin gave the covenant people a new name, as he promised his son he would:

           And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you . . . And I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God, that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. (Mosiah 5:7-8)


     As we noted above, the Year Rite everywhere is the ritual begetting of the human race by a divine parent.63

     33. Next Benjamin makes the interesting remark that whoever complies "shall be found at the right hand of God, for he shall know the name by which he is called," (Mosiah 5:9), all others standing "on the left hand of God." (Mosiah 5:10) At the Great Assembly when all living things must appear in the presence of the King to acclaim him, every individual must be in his proper place, at the right hand or left hand of God.64 "Retain the name," Benjamin continues, "written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also the name by which he shall call you." (Mosiah 5:12) "If ye know not the name by which ye are called," Benjamin warns them, they shall be "cast out," as a strange animal is cast out of a flock to whose owner it does not belong. (Mosiah 5:14) To avoid this, the king "would that . . . the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his." (Mosiah 5:15)65

     34. All this talk of naming and sealing was more than figurative speech, for upon finishing the above words "king Benjamin thought it was expedient . . . that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments." (Mosiah 6:1) And the entire nation gladly registered. (Mosiah 6:2) Some form of registering in the "Book of Life" is found at every yearly assembly.66

     35. Having completed these preliminaries, the king "consecrated his son to be a ruler and a king over his people . . . and also had appointed priests to teach the people . . . and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made."67

     36. Then king Benjamin "dismissed the multitude, and they returned, everyone according to their families, to their own houses." (Mosiah 6:3)

[Hugh Nibley, "Old World Ritual in the New World," in An Approach to the Book of Mormon, pp. 259-267]


Mosiah 2:1 The People Gathered Themselves Together . . . (to) Go Up to the Temple (Kingship Feast Celebration):


     According to John Tvedtnes, some years ago Hugh Nibley outlined at least 36 similarities between the Book of Mormon account of King Benjamin's kingship festival and ancient Middle Eastern coronation rites. Says Tvedtnes, "My own research further explores the Israelite coronation/New Year rites, and aims to complement other scholarly studies of the ceremonial context of Benjamin's speech."

     The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), like the Feast of Unleavened Bread/Passover, began and ended with a day of rest, including a "holy convocation" and a "solemn assembly." During the week of the feast, the Israelites would gather together and build for each family a booth or tabernacle. Special sacrifices were also ordained (Numbers 29:12-38).

     From the descriptions (reviewed in the article), we may reconstruct the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles as observed in the sabbatical and jubilee years, as follows:

     1. The people were (a) assembled, most often at the cult site ("before God"), where (b) they were sometimes divided into two companies. (c) Strangers were also invited to attend. (d) At the conclusion of the festival, the assembly was formally dismissed and sent home.

     2. The leader (king, where applicable) delivered an address in which (a) he read from the Law of Moses and cited the blessings and curses contained therein, (b) he exhorted the people to love and fear God and serve him, (c) he recounted God's dealings with the fathers (especially the Exodus from Egypt), (d) he designated God as creator and the source of all we have, (e) he called upon the people to assist the needy, (f) he read (where appropriate) the "Paragraph of the King," (g) he blessed the people, and (h) he added such other items as necessary (notably, comments on the plan of salvation).

     3. God covenanted with his people that, if they would obey his commandments, he would (a) give them prosperity in the land and longevity, (b) defeat their enemies (through the king, who was commander-in-chief), and (c) send rain for the crops.

     4. The people (a) covenanted with God to be his servants and to obey his Law. (b) To this they were called to witness. (c) The covenant (or, sometimes, the Law or the ruler's speech) was written down. (d) A "pillar" was erected as a symbol of the covenant.

     5. For purposes of sacrifice (a) an altar was constructed and (b) burnt and peace offerings were made upon it.

     6. The joy of the people was expressed by praising God, music, and sometimes dance.

     7. Trumpets were blown, as was usual for the seventh month.

     8. The coronation ceremony stressed (a) that God was the real King of Israel, (b) that it was God who chose the earthly king--his viceroy--through a prophet, with (c) the approval of the people (who use the formula "God save the king" in KJV) and the previous king. The king was then (d) anointed and (e) given a charge.

     9. There were sometimes other elements, such as a communal meal. In addition, there were the features already discussed above (e.g., the presence of tents or booths, the building of a wooden platform, and the presence of strangers or foreigners).


     The biblical Sukkot celebration is closely paralleled by the account of King Benjamin's assembly recorded in Mosiah 1:1-6:6. [John A. Tvedtnes, "King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles," in By Study and Also by Faith, Vol. 2, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 197-221]


Mosiah 2:1 The People Gathered Themselves Together . . . [to] Go up to the Temple (Feast of Tabernacles):


     According to Matthew Brown, there are many concepts in the Book of Mormon, and especially in king Benjamin's sermon that parallel the Israelite Sukkot or Feast of Tabernacles.68






Temple location

Deuteronomy 31:11

Mosiah 2:1



Leviticus 23:41-44

Mosiah 2:5-6


Speaker on platform

Nehemiah 8:4

Mosiah 2:7


God as Creator

Nehemiah 9:5-6

Mosiah 2:20-21


Commandments of God

Exodus 24:3-4

Mosiah 6:1-3


Covenant with God

Exodus 24:7

Mosiah 5:5


Blood of the covenant

Exodus 24:8

Mosiah 3:11



Deuteronomy 27:14-26

Mosiah 2:22, 33



Numbers 29:12-34

Mosiah 2:3


Those who understand

Nehemiah 10:28-29

Mosiah 2:40


Falling to the ground

Nehemiah 8:6

Mosiah 4:1-2, 6-7

Names recorded

Nehemiah 9:38

Mosiah 6:1-3





[Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, p. 224]


Mosiah 2:3 They Also Took the Firstlings of Their Flock, That They Might Offer Sacrifice:


     According to John Welch, it has been questioned whether firstlings were ever used for burnt offerings or sacrifices under the law of Moses.69 Clearly they were. Under that law, the firstlings (i.e., first-born male animals) were dedicated to the Lord (see Exodus 13:12,15). Israelites were forbidden to use them for work or gain (see Deuteronomy 15:19-20). They were to take the firstlings to the temple to be sacrificed (see Deuteronomy 12:5-6, 11-14). Their blood was sprinkled upon the altar and their fat was burnt (see Numbers 18:17-18), and what was left was given to the individual and his household, to be eaten at the temple (see Deuteronomy 15:19-20). This symbolized the shedding of Christ's blood and was a type of his giving to his disciples ("Take, eat; this is my body"--Matthew 26:26). Since the days of Adam and Eve, the offering of firstlings at open altars has symbolized the sacrifice of God's first and only begotten son (see Moses 5:50. By bringing their firstlings to the temple, Benjamin and his people observed not only the ancient principles of sacrifice in general, but at the same time the specific provisions of the law of Moses with respect to the sacrifice of firstlings. [John W. Welch, "The Temple in the Book of Mormon," in Temples of the Ancient World, p. 351] [See the commentary on Alma 34:10]


Mosiah 2:3 They Also Took of the Firstlings of Their Flocks, That They Might Offer Sacrifice and Burnt Offerings:


     Mosiah 2:3 reads, "And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses." According to Matthew Roper, under the Mosaic law the firstlings (i.e. firstborn animals) of flocks and herds were dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 13:12,15) and were given to the Levites. The Israelites were forbidden from using them for work or gain (Deuteronomy 15:19-20) and were required to bring them to the temple during their pilgrimage festivals, where they would be sacrificed (Deuteronomy 12:5-6). Their blood was sprinkled upon the altar and their fat was burned (Numbers 18:17-18). What was left then was given to the individual and his family to eat that same day (Deuteronomy 15:19-20). While apparently not used for the burnt offering, firstlings could and frequently were used along with other animals in the sacrificial peace offering. . . . It is reasonable to interpret the Mosiah 2:3 reference to "sacrifice and burnt offerings" as an allusion to two distinct forms of sacrifice--the sacrifice of firstlings in the so-called peace offering and the burnt offering taken from other animals. Thus, the Nephites, in accordance with the legal prescriptions of Mosaic law, "took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice" and they also took other animals to offer as "burnt offerings according to the law of Moses" (Mosiah 2:3). [Matthew Roper, "A Black Hole That's Not So Black," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6/2 1994, pp. 169-172]


Mosiah 2:3 Sacrifice and Burnt Offerings:


     In Mosiah:2:3 we find that "they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses." According to the FARMS Research Department, Deuteronomy 12:5-6 indicates that the Israelites were to bring the firstlings of their flocks and herds to the temple along with other unspecified animals to fill various sacrificial and dedicatory purposes. Although these verses enumerate several forms of sacrifice associated with Israelite temple worship (burnt offerings, heave offerings, freewill offerings, etc.), the only animals mentioned are firstlings, even though these may not have been used as burnt offerings. In this case the mere reference to burnt offerings probably implies animals other than firstlings, even if no other animal victims are explicitly named.

     Research on the subject of the Israelite sacrificial system helps to shed light on this possible interpretation. In Exodus 10:25, Moses tells Pharaoh, "Thou must give us also sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God" (Exodus 10:25). Baruch Levine and Gary Anderson, two leading authorities on Israelite sacrifice, note that this passage refers to the burnt offering (olah-zebah) and to the peace offering (olah-shelamim). Levine and Anderson also suggest that frequent reference tin the Old Testament to these two sacrifices should be interpreted as a merism for the entire sacrificial system known to ancient Israel.70 Merismus is a literary device sometimes used in Hebrew in which an entire subject is invoked by mentioning some of the parts.71 In other words, the phrase "sacrifices and burnt offerings" (Exodus 10:25) is simply an idiom that encompasses all the various sacrificial offerings made under the law of Moses without mentioning each offering specifically. In light of Levine's interpretation of such biblical passages, it is reasonable to interpret Mormon's use of the phrase "sacrifices and burnt offerings" (Mosiah 2:3) in his abridgement in a similar way. [FARMS Research Department, "Sacrifices and Burnt Offerings in the Book of Mormon,, pp. 1-2]


Mosiah 2:3 Offer Sacrifice and Burnt Offering According to the Law of Moses:


     In Mosiah 2:3 it says that the Nephites did "offer sacrifice and burnt offering according to the law of Moses." Inasmuch as the Nephites were said to be from the tribe of Manasseh (Alma 10:3), critics claim that they were not able to perform such ordinances. Exodus 28-31; Numbers 3:7; Nehemiah 7:63, 65; and Hebrews 7:12-14 tell us that only the tribe of Levi and particularly the sons of Aaron could give attendance at the altar.

     According to Charles Pyle, the five Books of Moses that we now possess in the Bible, like the books of Samuel, are heavily edited abridgments of the writings of Moses. Can critics be truly certain that the Law of Moses, as it existed, did not have some sort of stipulation that other tribal lineages could give attendance upon the altar? If not, then how does one explain the fact that Solomon, a mixed descendent of Judah (compare Hebrews 7:13-14) and Moab (through Ruth), offered sacrifices and fat offerings to hallow (or make holy) the court that was in front of the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 7:7). What about the fact that Solomon also offered burnt offerings three times a year (2 Chronicles 8:12-13)? How about his offering of incense before the Lord (1 Kings 9:25), which only the priests (Numbers 16:40) were supposed to do?      

     But more to the point, the righteous people of the Book of Mormon possessed the priesthood that was held by Melchizedek (Alma 13:1-10, 14-19). That this priesthood superseded that of Aaron is undisputed by both LDS and other Bible scholars. Since we know that this priesthood was among the Nephites, it really does not matter that there may not have been priests after the order of Aaron among them, especially during the Old Testament period. [D. Charles Pyle, "Review of 'The Book of Mormon Vs. the Bible (or Common Sense),'" http:\\\personal\dcpyle\reading\bodineco.htm, p. 17]


Mosiah 2:3 Sacrificial Offerings at the Temple):


     [See the commentary on Alma 34:10]


Mosiah 2:3 Burnt Offerings according to the Law of Moses:


     According to the Hiltons, the Nephites continued burnt offerings after their arrival in America (Mosiah 2:3). We should not be surprised, therefore, to see in the surviving art of ancient Mexico native priests offering incense . . . Not having access to the authentic frankincense resin, the ancient Mayas used the sap of the copal tree (Protium copal) for their incense ceremonies, which practice has continued until today among the Lacandon Mayas in the forests of eastern Chiapas. (Morley, pp. 218-219, 380, 384) [Lynn M. and Hope A. Hilton, Discovering Lehi, p. 178]


Mosiah 2:5 They Came up to the Temple:


     Paul Hyde finds that Benjamin's speech has 132 elements that identify it as a temple address. Some of the more notable are:

     a) the desire to become clean from the sins of their generation (2:27)

     b) Benjamin's mention of his garments (2:28)

     c) Benjamin giving instructions on the creation and the nature of God (2:20-21,23; 3:8; 4:9)

     d) the breath of life (2;21,23)

     e) the acquisition of knowledge (4:6, 11-12)

     f) teachings on the fall of Adam (3:11,16,19,26; 4:6-7)

     g) man's state as the dust of the earth (2:25; 4:2)

     h) witnesses (2:14)

     i) the law of sacrifice and obedience (2:3,22,34; 5:5)

     j) admonition to give heed in order to stay out of the power of enemies (2:30-33)

     k) messengers sent from the presence of God (3:13)

     l) reference to divers unholy and impure practices (4:29)

     m) the law of consecration (4:16,21,26); the giving of a name (5:8-9,11,14)

     n) the promise of sealing (5:15).

[Paul Hyde letter to John Welch, referred to in John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks, "Appendix--Complete Text of Benjamin's Speech with Notes and Comment" in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," pp. 509-510]


Mosiah 2:6 They Pitched Their Tents . . . with the Door Thereof towards the Temple:


     According to Hugh Nibley, the king can only be crowned at new year, the beginning of the new age. It's the Festival of the Booths. They brought their tents, and they all camped with their tents facing the temple. That's not in the Bible, but in the new Temple Scroll that's exactly what happens. . . . So they came as pilgrims and lived in their booths. It tells us in the Temple Scroll that every booth faced the temple hill. They completely surrounded it and faced the temple, and they lived in their families separately, as we are told in Mosiah here:

           And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple, they pitched their tents round about, every man according to his family . . . every family being separate one from another. And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple . . . (Mosiah 2:5-6)


     As the Talmud said, they must feast and sit in rings in their families with their back to each other [paraphrased]. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, pp. 442-443]


Mosiah 2:7 The Multitude Being So Great King Benjamin Could Not Teach Them All within the Walls of the Temple:


     The phrase “within the walls of the temple” (Mosiah 2:7) apparently meant something different to the Nephites than it does to the Latter-day Saints. To the Hebrews (and the Nephites) the word temple not only represented a building but also included the surrounding courtyard, which today we would term a temple square or temple grounds. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]


Mosiah 2:7 He Caused a Tower to Be Erected:


     In Mosiah 2:7 it says that Benjamin "caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them." Matthew Roper notes that the prophet Ezra, in celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles, is said to have "stood upon a pulpit of wood" to address the people. Scholars have recently pointed out that the Hebrew word migdall, which the King James Version renders as "pulpit," should in fact be translated as "tower." It is interesting that the Book of Mormon never uses the words "pulpit" (see Nehemiah 8:4), or "scaffold" (see 2 Chronicles 6:13), or "pillar" (2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 23:13)---all words available in Joseph Smith's English Bible---in describing Benjamin's stand. Rather, the Book of Mormon employs the word "tower," which is closer to the Hebrew.

     In an interesting discussion of the coronation of Joash, which took place in Solomon's temple, Geo Widengren has stated that, "at least towards the end of the pre-exilic period, but possibly from the beginning of that period, the king, when reading to his people on a solemn occasion from the book of the law and acting as the mediator of the covenant-making between Yahweh and the people, had his place on a platform or dais."72 This, of course, puts the practice squarely in the world of Lehi, who left Jerusalem shortly before the Exile (and thus the practice would have been passed on to Benjamin in the New World). [Matthew Roper, Book Review in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4 1992, p. 180]


Mosiah 2:7 He [king Benjamin] caused a tower to be erected (Illustration): King Benjamin Preaches to the Nephites. King Benjamin "caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them." Artist: Gary Kapp. [Thomas R. Valletta ed., The Book of Mormon for Latter-day Saint Families, 1999, p. 191]


Mosiah 2:7 [Benjamin] Caused a Tower to Be Erected:


     According to Hugh Nibley, when Jerusalem was destroyed, they went to Babylon. They were kept there for many years, and many of them stayed over. That became the Jewish center of the world, so the great Talmud is the Babylonian Talmud, written in Babylon down to the year A.D. 1040. From this period of captivity Nibley lectures from the book Nathan the Babylonian (Nathan ha-Babli) discovered in the late nineteenth century sometime. Nathan the Babylonian witnessed the crowning of the king in captivity. . . . He describes the coronation. Here is how the Jews really crowned their kings. . . .

     . . . They would have the big feast. It was a feast and celebration, the great assembly. It was usually a two--day affair, and the day before a wooden tower (this is very important) was erected. Note that Benjamin "caused a tower to be erected, that thereby his people might hear the words which he should speak unto them" (Mosiah 2:7). They did the same thing here in Nathan's account. There's no mention of towers like that in the Bible, but here it is. It was ten-and-a half feet high, four-and-a-half feet wide, and broad enough to have three seats. In the center is the big seat for the king, and on either side are his two counselors--the head of the School of Sura on the right, and the head of the School of Pumbeditha on the left. (You always have to have the president and his two counselors.) The king is the one who sits on the central throne, the empty throne. It was covered with costly cloths and things. Underneath this tower was a choir of young men, chosen for their voices and for their nobility. They had to belong to illustrious families; it was a very great honor to belong to the choir. They played an important part.

     They open with prayer in which they ask for revelation, that the Spirit of the Lord might be with them. After the opening prayer, there is a sabbath hymn. The people sing an antiphonal hymn--the people sing and the chorus replies. Then there is the universal acclamation; they all stand up and go along with this. It is an antiphonal chorus. Then they sing the Creation Hymn which is very important. They are celebrating the foundation of the world. Here they sing a song called "By the Spirit of All Living Things." The meeting is opened by the hazzan. Remember, he is the person who takes the place of the old king. The hazzan is a cantor today, the one who sings in the synagogue. But the hazzan is the praecentor who takes the place of the old king and acts as master of ceremonies. He is the principal person there, but the other king is the one who gives the great sermon, of course. Then they give the holiness shouts. The people repeat the prayer, the qiddush, which is a prayer for the dead actually, so that all people are present on this occasion. Remember, this is a great feast of the ancestors throughout the world when they make this great assembly. The qiddush is actually the hymn for the dead and has to do with work for the dead. But while the people say it in a low voice, the chorus under the tower gives the hallelujah shouts. Then all the people arise and utter the Eighteen Benedictions which have to do with the creation of the world. Some people think the Eighteen Benedictions were the oldest text there was. Then they are all seated and the king appears. It says the king has been kept in concealment until now. He mounts the tower and, of course, all the people arise then. The king sits down, but the people remain standing while the two counselors come in and sit down on either side. then all the people sit down again. But there is also a proskynesis. They fall down in the presence of the king. We saw that before. when people are overwhelmed or want to appear overwhelmed, they go through the act of falling down on their faces. That happens here.

     Then what happens? Over the king's head alone there is a magnificent baldachin cover, and the seats of the other two are separated. They are not right close to his. In the Temple Scroll living in the tents and the baldachin are important. The master of ceremonies, the hazzan, enters the tent in which the king is sitting and gives him a blessing in a low voice that only he, the people on the stand, and the chorus underneath can hear. It's a confidential thing, and all the other people hear is the chorus shouting Amen at the end of certain sentences on certain occasions. So they know that big things are taking place. It's all hush, hush and in a low voice when the hazzan goes in. It's the old king handing over personally the rule to his son. It's done in a mystical sort of fashion, with great silence and reverence. He comes from the tent and gives his royal blessing, and the old king blesses the new king. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, pp. 441, 443-444]


Mosiah 2:7 He [king Benjamin] caused a tower to be erected (Illustration): King Benjamin Addresses His People. [The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gospel Art, #307]


Mosiah 2:8 [Benjamin] Began to Speak to His People from the Tower:


     According to Hugh Nibley, king Benjamin's speech has three parts. Notice in the first part they are celebrating. He is telling them that the good times they have been having are just a prelude to great things to follow and to eternal life when they can have joy and salvation forever if they do the right thing. the second part is saying don't let it go to your head. Notice how he cuts them down in that second part--you are nothing, you are the dust, you poor miserable creatures, etc. What a way to be talking to the people at a great national celebration. Then the third part is devoted entirely to economics--what it means for it to go to your heads. Then you will get this idea of inequality resulting in greed. King Benjamin says it will destroy you here and it will damn you forever. [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, p. 465]


Mosiah 2:9 This Day:


     According to an article by Welch, Parry, and Ricks, the phrase "this day" (Mosiah 2:9) may be very significant in the scriptures. This solemn and emphatic concept appears, for example, in the famous covenantal text at the end of the book of Joshua: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve . . . " (Joshua 24:15-25).

     The words "this day" appear eighteen times in the Book of Mormon. Eleven appear in conjunction with holy Nephite gatherings at their temples. Jacob tells of coming "up into the temple this day" to rid his garments of the people's sins and to declare the word of God (Jacob 2:2-3). King Benjamin uses the phrase "this day" five times in his monumental speech, and each time it occurs at ritual and covenantal high points in the text.

     In Hebrew the word etzem ("selfsame" from the phrase "this selfsame day") is significant. Abraham Block has recently concluded that "this descriptive word was not a mere literary flourish" but a technical term of art with some unknown special significance. For further insight, Block turns to the medieval Jewish jurist Maimonides, who "noted with great amazement that etzem (selfsame) was used only in connection with the observance of Yom Kippur [the Israelite festival of the Day of Atonement] and Shavuot [the biblical festival of the Firstfruits, or Pentecost]. The implication is that this term was used to indicate that these high holy days in and of themselves produced a binding legal effect or holy religious status.

     Evidently, in Nephite language and rhetoric, the phrase "this day" often indicated the covenantal and legal status of a holy day, much as "this day,” "today," or "this selfsame day" did in Hebrew. [Donald W. Parry, John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, "This Day," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 117-119]


Mosiah 2:9 This Day:


     According to Matthew Brown, the formal structure of the Old Testament treaty/covenant pattern can be clearly seen in the record of the Nephites, especially in the sermon of King Benjamin.73







Exodus 19:3; 20:1 / Mosiah 2:9




Antecedent history

Exodus 19:4; 20:2 / Mosiah 2:9-21, 23-24, 25-30



Terms of the covenant

Exodus 19:5-6; 20:3-23:19 / Mosiah 2:22, 24, 31-41; 4:6-30



Formal witness

Exodus 19:8; 24:3 / Mosiah 5:2-8



Blessings and curses

Exodus 19:5; 23:20-33 / Mosiah 5:9-15 [3:24-27]



Recital of the covenant and deposit of the text

Exodus 19:7; 24:4-8 / Mosiah [2:8-9] 6:1-3, 6






[Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, pp. 225-226]


Mosiah 2:10 I Have Not Commanded You . . . That Ye Should Think That I of Myself Am More Than a Mortal Man:      


     According to Brant Gardner, one of Benjamin's first statements to his people is that: "I have not commanded you to come up hither that ye should fear me, or that ye should think that I of myself am more than a mortal man. But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind . . ." (Mosiah 2:10-11). In the context of a people who would have believed in a king who was the embodiment of a god, as was common in Mesoamerican religions, this opening contrast to their past experience is remarkably appropriate.

     Benjamin's next set of remarks also fits this view of a people in conflict over the nature of religion and kings when he begins his catalog of the kind of king he has not been. (see Mosiah 2:12-13) Why does Benjamin emphasize the negative side kingship when his own kingship has been full of positive things he has done? The obvious answer is that he was trying to differentiate himself from the other kings they might have known, either in their own past, or in the cultures with which they had come into contact with in Mesoamerica. [Brant Gardner, "A Social History of the Early Nephites," delivered at the FAIR Conference, August 17, 2001, pp. 9-10]


Mosiah 2:12 I Have . . . Not Sought God nor Silver nor Any Manner of Riches of You:


     Since treating the subject of ritual in the Melchizedek Priesthood manual for 1957 (lesson 23),74 Hugh Nibley has come upon more confirmation, such as in a particularly interesting writing of Nathan the Babylonian, a writer of the tenth century A.D. who has left us an eyewitness account of the coronation of the Prince of the Captivity or Exilarch in Babylonia. He speaks with the detachment of a gentile though he may have been a Jew.75 Since we find no extended description of a coronation in the Old Testament, as we do in the Book of Mormon, and since no one showed interest in the remarkably uniform pattern of ancient coronations until the present century, Nathan's account provides us with strong evidence for the authenticity of Mosiah's account.

     Because these Jews living in Babylonia had lost their real king and yet wished to continue their ancient customs, it was necessary to choose a candidate. The chief men of the community came together to appoint the new Exilarch from one of the most illustrious families. The elders then set him apart by the laying on of hands and sent out a proclamation that all should come to the coronation, bringing the most costly presents of gold, silver, and textiles that each could afford. Note that Benjamin, in a list of contrasts between himself and the conventional divine kings, expressly forbids that very thing: "I have . . . not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you" (Mosiah 2:12). [Hugh W. Nibley, "Assembly and Atonement," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," p. 123]


Mosiah 2:13 Neither Have I Suffered That Ye Should Be Confined in Dungeons:


     According to Cleon Skousen, one of the most astonishing declarations concerning the Nephite civilization is found in Mosiah 2:13 which states that King Benjamin was able to eliminate the use of jails and prisons, the abomination of slavery and the curse of crime from among the people. The passage is worth repeating:

     "Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves of one another, nor that ye should murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery; nor even have I suffered that ye should commit any manner of wickedness, and have taught you that ye should keep the commandments of the Lord, in all things which he hath commanded you . . . "

     Notice that there is not a single word as to how this remarkable achievement was brought about. King Benjamin simply says he taught them to "keep the commandments of the Lord" and did not "suffer" these commandments to be broken. But how does a king accomplish that?

     We should remember that Moses received two sets of laws. The first law which was given to Moses was the Law of the Covenant, which prevails whenever the government of God is upon the earth. This Law was on the first set of stone tablets given to Moses on Mount Sinai and included all the higher ordinances of the Gospel. The Law of the Covenant given to Moses prior to the rebellion of Israel was a very advanced type of jurisprudence. There is reason to believe that it was the same law as that which prevailed in the City of Enoch, the City of Salem (under Melchizedek) and was used in all the great cities of ancient times which were administered by the patriarchs of God. This law was taken away and a second set of commandments issued when Israel rebelled.

     The Lord's law had no provision for confinement in prison as a form of punishment. The basic purpose of the Lord's law was to provide "satisfaction" for the person wronged. . . . The judges simply required the offender to give complete "satisfaction" to his victim for the wrong he had committed. In the case of theft he had to return from two to five times the value of what he had taken. In the case of premeditated murder, the punishment was always death. Offenses which corrupted the community required the culprit to immediately repent--for if he did not, he remained in the community at the risk of his life. Offenses against the public peace or for which no satisfaction could be provided, were punished by giving a designated number of "stripes" (never to exceed 40 - Deuteronomy 25:2-3) and the prisoner was released. So it can be seen why King Benjamin had no need for prisons or dungeons under this system of law. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2, pp. 2036, 2051-2055]


Mosiah 2:13 Murder, or Plunder, or Steal, or Commit Adultery . . . or Any Manner of Wickedness:


     According to John Welch, King Benjamin's founding legacy endured in a Nephite legal formula that persisted to the end of Nephite civilization. When Benjamin gave his accounting of how he had faithful discharged his governmental duties, he averred that he had not allowed his people to "murder, or plunder, or steal, or commit adultery . . . or any manner of wickedness" (Mosiah 2:13). This precise list of five public law requirements is found six other times in the Book of Mormon, and in every case this set measures the extent to which kings and rulers had discharged their legal duty of maintaining public order. [John W. Welch, "Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," pp. 44-45] [See Alma 23:3; Alma 30:10; Mosiah 29:14-15, 36; Helaman 6:23; Helaman 7:21; Ether 8:16]


Mosiah 2:14 Ye Should Not Be Laden with Taxes:


     King Benjamin says the following:

           And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you which was grievous to be borne . . . (Mosiah 2:14)


     Hugh Nibley asks the question, Does this mean no taxes at all? Many people love this part of the Book of Mormon about not being laden with taxes. However, this means not grievous taxes . . . Benjamin said, I have not permitted you to be "laden with taxes grievous to be borne." [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, pp. 453]


Mosiah 2:27-28 That I Might Rid My Garments of Your Blood:


     According to John Welch, Benjamin knew and also referred to several concepts that were found on the small plates or were traditional in Nephite culture. One example is found in Mosiah 2 in which Benjamin says :

           "I said unto you that I had served you, walking with a clear conscience before God, even so I at this time have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together . . . that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace. (Mosiah 2:27-28).


     Jacob expresses the same idea in 2 Nephi 9:44 ("I . . . am rid of your blood"), in Jacob 1:19 , and in Jacob 2:2 ("I . . . magnify mine office with soberness and that I might rid my garments of your sins"). [John W. Welch, "Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History," in King Benjamin's Speech: "That Ye May Learn Wisdom," p. 34]


Mosiah 2:28 That I . . . May Join the Choirs above in Singing the Praises of a Just God:


           According to Hugh Nibley, in the book Nathan the Babylonian (Nathan ha-Babli), Nathan witnessed the crowning of the Jewish king in captivity. . . . He describes the coronation. In view of the important part the choir plays in the kingship ceremony and the open invitation for ancestor to be present, it is interesting that king Benjamin said, "I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together that I might rid my garments of your blood, at this period of time when I am about to go down to my grave, that I might go down in peace, and my immortal spirit may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God" (Mosiah 2:28). The choir also sang the "song of redeeming love" that Alma talks about later on (see Alma 5:9,26). [Hugh W. Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 1, pp. 441, 443] [See the commentary on Mosiah 2:7]


Mosiah 2:28-30 I Am about to Go down to My Grave:


     By saying "I am about to go down to my grave" (Mosiah 2:28) and "my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly" (v. 30), King Benjamin implies that he was an "old" man (Mosiah 1:9) at the time of his farewell address. According to the chronology in Appendix A, he would have been about 69. [See Appendix A]


Mosiah 2:28-30 I Am about to Go down to My Grave:


     In mentioning that "I am about to go down to my grave" (Mosiah 2:28), King Benjamin most certainly classified his speech as a farewell address. According to an article by John Welch and Daryle Hague, William S. Kurz has published a detailed study comparing twenty-two farewell addresses from the classical and biblical traditions. Kurz has identified twenty elements common to the farewell addresses in general. Although Kurz knows no single speech that contains all of these elements, some contain more than others. Moses' farewell speech contains sixteen elements (see Deuteronomy 31-34); Paul's, fourteen (see Acts 20); and Socrates', eleven.

     It is remarkable that King Benjamin's oration contains as many or more elements of the ancient farewell address than any of Kurz's examples. In fact, recent research finds Benjamin's speech to be the most complete example of this speech typology yet found anywhere in world literature.


Kurz's Twenty Elements \ (Same Elements in Benjamin's Speech)


1. The speaker summons his successors. (Mosiah 1:9-10; 2:1,9)

2. He cites his own mission as an example. (Mosiah 2:12-14,18)

3. He states his innocence/ his duty fulfilled. (Mosiah 2:15,27-31

4. He refers to his impending death. (Mosiah 1:9, 2:26,28)

5. He exhorts his audience. (Mosiah 2:9,40-41; 4:9-10; 5:12)

6. He issues warnings & final injunctions. (Mosiah 2:31-32,36-39; 3:12,25; 4:14-30; 5:10-11)

7. He blesses his audience. (Not clearly found but see "blessed" in Mosiah 2:41)

8. He makes farewell gestures. (Possibly implied in Mosiah 2:28; see 2 Nephi 9:44)

9. He names tasks for his successors. (Mosiah 1:15-16; 2:31; 6:3)

10. He gives a theological review of history. (Mosiah 2:34-35; 3:13-15)

11. The speaker reveals future events. (Mosiah 3:1,5-10)

12. Promises are given. (Mosiah 2:22,31; 4:12; 5:9)

13. He appoints/refers to successor. (Mosiah 1:15-16; 2:31, 6:3)

14. Rest of people bewail loss of leader. (Not found)

15. Future generation addressed, (Mosiah 3:23-27; 4:14-15)

16. Sacrifices and covenants are renewed. (Mosiah 2:3; 5:1-7)

17. Care is given for those left. (Mosiah 4:14-26; 6:3)

18. Consolation is given to inner circle. (Mosiah 5:15)

19. Didactic speech is made. (Mosiah 3:16-21)

20. Ars moriendi. (Possibly in Mosiah 2:28)


[John W. Welch and Daryle R. Hague, "Benjamin's Speech: A Classic Ancient Farewell Address," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 120-121]


Mosiah 2:30 I Should Declare unto You This Day, That My Son Mosiah Is a King:


     According to Stephen Ricks, a comparison of the text found in Mosiah 1-6 with the coronation ceremonies recorded in the Old Testament and with enthronement rituals among other peoples of the ancient Near East reveals striking parallels:

     1. The Sanctuary as the Site of the Coronation. Following the construction of the temple in ancient Israel, the temple site always served as the site of coronations (2 Kings 11:14; Mosiah 1:18).

     2. Investiture with Insignia. In ancient Israel, various tokens of kingship seem regularly to have been given to the new monarch at the coronation (see Deuteronomy 17:18-19, Mosiah 1:15-16).

     3. Anointing. The Bible records the anointings of six Israelite kings: Saul, David, Solomon, Jehu, Joash, and Jehoahaz. In the Book of Mormon, Benjamin "consecrated his son Mosiah to be ruler and a king over his people" (Mosiah 6:3, Jacob 1:9).

     4. Receipt of a Regnal Name. Whether Mosiah similarly had a regnal name is difficult to determine. He is invariably referred to as "Mosiah" (i.e., Mosiah 6:4-7), so it is unknown if this was a given name or a coronation name. The latter is possible, since the name Mosiah may be a title meaning "savior, deliverer."

     5. Other Elements. Other factors in Mosiah's enthronement were typically present at coronations of ancient Israelite kings: for example, sacrifices of thanksgiving (see Mosiah 2:3-4); acceptance of the new monarch by the people agreeing to obey him and God (see Mosiah 2:31; 5:5); and the reappointment of priests and reconstitution of officers under the new regime (see Mosiah 6:3). [Stephen D. Ricks, "The Coronation of Kings," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, pp. 124-126; see also Stephen D. Ricks, "King, Coronation, and Covenant in Mosiah 1-6," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., pp. 209-219]


Mosiah 2:30 I Should Declare unto You This Day, That My Son Mosiah Is a King:


     According to Matthew Brown, another striking parallel that exists between the Book of Mormon and the Bible is the royal coronation pattern.76 The reader should notice that even though the elements of the pattern are scattered throughout the texts of the Bible, they are all mentioned in Book of Mormon texts, especially in the sermon of King Benjamin.






Temple setting

2 Kings 11:14 / Mosiah 1:18




2 Chronicles 6:13 / Mosiah 2:7




2 Kings 11:12 / Mosiah 1:15-16




1 Kings 1:39 / Mosiah 6:3/Jacob 1:9




1 Kings 1:34, 39 / Mosiah 2:30



Throne name

2 Kings 24:17 / Jacob 1:10-11



Divine adoption

2 Samuel 7:14 / Mosiah 5:6-12






[Matthew B. Brown, All Things Restored: Confirming the Authenticity of LDS Beliefs, p. 225]


Mosiah 2:41 O Remember, Remember:


     According to Angela Crowell, in English usage, repetition of the same word is usually avoided. The reverse is true in Hebrew. Repetition was commonly used in Biblical Hebrew for emphasis, or to intensify an attribute . . . (see Deuteronomy 16:20; Isaiah 6:3; Isaiah 26:3). A prime example of this type of repetition is found in Mosiah 2:41, "O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it." [Angela M. Crowell, "Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon," in Recent Book of Mormon Developments, Vol. 2, p. 8] [See the commentary on Mosiah 4:30]