Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2017, September 13

“Book of Mormon: Mosiah 29: How King Mosiah Peacefully and Smoothly Transitions the Nephites from Kings to Judges” by grego

“Book of Mormon: Mosiah 29: How King Mosiah Peacefully and Smoothly Transitions the Nephites from Kings to Judges”
(c)2017 grego

I want to take a look at Mosiah 29 here. Before we start, however, it’s important to set the context with a few previous scriptures:

Mosiah 28:10 Now king Mosiah had no one to confer the kingdom upon, for there was not any of his sons who would accept of the kingdom.
King Mosiah already knew earlier that his sons would not accept the kingdom.

Next… All the records that king Mosiah had recently read all pointed towards one thing–don’t have kings! That includes the brass plates (Saul, David, and many more wicked kings); Zeniffites (Noah); Almaites, and Jaredites (the majority of kings). It is likely he read about king problems in the Nephite plates, too.

Alma speaks both about king Noah (the record of the Zeniffites) and his own people:
Mosiah 23:6 And the people were desirous that Alma should be their king, for he was beloved by his people.
7 But he said unto them: Behold, it is not expedient that we should have a king; for thus saith the Lord: Ye shall not esteem one flesh above another, or one man shall not think himself above another; therefore I say unto you it is not expedient that ye should have a king.
8 Nevertheless, if it were possible that ye could always have just men to be your kings it would be well for you to have a king.
9 But remember the iniquity of king Noah and his priests; and I myself was caught in a snare, and did many things which were abominable in the sight of the Lord, which caused me sore repentance;
10 Nevertheless, after much tribulation, the Lord did hear my cries, and did answer my prayers, and has made me an instrument in his hands in bringing so many of you to a knowledge of his truth.
11 Nevertheless, in this I do not glory, for I am unworthy to glory of myself.
12 And now I say unto you, ye have been oppressed by king Noah, and have been in bondage to him and his priests, and have been brought into iniquity by them; therefore ye were bound with the bands of iniquity.
13 And now as ye have been delivered by the power of God out of these bonds; yea, even out of the hands of king Noah and his people, and also from the bonds of iniquity, even so I desire that ye should stand fast in this liberty wherewith ye have been made free, and that ye trust no man to be a king over you.

It wasn’t just Mosiah that read these things; he had them read to all his people:
Mosiah 25:5 And it came to pass that Mosiah did read, and caused to be read, the records of Zeniff to his people; yea, he read the records of the people of Zeniff, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until they returned again.
6 And he also read the account of Alma and his brethren, and all their afflictions, from the time they left the land of Zarahemla until the time they returned again.

Mosiah 28:11 Therefore he took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, and also the plates of Nephi, and all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God, after having translated and caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold which had been found by the people of Limhi, which were delivered to him by the hand of Limhi;

17 Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records, behold, it gave an account of the people who were destroyed, from the time that they were destroyed back to the building of the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and they were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth, yea, and even from that time back until the creation of Adam.
18 Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; nevertheless it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice.

These were the plates of the Jaredites (found by king Limhi’s people), which gave account after account of problems with kings and with the succession of kings. They were also known to Mosiah’s people.

Ok, now on to the change.

1 Now when Mosiah had done this he sent out throughout all the land, among all the people, desiring to know their will concerning who should be their king.
2 And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: We are desirous that Aaron thy son should be our king and our ruler.
3 Now Aaron had gone up to the land of Nephi, therefore the king could not confer the kingdom upon him; neither would Aaron take upon him the kingdom; neither were any of the sons of Mosiah willing to take upon them the kingdom.
4 Therefore king Mosiah sent again among the people; yea, even a written word sent he among the people. And these were the words that were written, saying:
5 Behold, O ye my people, or my brethren, for I esteem you as such, I desire that ye should consider the cause which ye are called to consider—for ye are desirous to have a king.
6 Now I declare unto you that he to whom the kingdom doth rightly belong has declined, and will not take upon him the kingdom.
7 And now if there should be another appointed in his stead, behold I fear there would rise contentions among you. And who knoweth but what my son, to whom the kingdom doth belong, should turn to be angry and draw away a part of this people after him, which would cause wars and contentions among you, which would be the cause of shedding much blood and perverting the way of the Lord, yea, and destroy the souls of many people.
8 Now I say unto you let us be wise and consider these things, for we have no right to destroy my son, neither should we have any right to destroy another if he should be appointed in his stead.
9 And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said, and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.
10 And now let us be wise and look forward to these things, and do that which will make for the peace of this people.

I have no doubt that king Mosiah was sure the people would want one of his sons to be king, and as seen, already knew that was not going to happen. I also have no doubt that king Mosiah was 99% or so sure that his sons would not return and want to be king. I believe he had already planned for this, but needed the people to say it themselves so that they could realize it better. He has a solution.

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11 Therefore I will be your king the remainder of my days; nevertheless, let us appoint judges, to judge this people according to our law; and we will newly arrange the affairs of this people, for we will appoint wise men to be judges, that will judge this people according to the commandments of God.

I believe this was very likely related to the brass plates, of judges (as with Israel before kings).

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12 Now it is better that a man should be judged of God than of man, for the judgments of God are always just, but the judgments of man are not always just.
13 Therefore, if it were possible that you could have just men to be your kings, who would establish the laws of God, and judge this people according to his commandments, yea, if ye could have men for your kings who would do even as my father Benjamin did for this people—I say unto you, if this could always be the case then it would be expedient that ye should always have kings to rule over you.

He might have borrowed that from Alma, at least in thought or as a firmer testimony.

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14 And even I myself have labored with all the power and faculties which I have possessed, to teach you the commandments of God, and to establish peace throughout the land, that there should be no wars nor contentions, no stealing, nor plundering, nor murdering, nor any manner of iniquity;
15 And whosoever has committed iniquity, him have I punished according to the crime which he has committed, according to the law which has been given to us by our fathers.

My father didn’t break the law, and I have not broken the law, but have done my best to uphold it. I believe he was setting a psychological precedent for his judges and his people to follow.

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16 Now I say unto you, that because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you.
17 For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!
18 Yea, remember king Noah, his wickedness and his abominations, and also the wickedness and abominations of his people. Behold what great destruction did come upon them; and also because of their iniquities they were brought into bondage.
19 And were it not for the interposition of their all-wise Creator, and this because of their sincere repentance, they must unavoidably remain in bondage until now.
20 But behold, he did deliver them because they did humble themselves before him; and because they cried mightily unto him he did deliver them out of bondage; and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him.
21 And behold, now I say unto you, ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood.
22 For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God;
23 And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness.
24 And now behold I say unto you, it is not expedient that such abominations should come upon you.

It is important to have some of them remember their own experiences with wicked kings, and for all of them to remember what they had recently heard about king Noah. I think king Mosiah wants to head off the desire for a king/ return to a system of kings, hoping to avoid the problem that Israel suffered under (judges to kings).

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25 Therefore, choose you by the voice of this people, judges, that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.
26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.
27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

King Mosiah gives some basic principles here. The judges will judge according to the correct law given by the fathers, which were given by the Lord. If wicked people go against it, and are a minority, they will fail. If wicked people go against it, and are a majority, the judgments of the Lord will be upon them, and they will fail.

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28 And now if ye have judges, and they do not judge you according to the law which has been given, ye can cause that they may be judged of a higher judge.
29 If your higher judges do not judge righteous judgments, ye shall cause that a small number of your lower judges should be gathered together, and they shall judge your higher judges, according to the voice of the people.

Is there a way around unrighteous judges? When requested by the people, higher judges, and a very nice point–multiple lower judges can judge a higher judge.

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30 And I command you to do these things in the fear of the Lord; and I command you to do these things, and that ye have no king; that if these people commit sins and iniquities they shall be answered upon their own heads.

This is the king’s command, not just a suggestion. Had he started with this, though, maybe things wouldn’t have gone so well. He commands them to be responsible.

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31 For behold I say unto you, the sins of many people have been caused by the iniquities of their kings; therefore their iniquities are answered upon the heads of their kings.

Another reminder about wicked kings causing problems.

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32 And now I desire that this inequality should be no more in this land, especially among this my people; but I desire that this land be a land of liberty, and every man may enjoy his rights and privileges alike, so long as the Lord sees fit that we may live and inherit the land, yea, even as long as any of our posterity remains upon the face of the land.

The move to liberty, and more (again, Alma helps here). When does this end? This is set up for the rest of Nephite existence.

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33 And many more things did king Mosiah write unto them, unfolding unto them all the trials and troubles of a righteous king, yea, all the travails of soul for their people, and also all the murmurings of the people to their king; and he explained it all unto them.
34 And he told them that these things ought not to be; but that the burden should come upon all the people, that every man might bear his part.

A reminder that righteous kings have a very difficult life.

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35 And he also unfolded unto them all the disadvantages they labored under, by having an unrighteous king to rule over them;
36 Yea, all his iniquities and abominations, and all the wars, and contentions, and bloodshed, and the stealing, and the plundering, and the committing of whoredoms, and all manner of iniquities which cannot be enumerated—telling them that these things ought not to be, that they were expressly repugnant to the commandments of God.

Another reminder of wicked kings causing problems.

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37 And now it came to pass, after king Mosiah had sent these things forth among the people they were convinced of the truth of his words.
38 Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land; yea, and every man expressed a willingness to answer for his own sins.

After all that, he gets the desired result–they don’t want a king, but want judges so that everyone can be equal.

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39 Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges, to judge them according to the law which had been given them; and they were exceedingly rejoiced because of the liberty which had been granted unto them.
40 And they did wax strong in love towards Mosiah; yea, they did esteem him more than any other man; for they did not look upon him as a tyrant who was seeking for gain, yea, for that lucre which doth corrupt the soul; for he had not exacted riches of them, neither had he delighted in the shedding of blood; but he had established peace in the land, and he had granted unto his people that they should be delivered from all manner of bondage; therefore they did esteem him, yea, exceedingly, beyond measure.
41 And it came to pass that they did appoint judges to rule over them, or to judge them according to the law; and this they did throughout all the land.

They do not wait! It begins right away.

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42 And it came to pass that Alma was appointed to be the first chief judge, he being also the high priest, his father having conferred the office upon him, and having given him the charge concerning all the affairs of the church.
43 And now it came to pass that Alma did walk in the ways of the Lord, and he did keep his commandments, and he did judge righteous judgments; and there was continual peace through the land.
44 And thus *commenced the reign of the judges throughout all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who were called the Nephites; and Alma was the first and chief judge.
45 And now it came to pass that his father died, being eighty and two years old, having lived to fulfil the commandments of God.
46 And it came to pass that Mosiah died also, in the thirty and third year of his reign, being sixty and three years old; making in the whole, five hundred and nine years from the time Lehi left Jerusalem.
47 And thus ended the reign of the kings over the people of Nephi; and thus ended the days of Alma, who was the founder of their church.

Even though Mosiah remained king, the system of judges went into effect. I believe it was much wiser to start one system under the other; this assured that the judges system would be implemented, be implemented properly, the judges would already have experience, and any problems or situations could be brought to him and he would know what to do. Then, when Mosiah died, the judges were the top.

All together, what a beautiful way to transition!

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