Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, June 30

Book of Mormon: Ammon or Aaron–Who Was Older?

Book of Mormon: Ammon or Aaron–Who Was Older?

In Mosiah 27:34, we learn that king Mosiah has four sons, and it names Ammon first, then Aaron. So, it seems that Ammon is the firstborn, and Aaron is the second. This way of giving birth order happens at other times: with Lehi’s sons, with Alma the Younger’s sons, and with Helaman’s sons, for example. However, there are a few things that make me wonder if Ammon really was the firstborn, or at least conclude that there’s more to the story than what is written.

Many people point to Ammon’s being the leader of the missionary group (Alma 17:18 ) as extra evidence of his being the firstborn; but this is a church calling, not something that has to do with age or birth order. In addition, being called the people of Ammon has to do with religious things, too, as does being high priest over them (Alma 30:20).

I see three hints that Aaron might be older:
1. while Ammon preaches to the lesser king/ prince Lamoni, it is left to Aaron to preach to the king of all the Lamanites; is that the Nephite prince teaches the Lamanite prince, and the rightful Nephite king teaches the king?
2. when the Lamanite king wants a new name for his converted people, he consults chiefly with Aaron (Alma 23:16; 17-18). Perhaps choosing a new name is more of a political decision than a religious one; consulting with the heir king and getting his approval is more appropriate. Also, the two verses afterwards, are political matters.
3. the people ask that Aaron be king, and king Mosiah says it’s Aaron’s right to be king (Mosiah 29:1-3, 6). When king Mosiah speaks about potential future problems with the right to rule the kingdom, including the possible return and oath dismissal by those who had a past right to rule as king, he speaks about Aaron–never Ammon.

So, why would Aaron have the right to rule if Ammon were the firstborn?

Was Aaron really older than Ammon, but played a less prominent role in the spiritual aspect in the Book of Mormon? Or maybe Ammon swore he would never be king. (But if that had been the case, wouldn’t king Mosiah also have spoken about that in Mosiah 29?) Could Ammon have done something much earlier to lose his right to rule, to lose his right of the firstborn–something that Aaron hadn’t done? (But weren’t they all in it together?) Was a mistake made in the writing? Was the name placing in Mosiah 27:34 done for some other reason? I don’t know.

At least, I think it would be much better to say they are brothers, than to say that Ammon is definitely older than Aaron.

Any other insights, scriptures?

[EDIT, July 7, 2017:  This topic came to my thoughts much more because of the Chinese translations of the Book of Mormon, where “older brother” is used for Ammon, and “younger brother” is used for Aaron.]
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2008, June 20

Book of Mormon: The Lamanite King Told the Truth

Years and years ago I saw this:

About to be slain by Ammon, the Lamanite king–Lamoni’s father–says he will give up to half of his kingdom for his life:
Alma 20:23 Now the king, fearing he should lose his life, said: If thou wilt spare me I will grant unto thee whatsoever thou wilt ask, even to half of the kingdom.

Later, hearing the gospel from Aaron and desiring eternal life, he says he will give all his kingdom:
Alma 22:15 And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

But the story doesn’t end there. Though the Lamanite king dies right before he can forsake the kingdom, I have no doubt the king would have done the same as his son did: given up all his kingdom for the gospel:
Alma 24:2 And their hatred became exceedingly sore against them, even insomuch that they began to rebel against their king, insomuch that they would not that he should be their king; therefore, they took up arms against the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
Alma 24:3 Now the king conferred the kingdom upon his son, and he called his name Anti-Nephi-Lehi.
Alma 24:4 And the king died in that selfsame year that the Lamanites began to make preparations for war against the people of God.
Alma 24:5 Now when Ammon and his brethren and all those who had come up with him saw the preparations of the Lamanites to destroy their brethren, they came forth to the land of Midian, and there Ammon met all his brethren; and from thence they came to the land of Ishmael that they might hold a council with Lamoni and also with his brother Anti-Nephi-Lehi, what they should do to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
Alma 24:6 Now there was not one soul among all the people who had been converted unto the Lord that would take up arms against their brethren; nay, they would not even make any preparations for war; yea, and also their king commanded them that they should not.
Alma 27:14 And they gathered together all their people, yea, all the people of the Lord, and did gather together all their flocks and herds, and departed out of the land, and came into the wilderness which divided the land of Nephi from the land of Zarahemla, and came over near the borders of the land.

I read that and think, how much have I “given up” for the gospel? How willing am I to forsake the things of this world–especially after I have already worked so hard to get them–for the gospel?


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