Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Mosiah 2:28-32

28 I say unto you that 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.
29 And moreover, I say unto you that I have caused that ye should assemble yourselves together, that I might declare unto you that I can no longer be your teacher, nor your king;
30 For even at this time, my whole frame doth tremble exceedingly while attempting to speak unto you; but the Lord God doth support me, and hath suffered me that I should speak unto you, and hath commanded me that I should declare unto you this day, that my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you.
31 And now, my brethren, I would that ye should do as ye have hitherto done.  As ye have kept my commandments, and also the commandments of my father, and have prospered, and have been kept from falling into the hands of your enemies, even so if ye shall keep the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him, ye shall prosper in the land, and your enemies shall have no power over you.
32 But, O my people, beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit, which was spoken of by my father Mosiah.
33 For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.
Mosiah 2:28-33

As his sermon continues, he tells the people they were assembled “that I might rid my garments of your blood” (Mosiah 2:28). This was similar to Jacob’s words to the Nephites.  “O, my beloved brethren, remember my words.  Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you; I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with his all–searching eye; wherefore, ye shall know at the last day, when all men shall be judged of their works, that the God of Israel did witness that I shook your iniquities from my soul, and that I stand with brightness before him, and am rid of your blood.” (2 Nephi 9:44).

“Benjamin declared that he had called the assembly so that he might rid his garments of the people’s blood (see Mosiah 2:28). It is possible that Benjamin ritually shook or cleansed these garments; Jacob, one of Benjamin’s spiritual predecessors, actually took off his garment in front of a similar assembly and shook his clothes to rid himself symbolically of the blood of his people (see 2 Nephi 9:44).”[1]

King Benjamin is in his last years of life.  He desires to “go down in peace” and his sprit join the heavenly choirs that sing praises of God.

Benjamin gets to the next reason why the people were assembled.  He declared “I can no longer be your teacher, nor your king.” The Lord has supported the King.  He then declares “this day, … my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you” (Mosiah 2:30). “[I]t is evident, from the actual text of Benjamin’s discourse, that religious instruction far outweighed the coronation ceremony itself. In fact, only three verses of his speech (Mosiah 2:29-31) are devoted to the succession of the new king…”[2]

Benjamin called upon the people to continue keeping his commandments as well as his father’s (Mosiah1) commandments.  “The positive claim he modestly makes in his final speech that he had ‘kept [his people] from falling into the hands of [their] enemies’ (Mosiah 2:31) was a feat Benjamin could assert persuasively and legitimately. As a protector of his people, Benjamin epitomized the blessing of Moses given to the tribe of Benjamin, King Benjamin’s ancient namesake: “The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in safety by him; and the Lord shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders” (Deuteronomy 33:12).”[3]

He promises the people if they keep the commandments given them by Mosiah2, which are the commandments of God, they will prosper in the land and their enemies would have no power over them. “[A]n inspired king can be said to speak for and on behalf of God, and the distinction between them means very little in this respect (see Mosiah 2:31). God and the king are correlatives, mirroring each other in their respective spheres (Mosiah 2:19)-God rules the universe at large, macrocosmically, while the king rules subordinately and microcosmically over a limited portion of God’s universe.”[4]

Benjamin warns the people to avoid contentions.  Do not obey the devil.  Paul warned the Ephesians…

“Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:[5]
“Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

Mormon would summarize a time after a time of conflict with the Lamanites during Alma2’s life.
“And in one year were thousands and tens of thousands of souls sent to the eternal world, that they might reap their rewards according to their works, whether they were good or whether they were bad, to reap eternal happiness or eternal misery, according to the spirit which they listed to obey, whether it be a good spirit or a bad one.
“For every man receiveth wages of him whom he listeth to obey, and this according to the words of the spirit of prophecy; therefore let it be according to the truth.  And thus endeth the fifth year of the reign of the judges” (Alma 3:26-27).

Alma2 taught the people of Zarahemla:

“Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him.
“And whosoever doeth this must receive his wages of him; therefore, for his wages he receiveth death, as to things pertaining unto righteousness, being dead unto all good works” (Alma 5:41-42).

Writing about the end of Korihor, Mormon wrote, “And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell” (Alma 30:60).

Nephi tells us the difference between the Lord’s Spirit and the devil.  “And now, my beloved brethren, I perceive that ye ponder still in your hearts; and it grieveth me that I must speak concerning this thing.  For if ye would hearken unto the Spirit which teacheth a man to pray ye would know that ye must pray; for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray” (2 Nephi 32:8).  Alma2 asked the people of Zarahemla, “I say unto you, can ye think of being saved when you have yielded yourselves to become subjects to the devil” (Alma 5:20).

“Benjamin lays down the first principle of government, which may appear very strange to us but is a corollary to the nothingness of man: there shall be no contentions among the people lest they ‘list to obey the evil spirit’ (Mosiah 2:32). Tendere means to stretch a rope; contendere is a tug-of-war. The Lord’s first words to the Nephites, after he had introduced himself to them and told them how to baptize, dealt with contention: ‘For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another’ (3 Nephi 11:29).”[6]


[1] Benjamin’s Sermon as a Traditional Ancient Farewell Address, John W. Welch & Darryl R. Hague, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 12, 2014.
[2] King Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles, John A. Tvedtnes, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 12, 2014.
[3] Benjamin, the Man: His Place in Nephite History, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 12, 2014.
[4] Authority in the Book of Mosiah, Daniel C. Peterson, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 12, 2014.
[5] Can ye be angry and not sin? let not the sun go down upon your wrath (JST Ephesians 4:26).
[6] Assembly and Atonement, Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 12, 2014. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mosiah 2:23-27

23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you.  And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves?  I answer you, Nay.  Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.
26 And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust.  And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth.
27 Therefore, as 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 be found blameless, and that your blood should not come upon me, when I shall stand to be judged of God of the things whereof he hath commanded me concerning you.
Mosiah 2:23-27

Why are we indebted to God?  Because he crated us and gave us life.  “Benjamin strikes here a double blow: first he reshapes our thinking about service by redefining it as exclusively service to God, and second, he reduces all service to God as ultimately unprofitable (see Mosiah 2:23–24). Even royal service is not exempt from this sobering reduction: ‘I [your king] ... am [no] more than a mortal man ... like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; ... I ... am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust’ (Mosiah 2:10–11, 26).”[1]

“In October of 1998 Hurricane Mitch devastated many parts of Central America. President Gordon B. Hinckley was very concerned for the victims of this disaster, many of whom lost everything—food, clothing, and household goods. He visited the Saints in the cities of San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, Honduras; and Managua, Nicaragua. And like the words of the loving prophet Elijah to a starving widow, this modern prophet’s message in each city was similar-to sacrifice and be obedient to the law of tithing.

“But how can you ask someone so destitute to sacrifice? President Hinckley knew that the food and clothing shipments they received would help them survive the crisis, but his concern and love for them went far beyond that. As important as humanitarian aid is, he knew that the most important assistance comes from God, not from man. The prophet wanted to help them unlock the windows of heaven as promised by the Lord in the book of Malachi (see Mal. 3:10; Mosiah 2:24).”[2]

Again, Benjamin tells us we are required to keep the Lord’s commandments.  When we do, we are immediately blessed.  “By humility and the fear [OR reverence of the LORD] of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life. Thorns and snares are in the way of the froward [OR perverse]: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.” (Proverbs 22:4-5).

But, we become indebted to him and “will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?”

“[Benjamin] is setting the keynote, which is absolute equality. And that follows naturally from the proposition that we owe everything to God, to whom we are perpetually and inescapably in debt beyond our means of repayment: ‘In the first place ... ye are indebted unto him ... and will be forever and ever’” (Mosiah 2:23-24) (emphasis in original).[3]

“[C]am ye say [anything at all] of yourselves?”  We are made of the dust of the Earth.  Jacob reminded the Nephites they were dust of the Earth.

“And now, my brethren, I have spoken unto you concerning pride; and those of you which have afflicted your neighbor, and persecuted him because ye were proud in your hearts, of the things which God hath given you, what say ye of it?
“Do ye not suppose that such things are abominable unto him who created all flesh?  And the one being is as precious in his sight as the other.  And all flesh is of the dust; and for the selfsame end hath he created them, that they should keep his commandments and glorify him forever” (Jacob 2:20-21).

Alma2 taught Corianton, “Now behold, my son, I will explain this thing unto thee.  For behold, after the Lord God sent our first parents forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground, from whence they were taken—yea, he drew out the man, and he placed at the east end of the garden of Eden, cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the tree of life” (Alma 42:2).

To whom does the dust belong?  It belongs to the Lord.  “It is his property, not yours! What is more, no one can even pay his own way in the world, let alone claim a surplus…”[4]  The Lord simply asks “…only two things: first, to recognize his gifts for what they are, and not to take credit to ourselves and say, ‘This is mine’…”[5]

“The Book of Mormon tells us that the essence of repentance is knowing exactly what we are. King Benjamin really rubs it in: ‘Therefore, of what have ye to boast? And now I ask, can ye say ought of yourselves? … Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth’ (Mosiah 2:24-25).”[6]

Benjamin reminds the people, “I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are.”  Can you imagine many of today’s politicians confessing this?  Why is he no better than the people?  “I am also of the dust.”  Benjamin is old, and is “about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth.” 

“Benjamin taught powerfully that he as king was no better than any other person in the society (see Mosiah 2:10–11). He told his people that he too was of the dust, an extraordinary concession for any king to make (see Mosiah 2:26). Although his people may have understood this more as an expression of personal humility than as a plank in a political manifesto, the notion that all people in the land were of the dust and were therefore fundamentally equal to each other would have had a strong potential for leveling political attitudes and strengthening democratic tendencies within that society.”[7]

Benjamin served his people “walking with a clear conscience before God.”  He called the people together to give them his farewell message so he would be found blameless and their blood would not come upon him at the final judgment. “He also warns his people in a most solemn manner of the perils of transgressing the commandments of God. The king wanted to make sure that the blood of no person should come upon him for lack of proper instruction (Mosiah 2:27).”[8]

This reason was similar to Jacob’s reason for preaching.  “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day” (Jacob 1:19).


[1] Benjamin's Speech: A Masterful Oration, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.
[2] Tithing-a Commandment Even for the Destitute, Elder Lynn G. Robbins, April 2005 General Conference.
[3] Work We Must, but the Lunch Is Free, Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.
[4] Work We Must, but the Lunch Is Free, Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.
[5] Gifts, Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.
[6] The Book of Mormon: Forty Years After, Hugh W. Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.
[7] Democratizing Forces in King Benjamin's Speech, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.
[8] Types of Literature in the Book of Mormon: Historical Narrative, Memoir, Prophetic Discourse, Oratory, Sidney B. Sperry, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 10, 2014.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Mosiah 2:20-22

20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
Mosiah 2:20-2

After having witnessed he served the Lord to his people, he told the people to give all thanks and praise to the Lord.  Job, in spite of all his trials, praised the Lord.  “And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21).  Even after seeing the eventual destruction of his people, Nephi still praised the Lord.  “Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions” (1 Nephi 18:16).

The people should rejoice that god had preserved them and live in peace.  In a revelation to Joseph Smith, the Lord talked about the consequences the wicked would face.  But to the righteous, the Lord said, “And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more” (D&C 78:19).  Because of their righteousness, the Lord granted them “that [they] should live in peace one with another.”

“We should learn to talk together, listen together, pray together, decide together, and avoid all forms of possible contention. We must learn to curb anger. Satan knows that when contention begins, orderly progress is thwarted.

“There has never been a time when it is more important for us as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take a stand, remain firm in our convictions, and conduct ourselves with calm assurance under all circumstances. We must not be manipulated or enraged by those who subtly foster contention over issues of the day.

“’Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away’ (3 Ne. 11:30).

“‘Ye should live in peace one with another’ (Mosiah 2:20). Those with the gift of being calm make lasting peace possible.”[1]

“The idea that God, not Benjamin or Mosiah his son, is truly the king is expressly found Benjamin’s words ... and in his instruction that the people should obey ‘the commandments of my son, or the commandments of God which shall be delivered unto you by him.’ The same reasons for celebrating God’s kingship … are also given by Benjamin, and the power of God is acknowledged in close association with Benjamin’s declaration that God is king … [T]he kingship of God was celebrated by singing, thanksgiving, and rejoicing in Israel, and similarly in his speech Benjamin hoped that his spirit ‘may join the choirs above in singing the praises of a just God’ … and he admonished his people to ‘thank your heavenly King’ … and to “render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess (Mosiah 2:20).”[2]

Having emphasized service, King Benjamin tells them they were created by God, and preserved by His “lending your breath” to live.  Nephi made a similar point.  “For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice upon all those who have not the law given to them, that they are delivered from that awful monster, death and hell, and the devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel” (2 Nephi 9:26). “For Benjamin, the order of the world depends, not on himself as king, but solely on God’s sustaining power that maintains life and the world order from day to day (see Mosiah 2:21).”[3]

Should we serve God with all out heart, might, mind, and strength, we would still be unprofitable servants.  Christ taught,

“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle [GR tending a flock], will say unto him by and by [GR immediately], when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat?
“And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink?
“Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him?  I trow [GR think] not.
“So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:7-10).

“The Church Educational System student manual thus indicates, ‘The debt to God is completely beyond our ability to repay. This is why Benjamin points out that even if we devoted our whole soul to Him we are still unprofitable servants. In other words, we can do nothing that puts God in our debt.’”[4]

“None of us has so much as earned our own keep, as he says. ‘I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants’ (Mosiah 2:21)—that is, consuming more than we produce. Nobody can pay his own way here.”[5] Szink and Welch explain, “Benjamin’s people would have understood that anyone who received the name of the Lord was consecrated to be sacrificed to God, giving emphatic meaning to their own irrevocable covenant to serve God ‘with all [their] whole souls’ (Mosiah 2:21) and to be diligent ‘even unto the end of [their] life’ (Mosiah 4:6).[6]

What does God require of the Nephites?  They were required to keep his commandments.  King Benjamin may well have been aware of the Lord’s words to Moses. 

“Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments [HEB decrees or laws], and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety. 
“And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.” (Leviticus 25:18-19). 

Instructing his three sons, he told them, “I would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God, that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which the Lord made unto our fathers” (Mosiah 1:7).

If they do, they will prosper in the land as well as receive the Lord’s blessings.  Preaching to his sons, Lehi told them, “And he hath said that: Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence” (2 Nephi 1:20).

In this dispensation, the Lord told Joseph Smith, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God” (D&C 14:7) and “For verily I say unto you, blessed is he that keepeth my commandments, whether in life or in death; and he that is faithful in tribulation, the reward of the same is greater in the kingdom of heaven” (D&C 58:2).

Benjamin makes clear our relationship with God.

“Thanks, though, are not enough. Benjamin clarifies the people’s true relationship to God in a series of ‘if . . . then’ statements, saying, for example, ‘If ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants’ (Mosiah 2:21). That leads to the proposition about covenant making that Benjamin wishes to elaborate: ‘And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments’ (Mosiah 2:22). Benjamin ends his proposition with a summary statement that he has served his people with a clear conscience. He is then ready to stir them to repent.”[7]


[1] “There Are Many Gifts,” Marvin J. Ashton, October 1987 General Conference
[2] King Benjamin’s Speech in the Context of Ancient Israelite Festivals, Terrence L. Szink & John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 8, 2014.
[3] Kingship. Coronation, and Covenant in Mosiah 1–6, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 8, 2014.
[4] The Use of King Benjamin’s Address by Latter-day Saints, Bruce A. VanOrden, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 8, 2014.
[5] Gifts, Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 8, 2014.
[6] On the Right or Left: Benjamin and the Scapegoat, Terrence L. Szink & John W. Welch, originally published as a FARMS Update in Insights (January 1995): 2, accessed July 8, 2014.
[7] “Know the Covenants of the Lord” – Sermons, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 8, 2014.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Mosiah 2:14-19

14 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—and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.
15 Yet, my brethren, I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.
16 Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
18 Behold, ye have called me your king; and if I, whom ye call your king, do labor to serve you, then ought not ye to labor to serve one another?
19 And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, and yet has been in the service of God, do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
Mosiah 2:14-19

King Benjamin tells the people he had labored to support himself and his family.  He would not tax them for his support.  “King Benjamin was a stickler for equality in word and deed. He labored with his own hands to make it clear that his people should ‘labor to serve one another’ (Mosiah 2:14, 18).”[1] King Benjamin was also following examples found in the Old Testament.  “Moreover the prince shall not take of the people’s inheritance by oppression, to thrust them out of their possession; but he shall give his sons inheritance out of his own possession: that my people be not scattered every man from his possession” (Ezekiel 46:18).

Paul used similar words in his ministry.

“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!
“For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.
“What is my reward then?  Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16-18).

“I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel.
“Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
“I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:33-35).

Then King Benjamin told the people, “all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day.” 

“The references to being ‘witnesses this day’ shows that covenants were not taken lightly and that the day they were entered into was a day to be remembered. To help them remember the covenant, the events of the ceremony were recorded and deposited to be read at later festival occasions when the covenant was to be renewed.”[2]

Witnesses are an essential part of the gospel.  We are told there will be Book of Mormon witnesses (2 Nephi 27:12).  Nephi wrote that God’s word is established by three witnesses (2 Nephi 11:3).  During Christ’s ministry, he called three disciples to serve as witnesses.[3]

Benjamin makes things clear he is not boasting, nor accusing the people of anything.  He told them these things so “that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.”

“Benjamin, who twice pointedly mentions his ‘clear conscience’ (Mosiah 2:15, 17), did not do so to be legalistic, but instead, he wanted to do everything he could to keep his people ‘in wisdom’s paths’ (Mosiah 2:36). But the wisdom’s path he cited is sharply distinguished from the “world and the wisdom thereof” (I Nephi 11:35). Benjamin knew that without revelations, prophets, and sacred records, mankind must settle for ‘preach[ing] up . . . their own wisdom’ (2 Nephi 26:20), which is not much of an offering, brothers and sisters. Only the Holy Ghost can keep us on the strait and narrow path, which is wisdom’s path (see Mosiah 2:36).”[4]

Benjamin has spent his day in the service of his people.  In doing this, he has been in the service of God.  His purpose for telling them this is for them to learn wisdom. 

And we come to one of the most widely quoted scriptures in the Church.  “[W]hen yea are in the service of your fellow beings, year are only in the service of your God.”  Part of the power of this scripture is its simplicity.  Yet, the power and truth of this precept is readily apparent. 

“We have been inspired to do more to help our Master in His work to lift up and to succor the children of our Heavenly Father.

“Our desire to serve others is magnified by our gratitude for what the Savior has done for us. That is why our hearts swell when we hear the words sung ‘Because I have been given much, I too must give.’ King Benjamin, in his great sermon recorded in the Book of Mormon, promised that feeling of gratitude would come (see Mosiah 2:17–19).

“When our faith in Jesus Christ leads us to qualify for the joy of His forgiveness, we feel a desire to serve others for Him.”[5]

If he, their king, labors to serve the people, “ought not ye to labor to serve one another?”  Does he merit thanks for his service to the people?  As he has been in the service of God.  “O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!”


[1] Good People and Bad People, Hugh Nibley, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 6, 2014.
[2] The Covenant Tradition in the Book of Mormon, Blake T. Ostler, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 6, 2014.
[3] Toward an Understanding of the Sermon as an Ancient Temple Text, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 6, 2014.
[4] King Benjamin’s Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 6, 2014.
[5] Trust in That Spirit Which Leadeth to Do Good, President Henry B. Eyring, April 2016 General Conference.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Mosiah 2:8-13

8 And it came to pass that he began to speak to his people from the tower; and they could not all hear his words because of the greatness of the multitude; therefore he caused that the words which he spake should be written and sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice, that they might also receive his words.
9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and 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.
10 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.
11 But I am like as yourselves, subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind; yet I have been chosen by this people, and consecrated by my father, and was suffered by the hand of the Lord that I should be a ruler and a king over this people; and have been kept and preserved by his matchless power, to serve you with all the might, mind and strength which the Lord hath granted unto me.
12 I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you;
13 Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of 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—
Mosiah 2:8-13

The people had pitched their tents and were all together.  It turns out the congregation was too large for them to hear King Benjamin’s words. 

“With the exception of the words of Christ himself, no speech in sacred literature, in our opinion, surpasses that of King Benjamin … [T]his text is a treasure trove of inspiration, wisdom, eloquence, and profound spiritual experience and insight. Little wonder that Mormon saw fit to include this speech as he compiled the most significant Nephite records into the Book of Mormon. 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 among those who were not under the sound of his voice’ (Mosiah 2:8).”[1]

Why were the people gathered, by family, in tents?  Had there been no tents, the congregation most likely would have heard his words. 

“Everyone had a tent, not just those who had come from out of town and needed a place to stay. Furthermore, they all remained in their tents during the speech, surely for ceremonial reasons. If it had not been religiously and ritually important for them to stay in their tents, the crowd could have stood much closer to Benjamin and been able to hear him, obviating the need for written copies of his words to be prepared and circulated (see Mosiah 2:8). Apparently Benjamin considered it more important for the people to remain in their tents than to have them stand within close hearing distance of the speaker.”[2]

To ensure the people heard his words, King Benjamin had them written down for those who could not hear him. “The Book of Mormon recounts that the multitude that assembled to hear King Benjamin was so large that his oral teachings were transcribed and ‘sent forth among those that were not under the sound of his voice’ (Mosiah 2:8). But this could mean either that scribes went about reading Benjamin's teachings or that numerous written texts were made available for private study. I think the former option is the more likely one.”[3]

King Benjamin begins.

He explains he assembled them together to his hear words.  He is not there to give them words of little value.  He wants the people to know that “[a]lthough [he] is speaking, he is clearly acting as the mouthpiece of God.”[4] 

“The general substance of the Book of Mormon itself, of course, encapsulates this rich and special sermon, which is like a sparkling, doctrinal diamond that can be approached and appreciated in so many different ways. Surely King Benjamin kept his promise not to ‘trifle’ with words (Mosiah 2:9), for his was a rich and wholesoul sermon!”[5]

He tells them to open their ears to hear and hearts so they can understand the mysteries of God.  “The opening of the ears and eyes can mark the beginning of a ritual ceremony (as it expressly does in Mosiah 2:9) and can symbolize the commencement of an opening of the mysteries and a deeper understanding of what is truly being said and done.”[6]

“As we prayerfully read and study sacred prophetic word with faith in Christ, with real intent, the Holy Ghost will speak truth to our minds and hearts. May we open our ears to hear, our hearts to understand, and our minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to our view.”[7]

Benjamin shares words similar to those of King Solomon, “O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart” (Proverbs 8:5).  Abinadi would tell King Noah and his priests, “Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise.  Therefore, what teach ye this people?” (Mosiah 12:27).

Benjamin reminds them there is nothing special about him.  He’s a man with aches and pains, just like them.  He’s approaching his death.  He’s no different a person than they are.  The fact he was chosen and consecrated to be their king doesn’t change that fact.

He has “been kept and preserved by [the Lord’s] matchless power” (Mosiah 2:11).  He used his might, mind, and strength given him by the Lord to serve his people.

As he closed the April 2012 General Conference, President Monson echoed these sentiments. “My beloved brothers and sisters, I desire with all my heart to do God’s will and to serve Him and to serve you. Now as we leave this conference, I invoke the blessings of heaven upon each of you. May you who are away from your homes return to them safely. May you ponder the truths you have heard, and may they help you to become even better than you were when conference began two days ago.”[8]

During his tenure as king, he has never sought gold, silver, or any form of richness from his subjects.  This is similar to Paul’s declaration.  “I have coveted no man's silver, or gold, or apparel.  Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me” (Acts 20:33-34).

“In certifying that he had spent his days in the service of his people and had ‘"not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches’ (Mosiah 2:12), Benjamin drew straight from the Deuteronomy text, which limited the power of Israelite kings to multiply unto themselves gold, silver, or horses.”[9] 

He did not confine people in dungeons.  He also outlawed slavery.  He forbade the people from committing murder or plunder, to steal or commit adultery.  He did all he could to prevent the people from committing any manner of sin.  “The breaking of three commandments of the ten—murder, stealing, and adultery—is often cited as the reason for the destruction of the covenant people in the Book of Mormon.”[10]

He taught the people to keep all the commandments of the Lord.  Benjamin established a set of laws in his sermon.

“Early in Book of Mormon history, King Benjamin set forth a five-part legal series prohibiting (1) murder, (2) plunder, (3) theft, (4) adultery, and (5) any manner of wickedness. This five-part list, which first appears in Mosiah 2:13, uniformly reappears seven other times in the Book of Mormon (see Mosiah 29:36; Alma 23:3; 30:10; Helaman 3:14; 6:23; 7:21; and Ether 8:16). Apparently the Nephites viewed Benjamin's set of laws as setting a formulaic precedent.”[11]


[1] King Benjamin's Speech – Introduction, John W. Welch & Stephen D. Ricks, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[2] King Benjamin's Speech in the Context of Ancient Israelite Festivals, Terrence L. Szink & John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[3] Israelite Inscriptions from the Time of Jeremiah and Lehi, Dana M. Pike, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[5] King Benjamin's Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[6] Toward an Understanding of the Sermon [at the Temple] as a Temple Text, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[7] Live according to the Words of the Prophets, Sister Carol F. McConkie, October 2014 General Conference.
[8] As We Close This Conference, President Thomas S. Monson, April 2012 General Conference.
[9] Benjamin's Speech: A Masterful Oration, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[10] Sacred History, Covenants, and the Messiah: The Religious Background of the World of Lehi, David Rolph Seely, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.
[11] Textual Consistency, John W. Welch, Maxwell Institute, accessed July 4, 2014.