Mosiah 1 The beginning of Mormon's abridgement
"Note that the main story in the book of Mosiah is told in the third person rather than in the first person as was the custom in the earlier books of the Book of Mormon. The reason for this is that someone else is now telling the story, and that "someone else" is Mormon. With the beginning of the book of Mosiah we start our study of Mormon's abridgment of various books that had been written on the large plates of Nephi. (3 Nephi 5:8-12.) The book of Mosiah and the five books that follow -- Alma, Helaman, 3 Nephi, 4 Nephi, and Mormon -- were all abridged or condensed by Mormon from the large plates of Nephi, and these abridged versions were written by Mormon on the plates that bear his name, the plates of Mormon. These are the same plates that were given to Joseph Smith by the angel Moroni." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.173)
Mosiah 1:1 there was no more contention in all the land...all the remainder of his days
Peace does not come to the Nephites through idle good luck. Benjamin has had to fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban (WoM 1:13) in defending his people. More importantly, Benjamin had cleansed the inner vessel by teaching the people and calling them to repentance. He did this with the help of many assistants, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people (WoM 1:17). Certainly, the peace that followed Benjamin's military successes was more a product of his spiritual leadership that his military bravado. In the Nephite world, the only thing which keeps the Lamanites from attacking is righteous living. Had Benjamin relied only on the strength of his own arm, without calling the people to repentance, then he would have fought the Lamanites all the remainder of his days.
'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' (Mosiah 29:13).
Mosiah 1:2 three sons...taught in all the language of his fathers
As Nephi was taught, so did Benjamin make sure his three sons were taught in all the language of his fathers. This included the reformed Egyptian used among the Nephites. How else could his son, Mosiah, continue the record, teach the scriptures to the people, and pass on this special language?
Neal A. Maxwell
"King Benjamin's tutorial efforts not only included encouraging his sons, but also teaching them in the language of his fathers, as well as how to appreciate and search sacred records. And many more things did king Benjamin teach his sons, which are not written in this book (v. 8)-many more things-intriguing to think about, isn't it?
"In contrast to Benjamin's effective fatherhood, one cannot help but remember Eli whose sons knew not the Lord and in their iniquity, Eli restrained them not (1 Sam 3:13). With no desire to be judgmental whatsoever, one ponders those comparative implications." (Farms Symposia Audiotape, "Benjamin's Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship")
Mosiah 1:3-5 were it not for these plates...we must have suffered in ignorance
As Benjamin underscores the importance of preserving sacred scripture, the words of the Spirit as given to Nephi ring true. As Nephi struggled with the Spirit's promptings to take the life of Laban in order to obtain the plates, the Spirit whispered, Behold the Lord slayeth the wicked to bring forth his righteous purposes. It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief (1 Ne 4:13). Benjamin is now confirming what the Spirit had told Nephi. In the 470 years since Nephi obtained the brass plates, the Nephites would have certainly fallen into iniquity and ignorance, as had the Mulekites, without the precious record of the Old Testament. This stabilizing force had preserved the language, the doctrine, the history, the traditions, and the culture of the Jews. It is too bad that the saints of the latter-days don't always see the same value in that historic record.
Mosiah 1:3 the mysteries of God
"The term mysteries of God as used in the Book of Mormon denotes the saving principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They are termed mysteries because they are unavailable to the natural man, not because they are mysterious or difficult to understand. They must be revealed from God through faith and obedience. They are designed to lead God's children to eternal life.
"'A mystery is a truth that cannot be known except through divine revelation-a sacred secret. In the days of Paul the important truth that Gentiles were to be admitted to the Kingdom of God without observing the Law of Moses was a 'mystery' (Eph. 1:9-11; Col. 1:25-27). In our day such great truths as those pertaining to the restoration of the Priesthood, the work for the dead, and the re-establishment of the Church are 'mysteries,' because they could not have been discovered except by revelation.' (Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, The Doctrine and Covenants Commentary, p. 141)
"It was their knowledge of the mysteries of God that qualified Nephi to write his record and King Benjamin to preach his sermon. The material between Mosiah 2:9 and 5:15 constitutes a discussion of some of the most important mysteries of God." (Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981, p. 154)
Neal A. Maxwell
"As we see from the content of Benjamin's sermon, the so-called mysteries referred to by King Benjamin are actually the plain but precious things required for salvation and for exaltation: (quotes Mosiah 1:5)." (John W. Welch, and Stephen D. Ricks, King Benjamin's Speech: Made Simple, p. 6)
Mosiah 1:4 having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings
"The statement that 'Lehi ... having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read' the engravings on the brass plates of Laban quite clearly indicates these plates were written in the Egyptian language. (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.173)
Mosiah 1:6 these sayings are true, and also...these records are true
In the wise teaching style of Benjamin, he instructs his sons, then testifies of their truthfulness. This is his witness that his words and the scriptures are the truth. Benjamin's testimony becomes part of the Book of Mormon's internal testimony that it is the truth. Of such, Hugh Nibley comments:
"Some, impressed by the sheer mass and charge of the Book of Mormon, are now asking why it can't be seriously and respectfully treated as a myth. Lots of myths are today coming in for the most reverential treatment. But the book disdains such subterfuge, and never tires of reminding us that it is not myth but history and must stand or fall as such: 'I would that ye should remember that these sayings are true, and also that these records are true' (Mosiah 1:6). 'We know our record to be true, for behold, it is a just man who did keep the record' (3 Nephi 8:1). There may be mistakes in the record (3 Nephi 8:2), but there is no fraud or fiction: 'And whoso receiveth this record, and shall not condemn it because of the imperfections which are in it, the same shall know of greater things' (Mormon 8:12). For 'if there be faults they be the faults of man. But behold we know no fault, . . . therefore, he that condemneth, let him be aware' (Mormon 8:17). To call this record a myth is to condemn it as effectively as by calling it a fraud. We are going to approach the Book of Mormon as real history, in hopes that some reader may pick up a useful impression here or there." (Since Cumorah, Preface xiv-xv)
Mosiah 1:7 remember to search them (the scriptures) diligently
Scriptures are of little value unless they are searched. They are useful if they are "read," but the term "search" implies something totally different. To "search" is to try to understand, to look for personal meaning, to understand historical context, to reference other sources, to find resolution to conflicts, and to internalize principles. The Lord has never commanded the saints to "read" the scriptures; He always commands them to "search" them: search them diligently that ye may profit, and search these things diligently, for great are the words of Isaiah (3 Ne 23:1). The result of diligent searching is that one becomes as the sons of Mosiah who had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth (Alma 17:2).
Merrill J. Bateman
"A casual, infrequent exposure to the scriptures will generally not open the door to the whisperings of the Spirit or provide insights...There are certain blessings obtained when one searches the scriptures. As a person studies the words of the Lord and obeys them, he or she draws closer to the Savior and obtains a greater desire to live a righteous life. The power to resist temptation increases, and spiritual weaknesses are overcome. Spiritual wounds are healed....According to the vision (of the tree of life), the only way to reach the tree and become a permanent partaker of the fruit was to 'continually [hold] fast' to the iron rod (1 Ne 8:30)...President Benson, in the April 1986 general conference, expressed these thoughts: 'However diligent we may be in other areas, certain blessings are to be found only in the scriptures, only in coming to the word of the Lord and holding fast to it as we make our way through the mists of darkness to the tree of life.'" (Ensign, May 1986, p. 82, as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.30)
"'Search the scriptures,' was the command of Jesus, 'for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they that testify of me.' (John 5:39.) I would not only search the scriptures that we now have, but I would search also every revelation that God has given, does give, or will give for the guidance and direction of his people, and then I would reverence the Giver, and those also whom he makes use of as his honored instruments to promulgate and make known those principles; and I would seek to be governed by the principles that are contained in that sacred word." (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 371, February 1, 1874).
"The things of God are of deep import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them out" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 137).
Mosiah 1:10 on the morrow I shall proclaim...that thou art a king
Neal A. Maxwell
"...though the database is small, Benjamin was a special father. Significantly, his own disinterest in status and power was apparently successfully transmitted to his sons. They were neither power-hungry, nor did they vie with one other for ascendancy, as so often happens in the process of succession. Their father-king had set the example for those whom he affectionately addressed as, O my sons (v. 6). His successor-son even tilled the soil just as his father had done, signaling to the people that they were not required to sustain him either. Think, therefore, upon his effectiveness as a father." (Farms Symposia Audiotape, "Benjamin's Sermon: A Manual for Discipleship")
Mosiah 1:11-12 I shall give this people a name...that never shall be blotted out
Gordon B. Hinckley
"As his followers, we cannot do a mean or shoddy or ungracious thing without tarnishing his image. Nor can we do a good and gracious and generous act without burnishing more brightly the symbol of him whose name we have taken upon ourselves." (Be thou an Example, p. 90 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 200)
The name that Benjamin gives his people is the name of Christ. They are to take upon them His name (Mosiah 5:8). He makes it clear that their receipt of this name is specifically tied to the covenant they made after hearing his sermon. The name is given to all you that have entered into the covenant with God that you should be obedient unto the end of your lives (Mosiah 5:8). At the most fundamental level, it is clear that every newly baptized member of the Church effectively does the same thing by taking upon them the name of Christ. However, the relationship between covenant making and receiving a new name has a deeper meaning to endowed members of the Church. This is the pattern being established by Benjamin. It is reminiscent of other scriptures which teach of the same principle:
'To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.' (Rev 2:17)
'the white stone mentioned in Revelation 2:17, will become a Urim and Thummim to each individual who receives one, whereby things pertaining to a higher of order of kingdoms will be made known;
And a white stone is given to each of those who come into the celestial kingdom, whereon is a new name written, which no man knoweth save he that receiveth it. The new name is the key word.' (DC 130:10-11)
Mosiah 1:13 if this highly favored people...should fall into transgression...they (will) become weak
Mormon includes this statement as a witness of its fulfillment. He laments the loss of spiritual power among his people, the strength of the Lord was not with us; yea, we were left to ourselves, that the Spirit of the lord did not abide in us; therefore we had become weak like unto our brethren (Mormon 2:26). Mormon's response was as follows, my heart did sorrow because of this the great calamity of my people, because of their wickedness and their abominations (Mormon 2:27). See also Hel 4:24.
Mosiah 1:16 he also gave him charge concerning the records
This verse is interesting because it catalogs what was transferred from one prophet to another. It included all the records, the plates of brass, the plates of Nephi (both large and small), the sword of Laban, and the Liahona. These were all kept together, presumably transferred as a group to every prophet who was subsequently given charge of them. The writings of Mormon imply that there were a lot of records by the time he received charge of these things, see Mormon 1:3-4. This truth is shown more clearly in the quote of Brigham Young:
"Oliver Cowdery went with the Prophet Joseph when he deposited these plates... When Joseph got the plates, the angel instructed him to carry them back to the hill Cumorah, which he did. Oliver says that when Joseph and Oliver went there, the hill opened, and they walked into a cave, in which there was a large and spacious room. He says he did not think, at the time, whether they had the light of the sun or artificial light; but that it was just as light as day. They laid the plates on a table; it was a large table that stood in the room. Under this table there was a pile of plates as much as two feet high, and there were altogether in this room more plates than probably many wagon loads; they were piled up in the corners and along the walls. The first time they went there the sword of Laban hung upon the wall; but when they went again it had been taken down and laid upon the table across the gold plates; it was unsheathed, and on it was written these words: 'This sword will never be sheathed again until the kingdoms of this world become the kingdom of our God and his Christ.'" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 19, p. 40, emphasis added)
Mosiah 1:17 as they were unfaithful they did not prosper nor progress in their journey
The only story we get from Nephi which provides an example of this phenomenon is the one about their trials on the ship. Yet, here Benjamin says that they were smitten with famine and sore afflictions. Nephi doesn't go into any details about a specific famine on their journey. The bow breaking incident hardly qualifies as a famine. Therefore, we learn from Benjamin that the family of Lehi was punished with famine for their disobedience and faithlessness. Furthermore, they did not prosper nor progress in their journey because they could not get the Liahona to work. This must have happened on more than one occasion.
It will be remembered that it took Lehi's family eight years (1 Ne 17:4-5) to get from Jerusalem to the southeastern tip of Arabia (the presumed location of Bountiful). Such a distance could easily be traveled in less than eight years. It seems that the family was punished with a longer journey because of their own disobedience. Although on a smaller scale, it seems that the family of Lehi had an experience in Arabia akin to the experience of the children of Israel wandering in Sinai. Remember when Lehi beheld the things which were written on the ball, he did fear and tremble exceedingly, and also my brethren and the sons of Ishmael and our wives (1 Ne 16:27). We don't know what was written, but the news was not good. Note also the words of Alma as he spoke of Lehi's family,
'They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions' (Alma 37:41-42).
The point is not to be critical of Lehi's family but to recognize the pattern-that obedience leads one in a straight course towards one's destination. As Alma said, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise (Alma 37:45). Disobedience only brings pain, sore afflictions, and unnecessary diversions in the journey of life.
Mosiah 1:18 go up to the temple
"This is the first reference to a temple in the land of Zarahemla. The building of a temple mentioned earlier in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 5:16) refers to the temple in the land of Nephi. Our present Book of Mormon does not provide any additional information concerning when or by whom this temple in Zarahemla was constructed." (Daniel Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon, p.173)
Just as the temple was the center-place of spirituality under the Law of Moses, the Nephites naturally gathered at the temple to hear the words of their beloved king. The temple serves a similar purpose for us. We can go to our spiritual center-place to learn the word and will of the Lord in a very personal way.
"In June 1994, President Howard W. Hunter encouraged members to 'establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants,' and to 'go not only for our kindred dead, but let us also go for the personal blessing of temple worship.' (Church News, "Temple Moments: Incomprehensible Joy", 02/15/97)