Part Two: Mosiah 7-10
If you have not read Part 1 yet, find it here.
In Part 2, we will continue with the Book of Mosiah, which is arguably the most complex book in the entire Book of Mormon in terms of internal consistency.
We find various groups of people interacting in various ways over several generations, as well as several sudden shifts in perspective and even jumps in time between chapters. Many of these events are also referenced later in other books of the Book of Mormon.
We start out with several examples in Mosiah 7. This is an interesting chapter because it describes several details of a story that is later repeated. The second telling gives additional background and context.
5. Mosiah 7:10 and Mosiah 21:19 — Detail about guards
There are many examples of internal consistency in this chapter. Ammon and his group leave Zarahemla and find Limhi and his people in the land of Nephi. They talk about things that we will learn in more detail later as the long side-story is unwound in Mosiah 9-21. One example is from Mosiah 7:10. When Ammon first arrives, Limhi asks
And now, I desire to know the cause whereby ye were so bold as to come near the walls of the city, when I, myself, was with my guards without the gate?
The fact that Limhi was outside the city walls with his guards seems an insignificant detail but is in fact another subtle example of internal consistency. Later in the Book of Mosiah, we learn the background of this separate group of Nephites and their king, Limhi. In Mosiah 19, we learn how they had become slaves to the Lamanites. In Mosiah 21:19, we finally get the explanation for the detail about the kind being outside the city walls with his guards.
And the king himself did not trust his person without the walls of the city, unless he took his guards with him, fearing that he might by some means fall into the hands of the Lamanites.
6. Mosiah 7:14 and Mosiah 21:25-26 — A puzzling statement about Zarahemla
Similar to the previous example, there is a detail in Mosiah 7:14 that doesn’t make much sense until we get the explanation much later.
And now, it came to pass that after Limhi had heard the words of Ammon, he was exceedingly glad, and said: Now, I know of a surety that my brethren who were in the land of Zarahemla are yet alive.
This is odd. King Limhi is happy that the people in Zarahemla are still alive? What caused him to believe they were dead? When Limhi’s grandfather, Zeniff, left Zarahemla, it was a large city where two peoples had merged. The explanation comes in Mosiah 21:25-26.
25 Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness.
26 Nevertheless, they did find a land which had been peopled; yea, a land which was covered with dry bones; yea, a land which had been peopled and which had been destroyed; and they, having supposed it to be the land of Zarahemla, returned to the land of Nephi, having arrived in the borders of the land not many days before the coming of Ammon.
7. Mosiah 7:15 and Mosiah 19:15 — The taxation of Limhi’s people
Here is another detail that is put into context later in the Book of Mosiah. In Mosiah 7:15 we read
For behold, we are in bondage to the Lamanites, and are taxed with a tax which is grievous to be borne.
The story about how they ended up in bondage is given in Mosiah 19. In verse 15 we read
Therefore the Lamanites did spare their lives, and took them captives and carried them back to the land of Nephi, and granted unto them that they might possess the land, under the conditions that they would deliver up king Noah into the hands of the Lamanites, and deliver up their property, even one half of all they possessed, one half of their gold, and their silver, and all their precious things, and thus they should pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites from year to year.
8. Mosiah 7:26-28 and Mosiah 13, Mosiah 15, and Mosiah 17 — A preview of Abinadi
In this chapter, while we are still in the conversation between Ammon and King Limhi, Limhi says:
26 And a prophet of the Lord have they slain; yea, a chosen man of God, who told them of their wickedness and abominations, and prophesied of many things which are to come, yea, even the coming of Christ.
27 And because he said unto them that Christ was the God, the Father of all things (b.2), and said that he should take upon him the image of man (a), and it should be the image after which man was created in the beginning; or in other words, he said that man was created after the image of God, and that God should come down among the children of men (a/b.1), and take upon him flesh and blood, and go forth upon the face of the earth(a)—
28 And now, because he said this, they did put him to death (c)…
Up to this point in the dictation, we’ve learned nothing about Abinadi. It isn’t until a jump in time back to the story of Zeniff and then his son Noah that we get the additional detail about Abinadi and learn that this is the “prophet of the Lord” to whom Limhi is referring. Abinadi is first mentioned by name in Mosiah 12 and is killed in Mosiah 17:7.
Remember that Limhi not only mentioned that a prophet was put to death, he also gave very specific details about what this prophet taught. When we later read Abinadi’s words, we realize that Limhi was in fact quoting him directly:
a: God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth? (Mosiah 13:34)
b.1: God himself shall come down among the children of men (Mosiah 15:1)
b.2: And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth (Mosiah 15:4)
c: For thou hast said that God himself should come down among the children of men; and now, for this cause thou shalt be put to death (Mosiah 17:8)
9. Mosiah 9:1-3 and Omni 1:27-30 — Repossessing the Land of Nephi, a story told twice
In this chapter, the story jumps back in time from Ammon’s discovery of the Nephite in bondage and we get the backstory of how they ended up in that situation, beginning two generations earlier with the story of the departure of Zeniff’s group. We learn, for instance, that Zeniff was not initially the leader of the company leaving Zarahemla to possess the land of Nephi. The first group had a serious contention and their leader (and many others) ended up killed. Zeniff was among the survivors and became the leader of a second group who succeeded in getting back to the land of Nephi.
Since we jump back to a time before the beginning of the Book of Mosiah, we are told this same story including these details in the Book of Omni. Because of the dictation sequence, the Book of Omni came at the very end. Here are the two versions of the story, one from Mosiah 9 at the beginning of the dictation sequence, and one from Omni 1 at the end of the dictation sequence
1 I, Zeniff, having been taught in all the language of the Nephites, and having had a knowledge of the land of Nephi, or of the land of our fathers’ first inheritance, and having been sent as a spy among the Lamanites that I might spy out their forces, that our army might come upon them and destroy them—but when I saw that which was good among them I was desirous that they should not be destroyed.
2 Therefore, I contended with my brethren in the wilderness, for I would that our ruler should make a treaty with them; but he being an austere and a blood-thirsty man commanded that I should be slain; but I was rescued by the shedding of much blood; for father fought against father, and brother against brother, until the greater number of our army was destroyed in the wilderness; and we returned, those of us that were spared, to the land of Zarahemla, to relate that tale to their wives and their children.
3 And yet, I being over-zealous to inherit the land of our fathers, collected as many as were desirous to go up to possess the land, and started again on our journey into the wilderness to go up to the land (Mosiah 9)
27 And now I would speak somewhat concerning a certain number who went up into the wilderness to return to the land of Nephi; for there was a large number who were desirous to possess the land of their inheritance.
28 Wherefore, they went up into the wilderness. And their leader being a strong and mighty man, and a stiffnecked man, wherefore he caused a contention among them; and they were all slain, save fifty, in the wilderness, and they returned again to the land of Zarahemla.
29 And it came to pass that they also took others to a considerable number, and took their journey again into the wilderness.
30 And I, Amaleki, had a brother, who also went with them; and I have not since known concerning them… (Omni 1)
In this example we find a story told twice, first from the perspective of the leader of the second group, and then from the perspective of the brother of a member of the second expedition, separated by about 230 chapters. The key details remain consistent, although each telling of the story contains unique details, as you might expect given the difference in perspectives.
10. Mosiah 10:12-16 and numerous verses in 1 and 2 Nephi — Laman and Lemuel’s grievances
This example is pretty unique, and highlights how nonchalant many examples of internal consistency are — they are present but draw no attention to themselves. In Mosiah 10, Zeniff offers a brief overview of the “traditions of [the Lamanites’] fathers,” including thirteen specific grievances. Below you will find verses 12-16 verbatim, formatted to separate the 13 grievances into bullet points.
12 They were a wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, believing in the tradition of their fathers, which is this—
- Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers (a),
- and that they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren (b),
- and they were also wronged while crossing the sea (c);
13 And again, that
- they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance, after they had crossed the sea (d),
- and all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord—therefore he was favored of the Lord (e),
- for the Lord heard his prayers and answered them (f),
- and he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness (g).
14 And his brethren were wroth with him
- because they understood not the dealings of the Lord (h);
- they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord (i).
15 And again,
- they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands (j);
- and they sought to kill him (k).
16 And again, they were wroth with him
- because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him (l),
- and took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, for they said that he robbed them (m).
There are certainly a few other parts of the Book of Mormon which touch on a few of these grievances, but it seems Zeniff gave the most comprehensive list. It isn’t until the latter part of the dictation sequence that we get to the small plates, where the story of the founding family is told, and we see each of these grievances play out in detail. Below are the corroborating verses from Nephi’s record for each item:
a: Mosiah 10:12 Believing that they were driven out of the land of Jerusalem because of the iniquities of their fathers
1 Nephi 17:22 And we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people…and our father hath judged them, and hath led us away because we would hearken unto his words;
b: Mosiah 10:12 …they were wronged in the wilderness by their brethren
1 Nephi 17:20 And thou art like unto our father, led away by the foolish imaginations of his heart; yea, he hath led us out of the land of Jerusalem, and we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years;
c: Mosiah 10:12 …they were also wronged while crossing the sea
1 Nephi 18:10 And I, Nephi, began to fear exceedingly lest the Lord should be angry with us, and smite us because of our iniquity, that we should be swallowed up in the depths of the sea; wherefore, I, Nephi, began to speak to them with much soberness; but behold they were angry with me, saying: We will not that our younger brother shall be a ruler over us.
d: Mosiah 10:12 …they were wronged while in the land of their first inheritance
2 Nephi 5:3 Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words.
e: Mosiah 10:13 …and all this because that Nephi was more faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord—therefore he was favored of the Lord
1 Nephi 3:5 And now, behold thy brothers murmur, saying it is a hard thing which I have required of them; but behold I have not required it of them, but it is a commandment of the Lord. 6 Therefore go, my son, and thou shalt be favored of the Lord,
f: Mosiah 10:13 …the Lord heard his prayers and answered them
1 Nephi 2:16 “…I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father;”
g: Mosiah 10:13…he took the lead of their journey in the wilderness.
1 Nephi 16:30 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did go forth up into the top of the mountain, according to the directions which were given upon the ball. 31 And it came to pass that I did slay wild beasts, insomuch that I did obtain food for our families.
h: Mosiah 10:14 …his brethren were wroth with him because they understood not the dealings of the Lord
1 Nephi 2:12 …they did murmur because they knew not the dealings of that God who had created them.
i: Mosiah 10:14 …they were also wroth with him upon the waters because they hardened their hearts against the Lord.
1 Nephi 18:19 And Jacob and Joseph also, being young…were grieved because of the afflictions of their mother; and also my wife with her tears and prayers, and also my children, did not soften the hearts of my brethren that they would loose me. 20 And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts;
j: Mosiah 10:15 …they were wroth with him when they had arrived in the promised land, because they said that he had taken the ruling of the people out of their hands;
2 Nephi 5:3 Yea, they did murmur against me, saying: Our younger brother thinks to rule over us; and we have had much trial because of him; wherefore, now let us slay him, that we may not be afflicted more because of his words. For behold, we will not have him to be our ruler; for it belongs unto us, who are the elder brethren, to rule over this people.
k: Mosiah 10:15 …they sought to kill him
2 Nephi 5:4 …it sufficeth me to say, that they did seek to take away my life.
l: Mosiah 10:16 …they were wroth with him because he departed into the wilderness as the Lord had commanded him
2 Nephi 5:5 And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness,
m: Mosiah 10:16 …they said that he robbed them.
2 Nephi 5:7 And we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days.
This item results in many arcs because of all the references to various chapters in 1 and 2 Nephi – chapters that had not yet been dictated. This is a unique example because it demonstrates that Joseph Smith would have needed to have a very tight understanding of the “plot” of 1 and 2 Nephi long before he reached that point in the dictation. You might also notice that the gap between Mosiah 10 and 1 and 2 Nephi is quite large, and also that these 13 details are all covered specifically in 1 and 2 Nephi, but not all at once in a cluster of verses. Rather, they are spread out throughout the narrative.
If Joseph Smith memorized these details and then held them in his memory for such a long time, this was truly a remarkable accomplishment!
End of Part 2
The updated arc graph with these examples included is shown below. As you can see the degree of complexity in the Book of Mosiah is becoming clear. In the next part, we’ll continue to demonstrate examples of internal consistency in Mosiah.
Jeff Markham has been an avid student of the Book of Mormon his entire life. He recently joined the FairMormon group. He has practiced radiology in the Dallas, Texas area since 2011, having obtained his undergraduate education at Brigham Young University (B.S. in 2000), a medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, VA (M.D. 2005), and post-graduate training in diagnostic radiology and neuroradiology at University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, TX. He served as a full-time missionary in the Germany Hamburg Mission from 1996-1998. His favorite callings include teaching primary and early morning seminary. He lives in the Dallas area with his wife and children. He blogs at BookofMormonNotes.com.