Category:Old Testament/Elements in the Book of Mormon

Old Testament elements in the Book of Mormon

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Bible

Ancient aspects of Book of Mormon warfare: Differences from Bible and Joseph's era

The wars and battles described in the Book of Mormon include some of the most detailed narratives of the book. Those accounts provide us with an excellent chance to examine how consistent and complex the text is. Joseph Smith lived in an age of warfare with guns, yet the Book of Mormon displays patterns of warfare that made sense only before gunpowder was used. This can be seen in both the general patterns and in the tiny details of the text. Descriptions of weapons and tactics in the Book of Mormon are definitely ancient. Furthermore, the warfare in the Book of Mormon differs from what we read about in the Bible. It differs in the same way that war in ancient Mesoamerica (Mexico and northern Central America) differed from biblical warfare.[1]

Stealing the daughters of the Lamanites

A minor story in the Book of Mormon provides an example of how complex the task of reading the book can be. It also illustrates how much richer our understanding can be when we remember that the Book of Mormon is an ancient record with connections to other ancient records, particularly the Old Testament. In the book of Mosiah, a band of wicked priests hid in the wilderness and kidnapped some young women to be their wives (see 20:1-5). This story can be read as an adventure tale. If looked at carefully, however, it shows the kind of connections between the Book of Mormon and the Old Testament that demonstrate that the Book of Mormon is an ancient book.

The story of kidnapping by the wicked priests is a minor part of the record of the people of Zeniff. When King Noah, ruler over the Zeniffites, rejected the prophet Abinadi's message and had him killed, the priest Alma and his followers separated from the rest of the people. Soon thereafter, the Lamanites attacked the people of Zeniff. As they fled from the Lamanites, King Noah commanded them to abandon their families. Instead, they executed Noah and attempted to kill his priests (see Mosiah 17-19). These priests escaped into the wilderness, led by Amulon, one of their number, and later kidnapped some daughters of the Lamanites to be their wives. Angered by the kidnapping and assuming the Zeniffites were guilty, the Lamanites attacked them. Peace was restored when the Lamanites learned who the real kidnappers were (see Mosiah 20).

A Biblical Parallel

This story of the abduction of young Lamanite women is similar to a story in the Bible in which men from the tribe of Benjamin kidnap daughters of Israel at Shiloh. The end of the book of Judges contains three stories about the tribe of Benjamin. In the first, Benjaminites abused and murdered a Levite concubine (see Judges 20). In the second, the other eleven tribes gathered to punish the offenders, and a civil war resulted (see Judges 19). The third story tells of the kidnapping (see Judges 21)....

The Book of Mormon story of the stealing of the Lamanite daughters cannot be accounted for by the simplistic claim that it was just copied from the Bible. The Book of Mormon makes sophisticated use of the story to make its own point. Critics of the Book of Mormon believe that the author of the text used the earlier story from Judges, and I agree. But unlike them, I believe that the parallel enhances the book and reveals it to be an ancient document rather than a modern imitation.—(Click here to continue)[2]

Ten Commandments and Jacob

In a lecture delivered at Brigham Young University in 1985, Professor William M. Brinner of the University of California at Berkeley analyzed two passages in the Qur'an that seem to contain Islamic versions of the "Ten Commandments." These are not copies of the biblical Decalogue, Brinner argued, although there are some resemblances that have led others to belittle the Qur'an as a poor copy of the Bible. Each religion, Brinner suggested, has its own summary of its most cherished principles, stated in terms relevant to its own cultural setting.

Similar observations might be made regarding ten statements made by Jacob in 2 Nephi 9:27-38. There Jacob summarizes ten essential principles and rules of Nephite religion. They may be paraphrased as follows:

  1. Wo unto them who have God's law and commandments, who transgress them because they are learned and think they are wise. They hearken not unto the counsel of God, supposing they know of themselves. Therefore, their wisdom is foolishness, and they shall perish (vv. 9:27-29).
  2. Wo unto the rich. Because they are rich, they despise the poor. Their treasure is their God, and their treasure shall perish with them (v. 9:30).
  3. Wo unto the deaf who will not hear, for they shall perish (v. 9:31).
  4. Wo unto the blind who will not see, for they shall perish also (v. 9:32).
  5. Wo unto the uncircumcised of heart, for a knowledge of their iniquities shall smite them at the last day (v. 9:33).
  6. Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell (v. 9:34).
  7. Wo unto the murderer who deliberately kills, for he shall die (v. 9:35).
  8. Wo unto them who commit whoredoms, for they shall be thrust down to hell (v. 9:36).
  9. Wo unto those who worship idols, for the devil of all devils delights in them (v. 9:37).
  10. Wo unto all those who die in their sins, for they shall return to God, behold his face, and remain in their sins (v. 9:38).
Jacob apparently had the Decalogue of Deuteronomy 5: or Exodus 20: in mind when he wrote these words. The prohibitions against worshiping images, committing murder or adultery, and bearing false witness (see Exodus 20:4-6,13-14,16) are clearly present in Jacob's sixth through ninth woes. Jacob's summary in these ten "woes" is much more than a thoughtless copy of the biblical ideals. Whereas the Decalogue gave the law, Jacob goes one step further by stressing the consequences of breaking the law.[3]

Biblical kingship elements compared to those in the Book of Mormon[4]

Elements Exodus 19:3b–8 Exodus 20–24 Deuteronomy Joshua 24 Mosiah 1–6
Preamble Exodus 19:3 Exodus 20:1 Deuteronomy 1:1-5 Joshua 24:1–2 Mosiah 1:12:9
Review of God's Relations with Israel Exodus 19:4 Exodus 20:2 Deuteronomy 1:6 3:29 Joshua 24:2–13,16-18 Mosiah 2:9–21,23–24,25–30
Terms of the Covenant Exodus 19:5–6 Exodus 20:3–23 Deuteronomy 4:26: Joshua 24:14,18,23 Mosiah 2:22,24,31–41;

Mosiah 4:6–30

Formal Witness Exodus 19:8 Exodus 24:3 Joshua 24:16,19,21–23 Mosiah 5:2–8
Blessings and Curses Exodus 23:20-33 Deuteronomy 27:928:68 Joshua 24:19–20 Mosiah 5:9–15 (3:24–27)
Reciting and Depositing of the Covenant Exodus 19:7 Exodus 24:4–8 Deuteronomy 27:1–8; 31:9,24–26 Joshua 24:25–27 (Mosiah 2:8-9) Mosiah 6:1–3,6


  1. William J. Hamblin, "Warfare in the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 22.
  2. Alan Goff, "The Stealing of the Daughters of the Lamanites," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 7.
  3. John W. Welch, "Jacob's Ten Commandments," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 18, references silently removed—consult original for citations.
  4. Stephen D. Ricks, "King, Coronation, and Covenant in Mosiah 1–6," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Table 1, Chapter 19.