Source:Reexploring the Book of Mormon:Ch:17:3:Kings and temples in the ancient world and Book of Mormon

Kings and temples in the ancient world and Book of Mormon

Kings and temples in the ancient world and Book of Mormon

On such occasions in antiquity new kings would typically (1) cite their divine calling, (2) issue new laws, (3) ordain officers, (4) erect monuments, and (5) enter into a new legal order by way of covenant with a ritually prepared community.3 Similar elements were present on several occasions in the Book of Mormon. Consider Nephi's account of the beginning of his reign:

  1. Nephi established his legitimacy as ruler and teacher by citing the earlier promise given to him by the Lord that God had chosen him to be a ruler (see 2 Nephi 5:19; quoting 1 Nephi 2:22).
  2. A new law was then issued that no Nephite should intermarry with the Lamanites. The penalty for anyone who might break this law was affliction with a curse (see 2 Nephi 5:23). This New World prohibition compares to the similar law given to the Israelites at the time of their conquest in the Old World: it prohibited them from intermarrying with the Canaanites (see Deuteronomy 7:3-4).
  3. Nephi consecrated Jacob and Joseph to be priests and teachers (see 2 Nephi 5:26). An essential part of the accession of each new ruler was the installation (or reappointment) of priests and administrators to rule under the new king (see also Mosiah 6:3; 3 Nephi 11:21-22).
  4. God next instructed Nephi to make a new set of plates (see 2 Nephi 5:30). The sequence of events here suggests that the Small Plates of Nephi were made in connection with the coronation of Nephi. Accordingly, they served as the "tablets of the law," or the pillar or stele that were traditionally set up as a monument to the creation of the new king's order. Nephi wrote on these plates things that were "good in [God's] sight, for the profit of [his] people" (2 Nephi 5:30). In addition to the religious purposes that these plates primarily served, they also acted as a founding constitutional and political document, as has been discussed by Noel Reynolds.4
  5. Finally, the new legal order was traditionally submitted by way of covenant to a "ritually prepared community." 5 Significantly, Jacob's ensuing speech is a covenant speech: "I have read these things that ye might know concerning the covenants of the Lord" (2 Nephi 9:1). Jacob's purpose was to purify the people, to shake his garments of all iniquities and have his people turn away from sin (see 2 Nephi 9:44-45), to motivate them to act for themselves—"to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life" (2 Nephi 10:23). His words compare closely with the covenant text of Joshua 24, where the Israelites were given the same choice as they established their new religious and social order under Joshua.[1]


  1. John M. Lundquist and John W. Welch, "Kingship and Temple in 2 Nephi 5–10," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 17 references silently removed—consult original for citations.