Kingship. Coronation, and Covenant in Mosiah 1–6
The first six chapters of Mosiah contain King Benjamin’s farewell address—one of the most memorable sermons on record. These chapters also portray for us the succession of Mosiah2 to the Nephite throne. Many features of this coronation ceremony reflect ancient Israelite culture. First is the significance of the office of king. Second is the coronation ceremony for the new king—the details of which have parallels in both Israel and other ancient Near Eastern societies and even in other parts of the world. Third, the order of events reported in these chapters reflects the “treaty/covenant” pattern well-known in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East. Finally, an interrelated cluster of concepts in Israelite religion connects the themes of rising from the dust, enthronement, kingship, and resurrection. My discussion of these four sets of features will show how faithfully the Book of Mormon reflects these Old World practices and beliefs.
In the ancient view of God’s conferral of governmental power upon the king, the traditional code of royalty—which stipulates that the monarch receive sacred names and powers—allows him to stand in the place of God before his people. That ceremony “contained in particular the ancient titles and sovereign rights and duties conferred on Pharaoh by the god, in brief, the king’s authority to rule as the surrogate of the god.”4 In the case of Benjamin’s speech, a similar ideology is to an extent operational: Benjamin conferred upon Mosiah, and also upon the people, a new name (see Mosiah 5:8); he entrusted Mosiah with other insignia of his royal office (see Mosiah 1:15–16), and he mentioned Mosiah’s right and duty to deliver to his people the commandments of God and to lead them in the ways of peace and well-being (see Mosiah 2:31; see also 5:5).
If the king represented the person of God, a fortiori, he also embodied the will and word of God or, in other words, the law of God. According to Moshe Weinfeld, “law is embodied in the person of the king. The king is ‘the living law.'”5 Similarly, a strong element in Benjamin’s discourse is his role as an example. At several important junctures in the speech, Benjamin cites his own behavior or function as a role model to the people, thus embodying the principles of divine righteousness that were incumbent upon his people to obey. For example, if Benjamin had labored to serve other people, then how much more should they do likewise (see Mosiah 2:18).
The role of king in Hebrew times
was based on two covenants which defined the duties of the crown towards God and towards the people. The king’s relationship to the divinity was conceived as that of a vassal towards his overlord. He was installed in the office by divine election, on condition that he remain loyal to God and keep his laws (II Sam. xxiii 5; Ps. cxxxii 12). The other covenant defined the king’s obligations towards the nation and fulfilled the function of a modern constitution (II Sam. iii 21, v 3; II Chron. xxiii 3). The various conditions were probably recited at the accession to the throne.6
In the case of Benjamin’s and Mosiah’s kingship, we see clearly that they both stood between God and the people (see Mosiah 2:31; 5:5) and that the king was one who acted as a vassal or steward over God’s people (see Mosiah 1:10) and who accepted the king’s commands by way of covenant (see Mosiah 5:5).
In Israel, kingship came to be a vital element of the society’s organization through the four hundred years leading up to Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem. In the American promised land, among the Nephites, Lamanites, and people of Zarahemla, kings were again an essential part of political life for many centuries. Mosiah 1–6 gives us some of the clearest information on the ideals of royal government in the Book of Mormon. For example, as a practical matter, the ancient king had two fundamental obligations: namely, to maintain peace and to establish justice. “Clearly, the function of the king was twofold: to ensure the safety of his people by ‘force of arms’ against [the] internal threat of rebellion or external threat of invasion and to ensure the ‘well-being’ of the nation through the establishment of justice. This dual function of the king as both warrior and judge is evident throughout the ancient Near East.”7 These two roles transcended the particular form of rulership in Israel or in the ancient world and endured from era to era: Whether an early judge or a later monarch in Israel, the ruler “was the leader in the Holy War chosen by Yahweh. He was also the man who had been given wisdom to act as a Judge of the people: to see that honesty flourishes in the kingdom.”8 As Falk has observed, the Hebrew king was responsible for the “functions of judicial and political administration”; he acted as judge, and was also “called upon to fulfill a political task, in the course of which he also took upon himself the religious functions”; and he was “commissioned by God to administer justice.”9 Benjamin clearly filled these perennial roles: as warrior, he had led the Nephites into victorious battle against invading troops and quelled rebellion in his own lands (see Words of Mormon 1:12–16); as judge, it is evident that he had established justice and enforced the laws against slavery, murder, theft, adultery, and “any manner of wickedness” (Mosiah 2:13); and as religious leader, he received revelation from God and inspired his people in righteousness.
Especially prominent in the ancient meaning of kingship was the king’s domestic role as the one in society primarily responsible for the internal peace, fairness, and equity within his realm. This royal function stands out in several Old Testament texts. For example, as Keith Whitelam remarks on Psalm 72: “The whole psalm is a testimony to the importance of the ideal of monarchical judicial administration which guarantees both the cosmic harmony, fertility and prosperity of the nation.”10 Thus to Benjamin is attributed primary credit for the condition of peace in his land: “by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul,” he and his prophets were able to “establish peace in the land” (Words of Mormon 1:18).
Whitelam identifies three additional points as being common to the ancient Near Eastern and Israelite royal ideologies: (1) the king’s administration of justice was seen as essential for cosmic harmony; (2) this ensured the fertility and prosperity of the nation; and (3) the ideal king was often concerned with providing for the needs of the poor and the underprivileged.11 While Benjamin recognizes these characteristics of kingship, he attributes them primarily to God and is only vicariously involved in caring for the poor. 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). Likewise, Benjamin affirms that the eternal well-being of mankind is solely contingent on the atonement of Jesus Christ and the omnipotent goodness of God—not on the king’s power as ruler (see Mosiah 3:18; 4:8–11). It is on the third point that Benjamin focuses his personal emphasis: just as God is kind and generous to all individuals who are impoverished beggars in the sight of God (see Mosiah 4:21), so too Benjamin expresses deep concern and takes specific steps to see that the poor and the underprivileged in his kingdom are cared and provided for (see Mosiah 4:14, 22–23).
In Israel, the eldest son of the king usually became the next ruler, although the king was not obligated to choose him if he believed God desired otherwise. Jehoshaphat gave the kingdom to Jehoram “because he was the firstborn” (2 Chronicles 21:3). However, at a later time Joachaz succeeded Josiah even though Joachaz had an older brother (see 2 Kings 23:31, 36). The Book of Mormon does not say whether Mosiah was Benjamin’s firstborn son, though this was probably the case since his name is given first in the list of names of Benjamin’s sons (see Mosiah 1:2).
In Israel, both Solomon and Jotham became king while their fathers were still alive, because their fathers were old or ill (see 1 Kings 1:32–40; 2:1–10; 2 Kings 15:5). This is also apparently why Benjamin installed Mosiah when he did: “[Benjamin] waxed old, and he saw that he must very soon go the way of all the earth; therefore, he thought it expedient that he should confer the kingdom upon one of his sons” (Mosiah 1:9). After he “had consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people, . . . king Benjamin lived three years and he died” (Mosiah 6:3, 5).
On the other hand, some people in Israel objected to kingship categorically on the ground that God alone was to rule over his people. For this reason, Gideon refused the invitation to become a hereditary monarch in Israel: “And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the Lord shall rule over you” (Judges 8:23).
Others considered kingship permissible but warned against it. Samuel recognized the dangers of kingship. When the Israelites demanded of the prophet Samuel, “Make us a king to judge us like all the nations,” Samuel painted a grim picture of what would happen under a king:
He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots. And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear [plant] his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots. And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants. And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen you; and the Lord will not hear you in that day. (1 Samuel 8:11–18)
In dealing with kingship, biblical authors, like people everywhere, were torn by the divergence between theory and practice. What a king was supposed to be and what a king in reality became were not often one and the same: “In general, the ideal position is presented in the Psalms and Prophets, whereas the historical books often witness to the practical problems involved in the administration of monarchical judicial authority and the failures to attain this ideal.”17
The Nephites were also torn between conflicting views of kings. The Book of Mormon presents a similar variety of perspectives on kingship. The descendants of Nephi1 found kings to be desirable, declaring that “whoso should reign in [Nephi’s] stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings” (Jacob 1:11). Zeniff and his people willingly recognized the Lamanite king of the land (see Mosiah 9:5) and then proceeded to set up their own kingdom nearby. When Zeniff died, he conferred his kingdom upon his son, Noah. Though Noah “did not walk in the ways of his father” (Mosiah 11:1), he was still recognized and obeyed as king by the people. There was rarely a time when there was not a king of the Lamanites.
A second view presented by the Book of Mormon is that kingship is undesirable. After Lehi died, Nephi’s supporters desired him to rule over them. However, Nephi opposed this idea, saying: “I, Nephi, was desirous that they should have no king” (2 Nephi 5:18). Other Nephites developed this stance even further, declaring that kings are trouble:
Because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you. For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction! . . . ye cannot dethrone an iniquitous king save it be through much contention, and the shedding of much blood. For behold, he has his friends in iniquity, and he keepeth his guards about him; and he teareth up the laws of those who have reigned in righteousness before him; and he trampleth under his feet the commandments of God; And he enacteth laws, and sendeth them forth among his people, yea, laws after the manner of his own wickedness; and whosoever doth not obey his laws he causeth to be destroyed; and whosoever doth rebel against him he will send his armies against them to war, and if he can he will destroy them; and thus an unrighteous king doth pervert the ways of all righteousness. (Mosiah 29:16–17, 21–23)
Benjamin’s description of how he ruled could hardly contrast more with Samuel’s or Mosiah’s description of the problems caused by wicked kings:
I . . . have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you; Neither have I suffered that ye should be confined in dungeons, nor that ye should make slaves one of another. . . . 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. (Mosiah 2:12–14)
Mosiah followed his father Benjamin in farming “the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people” (Mosiah 6:7). He took great pains to avoid abusing the royal power. Yet, near the end of his reign, Mosiah gives the most damning criticism to be found anywhere in scripture on the perils of kingship: “Because all men are not just it is not expedient that ye should have a king or kings to rule over you. For behold, how much iniquity doth one wicked king cause to be committed, yea, and what great destruction!” (Mosiah 29:16–17; see all of 29:5–36).
The Nephites had many different models of rulership to choose from as they consulted the precedents in the records they had brought with them from Jerusalem. Many types of rulers were found in Israel over the centuries: priest-kings like Melchizedek; patriarchs like Abraham and Jacob; family and tribal leaders of various types; lawgivers like Moses; high priests like Aaron; prophets like Samuel; military leaders like Joshua and Sampson; judges like Gideon and Deborah; powerful kings like Saul, David, and Solomon; and reform-minded kings like Hezekiah and Josiah. From this wide array of options, it is little wonder that no single theory of kingship or rulership emerges among the Nephites, who at diverse times and under changing circumstances found themselves led by rulers such as Nephi, hereditary kings such as Nephi’s successors, good kings such as Benjamin, wicked kings such as Noah, chief judges such as Nephihah, military captains such as Moroni, governors such as Lachoneus, and prophets such as Alma. All this generated conflicting ideologies of kingship and leadership among the Nephites and helps explain the dichotomy in Benjamin’s kingship, which featured both power and humility.
The king in Israel had an added responsibility of acting as guardian of the covenant between the Lord and his people—a concept that seems to have no parallel among neighboring peoples. He was expected to be an obedient follower of God and to lead his people in obeying this covenant.19 Accordingly, “both Joshua and Josiah mediate covenants between Israel and God, [and] promise obedience to the book of the Torah.”20 As guardian of the covenant and of the law, the Israelite king took “special measures in his capacity of teacher of the torah, being the highest responsible authority in all matters appertaining to the department of the law.”21
Kingship and covenant are also closely connected in Mosiah 1–6. Benjamin’s command to his son to prepare for this grand occasion had two parts to it—to proclaim his son the new king and to “give this people a name” (Mosiah 1:11; see 1:10). The name was “the name of Christ”; this was to be accepted by all “that have entered into the covenant with God that [they] should be obedient unto the end of [their] lives” (Mosiah 5:8). The association of the two concepts in King Benjamin’s agenda indicates that they were linked in Nephite thinking. In Mosiah 2:13, Benjamin clearly declares ways in which he had discharged his obligations as teacher and administrator in all matters of law.
Kingship and the covenant of the people with God are again combined in Mosiah 6:3. After Mosiah had been consecrated king, he “appointed priests to teach the people, that thereby they might hear and know the commandments of God, and to stir them up in remembrance of the oath [or covenant] which they had made.” The record notes that following Benjamin’s death, Mosiah very strictly observed the covenant and the commandments that his father had passed on to him (see Mosiah 6:6).
In the specifically Nephite case of Mosiah, all the people gathered at the temple at Zarahemla, the site chosen for Benjamin’s address to the people and for the consecration of his son Mosiah as king (see Mosiah 1:18). The Nephite formalities, as had been the case in ancient Israel, took place in stages: “the coronation ceremony was divided into two parts, the anointing in the sanctuary and the enthronement in the royal palace.”25 Mosiah was first designated king in a private setting, presumably at the royal palace (see Mosiah 1:9–12), and then presented to the people in the public gathering at the temple (see Mosiah 2:30).
Another such structure is mentioned in Nehemiah 8:4. On the occasion of the reading of the law by Ezra the scribe, the religious leader of the people, we are again told that, during the Sukkot feast, Ezra “stood upon a pulpit of wood” in order to read the law to the people who were living “in booths for seven days following their return to Jerusalem from Babylon.”29 Commenting on the pillars in 2 Kings, Gerhard von Rad wrote, “It is certainly to be understood in any case that the place where the king stood was a raised one. The king would have had to be visible to the crowd which had gathered for the solemnities, so that one may probably think of some sort of pillar-like platform.”30 Widengren added,
We therefore conclude that at least towards the end of the pre-exilic period, but possibly from the beginning of that period, the king when reading to his people on a solemn occasion from the book of the law and acting as the mediator of the covenant making between Yahweh and the people had his place on a platform or a dais.31
In confirming the Old Testament documentation of the use of the dais, the Mishnah also supports the evidence found in the Book of Mormon. Together these illustrate that platforms are (1) located in the temple precinct, (2) associated with the coronation of new kings, (3) used by the king or another leader to read the law to the people, (4) used to offer dedicatory prayers for the temple, and (5) associated with the Festival of Booths. In view of these considerations, one can conclude that Benjamin’s tower was more than just a way to communicate to the people—it was part of an Israelite coronation tradition in which the king stands on a platform or pillar at the temple before the people and before God.
It is highly important that according to all traditions the leader of the people of Israel, in older times chieftains of the charismatic type, like Moses and Joshua, in the period of the monarchy the king—and this right down into Hellenistic-Roman times—always had the law handed over to him, and thus was the real possessor of the Torah, in the concrete meaning of the word.35
Ringgren cites Psalm 132:12 to support this claim:
If your sons keep my covenant and my testimonies [edotai] which I shall teach them, their sons also for ever shall sit upon your throne.36
The king, as possessor of the law, would then “read out to the assembly the commandments of the book of the covenant and then . . . make the covenant between Yahweh and his people.”37 The medieval Jewish commentator Rashi opined that the edût was a law, connecting it with the injunction in Deuteronomy 17:18–20, which specifies that the king should keep a copy of the law with him, that he might always remember the commandments of God, “to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom.”38 In like manner, Benjamin told his sons, including Mosiah, his successor, “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). Thus not only may Mosiah’s receipt of the law as part of the regalia of kingship be similar to the procedure at the coronation of the kings in Israel, but the purpose for which it was given was also similar.
The royal documents were the most important records in the kingdoms of the ancient world, and a sword was a frequent sign of kingship in Europe and Asia. In addition, from early modern times at least back to the Roman Empire, an orb or ball was commonly held in the hand of Old World rulers; although the Bible does not mention such an object, it still might have been part of the Israelite set of artifacts copied from their neighbors.39
With the transfer of power, Benjamin gave Mosiah similar objects.40 He passed on the official records of the people (the plates of brass and the plates of Nephi), the sword of Laban, and the miraculous ball (called the director or Liahona; see Mosiah 1:15–16).
Moreover, the king donned sacred garments: “His sacral garment, his ecclesiastical garb, so to speak, meant that he wore the breast-plate of judgement, and in the pouch of judgement carried the Urim and Tummim, the symbols of the tablets of the law, corresponding exactly to the tablets of destiny worn by the ruler in Mesopotamia.”41 Benjamin’s concern about his garments (see Mosiah 2:28) and the fact that King Mosiah was known to possess “two stones” (Mosiah 28:13) by means of which he could translate the twenty-four plates of Ether may be evidence that similar items were present in the Nephite coronation.
The Hittites, a northern neighbor of the Israelites, also had a ceremony that included anointing the king with oil.45 Although no clear evidence exists that the Egyptian king was anointed at his accession to the throne, he apparently was anointed every morning before entering the temple where he performed daily chants.46
Following Benjamin’s address and the renewal of the covenant by the people, Benjamin “consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people” (Mosiah 6:3). In the Book of Mormon the verb to consecrate occurs mostly in connection with priests or teachers (see 2 Nephi 5:26; Mosiah 11:5; 23:17; Alma 4:4, 7; 5:3; 15:13; 23:4), but also appears in three instances in association with kings. (1) Benjamin says that he was “consecrated” to be king by his father (Mosiah 2:11), (2) Mosiah was “consecrated” by Benjamin his father (Mosiah 6:3), and (3) Amlici was “consecrate[d]” by his followers to be their king (Alma 2:9).
The verb to anoint is more commonly used in the Book of Mormon record with the setting apart of kings. Nephi “anointed” his successor (Jacob 1:9); interestingly, the word is used nine times in the Jaredite record, perhaps in a formulaic fashion (see Ether 6:22, 27; 9:4, 14–15, 21–22; 10:10, 16). In the Bible, only the verb to anoint (from the root *MSH) is used exclusively with reference to kings.47 In the enthronements of both Solomon (see 1 Kings 1:34, 39) and Joash (see 2 Kings 11:12) an anointing occurs. Furthermore, Saul, David, Jehu, and Jehoahaz were all anointed.48 The verb to consecrate (from the root *QDS) is restricted to priests in the Old Testament. The two terms are similar but not identical in meaning. To anoint means to set apart by applying oil to the body, specifically the head, and to consecrate, a more general term, means to make holy. Consecrating could be done by anointing, but is not limited to it. It is possible that the consecration of Mosiah included anointing, which would have been in accordance with the practices in ancient Israel and the ancient Near East.
He (i.e., Sennacherib [Esarhaddon’s father]) heeded their [the gods’] important pronouncement and called together the people of Assyria, young and old, my brothers (and all) the male descendants of (the family of) my father and made them take a solemn oath in the presence of (the images of) the gods of Assyria: Ashur, Sin, Shamash, Nebo, (and) Marduk, (and) of (all) the (other) gods residing in heaven and in the nether world, in order to secure my succession.49
It should also be noted that Esarhaddon’s enthronement took place during the Babylonian month of Nisan, which, being the first month of the year, was the month when the Babylonian New Year festival was celebrated. Similarly, presentation and acclamation were formal parts of the enthronement in Israel and the ancient Near East.50
One reason for the public proclamation of the new king was to avoid disputes over the throne. In fact, it is most likely that we have detailed accounts concerning the coronation of Solomon and Joash specifically because both kingships were challenged.51 Despite his father’s efforts, the Assyrian Esarhaddon had serious problems with his brothers who also wanted to be king. With this in mind, Benjamin’s statements immediately following the presentation of his son take on new meaning: “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. 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” (Mosiah 2:31–32). The use of the word contention is significant. A quick study of its context in the Book of Mormon reveals that it is often tied to wars and that the principal cause of those wars was dissension and rebellion against the king by individuals. Hence the need for public designation of the king.
As Nibley has pointed out, there is a twist in the Nephite enthronement ceremony, for although Mosiah was proclaimed king, more attention is devoted to God as king.52 Benjamin repeatedly reminds the people that he too is human (see Mosiah 2:11, 26) and that God is the real king (see Mosiah 2:19). The idea of God-as-king is frequently found in the Old Testament, especially in Psalms.53 As a final part of the proclamation of the coronation of the new king, “in a fresh act of the drama,” the king himself would next speak; “claiming the authority of a divine revelation made to him, he proclaims to the city and to the world (in a more or less threatening speech) the nature of the overlordship which has been conferred upon him.”54 At this point, the people respond by accepting the king’s declarations (see Mosiah 4:2; 5:2–4), and their acclamation “signalizes the people’s approval and contributes to the reciprocal feeling of closeness between the king and his citizens.”55 The public proclamation of the kingship of Mosiah evidently follows the ancient pattern closely.
Use of the same royal title also marks the early Nephite kings. Jacob wrote that, “The people having loved Nephi exceedingly, . . . Wherefore, the people were desirous to retain in remembrance his name. And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings; and thus they were called by the people, let them be of whatever [original] name they would” (Jacob 1:10–11). While it is true that we do not know that this new name was given to the rulers over the Nephites as part of the coronation rite, there is every reason to expect that it was.
As “son” of God, the king belongs to the sphere in which God in a specific manner manifests his fatherly concern and exercises fatherly authority. Both a privilege and an obligation are thus involved. As “son”, the king enjoys divine protection and help. This feature is found in all the most important texts. As “son”, the king also participates in the power of God and exercises delegated divine power. His sovereignty on earth is a replica of that of God in heaven (Ps 89 and 110). But divine sonship also implies filial obedience, although this obedience is not a sine qua non for the legitimacy of the king.62
Typically, Latter-day Saints have interpreted these passages as referring to Christ. In them the king is called a son of God. In one passage, however, the Lord through Nathan the prophet, referring directly to Solomon, declares, “I will be his father, and he shall be my son” (2 Samuel 7:14). Benjamin’s actual bestowal of the name on the people is recorded in Mosiah 5:6–12. Note particularly verse 7:
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.
Again we can find a similar idea in the enthronement of Joash. “And Jehoiada made a covenant between the Lord and the king and the people, that they should be the Lord’s people” (2 Kings 11:17). What was once reserved for kings at coronation has now been extended in Nephite culture to the people generally. These last two themes—new name and divine adoption—are included in the coronation ritual and further confirm the ancient antecedents of King Benjamin’s address.
Six elements of covenant renewal can be found in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Joshua: the record (1) gives a preamble in which God is introduced as the one making the covenant or in which his prophet is introduced as spokesman for God; (2) gives a brief review of God’s relations with Israel in the past; (3) notes the terms of the covenant, listing specific commandments and obligations that God expected Israel to keep; (4) records that the people bear witness in formal statements that they accept the covenant; (5) gives a list of blessings and curses for obedience or disobedience to the covenant; and (6) records that provisions are made for depositing a written copy of the covenant in a safe and sacred place and for reading its contents to the people in the future.
In addition, the ideal was that the new king take office before the death of the old one,65 and this transfer of power was connected with the ceremony in which the people make or renew their covenant with God. Interestingly, each of these features is found in Mosiah 1–6 (see table 1 and its comparisons of Mosiah 1–6 and Old Testament covenant passages). This basic structure of the covenant is further nuanced by a comparison with Hittite treaties composed in the fourteenth and thirteenth centuries BC, approximately the same period of time as the Israelite exodus from Egypt.66 The fundamental elements common to both the Hittite treaties and the covenant passages in the Old Testament include the preamble, the antecedent history, individual stipulations, witness formulas or oaths of acceptance, blessings and curses, and provisions for the recital of the covenant and deposit of the text.67
And behold also, if I, whom ye call your king, who has spent his days in your service, . . . do merit any thanks from you, O how you ought to thank your heavenly King!
. . . who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, . . . and even supporting you from one moment to another. (Mosiah 2:19, 21)
Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image. . . . And all the people shall answer and say, Amen. Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deuteronomy 27:15–16)
Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle. (Deuteronomy 28:3–4)
More often the Old Testament just implies the curses and blessings:
And Joshua said unto the people, . . . If ye forsake the Lord, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good. (Joshua 24:19–20)
The curses and blessings in Benjamin’s speech are also implied rather than stated outright:
And . . . whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God. . . . And now . . . whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God. (Mosiah 5:9–10)
“Recent studies,” according to Walter Brueggemann, “have suggested an intersection in the motifs of covenant-making, enthronement, and resurrection.”72 For example, the resurrection of Jesus was conjoined in early Christianity with his messianic enthronement, and descriptions of his glorification were substantiated through Old Testament passages about Davidic kingship. And just as mortal kings were created out of the dust of the earth and yet could be elevated by God to become a leader in Israel, so all human beings could be raised from their mortal state to resurrected glory.
Thus, in Israelite thought, “the motifs of covenant-renewal, enthronement, and resurrection cannot be kept in isolation from each other but they run together and serve to illuminate each other.”73 And with this matrix in mind, it becomes all the more significant that Benjamin intertwines the themes of dust, kingship, covenant, enthronement, and resurrection throughout his speech.
The use of the word dust is a first important indicator of the possible presence of royal language. In a telling declaration, God told the Israelite king Baasha that divine power had raised him to kingship from the dust: “Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel . . . ” (1 Kings 16:2, translation by author; see also the combination of dust and kingship in 1 Samuel 2:6–8; Psalm 113:7). Brueggemann argues that the creation account and Adam’s elevation from the dust should be understood as having enthronement overtones, for Adam “is really being crowned king over the garden with all the power and authority which it implies.”74 Thus it is significant that King Benjamin began his royal speech by reminding his people that he too was “of the dust” (Mosiah 2:26) and was dependent on God for his power, that he had been “suffered by the hand of the Lord . . . [to] be a ruler and a king over this people” (Mosiah 2:11).
The operative vehicle that takes any man from the dust and installs him in a position of authority or favor is the power of covenant, according to Brueggemann. Hence, texts that speak of being in the dust can refer to situations in which the covenant relationship between Jehovah and the king or his people has been broken (see Psalm 7:6), while its opposite, coming to life, is connected with making and keeping the covenant. For instance, in Psalm 104:29–30, covenant and creation “are closely related.”75 In the case of Benjamin’s people, they first viewed themselves as “even less than the dust of the earth” (Mosiah 4:2), but through the force and effect of their covenant they became spiritually begotten, born, free, and positioned on the right hand of God (see Mosiah 5:7–10). It was the covenant that raised them from the dust, both ceremonially and spiritually.
The idea that God elevates the righteous king from the dust brings with it two counter sides. First is the realization that if the king is wicked the Lord will utterly sweep away the ruler who breaks the covenant, returning him to the dust and sweeping him out of the house (compare 1 Kings 16:3). Although Benjamin does not turn explicitly to dust imagery when he warns his people against breaking their covenant, he takes it for granted throughout his speech that mortals owe to God everything that they have and are (see Mosiah 2:20–25), and therefore it is to be expected that they will be returned to the dust, utterly blotted out, driven away, and cast out if they are not true and faithful to their God (see Mosiah 5:11, 14).
The second counterpoint is a motif that frequently occurs in connection with the ascension of a righteous king, namely the logical presumption that, conversely, one king “can be raised from the dust to power only when the alternative rulers are sent to the dust.”76 Thus the Psalmist prays in a royal setting, “May his foes bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust” (Psalm 72:9, translation by author; see also Micah 7:17; Isaiah 49:23). This imagery is sometimes “extended so that the whole people now share in the promise and hope of the royal tradition,” as when Isaiah prophesies that the people of Israel will be raised to power as their enemies are brought low in the dust (see Isaiah 25:10–12; 26:5–6).77 Benjamin seems attuned to this motif as well when he assures the ascendance of his son Mosiah by promising and instructing his people that “your enemies shall have no power over you” (Mosiah 2:31), and that the “enemy to all righteousness” (Mosiah 4:14) shall have “no place in you” (Mosiah 2:36), if they would obey Mosiah as king.
The ultimate victory over one’s enemy, of course, is found in overcoming death through the resurrection of the dead. Here, also, the theme of rising from the dust becomes important in scripture: “Awake and sing, ye that dwell in the dust” (Isaiah 26:19); “many . . . that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2). John H. Hayes has argued that New Testament texts about resurrection draw on enthronement imagery.78 Brueggemann extends that argument into the Old Testament: “The resurrection of Israel is in fact the enthronement of Israel among the nations”; by building “an anthropology out of royal ritual,” the ancient prophets affirmed “that man is bound for kingship.”79 With equal confidence, King Benjamin took the symbols and promises of royal ritual and extended them to the common people in his domain. He delivered to them great promises of joy and confidence (see Mosiah 3:3–4), assuring them that the dead will rise (see Mosiah 3:5, 10) and that the righteous will be lifted up and “brought to heaven” (Mosiah 5:15).
No one seems to dispute Brueggemann and others in their assertion that themes of kingship, covenant-making, rising from the dust, coronation, and resurrection were closely linked in the minds of ancient Israelites and early Christians, even though their findings have been detected and assembled only from bits and pieces in scattered texts throughout the Bible. Thus it may come as an unexpected verification that all their findings are illuminated and strongly exemplified in a single text—the Book of Mormon. Indeed, Benjamin’s speech may be the best royal and religious text that shows both king and common folk in relation to each of the elements in the precise set of interconnected themes of kingship, coronation, covenant, and being raised from the dust to eternal life.
Mosiah 1–6 reflects in considerable detail the Israelite customs and beliefs that are part of the process of choosing and seating a new king on the throne. This sermon ranks as one of the most important in scripture. It serves to fulfill one of the primary purposes of the Book of Mormon by placing central focus and highest importance on the life, mission, atonement, and eternal reign of the heavenly King, Jesus Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent.
- See Henri Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948), 15.
- See Cyril J. Gadd, Ideas of Divine Rule in the Ancient Near East (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 21.
- Ze’ev W. Falk, Hebrew Law in Biblical Times: An Introduction (Jerusalem: Wahrmann, 1964), 45.
- Gerhard von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” in The Problem of the Hexateuch and Other Essays, trans. E. W. Trueman Dicken (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966), 225.
- Moshe Weinfeld, “The King as Servant of the People: The Source of the Idea,” Journal of Jewish Studies 33/1–2 (1982): 189.
- Falk, Hebrew Law, 45–46.
- Keith W. Whitelam, The Just King: Monarchical Judicial Authority in Ancient Israel (Sheffield: JSOT, 1979), 17.
- Hamish F. G. Swanston, The Kings and the Covenant (London: Burns & Oates, 1968), 169.
- Falk, Hebrew Law, 43–45.
- Whitelam, The Just King, 29.
- On the ideology of kingship in the ancient Near East and in Israel, see John M. Lundquist, “The Legitimizing Role of the Temple in the Origin of the State,” and Stephen D. Ricks and John J. Sroka, “King, Coronation, and Temple,” in Temples of the Ancient World, 181, 236–38.
- See Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961), 1:100. Adonijah’s statement in 1 Kings 2:15 should be compared with David’s in 1 Chronicles 28:5: “And of all my sons, (for the Lord hath given me many sons,) he hath chosen Solomon my son to sit upon the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel.”
- De Vaux, Ancient Israel, 1:100.
- As was the case during the whole history of Mesopotamian kingship, until the New Kingdom the Egyptian king was seen as the offspring of deity rather than deity itself. Thus Dietrich Wildung, Egyptian Saints: Deification in Pharaonic Egypt (New York: New York University Press, 1977), 1–3, compares the pharaohs to saints in the normative Christian tradition; see also Georges Posener, De la divinité du Pharaon (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1960).
- Victor H. Matthews, “The King’s Call to Justice,” Biblische Zeitschrift 35/2 (1991): 206.
- Whitelam, The Just King, 18.
- See F. Charles Fensham, “Widow, Orphan, and the Poor in Ancient Near Eastern Legal and Wisdom Literature,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 21/1 (1962): 129–39; Whitelam, The Just King, 17–37.
- Compare Helen A. Kenik, “Code of Conduct for a King: Psalm 101,” JBL 95/3 (1976): 391, 395.
- Ray K. Sutherland, “Israelite Political Theories in Joshua 9,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 53 (1992): 70.
- Geo Widengren, “King and Covenant,” Journal of Semitic Studies 2/1 (1957): 17.
- The full pattern of common elements in the coronation rites in various cultures of the world was worked out in detail by Arthur Hocart, Kingship (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), especially 70–71. Hocart includes in his comparison twenty-six features, which I give in a somewhat different order, with brief explanations of each of the features and with the addition of one feature in Ricks and Sroka, “King, Coronation, and Temple,” 236–71, esp. 260–63.
- It is still uncertain whether ablutions—ceremonial washings that were believed to avert evil, give life and strength, and symbolize rebirth—were part of the ancient Israelite coronation ceremonies; thus Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane, trans. William R. Trask (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1959), 130; compare also Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion (Cleveland: World, 1963), 188–89, 193–94; Maurice A. Canney, Newness of Life (Calcutta: University of Calcutta Press, 1928), 67; W. B. Kristensen, The Meaning of Religion (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1960), 446–47; A. J. Wensinck, “The Semitic New Year and the Origin of Eschatology,” Acta Orientalia 1 (1923): 166, 186; Robert A. Wild, Water in the Cultic Worship of Isis and Sarapis (Leiden: Brill, 1981), 125, 153. However, since purification in water is mentioned in Exodus 29:4 in connection with the anointing and investment of Aaron and his sons (compare Exodus 40:12), Geo Widengren, “Royal Ideology and the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs,” in Promise and Fulfillment, ed. F. F. Bruce (Edinburgh: Clark, 1963), 207, thinks that “it is probable that certain water-purifications had a place in the Israelite royal consecration.” In the fourth century a.d., Cyril of Jerusalem, “Catachesis XXI Mystagogica III de Chrismate 6 (Catechetical Lecture on the Chrism),” in Patrologiae Graecae, ed. J. P. Migne (Paris: Garnier, 1892), 33:1093, may have based his comments on an extrabiblical tradition when he wrote: “When the High Priest raised Solomon to the kingship, he anointed him after washing him in the waters of Gihon.” Although there is no explicit mention in 1 Kings 1:38–39 of a ritual ablution in connection with King Solomon’s coronation rites, TB Horayoth 12a records that “our Rabbis taught: The kings are anointed only at a fountain.” The presumption in favor of the existence of ablutions in the Israelite coronation ceremony is strengthened by the symbolic placement of the temple—the site of many Israelite coronations (e.g., the coronation of Joash, 2 Kings 11:4–14)—over the center of the world, where the “Water of Life” flowed; see Geo Widengren, “Israelite-Jewish Religion,” in Historia Religionum, ed. C. J. Bleeker and Geo Widengren (Leiden: Brill, 1969), 1:258–59. Such ablutions were a part of the coronation ceremonies in Egypt and the ancient Near East. According to Samuel A. B. Mercer, The Pyramid Texts (New York: Longmans, Green, 1952), 4:55, and Aylward M. Blackman, “An Ancient Egyptian Foretaste of the Doctrine of Baptismal Regeneration,” Theology 1 (1920): 140–41, even as a child the Egyptian crown prince was sprinkled with water by officials in order that he might be endowed with divine qualities and be reborn. In his daily preparations for entrance into the temple, the pharaoh was sprinkled with holy water, an act that endowed him with life, good fortune, stability, health, and happiness. For the purpose of performing these ritual acts of ablution, a pool or lake was connected with many Egyptian temples. Blackman, “An Ancient Egyptian Foretaste,” 135, 137–38; compare Aylward M. Blackman, “Some Notes on the Ancient Egyptian Practice of Washing the Dead,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 5 (1918): 124; Samuel A. B. Mercer, The Religion of Ancient Egypt (London: Luzac, 1949), 348–50; Wild, Water in the Cultic Worship, 145. According to Aylward M. Blackman, “The House of the Morning,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 5 (1918): 155; Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods, 83; and Eva L. R. Meyerowitz, The Divine Kingship in Ghana and Ancient Egypt (London: Faber and Faber, 1960), 159, during the Sed festival, the recurring feast celebrating the pharaoh’s kingship, the pharaoh would have his feet ceremonially washed.
- Widengren, “King and Covenant,” 3.
- Von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” 223.
- John W. Welch, Terrence L. Szink, et al., “Upon the Tower of Benjamin,” FARMS Update, Insights (August 1995): 2.
- The Jewish historian Josephus, writing in Antiquities 9.7.3, also placed King Joash “by” or “on a pillar” at the time of his coronation.
- De Vaux, Ancient Israel, 1:102–3; the preposition involved here (al) certainly allows for such a translation; BDB, 752; T. Raymond Hobbs, 2 Kings (Waco: Word Books, 1985), 142, suggests that the object stood on or was by “some kind of column, podium, or platform”; Hans-Joachim Kraus, Worship in Israel: A Cultic History of the Old Testament (Richmond: Knox, 1966), 224, notes that “in the ceremonies of enthronement the king was lifted on to an ammud where he received the homage of the congregation.”
- Welch and Szink, “Upon the Tower,” 2; compare Widengren, “King and Covenant,” 11.
- Von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” 224.
- Widengren, “King and Covenant,” 10. Later testimony of this structure is indicated by certain rabbis in M Sotah 7:8: “After the close of the first Festival-day of the Feast of Tabernacles, in the eighth year, after the going forth of the Seventh Year, they used to prepare for him in the Temple Court a wooden platform on which he sat, for it is written, ‘At the end of every seven years in the set time . . .'” (compare Deuteronomy 31:10–13).
- Von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” 228–29.
- See ibid., 224–29.
- See Hobbs, 2 Kings, 141; BDB, 730. Tryggve N. D. Mettinger, King and Messiah: The Civil and Sacral Legitimation of the Israelite Kings (Lund: Gleerup, 1976), 286–89, acknowledges this possibility and offers a quite speculative, alternative one: he suggests that the edût was an inscription on the crown indicating the king’s close relationship with God.
- Widengren, “King and Covenant,” 21, emphasis in original. He also connects the king’s receiving the law to the reception of the law by Moses and the Mesopotamian tradition that the king received the “tablets of the gods,” or “tablets of destiny,” upon his heavenly enthronement, 17.
- Helmer Ringgren, Israelite Religion, trans. David E. Green (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966), 223–24; Aubrey R. Johnson, Sacral Kingship in Ancient Israel (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1967), 67 n. 2.
- Widengren, “King and Covenant,” 7.
- Miqraot Gedolot, vol. 3; note Rashi’s comment on 2 Kings 11:12.
- On this compare Gordon C. Thomasson, “Mosiah: The Complex Symbolism and the Symbolic Complex of Kingship in the Book of Mormon,” JBMS 2/1 (1993): 21–38, and Stephen D. Ricks, “Olive Culture in the Second Temple Era and Early Rabbinic Period,” in The Allegory of the Olive Tree: The Olive, the Bible, and Jacob 5, ed. Stephen D. Ricks and John W. Welch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994), 466–67, 474–75 n. 26.
- See Brett L. Holbrook, “The Sword of Laban as a Symbol of Divine Authority and Kingship,” and Daniel N. Rolph, “Prophets, Kings, and Swords: The Sword of Laban and Its Possible Pre-Laban Origin,” JBMS 2/1 (1993): 39–72, 73–79, for a rich and detailed discussion of the religious and ceremonial significance of swords in the Book of Mormon and the ancient Mediterranean. The kings evidently kept the large plates; beginning only with Mosiah1 did the small plates also go through the royal line.
- Widengren, “King and Covenant,” 21; see also John van Seters, “The Creation of Man and the Creation of the King,” ZAW 101/3 (1989): 335–36.
- Saul (1 Samuel 10:1); David (2 Samuel 5:3); Solomon (1 Kings 1:39); Jehu (2 Kings 9:6); Joash (2 Kings 11:12); Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:30). In addition, it is recorded in 2 Samuel 19:10 that the upstart Absalom was anointed to be king.
- Zafrira Ben-Barak, “The Mizpah Covenant (I Sam 10:25)—The Source of the Israelite Monarchic Covenant,” ZAW 91/1 (1979): 38.
- See Ernst Kutsch, Salbung als Rechtsakt im Alten Testament und im Alten Orient (Berlin: Tpelmann, 1963), 52–63; compare also J. A. Soggin, “maelaek,” in Theologisches Handwrterbuch zum Alten Testament, ed. Ernst Jenni and Claus Westermann (Munich: Kaiser, 1971), 1:914–20. According to later Jewish legend, Apocalypse of Moses 9:3, cited in The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English, ed. R. H. Charles (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), 2:143, the idea of anointing began with the first man. According to this story, when Adam was 930 years old, he knew that his days were coming to an end. He therefore implored Eve: “Arise and go with my son Seth near to paradise, and put earth upon your heads and weep and pray to God to have mercy upon me and send his angel to paradise, and give me of the tree out of which the oil floweth, and bring it (to) me, and I shall anoint myself and shall have rest from my complaint.”
- See Oliver R. Gurney, “Hittite Kingship,” in Myth, Ritual, and Kingship, ed. S. H. Hooke (Oxford: Clarendon, 1958), 118.
- See Kutsch, Salbung als Rechtsakt, 41–52; Mercer, Religion of Ancient Egypt, 348.
- See Baruch Halpern, Constitution of the Monarchy in Israel (Chico: Scholars Press, 1981), 14, has proposed that anointing was not directly associated with the king’s coronation but rather with his divine election; for further on anointing, see de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 1:103–6.
- See n. 44.
- ANET, 289.
- See de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 1:106; Geo Widengren, Sakrales Königtum im Alten Testament und im Judentum (Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 1955), 49.
- Solomon’s by his half-brother Adonijah (see 1 Kings 1:5–10), and Joash’s by his grandmother Athaliah (see 2 Kings 11:1–3).
- See Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 300–301.
- On this see Halpern, Constitution of the Monarchy, 61–109; Herman L. Jansen, “The Consecration in the Eighth Chapter of Testamentum Levi,” in The Sacral Kingship, Contributions to the Central Theme of the VIIIth International Congress for the History of Religions, Rome, April 1955 (Leiden: Brill, 1959), 361–62. More recently see John H. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms, 2nd ed. (Sheffield: JSOT, 1986), for a comprehensive discussion of the issue. But this theory is not without its critics. See de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 2:504–6; Kraus, Worship in Israel, 205–8. Mowinckel and Widengren themselves have been discussed in J. de Fraine, “Mowinckel (Sigmund Olaf Plytt),” in Dictionnaire de la Bible, ed. Henri Cazelles and Andr Feuillet (Paris: Letouzey, 1957), 5:1387–90; Arvid S. Kapelrud, God and His Friends in the Old Testament (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 1979), 53–78; Arvid S. Kapelrud, “Sigmund Mowinckel 1884–1965,” Svensk Exegetisk rsbok 49 (1984): 66–73; John W. Jonsson, “Reflections on Geo Widengren’s Phenomenological Method: Towards a Phenomenological Hermeneutic of the Old Testament,” Scriptura, special issue S 2 (1986): 21–39.
- Von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” 229.
- Ben-Barak, “The Mizpah Covenant,” 38.
- See Arthur M. Hocart, “Initiation,” Folklore 35 (1924): 312; compare Bruce H. Porter and Stephen D. Ricks, “Names in Antiquity: Old, New, and Hidden,” in By Study and Also by Faith: Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley, ed. John M. Lundquist and Stephen D. Ricks (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1990), 1:501–22, and Truman G. Madsen, “‘Putting on the Names’: A Jewish-Christian Legacy,” in By Study and Also by Faith, 1:458–81.
- See de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 1:108.
- Von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” 229.
- See Frankfort, Kingship and the Gods, 46–47; compare also John A. Wilson, The Culture of Ancient Egypt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1951), 102.
- See Widengren, “The Sacral Kingship of Iran,” in The Sacral Kingship/La regalità sacra (Leiden: Brill, 1959), 253–54. On the practice of assigning a new name at the time of the king’s enthronement, see Ricks and Sroka, “King, Coronation, and Temple.” Of course, kings were not the only ones to receive new names. Biblical history is full of examples of men (and in one case, a woman) who received new or changed names, frequently in association with a transition (usually, though not invariably, of a spiritual nature) in their lives. Thus Abram became Abraham (see Genesis 17:5), his wife Sarai became Sarah (see Genesis 17:15), Jacob was renamed Israel (see Genesis 32:28), and Joseph became Zaphnath-paaneah (see Genesis 41:45). In the New Testament, Jesus gave Simon the name Cephas (whose Greek reflex is Peter—see John 1:42; Matthew 16:17–18), while Saul took on the Latin name Paul, indicative of his role as missionary to the gentiles. The name Paul is first mentioned at Acts 13:9, at the beginning of his first missionary labors among the gentiles. The receipt of a new name is promised to all the faithful in Revelation: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; 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” (Revelation 2:17).
- See, for example, Ringgren, Israelite Religion, 225–27; Kraus, Worship in Israel, 181, 224; Halpern, Constitution of the Monarchy, 128–29; von Rad, “The Royal Ritual in Judah,” 230–31; Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms, 146–49; on divine election in ancient Babylonia, see René Labat, Le caractère religieux de la royaut assyro-babylonienne (Paris: Maisonneuve, 1943), 53–69; on divine adoption in ancient Egypt, see Wildung, Egyptian Saints, 1–3.
- Mettinger, King and Messiah, 291–92.
- Compare von Rad, “The Problem of the Hexateuch,” in The Problem of the Hexateuch, 35. Similarly, John Bright writes in A History of Israel (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981), 171: “It is exceedingly probable . . . that there was a regular ceremony of covenant renewal—whether annually or every seven years (Deuteronomy 31:9–13)—to which the tribesmen would come with their tribute to the God-King, to hear his gracious deeds recited and his commandments read, and then with blessings and curses to take anew their oath of allegiance to him.”
- “The idea of a covenant between a deity and a people is unknown to us from other religions and cultures [of the ancient Near East].” Moshe Weinfeld, “berith,” in TDOT, 2:278. Covenant renewal also appears to be unique to ancient Israel.
- See Klaus Baltzer, The Covenant Formulary, trans. David Green (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1971), 82–83.
- The constituent elements of the Hittite treaty were first isolated and analyzed by Viktor Korosec, Hethitische Staatsveäge (Leipzig: Weicher, 1931), 12–14. The structural link between the Hittite treaties and the Old Testament covenant passages was first suggested by Elias Bickerman in “Couper une alliance,” Archives d’histoire du droit oriental 5 (1950–51): 153, reprinted with an additional note in Elias Bickerman, Studies in Jewish and Christian History, Part One (Leiden: Brill, 1976), 23, and later developed and expanded by George Mendenhall in “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition,” Biblical Archaeologist 17/3 (1954): 50–76. The literature on the treaty/covenant in the Bible and the ancient Near East since Bickerman and Mendenhall has been considerable; see Dennis J. McCarthy’s thorough analysis of ancient Near Eastern treaties and their structural relationship to the covenant pericopes in the Old Testament (as well as an extensive bibliography) in his recent Treaty and Covenant (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1978).
- The specific names for these categories are, to an extent, my own, but they are similar to those in other treatments of the treaty/covenant pattern in the Bible, for example, J. A. Thompson, “The Near Eastern Suzerain-Vassal Concept in the Religion of Israel,” Journal of Religious History 3 (1964): 4, and Mendenhall, “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition,” 57–60, both of which are based ultimately on the analysis of the constituent elements of the Hittite treaty in Korosec, Hethitische Staatsverträge, 12–14. The biblical covenant passages which will be studied here include Exodus 19:3b–8, 20–24; Deuteronomy 1–31; and Joshua 24. Other passages may also be analyzed in light of this pattern, for example, 1 Samuel 12. This analysis was first published in Stephen D. Ricks, “The Treaty/Covenant Pattern in King Bemjain’s Speech,” BYU Studies 24/2 (1984): 151–62.
- McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant, 1.
- Ibid., 2.
- Walter Brueggemann, “From Dust to Kingship,” ZAW 84/1 (1972): 1.
- Ibid., 12.
- Ibid., 7.
- Ibid., 8.
- Ibid., 11.
- See John H. Hayes, “The Resurrection as Enthronement and the Earliest Church Christology,” Interpretation 22 (1968): 333–45.
- Brueggemann, “From Dust to Kingship,” 13, 17.
- See, for example, Hugh W. Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 263, 378–79; Hugh W. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 152–53, 464 n. 121.