Everybody bring your Book of Mormon. Anybody without a Book of Mormon can go home right now. You must have the Book of Mormon; that’s the notebook. That’s the oracle, and we have to go by that. Where we begin in chapter six, King Benjamin has just finished his farewell address. We can retrace our steps to Jerusalem and fill in here—you know what happened. Mosiah was the son of Benjamin, who was the son of Mosiah, who came to Zarahemla by command. When he came there the people made him king. That’s a thing not without precedent; you will see that. Where did he come from? He came from Nephi’s community. What was Nephi’s community? As we learned in Omni, after the main body had landed there was so much tension among them that Nephi couldn’t stand it. Right from the beginning, there had been this terrible tension in the family [caused by] hatred and jealousy. It was up and down, up and down—typical of Semitic people of the Near East. They were typical Palestinians actually. They were mixed blood; we have seen this from the genealogy of Lehi, who belonged to Manasseh, and other things. The tension got so great that Nephi decided to leave, just as they had left Jerusalem, with anyone who wanted to follow him. A big crowd left and created the settlement of Nephi. We get the small books from the various descendants. That went on to the time of Amaleki; in his day there was another breakoff. There were these breakoffs all the time. That is the Rechabite process; we’ve referred to that before. In chapter 35 of Jeremiah it tells about them. If you want to live righteously when the city gets bad, what do you do? You emigrate. They do it here; they do it everywhere. Utah has a big outdrain right now. We won’t go into the story of Jonadab and Rechab right now; you can read about that in chapter 35 of Jeremiah. But they left; they were always breaking off.
As you know, Lehi left Jerusalem because he was told to go. When they landed here they had their colony. Then when things got very bad, Nephi was commanded to leave them. He went out and that’s when they built the temple. Then Nephi’s people went bad. Following Jacob there were Enos, Jarom, Omni, Amaron and the rest. Finally, you get to Amaleki and Mosiah. In their time [the people] have become bad. This was the process, and it was necessary to leave again. We are told that Mosiah himself was commanded to leave (Omni 12). He went out to form a new colony and came to Zarahemla where they made him king. He left in the time of Amaleki, who was the son of Abinadom, the son of Chemish, the son of Amaron, the son of Omni. The people had departed from keeping the covenants, and that has happened again and again. As we mentioned, that community was founded when Lehi led a group away. I have been going backwards to Jerusalem. Well, that was an awfully long journey to make, coming all the way from Jerusalem to the west coast of South America. Quite a journey. Recently, a lot of studies have been made of south sea navigation showing their uncanny skill at traveling many thousands of miles across the open sea. They had secrets of navigation—currents, air masses, stars, and all the rest of it.
It just happened that 600 B.C. was the great time in the world of colonization and exploration. If you wanted a colony, you had to explore. Well, why would that be a great time of colonization? Because things were very bad in the old cities–corruption everywhere. It only takes a few bad years to start things moving again. Back in Jerusalem we read that Lehi was in trouble and Jeremiah was in trouble because they objected to the corruption of the people in the city—above all, their greed. At the same time Solon the Great of Athens, a contemporary of Lehi, was writing on the very same subject, showing the very same conditions. He migrated too, but he didn’t take people with him. He gave them a constitution, and then he left and wandered for seven years. I would say he could have been a very good friend of Lehi. They not only thought alike, but they did business in the same area at Sidon. They were both importers, exporters, and merchants.
We are beginning with the sixth chapter of Mosiah where the great assembly ends. It’s the farewell address of King Benjamin and the inauguration of his son whom he crowns, as you will see here. They carry on with a new order which doesn’t last very long because Mosiah is succeeded by judges. But right now Mosiah is the great one. His father was Benjamin and his father was Mosiah who came and settled in Zarahemla. This takes place in Zarahemla, which is not a Nephite city. It’s not Nephites and Lamanites at all. They’re Mulekites, a much greater population than either one. Where did they come from? They also came from Jerusalem just eleven years after Lehi came from Jerusalem. We might ask, “What were these people doing running around like this?” Well, the year 600 B.C. is called “the pivotal year.” That’s a term that Karl Jaspers, a German philosopher, has given it. But many other people talk about it also. H. G. Wells calls it that too. It’s the pivotal period because the whole world turned on a pivot, and you get a new age. It was a perfect time for the Book of Mormon to begin—a new culture history, a new setting, a new world. All the old sacral kingships collapsed all at once. What would do that? Well, of course, the weather and migration. If you read the Greek lyric poets from the seventh century, just before this—like Mimnermus and Callinus, etc.–they tell about the invasion of the Sumerians. They wrote poems about how the Sumerians came and swept into Asia Minor, wiped everything out, and settled down there. Some of them from the north became Goths, our ancestors. Way back in that early time, Lehi’s time, they were invading and pushing in. Why? Because the steppes had dried out, and they were forced to move.
The most important place in the world at that time was Palestine, as it always has been. That’s where people have always copped out. One wave after another has been spewed out of Palestine because of the political tensions. Political tensions are caused by revolutions, etc., which are caused by migrations, which are caused by weather changes. That’s geopolitics. We won’t go into that except that Palestine is very important, you see. It’s very important in the Book of Mormon here because in the Jaredites you have the other condition. The Jaredites went north into the Valley of Nimrod, which is up by the Caspian Sea. They took the land route across Central Asia. Lehi took the water route. The essence of geopolitics is Haushofer, but the originator of it was Halford Mackinder, a Scotch geographer in the nineteenth century. This is what set Hitler going. That’s why he had to take Russia, the Ukrainian bread basket, etc. That came from Haushofer and was called geopolitics. It’s very simple. The thing is that world history has always been rivalry between the great land power and the great sea power. The great land power was Asiatic at this time. It was the Austro-Prussian agreement, the Axis, what he calls the heartland. The heartland is that area of Asia and Europe which is covered by snow in the wintertime. It takes the form of a shield. It is not all nomadic, but it is marginal. In a bad year they have to move, and they move in all directions. For this reason people have to defend themselves. For that reason you had the Great Wall of China and the Khyber. Here you have the wall of the Asiatics, the Amu, the Great White Wall of the Egyptians, etc. Clear across Europe you have the limes built by the Romans, way up to Hadrian’s Wall up in Scotland. They built physical walls to keep these people out. Those walls lasted for hundreds of years, and the pressure was on them all the time. The most important place in the world is the cockpit where they all fight. We were talking about World War II, where the sea power was Britain, and the land power was the Central Powers. According to Haushofer and to MacKinder, the sea power always wins. It can shut off the other one from markets and everything else. The last world war was the very same sort of thing, sea power versus land power. The thing that brought on [World War I] was the Kaiser building up a huge fleet because he has to be the sea power.
But where does the sea invade the land? There’s this great land mass of Asia, Africa, and Europe, and there is only one place where the sea goes in thousands of miles, and that’s the Mediterranean. At the end here the three places come together—Asia, Africa, Europe—and this is Palestine. They were always fighting for it, and they were fighting for it in Lehi’s day. Babylon was the great power under Nebuchadnezzar. They had already taken Jerusalem a few years before, but they didn’t destroy it completely. King Josiah (and I think Mosiah was named with him in mind), who reformed the constitution and saved Israel from the Babylonians, was killed by King Necho in a battle up here. The fight was between Necho II and Nebuchadnezzar. Necho II of the twenty-sixth dynasty ruled in the time of Lehi, and he saw this business. He saw that he could not prevail against Babylon as a land power, but he was an Egyptian and had a great navy. In Lehi’s day the trireme was invented by the Corinthians, and they started turning out these marvelous war ships that nothing could resist. Necho bought them all up. He had a navy of Greeks, and he occupied Palestine with Greek soldiers. Greeks were found everywhere. From this time we have inscriptions from way up the Nile at Abydos, and Greek soldiers wrote their names at Aswan in Lehi’s day. And you find Greek names in the Book of Mormon; they pop up occasionally, especially later on.
What did Necho do? In his day he sent a fleet clear around Africa. Nothing like that had ever been done. At the same time he built the Suez Canal. He started it. He didn’t finish it, but it was finished and it worked. This was a time of great expansion. The brother of one of the lyric poets was a mercenary in Necho’s army, and he was a mercenary in the Babylonian army. They would hire themselves out. It was a time when everybody was moving around everywhere and the pressure was on. The one thing was to get good land, so they were exploring. They would take these long exploring trips. They went out to Britain and all over the place. They went up above the Black Sea. At this time they sent a lot of colonies way up into Russia. They stopped to get water and supplies at islands on the way. They may have left their names at places. The name Moroni is found all across this southern area, but Moroni’s name comes up later.
Things were bad in the ancient world, and the sacral kingship fell everywhere. Solon established the Greek democracy; he was the inventor of democracy. He gave them a constitution with the proviso that they couldn’t change it without his signature. When they agreed to that, he left town for ten years so they would have to live with it. That’s the basis of Athenian democracy from which all democracies come. Other cities followed the example. It’s always been a struggle. It didn’t last very long in Athens, as you know. Pretty soon Alexander came along, and he took a lot of voyages. Some people say Nearchus, his admiral, sailed all over the Pacific, reached America, etc. Don’t be surprised at the things that were happening because this was an explosive age. You notice it was a time when people were trying to decide between kings and popular governments, and it was the age of the tyrants. These were very able men who rose up and put themselves in charge. This happens in the Book of Mormon too. There was Polycrates of Samos, Dionysius of Sicily and his son and Cleisthenes at Athens. Before Cleisthenes there was Pisistratus. They were big families and important men who took over the government and caused things to settle down. They were competent men, but they didn’t have any legal right to rule, either by line descent or by popular vote. They weren’t voted in popularly. A tyrant was somebody who surrounded himself with troops, usually foreign troops (Egyptian troops if they were in Greece and Greek troops if they were in Egypt) and set himself up in rule. This was the rule because the kingship had broken down everywhere. In 600 B.C. everybody was asking, “Who’s in charge around here?” Anybody who could grab the power. That wasn’t good enough, and it led to some terrible things. This is the settling down after the great migrations. There were great migrations earlier. Then there was the settling down and the rivalry between the great houses and the great families. That’s the story of Greek tragedy which is archaic. It goes back to the myths, etc. when the same thing was happening.
But the Book of Mormon is entirely in the milieu here. The theme of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants is “the anatomy of destruction.” Remember, the Book of Mormon starts out with how that great city of Jerusalem was about to be destroyed, and the Book of Mormon ends with complete destruction. And it all is a warning to us. The opening words of the Doctrine and Covenants are the same way. “Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high. . . . The voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated. . . . The day speedily cometh; the hour is not yet, but is nigh at hand, when peace shall be taken from the earth, and the devil shall have power over his own dominion” (D&C 1:1,2,35). So we are moving toward some great destruction. These books are given as warnings on the eve of great destruction. But this has happened all through the Bible. As you know, that was what the prophets did; they warned of the destruction of Jerusalem, which was destroyed from time to time. As I said, it had been destroyed earlier. It had been destroyed by the Assyrians in 720 B.C. and by Nebuchadnezzar earlier than 600 B.C. Josiah broke his agreement with [Necho]. That brought [Necho] back, and Josiah was killed in the battle of Megiddo. So it was a very long journey.
Now Zarahemla was not a Nephite city. The racial and ethnic picture in the Book of Mormon is very complicated. We get the simplistic idea that any time we find any ruin or anything in this country it must be either Nephite or Lamanite. That’s absolutely silly. You get a very complex picture, as we’ve seen before, and it’s going to get more complex as we go along. Zarahemla was a Mulekite city, and you know who the Mulekites were. It means “the king’s people.” We are told in the Bible that there was only one survivor from Zedekiah’s family, and he got away. All his sons were put to death before the eyes of the king, and he was blinded. Then he was taken to Babylon. That was the king who was ruling in the time of Lehi. We have a contemporary record for that now, the Lachish records, written at the last great fortress that was taken. They describe the fall and destruction at the time of Lehi. These are original documents, not copies of copies. They are not something that has been passed down through the Middle Ages. We have the original documents from the time the city fell, giving us exactly the same picture we get in the Book of Mormon—the factions, the broken families, the rivalries. One side favors Egypt, the other side favors Babylon, and it’s a terrible picture.
Eleven years after them [Lehi’s group], a larger group came. They saw that the city was going to fall and took off. How did they ever make it? I think people were doing it all the time. It was a great thing, but it could be done. They called themselves the Mulekites, the Mulekiah, which means “the king people,” because we are told in the Book of Mormon that the youngest son of the king went with them. Their pride and joy was that they were the king’s people. The word malek is king; but the word mulek [mulaik] means “dear little king.” It’s a caritative and it’s a diminutive. The Mulekites were the people who had the little king with them; they were rather proud of that. When they came over, he was a child about ten or eleven. He may have been older. We saw some stories about him connected with the Lachish Letters. It was all quite plausible, their getting over here. But they were a bigger group, and Zarahemla was a big city. Zarahemla or Darahemla is a very good Oriental name. It means red city. You find it in other places. There’s a very important trading center right in the middle of the Sahara called Zarahemla (Dār) al-Ḥamrāʾ.
Question: The Phoenicians were ship people. Is it possible that the Mulekites had some connection with them?
Answer: Remember, if Lehi wanted to do business, he would do it either through Sidon, or he could do it through Tyre. But Sidon was the main port at that time. It’s a very interesting thing that the Phoenicians controlled Sidon at that time. They didn’t always, but at that time they controlled Sidon. And there were the Philistines at the same time. They were the coast people too. Of course, the Phoenicians spoke a language just like Hebrew, and they were the great ship people too. The alphabet and other things are attributed to the Phoenicians because they got around so much. They got around all over the place in Phoenician ships. You’ve heard of Cyrus Gordon. The Phoenicians came here, and you can find Phoenician inscriptions in Brazil, etc. In fact, I went down to see what was supposed to be a big Phoenician inscription (I think it was faked) on a rock at Los Lunas in New Mexico, where the ancient turquoise mines were. There was an inscription there and it was perfectly good Phoenician, but I thought somebody may have faked it. There was a bad mistake; somebody had gone over the letters recently with a sharp tool and they were all fresh cut. If they had left them alone so [the experts] could use the lighting etc., then you could see. But that can be decided. So the Phoenicians got around too. Barry Fell, the Harvard marine biologist, has all sorts of crackpot theories about the Libyans coming over here, etc. But actually there were Kon Tiki and the Ra. Heyerdahl’s voyages were to show that the trip could be made in either direction, on either the Pacific or the Atlantic. He crossed from Egypt in a reed boat; imagine a boat made of nothing but rushes. We are told that Lehi’s ship was a more solid structure than that, but these things are all right.
There are some other things to notice here. Mosiah came in with his group and was made king. Remember, he was told to leave this group of people in the Nephite settlement after (Chemish means five) about six kings. He was told to go because the people had gone bad again. He came out and landed up in Zarahemla, and they wanted him to be king. That’s a very normal procedure. I talked about tyrants. Sometimes they were very popular; sometimes they were chosen. Their great desire was to get themselves made king. It happened on numbers of occasions. We have that in our own time. Think of the foreign kings that have come in and been chosen by people. After Charles II it looked as if there was going to be a Catholic succession in England, and the English chose the king of Scotland [James VII] to come in and be [James II]. He was Scotch. He wasn’t English at all, but he came in and became king of England. Then when there was another showdown [during the reign of James II], they brought in William and Mary from the Netherlands. They became the rulers of England. Then later there was more trouble, and they brought in George I who didn’t even speak English. Even Queen Victoria spoke with aGerman accent. They brought in George I, and there were four Georges in a row. They were Germans, the Hanoverian kings. What were they doing in England? Well, the people elected them and called them in because there was tension, and they represented the dominant party and dominant interests. This sort of thing happens all the time. We think of the Romanovs, the czars, as the ancient rulers of Russia; they weren’t anything of the sort. That was just in the eighteenth century. Romanov was a pirate who just took over the throne and was accepted. It was the same thing with the last shah. His father, Reza Shah, was a giant of a man in the army. He was one of the nobility, but there has never been a single case in the long history of Persia where a legitimate shah has succeeded his father. They were always “bumped off,” and the shah was somebody else. It happened, as we mentioned, in sixty-seven cases. This last shah who was thrown out was put in by the CIA. He really was; that’s no secret. He pretended and put on all the glory of ancient Persia, a two-thousand-year-old empire and kingdom. It was that, but he wasn’t from a long line of kings at all. He was a big bully’s son.
We have two kinds of criticism in the Book of Mormon. When you criticize any ancient record, there are two ways of criticizing. You use macro-criticism or micro-criticism. That’s something new; I just discovered it. You can see what macro-criticism is. When you read the Book of Mormon, you say, “Is this really true?” Now we are talking about evidence here, but this is not the most important thing, of course. The evidence confirms the teachings, but the teachings wouldn’t need any evidence at all to hit you in the solar plexus because they are true. We find that out soon enough. But when you read this, you ask, “Is this the way things really were? Was it that kind of a world? Is that the way the world was at that time? Were the people agricultural and nomadic or urban? What was the setting? It sticks out all over here. Is it a jungle setting? And the geography—they move a great distance, but how great?” I would never waste five minutes on Book of Mormon geography until we get some definite points of reference. Well, you have Zarahemla, but we don’t know where Zarahemla was, as far as that goes. So don’t worry about that; it’s all relative anyway. But in macro-criticism there are great things to go by. There are some big things.
Then the micro-criticism is hundreds of details that get smaller and smaller. As we read more and more, we notice all sorts of little things. It’s their triviality that makes them so important. They are trivial clues, you see. They are the things that nobody ever would have bothered to think of, or dream up, or look up, or know this was the way things were done at that time. In the Book of Mormon these things are sowed around with a lavish hand—things that only an observer could know, like the tokens of recognition in the new comedy which with the Christians became the recognition literature. The family is separated, like they are in The Comedy of Errors or Twelfth Night, and how do they recognize each other? By a token, by a ring, or something a baby was buried with. A dress or something like that is the token, or the chest in which the baby was found. Or there are certain signs and tokens by which people recognize each other. Well, that’s the way it is with the Book of Mormon. Very often we come on these hints that could only come from a member of the family, you might say—the tokens of recognition you find in the recognition drama.
Notice the last verse of the preceding chapter, verse 15. It ends on a very upbeat affair. This is an interesting thing about this meeting. This was at the end of the very brilliant reign of Benjamin, who has made them victorious over their enemies and assured prosperity in the land. Things were going wonderfully. They are at the peak of their power, glory, and influence. It must have been a splendid affair, and all Benjamin does during his whole speech is to throw cold water on their pride, etc. Don’t get any ideas that you are anybody at all. He really cuts them down to size again and again. “I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness. . . .I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice,” he says (Mosiah 4:11-12). We are less than the dust. We are nothing and have no right to claim anything at all. He goes on and on; that’s the whole theme. Then when he gets to the end of his speech, it’s upbeat in Mosiah 5:15: “Always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through [notice] the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things in heaven and in earth, who is God above all.”
This takes us right back to Lehi’s day, and to Solon and to Plato. These are the four Platonic virtues. What are the Platonic virtues? Wisdom, justice, valor, moderation. Here we have wisdom and power. God doesn’t need valor or courage. If you are all powerful, you are not afraid of anything. But it’s God’s power, not men’s power. The equivalent in the Platonic virtues that men should possess is valor, the courage to carry on because our power is weak. But justice and mercy are the two great ones. Incidentally, from time to time a shaggy dog will pass among you. No, better than that, you will be afflicted by a few lines from Shakespeare. But you must allow that; you have to suffer that patiently. We know the speech on justice and mercy, don’t we?
The quality of mercy is not strained, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath; it is twice blessed; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: ‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest [the king]; it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown; His scepter shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings, But mercy is above this sceptered sway, It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself [here it is], And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew, Though justice be thy plea, consider this, That in the course of justice, none of us Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy, And that same prayer doth teach us all to render The deeds of mercy.
Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1
These are the old classic lines. Shakespeare was picking them up; actually, they go way back. These are called the Platonic virtues because he discussed their being in balance with each other. In the Book of Mormon King Benjamin gave an extremely well balanced and beautifully composed address. It’s a marvelous address which teaches above all things humility for men.
Now after that King Benjamin thought it was expedient to take the names of the people. See, he didn’t have a census at first. Remember, David offended the Lord by doing that. But it’s a very important part of this meeting. Remember, this took place at the new year, we are told, because they all brought their first-fruits. And it was the establishment of the new government because the new king was taking over. The date was set by the old king. He said, I’ll make you king on this particular date; you send out the announcement. It’s very interesting that he has his son make the announcement. Why should that be? Because according to the normal order, the meeting wouldn’t be held until the old king was dead. The son always announced the meeting and brought the people together because his father wasn’t there anymore. If he had done that before, he would be guilty of treason. He would be guilty of plotting against his father, to prematurely put him off the throne or something. So they always waited until the old king was out of the way and then his son would summon the people. Benjamin instructs his son that he is to bring the people together, to take charge of the meeting, etc. We saw what kind of meeting it was, including the speech from the tower and all the rest. That’s the old Jewish practice, which is not found in the Bible but is found in some other sources we saw last semester.
He had to take the names of all those who had entered the covenant. He didn’t force them to sign and take the names. What about their free rights, etc.? Those who signed the covenant were willing. They had already put their names on a covenant. So their names were taken and put on the list which is the Book of Life, which is opened at the new year. It is a register of all the people who have a right to live in the kingdom and pay taxes during that year. That’s what the Book of Life is. Remember, we call the Bible “the Book of Life that is opened at the beginning of the world.” It was the Babylonian and Egyptian custom and everywhere else. In Rome it is especially interesting; it’s the book, the incisi. At the new year, they told fortunes and used divination to discover what the fortunes of the new year were going to be. Everyone was assigned an appointment. It was the only time you could make contracts in most ancient societies. For example, in England if you wanted to hire a servant you had to do it at the great assembly, which goes way back. They have discovered in the last two or three years that those old stone circles, like Stonehenge and Avebury, should be dated differently. They have put them back two thousand years earlier. They go way back, and it’s very interesting that Silbury Hill, which is up there by Avebury, has the same dimensions exactly as the Great Pyramid and is now given the date 2750 B.C., which is the date of the Great Pyramid. It looks just like it. It’s a marvelous structure, the highest artificial mound in Europe. It’s up there in England by Marlborough.
They put them on the list of the incisi, the incised list. In Rome they had big wooden pillars. Like we have these swinging leaves with advertising on them, etc., they had these lead plates that would swing around. They used lead because it is easy to inscribe. They inscribed the name of every citizen, and every citizen had to come. We are told that at the end of the book of Zechariah, the next to the last book of the [Old Testament], that if any do not come up to Jerusalem at the new year to hail the new king, upon them shall be no rain and they will receive no blessings. You had to come, and in Rome they would come clear from Sicily and from Gaul so they could be present at the meeting. Way back in the time of the Republic, before the emperors, we are told of one venerable gent who was coming up from Calabria with his daughter to come to the meeting. On the mountain pass down there they were struck by lightning, so we know they were making a struggle to get to the meeting.
Everyone who signed agreed to keep the covenants. “You are this day reborn.” Remember, he gave them a new name. It was their birthday, it was the beginning of a new age. Everything began anew on that day. Everything was renewed. He had them all registered and took their names down, so they were all set for the new age now. Verse 2: “There was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant and had taken upon them the name of Christ.” Then all the people were registered, so now they could vote. Notice, he did this before he anointed or crowned his son because these people had to be registered voters in order to give the acclamatio. That’s the acclamation of the king. If you don’t raise your voice in acclamation of the king, then you are considered an outlaw, and you are banished from the kingdom for three years. This is the rule that you find almost everywhere, so that’s what we have here. “There was not one soul, except it were little children, but who had entered into the covenant” and had their names taken, and then they could approve the king because they were now full-fledged citizens.
Verse 3: “And again, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of all these things, and had consecrated his son Mosiah [and it’s a sacral government] to be a ruler and a king over his people, and had given him all the charges concerning the kingdom [now he can take it over], and also had appointed priests to teach the people . . .” You notice it is as in the law of Moses. They had kings of Israel and of Judah, but the priests taught the people in the temple and in the synagogue. The king was a teacher too, but in the temple and the synagogue the priests had their teachings to perform. It was Solomon Zeitlin who showed that synagogues did not first develop after the fall of the temple to take its place. They were just plain meeting houses, and they had them all along right from the first, “to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made.” They had taken a covenant and an oath, so he is to stir them up. You notice, this is the eniautos. They don’t repeat the ceremony. You only receive an endowment. You only take the oath once, but you remember it after. That’s why in the sacrament they always “remember him that they may keep his commandments which he has given them, and always have his spirit to be with them.” They renew the covenants, not by going through them again, but by a different ordinance. It renews the covenants we made of remembrance. “This do in remembrance of me,” as he said in the sacrament in the New Testament.
The king “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 which they had made” to renew the terms from time to time. Every year the oath was renewed. That’s why the people had to come and renew it. They didn’t say you only take it once because you take it for life. You take it forever, and you are never going to break it. That’s the idea, but we weaken and sometimes we have to renew them. And it’s as a witness. When we take the sacrament, it is as a witness that we remember. That’s what it’s for; you make the covenant once. That difference is interesting, whereas the Catholic mass claims to be the actual repetition of the event—that it actually is the sacrifice in a mystic way. With us, it is just recalling to memory. Then “he dismissed the multitude, and they returned, every one, according to their families, to their own houses.” Another very interesting touch. The great assembly in the Mosaic law and throughout the ancient world is by families. Everybody had to come as a pilgrim and be dismissed to his home after that. “Thou shalt not celebrate the Passover within thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Everyone had to come to this event as a pilgrim. They sat by family groups in circles, every family with its back to every other, every family by itself. We are told this not only in the New Testament and the Old Testament but in the Talmud too. In the last meeting when they take the meal, everyone must eat a piece of the meat at least as big as an olive, and they must eat it with a staff in their hand, their shoes on their feet, and their cloaks ready to go. Then they must leave when they are finished and not look back because it is a sacred place. It’s mactus. This is the holy place where [people] meet commonly with the ancestors, gods, and everything else. I’m talking about an order beginning the Hierocentric rites on which I have written a good deal. There’s a lot of stuff on this. If the place is mactus it’s the place open to the other world. You’ll notice with the Hopis, it’s a sand patch in the beginning. This is where you sit around here. There’s the altar and the two little trees on either side with their Christmas tree decorations on them. This is very ancient.
The Greeks called it the sand patch, the konistra, where nothing could grow and no mortal could stand. The chorus acting as kachinas would dance in there. Then right in the center of everything is the sipapu. That’s the hole that goes down to the underworld, which in Rome was called the mundus. It means the universe or the world. It had a stone on the top of it called the lapis manalis. This was the stone called the omphalos or the umbilical stone at Delphi, and it stood over this hole to the underworld. The lapis manalis means “the stone for keeping people in place, for keeping the spirits in their place.” During the festival the stone was taken off. The lapis was removed, and mundus patet was the formula. Our word mouth is cognate with mundus, and the word for world or universe is the same word. When they moved the stone, then it was mundus patet. The Mount Mundus is now open, the spirits come forth, the place is sacred, and everyone there is now mactus. You are exposed to great powers. The best [description] was from Egypt, recently written by Phillip Derchain on this very subject. What happens then? He said the meeting place at the temple was a powerhouse and was full of spirit electricity. Tremendous surges of power went through the place. It was a very awesome thing when they would come together at these meetings. Then when it was over, the mundus was closed and everybody went home. But they couldn’t go back there, except at the proper time and place, or they would be taken away and never seen again. Well, these things all run together. This is quite a detailed description of the meeting that we have been given in the book of Mosiah here. But it’s important that they met by families with their staffs in their hands, their shoes on their feet, and wearing their cloaks. They were not to look backward when they left because they were leaving until another year when they would come again.
Now we are on verse 4: “And Mosiah began to reign in his father’s stead. . . . And king Benjamin lived three years and he died.” Later on we are going to find what he did. He kept the books because he was a great antiquarian. We learned that from the early part. Remember, he made his sons learn Egyptian, as little as they liked it because it was a painful job. “King Mosiah did walk in the ways of the Lord, and did observe his judgments and his statutes, and did keep his commandments in all things whatsoever he commanded him.” Now here’s a good old Dead Sea Scrolls formula: The judgments, the statutes, and the commandments. They are the big three; they always go together here. In the Serekh Scroll, for example, the one is never mentioned without the other. It’s always the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments. The king is the judge, after all. Remember, King Solomon was the judge. The [judgments] are the laws that are laid down, and the commandments are those which have come from God. The statutes are written down by men, discussed in the council, and decided on. So we have the judgments, the statutes, and the commandments.
“And king Mosiah did cause his people that they should till the earth.” Now this is a tremendous clue. We talked about micro-criticism and macro-criticism. A good example of micro-criticism would be wisdom, power, justice, and mercy. Is it just a coincidence? How would he know those four Platonic virtues which in the time of Lehi were of such great importance? Now we come to this one. This is a macro which gives us a big picture of a way of life. These people were already living the standard way of the Indians. In that big volume by Driver and Massey, they have collected all the evidence available on the Indians at the time of Columbus, everything that was known about them. By far more than half of the United States, the whole eastern half which was bigger than the western half, was under cultivation. They were farmers; they weren’t nomads at all. There was hunting, just as in the jungle life in Central America and the milpas down in the Maya country, down in Chiapas. They lived in the jungle, yet they farmed. It was a method of farming. But they all farmed here; this is the point. “And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people [he was an egalitarian, and he didn’t do this just for show], that he might do according to that which his father had done in all things.” So it was their custom; they were a completely agrarian society.
Well, the Indians I know best because I visit them often are the Hopis. They are one hundred percent agrarian. It’s an advanced civilization. They are very intelligent in their histories, their legends, their arts, etc. And yet, their whole life is living on nothing but corn. That’s [almost] all they have to live on. They trade it with the Acoma for peppers and things like that, and they grow melons. Where there’s a heap of sand in a gully, you see a couple of little stunted peach trees growing- anything that will grow because it’s very desolate there. But it’s agriculture completely. You can have a society that lives on nothing else and yet flourish and be a great society. We will talk about that next time. “And there was no contention among all his people for the space of three years.” It is very interesting that they had no contention because the Hopis call themselves the Moquis, the peaceful people, the people that don’t contend. Anyone who has contention is kahopi, and that’s very bad. They have lived for centuries that way without contention. That’s why the Hopi means “the peaceful people.” They live on agriculture and have enough. They say, “If one of us has corn we all have corn.” There’s no tension; they know what the situation is. The situation is completely within their grasp because they know where every grain of corn is going to come from. It’s so simple.
I see the time is up now, so we have to break it up. We are now to Mosiah 7. We are just rushing along here. Isn’t it amazing that they are already living in the manner of Indians? It’s the Indian culture already established right here. Of course, they had been here a long time. After 500 years they should be well established.