Mosiah Chapter 28
Mosiah 28:3 The sons of Mosiah could not bear that any human soul should perish.
1 Now it came to pass that after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things, they took a small number with them and returned to their father, the king, and desired of him that he would grant unto them that they might, with these whom they had selected, go up to the land of Nephi that they might preach the things which they had heard, and that they might impart the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites-
verse 1 "after the sons of Mosiah had done all these things" Mosiah's four sons had just traveled throughout the land of Zarahemla, declaring Jesus Christ to the people and trying to repair the damage they had done to the church.
"they took a small number with them" We do not know, of course, just who or how many the four sons of Mosiah took with them on their mission to the Lamanites (see also Alma 17:8).
2 That perhaps they might bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God, and convince them of the iniquity of their fathers; and that perhaps they might cure them of their hatred towards the Nephites, that they might also be brought to rejoice in the Lord their God, that they might become friendly to one another, and that there should be no more contentions in all the land which the Lord their God had given them.
verse 2 Note that the goals of the sons of Mosiah included not only to preach the gospel to the Lamanites ("bring them to the knowledge of the Lord their God"), but also to "convince them of the iniquity of their fathers." Please refer back to the discussion of the important concept of the "founding myth" tradition of the Lamanites, found in the commentary for Jacob 3:3-9. The sons of Mosiah were not only going to preach the gospel, but they also were going to attack head-on the primary source of Lamanite animosity, the traditional hatred of the Nephites held by the Lamanites, the "traditions of their [the Lamanites'] fathers." They hoped to disabuse some of the Lamanites of this heinous tradition. Thus, in a sense, this was also a diplomatic mission intended to try to establish peace between the two peoples. We will learn later that they were, in some measure, successful in this crusade.
3 Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
verse 3 To declare "salvation" to a people is, of course, to preach Jesus Christ to them.
"the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble" It is likely that the anguish of soul, which the sons of Mosiah experienced in the hours and days after the angel appeared to them, was excruciating. Like Alma, they also had waded through tribulation and had been "nigh unto death" during their process of repentance (Mosiah 17:28). The suffering they had endured had surely taught them empathy for others who were also called upon to "endure endless torment." Again, "endless torment" does not mean torment which goes on forever. It is simply a term which means God's suffering-the suffering God intends or feels appropriate (D&C 19:10-12).
4 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.
verse 4 "And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them" This verse explains how the Spirit schooled the sons of Mosiah and caused them to become the fully converted and fully committed saints which they had become (see verses 1-3 above).
"they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities" Here is a reminder that true repentance involves more than merely apologizing. It may also involve the necessity of experiencing the godly sorrow discussed in the commentary for Mosiah 26:29. Apparently, the insight necessary to feel true godly sorrow can be experienced only with the help of the Spirit through personal revelation and personal travail.
5 And it came to pass that they did plead with their father many days that they might go up to the land of Nephi.
6 And king Mosiah went and inquired of the Lord if he should let his sons go up among the Lamanites to preach the word.
7 And the Lord said unto Mosiah: Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites.
verse 7 Who is it that is promised eternal life in this verse, the sons of Mosiah or the Lamanites to whom they will preach the gospel? It would seem that it is most likely the former.
As we follow the sons of Mosiah on their fourteen-year mission to the Lamanites in the land of Nephi, we will see that the Lord will be kept busy keeping his promise to protect the missionaries. On several occasions they will find themselves in harm's way, yet they will never walk alone.
8 And it came to pass that Mosiah granted that they might go and do according to their request.
9 And they took their journey into the wilderness to go up to preach the word among the Lamanites; and I shall give an account of their proceedings hereafter.
verse 9 The date for this verse in the 1981 edition of the Book of Mormon is given as "about 92 BC" It probably ought to be changed to 91 BC based on the information in Alma 17:6 and Mosiah 29:44.
"I shall give an account of their proceedings hereafter" Who is the first person in this verse? It is the prophet Mormon, of course. He will provide an account of the fourteen-year mission of the sons of Mosiah in Alma chapters 17 through 26.
10 Now king Mosiah had no one to confer the kingdom upon, for there was not any of his sons who would accept of the kingdom.
11 Therefore he took the records which were engraven on the plates of brass, and also the plates of Nephi, and all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God, after having translated and caused to be written the records which were on the plates of gold which had been found by the people of Limhi, which were delivered to him by the hand of Limhi;
verse 11 Notice that this verse is not a complete sentence. The thought begun in this verse is not completed until verse 20, as verses 12-19 form an eight-verse parenthetical expression. Here we learn that Mosiah gathers up the sacred records and other objects which he holds in his possession. We are not told why he is gathering them up until verse 20.
The "plates of brass" are, of course, the brass plates of Laban.
What are the "plates of Nephi"? These consist of two separate sets of plates: (1) the "small" plates of Nephi, now a completed set, which were begun in 570 BC, and (2) the collection of plates we refer to as the "large" plates of Nephi begun earlier in 589 BC. If you are not "fresh" in your understanding of the plates of the Book of Mormon, please review the article, Those Confusing Book of Mormon Plates.
"all the things which he had kept and preserved according to the commandments of God" These things would include the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim or interpreters, the Liahona, and perhaps other sacred objects.
Also included were the twenty-four gold plates containing the writings of the prophet Ether which were found in the land Desolation by the expedition sent out by King Limhi. In addition, Mosiah had made and included in his gathering a translation of these plates. Here is a question to contemplate: Do we today have access to Mosiah's translation of these twenty-four gold plates? The answer will be given below in the commentary for verse 19.
12 And this he did because of the great anxiety of his people; for they were desirous beyond measure to know concerning those people who had been destroyed.
verse 12 The word "anxiety" is used here somewhat differently than we tend to use it today. Today we are inclined to use the word to mean uneasiness or apprehension. In this verse its meaning seems to be more eagerness, determination, concern, or even curiosity.
13 And now he translated them by the means of those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow.
verse 13 "those two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow" These two stones are the "interpreters" or the Urim and Thummim. Please review the commentary for Mosiah 8:13. Joseph Smith described the Urim and Thummim as "two transparent stones set in the rim of a silver bow fastened to a breast plate" (HC, 1:35). Please see the description of this device in The Process of Translating the Book of Mormon in Ye Shall Know of the Doctrine, volume 2, Appendix A.
14 Now these things were prepared from the beginning, and were handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages;
verse 14 "These things" are, of course, the interpreters.
15 And they have been kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people;
verse 15 "that he should discover to every creature who should possess the land the iniquities and abominations of his people" The word "discover" means reveal. The Urim and Thummim is one medium through which the Lord may reveal to his prophet a comprehensive look of the world from beginning to end. This sweeping vision might include the "iniquities and abominations" of the world's people. It is then the prophet's responsibility to warn the people that they must repent of their iniquities.
16 And whosoever has these things is called seer, after the manner of old times.
verse 16 Whoever possesses the Urim and Thummim is a "seer"-one who sees. The terms seer and the prophet are not necessarily synonymous (see the commentary for Mosiah 8:15-16).
17 Now after Mosiah had finished translating these records, behold, it gave an account of the people who were destroyed, from the time that they were destroyed back to the building of the great tower, at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people and they were scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth, yea, and even from that time back until the creation of Adam.
18 Now this account did cause the people of Mosiah to mourn exceedingly, yea, they were filled with sorrow; nevertheless it gave them much knowledge, in the which they did rejoice.
19 And this account shall be written hereafter; for behold, it is expedient that all people should know the things which are written in this account.
verse 19 "And this account shall be written hereafter" Where can we find Mosiah's translation of the twenty-four plates of Ether found by Limhi's people? Do we have access to it? Perhaps we do. The book of Ether, written by Mormon's son Moroni, is possibly Moroni's abridgment of Mosiah's translation. It is also possible that the book of Ether is Moroni's independent translation of the twenty-four plates (see Ether 1:1-2).
20 And now, as I said unto you, that after king Mosiah had done these things, he took the plates of brass, and all the things which he had kept, and conferred them upon Alma, who was the son of Alma; yea, all the records, and also the interpreters, and conferred them upon him, and commanded him that he should keep and preserve them, and also keep a record of the people, handing them down from one generation to another, even as they had been handed down from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem.
verse 20 "and also the interpreters" For a discussion of the interpreters, see the commentary for Mosiah 8:13.
"and commanded him that he should . . . also keep a record of the people" Alma's record will be recorded on plates-the "large plates of Nephi."