Mosiah Chapter 6
1 And now, king Benjamin thought it was expedient, after having finished speaking to the people, that he should take the names of all those who had entered into a covenant with God to keep his commandments.
2 And it came to pass that 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.
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 to be a ruler and a king over his people, and had given him all the charges concerning the kingdom, and also had 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, he dismissed the multitude, and they returned, every one, according to their families, to their own houses.
verse 3 "Benjamin . . . consecrated his son Mosiah to be a ruler and a king over his people" It was the tradition in ancient Israel to anoint the king with oil as part of the coronation ceremony. We are not told here whether Mosiah's "consecration" included anointing. It is apparent, however, that some ritual act was involved. Earlier in the Book of Mormon we were told that Nephite kings were "anointed" (see Jacob 1:9).
"appointed priests to teach the people" It is interesting to note that in ancient Israel, during the coronation of Israelite kings, typically there was a reappointment of priests and the reconstitution of officers for the new regime (Stephen D. Ricks, "The Coronation of Kings," a FARMS reprint, July 1989).
In the book of Mosiah, ordaining to the priesthood seems to be a royal prerogative. This is not to suggest that kings had the right to ordain because of their positions as political rulers; rather it has been suggested that kingship among the Nephites was a priesthood calling (Daniel C. Peterson, "Priesthood in Mosiah" in The Book of Mormon: Mosiah, Salvation Only Through Christ, 189). Brother Peterson observes: "This notion of a priestly kingship is perhaps a bit jarring to modern readers, living in a society where church and state are kept separate as a matter of principle. But it should not be so disturbing to Latter-day Saints, whose aspirations for the life to come include becoming both 'priests and kings' (D&C 76:56). . . . Furthermore, it seems that Christ, the true king of Israel, holds his kingship as a priesthood office. . . . Kingship in the Book of Mormon is very much a religious affair, much as it had been (or had been intended to be) among the Israelites of the Old World" (Ibid., 190).
In the Book of Mormon, the verb "consecrate" is commonly used in placing a king into office (Mosiah 2:11; Alma 2:9). This very same verb is used in the Book of Mormon for ordination of priests (2 Nephi 5:26; 2 Nephi 5:6:2; Jacob 1:18; Mosiah 11:5; Mosiah 23:17; Alma 4:4; Alma 4:7; Alma 5:3; Alma 23:4). The Nephite king was regarded by the Nephites as representing God on earth. The king speaks for and on behalf of God.
"to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made" In ancient Israel the king was considered to be the guardian or caretaker of the covenant between God and man.
4 And Mosiah began to reign in his father's stead. And he began to reign in the thirtieth year of his age, making in the whole, about four hundred and seventy-six years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem.
verse 4 We learned from the prophet Jacob that the Nephite kings, at their coronation, were given a new name. They "were called by the people second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth, according to the reigns of the kings" (Jacob 1:10-11). Apparently, between the time Jacob made his record and Mosiah acceded to the throne, this practice of using Nephi as a royal name had been changed. Perhaps this change was made since the kingdom was no longer located in the land of Nephi. Mosiah is always referred to as simply "Mosiah." Whether Mosiah is his given name or his royal name given at the time of his coronation is unknown. We learned previously that "Mosiah" may be a title meaning "savior" or "deliverer" (see the commentary for Omni 1:12). Mosiah will reign for thirty-three years from 124 BC to 91 BC. He will die in office at age sixty-three.
"making in the whole, about four hundred and seventy-six years from the time that Lehi left Jerusalem" (italics added) The word about in this phrase might give the impression that the Nephites had developed some uncertainty over their keeping track of the years. It is likely that Mosiah's coronation took place very near the time of the 476th anniversary of Lehi's departure from Jerusalem. Thus, the word about might be interpreted as "almost exactly" (Randall P. Spackman, "Introduction to Book of Mormon Chronology: The Principal Prophecies, Calendars, and Dates," a FARMS reprint).
5 And king Benjamin lived three years and he died.
verse 5 It is interesting to note that Benjamin conferred the kingdom on his son Mosiah three years before Benjamin died. Apparently there was a precedent for this in ancient Israelite culture. "Both Solomon and Jotham became king while their fathers were still alive and ruling (1 Kings 1:32-40; 1 Kings 2:1-10; 2 Kings 15:5)" (Stephen D. Ricks, "The Ideology of Kingship in Mosiah 1-6" a FARMS reprint). Benjamin was probably about seventy years old or in his early seventies at his death.
6 And it came to pass that 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.
7 And king Mosiah did cause his people that they should till the earth. And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people, that he might do according to that which his father had done in all things. And there was no contention among all his people for the space of three years.
verse 7 Just as his father before him (see Mosiah 2:14), Mosiah earned his bread by his own labor.