With the background finished, It’s time to publish my notes. These were not written as a lesson help or substitute but I don’t mind if they are used to aid in lessons. Again, these are just my thoughts, so take it as you will. I’ve considered updating these thoughts with current knowledge I have but have decided against it to illustrate my thoughts and corrections have evolved over time. In later posts you’ll see corrections to previous things I’ve written.
King Mosiah sends out a declaration to the people asking whom they wish to be their king. The king is getting old. The reply comes back that Aaron, the son of Mosiah, be king. The people must have loved him quite a bit. There isn’t any footnote on what type of person he is but I believe an account of him and his brothers is given in the beginning chapters of Alma
Aaron rejects the kingdom. So do all the other sons of Mosiah. I wonder if it was hard to do. These men were the rightful heirs to the kingdom, a great chance to influence the entire land. However, they gave it up because they wanted to serve the Lord. This puts King Mosiah in a bit of a pickle. None of the heirs of the kingdom wish to have it. I’m sure he’s proud of his sons’ desires but there is still a kingdom that needs to be conferred. His solution: Turn to the people.
Verses 5-32 constitute his declaration/epistle to the people. We’ll look at it a bit more in depth soon. What Mosiah did was what you are supposed to do in government, turn to the voice of the people. When he didn’t know what to do, he turned to the author of the government, the people. He asked what they wanted. The same thing applies spiritually speaking. When you don’t know what to do in your life, turn to the author of your life, God. Ask what He wants you to do. The problem that arises in government is we get caught up in our own agenda and we forget about the people that elected us. In our spiritual lives we forget God. Yes, you could argue God/People trust you and therefore you ought to be free to do whatever, but there has to be a balance. God/People expect you to use your brain to make decisions, but they don’t want your to use your brain so much you stop talking to people/God. Balance man.
King Mosiah tells the people the problem. He’s open and transparent about it. In verses 6-9, the people are told the person to whom the kingdom rightfully belongs won’t take it. And he is afraid should another be appointed in his stead, Aaron wouldn’t like him and would lead away a faction of the people and there would be many wars and contentions. It seems to me Aaron was very qualified to be the king. The people appear to love him.
In verse 8 he says the people ought to be wise. They have no right to kill his son, nor anyone else if they were appointed in his stead. That must mean the people were angry Aaron didn’t want the throne. That he should take the throne or die! That seems a little harsh. Seems to me some people thought Aaron the only way. Maybe the people thought he was the only one righteous enough to be king? That if it was anyone else, they all would fall into wickedness and be destroyed. And it would be better for them to be destroyed quickly rather than a long drawn out battle of conflicts. I think there are some people who think like that today. That there is only one way. And any other way is death. That’s probably why king Mosiah exhorts them to think this through logically.
Verse 9 is probably how we can discover why Aaron didn’t take the kingdom. But before I do that, I just wanted a disclaimer. What I said in the the last paragraph was a lot of speculation. I was imagining what could have happened to help me understand the scripture more. Just because I imagine how things went, however logical they may sound, doesn’t necessarily mean they happened. Look to the fruits of my writing. If it invites you to draw closer to Christ and to serve him, consider it. If not, then leave it. But understand I’m not trying to deceive anyone. This is a learning process for me just as it is for anyone else. Listen the Spirit. Continuing on, I’ll copy in verse 9 so we can talk about it and mark it a little.
“And if my son should turn again to his pride and vain things he would recall the things which he had said and claim his right to the kingdom, which would cause him and also this people to commit much sin.”
I’ve broken this quote into three parts. Look at the bold part first. King Mosiah is saying if his son were to go back to his old ways (remember, he is righteous now. He saw an angel, he repented, he’s good now.). If he were to go back, look at the part that is italicized. If he were to go back to his old ways, he would recall his words and take the kingdom. I don’t know to what, “things which he had said,” refers to. Possibly everything good he has said/taught since being forgiven. Maybe a speech giving his reasons for not taking the kingdom? I don’t know. I don’t think it matters too much. What does matter though is the way Aaron is now-righteous- means he will not take up the kingdom. the only way he would rule is if he went back to being wicked. Which, as the underlined part said, would cause him and the people to commit much sin. What the specific reasons are for Aaron not taking the kingdom are not known. Maybe he felt because he had done all those bad things before, he had forfeited the kingdom? Maybe he thought if he took it up, he would easily go back to his old ways? That by not doing so would protect himself and the people of the kingdom. Maybe he genuinely didn’t want to rule. I don’t know. I suppose it isn’t too important. But it’s fun to think about.
Having no option for a further king, Mosiah puts forth his proposal in Verse 11. Set judges to judge the people according to the law. Cross reference Mosiah 29:25, this is a little later on in the chapter but it says the judges are chosen by the voice of the people. If you can’t have a righteous king-that is the ideal in any society-then you should have the next best thing, judges. In the case of the Nephites, there were wise men, chosen by the voice of the people according to the commandments of God. Cross reference Exodus 18:13. Judges aren’t something new. Moses used them. Like in the Book of Mormon, Jethro told Moses to pick able men who feared God. Although they couldn’t have a king, they wanted righteous men ho deal justly with the people.
Judges Aren’t New
Other references in the Old Testament talk about the use of judges include Deuteronomy 16:18 and Ezra 7:25. Here’s a cool thought: We still have judges today. Maybe not like King Mosiah’s time or Moses’ time where they judge all the people. But we still do. Ever heard the bishop is a Judge in Israel? See D&C 107:74. He is one of the people that judges. He is in charge of his branch/ward. I suppose the point I’m trying to make is the Book of Mormon didn’t pull this setting up of judges from nowhere. The people pulled this idea from their heritage. They probably knew, or at least king Mosiah knew about Moses’ judges. Maybe it just seemed like the logical thing to do.
King Mosiah’s reasoning is if every king could be good like him and his father, king Benjamin, then of course you could always have a king. But he says not all kings are like that (Verse 13,16.)
I wonder if he knew about events that would come. Because up to this point in the Book of Mormon they have had good kings and bad. I don’t think there was been any event that transpired that made king Mosiah think, “We need judges because this king thing isn’t going to work out.” My only conclusion is God must have let him know. Must have given him a glimpse into what would happen if the judges weren’t set up. Usually If you sons don’t take the kingdom, no big deal, others can be found. It isn’t the first time in history something like this has happened. God must have told him,”If your sons don’t take the kingdom, don’t let there be another king.” Cross reference 1 Samuel 8:4-22. This is the footnote for verse 16. It’s talking about how the people desire a king. Samuel tells them it isn’t a good idea and tells them God desires them to have judges. The setting Samuel describes with what would happen with judges sounds very logical and desirable. But the people don’t want it! Samuel tells the Lord and the Lord gives his consent for a king. Why would the people want a king over a good society of judges? Go back to 1 Samuel 8:20 here are the reasons.
- Be like all nations
- King alone may judge us
- King may go out before us
- King may fight our battles
Pride. That’s why they didn’t want a system of judges. They wanted to be like everyone else. They wanted to do it all (survive, thrive, fall, everything really) alone. If their civilization falls, it’s on the king because he does everything. Unrighteous kings take away responsibility from the people. Whereas if you have numerous elected officials in charge of judging the people, while allowing the people to play an active role, the responsibility is more spread out and stabilizes the civilization. If it falls, its because the people allowed it to, not because a king-one person-made a mistake or miscalculation. Also, with a king, there is something epic about being a successful king. The stakes are high and that may have played a part in why the people wanted a king.
Stay tuned for the next piece of Mosiah 29!