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King Benjamin, Ancient American Ruler

Leaders of integrity or infamy found in The Book of Mormon provide the fodder for spiritual growth and self-improvement. It was made for us.

Confucius expressed the idea that order comes to society through the superior man who cultivates himself for the benefit of his family and society. King Benjamin taught in addition that such cultivation leads to divinity and a love of God.

Benjamin's sermon set the mark for a standard of devotion to God that cultivates higher reasoning and directs human thought and behavior toward celestial things.

Confucius Rendering

king-benjamin-law-giver-of-the-nephite-nation

Heritage of King Benjamin

Clarion calls to the city of Jerusalem came, in 600 BC, from a multitude of prophets, Jeremiah being the chief among them, of the city's destruction and carrying away or murder of its inhabitants. Lehi, one of many prophets in Jerusalem, received revelatory instruction to flee Jerusalem in a caravan of two large families to avoid the destruction of that city-state by Babylon. Through miraculous means, the people of Lehi built a ship that voyaged to the ancient Americas, possibly South America, where a settlement developed.

Lehi died of old age. Nephi, a younger son of Lehi, received divine recognition as Lehi's appointed successor, but the elder brothers, Laman and Lamuel, and their supporters rebelled. Nephi and his supporters fled the settlement when he received warning in a dream to escape his brother's fratricidal coup forming a new settlement creating a division in the people of Lehi. This new smaller division, the people of Nephi, developed what they referred to as their "First Inheritance," the place of Nephi, the City of Nephi under the legitimate leadership of Nephi.

King Mosiah and his people lived in the city-state centuries after the first group had taken the name Nephites in honor of Nepi, who refused to be king, though he acted in such a capacity. Mosiah's society had become so wicked God saved those who would listen to leave the city-state, rife with intrigue. Revelatory dreams instructed him to flee his native land before death came. Such revelation probably instructed Mosiah to leave his city-state because another conglomeration of ethnicities referred to as Lamanites planned to attack, taking the city-state, the city of Nephi.

Civil unrest and religious apostasy caused the fall of that city. King Mosiah fled with as many people as would accompany him to a new beginning just as Nephi did centuries before. At the conclusion of his flight, King Mosiah found the people of the land of Zarahemla who welcomed him and his people anointing him king over that land! King Mosiah passed away during peaceful prosperity after dealing with the tumult of his past, fleeing his homeland.

King Benjamin's reign began during perilous times just as his father Mosiah's did in the new monarchal reign in the city Zarahemla--perils of transitional philosophy and not trepidatious flight.

King Benjamin Rendering

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Confucius expressed the idea that order comes to society through the superior man who cultivates himself for the benefit of his family and society.

New Seat of Power

The Mulekites, the group who welcomed the people Nephi and crowned their king, Mosiah, over the land also learned the Nephite languages and united under a Nephite banner in this new Kingdom in Zarahemla.

After a period of presumable peace, the conglomeration of ethnicities called Lamanites found the new Nephite location in Zarahemla just as they did with the City of Nephi to wage war. Benjamin had to step into his role quickly of monarch to take command of the situation. With the smooth transition into under their new King, King Benjamin, Nephites celebrated a victory over their foes. Zarahemla did not fall to enemies causing royalty to flee. King Benjamin's city-state, chief among his new nation, remained the Nephite cultural and policticl capital, Zarahemla, for centuries.

King Benjamin taught in addition that such cultivation leads to divinity and a love of God.

Family

King Mosiah transitioned peacefully into his new role as monarch, inspired the kingdom with spiritually divine gifts, and died peacefully. legitimately commissioning the new united kingdom to Benjamin. Mormon abridged the record containing the history of King Benjamin. Only a third of Mormon's record exists accessible in modern times. In this chronicle, The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, there is no record of King Benjamin's spouse, siblings, or mother. He had three sons named Mosiah, Helorum, and Helaman--the oldest named after his father.

Benjamin educated his sons in the Mosaic Law and languages of Nephite culture and society. Like his father, King Mosiah, who labored to integrate Nephites into a new culture while maintaining the old religious ways prescribed by the Law of Moses, Benjamin adopted the lifelong purpose of bringing the people of his war-ravaged kingdom back to peace-time status, a kingdom of more than a city-state, a kingdom of God.

What type of man was King Benjamin?

Mormon recorded he "was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness." [Words of Mormon 1:17]The fact that he was a holy man is significant.

  • What does it mean to be a Holy Man in Nephite society?
  • Does it mean the spirit of prophecy and revelation?
  • Does it mean service and sheltering the poor?
  • Does it mean laboring for self-support?

All of those things apply to King Benjamin, the recipient of sacred records kept by the prophets, specifically Amaleki who, "knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord." [Omini 1:25] Amaleki, a sacred record keeper, one of a line who recorded the history of the kingdom by divine injunction entrusted the records of his charge to King Benjamin before he died. That vouches for the character of this king!

Good things about his character show in the record as he spoke to his subjects before relinquishing the throne to Mosiah who also became a great King.

King Benjamin's theological and historical influence on Nephite society and key doctrinal truths about conversion to Christ receive attention over the course of several articles. Mormon's desired to testify of the divinity of Jesus Christ as he compiled records in the 4th century AD led to the inclusion of Benjamin's history and theology for the benefit of the modern reader to convert to Jesus Christ,

All Hail King Benjamin!

After the battle with the Lamanites and the trials, convictions, and punishment of war criminals among the Nephites, the people became hardened, lacking the ability to turn to goodness readily. Prolonged war and destruction have psychological effects on people, both good and bad in all ages. In an article entitled,

Combat: the Emotions of War, the author expresses the following:

War is the most destructive and pitiless of all human activities. And yet the experience of war has a profound and strangely compelling effect on those who fight. Combat kills, maims, and terrifies, but it can also reveal the power of brotherhood and a selfless sense of purpose. It’s an experience that changes soldiers, and those changes last a lifetime. of destroying empathy in some people leading to perverse and lecherous practices. [1]

War hardens the hearts of many people, almost killing the good left inside. War also softened the hearts of many people evidenced by the words of King Benjamin and like-minded supporters. There is no record among the people of Nephi of any organization that offered any type of outlet for spiritual growth other than the monarchal structure--no church, or house of worship.

King Benjamin felt a duty and loving responsibility to his people to teach them about God along with a multitude of other "holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority, and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land. [Words of Mormon 1:17-18]

Benjamin had no easy time bringing stability to his kingdom following the war. It's possible he went about with the prophets speaking peace to the people and restoring their faith in the covenants of Jehovah and preaching the Law of Moses as the correct path to follow in life, directing them towards the coming of Christ.

The prophets used sharpness, directness; so, it is possible that these men of God reminded them that destruction laid at their doors if they did not heed the statutes of Jehovah.

God would not protect them if they did not turn away from base and wicked things. Lehi extended a blessing to the children of Laman and Lemuel in the first generation of settlers. "I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go," Lehi offers, "ye will not depart from it." [2 Nephi 4:5] Their descendants, "because of my blessing, the Lord God will not suffer that ye shall perish; wherefore, He will be merciful unto you and unto your seed forever." [2 Nephi 4:7]. No such blessing extended to the Nephites. In fact, a conditional curse followed the Nephite of which Benjamin and the prophets undoubtedly reminded their people:

If they will not repent, and observe to do my will, I will utterly destroy them, saith the Lord, because of their unbelief notwithstanding the many mighty works which I have done among them; and as surely as the Lord liveth shall these things be, saith the Lord. [Helaman 15:17]

The prophets used sharpness, directness; so, it is possible that these men of God reminded them that destruction laid at their doors if they did not heed the statutes of Jehovah.

Teaching With Sharpness

The same usage occurs in Doctrine and Covenants 121:43. Kent P. Jackson and Robert D. Hunt, a professor of ancient scripture at BYU (when this was written) and master’s degree in ancient Near Eastern studies respectively noted:

Although the definitions of sharpness are broad enough to allow for “harshness” and “cutting,” such caustic responses are unlikely to correct a wayward person and are devoid of the spirit in which the counsel is given. Joseph Smith was explicit when he added that we reprove “when moved upon by the Holy Ghost,” which is not present when harshness and anger are used. [2]

After bloody wars people become hard. Hand-to-hand combat requires brutal force with horrific outcomes. Each strike from a weapon intimately connected the warrior to his defeated victim as blood splattered the victor's face and body. The people became numb as dead bodies piled around them and death continued after the war as the wounded caught diseases and perished.

Widows and grieving parents wailed about the loss of their warrior sons and questioned: why did the heavens allow it to happen. The depravity the people witnessed constituted the reason King Benjamin and the prophets labored to renew the hope of the people.

Divine intervention brought to the kingdom respite as

there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days. [Mosiah1:1]

No wars! No fighting! ...just building and teaching.

Next Article of a Series about King Benjamin

Source Information

© 2013 Rodric Anthony Johnson

Comments

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 09, 2014:

Well, I would not say a cover up, but an explanation instead. We both know that there are different belief systems even within the LDS cultures. I do not believe that current New World population are all descendants of Lehi only.

I believe that they are among them though. There are the tribes of Judah and Joseph who are mentioned as among the Nephites and Lamanites--mostly the tribe of Joseph. Of the tribe of Joseph, Manasseh is the largest portion recorded of actual Nephites. The Lamanites are mostly of Ephraim though I think that Manasseh eventually took over. Eventually Manasseh reigned supreme of the lineages among both groups.

The Mulekites, another group that came were mostly of the tribe of Judah. They, as a group, joined the Nephites; eventually mixing in with them and taking on their language and culture.

I do believe that people of Asian ancestry lived in America before the Nephites, the Jaredites. I believe that there were other groups here already of Asian descent that the Nephites and Lamanites intermixed to form the peoples of the Americas today.

I also believe that the tribe Judah and the half tribe of Benjamin did return to Jerusalem. The other tribes will manifest themselves in other places such as Ephraim and Manasseh inheriting the Americas.

Oh, and I figured as much about believing.

passingtheword on March 08, 2014:

You got me here rodric. That sound so crazy.

Soooo... This is what i read. I think we are on the the same page that dna shows that the American Indians are from east Asia... Ok.. Know this is the kicker that i want you to answer (play alone and i will) do you believe that the ancient Israelites migrated to Asia then to America ?

The book of Ezra and Jeremiah teach the Israelites returned to Israel. Is the bible lying in you opinion?

Your response sounds like another cover up for false teaching.

Will i believe? No there is to much evidence to show that lds doctrine is wrong.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 08, 2014:

Getting sick of you is a strong thought. I would say more annoyed that you do not do a litte more research: However, I should not expect you to do more research! I should expect you to do exactly what you have done. Thank you for bothering to comment though we may disagree on many things.

The is not DNA from the ancient Israelites in order to compare Native Americans with; so, why would there be traits that are similar to current Jews. Current Jews are not even of the original ancestry seeing as how group of White Russians converted to the Jewish faith and most American Jews and European Jews trace their ancestry back to that group rather than Abraham. Of course there would be no markers that match!

It is not false, but the truth that Lehi and his family went to the Americas and became ONE of many groups of people who are the ancestors of the people who live there. Even if undeniable proof were revealed, which it will happen soon, would that make you believe?

And don't answer the it would not happen so that you are not worried, play along and answer truthfully/

passingtheword on March 07, 2014:

Rodric, I know you are getting sick of me… but you say that king Benjamin was a Nephite a decedent of the Israelites. And according the LDS doctrine the Nephites are a decedent of the American Indians.

Know why does DNA show that the American Indians have no traits of Israelite blood. Basically saying that the American Indians are not a decedent of the Israelites and proving that LDS doctrine is false.

Why? Because it was all made up.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on March 06, 2014:

Frank, that is a choice that you have made, not a religious decree from God. You can believe what you will.

frank on March 01, 2014:

As a Jewish I can't follow or believe anything outside of Torah or tanakh.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on September 18, 2013:

Thanks Onusonus for reading and commenting.

Onusonus on September 17, 2013:

This is an awesome piece. Thumbs up.

Rodric Anthony Johnson (author) from Surprise, Arizona on September 17, 2013:

I was my great pleasure to write it. Thanks for commenting and reading.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on September 16, 2013:

This is a very interesting hub. Thank you for writing it.

Voted up.

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