|Books of the Book of Mormon|
The Book of Mosiah is one of the books which make up the Book of Mormon. The title refers to Mosiah II, a king of the Nephites at Zarahemla. The book covers the time period between ca 130 BC and 91 BC, except for when the book has a flashback into the Record of Zeniff, which starts at ca 200 BC, according to footnotes.
King Benjamin Speaks and Appoints an Heir
The Book of Mosiah opens with the Nephites (the descendants of Nephite people and the people of Zarahemla who merged together and are now called the Nephites) living in peace under the rule of righteous King Benjamin in the land of Zarahemla. King Benjamin, who is getting old, decides to bestow the throne on his son Mosiah. He gathers all the people together and speaks to them from a high tower.
His discourse in chapters 2 through 9 is considered by many Book of Mormon readers to be a significant piece of the Book of Mormon. He speaks of his principles of leadership, he emphasizes that he has worked himself as to not burden his people with taxes, and that the laws he has enacted are based on the laws of God. He states that serving one another is equivalent to serving God. He speaks of an angelic visitation and prophecies of Jesus Christ, his birth, identifying his mother as being named Mary, his ministry and miracles, his suffering, death and resurrection. He speaks of Jesus as being the judge, of his atonement as the means to overcome sin and the tendencies of the natural man in order to become a holy person. He emphasizes the importance to have faith in Jesus and to repent in order to become a child of Jesus Christ through His atonement.
He also decrees that his son Mosiah is the new king. (He is the second king Mosiah, as his grandfather was also King Mosiah.)
An Expedition to the Land of Nephi and a Story Within a Story
The book changes time narration as it reflects on events that were past but are now being unfolded. The Nephites wanted to know what had happened to some of them who had taken a trip back to the land of Nephi in an attempt to reclaim it. Mosiah sends a small group on an expedition to find out (chapter 7). Some of this small group is met by guards and taken to prison and then brought before a king named Limhi. Limhi tells this group their story and shows the Record of Zeniff, who was the leader of the first group to try and reclaim the land of Nephi. This story within a story encompasses chapters 9 through 22.
Zeniff, whose original mission was to spy on the Lamanites, began to like the land, and decided to try to reclaim it. This led to a conflict in his party which ended in bloodshed, but ultimately he got his way. He made a deal with the king of the Lamanites to have a piece of the land of Nephi. He becomes king of this Nephite colony. They had some altercations with the Lamanites, but prevailed at that time.
Zeniff dies and passes rule to his son Noah. Noah is a wicked king. He is one of the more favorite villains among Book of Mormon readers. He collects exorbitant taxes from his people to build a palace and he and his ministers live a life of comfort, ease and self indulgence. His wicked ways lead the whole colony into wickedness.
Evil King Noah and the Preaching of Righteous Abinadi
Then along comes a man named Abinadi. He is a holy man, a prophet, and he begins to preach that they must repent. He speaks against King Noah and prophecies that he will be killed if he doesn't repent. Abinadi is arrested and brought before King Noah where he gives what is considered a very important discourse in the Book of Mormon (chapters 12-16). Abinadi asks the ministers what they preach and they respond that they preach the Law of Moses. Abinadi then tells them that they ought to teach the Law of Moses, but rebukes them for not obeying it themselves, including the Ten Commandments, which he quotes to them. Abinadi then continues to explain that the Law of Moses is a teaching method to prepare people for the coming of Jesus Christ. He speaks of the atonement, faith, repentance and redemption through Jesus. He quotes Isaiah 53 and explains the seed of Christ, the resurrection, and that little children who die are saved in Christ.
King Noah and his priests are angered by this and sentence him to death by fire.
One of King Noah's priests named Alma is stirred by Abinadi's words and pleas on his behalf. He too is accused and he flees. Alma hides and writes down the words of Abinadi. After a period of sore repentance, Alma begins to preach the words of Abinadi and the doctrine of Christ to the people in secret. He gains a sizable following and in chapter 18, Alma begins to baptize those who have accepted Christ. The Lord tells Alma that King Noah has discovered them and will be coming after them. He and his followers flee the land.
The Lamanites attack King Noah and his people and they begin to run. King Noah tells his priests and others to leave their wives and children so they can escape from the Lamanites. Those that follow this command are later angered at themselves and King Noah for leaving their families. The group sentences King Noah to death by fire. They then turn on the priests of Noah who flee before the people, later becoming the Amulonites. King Noah's son Limhi rules, but becomes a tributary monarch to the king of the Lamanites.
All Nephite Peoples Gather to Zarahemla and The Church is Organized
Although this is not an exhaustive explanation, this is more or less the state found by the small expedition sent by King Mosiah. By the end of chapter 25, both the people of King Limhi, and the people of Alma have been guided by the Lord away from the Lamanites and to the land of Zarahemla. King Mosiah appoints Alma to organize the church. King Limhi and his people are baptized and join the church.
Also, King Mosiah by the aide of God translates a set of records which were found by Limhi's people. They tell of a people commonly called the Jaredites. A portion of the record was inserted in the Book of Mormon as the Book of Ether. King Mosiah's grandfather Mosiah, had also translated some writings found on a large stone which touched upon these people.
Conversion of Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah
There are problems in the church as a group of the younger "rising generation" do not believe in the teachings. They persuade others to follow after them and not believe in Jesus and the teachings of the church. Alma receives direction from the Lord on the matter and is told that excommunicating those who won't repent is the most sever punishment the church can bestow. The secular government will deal with breaches in the law. King Mosiah makes it illegal to pursecute the believers.
Among those who don't believe are a son of Alma who also shares the name Alma (but he is usually differentiated as "Alma the Younger"), and King's Mosiah's own sons. One day while they are out and about doing their destructive work, an angel comes to them and tells them to no longer seek to destroy the church. This sight causes them great fear and Alma the Younger faints. He is in an unconscious state for two days and two nights and his father prays for him. When he comes to, he speaks of having waded through much tribulation and finding redemption through Christ. He speaks in much more detail about this experience in the Book of Alma, chapter 36. The experience causes himself and his associates (King Mosiah's sons) to become converted to the Lord and to build up his church.
Mosiah's sons approach Mosiah and tell him that they want to leave Zarahemla to go to the Lamanites and preach to them. This worries Mosiah, but he asks God who assures him that they will be protected and that they will also do much good there. Their journeys and preaching are described later in the Book of Alma beginning with chapter 17.
A New Government
King Mosiah has a desire to set the affairs of the kingdom in order, as he is getting on in years. Since his sons have gone to the land of the Lamanites to preach, he has no heir to receive the throne. He proposes to his people therefore that they abolish the monarchy and instead organize a republic. He explains that kings who rule righteously are desirable, but once a wicked king comes to power he spreads evil to his subjects, and it is difficult to remove a wicked king from power. He outlines a system of what are known as "judges" who are popularly elected at different levels of power. The people accept this system and the elections are held, and Alma the younger becomes the first "chief judge" a title designating the head of the government. He also receives the office of "high priest" of the church, making him the leader of the church as well.
At the end of the Book of Mosiah Alma (the elder) and Mosiah both pass away.