Why study this book?
In their study of the book of Mosiah, students will read powerful testimonies of the mission of Jesus Christ. They also will learn about people whom the Lord delivered from the bondage of sin or from physical oppression. Furthermore, students will learn how the righteous efforts of individuals such as King Benjamin, Abinadi, and Alma brought tremendous blessings to others. Conversely, students will see how the poor choices of individuals such as Zeniff and his son King Noah brought negative consequences upon themselves and their people.
Who wrote this book?
Mormon compiled and abridged the records of several other writers to create the book of Mosiah. The book is named for Mosiah, who was a son of King Benjamin. Mosiah was a prophet, seer, revelator, and king who ruled in Zarahemla from approximately 124 B.C. to 91 B.C. He was named after his grandfather Mosiah, who was also a king of Zarahemla (see Omni 1:12–13, 19).
Mormon drew from a number of records to compile the book of Mosiah. He abridged and quoted from the record kept by Mosiah on the large plates of Nephi, which detailed the history of the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 1–7; 25–29). He also drew from the record of Zeniff, which recounts the history of Zeniff’s people from the time they left Zarahemla until they returned (see Mosiah 7–22). Additionally, Mormon quoted from and abridged portions of the writings of Alma, who preserved the words of Abinadi and kept a record of his own people (see Mosiah 17:4; 18; 23–24).
To whom was this book written and why?
Mormon did not address the book of Mosiah to a particular audience or state why he wrote this book. However, the book of Mosiah contributes significantly to the overarching purposes of the Book of Mormon—to witness that Jesus is the Christ and to make known the covenants of the Lord (see the title page of the Book of Mormon). The book of Mosiah includes two masterful discourses on the mission of Jesus Christ: the words of King Benjamin in Mosiah 2–5 and the words of Abinadi in Mosiah 12–16. Additionally, the book of Mosiah repeatedly illustrates the importance of making and keeping covenants with the Lord (see Mosiah 5:5–9; 18:5–10; 21:31–32; 24:13–15; 25:16–18; 26:20).
When and where was it written?
The original records used as sources for the book of Mosiah were likely written between 200 B.C. and 91 B.C. Mormon abridged those records sometime between A.D. 345 and A.D. 385. Mormon did not record where he was when he compiled this book.
What are some distinctive features of this book?
Mosiah is the first book in the Book of Mormon that is an abridgment from the large plates of Nephi. It provides teachings concerning the abilities of a seer (see Mosiah 8:13–18; 28:10–17). Additionally, the book of Mosiah is unique in its narration of the experiences and journeys of separate groups of Nephites—those in the land of Zarahemla; those who were ruled by Zeniff, Noah, and Limhi in the land of Nephi; and those who escaped from the land of Nephi with Alma. To learn more about these groups, you may want to refer to the overview of journeys in Mosiah 7–24, found in the appendix at the end of this manual.
The book of Mosiah describes the unification of the peoples led by Limhi and Alma with the Nephites in the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 25:1–13). It also provides details about the administration of the Church of Jesus Christ throughout the land of Zarahemla (see Mosiah 25:14–24; 26). Finally, the book of Mosiah introduces the reign of the judges (see Mosiah 29).
Mosiah 1–5 King Benjamin appoints his son Mosiah as his successor and gives an account of his reign. Benjamin teaches of Jesus Christ and invites his people to enter a covenant with God.
Mosiah 6–8 Mosiah begins his reign. Ammon and 15 others search for the descendants of the people of Zeniff in the land of Nephi. Ammon encounters King Limhi, a grandson of Zeniff, and learns how the people were brought into bondage.
Mosiah 9–17 A history of the people of Zeniff is given. After Zeniff’s death, his son Noah rules in wickedness. Abinadi testifies of Jesus Christ and exhorts King Noah and his people to repent. Abinadi is executed by fire.
Mosiah 18–20 Alma, a priest of King Noah, repents. He teaches the gospel and escapes with his followers into the wilderness. Nephites in the land of Nephi are attacked by Lamanites and placed under bondage. Noah is killed by his people and is succeeded by his son Limhi.
Mosiah 21–22 Limhi and his people repent. The Lord delivers them from bondage, and Ammon leads them to the land of Zarahemla.
Mosiah 23–24 Alma and his followers establish the city of Helam. They are placed under bondage by the Lamanites and are persecuted by Amulon and his brethren, former priests of King Noah. The Lord delivers Alma and his people and leads them to the land of Zarahemla.
Mosiah 25–29 The Nephites unite under the rule of Mosiah, and Alma administers the Church. Alma’s son Alma (often called Alma the Younger) and the sons of Mosiah become converted. Prior to his death, Mosiah institutes the reign of the judges.