Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

BoM Lesson 15 (Mosiah 1-3) Redux

Posted by robf on April 27, 2008

I taught this Gospel Doctrine lesson this week and we barely got out of the first two verses of Chapter 1! I started by asking the class if anyone had any insights from reading these chapters this past week. After a couple short responses, we launched in to the readings. We started by reading Mosiah 1:1-2. Then I asked if there were any questions about these verses, or if it was all pretty clear. No response. So I said, we call King Benjamin a king. What does that mean? We then talked for a bit about how our cultural interpretations of this term might conflict with the reality of Benjamin’s position as perhaps the chief of a small group of people (two tribes small enough to be gathered together at one temple, but large enough that some were beyond earshot) who seems to have grown his own food.

Then we talked about Benjamin teaching his sons in the language of their fathers. (Side question, why did Mormon bother to name Helorum and Helaman since we never hear about them again?) We talked about why that was important, then I asked what languages of our fathers we might need to be familiar with to better understand the prophecies in the scriptures. We came up with the following for our class:
–English (since this is our primary language), but including
a) Scriptural English (King James English), and
b) 1830s English (via Webster’s 1828 Dictionary)
–Hebrew (for the Old Testament)
–Greek (for the New Testament, and Old Testament quotations in the New Testament)
–Egyptian (we have some of it in the Pearl of Great Price, plus who knows how it influenced Nephite writing)
–Latin (lots of English words have Latin roots, plus it was the language used by the Roman Church.

One class member noted that since the early 1980s the official church scriptures have included footnotes, bible dictionaries, and other helps to help us out here. I mentioned that we can get even more help on the “languages of our fathers” with the use of online interlineary bibles such as at Crosswalk.com.

I compared the richness of scriptural language (in the various languages) to a buffet, with innumerable goodies prepared and waiting for us to discover and enjoy. I asked the class how many of them enjoy a good buffet. Then I asked how many have taken kids to a buffet. I asked what do kids eat at the buffet? Answer: pizza and french fries. I asked how are we doing in our own feasting on the word? Are we just grabbing the familiar pizza and french fries, or are we really digging in to find and enjoy the rest of what the scriptures have for us? (Note: after class, one class member came up and said he hadn’t wanted to hijack the discussion, but had been wondering if there were scriptural Brussel Sprouts out there, things that might be good for us, but we don’t really want. Of course I told him that his comment would have been totally appropriate and not to hold back next time!).

To show how this all works, we talked about the passage in Mosiah 2 where Benjamin is warning us not to “listeth after the evil spirit”. I asked what listeth means. No response. So we talked about several Websters 1828 (and Oxford English Dictionary) definitions–to lean (as in a ship), to want something (same root as lust), to enroll or enlist–to enter into service by placing yourself on a list, how listing is related to listening (leaning in to hear, to pay attention, to heed) and we talked about what listing after an evil spirit might mean under each definition.

I can’t remember where we really went from there, but pretty soon we were talking about the concept of prospering–which is all over Mosiah 2 (and the Small Plates, and Deuteronomy, etc…). I asked what that concept meant, and we talked about getting money, etc. But the class soon mentioned gaining wisdom and so we talked about the two Hebrew words translated as “prosper” in the Old Testament, especially sakal–to be prudent, be wise, prosper. Basically, I said its to be able to handle things as they come. By raise of hands, most of the class agreed that they wanted to be able to “handle things.” We noted how prospering is related to a physical location (“on the land”) and to the temple covenants (“promises to the fathers”).

Since a class member mentioned the temple in his comment, I wrote “temple” on the board (I’d pretty much filled the board and erased it already a couple times by this point. So then we talked about how this speech of Benjamin’s was a temple speech, perhaps tied to celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, and how we shouldn’t be surprised to find echoes of our own temple experience mentioned. So under temple, we started to list possible temple themes. Our list included:
–New Name given
–Initial plea for ears, hearts, and minds to be open and receptive
–Injunction to hearken to word of the Lord, both direct and through proper channels
–Laws of decorum and the gospel
–Discussion of the creation, followed by
–Discussion of the fall, followed by
–Introduction of true messenger (the message from the angel in Mosiah 3)

We were almost out of time by the time we got here. The bishop ended with a comment on how while we can’t talk directly about our own temple experience, those who have been to the temple should be able to see the richness of what is here, and that those preparing to go to the temple should read these chapters because all of the temple themes are treated here.

The Spirit was very palpably present in the room as we wrapped up with my testimony and invitation to follow whatever promptings we’ve had individually during the lesson to “list” more closely to the Spirit. Looking forward to next week as we continue our discussion of King Benjamin’s address!

5 Responses to “BoM Lesson 15 (Mosiah 1-3) Redux”

  1. RickS said

    Perhaps a stretch, but another “language” that King Benjamin surely learned from his fathers was the one Nephi called the tongue of angels…

    I like the buffet analogy. And remember that tastes change. When I was young, I didn’t care for Isaiah or Brussels sprouts. Today I love Isaiah and enjoy the occasional serving of Brussels sprouts (as long as it has lots of butter)!

  2. robf said

    Ah yes, spiritual butter, the “fat things” of the LORD!

  3. joespencer said


  4. Jim F. said

    Robf, great lesson. Congratulations, and keep doing it as well as reporting on it. This helps the rest of us think about how to teach our lessons.

    Did you mention the Feast Upon the Word wiki as a source?

  5. robf said

    Thanks Jim. We’ve provided links to the wiki on our weekly sunday school reading assignment email, but haven’t promoted it yet lately. Good suggestion.

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