When your name is Josiah, and you read through the Book of Mormon, often the first thing you think of Mosiah is “that looks like Josiah with an M instead of a J”. This time around, I wondered if I could find more similarities, and it lead to some interesting thoughts.
We first encounter Mosiah in the part of the book of Omni written by Ameleki. This Mosiah is the father of King Benjamin and the grandfather of the (better known) Mosiah that the Book of Mosiah is named after. For fun, let’s call them Mosiah the elder and Mosiah the younger.
Mosiah the Elder
I couldn’t find any reasons given for how Mosiah came to be king or how his genealogy might be connected to earlier characters in the Book of Mormon. However, after some Lamanite-Nephite conflict, Mosiah the elder was warned by Lord to leave with as faithful as would come. This not only parallels Lehi being commanded to leave Jerusalem with all who would be convinced, but also Nephi leaving the Lamanites with all who would go with him. Ameleki also writes that, like Lehi and Nephi, Mosiah the elder “did according as the Lord had commanded him”. This at least conceptually links Mosiah the Elder with the patriarchs of the Nephites, one of whom was king. Ameleki doesn’t write much, but what he does say includes these strong parallels to earlier leaders. This may be a justification or compensation for the lack of royal lineage, which is not mentioned. It may also be to show that Mosiah fills the role of a good patriarchal leader.
Eventually Mosiah the elder and his people found Zarahemla, a land settled by others. These were people who left Jerusalem when Zedekiah was taken captive by Babylon. Zedekiah was the king of Judah and the third son of King Josiah. Lehi and his family lived in Jerusalem during the first year of the reign of Zedekiah. Helaman 8:21 tells us that all but one of Zedekiah’s sons (Mulek) were killed by the babylonians; Mulek escaped somehow and ended up in the Western Hemisphere. Lehi and his family lived in Jerusalem during the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, so the this means that the duration of the Nephites, Lamanites, and people of Zarahemla living in the promised land was approaching four centuries, long enough to have their own histories. The two groups united and made Mosiah the elder their king. The original inhabitants then gave Mosiah the elder a large stone with engravings on it. Mosiah the elder interpreted the engravings by the gift and power of God.
Mosiah the Younger
Unlike Mosiah the elder, Mosiah the younger had a short royal lineage. Like his predecessors, Mosiah the younger was a faithful king, and did not overburden the people with taxes. Mosiah the younger also inherited the plates of brass, the plates of Nephi, the sword of Laban, and the liahona. Presumably, (but not written anywhere I found), he also inherited the engraved stone record of the Jaredites. Interestingly, Mosiah the younger is presented with yet another Jaredite record, this time on gold plates. Mosiah the younger, like Mosiah the elder, translated the Jaredite record by the gift and power of God.
Mosiah the younger had four sons; Ammon, Aaron, Omner, and Himni. As Mosiah the younger neared the end of his life, his sons declined to succeed him as king. Mosiah the younger instituted a new governing system based on judges voted in by by the people. He also gifted the plates of brass, the plates of Nephi, a translation of the Jaradite plates, and other records (possibly including a translation of the engraved Jaredite stone), and the interpreters (often called the urim and thummim), to Alma the younger who led the church.
Josiah had a royal lineage; He was the son of King Amon and the grandson of King Manasseh—both wicked kings of Judah. His reign began when he was 8 years old, after his father was killed. Like the two Mosiahs after him, Josiah “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” Like with the two Mosiahs, Josiah is also conceptually linked to righteous royal forefathers.
Josiah raised money to repair the temple, which was in a sorry state. During the repairs the high priest uncovered the Book of the Law. This book had a big impact on Israel. When it was read it to Josiah, he was very troubled. Josiah lead Israel to repent, teaching the people, and a making a covenant with the Lord. Objects and places of worship for deities other than Jehovah were destroyed. Israel began observing the rituals and feasts and laws outlined in the newly discovered record.
Revealing Ancient Records
The Mosiahs were very much like Josiah, especially in how they were involved in revealing lost records. The book of Mosiah even begins discussing the importance of records like plates of brass, directly connecting them with their belief in God.
Unlike Josiah, the Mosiahs were both Kings and translators of ancient records. The Book of Mormon presents Ether as Mormons abridgment and commentary on the records translated by the Mosiahs, making the Book of Mormon a translation of an abridgment of translations. All of these records, the Jaredite stone, the Jaredite plates, the Book of Ether, and the Book of the Law, play a role in modern latter-day saint scripture. Interestingly, unlike the Book of the Law, the Jaredite stone or plates were not explicitly described as scripture or spiritual records. Their desire to translate them was to find out what happened, why they were destroyed. Perhaps they became scripture as Mormon writes a spiritual commentary on them, or by others interpretations earlier. It’s not clear to me that they were explicitly spiritual to start with. However, they treasured records, and finding lost records and translating them was a big deal.
Mosiah, Josiah, and I
I have a love of the scriptures and records. I’m not trained in translating records, but I try to uncover and interpret the scriptures with Gods inspiration. Like Josiah, and Mosiah, I try to share scripture and inspiration with others. We may not have the “gift and power of God” to interpret texts in other languages, but the vast wealth of literature and knowledge and wisdom available is astounding. We have more books in our canon, more extra-canonical scriptures, more general conference talks, more scholarly works, more books on the scriptures. There is stuff written about a wide variety of topics, “things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad” (D&C 88:79). Modern scripture invites us to engage with this ocean of knowledge, “Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). When we find these words of wisdom, when we are inspired, when we find meaning, and purpose, we can reveal these to others, and be a bit like Josiah and the Mosiahs. We can be a Josiah parent or a Mosiah Missionary, someone who reveals scripture to others. We can share something meaningful to us with people we think will also be blessed by it.