There are 6 thoughts on “Deuteronomy 17:14–20 as Criteria for Book of Mormon Kingship”.

  1. Pingback: Inequality Leads to Iniquity: The Essence of Mosiah 29 – Alma 4 | Meridian Magazine

  2. Pingback: Inequality Leads to Iniquity: The Essence of Mosiah 29 - Alma 4 - Taylor Halverson, Ph.D.

  3. On the surface, your interpretation of horses as a substitution for armies seems to fail. All kings had armies. To force the interpretation to fit your premise you differentiate that they trusted either in their own arm or in the arm of the Lord but I did not see that suggested in the text.

    “But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away –

    So perhaps “multiply horses” is similar to the command not to “multiplying wives” as in do not multiply your possessions so you turn your heart to them, This would also fit the command that he not return his people to Egypt to multiply his horses (possessions). This would make the silver and gold command repetitive – perhaps horses could be seen as police force, servants, or government workers – that might bridge our understanding.

    I haven’t taken the time to read the chapter so there may be more in the context that supports your interpretation. Thank you for this awesome comparison. It definitely opens my understanding.

  4. Taylor, you wrote:

    “I believe that the Book of Mosiah was constructed as a sandwich narrative: good king [Benjamin], then bad king [Noah], then good king [Mosiah II]. This narrative structure highlights why Mosiah II recognized the problem of kingship.”

    This was probably a factor, but Mosiah II”s translation of the Book of Ether would have been more of a factor. Their history was full of bad kings. It was right after Mosiah translated the record of the Jaredites at the end of his Chapter 28, that he gave his dissertation on the potential evil of kings and established the reign of judges in Chapter 29.

    Although the Jaredites preceded Moses, the principles of the Lord are eternal, so it may be interesting to apply the principles of Deuteronomy 17:14–20 to the Jaredite kings.

    • It is always difficult to reconstruct historical causality. From the evidence of the text, it seems most likely that the immediate predecessor to Mosiah’s decision was Alma’s experience with Noah–because Mosiah obviously echoes Alma’s words about the problem of kings. From a historical perspective, I would find it unusual for Mosiah to assume much connection to a different people from a different time, culture, and language. They were too different to be similar. Combine that with Alma’s experience and specific description, and you have the historical background.

      However, that still is not necessarily the point. Historical causation is still a long way away (mostly in time, but also in space) from Mormon’s creation of the narrative. Therefore, the point that there is an influence on the narrative construction tells us something about Mormon, where understanding the historical situation tells us something about Mosiah.

  5. Great article, and an important one.

    Some years ago, I wrote a blog post (I can send you the link) speculating that Jacob’s sermon (Jacob 1-3) may have actually been aimed at the new Nephite king more than the Nephites themselves — but that Jacob couched his sermon the way he did to avoid lèse majesté for a number of reasons (including his own personal safety and the fact that the new king was almost certainly a very close relative). Note the key issues Jacob raises:

    — seeking after gold and silver
    — taking wives and concubines
    — being lifted up in pride
    — failing to remember and keep the commandments given to Lehi
    — wanting to return to the ‘wicked’ practices of ancient Israel
    — inviting war with the Lamanites through disobedience

    It pretty much matches your analysis of Deuteronomy 17:14 ff. ..bruce..

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