Context and the Death of Mosiah

My favorite section of the Book of Mormon is from Mosiah 11 to Alma 43. There is so much detail in the storyline, from Abinadi to Alma I to Alma II and Amulek, from Aaron and Ammon and Ammonihah. Apparently, it’s also a treasure trove of place and person names that begin with the letter A.

The story of the Sons of Mosiah converting and their subsequent mission to the Lamanites is right in the middle. Mosiah 28 tells of their desire to leave their homeland and give up the kingship of Zarahemla. Mosiah is initially resistant because he’s afraid for his sons’ lives, but God tells him

“Let them go up, for many shall believe on their words, and they shall have eternal life; and I will deliver thy sons out of the hands of the Lamanites.”

Mosiah 28:7

The sons leave and the story returns to Alma II’s missions and Chief Judgeship.

One thing I hadn’t noticed until recently is the proximity of Mosiah’s death to the departure of his sons. In Mosiah 28:8, the sons leave. Then Mosiah translates the record of the Jaredites, comes up with the system of chief judges, and dies. He’s 63 years old, having been the king of 33 of those years.

Where are Aaron, Omner, Himni, and Ammon? They’re just getting started on their 14-year mission, far away in the Land of Nephi. They left only one chapter ago, probably around a year earlier. Did they know he was going to die? Was he pretty sure he would never see his sons again? I’d wager they knew King Dad was getting on in years and that they might never see him again.

None of those details are explicitly spelled out anywhere in the verses leading up to their departure. But once you see the context, it becomes clear that Mosiah’s sons were leaving behind not just a kingdom and their homeland, but also their father. As always, the background adds to the so much more to their story.

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