King Benjamin: what information did Mormon add to what Amaleki had written?


Omni:

23 Behold, I, Amaleki, was born in the days of Mosiah; and I have lived to see his death; and Benjamin, his son, reigneth in his stead.

24 And behold, I have seen, in the days of king Benjamin, a serious war and much bloodshed between the Nephites and the Lamanites. But behold, the Nephites did obtain much advantage over them; yea, insomuch that king Benjamin did drive them out of the land of Zarahemla.

25 And it came to pass that I began to be old; and, having no seed, and knowing king Benjamin to be a just man before the Lord, wherefore, I shall deliver up these plates unto him, exhorting all men to come unto God, the Holy One of Israel, and believe in prophesying, and in revelations, and in the ministering of angels, and in the gift of speaking with tongues, and in the gift of interpreting languages, and in all things which are good; for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord: and that which is evil cometh from the devil.

Mormon:

12 And now, concerning this king Benjamin—he had somewhat of contentions among his own people.

13 And it came to pass also that the armies of the Lamanites came down out of the land of Nephi, to battle against his people. But behold, king Benjamin gathered together his armies, and he did stand against them; and he did fight with the strength of his own arm, with the sword of Laban.

14 And in the strength of the Lord they did contend against their enemies, until they had slain many thousands of the Lamanites. And it came to pass that they did contend against the Lamanites until they had driven them out of all the lands of their inheritance.

15 And it came to pass that after there had been false Christs, and their mouths had been shut, and they punished according to their crimes;

16 And after there had been false prophets, and false preachers and teachers among the people, and all these having been punished according to their crimes; and after there having been much contention and many dissensions away unto the Lamanites, behold, it came to pass that king Benjamin, with the assistance of the holy prophets who were among his people—

17 For behold, king Benjamin was a holy man, and he did reign over his people in righteousness; and there were many holy men in the land, and they did speak the word of God with power and with authority; and they did use much sharpness because of the stiffneckedness of the people—

18 Wherefore, with the help of these, king Benjamin, by laboring with all the might of his body and the faculty of his whole soul, and also the prophets, did once more establish peace in the land.

I find it interesting how much more focused on the “spiritual” Mormon is than Amaleki. The focus is on the contentions among his own people, and how the prophets helped overcome this. There is “also” a war. And Mormon describes them winning with “the sword of Laban” and also “in the strength of the Lord,” details he adds to Amaleki’s account. And details which make this war similar to other wars Mormon has described in his abridgment. It’s fascinating that Amaleki doesn’t talk about the false Christs, false prophets, false preachers and teachers in the land. I imagine this might be because he had already passed on the records to King Benjamin before that happened? Alternatively, was Amaleki one of the “many holy men” that helped King Benjamin?

One wonders what came next in Mormon’s small-plates account of King Benjamin. It certainly is a great time to talk about his big speech. In fact, it might give some good context for his speech. Here’s a time when they’ve been through war, and made it out; where they’ve been through false information, and made it out; where they’ve had divisions and contentions, and some have dissented to the Lamanites, and what is left is those who have made it out. What a good time to regroup, reconsider, strengthen, and give a vision for moving forward.

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