“Burnt Offerings”

Alan C. Miner

According to the Hiltons, the Nephites continued burnt offerings after their arrival in America (Mosiah 2:3). We should not be surprised, therefore, to see in the surviving art of ancient Mexico native priests offering incense . . . Not having access to the authentic frankincense resin, the ancient Mayas used the sap of the copal tree (Protium copal) for their incense ceremonies, which practice has continued until today among the Lacandon Mayas in the forests of eastern Chiapas. (Morley, pp. 218-219, 380, 384) [Lynn M. and Hope A. Hilton, Discovering Lehi, p. 178]

“They Might Offer Sacrifice and Burnt Offerings According to the Law of Moses”

Mosiah 2:3 reads, "And they also took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses." According to Matthew Roper, under the Mosaic law the firstlings (i.e. firstborn animals) of flocks and herds were dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 13:12,15) and were given to the Levites. The Israelites were forbidden from using them for work or gain (Deuteronomy 15:19-20) and were required to bring them to the temple during their pilgrimage festivals, where they would be sacrificed (Deuteronomy 12:5-6). Their blood was sprinkled upon the altar and their fat was burned (Numbers 18:17-18). What was left then was given to the individual and his family to eat that same day (Deuteronomy 15:19-20). While apparently not used for the burnt offering, firstlings could and frequently were used along with other animals in the sacrificial peace offering. . . . It is reasonable to interpret the Mosiah 2:3 reference to "sacrifice and burnt offerings" as an allusion to two distinct forms of sacrifice--the sacrifice of firstlings in the so-called peace offering and the burnt offering taken from other animals. Thus, the Nephites, in accordance with the legal prescriptions of Mosaic law, "took of the firstlings of their flocks, that they might offer sacrifice" and they also took other animals to offer as "burnt offerings according to the law of Moses" (Mosiah 2:3). [Matthew Roper, "A Black Hole That's Not So Black," in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6/2 1994, pp. 169-172]

“Offer Sacrifice and Burnt Offerings According to the Law of Moses”

In Mosiah 2:3 it says that the Nephites did "offer sacrifice and burnt offering according to the law of Moses." Inasmuch as the Nephites were said to be from the tribe of Manasseh (Alma 10:3), critics claim that they were not able to perform such ordinances. Exodus 28-31; Numbers 3:7; Nehemiah 7:63, 65; and Hebrews 7:12-14 tell us that only the tribe of Levi and particularly the sons of Aaron could give attendance at the altar.

According to Charles Pyle, the five Books of Moses that we now possess in the Bible, like the books of Samuel, are heavily edited abridgments of the writings of Moses. Can critics be truly certain that the Law of Moses, as it existed, did not have some sort of stipulation that other tribal lineages could give attendance upon the altar? If not, then how does one explain the fact that Solomon, a mixed descendent of Judah (compare Hebrews 7:13-14) and Moab (through Ruth), offered sacrifices and fat offerings to hallow (or make holy) the court that was in front of the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 7:7). What about the fact that Solomon also offered burnt offerings three times a year (2 Chronicles 8:12-13)? How about his offering of incense before the Lord (1 Kings 9:25), which only the priests (Numbers 16:40) were supposed to do?

But more to the point, the righteous people of the Book of Mormon possessed the priesthood that was held by Melchizedek (Alma 13:1-10, 14-19). That this priesthood superseded that of Aaron is undisputed by both LDS and other Bible scholars. Since we know that this priesthood was among the Nephites, it really does not matter that there may not have been priests after the order of Aaron among them, especially during the Old Testament period. [D. Charles Pyle, "Review of 'The Book of Mormon Vs. the Bible (or Common Sense),'" http:\\[www.linkline.com]\personal\dcpyle\reading\bodineco.htm, p. 17]

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary