“Every One, According to Their Families”

Brant Gardner

Redaction: Mormon quickly summarizes the end of the festival in this single verse. His Mormon’s purpose in including Benjamin’s sermons is spiritual, not historical, focused exclusively on the spiritual transformation of the people into a new covenant society united under the name of Yahweh-Messiah. Thus, in a single sentence he rushes through what must have been the elaborate coronation ceremonies, the appointment (and probably the ordination) of priests, and other significant and time-consuming events, including the census.

Culture: As the multitude assembled by families, so they return home “according to their families.” Once again this statement reminds us that the kin group was the primary organizational unit. The association of the kin groups and their “homes” confirms that Benjamin’s people followed the typical Mesoamerican pattern of kin-based housing clusters. When each individual returns to his own house according to his family, the implication is that housing and families are geographically linked.

In Mesoamerica, this pattern continues to the present in more traditional communities and can be seen archaeologically in the types of shelter/temple groupings in many sites.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 3