EVIDENCE: Treaty/Covenant Pattern (Mosiah 1–6)

Ed J. Pinegar, Richard J. Allen

King Benjamin’s farewell address and related events reflect a literary pattern used by ancient Israelites. In 1954, biblical scholar George Mendenhall detailed this connection between Hittite treaties and Israelite covenant making, giving six specific elements of the pattern. In summary, the king/prophet (1) introduces God as the one making the covenant, or introduces himself as the spokesman for God; (2) briefly reviews the Lord’s past dealings with Israel; (3) lists the terms of the covenant, including the commandments God expects Israel to obey; (4) acknowledges the people’s formal acceptance of the covenant; (5) notes the blessings for obeying (and cursings for disobeying) the covenant; and (6) arranges for the safekeeping of a copy of the covenant and for reading it to the people in the future. King Benjamin’s address and the events that follow it conform to these six elements of the treaty/covenant pattern, and other connections exist as well. It is important to note that this pattern was completely unknown when the Book of Mormon was published in 1830, and was probably not studied until the 1930s. (See Echoes, 389–394).

Commentaries and Insights on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1