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Mosiah is describing the classic problem of ambiguous transfer of power in a monarchy. All tradition and social conditioning programs the community to accept the rule of the “rightful” heir. All know who that heir is to be, and when the succession occurs smoothly, it is possible to transfer the kinship from one person to another with little contention.

The unfortunate reality is that there are times when the line of succession becomes difficult. In traditional cases, it would be the lack of a male heir of the king. In this case, it is, in essence, the lack of a male heir, but due to the refusal of the male heir(s) to assume the throne.

He contention comes from the factions that might back different candidates for the throne who do not have absolute right, but have some possible claim.

In Zarahemla, we have four known peoples who have had a king tradition of their own, the Nephties, Zarahemlaite/Mulekites, Limhites, and Almaites. Any one of those groups would have within them kin groups that would remember that they had once been in a royal lineage, and might elect to assert that lineage to elevate one of their own to the throne. With the contentions that we have seen lie so close to the surface of Zarahemlaite society already, Mosiah’s fear for outright civil war if there is a contested succession would appear to be quite legitimate.

Vocabulary: In verse 9 we have the phrase: “…he would recall the things which he had said…” The word recall in this context does not mean “remember” but rather “retract.” The problem will occur if Aaron retracts his renunciation of the throne.

Brant Gardner -

Brant Gardner

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon