“Many Words Which Were Not Understood”

Brant Gardner

Abish takes the queen’s hand, and the queen revives. Like the king, she declares the blessings of Christ. The queen has moved from one who believed on Ammon’s words to one who now knows for herself of the mission of the Christ. It is important to realize that her reward was no greater after than before, and that the proclamation of her great faith preceded this tremendous spiritual experience.

When she arises, se begins to speak “many words which were not understood.” It would appear from this phrase that she was speaking in tongues. This is a manifestation of the power of the spirit that has been known from several ages, and is well attested in the New Testament, as well as early LDS church history. It was also a common sign of the presence of the spirit in many of the revivalist communities of Joseph’s youth. Speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, is not practiced nor encouraged in the modern church. Our current understanding of the gift of tongues relies more on the ability to intelligently communicate than to simply manifest the spirit. In the case of the queen, she speaks things that cannot be understood. While this may indicate the spirit, it does not communicate by the spirit. The communication itself is a much more powerful use of the gift of tongues.

Cultural: The fact that Abish, a woman, took first the hand of the queen rather than the king, may suggest that the Lamanite society was patriarchically structured. The woman servant would be attached to the queen, and it is possible that she might have been prohibited from even touching the king.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon