“The Heart of Kishkumen”

D. Kelly Ogden, Andrew C. Skinner

Perhaps invoking a bit of a rhetorical flourish, Mormon wrote that when Helaman’s servant came to know “all the heart of Kishkumen,” the servant stabbed Kishkumen “even to the heart.”

The heart made a big difference to him as it does for all of us. The importance of the disposition and orientation of a person’s heart in ancient Near Eastern cultures is monumental. For instance, the final judgment scene in ancient Egyptian religious imagery (remember the Book of Mormon’s strong connection to Egypt) is the “weighing of the heart” ceremony—where an individual’s heart is weighed against the feather of Ma’at (goddess of truth, justice, righteousness). The more evil a person’s deeds in life, the heavier his heart would weigh, until it weighed more than Ma’at, and then horrible consequences awaited the candidate. The lighter the heart, the more righteous the person was. The Egyptian concept akin to repentance was called “swallowing the heart.” In at least two passages in the book of Exodus, the original Hebrew text says that Jehovah will cause or allow Pharaoh’s heart to be heavy (Exodus 7:3; 10:1), meaning that Jehovah would weigh his evil deeds and his intractable attitude toward the Israelite slaves.

Verse by Verse: The Book of Mormon: Vol. 2