“Nephi Delivered Up the Judgment–seat to a Man Whose Name Was Cezoram”

Brant Gardner

Social: The essential information portrayed here is simple. Nephi is no longer the chief judge. Now it is Cezoram. What is not as clear is the way that judgment-seat is given up. It appears form verse 2 that it was not a voluntary relinquishing of the judgment-seat such as we saw with Alma the Younger. Mormon’s comment that the people who “chose evil were more numerous than they who chose good” suggest that this is the operation of the “voice of the people.” When Mosiah instituted that mechanism as the chief way that the government would operate, he noted:

Mosiah 29:26-27

26 Now it is not common that the voice of the people desireth anything contrary to that which is right; but it is common for the lesser part of the people to desire that which is not right; therefore this shall ye observe and make it your law—to do your business by the voice of the people.

27 And if the time comes that the voice of the people doth choose iniquity, then is the time that the judgments of God will come upon you; yea, then is the time he will visit you with great destruction even as he has hitherto visited this land.

Mormon’s language echoes Mosiah’s cautionary clause. Mosiah declares that when the voice of the people turns to evil (that is, not the traditional Nephite values) then they are ripe for destruction. This is precisely the message that Mormon echoes. The people are beginning to chose evil, and therefore are on their way to destruction.

What we are not told is precisely how this voice of the people operates to make the change. We have seen that the transference of the judgment seat was often a lineage right, even with the voice of the people in operation. It appears in those cases that the voice of the people indicated assent. Assuming that scenario, the voice of the people would function here as a vote of confidence does in many modern governments. There was some mechanism that noted the shift in popular support, and Nephi was no longer supported. It would appear that the political faction that has been nipping at the heels of Nephite government has finally achieved majority in the Nephite culture.

Redaction: We should note that this is a passage from Mormon, and that the language in verse 2 is specifically selected to follow Mormon’s theme that the destruction of the Nephites is due to their rejection of the ways of God. Mormon has read Mosiah, and this reference to Mosiah is intentional. Mormon is demonstrating that in both the more religious and the more political branches of reality, the Nephites are straying from truth.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon