“A Den of Wild Beasts”

Brant Gardner

The most dangerous wild beast in Mesoamerica would have been the jaguar. It had powerful religious associations, and therefore, idolaters may have offered human sacrifices to it, though such a practice does not appear in any known record. Daniel 6:16 provides the parallel of a prophet’s being miraculously preserved in the lions’ den. The vocabulary of the child and suckling lamb may be an oblique reference to Isaiah’s eschatological text: “And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’s den” (Isa. 11:8).

To summarize, three of the four deliverances have Old Testament analogues. Daniel was written after the Lehites left Jerusalem, so the two that parallel Daniel (furnace and wild beasts’ dens) cannot be attributed to Mormon using a type from the brass plates. Joseph may have drawn on these types in constructing these examples during the translation process; but the three with Old Testament analogues also fit a Mesoamerican context, so I see the correlation as coincidental.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5