The Book of Mosiah: A Modern Humorous Retelling of an Ancient Story
It doesn't matter how many times I try to get all the timelines, flashbacks, journeys, and wars straight, invariably I get confused as if I've never read it before.
I've tried to study the timelines, but that's confusing because some of the stories overlap.
|1974 Seminary Chart|
|Ensign October 2011|
I've tried to study maps of their journeys, but that's just a hot mess.
|What the what?|
|The Redheaded Hostess|
|A "fun" FHE activity.|
Now I consider myself to be pretty visual, but all these visualizations of the book are just hurting my eyeballs. Then I started to wonder, how else do I like to process information? I like to look for the humor in situations and I like to write dialog. I began to look at Mosiah as a little novella. I realized it's actually three novellas, it's a trilogy about three different groups of people: the immigrants, the repatriates, and refugees. I decided to rewrite the book of Mosiah using humor, imagined dialog, and modernize the language in an effort to help me remember it better.
The following story is not meant to replace reading the scriptures. This is my way of replacing all the charts and graphics that leave me more confused than when I began. If charts work for you, great. If you don't like the idea of imagining how ancient people would speak today, I recommend you stop reading now. If want some help remembering how all the characters fit into book of Mosiah, read on.
The immigrants' story begins in the land of Nephi. These people are descendants of Nephi who had separated from his brothers Laman and Lemuel and set up a new place called the city of Nephi. It was here Nephi built a temple and they "lived after the manner of happiness." (2 Nephi 5:27)
Sadly the wars between the Lamanites got intense. They had seasons of peace and major wars for hundreds of years. It finally got bad enough that God told Mosiah it's time to pack up and leave. Just like their forefather Lehi, they left the only home they knew and departed into the wilderness.
They end up immigrating to a city called Zarahemla occupied by people who had also left Jerusalem and immigrated to this same land. We call these people the Mulekites. Amazingly, in 500 years they had never run into each other. The Mulekites were happy to see the Nephites, because the Nephites had the record of the Jews. Once Mosiah taught them their language, they all united together and Mosiah became the king.
To help understand better what happens in the future, it's good to know that the Mulekites gave Mosiah a large stone with engravings on it. Mosiah was able to read the engravings and said someone named Coriantumr had lived with the Mulekites for 9 months centuries earlier.
Spoiler Alert: Coriantumr was a Jaredite.
While the people are happily living in Zarahemla, Mosiah dies and his son Benjamin becomes the next king. Benjamin is an awesome king. He gives a sermon that is my all-time favorite about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He is the definition of what servant leadership looks like.
While Benjamin is king, a group of people decide they want to move to back to their homeland. Led by Zeniff, they leave. (Omni 1:29) These are the repatriates that I'll get to next. After King Benjamin dies, his son, Mosiah becomes the king. We'll call him King Mosiah II.
While King Mosiah II reigns, he says, "Hey, I wonder what ever happened to those repatriates that went to get our homeland back? It's been 80 years and we haven't gotten so much as a postcard." (Mosiah 7:1)
He sends 16 strong men to go find them. Their leader is Ammon, a Mulekite. After a while, I'm thinking like a year or so? Ammon returns with the Nephites. Turns out they had been in bondage to the Lamanites and Ammon had led them back. Go Ammon!
King Mosiah II is happy to have them in Zarahemla safe and sound. They brought 24 golden plates that is a record of a group called the Jaredites—the same people that Coriantumr came from. King Mosiah II translates the records.
Later, another group comes wandering into Zarahemla. Their ancestors had also been part of the group that had left with Zeniff. They have quite a tale to tell as well. These are the refugees.
King Mosiah II decides to gather everyone together in Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:4). He then has the stories of the repatriates and the refugees told to all the people (Mosiah 25:5-6). Here are their stories...
Zeniff originally had been sent with a exploratory party to spy on the Lamanites. The intent was to see what would be needed to destroy the Lamanites. Zeniff says, "Hey, let's not kill the Lamanites, let's form a treaty with them." The unnamed leader says, "Let's kill you instead, Zeniff." A fight breaks out; father fights against father and brother fights again brother. After a greater number of the army is slain, Zeniff is triumphant. The 50 survivors head back to Zarahemla to tell the wives and children why they are now widows and fatherless (Mosiah 9:2).
Zeniff then collects all the people who want to go back to their homeland. This is why I call them repatriates. It wasn't an easy journey, but eventually they make it to the land of their fathers. He says to the Lamanite king, "Hey, can we get our land back?"
The Lamanite king says, "Sure, you can have Lehi-Nephi and Shilom if you'd like. We'll leave and let you move in." (Mosiah 9:6-7)
Zeniff thinks, "That was easy!" Oh just you wait, Zeniff.
After about 12 years, Zeniff starts to get suspicious. He says, "I think we are Hansel and Gretel, and the Lamanites are the witch. We are just getting fattened up so there is more to pillage." Just kidding. Hansel and Gretel hadn't been written yet, but it was kind of like that.
Yep, the Lamanites keep raiding their land to get produce and animals and stuff. Zeniff is like, "I don't think so." They have a major battle, and Zeniff wins. Then 10 years later the Lamanite king dies and his son decides to give it another go. He attacks Zeniff and his people. Zeniff is like, "Seriously? C'mon." In one day they slay 3043 Lamanites. The Nephites lose 279. Zeniff helps to bury the bodies with his own hands.
After 40 years, Zeniff turns his reign over to his son Noah and dies. King Noah is a bad dude. Think Jabba the Hutt,
although he was actually probably pretty fit. He taxes the people heavily and teaches the people to live as wickedly as he does. He's known as a wine-bibber, which means able to drink a lot without becoming a raging drunk. So yeah, a glutton.
God decides that enough is enough, and sends a prophet named Abinadi to preach repentance to the people. While the story usually goes that Abinadi burns to death thinking his preaching didn't work, I'm not sure about that.
To read my take on Abinadi's story, click here.
One of Noah's priests is moved by Abinadi's sermons and repents. He ends up having to go into hiding and his people actually have to flee their homeland, which is why I call them the refugees. Their story is next.
Enter Gideon (Mosiah 19:4) he is an enemy of King Noah and has sworn that he will kill him. His story reminds me of Inigo Montoya from the Princess Bride.
He and King Noah do some sword fighting. This is why I don't think King Noah looked like Jabba the Hutt. King Noah can tell he's about to lose. He runs up a watch tower used as a lookout. He sees that the Lamanites are coming and says to Gideon, "Timeout! The Lamanites are coming."
Gideon lets him down the tower and spares his life. King Noah then bravely defends the women and children and fights against the Lamanites.
Just kidding, he does the opposite of that. He flees for the wilderness leaving the woman and children behind. Sort of like what Michael Scott did when he thought the office was on fire.
He tells his men to do the same. Some do, most don't.
The Lamanites start killing the Nephites, most likely the ones that couldn't run as fast. The women then turn around and bravely plead with the Lamanites to stop. The Lamanites are moved by their pleas and stop the carnage. They say, "Okay we won't kill you as long as you give us 50% of everything you own and 100% of King Noah. The people say, "Deal!" (Mosiah 19:14-15). My guess is the second thing wasn't too hard to agree to.
That is except for Limhi, King Noah's son. He doesn't want to see his dad destroyed. He says to Gideon, "Gideon, you are good at hunting down my dad. I want you to send a secret search party into the wilderness to find him and those men that went with him." Gideon agrees.
Gideon's search party is either successful or fails depending on how you want to look at it. They never find King Noah, but they do find out what happened to him. They run into a group of people who were heading back to the land of Nephi. Gideon's men were like, "What's up, my dudes?"
The men who had fled with King Noah said, "Well, here's the situation. We felt super bad for leaving our wives and children to die. We decided to come back to check on them and those who were brave enough to stay with them. If it turns out they all got killed, we were going to seek revenge and, let's be honest, most likely end up dead ourselves." (Mosiah 19:19)
Gideon's men said, "Here's an update for you. We are now captives of the Lamanites. We have to give them half of our stuff, get taxed for the rest of our lives, oh, and by the way, where's King Noah?"
The men said, "Oh he's toast. Like literally, we toasted him."
"And what about his priests?"
"They took off before we could gather more firewood."
"No problem, I'm sure those priests won't cause any more trouble." Oh just you wait!
They come back to their wives and children (I can't imagine how many dozens of roses it took to be forgiven for deserting them) and the Lamanites left them alone for 2 years.
A small group of daughters of the Lamanites decided to gather together to sing and dance in their favorite spot in Shemlon. Those priests, that had escaped getting burned, decided to lay low and enjoy the show. When the group got small enough, they jumped out of their secret places and were like,
"This is a kidnapping."
They picked them up and carried them into the wilderness.
Pretty soon the Lamanites were like, "Uh, we are missing like 24 of our daughters. Ugh! Those Nephites took them."
They go to Limhi's people and start killing like lions. (Mosiah 20:10)
Limhi's people fought back like dragons.
Eventually Limhi's people find the Lamanite king who had been left for dead. They patch up his wounds. Limhi says, "What the heck, man? You broke our deal!"
The king says, "You took our daughters! All deals are off."
"No we didn't!"
"Yes you did!"
"I promise you, we don't have your daughters."
"Then who does?"
Gideon steps forward, "I have an idea. Remember those priests?"
The Lamanite king says, "What priests?"
Gideon then explains that some priests of Noah got away. He suggests that they might have taken the daughters.
The Lamanite king decides that's a plausible story and agrees to stop killing the people of Limhi. The people let him go back to his people.
But before long the Lamanites start getting meaner and meaner to the Nephites. Their king won't let them kill the Nephites. They start bullying them instead. I don't know exactly what the Lamanites called the Nephites, but I would point out to you the last two words in Mosiah 21:3.
Yeah, it's rough for the Nephites. And just like fighting with a bully rarely works, every time the Nephites fought back, their own situation just go worse.
Finally, Limhi says, "That's it. Send out a search party to go find the people that we left behind in Zarahemla 80 years ago. We haven't gotten so much as a postcard from them."
The search party leaves but gets super lost on the way and overshoot their mark but decide they found Zarahemla. No matter what century we are in, two things are always true. Men don't like to ask for directions and they don't like to admit they are wrong.
They come back to report to Limhi.
Limhi asks, "Did you find Zarahemla?"
"Yep, we totally did. It's not like we got lost or anything."
"How is Zarahemla?"
"Bad news. It's totally desolated. In fact the city is now called Desolation."
Limhi is bummed. "You didn't find anyone at all?"
"Nope, just bones. Oh, and these 24 plates of gold. They have some strange writing on them."
And then one day his guards captures a guy named Ammon. Limhi says, "I'm the grandson of Zeniff. You must be either really brave or super stupid. I decided to let you live to find out which. What do you have to say, are you brave or stupid?"
Ammon sighs with relief, "Oh thank goodness. I'm super glad to be alive. You are going to love what I have to say. I'm from Zarahemla and we've been looking for you. We were wondering why Zeniff never sent a postcard."
"Wait! Zarahemla still exists?" He looks over at his search party. They shrug their shoulders. "I'm super glad to hear this. We are in heaps of trouble. And every time we try to get out of trouble, we just make it worse. Can you help us out?"
Ammon says, "If God can dry up the Red Sea and send manna down from heaven, He can totally do this." Ammon then tells the people about King Benjamin's sermon. They all agree to make the same covenant that the people in Zarahemla did.
Limhi then says "I've got these 24 gold plates but I can't read them. Can you?"
Ammon looks at them and says, "No, but I know who can. King Mosiah II."
Limhi says, "Awesome. How do we get to King Mosiah II?"
Gideon steps forward and says, "I know none of my plans have worked so far, but now we have covenanted with God. He's got our back. Now I have new plan. Over at the back wall of the city, the Lamanite guards over there get drunk at night. I'll be sure to load them up with wine. That will get them good and drunk. And bam! freedom."
The king said, "Let's do it!" And that's how Ammon led the people of Limhi to Zarahemla.
Are you wondering what ever happened to that priest of Noah who escaped? Well, now it's time for his story. His name is Alma.
Alma believed the words of Abinadi. He repented. He ended up taking a whole bunch of people with him. They become refugees as they had to flee for their own safety. They first hid out in the waters of Mormon and then settled a new city called Helam.
Life in Helam was pretty good. The people were righteous and they were prosperous. They lived like this a long time.
Then one day some of them were tilling the land and see an army of Lamanites in the borders. They hightailed it back to the city and told Alma. They were scared.
Alma, their spiritual leader and high priest, told them to trust in God and not to fear. They immediately began to pray that the hearts of the Lamanites would be softened and they wouldn't be killed.
Their prayers were answered and their lives were spared.
Now are you wondering how the Lamanites came to find the city of Helam after all these years? Well, it turns out that when the people of Limhi escaped by getting the guards drunk, the armies went looking for them. But they got lost. So lost they couldn't even get back home.
And who do they stumble upon? One of the priests who escaped after Noah got burned. His name is Amulon. Now when it comes to self-preservation, no one does it better than Amulon. He's a crafty guy.
First he leaves his own family to save himself. Then he leaves his king to burn to save himself. Then he kidnaps daughters of the Lamanites. Then when the Lamanites find him, he does something that just blows the mind. He gets the kidnapped daughters of the Lamanites to plead for his life. Um, what now? That must be some serious Stockholm Syndrome going on.
And it works! The Lamanites decide not to kill Amulon and his people because of the Lamanite wives. They combine forces and are searching for the land of Nephi when they stumble upon Helam.
The Lamanites promise Alma, "Hey, if you'll just show us how to get back to the land of Nephi, we promise to leave you alone to enjoy your prosperity and freedom." (Mosiah 23:36)
Nope. That was a lie. No sooner do they find the road back home, then they place guards around Helam. Then they come back with the wives and children of the guards. Yeah, they are there to stay.
And to top it all off, they make Amulon their puppet, I mean tribute monarch of Helam. Now Amulon knew exactly who Alma was. He had been one of King Noah's priests. He starts terrorizing Alma and his people. The people start crying to God for help. Amulon won't let them pray anymore. Alma reminds them that God can even hear their thoughts.
The Lord hears their silent prayers. He promises to deliver them out of bondage. One night He causes the Lamanites and the task-masters to fall asleep. Like a profound sleep. Like I-just-took-an-Ambien sleep.
And Alma and his people just walk away. No sooner are they safe but they stop to pour out their thanks to God because they know that was the only way they were made free. And after 12 days of traveling in the wilderness, they arrive in Zarahemla.
Now we come to chapter 25 in Mosiah. In Zarahemla we have the immigrants, the repatriates, and the refugees all gathered together. And they live happily ever after and never have any problems ever again.
Alma: "King Mosiah II, I'd like you to meet my son also named Alma."
King Mosiah II: "Nice to meet you, Alma, have you met my four sons?"
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