Benjamin or Mosiah, Ammon's Seer

prepred by Don R. Hender

    In an obsure detail of reality, which testifies more to the truth of the Book of Mormon because it is even there, but which Book of Mormon critics of low subjective learning prefer to pick at because they 'hate' the Book of Mormon; there is the question of just who was 'Ammon's' seer, who Ammon reported to King Limhi, who held God's power of translation through the use of the Urim and Thummim.

The urim and thummim are/is a set of seer stones which a prophet/seer uses to translate scriptures and receive messages and visions of inspiration from God. They are found in the text of the Bible, though their origin certainly most likely preceeds any such mention of them. Now the Biblical presentation and related scholarship is less knowledgable concerning them than is thatof the Book of Mormon, which also references them. In the Bible the Urim and the Thummim are set in the breastplate of Aaron's 'temple' atire and are used by him to decern through inspiration correct judgment of the children of Israel 'upon his heart before the LORD'. (Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; etc.) In the Book of Mormon, besides providing God inspired judgment, we learn that the Urim and Thummim are used by God's prophet/seer to receive revelations of ispiration inclusing the ability to translate/interpret languages. So much for that quick lesson.

But what the question is, which some critics would use to attack as being an error in the Book of Mormon and thus proof that it is not true, is that in the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, Ammon, a descendant of King Zarahemla and not the son of King Mosiah, speaks to King Limhi of a 'seer' who can translate unknown languages. If this seems a bit involved, it is. It is one of those picky details which are not commonly written into works of fiction but are very much a part of the truths of real life detailed situations.

The quick and dirty reader of the Book of Mormon, which particularly are the type of Book of Mormon student such subjective critics are, whose purpose is but to tear apart rather than to objectively learn and consider the truth, do fail to understand the details of the envolved true story of Book of Mormon and who rather quickly jump at any and every little thing which their feeble subjective minds fail to comprehend and they then turn them into a critism of the work, mostly because they have failed in their comprehension of the finer details of the text.

The objective and true details in a rather large nut shell is that King Limhi, a king of a detached southern land living Nephite group is having Lamanite problems, so he sends a group of strong men to explore and try to find the northern land living Nephite group in the land of Zarahemla. These explores fail to find the Zarahemla Nephites but they are very determined in their search to the point that they explore much further north than where Zarahemla is and where they come to a land covered by dry bones and desctruction. They presume that they have found Zarahemla and that Zarahemla is destroyed. Yet among those ruins, they find a set of 24 golden plates inscribed in a foriegn language to them. They eventually return, finding their way back south to the land of King Limhi where they tell of their exploration and failure to find Zarahemla or at least that Zarahemla must be distroyed. They also give King Limhi the 24 golden engraved plates in a language that no one can read. Well that is one part of the nut in the shell.

The other part of the details is that the King of the land of Zarahemla, who is King Mosiah II, has determined that he wants to find out what has happened to the other Nephite group who has gone down to live apart from them of the north and into lands south which are near unto where the Lamanites live. This land south of the land of Zarahemla where this other group of Nephites are living is a part of the original lands of the Nephites and Lamanites and are called the land of their fathers first inheritance. That little additional detail is not relevant to the question of the 'seer' but this is just how detailed the real truth of a story is that is a part of true life.

This King Mosiah II of Zarahemla was recently made king by his father, King Benjamin, who retired from being the King of the northern Nephites. Now King Benjamin, the father of Mosiah II, was not only the King of his people, he was also their Prophet and Seer as well, as was his father King Mosiah I. So King Benjamin decides to retire from being king and makes his son Mosiah II King in his stead, but Benjamin is still the living Prophet and Seer until his death and he lives some three years after he retires from being king, during which time he is still the Prophet and Seer of the Nephite people in the north land of Zarahemla.

It is during this time that King Mosiah II determines to find out what happened to the Nephite group who returned to live in the land south. So he selects a trusted group of men, the leader of such is one man named Ammon. Now this Ammon is Ammon a descendant of King Zarahemla of the Mulekites, which is another set of real life details which the abridged Book of Mormon record does not go into great detail about, which is a further example of the 'details of real life' contained in the Nephite record which is not common to works of fiction. Other than differentiating this Ammon, descendant of Zarahamela from another Ammon, the son of King Mosiah II, it really is not critical to the question of the 'seer'.

Well it would seem that Ammon, descendant of Zarahemla, and his party depart from Zarahemla in the thrid year of King Mosiah II reign and while the former King Benjamin is still alive and the still living Prophet and Seer. Again, it is a 'Seer' who has the power given from God to use the Urim and Thummim to translated stange languages and such. Thus when this Ammon's party does come to find the southern living Nephite group under King Limhi, when Limhi tells him of his own explores' similar search to find Zarahemla, and their finding the 24 golden engraved plates of a strange foriegn language; it is Ammon who tells King Limhi that there is a living Prophet and Seer who has the power and ability to translated or interpret just such a strange language record.

Now where the 'error' of confusion seems to come in, is that in the original edition of the Book of Mormon, it reports that Ammon tells King Limhi that the Prophet/Seer who can translate the foreign language plates is named Benjamin. But of course those 'quick and dirty' readers of the Book of Mormon are all too quick to point out that by the time Ammon tells King Limhi that Benjamin is that Seer, Benjamin is dead; Ammon and party being sent out in the third year of King Mosiah II's reign. They say that Ammon stating that Benjamin is the Seer is not correct because the then living Prophet and Seer was actually King Mosiah II. And it is King Mosiah II which the abridged record of the Nephites does state who eventually does translate that 24 plate record into the language of the Nephites.

So the dilema becomes was there an error in the Book of Mormon and should it have been Mosiah who Ammon should have told King Limhi that had the power to translate the 24 plate record of the Jaredites (another detail of the true record). It would seem in the 'guick read' and 'surface understanding' of the record, that it should have been Mosiah which Ammon should have stated to King Limhi that was currently the living prophet and seer. And thus partly due to 'quick reading' Mormons, as well as according to the voice of the critics, that the name in the 1830 edition of Benjamin was thought to be changed to Mosiah as being the 'Seer' of record, and it was. Certainly all of the envolved details of understanding the details of a non-fiction complicated story may fall way to the simple deduction that Benjamin was dead and Mosiah was the then living prophet and seer of the time of Ammon's report to King Limhi should have stated Mosiah.

But the truth of the matter is most likely that of the details of a non-fictional record, that when Ammon left Zarahemla in that third year of King Mosiah II, the former King Benjamin was living in that 3rd year, alive and still the presiding Prophet and Seer. And Ammon would have had no real way of knowing that Benjamin had yet died and was dead when he reported to King Limhi that it was Bejamin who was the living prophet and seer who could translate the 24 plate record.

So now, what is the truth. The turth is that it is most likely that the original 1830 Book of Mormon edition got it right to begin with. Ammon told King Limhi that as far as he knew the living prophet and seer who could translate the plates was Benjamin. And thus the 1830 edition is likely the most correct record. But as far as the quick read artist's understanding, who does not take the time of detailed relality reconstruction of an highly abridged record to be reconstitued to the complex real life reality of the matter, it is and was much easier to read and understand that Mosiah was the living prophet and seer, as he was according to the abbridged record the actual person and seer who did eventually first translate the 24 golden plates of the Jaredites into the Nephite langange.

So an 'error' in the Book of Momorn? NO! At best it is the case of makeing the book more readable and understandable for the 'quick read and study artist' who neither fully, completely nor conprehensively digs into the text to objectively determine just what is the real truth of the matter. So in my mind 'if' one must point out the error, in my humble opionion it was changing the original 1830s edition name from Benjamin to Mosiah. Yet it does seem to make the condensed 'soup' of the Book of Mormon Abridgment go down easier for the surface level readers of the Book of Mormon. And bottom line is that it is Mosiah II who is the next 'prophet' and 'seer' of the Nephites after the death of his father Benjamin. (See Mosiah 21:28 (later end of Mosiah Chapter 9 of 1830 edition), Mosiah 22:14, Mosiah 28:11-20 — Compare 1830 edition with all later editions) And thus today, it is the name Mosiah which the Book of Mormon reports that Ammon spoke unto Limhi as the 'seer' of the Nephites who could translate the 24 golden plates of the Jaredites. And perhaps in the most objective and real actuality, according to the complex details of real life, there is now this 'error' in our current day Book of Mormon, which now continues because it is easier to explain and to be accepted by the casual reader of the Book of Mormon text that Mosiah II was the currecnt prophet and seer of date.

[Curious Final Note: Don't get Ammon, son of King Mosiah II, and his interviews with King Lamoni of the Lamanites mixed up with Ammon, descendant of King Zarahemla, and his interviews with King Limhi. Real non-fictional records have such similar names and parallels of history in them where fictional stories usually tend to avoid such complexities for the easy of their readers' enjoyment and level of mind envolvement.]

rev. 24 May 2014