One More for the List of Things That Just Plain Don't Happen
So apparently, following his address, Benjamin put some feelers out among his peeps to see if they bought all that horrible doctrine of threats and self-flagellation. Joseph Smith would have us believe that the people reacted this way:
And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou has spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord, Ominipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually....and so on and so forth for another three verses. This, of course, is completely unrealistic. People do not behave this way.
When is the last time in recorded history that an entire society was swayed to a particular belief or course of action instantly, unanimously, and passionately based on one address from one authority figure? There are always minority opinions, rebels and dissenters—even when one side should be obviously correct and the other side should be obviously wrong.
But this will be far from Joseph Smith's last mistake along these lines.
Prepare for your mind to be blown by the implication made in verse 7:
And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.King Benjamin's people, then, have become the children of their older brother. They have been begotten by the first begotten of the guy who already begat them. That's pretty messed up.
So it's not actually incest, of course, but it's more evidence that Joseph Smith was just making this crap up as he went along. It's too bad that he predated Tolkien, because he could have learned a lot from that guy when it came to planning out ridiculous mythology while avoiding continuity errors and plot holes.
Smith hadn't really decided on how the whole God/Jesus thing was going to break down yet, I guess. (In ten chapters, he's going to take a crack at parsing their differences and their relationship and he's going to fail miserably.) Because if he'd hammered out the whole spirit-children-war-in-heaven-older-brothers stuff, then this verse would have been way too strange to be worded this way. There are plenty of options for making the same point without getting entangled in weird celestial familial octopuses.
Pearls of Wisdom
Verse 10 made me chuckle:
...whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ must be called by some other name
But then I was startled to find a striking teaching a few verses later that I actually agree with. And I think it's related pretty gracefully, without as much of the clunky writing that plagues this usually worthless tome:
For how knoweth a man the master who he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?
So my first thought, after the initial shock of reading something in the Book of Mormon that I actually liked, was this must be plagiarized! I did some quick Googling in the hopes of confirming my suspicion, and I learned that some of this verse might be plagiarized, but it's the last few words and not the core concept. So congratulations, Joseph. You're on the board with one run. But we're somewhere in the bottom of the third inning here and you're still down by about 1,346. So don't get your hopes up.
Incidentally, I'd be interested to learn if anybody else has figured out where that possibly legitimate pearl of wisdom in Mosiah 5:13 actually came from.