We are all familiar with the reaction of King Benjamin's people after his talk. Because they believe all his words, the are willing to enter into a covenant
And we are willing to enter into a with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days (Mosiah 5:5)
King Benjamin explains that by entering into this covenant and taking upon them the name of Christ, they become the children of Christ and will be found at his right hand, while those who never take upon them the name of Christ will ultimately find themselves at his left hand. Entering into a covenant, therefore places us in a very distinct position. You are either inside or outside, at the right or at the left.
This will be another one of those posts focusing on Hebrew words that I believe influenced the Nephite language and worldview, even if the words were changed and spelled with different characters. Two such words in this case are "take heed" and "transgress". They relate to being inside the covenant in ways that are not obvious in English. Let us first have a look at Mosiah 5:11
And I would that ye should remember also, that this is the that I said I should give unto you that never should be blotted out, except it be through transgression; therefore, take heed that ye do not transgress, that the name be not blotted out of your hearts. (Mosiah 5:11)
"Take heed" in the KJV Bible is usually translated from the Hebrew, shamar (שָׁמַר). Lord Wilmore has already posted about this word here, here and here. The last link shows how this in fact is a major theme in King Benjamin's talk. "Take heed that ye do not transgress" would normally be understood in English as "beware", "watch out", "be careful" that ye do not transgress. This is not wrong but the term will lose some of its meaning by only looking at it this way. Shamar is also about guarding, preserving and protecting. In the Garden of Eden, Adam was commanded to "shamar" the garden. Israelites were commanded to "shamar" the sabbath (Exodus 31:14,16). King Benjamin himself was concerned about "shamar"ing his people as explained in the last of the three links to Lord Wilmore's posts. Now he has set an example and asks them to "shamar" their covenant and the name of Christ that he has given them. They should watch over, guard and preserve it, like a righteous king his people.
"Transgress" is another word that adds depth to this verse when looking into the Hebrew. It also links to "take heed" and the covenant theme in ways that are not apparent in English. The Hebrew word is avar (עָבַר). It literally means to pass through or traverse. When this is used in the Old Testament, it is often without any relation to God, commandments or covenants. People are described as passing through something like the spies passed through the promised land in Numbers 14:7 and the Israelites passed through the Jordan river in Joshua 3:14-17. It does not seem to have much to do with our traditional understanding of transgression, which we relate to sin. But frequently this term is also used in relation to God. It is the same word and the same meaning, but in a metaphorical sense.
On several occasions, this image is used to speak about disobeying God. The idea is that people hear God’s command but pass through it. They don’t dwell in or with God’s instruction. They are quick to move on to other things. Distraction takes them away from what God has said.
-Source: Schlimm, Matthew Richard. 70 Hebrew Words Every Christian Should Know (p. 63). Abingdon Press.
This helps us understand that "transgress" is in fact the polar opposite of "take heed". They need to take heed so they do not transgress, because if they really take heed, transgression is not going to happen. This meaning of transgression help us understand what King Benjamin is really warning the people of. You have entered into a covenant. Now, make sure that you do not just pass through it or wander out of it because you are distracted by other things and don't pay much attention to where you are and should stay. Instead, "take heed", guard and preserve the sacred place you are in, the covenant you have entered into and the name you have received, which is the only name "whereby can come unto the children of men" (Mosiah 3:17).
The rhetorical question that comes next makes sense in this context
For how a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart? (Mosiah 5:13)
If transgression implies a drift away from "the name" and the covenant because we are easily distracted by other things, it will be far from the thoughts and intents of our hearts. If we instead take heed by guarding and preserving the name and staying firmly within the covenant that we have entered into, rich blessings are promised:
Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in , that Christ, the , may you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen. (Mosiah 5:15)