This topic was introduced in this post and is largely based on a paper I read. It made think about posts we have already written that fit into this framework and other examples of "types of repetition and shadows of history" in the Book of Mormon. I presented several examples here, but I want to add some more in this post.
King Benjamin and King Mosiah
Notice that Mosiah 29:13 references Benjamin before the description of Mosiah starts paraphrasing the description of his father in Mosiah 2. Notice also the reverse order. In addition to the reversal of the color coded parts, murdering, plundering and stealing in King Benjamin's case becomes stealing, plundering and murdering in King Mosiah's case. The Hebrew scribal tradition of both repetition and poetry shines through.
These verses describe the epitome of a good king. So what is the purpose of this parallel? Is it just teaching us that if you are a king, you should be a good one? That would not apply to many of us. Is it enough just to show that "what happens to the happens to the son" as the old rabbinic saying goes, at least in this case? Just like the example of the two Lamanite kings in my last post where Ammon was tied into it and there was an underlying lesson, I think we can tie this to Nephi and obtain a deeper lesson.
Mosiah 29 is part of a longer discourse where Mosiah advises against continued monarchy. Simply because history has shown that kings like Benjamin and Mosiah are the exception rather than the rule. When Mosiah ended monarchy, it was the end of a 500 year old Nephite line of kings. This line started with Nephi
Nephi was a reluctant monarch. He desired that his people should have no king but he was their leader and the people regarded him as king (see also Jacob 1:9-11). Nephi taught his people to labor with their hands while he did that which was in his power. I think that might be the lesson to be learned from this repetitive element that fits into a larger discussion about monarchy as a form of government and its effect on society. The point is: Kings and subjects alike, or any leader and the people they are responsible for, should all labor and take responsibility. We should avoid being a people who "labor exceedingly to support iniquity" (Mosiah 11:6) because of a lazy king like King Noah or, on the other hand, leaving all responsibility to the king to provide for us.
For behold, he did not keep the commandments of God, but he did walk after the desires of his own heart. And he had many wives and . And he did his people to commit sin, and do that which was in the sight of the Lord. Yea, and they did commit and manner of wickedness.
And he laid a of one fifth part of all they possessed, a fifth part of their gold and of their silver, and a fifth part of their , and of their copper, and of their brass and their iron; and a fifth part of their fatlings; and also a fifth part of all their grain.
And all this did he take to himself, and his wives and his ; and also his priests, and their wives and their concubines; thus he had changed the affairs of the kingdom…
Yea, and thus they were supported in their laziness, and in their idolatry, and in their whoredoms, by the taxes which king Noah had put upon his people; thus did the people labor exceedingly to support iniquity…
And it came to pass that king Noah built many elegant and spacious buildings; and he ornamented them with fine work of wood, and of all manner of things, of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of brass, and of ziff, and of copper;
And he also built him a spacious palace, and a throne in the midst thereof, all of which was of fine wood and was ornamented with gold and silver and with precious things.
And it came to pass that Riplakish did not do that which was right in the sight of the Lord, for he did have many wives and , and did lay that upon men’s shoulders which was grievous to be borne; yea, he did them with heavy taxes; and with the taxes he did build many spacious buildings.
And he did erect him an exceedingly beautiful throne; and he did build many prisons, and whoso would not be subject unto taxes he did into prison; and whoso was not able to pay taxes he did cast into prison; and he did cause that they should labor continually for their support; and whoso refused to labor he did cause to be put to death.
Wherefore he did obtain all his fine work, yea, even his fine he did cause to be refined in prison; and all manner of fine he did cause to be wrought in prison. And it came to pass that he did afflict the people with his whoredoms and abominations.
And when he had reigned for the space of forty and two years the people did rise up in rebellion against him; and there began to be war again in the land, insomuch that Riplakish was killed, and his descendants were driven out of the land.
It is not hard to imagine Moroni abridging the Jaredite record and highlighting the information about the wicked king, Riplakish, that mirrors what he has read about King Noah in the record abridged by his father. It is also not hard to imagine wicked kings in general falling into the same patterns of sin, thereby repeating history.