Source:Welch:JBMS 8:2:this sidelight in the book of Alma contains enough facts to support meaningful parallels between King Mosiah's weights and measures and those used in other ancient cultures

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John Welch (1999): "This sidelight in the book of Alma contains enough facts to support meaningful parallels between King Mosiah's weights and measures and those used in other ancient cultures"

John Welch,

Midway through one of the most heart-wrenching accounts in the Book of Mormon, when Alma and Amulek were on trial for their lives and Amulek's faithful women and children were put to death by fire, the story is interrupted with an explanation of King Mosiah's system of weights and measures (see Alma 11:3–19). It is a strange interruption, a mundane hiatus, but at least a relieving diversion as the tension mounts in Alma and Amulek's showdown with Zeezrom and the legal officials in Ammonihah. Why would one bring up these incidental economic nuts and bolts at such a point in the record?

Several reasons might explain why this information was included at this point in the Book of Mormon. For one thing, these short metrological details are not only intertwined with the debate between Amulek and Zeezrom (see Alma 11:21–25), but they also provide an important building block in Mormon's grand narrative. By abusing the justice system and misusing the lawful weights and measures, the wicked people of Ammonihah effectively opened the floodgates of God's judgment upon themselves, a pattern that would apply later to Nephite civilization as a whole.

In addition, as this article will show, this sidelight in the book of Alma contains enough facts to support meaningful parallels between King Mosiah's weights and measures and those used in other ancient cultures. For many reasons, these monetary details found in the large plates are weighty matters indeed. The attempted bribery, the overreaching of the lawyers, the royal standardization and official codification of these measures, their mathematical relationships, and the unusual names involved in Alma 11 have long intrigued readers.[1]

Notes

  1. John W. Welch, "Weighing and Measuring in the Worlds of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8:2 (1999).