September 23, 2013

During the Sukkot holiday, I always take time to read the account of King Benjamin’s address in the Book of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. Many Mormons believe that he gave this famous speech during Sukkot, and the scriptural evidence for this is pretty impressive.

Mormons believe that the Book of Mormon is a historical and spiritual account of several groups of people, including Israelites who left Jerusalem during the reign of Zedekiah (around 600 BCE) and settled in the Americas. They brought the Torah with them and kept the Law of Moses until the coming of Jesus Christ.

About 124 BCE, a righteous king named Benjamin ordered that his people should be gathered together to their temple in order to hear his farewell address, which consists of four chapters of the most sublime and inspirational writing in scripture (e.g., “[W]hen ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God”). His subjects did so, bringing the “firstlings of their flocks” in order to “offer sacrifices and burnt offerings according to the law of Moses.” The second chapter of Mosiah also records that the people gathered together “that they might give thanks to the Lord their God.”

Both ancient and modern Israelites celebrating Sukkot would recognize the manner in which the people gathered in order to hear their king:

And it came to pass that when they came up to the temple,
they pitched their tents round about, every man according
to his family…

And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every
man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple,
that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words
which King Benjamin should speak unto them. [Mosiah 2:5-6]

I love exploring the many Jewish themes in the Book of Mormon, and appreciate the opportunity that Sukkot gives me every year to do so. Hag sameach to all of my Jewish readers.

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