Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship



Terrence L. Szink, Book of Mormon studies, military loyalty, ancient Near East, simile oaths, Hittite loyalty oath, "so be it"


According to Terrence L. Szink, "an important element in any military endeavor is the loyalty of the soldiers. Obviously, even the most brilliant military tactics will fail if the troops are unfaithful in fulfilling their duty." As a result, loyalty oaths were often administered among soldiers in the ancient Near East. These oaths often included "simile oaths," where some object is likened to the persons making the oath. Thus, in the Hittite loyalty oath, the person administering the oath said, after placing wax and mutton fat in the hands of each of those taking the oath, "just as th is wax melts, and just as the mutton fat dissolves, whoever breaks these oaths ... let him melt like wax, let him dissolve like mutton fat." To this the men declared "So be it."