Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


Ancient Near East, Civilization, Government, Religion, Warfare, Book of Mormon, Books, Ether, Notable People, Benjamin


Nephite kings were expected to fulfill the same roles that kings played in other ancient civilizations— commander of the military forces, chief judicial official, and leader of the national religion. A king’s success depended not only on the extent to which he performed each role, but also on the motives behind his service. Selfless rule by Benjamin-type kings commanded the respect and praise of the people, while King Noah’s quest for personal gain roused Old World disdain for the monarch. The Nephite experiment with kingship confirms that between “kings and tyrants there’s this difference known; kings seek their subject’s good; tyrants their own” (Robert Herrick, 1591–1674).