Evidence #176 | March 30, 2021

Noah and Pharaoh

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Scripture Central

Abstract

Exodus reversal, a negative variation of the Exodus pattern, can be found in Abinadi’s prophecy to King Noah and his People.

Reversal of the Deliverance Pattern in the Book of Amos

Many examples of the ancient Exodus pattern can be found in the Bible and in the Book of Mormon.1 In one variation of this pattern, the prophetic speaker reverses the blessings of the Exodus because of the wickedness of the people.

The prophet Amos, for example, evoked language and themes of the Exodus in his prophecy against the Northern Kingdom of Jeroboam, predicting that they would go into (instead of out of) bondage and captivity (Amos 5:27; 6:7). Instead of light (Exodus 10:23), they could expect darkness in the coming day (Amos 5:18, 20; Exodus 10:21–22). The Lord would no longer deliver His unrepentant people from the coming judgements. “For I will pass through thee” (Amos 5:17), words that were used of the destroying angel who passed over Israel when he slew the Egyptians (Exodus 12:12). According to Goran Eidevall, Amos’ use of this phrase “suggests a dramatic reversal of the Exodus tradition” where “Israel has, shockingly, been assigned the role played by Egypt, YHWH’s arrogant enemy.”2 The destroying angel will not pass them by, and the impenitent Israelites will be smitten like the Egyptians.

Prophet Amos as depicted by Gustave Dore.

Reversal of the Deliverance Pattern in Abinadi’s Prophecy

A similar inversion of the Exodus theme can be found in Abinadi’s prophecies to King Noah and his rebellious people. In both the Exodus and the Mosiah narratives, the Lords uses verbs for seeing, hearing, delivering and visiting, but in the book of Mosiah account those verbs reflect a reversal of the blessings of the Exodus.

Seeing

In the Exodus account, the Lord told Moses that He had “seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt” (Exodus 3:7) and had “seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them” (Exodus 3:9). Through Abinadi, the Lord announced woes upon the people, “for I have seen their abominations and their wickedness, and their whoredoms” (Mosiah 11:20).

Hearing

The Lord told Moses that He had “heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows” (Exodus 3:7). He told the people of King Noah that “when they shall cry unto me that I will be slow to hear their cries” (Mosiah 11:24) and that unless they repent, “I will not hear their prayers” (Mosiah 11:25).

Deliverance

The Lord told Moses that He would bring His people “up out of the affliction of Egypt” (Exodus 3:17) and “I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:8). The Lord told King Noah’s people, “I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, they shall be brought into bondage” (Mosiah 11:21), and that if they refused to repent He will not “deliver them out of their afflictions” (Mosiah 11:25).

Moses parting the Red Sea, by Robert T. Barrett.

Visitation

The Lord told His people in Egypt, “I have surely visited you” in order to redeem them from bondage (Exodus 3:16). The Lord warned Noah’s people, “I will visit them in mine anger” (Mosiah 11:20; 12:1).

Knowing the Lord

In both narratives, the Lord indicates that His people will learn something about His divine nature. “And I will take you for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7). At Mount Sinai, He reminded them, “for I the Lord am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5). The Lord used similar language in His prophecies through Abinadi, but explained that due to the wickedness of King Noah’s people, “they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people” (Mosiah 11:22).

King Noah as Pharaoh

Who is the Lord?

Noah’s negative response to Abinadi’s prophetic warning also echoes the language of the Exodus story. Noah asked, “Who is Abinadi, that I and my people should be judged of him, or who is the Lord, that shall bring upon my people such affliction?” (Mosiah 11:27). The first question is similar to the ungrateful Israelite after Moses had killed his Egyptian oppressor, “Who madeth thee a prince and a judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14). The second question is the same one asked by Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2).  King Noah’s words paint him in the role of the King of Egypt.

Still image from The Ten Commandments.

Hardening the Heart

In the Exodus story, Pharoah frequently hardened his heart against the Lord’s words given by Moses. “And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them” (Exodus 7:13–14). Similarly, Noah utterly rejected the message of Abinadi who came to them as a prophet like Moses. “And King Noah hardened his heart against the word of the Lord, and he did not repent of his evil doings” (Mosiah 11:29; 12:1).

The Plagues of Egypt Return

Stretching out the hand

In Exodus the Lord commanded Moses to “stretch forth thine hand” (Exodus 9:22), an action He repeated as he brought forth plagues upon Egypt and the Egyptians (Exodus 7:19; 8:5–6, 17; 10:12). When Abinadi returned to deliver his second message, the Lord told him to “Stretch forth thy hand and prophesy (Mosiah 12:2). Abinadi again “stretched forth his hand” near the end of his message (Mosiah 16:1).

Abinadi Testifying before King Noah, by Jeremy Winborg.

A Curse of Hail

In Exodus, Moses was told to curse Egypt “that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt” (Exodus 9:22). Similarly, the Lord told Noah’s people, “I will send forth hail among them and it shall smite them” (Mosiah 12:6).

Pestilence

In the Exodus account, the Lord told Pharaoh, “for I will stretch out my hand that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence” (Exodus 9:15). Abinadi likewise prophesied that the people “shall be smitten with a great pestilence” (Mosiah 12:7).

The East Wind

Both narratives mention an east wind that would bring plagues upon the people. “And the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts” (Exodus 10:13). Abinadi also prophesied that King Noah’s people would “be smitten with the east wind” (Mosiah 12:6).

Insects

In Exodus, Egypt was plagued by locusts (Exodus 10:13–14), lice (Exodus 8:17–18), and flies (Exodus 8:21–22, 24). Abinadi prophesied that “insects shall pester their land” (Mosiah 12:6).

Destruction of Crops

The terrible plague of locusts devoured the crops of the Egyptians. “For they covered the face of the whole earth, so that the land was darkened; and they did eat every herb of the land, and all the fruit of the trees which the hail had left: and there remained not any green thing in the trees, or in the herbs of the field, through all the land of Egypt” (Exodus 10:15). Abinadi prophesied to Noah’s people that insects would “devour their grain” (Mosiah 12:6–7).   

Image via everypixel.com.

Cut Off

The Lord told Pharoah that if he and his people did not release Israel from bondage, “thou shalt be cut off from the earth” (Exodus 9:15). Noah and his people were told that if they did not repent, the Lord would “utterly destroy them from off the face of the earth” (Mosiah 12:8).

Smitten with Diseases

When Pharaoh hardened his heart, Moses and Aaron “took of the ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast” (Exodus 9:10). After the Lord led Israel across the Red Sea, He promised them, “If thou wilt dilligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee (Exodus 15:26). While phrased positively, the Lord’s words implicitly suggest the negative consequences of future disobedience.3

Like the Egyptians who suffered boils and blains, Noah’s priests would also suffer physical ailments. As the flames began to scorch him, Abinadi foretold, “It will come to pass that ye shall be afflicted with all manner of diseases because of your iniquities” (Mosiah 17:14–16). Abinadi’s death by fire, like the ashes sprinkled by Moses and Aaron, invoked a similar curse upon the wicked priests. (For chart comparing the features in this section, see the Appendix).

Conclusion

As is the case in a number of biblical and Book of Mormon narratives, the story of Abinadi’s ministry among Noah’s people seems to have been intentionally written with the Exodus in mind. This pattern of looking back to earlier prophets and divine precedents is consistent with the stated message of the text, which (at least in part) is “to show unto the remnant of the House of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers” (Title Page).

In an earlier study of the Exodus pattern in the Book of Mormon, Terrence Szink stated:

Certainly, this connection could not have been a part of Joseph Smith’s writing. The parallels to Exodus occur at dozens of places throughout the Book of Mormon record. No hasty copying of the Bible could have produced such complex similarities, not to mention the differences that remain. In fact, because they are so quiet and underlying, no Latter-day Saint until our day has even noticed these comparisons.4

The complexity of the reversal of the Exodus pattern in the book of Mosiah provides another significant dimension to the Book of Mormon’s recurring interactions with Exodus themes and motifs.

S. Kent Brown, “The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 30, no. 3 (Summer 1990): 111–126, reprinted in S. Kent Brown, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 75–98.

David R. Seely, “‘A Prophet Like Moses’: Deuteronomy 18:15–18 in the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” in “To Seek the Law of the Lord”: Essays in Honor of John W. Welch (Orem, UT: Interpreter Foundation, 2017), 360–374. 

Noel B. Reynolds, “The Israelite Background of Moses Typology in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 44, no. 2 (2005): 5–23. 

Noel B. Reynolds, “Lehi as Moses,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9, no. 2 (2000): 26–35.

Terrrence L. Szink, “Nephi and the Exodus,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon: Insights You May Have Missed Before, ed., John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1991), 50–51.

Alan Goff, “Mourning, Consolation, and Repentance at Nahom,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon: Insights You May Have Missed Before, ed., John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1991), 92–99.

George S. Tate, “The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon,” in Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, ed., Neal E. Lambert (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981), 245–262.

BibleExodus 2:14Exodus 3:7Exodus 3:8Exodus 3:9Exodus 3:16Exodus 3:17Exodus 5:2Exodus 6:7Exodus 7:19Exodus 7:13–14Exodus 8:5–6Exodus 8:17Exodus 8:17–18Exodus 8:21–22Exodus 8:24Exodus 9:10Exodus 9:15Exodus 9:22Exodus 10:12Exodus 10:13Exodus 10:13–14Exodus 10:15Exodus 10:21–22Exodus 10:23Exodus 20:5Exodus 12:12Exodus 15:26Amos 5:27Amos 5:17Amos 5:18Amos 5:20Amos 6:7Book of Mormon Title PageMosiah 11:20–29Mosiah 11:21Mosiah 11:22Mosiah 11:24Mosiah 11:25Mosiah 11:27Mosiah 11:29Mosiah 12:1Mosiah 12:2Mosiah 12:6Mosiah 12:7Mosiah 12:6–7Mosiah 12:8Mosiah 17:14–16

Bible

Exodus 2:14

Exodus 3:7

Exodus 3:8

Exodus 3:9

Exodus 3:16

Exodus 3:17

Exodus 5:2

Exodus 6:7

Exodus 7:19

Exodus 7:13–14

Exodus 8:5–6

Exodus 8:17

Exodus 8:17–18

Exodus 8:21–22

Exodus 8:24

Exodus 9:10

Exodus 9:15

Exodus 9:22

Exodus 10:12

Exodus 10:13

Exodus 10:13–14

Exodus 10:15

Exodus 10:21–22

Exodus 10:23

Exodus 20:5

Exodus 12:12

Exodus 15:26

Amos 5:27

Amos 5:17

Amos 5:18

Amos 5:20

Amos 6:7

Book of Mormon 

Title Page

Mosiah 11:20–29

Mosiah 11:21

Mosiah 11:22

Mosiah 11:24

Mosiah 11:25

Mosiah 11:27

Mosiah 11:29

Mosiah 12:1

Mosiah 12:2

Mosiah 12:6

Mosiah 12:7

Mosiah 12:6–7

Mosiah 12:8

Mosiah 17:14–16

The People of King Noah and the Exodus

Topic

Exodus

Mosiah

Stretch Forth Thy Hand

And the Lord spake unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch forth thy hand (Exodus 7:5).

And the Lord said unto me: Stretch forth thy hand and prophesy (Mosiah 12:2)

Know I Am the Lord

And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I have gotten me honor upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen (Exodus 14:18; 7:5; 14:4).

And it shall come to pass that the life of king Noah shall be valued even as a garment in a hot furnace; for he shall know that I am the Lord (Mosiah 12:3).

Smite with Pestilence and Destruction

For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth (Exodus 9:14-15).

And it shall come to pass that I will smite this my people with sore afflictions, yea with famine and with pestilence....And they shall be smitten with a great pestilence--and all this will I do because of their iniquities and abominations. And it shall come to pass that except they repent I will utterly destroy them (Mosiah 12:4, 7–8).

Hail

And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch forth thine hand toward heaven, that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, upon man, and upon beast, and upon every herb of the field, throughout the land of Egypt (Exodus 9:22).

And it shall come to pass that I will send forth hail among them and it shall smite them (Mosiah 12:6).

East Wind and Locusts

And Moses stretched out his rod over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day, and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts … and they did eat every herb of the land, (Exodus 10:13–15).

And they shall also be smitten with the east wind, and insects shall pester their land also, and devour their grain (Mosiah 12:6).

 

Diseases

And they took of the ashes of the furnace, and stood before Pharaoh; and Moses sprinkled it toward heaven; and it became a boil breaking forth with blains upon man, and upon beast (Exodus 9:10).

 

If thou wilt dilligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee (Exodus 15:26).

 

Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee (Deut 28:60).

 

And now when the flames began to scorch him, he cried unto them saying: Behold....It will come to pass that ye shall be afflicted with all manner of diseases because of your iniquities (Mosiah 17:14–16).

  • 1 For treatments of this topic in the Book of Mormon, see S. Kent Brown, “The Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 30, no. 3 (Summer 1990): 111–126, reprinted in S. Kent Brown, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1998), 75–98; Noel B. Reynolds, “The Israelite Background of Moses Typology in the Book of Mormon,” BYU Studies 44, no. 2 (2005): 5–23; Noel B. Reynolds, “Lehi as Moses,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9, no. 2 (2000): 26–35; Terrrence L. Szink, “Nephi and the Exodus,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon: Insights You May Have Missed Before, ed., John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1991), 50–51; Alan Goff, “Mourning, Consolation, and Repentance at Nahom,” in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, 92–99; George S. Tate, “The Typology of the Exodus Pattern in the Book of Mormon,” in Literature of Belief: Sacred Scripture and Religious Experience, ed., Neal E. Lambert (Provo, UT: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1981), 245–262.
  • 2 Goran Eidevall, Amos: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, The Anchor Bible Series (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017), 162.
  • 3 This understanding is reflected in the commentary on this passage found in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: “I will not inflict on you any of the evil diseases that I inflicted on the Egyptians. But if you transgress the words of the Law, they shall be sent upon you.” Michael Maher, trans., Targum Pseudo-Jonathan: Exodus (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1987), 206.
  • 4 Szink, “Nephi and the Exodus,” 50–51.
Literary Features
Exodus Parallels
Noah and Pharaoh
Book of Mormon

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