Evidence #352 | June 27, 2022

“This Day”

Post contributed by


Scripture Central


The Book of Mormon’s use of the phrase “this day” corresponds to its biblical usage on several levels.

Usage of “This Day” in the Book of Mormon

On 18 occasions, the Book of Mormon uses the short phrase “this day.” More than half of these instances can be found in a setting where the people formally gathered for some special occasion, usually at a temple.1 In most instances, themes of agency and covenant are prominent.2

Jacob used the phrase three times while preaching a sermon at an early Nephite temple, during what some scholars believe was an Israelite autumn festival:3

  • “Now, my beloved brethren, I, Jacob … come up into the temple this day that I might declare unto you the word of God.” (Jacob 2:2)
  • “but I this day am weighed down with much more desire and anxiety for the welfare of your souls” (Jacob 2:3)
  • “But, wo, wo, unto you that are not pure in heart, that are filthy this day before God” (Jacob 3:3)
Jacob teaching his people at the temple. 

King Benjamin used the phrase five times while delivering his famous speech at the temple, which also likely coincided with the Israelite autumn festival:4

  • “My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day” (Mosiah 2:9)
  • “and of all these things which I have spoken, ye yourselves are witnesses this day” (Mosiah 2:14)
  • “I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day” (Mosiah 2:15)
  • “the Lord God doth support me, and hath suffered me that I should … declare unto you this day, that my son Mosiah is a king and a ruler over you” (Mosiah 2:30)
  • “for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you” (Mosiah 5:7)

Ammon used the phrase while pleading his case to King Limhi, probably in the king’s palace or some other official place of judgment:

  • “O king, I am very thankful before God this day that I am yet alive, and am permitted to speak” (Mosiah 7:12)

The next day, after King Limhi had his people gather at the temple for a special occasion, Limhi declared:

  • “And ye all are witnesses this day, that Zeniff, who was made king over this people …” (Mosiah 7:21)

When preaching a covenant-related sermon to the people in the land of Gideon, Alma declared:

  • “go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism” (Alma 7:15)
Alma teaching the people of Gideon. 

Usage of “This Day” in the Bible

The phrase “this day” is found frequently in the King James translation of the Old Testament. In many cases (although not all), it is invoked in circumstances analogous to passages from the Book of Mormon listed above—that is, in settings where the themes of agency or covenants are evident.

When bargaining for Esau’s birthright, Jacob declared, “Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob” (Genesis 25:33). Similarly, when Laban and Jacob made a “heap” of stones to memorialize a covenant made between them, Laban proclaimed: “This heap is a witness between me and thee this day” (Genesis 31:48).

Jacob and Esau. Image via jw.org. 

Perhaps the most famous biblical passage invoking this phrase is found in Joshua 24:15: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve.” We can be confident that the Nephites were familiar with this specific passage because Alma quoted it directly in Alma 30:8: “For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.”5

Another noteworthy instance of the phrase comes from the Lord himself in relation to the Passover event: “And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations” (Exodus 12:14). A similar statement is given in verse 17, but in that case the word “selfsame” (Hebrew: ʿeṣem) is added: “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.”

Commenting on this passage in 1992, one set of scholars explain,

In Hebrew the word etzem [or ʿeṣem] is significant. … Abraham Bloch has recently concluded that “this descriptive word was not a mere literary flourish” but a technical term of art with some unknown special significance.

For further insight, Bloch turns to the medieval Jewish jurist Nahmanides, who “noted with great amazement that etzem [‘selfsame’] was used only in connection with the observance of Yom Kippur [the Israelite festival of the Day of Atonement] and Shavuot [the biblical festival of the Firstfruits, or Pentecost].” The implication is that this term was used to indicate that these high holy days in and of themselves produced a binding legal effect or holy religious status.6

It may be that the simpler version of the phrase (“this day”) had a similar special significance among the Nephites. In any case, the repeated use of this phrase in a festival context in Exodus 12 may help explain why it is used extensively in what appears to be festival events in the Book of Mormon. It doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that “this day” is used collectively 8 times—nearly half of the Book of Mormon’s total usage—in the sermons of Jacob and King Benjamin, both of which were delivered at the temple in what appear to be festival gatherings.


Most readers of the Book of Mormon probably haven’t noticed its usage of the phrase “this day.” Comparative analysis demonstrates that it is consistent in several respects with the phrase’s special significance in a number of biblical passages. In each text, it is used in contexts of (1) making or witnessing covenants, (2) exercising moral agency, and (3) festival celebrations—all of which overlap to some extent.

Prophets like Jacob, King Benjamin, and Alma would have been well-versed in the literary conventions of their Hebrew ancestors—especially the formulaic language attending the festivals and covenants which were perpetuated among their people. It is thus understandable that their usage of “this day” corresponds so well with its use in the Old Testament. It is harder to see this type of subtle, multifaceted textual consistency as a product of Joseph Smith’s creativity, seeing that he was poorly educated and not well read when he translated the Book of Mormon in 1829.7

John W. Welch, Donald W. Parry, and Stephen D. Ricks, “‘This Day’,” in Reexploring the Book of Mormon: A Decade of New Research, ed. John W. Welch (Provo and Salt Lake City, UT: FARMS and Deseret Book, 1992), 117–119.

Terence L. Szink and John W. Welch, “King Benjamin’s Speech in the Context of Ancient Israelite Festivals,” in King Benjamin’s Speech: “That Ye May Learn Wisdom”, ed. John W. Welch and Stephen D. Ricks (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1998), 147–223.

John S. Thompson, “Isaiah 50–51, the Israelite Autumn Festivals, and the Covenant Speech of Jacob in 2 Nephi 6–10,” in Isaiah in the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry and John W. Welch (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1998), 123–150.

BibleGenesis 25:33Genesis 31:48Exodus 12:14Exodus 12:17Joshua 24:15Book of MormonJacob 2:2Jacob 2:3Jacob 3:3Mosiah 2:9Mosiah 2:14Mosiah 2:15Mosiah 2:30Mosiah 5:7Mosiah 7:12Mosiah 7:21Alma 7:15Alma 30:8


Genesis 25:33

Genesis 31:48

Exodus 12:14

Exodus 12:17

Joshua 24:15

Book of Mormon

Jacob 2:2

Jacob 2:3

Jacob 3:3

Mosiah 2:9

Mosiah 2:14

Mosiah 2:15

Mosiah 2:30

Mosiah 5:7

Mosiah 7:12

Mosiah 7:21

Alma 7:15

Alma 30:8

Intertextuality (External)
"This Day"
Book of Mormon

© 2024 Scripture Central: A Non-Profit Organization. All rights reserved. Registered 501(c)(3). EIN: 20-5294264