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Interpreting Interpreter
The Endowment of Benjamin

This post is a summary of the article “King Benjamin’s Sermon as a Type of Temple Endowment” by Andrew I. Miller in Volume 61 of Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship. All of the Interpreting Interpreter articles may be seen at An introduction to the Interpreting Interpreter series is available at


The Takeaway

Miller argues that King Benjamin’s sermon contains many of the elements present in the modern temple endowment, with the exception of covenants associated with the Melchizedek Priesthood, potentially making the sermon a form of Aaronic Priesthood endowment.


The Summary

In this article, Andrew I. Miller joins a lengthening list of scholars that have found themes related to the modern temple endowment in material that substantially precedes its incarnation in the Red Brick Store. Focusing on King Benjamin’s sermon in the Book of Mormon, Miller notes a variety of temple-related concepts (see Miller’s handy summary table), including:

Importantly, Miller notes that these parallels do not include explicit covenants of chastity and consecration (though such connections may be implicit). He suggests that this may be because of the limitations of the Mosaic Dispensation, where the Mechizedek priesthood was limited to kings and religious leaders. King Benjamin’s sermon may thus represent a kind of Aaronic priesthood endowment. Though these shared themes do not make the sermon an endowment per se as we currently understand and experience it in modern temples, Miller feels that these correspondences have a number of implications for modern readers. Predating the modern endowment by 13 years, it helps strengthen the case that these complex temple themes and ancient allusions did not originate with Joseph Smith. And in the context of the still-recent merger of the Nephite and Mulekite peoples, it helps demonstrate the unifying power of covenants, a power that will, according to Miller, “enable [temple-goers] to build up a ‘worldwide kingdom of priests, an holy nation’ (Exodus 19:6)” in preparation for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ”.


The Reflection

I often marvel at those who insist that the endowment is nothing more than warmed over Masonic ritual. In my view, those people either must not have been paying attention to the endowment or they quietly ignore its obvious foundations in the ancient world. We shouldn’t be surprised to find its pattern of covenant-making and divine progression in places—ancient or otherwise–we might not expect, and Miller does a great job doing so in the case of Benjamin. Looking for and considering those themes can help me carry the spirit of the temple outside of its walls, and, by extension, its power to engrave the name of Christ on my heart and my countenance.

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