Saturday, September 28, 2019

Hebrew wordplay in 2 Nephi 1

Much more on the topic of dust is coming over the next few days, but for now I'd like to point out a possible example of Hebrew wordplay in Lehi's words to Laman and Lemuel found in 2 Nephi 1.

A note about this--I know the Book of Mormon wasn't written in Hebrew, but it claims to have been authored by people who spoke Hebrew.  Thus, it seems reasonable to look for evidence of Hebrew wordplay even through the English translation.  This is especially true if the terms have clear Old Testament parallels.

In 2 Nephi 1:23, Lehi says:

23 Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust.

Jeff Lindsay argues in this paper that the likely Hebrew roots here (with Isaiah connections to back up his claim) are: “obscurity” = "ʾophel / ʾâphêl" and “dust” = "ʿaphar."

There are also very clear covenant/temple-related themes in this imagery, which will be the topic of future posts.