Monday, December 23, 2019

Layers of evidence of autheniticity in 1 Nephi 16

Many readers might already know that Nahom is based on a Hebrew root associated with consolation and sorrow and this was the name of the place where Ishmael was buried in 1 Nephi 16. When Ishmael is buried, his daughters "mourn exceedingly", which displays a clever wordplay. This is, however, only one of several markers of Book of Mormon authenticity in this passage. In 1 Nephi 16:34-35, we read
34 And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.
35 And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father
This short passage contains layers of evidence of Book of Mormon authenticity
  • Geographical 1: An ancient burial site called Nahom is found in the area where it is believed the group would be at this point of their journey.
  • Geographical 2: This one is depending on later passages as well. After Ismael's death at Nahom, they journey "nearly eastward" (2 Nephi 17:1) until they get to the coast and they call the place Bountiful. Its description sounds like nothing else on the Arabian peninsula and indeed there is a small location at the coast, east of Nahom, very unique and fitting all the many specific criteria that are very unusual for this part of the world.
  • Hebrew language 1: As mentioned, the Hebrew 'nhm' root means consolation or sorrow and the Hebrew word-play here is evident
  • Hebrew language 2: There is another lesser-known word-play. Ishmael means 'God hears' in Hebrew and the Old Testament also makes a pun on this name. In Genesis 21:17, "God heard the voice of the lad [Ishmael]". In this Book of Mormon passage, 'God hears' died. So "did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father [Ishmael]", could be read as "did mourn exceedingly because they felt that God didn't hear them anymore". Clever!
  • Culture: Hugh Nibley points out that in the ancient desert culture, it is the daughters/women who mourn