Sunday, February 28, 2016

Zelph on the Shelf vs. Jershon

In a blog post on the ever inane “Zelph on the Shelf,” we find this “interaction” with a pro-LDS article:

41. Names in the Book of Mormon

“Jershon, for instance, designates a place that was given to the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi as a “land … for an inheritance” (Alma 27:22). In Hebrew, Jershon means “a place of inheritance.” Reference

Hebrew names are never a slam-dunk. Like the aforementioned names, this one requires a stretch in order to fit the faithful conclusion. The Hebrew word for “inherit” is “JWW.” The transformation to “Jershon” is only possible through a series of potential linguistic exceptions  woven together by apologists.

This is a pretty lame “response,” to be honest (I say that as one who studied biblical Hebrew in a Catholic seminary). Firstly, the Hebrew verb “to inherit” is not transliterated JWW, but yrsh representing the Hebrew characters ירשׁ yod-resh-shin (J is often used to transliterate Hebrew yod [e.g., Joshua]). Furthermore, ון (-on) at the end of a word denotes “place of,” so Book of Mormon Jershon would mean “place of inheritance.” In the mind of this critic, Joseph Smith, who did not know Hebrew (the BOM was published before he studied [Sephardic] Hebrew from Joshua Seixas) could (1) craft a perfectly good Hebrew word and (2) use it in a context that fits perfectly its Hebrew meaning, that is, a place of inheritance:

And it came to pass that the voice of the people came, saying: Behold, we will give up the land of Jershon, which is on the east by the sea, which joins the land Bountiful, which is on the south of the land Bountiful; and this land Jershon which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance . . . And now behold, this will we do unto our brethren, that they may inherit the land Jershon; and we will guard them from their enemies with our armies, on condition that they will give us a portion of their substance to assist us that we may maintain our armies. (Alma 27:22, 24)

And Alma, and Ammon, and their brethren, and also the two sons of Alma returned to the land of Zarahemla, after having been instruments in the hands of God of bringing many of the Zoramites to repentance; and as many as were brought to repentance were driven out of their land; but they have lands for their inheritance in the land of Jershon, and they have taken up arms to defend themselves, and their wives, and children, and their lands. (Alma 35:14)

Notice the parallelism (representative of Semitic literature) between "Jershon" and "inherit/inheritance" in these two passages, a parallelism that only works in light of a Semitic background. But hey, according to those who post on Zelph on the Shelf, this is just a huge massive coincidence (and they claim LDS apologists are desperate!)

The reality is that the onomasticon of the Book of Mormon provides strong evidence for the antiquity of the Book of Mormon; this post just shows how weak the critical responses to such are.

Further Reading

John Tvedtnes and Matthew P. Roper, One Small Step

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