strtoupper('“T')he Words Which I Had Often Heard My Father Speak”

David Seely writes that the Book of Mormon contains many detailed accounts illustrating the power of the "word" or "words," in bringing individuals to Christ through repentance. Enos says his father Jacob, "taught [him] in his language, and also in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Enos 1:1), and later Enos declares: "The words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart" (Enos 1:3).

To be sure, the story of Enos is a story of his lifelong conversion to the gospel. At several places in his account Enos mentions the role of words in his conversion process: first, they act as a catalyst for his desire to gain a remission of his sins; second, they form a powerful agent in his conversation with the Lord; and finally, they are the means by which he attempts to share the experience of his conversion with others.

As mentioned previously, the first verses of the book of Enos contain the account of Enos' conversion when he went to hunt beasts in the forests and the words of his father sunk deep in his heart. As part of that conversion process initiated in the forest, Enos sought and eventually secured a covenant with the Lord relative to the words of eternal life--those which had initiated Enos' conversion process--that they would be preserved for his brethren. In the remaining verses of his book, Enos writes of his efforts to teach the words concerning eternal life to the Nephites and the Lamanites. Near the end of his life Enos says, "And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ" (Enos 1:26).

In his closing verse Enos expresses his desire to hear the words of the Redeemer, words concerning eternal life: "Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father" (Enos 1:27). This final verse provides a wonderful link between the opening and closing of the story of Enos, which begins with the words of his righteous father inspiring him to seek forgiveness of the Lord and ends with the words of the Savior inviting him to come and dwell with his Eternal Father.

As a final note concerning the "words" of Enos and other Book of Mormon writers, Nephi declares: "The words of the faithful should speak as if it were from the dead" (2 Nephi 27:13). Moroni says the Lord will say to us at the judgment bar: "Did I not declare my words unto you, which were written by this man, like as one crying from the dead, yea, even as one speaking out of the dust?" (Moroni 10:27; see also 2 Nephi 33:13; Mormon 8:26). [David R. Seely, "Enos and the Words concerning Eternal Life" in The Book of Mormon: Jacob through Words of Mormon, To Learn with Joy, pp. 235-239]

“Eternal Life”

According to James DuWors, the Book of Mormon records that four hundred years after the birth of Christ, some of the inhabitants of this continent still spoke a version of Hebrew (see Mormon 9:33). This is later than the Hebrew spoken in the Old World (outside of liturgical usage). It should be noted that although they spoke some form of Hebrew, the plates of gold were engraved in "reformed Egyptian" (Mormon 9:32) and the brass plates were also written in Egyptian (see Mosiah 1:3-4). Lehi knew the Egyptian language (see 1 Nephi 1:2) and passed it down to his descendants, who altered it according to their manner of speech (see Mormon 9:32). We may assume that Lehi and Nephi spoke Hebrew, (although 1 Nephi 1:2 is not explicit on this point), since it was the lingua franca of their day and their descendants clearly spoke it.

So while both the brass and gold plates were written in Egyptian, one would still expect Hebrew literary features to show through since these features are a function of the language itself and not of the particular characters used to represent it. One of these features is the "vav-consecutive" verb conjugation. This is a peculiar feature whereby the word "and" is literally affixed to a past-or future-tense verb as part of its conjugation. We should remark that in many biblical passages, especially in the Old Testament, verses begin with the word "and" (for example, most of the verses in 1 Kings 22--see illustration below). In the Hebrew text there is a vertical stroke at the beginning of a verb. This is the Hebrew letter vav and means "and." It is literally affixed to the verb conjugation that follows and results in the translation which includes the word "and." This same pattern is evident in the Book of Mormon. The book of Enos is a prime example of this unique Hebrew syntax. [James Joseph DuWors, "Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon," Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001: The Twenty-Fifth Annual Church Education System Religious Educators Conference at Brigham Young University, p. 57]

Note* It is interesting to note that the book of Enos contains an incredible 86 occurrences of the word "and" in just 27 verses. It appears that nearly 48 of these occurrences can be linked to the "vav-constructive" verb conjugation. [Alan C. Miner, Personal Notes]

Enos 1:2 And I will tell you . . . and . . . and . . . and . . . and . . . and . . . and ([Illustration]): Above are the first words of verses of the actual Hebrew text of 1 Kings 22. You see in the text at the beginning (reading Hebrew right to left) a vertical stroke (that looks like the number 7). As you can see, it is literally affixed to the verb conjugation that follows and results in the translation shown next to each verb. This same pattern is evident in the Book of Mormon. The book of Enos is a prime example of this unique Hebrew syntax. [James DuWors, "Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon," Book of Mormon Conference, 14-16 August 2001: The Twenty-Fifth Annual Church Education System Religious Educators Conference at Brigham Young University, p. 57]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary

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