“The Son of Righteousness”

Brant Gardner

Emer is not only a king, but a righteous man. We learn virtually nothing of his spiritual attributes other than the evidence that he obeyed the promise of the land. However, here, we are to understand that he had a vision of the “Son of Righteousness,” which title can only apply to Jesus Christ.

Variant: There is no written variant in this text, but there is an interesting possibility that a variant entered the Book of Mormon as part of the translation process. Joseph spoke to Oliver, and Oliver wrote what he heard. In this case, Sperry has suggested that the original should have been “sun of righteousness,” and that it became “son of righteousness” when Oliver heard the homophonous sun/son, and used son because of the clear connection to the Savior:

“A possible case of an error of the ear is 3 Ne. 25:2: “But unto you that fear my name, shall the Son of Righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth and grow up as calves in the stall.” The phrase “the Son of Righteousness” occurs instead of the suggested emendation “the Sun of Righteousness” occurs instead of the suggested emendation “the Sun of Righteousness.” In 1959 Sidney B. Sperry Discussed this passage in some detail and pointed out that although in English sun and son are homophones, the Hebrew of Mal. 4:2 (which is being quoted) has shemesh meaning “sun,” and not ben which is the word for “son.” Also, the Hebrew text says literally “the sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in her wings,” the feminine pronoun agreeing with the feminine gender of shemesh. He concluded that due to this “compelling evidence” from the Hebrew text, one is “driven inevitably to the view that ‘Sun of Righteousness’ is the correct reading.” While proposing this correction to the text, Dr. Sperry adds that “the meaning is not changed at all, because most conservative scholars through the centuries have agreed that ‘Sun of Righteousness’ refers to the Savior.”  (Stan Larson. “Conjectural Emendation and the Text of the Book of Mormon”, BYU Studies, vol. 18 (1977-1978), Number 4 - Summer 1978 564.)

The basis for the alteration is the original from Malachi that is altered in 3 Nephi 25:2, and then repeated in this reference in Ether. The original is:

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon