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Is the wordplay on the name “Joseph” just a coincidence?

Some wordplays in the Book of Mormon would require an understanding of a name as well as an understanding of other Hebrew words. The wordplay on the name “Joseph” brings together two scriptures from Isaiah which share a common verb, as explained by Matthew L. Bowen:

In explaining the prophecies of Isaiah in which his soul delighted, Nephi sets up an intriguing wordplay on the name Joseph. On several occasions he combines segments of Isaiah 11:11 and Isaiah 29:14 to foretell the gathering and restoration of Israel at the time of the coming forth of additional scripture. The most discernible reason for Nephi’s interpretation of these two specific texts in the light of each other is their shared use of the Hebrew verb yāsap, which literally means “to add” but can have the more developed senses to “continue” or “proceed to do” something and “to do again.” This verb is also the source of the name Joseph, which means “may He [the Lord] add,” “He shall add,” or “He has added.”

…Thus when Nephi combined these two prophecies together through their common use of yāsap, he was also using a wordplay on the name Joseph both to remind us that it was the seed of Joseph that would be gathered and to foretell the involvement of another Joseph, Joseph Smith, in the gathering and in the coming forth of scripture.

Isaiah 11:11 states: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again [yôsîp] the second time to recover the remnant of his people,” while Isaiah 29:14 declares: “Therefore, behold, I will proceed [yôsīp] to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder.” Nephi’s joining of these two passages is most noticeable in 2 Nephi 25:17, where he foretells the latter-day gathering of Judah: “And the Lord will set his hand again [yôsîp] the second time to restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed [yôsīp] to do a marvelous work and a wonder among the children of men.” Here Nephi states that the Lord “shall bring forth his words unto [his people]” words they have not previously had, “for the purpose of convincing them of the true Messiah” (25:18) and “that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph [yôsēp]” (25:21)

Matthew L. Bowen – “He Shall Add”: Wordplay on the Name Joseph and an Early Instance of Gezera Shawa in the Book of Mormon 

Would Joseph Smith have been able to create a wordplay like this on his own?


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