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Where would Joseph Smith learn how to create a wordplay on the words “joy” and “boasting”?

In Alma 26:10 Aaron rebukes Ammon:

And it came to pass that when Ammon had said these words, his brother Aaron rebuked him, saying: Ammon, I fear that thy joy doth carry thee away unto boasting.

Loren Blake Spendlove explains an interesting element of this exchange:

[T]he Hebrew Bible render the verbs להלל (lehallel) and להתהלל (lehithallel) — both derived from the root ה-ל-ל (h-l-l) — as either to praise, to boast, or to glory. A key translation feature to point out is that in order for the verb to be rendered as to boast or to glory, the subject of the verb must boast or glory in someone or something (see above examples). The Hebrew equivalent of in is the preposition ב (the letter bet), which is always prefixed to the noun to which it is related. For example, the phrase “to boast/glory in Jehovah” would be expressed as “להתהלל ביהוה” (lehithallel bYahweh). One can boast/glory in the Lord as well as in one’s wisdom, strength, riches, etc.

It is equally important to point out that to praise does not carry this same grammatical requirement. Rather, what we often find in the Bible is that when להלל (lehallel) is translated as to praise, the object of the verb (the Lord, for example) is often preceded by the preposition ל (the letter lamed). As with the Hebrew word for in (ב), ל is always prefixed to the object of the verb. The word ל can be translated as to or for, but when referring to the idea of praise, it is an unnecessary preposition in English grammar. So, “to praise Jehovah” would be expressed as “ליהוה להלל” (lehallel lYahweh) in Hebrew, with the ל prefixed to יהוה (Yahweh), resulting in ליהוה (lYahweh).

With this introduction to biblical usage we can now examine Ammon’s response to Aaron’s charge of boasting. In the nine verses leading up to Aaron’s rebuke, Ammon never used the words boast or glory, and we find the word praise used only once but as a noun rather than as a verb: “Blessed be the name of our God; let us sing to his praise, yea, let us give thanks to his holy name, for he doth work righteousness forever” (Alma 26:8). However, following Aaron’s accusation, Ammon used the words praise, boast and glory a total of twelve times in his response. These usages appear to be an intentional repetition of Aaron’s original rebuke of boasting and need to be understood as related terms in Hebrew. Ammon’s repeated use of praise, boast, and glory are meant to counter Aaron’s implied accusation that Ammon was boasting in himself. On the contrary, Ammon’s repetitive use of these terms helped clarify that his initial words were intended to be understood as praising, boasting in, and glorying in the Lord, rather than in himself.

Loren Blake Spendlove – Now If This Is Boasting, Even So Will I Boast!

Wouldn’t this wordplay be beyond Joseph’s comprehension?


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