View the full PDF (420+ pages)View PDF

How could Joseph Smith manage to create a wordplay on the word “law”?

While the Hebrew word “tôrâ” is most often translated as “law” in the Bible, Matthew L. Bowen notes the root of the word:

More than “law”—and all that “law” has come to connote in English—the Hebrew noun tôrâ denotes “direction, instruction.” The Hebrew word tôrâ almost certainly represents a cognate of the Akkadian têrtu(m), “instruction,” “commission,” “directive,” “omen,” “liver” (of an animal), from the verb wâru(m), meaning “instruct, govern.” The noun tôrâ derives from the verbal root yry/yrh (III), meaning “instruct, teach.” However, this verb originally seems to have denoted the idea of “stretching out the finger, or the hand, to point out a route.” For example, Genesis 46:48 records, “And he [Jacob] sent Judah before him unto Joseph [in Egypt], to direct [lĕhôrōt, “to point”] his face unto Goshen; and they came into the land of Goshen.” Later, in the Exodus narrative, the narrator states “the Lord shewed him [wayyôrēhû, pointed out to Moses] a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet” (Exodus 15:25; italics added). The King James Version of the proverb that states “he [a wicked man] teacheth [mōreh] with his fingers” (Proverbs 6:13; italics added) literally means “he pointeth with his fingers” (New Revised Standard Version, “pointing the fingers”).

Matthew L. Bowen – Scripture Note: “Pointing Our Souls to Him”

This is significant because two Book of Mormon scriptures mention the law in connection with “pointing”. First in Jacob 4:5:

Behold, they believed in Christ and worshiped the Father in his name, and also we worship the Father in his name. And for this intent we keep the law of Moses, it pointing our souls to him; and for this cause it is sanctified unto us for righteousness, even as it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.

Also in Alma 34:14

And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.

Doesn’t this show an understanding of Hebrew which Joseph Smith didn’t have?


Add a Question
Thank you for your submission