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How would Joseph Smith know about the nuances of meaning contained within the Hebrew word “netzach”?

Several passages in the Book of Mormon reference Isaiah 25:8 which says:

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it.

The Hebrew word translated here as “victory” is “netzach” however this Hebrew word has a range of meanings and is also translated as (or can mean):

David J. Larsen notes that:

the noun form of netzach, as it appears in the Hebrew Old Testament, most often carries the meaning of “forever, perpetual.” However, there are a small number of instances in which the noun apparently refers to a person (likely “the glory/strength/victor”) or to victory/success/strength. The translators that produced the Greek Septuagint kept the Hebrew meaning in most of the above-cited passages but understood netzach to be a reference to the end times in most of the Psalms passages.

Death Being Swallowed Up in Netzach in the Bible and the Book of Mormon – David J. Larsen

Turning to the relevant passages in the Book of Mormon, we see variations in the use of netzach. Abinadi says in Mosiah 16:8:

But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ.

Aaron says in Alma 22:14:

And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

Finally, Mormon says in Alma 27:28

And they did look upon shedding the blood of their brethren with the greatest abhorrence; and they never could be prevailed upon to take up arms against their brethren; and they never did look upon death with any degree of terror, for their hope and views of Christ and the resurrection; therefore, death was swallowed up to them by the victory of Christ over it.

How was Joseph Smith able to create these subtle variations in the meaning of Isaiah 25:8?

Larsen concludes:

If Abinadi, Aaron, and Alma or Mormon, the authors of the Book of Mormon passages discussed here, were indeed familiar with the Hebrew text of Isaiah’s words in Isaiah 25:8, then this study demonstrates that they had a particularly keen understanding of the range of possible meanings behind this Hebrew term. They were apparently familiar enough with the nuances of meaning contained within the word netzach to be able use it or to paraphrase it suitably in addressing various audiences.

Death Being Swallowed Up in Netzach in the Bible and the Book of Mormon – David J. Larsen

How would Joseph have been able to do this if he didn’t understand the underlying Hebrew? 

See:

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