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How did Joseph Smith find out about sheum?

In Mosiah 9:9 we read:

And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land.

The last one mentioned in the list is “sheum” which is not a crop we would expect to be named by Joseph Smith. In fact, where did he get that word from? 

However “sheum” is a bullseye name for a grain dating to the third millennium B.C. in ancient northern Mesopotamian. The word “se um” (the “s” is pronounced “sh” in semitic languages) was a word used by ancient Near Eastern peoples referring to barley and other grains. 

How would Joseph Smith have known that? Why would he have included this word?


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