Hebrew to English: 1 Nephi 1 #lds #ldsconf #twitterstake

Disclaimer:  This is not an official translation for or by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  It is not intended as a correction, update, or alternative version of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.  This is not a discussion of the yet-unfinished history of the Book of Mormon in Hebrew, nor the politic regarding why it is not distributed in Hebrew at this time.

It is only, merely, and weakly the present-progressive (and never finished) process of personal study, Hebrew study, and my practice of studying a language by reading the Book of Mormon as recommended in “Preach My Gospel“. 

I do not speak “King James”, and am translating from a modern Hebrew (different than Biblical Hebrew or, of course, ancient reformed Egyptian), through my very visual and poetic American Sign Language brain into modern English.  Some markings included are for my own notes, and some emphasis added to point out chiasms or other poetic phrases classic to Hebrew poetry.

Please be cautious as I wade through the water.  I am only sharing my insights the same as I document the rest of my life and spiritual development, including mistakes along the way. As with my previous essays on the Book of Mormon or the book of Isaiah, your primary study should still be your own, by the Spirit, in the scriptures themselves..

Please remember President Marion G Romney’s counsel:

“When I drink from a spring I like to get the water where it comes out of the ground, not down the stream after the cattle have waded in it. … I appreciate other people’s interpretation, but when it comes to the gospel we ought to be acquainted with what the Lord says” (address to religious educators, 13 Apr. 1973; quoted by J. Richard Clarke in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 19; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 15).

1 Nephi, chapter 1, from modern Hebrew, through ASL, into modern English:

I Nephi, according to (what) my good parents taught me
of my father’s knowledge
which I experienced in my life
and all that happened to me –
even with much grace from God –
and purposefully knowing much
about the mercy and mysteries of God.
That’s why I make a record of my life-story for you.
Yes, I make a record for you of these things
in the language of my father’s knowledge
and in the language of the Jews-and-Egyptians (reformed Egyptian).

And it-came-to-pass (one short four letter word, meaning “and so it happened”)
in the beginning of that first royal year (in the reign) of Zedekiah,
King of Judah,
my father Lehi having lived in Jerusalem all his life,
in that same year, there were many prophets prophesying to the people
saying, “And repent! Or the (our) great city of Jerusalem will be destroyed!”

It truly happened that my father Lehi
went up (to Jerusalem –> to the temple)
and prayed to the Lord, our Master, in his heart
and with all his heart throughout his praying,
for the direction of and in behalf of the people.

And while praying, God the Lord, our Master,
came here to him in a pillar of fire that rested on the rock before him
(the same rock that was the first of creation in Jewish lore,
the same rock that was the first bit of Earth dried out of the flood,
the same rock where Abraham offered Isaac,
the same rock where the Temple mount still stands today) –
and he (my father, Lehi) saw and hear much
(the Lord knows Lehi as one who observes and hearkens)
and because of the things seen and heard
(and because of the Law, the Torah, to which Lehi
was faithful to observe and hearken),
and so he (my father Lehi) shuddered and tremorred with great trembling
(when he saw the Lord in the pillar of fire
and recognized the Lord recognizing his faithfulness).

And so then the people of God
(a family of God —-> Lehi’s family)
returned home,to our home in Jerusalem,
and when Lehi went alone by himself (to lie) on his bed.
When Lehi was on his bed alone,
and because he was “increased about”
(filled up and surrounded by) the Spirit,
(there increased, or grew in him)
a vision unfolded in him (his mind).

When he was less, or rather, when he was out of his own way,
the Spirit about him increased within him
and a vision came to him,
in which the Heavens (layers of Heaven) began to appear to him.
He saw God presiding upon the highest throne -which was eclipsed by angels
who sang no song without also ministering
and by this ministering they sang praises to God.

And here
(in this way)
he (Lehi) then saw one of those angels descending
from the midst of Heaven
and He (the angel-messenger) was more incandescent
than the sky at noon.

And he (Lehi) also saw two and ten (twelve total)
additional others coming (as they) followed after him (the first angel-messenger)
and they had vivid brightness
(like the first).
Their brightness was more than
and from being engaged with
the stars in the sky.

And they deigned to go down
and walk on the face of the earth.

And the first (that the twelve followed)
came and stood before the face of my father,
and gave to him (my father, Lehi) a book
and said to him
that he (Lehi) was called (ordained, premortally called for mortal calling) in it,
and so invited him to read it.

And so it was
through study and invocation
(including a recitation)
(He, Lehi, began to be)
filled up (with and by)
the Spirit (of the) Lord.

And while reading together
(with the Spirit of the Lord) these words:

“Alas! You of Jerusalem!
Woe to you because I have seen you “sleeping”
through your ability
and I know your true capacity
(which you are not fulfilling).”

Thus my father (Lehi) read many words
concerning the many residents of Jerusalem,
and about how they would be destroyed,
and about those people
and how they would be numbered as dead
by the sword
and many of them would (later) be discovered
(find themselves)
living in Babylon.

And so it happened
that when my father read such serious words
about such serious things
and saw such huge wonders,
He (Lehi) turned to the Lord, our Master,
and in a great and loud voice
prayed words such as:

All might comes from your throne
in the heights of the sky,
And your power comes from the peak
of the ultimate heaven.

“Your priesthood is our mercy,
over all the inhabitants of the land,
residents of the country,
and members of this Church.

“You are merciful,
and softe-hearted.
Otherwise, the quest of your people (—> children of the covenant)
would be lost.”

So with such a things in his prayer
and such words in his testimony,
my father (Lehi) commended to you
God and His power,
such that his soul was full of complete happiness
and his mind overflowed with abundance
from the words he had read
and the things he had seen
(the laws which he had observed and hearkened)
as the Lord, our Master, appeared to Him
(in a temple like space)
and showed him many things
to be accepted and observed
(by my father, Lehi,
who is known by the Lord
to be one who observes and hearkens).

Here I, Nephi, do not fully convey to you
the speeches of my father
(or record them —> literally, “scratch” them)
here with all my notes
because he (Lehi), my father,
recorded and spoke (testified!)
of many things
that he saw and observed (practiced)
(and by so doing kept his covenants),
even that which was given byvisions, dreams, prophecies, and revelations.

He (Lehi, my father,) recorded many great and goodly things,
a considerable amount,
about what he was taught
and told to teach with passion
to his children
by practicing together with them.

I don’t have the capacity to record it all,
but I am devoted to recording what I am able,
and then also to write about my own life
as it is sensible and feasible.

In summary, I am instructing you
about the story of my father,
recording it on plates
which I laboured to make myself
(as I have known from childhood (how?) to do);
and so because I am writing on the plates,
I will be brief for you
as I record the speeches and teachings of my father
and relate to you the history of his life
and the history of mine.

Thus, indulge me because
I want you to know that
after my Master, the Lord,
showed my father (Lehi)
so many achievable miracles
(and natural consequences),
and given him words and testimony
about the fall of Jerusalem,
then notice how he (Lehi)
went out to the people
(as called by God, and so ordained by Him)
and he applied to them the prophecies
and revealed to them what he had seen and heard
(and the laws which he had observed and hearkened).

And so the Jews here (in Jerusalem)
mocked him (Lehi, my father)for because of the words by which he testified
and the things of which he testified about them;
for he (Lehi) testified about their wickedness
and about the injustices of their deeds.

And he testified because the words and things
he had seen and heard
(observed and hearkened —> practiced himself)
and also that which
he studied in the book,
which surely clarified
the way which the Messiah
will redeem the world
(and so also eternity).

And when the Jews heard this speech
and Lehi’s testimony against them,
they were angry at him –
in the same way they had been angry
with ancient prophets before,
whom they had plotted against,
deported, stoned, and killed.

And so the plot against him
included seizing his property by demand
and his life by force.

However, I, Nephi, will show to all of you
that the mercies of the Lord, our Master,
are selected
for those He has chosen
because of their confident faith
and their faithfulness to his tenets.

He selects these mercies
to give the faithful more power
and to strengthen (toughen) them
that they might
(by His power)
deliver themselves
and so (by His plan)
set themselves free.
And in this way
He gives them liberty.

About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Hebrew to English: 1 Nephi 1 #lds #ldsconf #twitterstake — 5 Comments

  1. Emily, I applaud your efforts…although you are not sponsored by the church, methinks perhaps you should be…or at least a similar translation ought to be commissioned of the Ancient Biblical Language Department @ BYU. I am a new convert to the Church and one of my biggest frustrations is the “universal” reliance on an antiquated language by which much is lost in translation and meaning today. There are few who, “speak King James,” today and it is my opinion that the Church’s insistence on relying on vernacular that is two centuries old could be more of a hindrance than an advantage.

    Of course, there is the argument that the Church’s explosive membership roles worldwide is pretty good indicia that the Book of Mormon needs no modern translation. Of course, one is still left to wonder what could be, rather than what is…Would our missionary proselytizing benefit from an updated translation? I don’t see how it wouldn’t be. People are just so resistant to change…It takes us out of our comfort zone.

    While I appreciate the reasoning most often proffered by the Church hierarchy that it is essential to stick to the original translation by Joseph Smith and written by Oliver Cowdery to avoid “mistakes” in translation(s) common to men I noticed that the last 2 “Official Declarations” included in the D&C is “modern” by comparison. That being self-evident, my faith is strong enough that I trust that Heavenly Father via the inspiration of the Holy Spirit will ensure that the gospel remains uncorrupted.

    Anyway, I just wanted to take a moment to give you a shout out and say, “Atta Girl!” I have bookmarked your site and will check in from time to time to review your progress. I attend a weekly study with a retired BYU ancient biblical language professor…Yes, I live in the Provo/Orem area and will quiz him on about your project. I’ll probably give him your blog site…Hope you don’t mind. May God bless you and inspire your work.

    Rob Law

    • Thank you! I am a convert, also! I absolutely have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and I am grateful for wise counsel in using it to help us study language. I also have it in ASL on DVDs, and that assists me in some of my translations also. I took Hebrew from BYU, and continue my studies. My knowledge is very limited, but I have never enjoyed anything so much. Chapter 2 is almost ready, so watch for it to post soon!

    • And yes, it makes sense that modern revelation is in our language – see also the Family Proclamation, the Living Christ, and any general conference talk! Love it!

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