[b-hebrew] Hebrew "If-and" construction and the Book of Mormon

Kevin Graham kevlds at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 15 22:50:47 EDT 2006

I am looking to get some confirmation about an apologetic that is growing in 
popularity among Latter-day Saints. For those who are not familiar with the 
Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith claims to have translated the text from gold 
plates that were written upon an Ancient Hebrew writer.

The original manuscripts of the Book of Mormon include weird phrases that 
involve an if-and construction instead of an if-then construction. According 
to Mormon scholar Royal Skousen:

"In a recent paper I describe two important examples of Hebraisms in the 
original text of the Book of Mormon that do not occur in the King James 
Bible. One example is the use of the if-and clausal construction instead of 
the expected if-(then) syntax of English, as in the following extended 
passage from Helaman 12 where it occurs seven times (thus showing that we 
are not dealing with an isolated transcriptional error):

if he sayeth unto the earth move and it is moved

if he sayeth unto the earth thou shalt go back that it lengthen out the day 
for many hours and it is done .

if he sayeth unto the waters of the great deep be thou dried up and it is 

This construction is a literalistic translation of the Hebrew-language 
construction, but does not occur at all in the King James Bible."

For our Hebrew experts out there, is it true that the "if-and" construction 
is a common occurence in the Hebrew Bible, and is it also true that this 
lingustic phenomenon is unique only to Hebrew?

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list