What do you think is the language that the Nephite people in the Book of Mormon spoke?

Posted on November 30, 2006 at 5:22 pm

LDS Scriptures

Follow Gramps:

facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Print Friendly

Hi Gramps!

What do you think the Nephite language was. Thanks!

Tommy, from Virginia

 

Dear Tommy,

Both the spoken and the written language of the Nephites was Hebrew. Lehi and Ishmael and their families were living in Jerusalem when they were called by the Lord to leave and journey to the New World–”a land choice above all other lands.”

After arriving at their destination in the promised land, Lehi’s son Nephi began keeping records of all their doings. He wrote,

Yea, I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians (1 Ne 1:2).

Although Hebrew was the spoken language, the sacred records were written in Egyptian. Therefore Lehi, Mosiah and others had to teach their sons to read Egyptian so that they could understand their own records, as well as the biblical records that they brought with them. Those biblical records were called the Brass Plates of Laban and they were written in the Egyptian language. Mosiah writes of them as follows—

And it came to pass that he [Mosiah] had three sons; and he called their names Mosiah, and Helorum, and Helaman. And he caused that they should be taught in all the language of his fathers [Egyptian], that thereby they might become men of understanding; and that they might know concerning the prophecies which had been spoken by the mouths of their fathers, which were delivered them by the hand of the Lord. And he also taught them concerning the records which were engraven on the plates of brass [Bible plus other records], saying: My sons, I would that ye should remember that were it not for these plates, which contain these records and these commandments, we must have suffered in ignorance, even at this present time, not knowing the mysteries of God. For it were not possible that our father, Lehi, could have remembered all these things, to have taught them to his children, except it were for the help of these plates; for he having been taught in the language of the Egyptians therefore he could read these engravings, and teach them to his children, that thereby they could teach them to their children, and so fulfilling the commandments of God, even down to this present time (Mosiah 1:2-4).

So Nephi kept his records in the same language that was used in the records that they brought with them–the Brass Plates of Laban. That protocol was followed by all the succeeding prophets for the thousand year history of the Nephite people. Moroni, the last surviving prophet/historian of the Nephite people, wrote the following about the language that was used in the records and by the people—

And now, behold, we have written this record according to our knowledge, in the characters which are called among us the reformed Egyptian, being handed down and altered by us, according to our manner of speech. And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.(Book of Mormon, Mormon 9:32-33).

These records written on metal plates in the Egyptian language were not the only written material that they had. Helaman writes–

But behold, there are many books and many records of every kind, and they have been kept chiefly by the Nephites (Helaman 3:15).

One would assume, according to the words of Moroni, above, that these books would have been written in Hebrew.

Gramps

Summary
Article Name
What do you think is the language that the Nephite people in the Book of Mormon spoke? - Ask Gramps - Q and A about Mormon Doctrine
Author
Description
Both the spoken and the written language of the Nephites was Hebrew. Lehi and Ishmael and their families were living in Jerusalem when they were called by the Lord to leave and journey to the New World–”a land choice above all other lands.”

Follow Gramps:

What mission advice can you give me?

July 31, 2014 7:11 am

Question Gramps, I will soon be serving a mission in the Roseville, California English speaking mission on August 6th. Other than the classic , “forget yourself and go to (more)

If I created my own world, would I need my own Savior?

July 30, 2014 6:00 am

Question Gramps, If I  achieve the level to create my own world’s with my husband will I have to have my own Savior or does Christ fulfill that (more)

Why does God seem so vengeful in the Old Testament?

July 29, 2014 3:00 am

Question Gramps, This year members of the Church are studying the Old Testament. In the Old Testament we see how Jehovah is very vengeful and seems to some (more)

Should I replace studying scriptures with talks from modern day leaders?

July 28, 2014 7:04 am

Question Dear Gramps,It seems like many people study the actual books: Book of Mormon, Bible, or both everyday. However, we are taught the importance of studying living prophets (more)

If we do not follow the commandments, can we still pray for things?

July 27, 2014 7:16 am

Question Hi Gramps, I have two questions… If someone’s  not following the word of wisdom for example, could still pray and ask on Him for the things needed. Life (more)

How can I learn to love my enemies?

July 26, 2014 8:41 am

Question Dear Gramps,I have been struggling with this one for a long time.  I don’t have the ability to love my enemies, those who want to hurt me (more)

What exact words are used to baptize someone?

July 25, 2014 9:36 am

Question What exact words are used to baptize someone? Cox   Answer Dear Cox, What a great question! The answer comes from the governing documents of the Church (more)

Did Jesus have siblings?

July 23, 2014 4:35 am

Question Did Jesus have siblings? Jim   Answer Dear Jim, Yes, Jesus had siblings. John tells us that after the first miracle, where Jesus turned water to wine, (more)

Should we bless our medications?

July 22, 2014 6:54 am

Question Gramps, We ask Heavenly Father to bless our children, our food, the sacrament, our houses and the sick.  I am an old man who takes a lot (more)

How can I muster the courage to date and develop a relationship?

July 21, 2014 5:53 am

Question Gramps, I’m 24 years old and attending BYU. I feel an increasing desire to pursue a relationship and ultimately marry in the temple. However, I’ve never been (more)

Did Jesus ever say there was no longer a need for the Priesthood?

July 20, 2014 9:09 am

Question Gramps, My wife is not a member  of the church. and last week we  were talking about the priesthood. She asked me why we need the priesthood. (more)

What does it mean to speak with the tongues of angels?

July 19, 2014 6:34 am

Question Gramps, What does it mean when it states “to speak with the tongues of Angels?”  I’m assuming it’s to do with the Holy Ghost? Thank you. Renee   (more)