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

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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

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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
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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.”

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