Hebrew Lessons from Joseph Smith

Most people at all familiar with Mormon history know that Joseph Smith, a young farm boy, claimed to have translated the Book of Mormon into English from the original “reformed Egyptian” written on gold plates. The book tells the story of ancient Hebrews who crossed the ocean around 600 BC and settled the American content.

Outside members of the LDS (Mormon) church, few people know that Joseph Smith also claimed to have translated real Egyptian, not the just the reformed kind. Specifically, in July 1835, Joseph Smith bought two Egyptian mummies and some papyrus scrolls accompanying them for $2,400 (some $53,000 in 2012 dollars). From the scrolls, he produced “A Translation of some ancient Records that have fallen into [his] hands from the catacombs of Egypt. The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.” The English translation was apparently begun in or after July 1835, though the timeline is in dispute. After making a few revisions in March 1842, Smith published the Book of Abraham serially in the church’s Times and Seasons newspaper in 1842.

It’s important to remember that, for most of the world in 1835, Egyptian was a “dead” language in that no one spoke it, and no one knew how to read or write the different forms of written Egyptian. The discovery of the Rosetta stone in 1799 began the process of understanding ancient Egyptian language. This stone provided Greek text along with its equivalent in Egyptian hieroglyphics and demotic text, and phonetic characters that spelled foreign and Egyptian words. Scholars–specifically Jean-Francois Champollion–took some 23 years to transliterate the Egyptian and become confident in their ability to decipher ancient Egyptian. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, Champollion’s achievements had been reported in the press in North America, but the specifics were unknown in frontier Ohio, being limited to a few scholarly works published in Europe–and most of those were in French. As a non-Mormon press noted in 1844, there was “no Champollion, or Denon among the Mormons of Nauvoo” to validate Joseph Smith’s translation.

I’ve discussed the content and themes of the Book of Abraham elsewhere, but here I want to look at the two types of transliterations of Egyptian words that Joseph provides in the Book of Abraham:

1. “Egyptian” words, such as “Oliblish” and “Enish-go-on-dosh.”
2. Hebrew words, such as “Shaumahyeem” and “Kokaubeam.”

The former, of course, are not actually Egyptian words but appear to have been invented by Joseph Smith. The latter are best understood when you know that during the translation of the Book of Abraham, Joseph Smith began studying Hebrew, first with a few books, and then with a teacher, Joshua Seixas. It’s not surprising that the transliterations above and others come from the first few chapters of the Bible and follow Seixas’ transliterations exactly (see Louis Zucker’s essay on Joseph Smith’s use of Hebrew for more information).

The difference, then is obvious: where Joseph Smith had some familiarity with the language (Hebrew), the words are more or less correct; where he didn’t know the language, the words are, well, nonsensical. Of course, some Mormon apologists respond that we don’t necessarily know what the real Egyptian words were and what they meant. For example, Kerry Muhlestein has argued that the validity of Joseph Smith’s translation and transliteration of Egyptian depends on whose translation skills you believe: Joseph’s, or Egyptologists’. Not surprisingly, most scholars side with the Egyptologists.

But what if we had an example of a known language that Joseph Smith didn’t know but that he attempted to translate? Suppose, for example, that Joseph Smith had told us that “sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble” is French for “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed.” Imagine, further, that Joseph Smith then translated the English into another language he also didn’t know, so using our example, he might tell us that the Spanish translation of the above reads, “Wingardium Leviosa.”

Amazingly, that’s essentially what Joseph Smith did. In December 1835, just when he was beginning to read about Hebrew, but before Joshua Seixas arrived, Joseph attempted a “translation” of the Reformed Egyptian characters from the gold plates first into English and then into Hebrew (the text is clearly from Jacob’s allegory of the olive tree). See Ed Ashment’s essay for more information. Here are some of the results, with Ed Ashment’s modern transliteration of the Hebrew following in brackets:

English: For it grieveth me that I should lose this tree & the fruit thereof
Hebrew: ofin Zimim ezmon E, Zu onis i f s veris etzer ensvonis vineris
[Modern transliteration: ki car li ki yo’bad li ha’ec hazzeh upiryo]

English: Brethren I bid you adieu
Hebrew: i f s E Zamtri
[Modern transliteration: ‘aHay ‘omar lakem shalom]

Needless to say, the “Hebrew” appearing here exists only in the mind of Joseph Smith. As Ashment notes, “Fresh out of Palestine, the Hebrew known to Jacob should have been biblical Hebrew. But as Figure 1 illustrates, it bears no resemblance to Hebrew at all.”

I’m surprised this episode doesn’t generate much interest among critics of the LDS church. I understand why apologists wouldn’t want to touch it, but it’s pretty clear confirmation that Joseph Smith had no ability as a translator but rather had a pretty vivid imagination.


99 Responses to Hebrew Lessons from Joseph Smith

  1. Bob says:

    I rest my decision assured to be affirmed with these facts being brought to light. My findings of fact supporting the fallacy of the Mormon beginnings are simillar.

  2. robinobishop says:

    Bob, Yea, right. Since these “facts” have been “brought to light”, 10,000,000 more LDS now walk the Earth. In the future, folks here with “facts” need to list their peer reviewed sources so the rest of us might be persuaded by their piercing white light :}

    Hugh Nibley should be an Egyptologist worth a read.

    “It is a profound truth that Nature does not know best; that genetical evolution… is a story of waste, makeshift, compromise and blunder.” -Peter Medawar

    • Carrots says:

      Woo hoo! 10 million people out the 7 BILLION that exist. That is a lot of members and those other 6,990,000,000 people SUCK! That is a lot of people in the pre-existence that sure weren’t very valiant. I feel sorry for those poor people.

      And Hugh Nibley?! That is one fantastic Egyptologist with a huge Mormon bias that I am POSITIVE must give very accurate seminars on ancient Egypt.

      • robinobishop says:

        Having the highest rate of Christian conversions in the world is sufficient. Christ himself in mortality must have been fraud in not converting the world, by your estimate.

        Nibley passed at 95 eight years ago. His presence remains as if alive, even to you. If you have an opinion get at least that right.

      • Carrots says:

        With the lowest retention rate.

        And, although it doesn’t change whether or not he is biased, I apologise for being disrespectful. I was genuinely unaware.

      • robinobishop says:

        “With the lowest retention rate.”

        Can’t find this information on the web anywhere unbiased. Seems like a paradox that the highest conversion rate is coupled with the lowest retention. Who is doing the converting?

      • runtu says:

        cumorah.com has a lot of good information about retention rates. Last I heard, worldwide activity rate is about 25-30%.

        From what I gather, the church is apparently moving away from the numbers-focused practices of the past, which were directly responsible for the poor retention.

      • robinobishop says:

        We dramatically increase our missionary force (young and old) not to create higher numbers or increased rate of baptism? That does not follow. what makes better sense is that the “low hanging fruit” is gone. There are more members outside of america than within. I spoke with Packer personally. He advised that retention is not a problem overseas. He and the general authorities are much more concerned with those at home losing their way.

      • runtu says:

        “Retention is not a problem overseas.” I can’t imagine Pres. Packer saying something as ridiculous as that.

        For those who are interested in real LDS church activity numbers, a good way to ascertain retention rates is to look at the number of members per unit. Where there is greater activity, the number is lower; a high number means low activity.

        Either way, the number of members and the activity rate have nothing to do with whether the LDS church is the true church or not.

      • robinobishop says:

        Straw man fallacy

        What does retention rate or baptism rate have to do with being a true church. You create a distraction to divert attention away from facts to withered speculation about something else.

    • runtu says:

      For anyone who is still reading this, I will just note that, even when Robin agrees with me, he nevertheless accuses me of making a fallacious statement to divert attention from the real issues.

    • robinobishop says:

      Another Strawman.

      How is it that I agree with your denial of the content of a conversation I had with Packer where you were not present? How can you make such a assertio? It’s preposterous.

      I was there and you were not. I asked the question and he answered it as I stated. I in fact asked him if he was concerned about the church stretching across cultures with the greater number of members outside the Americas. And to my surprise he said quite the opposite of my suspicions, that he knew them to be more grounded in gospel principles than Members at home.

      • runtu says:

        Strawman? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

        Either way, the only assertion I made is that I can’t imagine Pres. Packer making such a ridiculous statement. If he did, I am beyond surprised.

      • robinobishop says:

        “I can’t imagine Pres. Packer making such a ridiculous statement”

        Packer makes no ridiculous statements. He is after all an Apostle. You might want to investigate why it seems ridiculous to you. I am sure he was referring to the self-aggrandizing american Intellectuals as a part of the problem.Members overseas do not think themselves nearly as often to be wiser than the Prophet.

        Packer delivered these words in an LDS Church Religion Symposium many years ago:

        “I have come to believe that it is the tendency for many members of the Church … to begin to judge the Church—its doctrine, organization, and leadership, present and past—by the principles of their own profession. Ofttimes this is done unwittingly…

        “It is an easy thing for a man with extensive academic training to measure the Church using as his standard the principles he has been taught in his professional training. In my mind it ought to be the other way around. A member of the Church ought always, … judge the professions of man against the revealed word of the Lord.”

        I suppose that you don’t understand this, given recent witness here. Pres. Packer is saying that the revealed word of the Lord trumps the professions of men when the exercise is to judge Church leadership


        I have demonstrated how an attempt to translate your posted phrase from English to Hebrew and then back again will not create intelligable or consistant meaning back in English. It certainly doesn’t create the original phrase as you think it should.

        the tendency in translation back and forth to reveal that much can be lost. as measured by the intellectual.

        Ever so briefly now, a piece of advice for all….a warner to those who will not listen. Thinking that criticism of the capacities of the Prophet apart from the revealed word is self-defeating and error.

  3. robinobishop says:

    As to the original post of Egyptian translation errors: “Nothing sways the stupid more than arguments they can’t understand.”
    Cardinal de Retz

    Are we to believe that you can take Egyptian writings to your bosom and understand them…. and not simply copy someone else’s do da, as has appeared so often before?

  4. robinobishop says:

    I am not sneering though you imagine me so. I would like the truth. I expect sourced, referenced opinion when it comes from somewhere else (who knows where else). Are you folks Egyptologists (you swagger as if)? Can you at least read Hebrew? Are you unbiased and credentialed in any fashion, fit for what you copy? You know, do you have intentions that promote honesty and transparency?

    Or have I erred. Can you not rise to the surface? Are you, instead, residents of the bathyal zone where light does not penetrate, sitting lazily, waiting for carcasses of rotting flesh (your copy material) to descend through the depths, thinking that rottenness as “nourishment”. Thousands of hagfish lay there disputing the dangers of light and the merits of darkness, having never seen the light – determined to haggle only. I am the man who lives in the brilliant light; beckoning to you from the reaches above: “Ascend to where you can see for yourself.”

    • runtu says:

      I provided three sources, the major one being Edward Ashment. If you dispute his credentials or his conclusions, please explain why. As you probably know, there is no dispute among Egyptologists, LDS or otherwise, as to the contents of the Joseph Smith papyri (the Breathing Permit of Hor). Likewise, there’s also no dispute that the “Hebrew” in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon characters is not actually Hebrew.

      Rather than discuss the issues, you prefer to go after my character, going from calling me stupid to now comparing me to a bottom-feeder. I’ve heard worse. Every comment you’ve made here has been a sneering personal attack on me as well as a proclamation of your moral and intellectual superiority. Unfortunately, you never actually discuss what I wrote. Pity.

      • Robin Bishop says:

        You are not disillusioned as you claim. You don’t write thinking yourself to be confused or pained. You do not wrestle with the teachings of the Church on the matter. Neither do you bring any balanced consideration as a disillusioned person searches for answers. No, not at all. You have a clarity of thought as to the fraud of Joseph Smith.

        Before you continue to characterize Joseph Smith an incompetent for pretending to write in Hebrew, failing as an Egyptologist, or an incompetent astronomer for finding Kolob, there is a burden of proof for you to establish that Joseph’s practiced intention in gaining meaning was through scientific (worldly) notions.

        I am struck with the mindset among anti-Mormons that Joseph Smith would be expected to pick up the tools of man and lay aside the gifts that the Lord to arrive at meaning to have a chance at legitimacy.

      • runtu says:

        Oh, I’m fine if you want to argue that what Joseph Smith was doing wasn’t translating in the conventional sense. That is my friend David Bokovoy’s position. When you take away the translation method, you are left with the text, and that’s another discussion entirely. I am not anti-Mormon, but my opinions about Joseph Smith have come through years of study, prayer, and soul-searching. That you disagree with my opinions does not mean that I didn’t come them honestly. Again, I’ve made a nice new post dedicated to your substantive response, but you have ignored it for some reason.

      • Robin Bishop says:

        Thanks for the invitation; I’m on my way momentarily.

  5. robinobishop says:

    Have I just shared too much for you to reply. Or, can you not value my questions?

  6. robinobishop says:

    “Likewise, there’s also no dispute that the “Hebrew” in Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Mormon characters is not actually Hebrew.”

    If the Book of Mormon falls because of grammatical or other errors and manuscript variants, then so must the Bible. But the Latter-day Saints are far more sensible than this; we simply reject the fundamentalist presupposition of inerrancy of scripture.

    Yiddish, for instance, which is basically a form of German, is routinely written in Hebrew characters. Swahili can be written in either Roman or Arabic scripts. Judeo-Arabic, as written for instance by Moses Maimonides, was medieval Hebrew written with Arabic letters.

    • runtu says:

      What does scriptural inerrancy have to do with anything I wrote? I’m beginning to think you don’t actually read what I write.

      • Odell says:

        I expect that robin doesn’t use English as his primary language and thus the he (she) either does not understand what you write or is not expressing his (her ) thoughts well.

      • runtu says:

        I should probably be more charitable. It’s just difficult to have any kind of conversation when his comments are only tangentially related to the subject at hand. I don’t even mind the insults, which I expect.

      • robinobishop says:

        http://www.2think.org/hundredsheep/boa/zucker.shtml to discover an alternate understanding of Joseph Smith’s use of Hebrew. Unless you are simply inclined to read what antagonists have to say, don’t go there.

        As for the literary value of the text this topic uses as source material, let me suggest you purchase the $50 book online for $5 in hardback at Yahoo. That’s it’s current value.

      • runtu says:

        Now I know you don’t read what I post, as you linked to the same article I linked to, as if it refuted itself. Have you read “New Approaches”? Only a fool would judge the contents of a book based on the price of a used book. I’m really sorry I ever took you at all seriously.

      • robinobishop says:

        Being a Temple worthy High Priest I failed to find anything in it appealing or even valid but nonetheless, I did read it. Certainly I am foolish in your eyes; I take that as a matter of course. All things Mormon are foolishness, ho hum.Is that something that should move me given you Mormon roots?

        To the extent that some of Joseph’s Hebrew appears “invented” (new to the eye),I remind you that language is an invented vehicle. I notice that your English does not resemble Beowulf at all…shame on you for using such new age inventions, thou beslumbered batfowled harpy (used to avoid invented English) 🙂

      • runtu says:

        No, not all Mormonism is foolish, but it is foolish of me to expect you to discuss anything I write seriously. Instead you keep proclaiming how righteous you are and how evil I am. As to your second paragraph, I will take that as an acknowledgment that Joseph’s Hebrew wasn’t really Hebrew but something “new to the eye” that he created himself. But then I’m just a non-temple-worthy high priest, so what could I possibly know? 🙂

    • robinobishop says:

      “Instead you keep proclaiming how righteous you are and how evil I am.”

      I must have been writing while sleeping only to have you delete it prior to revisiting it. Nevertheless, the single sentence I wrote about myself was only to help you appreciate why I would not even approach the text with any interest. You see, I do not begin my reading supposing the Book of Mormon to be a recent fictional work…a view supported by nothing new to my eye in the text. I must be biased. OMG, Nibley and I (accompanied by the rest of the world) are biased. We all are inclined to think hard enough to hold opinion.

      Do you really think minds will be changed because you copy 20 year old excerpts, from a $5 text of previously defeated Mormon criticism?

      • runtu says:

        A couple of things:

        1. I didn’t begin my reading of the text supposing it was a modern work of fiction. Quite the opposite. And my post isn’t about the Book of Mormon, anyway.

        2. I’m not trying to change minds. I simply quoted something Joseph Smith wrote.

        You haven’t dealt with what I cited, and the price of the book in which I found it is irrelevant.

      • robinobishop says:

        In what OTHER relevant way do you affix the value of a book for sale?

      • Utahhiker801 says:

        Of course I look at the price of a book to determine its philosophical value. The Book of Mormon is free at the Deseret Industries.

      • robinobishop says:

        Thank you for your support Utahhiker801. I do also.

        There are those very special books where the official distribution cannot scratch the surface of the value of a book. 150,000,000 BOMs have been distributed over 150 years. The distribution has been on a continual increase!,, given to people requesting it 107 different languages. a great many more have been sold than distributed, given we have nearly that many members.

        The blog owner would tell you though the post is not about the Book of Mormon. He wants us talking about a $5 book which nobody has a mind to waste a breath upon.

      • runtu says:

        “The blog owner would tell you though the post is not about the Book of Mormon. He wants us talking about a $5 book which nobody has a mind to waste a breath upon.”

        Well, no, the post isn’t about Brent Metcalfe’s book or Ashment’s essay, either. It’s about something Joseph Smith did in 1835 that, in my opinion, sheds a little light on how his mind worked. I’d never heard of it before (and it is apparently new to most of my readers, too), and I thought it was fascinating. That I stumbled across it in Ashment’s essay when I was looking for something else is irrelevant.

        I don’t have a problem with people dismissing Joseph Smith’s translation into “Hebrew” as not directly relevant to the Book of Abraham, as that is a perfectly valid opinion (obviously I disagree). What I don’t understand is going off on bizarre tangents, such as a the price of a book or telling others that the wisest course of action is to ignore evidence, pretending it doesn’t exist.

      • robinobishop says:

        If what your writing about isn’t about Brent Metcalfe’s book or Ashment’s essay, then please tell why write about each and quote from Ashment in making a false premise about Joseph Smith’s poor ability in translating.

  7. robinobishop says:

    You don’t seem quite the sentimentalist to write a blog merely to quote a Prophet.

    • runtu says:

      I posted it because I thought it was interesting and gave insight into how Joseph Smith’s mind worked. I know, what a terrible thing to do.

      • robinobishop says:

        Your point hasn’t gotten any traction over the past 150 years, as you know and have stated. In your bracing discomfort of new Hebrew words surfacing, you are skeptic to the reality that being profoundly LDS provides us enduring intelligence through a form of gnosis. We are Christians with a social capital that is SO rich. What we teach and act upon works in countless ways where other Christian organizations appear disabled as they mimic our methods. Ignoring that deficiency, you brace yourself against meaningless exaggerated personal perceptions, alone.

      • runtu says:

        These aren’t new Hebrew words surfacing, and given that you have consistently missed my point, I don’t think you’re qualified to talk about traction.

        Yes, Mormonism rests on a partial belief in gnosis, tempered of course by a serious authoritarian streak, but it’s arrogant for you to claim that you are so much more enlightened than “disabled” non-Mormons. You couldn’t possibly know that one way or the other. And I can’t think of a single Christian organization that “mimics” Mormon methods, consciously or not.

      • robinobishop says:

        …no doubt forcing every mother to follow a strict naming conventions approved by the anciently established Israeli Ministry of Vocabulary (IMV) so as not to invent new baby names. Meh’sho’ga

      • Robin Bishop says:

        You mean, in light of he being a fraud.

  8. runtu says:

    It’s like talking about quantum mechanics with Karl Pilkington–but at least the K-man understands the English language. I don’t know what to make of our friend Robin.

  9. robinobishop says:

    I’m sympathize.

    As for me, there is a time to reply to personal insult and a time not to reply to personal insult, and this is certainly not one of them. (apologies to Inspector Jacques Clouseau).

    • runtu says:

      I think I owe you an apology, as I believe my friend Odell is right that you do not understand English very well. I’m sorry I took your lack of comprehension as deliberate.

      • robinobishop says:

        Cute. However, quite obviously, you incessantly avoid serious discussion as posted at January 27, 2014 at 10:23 am

      • runtu says:

        If you are a native English speaker, I apologize, but I cannot make sense of what you are trying to communicate. Sorry.

      • robinobishop says:

        A. Put your bias not to do the following aside.

        1. Look for the posting atJanuary 27, 2014 at 10:23 am

        2. You will note it was written by me.

        3. It’s contents when read will indicate serious challenges to discussion in your topical post.

        4. Attempt the experiment yourself to confirm the chaos in translation back and forth.

        5. Note your findings defeats your earlier criticism of Joseph Smith and his inspired capacities.

        6. Report findings confirming my own here.

        6. Remember that those critical of a true Prophet always look through a darkened glass at conclusions.

  10. robinobishop says:

    “But what if we had an example of a known language that Joseph Smith didn’t know but that he attempted to translate? Suppose, for example, that Joseph Smith had told us that “sont des mots qui vont tres bien ensemble” is French for “I’m friends with the monster that’s under my bed.” Imagine, further,”……”

    You can stop imagining when it came to a Prophet translating the BOM. The translated language was unknown The BOM tells you that…..

    • runtu says:

      Again, I am not talking about the translation of the Book of Mormon. I’m talking about something that happened 5 years later that involved translating English into “Hebrew.” Perhaps that is where your confusion lies.

      • robinobishop says:

        try reading the post at January 27, 2014 at 10:23 am by me. You put me off there also where I wrote specifically about this English to Hebrew translation.

      • runtu says:

        What you wrote didn’t make any sense and did not address my post. I wouldn’t even mind being called “stupid” if you had a serious point to make, but you don’t.

      • robinobishop says:

        You aren’t stupid. You are simply deceived by Ed Ashment and his colleagues.

        A. Put your bias not to do the following aside.

        1. Look for the posting at January 27, 2014 at 10:23 am

        2. You will note it was written by me.

        3. It’s contents when read will indicate serious challenges to discussion in your topical post.

        4. Attempt the experiment yourself to confirm the chaos in translation back and forth.

        5. Note your findings defeats your earlier criticism of Joseph Smith and his inspired capacities.

        6. Report findings confirming my own.

      • runtu says:

        I’ve already explained the major flaw in your post of 10:23 am yesterday. It’s not analogous to what Joseph was doing, so it defeats nothing. If your Hebrew translator had returned Swahili, it might be a closer analogy, but then Swahili is a real language. What Joseph Smith said was Hebrew is not only not Hebrew but is not a real language at all.

      • Robin Bishop says:

        quite correct, not for desiring to translate at all, he transcribed.

  11. robinobishop says:

    AH! AAAAHHHH!!!!!!!

    So your point is that as a man, not acting with supernatural resources (as with the translation of the BOM) you suppose Joseph erred in translation. Therefore, you believe Joseph was a poor translator of the BOM also?If so, Do you not see the rational problem?

    Moses did not part the Red Sea for his own purposes a second time either.

    • runtu says:

      Nope. You’re still not getting my point. We have two examples of Joseph Smith translating English into something else. One is scripture, the other is not. But the two “translations” are remarkably similar. What you choose to do with that information is up to you.

      • robinobishop says:

        As has been true with so many LDS Church antagonists, doing nothing with it should be the best course.

      • runtu says:

        You’re quite free to ignore the similarities, but I’m not sure why you think that’s the “best course.” In my life, I’ve found that looking at new information always leads to better understanding. Ignoring it just closes you off to learning, and that’s a shame.

      • robinobishop says:

        ” I’m not sure why you think that’s the best course.”

        That would be because No Bible student today believes that the Bible has come down to us in its perfect and original appearance in the manuscripts. Scribes left out words and phrases, just as we do at times in typing, missing one whole line and thus changing the meaning. Moreover, the scribes added or interpreted according to their own opinions at times. These things are quite generally understood. Therefore we find errors and contradictions in the Bible. Additionally, we have many different combinations of books in the different Bibles. By what authority has the Bible been changed over the centuries. What you orthodox Christians do with this information is up to you….

        My recommendation is to do nothing at all about it. It happens. Move on. This is because those of us who can properly discern form the Spirit can identify the truth found in the Book of Judas for that matter.

      • runtu says:

        Again, your response has absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote. I’m sorry you don’t understand.

  12. robinobishop says:

    Joseph Smith did not have English to Hebrew online translators. So, it is a simple procedure to test the voracity of the Prophet Joseph. In your post, you have the translation into Hebrew of Joseph’s attempt at “Brethren I bid you adieu”. It apparently produced something nonsensical. Right, I get that.

    Using the online translator of your choice, do it for yourself and see what you get. (I’m surprised you didn’t try it for yourself prior to posting. )

    For all those who don’t want to take the time to uncover the truth for yourselves, this is what I got.

    “Brethren I bid you adieu” delivers אחיהם שיהיה לך in Hebrew. Translating the Hebrew “אחיהם שיהיה לך “ back to English delivers the nonsensical “Their brothers that will be you”.

    This leaves me to wonder what was really contained in the original Hebrew letters of the New Testament. You might want to take a look at the Joseph Smith translation.

    Ed Ashment knew this problem before writing his nonsense.

    Speaking to the translation from English to Hebrew, translate the word “HAVE” into Hebrew….just that simple word. Tell me what you get.

    • runtu says:

      Once again, you make me think you’re just messing with me.

    • runtu says:

      Sure, online translators are terrible. Everyone knows that. But here’s the thing: they may get the English or the Hebrew wrong, but they at least get English and Hebrew words. What Joseph Smith said was Hebrew is not Hebrew. Dispute Ashment, but please find a single Hebrew reader or speaker who confirms that what Joseph Smith wrote is Hebrew. If, as you say, it’s just a problem of mixing up words, it should be easy to support your belief that “i f s E Zamtri” and “ofin Zimim ezmon E, Zu onis i f s veris etzer ensvonis vineris” are related to Hebrew of any kind.

  13. Molly says:


    “10,000,000 more LDS now walk the Earth.”

    It’s probably more like four million who would call themselves LDS. LDS-friendly sites like cumorah.com are one of the few that openly acknowledge the low participation rate, which is best estimated between 25% and 33% of members with their names on the books. The church keeps inactive members on the books until something like their 120th birthdays and counts those who don’t attend church and never will, vastly inflating numbers.

    “Are we to believe that you can take Egyptian writings to your bosom and understand them…. and not simply copy someone else’s do da, as has appeared so often before?”

    Yes. That’s how science works. You can learn something for yourself, perform tests, and either verify or nullify the results of previous research. In the case of Egyptian texts, the jury has very much come back with a consensus that exposes Joseph Smith as the most embarrassing sort of fraud imaginable. Whether or not he sincerely believed he was being inspired with the ability to interpret Egyptian texts is a moot point. His translations were patently incorrect and have no linguistic value whatsoever, contradicting his claims to be a prophet and a scholar.

    Also just as a tip when communicating with the outside world — using too much Mormon jargon sounds a bit barmy to outsiders and unbelievers. Using phrases like “taken to the bosom” and “have I erred” gives the air of a mindless zealot rather than someone who wishes to genuinely communicate. It can be hard to code switch, as Mormonism has a very specific vocabulary, but it’s important to do so as it will help you be taken more seriously.

    The rest of your comments are off-topic trolling consisting of rambling pontification and ad hominem attacks. You are representing the LDS very poorly on this thread and the only dignified options available to you are to cut your losses and quit or to get back on topic and focus on the substance of Runtu’s post, which you very clearly did not read or examine properly.

    • robinobishop says:

      Accusing me of trolling is a serious charge simply because I correct blatant inaccuracies.

      The original post does not mention these points that you raise. Try to write about the post topic in the future. That has been the directive from the blog owner to me. But since you brought it up…..correcting your miscalculations…..

      provides a neutral site with largely correct information. As for members to be deleted at 120 years of age, What age should we be involuntarily kill membership? In my present ward, we have a 99 year old who attends.

  14. robinobishop says:

    Your argument begins with a false premise. You claim that Joseph Smith deceived in translating from Egyptian, claimed it to be Egyptian. It is not a translation and does not even imply understanding…nor is understanding a prerequisite.It was only a mechanical process.

    “To the often-asked question, Have the Joseph Smith Papyri been translated?” the answer is an emphatic no! What, then, is the foregoing? A mechanical transcription, no more. The hieratic text was mechanically reproduced by photography, transcribed into hieroglyphic by mechanically unimaginative reference to Moeller’s and Levi’s catalogues of signs, mechanically written in reverse by the use of a tracing table, transcribed into its theoretical English phonetic equivalents by reference to Gardiner’s sign-list, and finally each word was matched by its modern equivalent as indicated in the Berlin Dictionary, while endings and particles were accounted for by rules laid down by Erman and Gardiner, who devoted their lives to making Egyptian texts translatable by infallible, automatic rules. What we have is a transmission rather than a translation of the text, and such transmission, as G. Santillana notes, “need in no way imply understanding.”

    Reference: Message of the Joseph Smith Papyri: An Egyptian Endowment (Hugh Nibley)

    • runtu says:

      That’s hilarious. Thanks for sharing that quote.

      • runtu says:

        For any readers still following this conversation, if you would like to know a little more about the Joseph Smith Papyri, their meaning, and the history behind Nibley’s statement, you might find the following to be interesting. https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V33N04_107.pdf

      • runtu says:

        And for good measure, here’s an LDS Egyptologist’s take on the papyri. https://www.dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V28N01_155.pdf

      • robinobishop says:

        You are concerned that your readers are no longer here.

        If you have it, a written defense with references supporting your original post might bring ’em back.

        That might bring courage to your fellow anti-Mormons.

        You did initiate this line of thought in your post as being serious.

        You did demand later it be treated seriously.

        You certainly have changed your tone after being challenged.

        The path you set in place is now farce.

        The presence of incessant logical fallacies does that.

        (Are you still understanding? Perhaps now longer challenges you so much. I am trying sincerely now to avoid complex sentence structures so that you might understand my meaning.)

        I’m sure some of us would like to see where Nibley misrepresents (hides) what Smith claimed was Egyptian (or whatever other language).

        Perhaps you have a letter in hand from LDS leadership demanding a retort of insult to Smith from Nibley.

        The fact that Nibley supposedly diminished a purported translation to be a transcription would be insulting, if true.

        Nibley simply testified that it was not a translation. The result was more exactly a transcription, clearing a much lower hurdle (citing G. Santillana)

      • robinobishop says:

        That’s the biggest, sloppiest “straw man” I have seen in quite a time.

        (Explanation of what your straw man is saying: “here we are writing about Nibley’s explanation of Joseph Smith’s transcription; It’s hilarious because of this Journal article written by a different Mormon about something else entirely is stupid so Nibley is also.”)

      • runtu says:

        No, it’s hilarious because Nibley wants to reduce translation to transliteration to avoid the problem that the translation doesn’t add up. BTW, I’ve responded to you in a new blog post.

      • robinobishop says:

        rantu states “Nibley wants to reduce translation to transliteration to avoid the problem that the translation doesn’t add up. ”

        I already got that opinion from you.

        The notion that you can reference yourself (the original post) as verified evidence doesn’t cut it. You employ a logical fallacy again. It’s called “circular reasoning.”

        If you have come to that opinion through any legitimate reason on this, you would astonish legitimate LDS everywhere. If you have it, produce it.

        You apparently have nothing legitimate. What I mean by that is: If you are to become legitimate and truly persuade others, you need to be a few things you are not. As an unbeliever, you need to

        1. Logically support your unbelief all the time.
        2. Have the courage of your convictions (reveal yourself)
        3. Reveal legitimate and convincing sources

        Otherwise, you change no critical thinker’s mind. You will simply drive people to the LDS.

        But I might be wrong. your path here might be all about you alone, convincing yourself.

        DID you read JFK?

      • runtu says:

        I supplied two citations as to the translation of the Book of Abraham papyri. No one, not even Nibley, disputes what the papyri are: the Breathing Permit of Hor. The quote you provided from Nibley tries to imply that the consensus among Egyptologists is wrong because they rely on word-for-word transliteration, so the translation could be something else. Both articles I gave you (one from a Latter-day Saint) give the translation, not the word for word transliteration that Nibley says is invalid. Nibley is trying to divert attention from the translation, but it doesn’t work with me.

      • robinobishop says:

        You state…Nibley tries to imply that the consensus among Egyptologists is wrong because they rely on word-for-word transliteration.(and then later) Nibley wants to reduce translation to transliteration to avoid the problem that the translation doesn’t add up.

        We all speculate on what happened.
        Both of these statements by you are not what Nibley says or implies in the quote I provided you. Please note that Nibley claims it was mechanical TRANSCRIPTION performed in that day in a recommended manner. Transcription is not a meaning gathering process.

        Transcription is not translation, nor is transcription transliteration.

        All the Egyptologists who attest to it being a translation are suspect to me.They all speculate. How can it be supposed by them that Smith translated it if, in fact, he got everything translated wrong, completely wrong? Transcription obviously did not provide him meanings and translations did not provide him with anything of value either. So, he did did not translate nor transcribe to obtain MEANING.

        Why didn’t Joseph Smith translate the BOM like he purportedly did with the papyrus?….. You know, in complete ignorance use the methods of practiced Egyptologists and be found a fraud in doing it within the year? He had a much better tool in his bag (Revelation). Given that, if the BOM was fraudulently created from nothing and got such fine reviews, why would he pretend to be an Egyptologist and not lose the papyrus? What kind of stupid would that be? So, he gained his meaning through Revelation.

      • runtu says:

        Congratulations, you have successfully derailed a rather straightforward blog post into the netherworld of irrelevant stuff.

      • Robin Bishop says:

        “There is nothing worse than a sharp image of a fuzzy conclusion.” Ansel Adams

      • runtu says:

        Congratulations on completely derailing a pretty straightforward post. I note that you have not responded to my latest post, wherein I respond to your challenge about online translation tools.

      • Robin Bishop says:

        You numbers are dramatically up. It’s easy.

  15. Luis C. Ferr says:

    This exchange proves one primary point: there is now somewhere on this planet a village that has set its idiot loose upon the internet.

    • robinobishop says:

      Very cute. But, you are conversing with us….do you feel as a loosened idiot yourself?

      Let it be known that 40% of the subscribers to that particular Journal are PHDs. Did you get a sense that you could not understand the content of rantu’s link. It was written for them, not you, me or rant.

      That journal is peer reviewed. That Journal was in it’s 2nd year in the mid ’60s and remains an esteemed journal TODAY.

      In the same issue, just a few pages downwind of the article seen as hilarious and read by stupid people appears another journal article you will WANT TO READ.

      It is by JFK. Hope you recognize those initials; you may be too young. What Kennedy writes there is contemporary to today. It’s a free download.

      • Luis C. Ferr says:

        I will break it down real simple like for you. Claims of a translation performed by supernatural intervention are completely unverifiable. In the same manner I can claim to have translated the papyri via divine inspiration from Ahura Mazda, by scrying on a glowing rock in a hat. That the papyri actually contain the story of Zarathustra’s journey to the moon on the back of a flying turtle. This is no more falsifiable than your claims of a deeper divinely providenced meaning/translation. In a purely academic translation the papyri contain: neither such a story about Zarathustra, nor a record about Abraham. They are a book of breathings. A common funerary document for a dead guy named Hor. Divinely inspired translations are pure conjecture -> I have divinely translated Zarathustra’s moon journey is equally as valid a theory as the Book of Abraham.

        Runtu’s post shows an evolution of Joseph’s ability to translate Hebrew correlating to a timeline of known happenings. Before learning from Seixas, said translation is gobbledygook (the official language of goblins and trolls – why is it that you are fluent ?), after some instruction in Hebrew from a Hebrew scholar, Joseph actually uses real Hebrew words. Imagine that! What conclusions can we draw?

      • runtu says:

        Yep, that’s the gist of it. The “evolution” as you put it, coincides with his having instruction in Hebrew.

      • Robin Bishop says:


        “Claims of a translation performed by supernatural intervention are completely unverifiable” You say, right off the bat.

        Logical fallacy springs forth again. You provide a False and unverifiable Premise. This statement is ALWAYS the case and self-evident. And you make no attempt to verify the truth of the statement itself. Thus, if this statement can be found to be false at anytime, every word that follows from it is reduced to a whisper, easily ignored. For those of you disciplined enough to read this entirely, I encourage the effort.

        I will demonstrate here the statement is false making your self-declared “break down” truly a breakdown of thinking.

        If in the first century AD, a simple man on the bow of a small fishing boat with sleep still in his eyes raises his hand to the raging storm and declares through the power of conscience “CALM” and the winds, rain, and seas cease their turmoil, you say it is not verifiable even though regularly repeated … and being so always the skeptic, it must always be false though you cannot verify it being false.

        You can rightly suppose that this event is unverifiable, though the Creator of the World has the ability and did it.☺That’s right, today it cannot be verified because we can’t go back.


        You are examining the phenomenon in this topic from the wrong end.

        You have the text.

        Let’s say, The Book of Mormon (another purported Joseph Smith supernatural intervention).

        To Verify its authorship we know the unlearned Joseph could not have written this masterpiece alone.

        Verify that the potential authors with the capacity and availability to help Joseph Smith to compose this book did not compose it.

        Do that and YOUR original premise is defeated.

        (In truth, it is a frequently defeated premise.)

        Using Schaalje’s open set method of WORDPRINT it has been defeated.

        Neither Smith nor Spalding-Rigdon contributed to the authorship through an independent Stanford study.

        Spock once said, If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

        The authors who wrote the accounts in the BOM must then be those within it who identify themselves as having written it.

        Now investigate the use of Schaalje’s open set method of WORDPRINT. Then put it to the test we subscribe: read it.

      • Robin Bishop says:

        I stand here to find where Luis once his only standup comment. It has been laid barren with Ferr’s departure and nobody in sight. .

  16. […] I made my post about Joseph Smith attempting to translate English into Hebrew, a curious thing happened: a commenter took issue with my conclusions and then proceeded to veer […]

  17. […] Is “ofin Zimim ezmon E, Zu onis i f s veris etzer ensvonis vineris” Hebrew? […]

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