Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, September 18

Bands, Chains, Sorrow, and Pain: Examples of Hebrew in the Book of Mormon?

Bands, Chains, Sorrow, and Pain: Examples of Hebrew in the Book of Mormon?

by grego

The other day I read that Cliff(ord) wrote about:

(http://mymormonworld.blogspot.com/2008/08/chains-and-cords.html )

Psalms 116: 3-4, 16 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me:
I found trouble and sorrow. Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul …Oh Lord, thou hast loosed my bonds.

and he related it to this:

Alma 36:18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

He wrote:
“In my study of the Hebrew Tanakh today, I learned that the word, (chbl) translated “sorrows” in this Psalm can also be translated as “bonds” or “cords.” The authors of the King James Version preferred to stick with “sorrows” but the authors of the Jewish Publication Society Tanakh use “bonds,” which runs a clearer thread of continuity through the psalm. The bonds (chbl) mentioned at the beginning are released at the end.

The latter translation also more closely matches Alma’s psalm, he who had found himself encircled about by the everlasting chains of death. True, “chains” (ziyqah) is a different word from cords or bonds, yet easily a synonym.”

I thought that a little interesting. Today, I heard something else in Alma 14, and that sparked a small investigation.

For some reason, “sorrows of hell” is never used in the Book of Mormon.

Here are a few other translations of Psalms 116:

From the Jewish Virtual Library:
3 The cords of death compassed me, and the straits of the nether-world got hold upon me; I found trouble and sorrow.
4 But I called upon the name of HaShem: ‘I beseech thee, O HaShem, deliver my soul.’
16 I beseech Thee, O HaShem, for I am Thy servant; I am Thy servant, the son of Thy handmaid; Thou hast loosed my bands.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Bible/Psalms116.html

This interpretation is from The Judaica Press Complete Torah (chabad.org):
3. [When] bands of death surrounded me and the boundaries of the grave befell me, and I found trouble and grief,
4. And I called out in the name of the Lord, “Please, O Lord, save my soul!
16. Please, O Lord, for I am Your servant; I am Your servant the son of Your maidservant; You have loosed my thongs.
http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/16337/jewish/Chapter-116.htm

In the Book of Mormon, here are more examples with which “sorrows”, “bonds”, “cords” might have connection:

Alma 14:6: And it came to pass that Zeezrom was astonished at the words which had been spoken; and he also knew concerning the blindness of the minds, which he had caused among the people by his lying words; and his soul began to be harrowed up under a consciousness of his own guilt; yea, he began to be encircled about by the pains of hell.

Alma 5:7: Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

Alma 26:13: Behold, how many thousands of our brethren has he loosed from the pains of hell; and they are brought to sing redeeming love, and this because of the power of his word which is in us, therefore have we not great reason to rejoice?

Jacob 3:11: O my brethren, hearken unto my words; arouse the faculties of your souls; shake yourselves that ye may awake from the slumber of death; and loose yourselves from the pains of hell that ye may not become angels to the devil, to be cast into that lake of fire and brimstone which is the second death.

The Book of Mormon also has this pain/cord/ chain relationship. An English-speaker might ask, “How do you ‘loose yourselves from the pains of hell’? You loose yourself from cords/ bands, not pains.” And after this, it makes much more sense. Surrounded by pain/ cords/ chains, loosed/ loosened from them.

Another interesting thing:

Alma (and Ammon once) often uses “chains of hell”:
Alma 5:7 Behold, he changed their hearts; yea, he awakened them out of a deep sleep, and they awoke unto God. Behold, they were in the midst of darkness; nevertheless, their souls were illuminated by the light of the everlasting word; yea, they were encircled about by the bands of death, and the chains of hell, and an everlasting destruction did await them.

Alma 5:9 And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved.

Alma 5:10 And now I ask of you on what conditions are they saved? Yea, what grounds had they to hope for salvation? What is the cause of their being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell?

Alma 12:11 And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.

Alma 13:30 And may the Lord grant unto you repentance, that ye may not bring down his wrath upon you, that ye may not be bound down by the chains of hell, that ye may not suffer the second death.

Alma 26:14 Yea, we have reason to praise him forever, for he is the Most High God, and has loosed our brethren from the chains of hell.

Once more, an English speaker might ask, “How do you ‘loose’ someone from ‘chains’? Don’t you ‘unlock’ them or ‘smash’/ ‘break’ them? And you don’t wrap someone up in chains (‘encircled’).” And now it makes a little more sense (though not fully yet to me).


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