The Book of Mormon abounds with evidence of ancient Semitic roots. One class of such evidence is the presence of Hebraic wordplays that appear to have been in the original text. The analysis is made difficult by the fact that we don’t have the original plates to examine, just the translation. but in the translation, one can see remnants of original wordplays. Some of the first to be noticed, as I recall, involved the names Jershon and Nahom, which could readily be recognized as Hebrew words with meanings that fit beautifully in the context of the story involving these names. Since then there have been many potential wordplays proposed, including some that don’t involve names. But names more directly guide us to the source and to the possibilities of wordplays when they may be present.
One of the most recently proposed wordplays involves the name Noah, which occurs in several contexts in the Book of Mormon. Below is the abstract from Matthew Bowen, “‘This Son Shall Comfort Us’: An Onomastic Tale of Two Noahs,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 23 (2017): 263-298. Matthew, by the way, is the researcher who I think has done the most in recent years to explore ancient wordplays built into our text. I recommend looking at the list of his articles at The Interpreter.
Abstract: From an etiological perspective, the Hebrew Bible connects
the name Noah with two distinct but somewhat homonymous verbal roots:
nwḥ (“rest”) and nḥm (“comfort,”
“regret” [sometimes “repent”]). Significantly, the Enoch and Noah
material in the revealed text of the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis
(especially Moses 7–8) also connects the name Noah in a positive sense
to the earth’s “rest” and the Lord’s covenant with Enoch after the
latter “refuse[d] to be comforted” regarding the imminent destruction of
humanity in the flood. The Book of Mormon, on the other hand, connects
the name Noah pejoratively to Hebrew nwḥ (“rest”) and nḥm
(“comfort” and “repentance” [regret]) in a negative evaluation of King
Noah, the son of Zeniff. King Noah causes his people to “labor
exceedingly to support iniquity” (Mosiah 11:6), gives “rest” to his
wicked and corrupt priests (Mosiah 11:11), and anesthetizes his people
in their sins with his winemaking. Noah and his people’s refusal to
“repent” and their martyring of Abinadi result in their coming into hard
bondage to the Lamanites. Mormon’s text further demonstrates how the
Lord eventually “comforts” Noah’s former subjects after their “sore
repentance” and “sincere repentance” from their iniquity and
abominations, providing them a typological deliverance that points
forward to the atonement of Jesus Christ.
I appreciate the many insights into the text that come from understanding the vestiges of wordplays that appear to have been used by the original authors. As always, there is more than meets the eye waiting to be revealed in the pages of the Book of Mormon.