BOUNTIFUL

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Lehite GN 1. A place probably on the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula, ca. 600 BC (1 Nephi 1:Preface; 17:5, 6, 7)
2. City and land, first mentioned in the first quarter of the last century BC (Alma 22:29), and last mentioned around AD 34 (3 Nephi 11:1). (Alma 22:29, 31, 32, 33; 27:22 (x2); 50:11, 32; 51:28, 30, 32; 52:9, 15, 17, 18, 27 (x2), 39; 53:3 (x2), 4; 55:26; 63:5; Helaman 1:23, 28, 29; 4:5, 6; 5:14; 3 Nephi 3:23 (x2); 11:Preface, 1)

Etymology

BOUNTIFUL is the English translation, and not a transliteration, of a word on the small plates of NEPHI. The proposal here, unlike nearly all of the entries in the onomasticon, starts with the English and works backwards to suggest a HEBREW Vorlage. It should be noted that the first occurrence of the GN Bountiful in the Book of Mormon is in the preface to 1 Nephi 1. The 1840, some RLDS editions, and LDS editions 1981-2013 read, “they call the name of the place Bountiful,” almost as if Bountiful were a title. The printer’s manuscript and, with the exceptions just noted, 1830-1953R read, “they call the place Bountiful,” as if Bountiful were a description.

Compared to European languages, Semitic languages have few adjectives. An English type adjectival construction is normally achieved in Semitic languages by placing two nouns in a construct relationship (contiguous to each other). It is therefore likely that BOUNTIFUL is the translation of a noun, rather than an adjective. HEBREW nouns that could be translated as bountiful include šepaʿ “abundance,”[1] ʿōšer “wealth,” šemen “fat,” and rebābâ “myriad.”

One of these possible HEBREW Vorlagen for BOUNTIFUL, šepaʿ, occurs in an interesting phrase in Deuteronomy 33:19, where the context suggests a poetic connection with IRREANTUM (which occurs in the same verse with BOUNTIFUL). In speaking of the blessings of the tribe of ZEBULUN, Deuteronomy 33:19 mentions the “abundance [šepaʿ]of the seas” (KJV) or “riches of the sea” (Jewish Publication Society). Thus, BOUNTIFUL, šepaʿ, could be a semantic parallel in the same verse, 1 Nephi 17:5, to IRREANTUM, the “many waters.” (PYH)

Because the HEBREW Bible loves plays on words, it is possible that shepaʿ, שפע , may have been used in wordplay with a possible Vorlage of “much fruit, פרי שבע.[2]

Another possible HEBREW Vorlage to BOUNTIFUL, ʿōšer, “wealth,” has a literary analog in the possibly EGYPTIAN cognate of this word, ʿšȝ, “abundant.” This word is used to describe the “bountiful” land of Yaa in the EGYPTIAN “Tale of Sinuhe.” This story of an EGYPTIAN courtier who fled EGYPT to seek refuge in Upper Retjenu (within the biblical land of Canaan) describes the bounty of the land, “Figs were in it and grapes. It had more wine than water. Abundant (ʿšȝ) was its honey, plentiful its oil. All kinds of fruit were on its trees” (Sinuhe B82-84). Sinuhe’s servants present him with “many (ʿšȝ) sweets” (B91). Later Sinuhe became “wealthy in goods, rich (ʿšȝ) in herds” (B147), and “rich (ʿšȝ) in servants” (B155). (RFS)

Variants

Deseret Alphabet: 𐐒𐐂𐐤𐐓𐐆𐐙𐐋𐐢 (bɑːntɪfʊl)

Notes


  1. Reynolds and Sjodahl were the first to suggest a connection with the HEBREW root šepaʿ, and to point out the related PN Shiphi in 1 Chronicles 4:37 (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary, 1:174).
  2. HEBREW śbʿ means “plenty, abundance, satiation,” and when used as a nomen regens it would modify the nomen rectum, e.g., “land of abundance.” In the same verse, “Wild honey” may be from צופים נפת. See Psalm 19:10 HEBREW 19:11, "honey comb" in the KJV and "drippings of the comb" in the Jewish Study Bible (Oxford: 1999).
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