DESOLATION

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Lehite GN 1. NEPHITE city and land (1 Nephi 21:8, 19, 21; 2 Nephi 8:19; 13:26; 15:9; 16:11; 17:19; 20:3; 23:9, 22; Alma 16:10, 11 (x2); 22:30, 31, 32; 46:17; 50:34; 63:5; Helaman 3:5, 6 (x2); 13:32; 14:24; 15:1; 3 Nephi 3:23; 4:1, 3; 8:14; 10:7; 22:1, 3; Mormon 3:5, 7; 4:1, 2 (x2), 3, 8, 13, 19 (x2); Ether 7:6)

Etymology

The GN DESOLATION is a translation into English, not a transliteration into Roman characters of a Lehite GN. There are four Semitic roots that could provide the underlying HEBREW/Semitic form for DESOLATION, ḥrb, ḫrb, ḥrm, and šmm (PYH).

The first possible root is a denominative verb from the HEBREW nound, ḥereb, “sword,” which in the qal means to “massacre,”[1] an appropriate name for a geographic territory that had been devastated by warfare.

The second possible root, ḫrb, means “to dry up, be in ruins,”[2] and yields the noun ḥōreb, “devastation, waste;” and ḫorbâ (Arabic, ḫirbat), “site of ruins.”

The third possible root, ḥrm, provides in its hiphil conjugation the meaning “to dedicate to destruction.”[3] As Hugh Nibley has pointed out,[4] a HEBREW GN name built on this root is ḥormâ, “Hormah,” the name given to three towns or cities in the Old Testament, each of which were attacked, damaged, or destroyed. For example see Judges 1:17, “and they slew the Canaanites that inhabited Zephath, and utterly destroyed it. The name of the city was called Hormah.” See also Numbers 21:3 and Deut. 1:44 for the other two examples.

The fourth possible HEBREW root, šmm, means “be deserted, be appalled” and in the hiphil, “cause to be desolate.” Various noun forms based on this lexeme could be the basis for Book of Mormon DESOLATION: šĕmāmâ means “desolation, ruin;” mĕšamôt in the plural means “waste, desolation” (Isaiah 15:6); and šammâ means “devastation, horror;” and mĕšômēm is used for “desolator” (Daniel 11:31, šiqqȗṣ mĕšômēm, “abomination that maketh desolate”).

Cf. Book of Mormon DESOLATION OF NEHORS

Variants

Deseret Alphabet: 𐐔𐐇𐐝𐐄𐐢𐐁𐐟𐐊𐐤 (dɛsoʊleɪʃʌn)

Notes


  1. HALOT, s.v. ḥrb.
  2. F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, eds. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Oxford: Clarendon, 1968. and Cf. HALOT s.v. ḫorbah.
  3. HALOT s.v., ḥrm.
  4. H. Nibley, Since Cumorah, 194 = CWHN VII:171, citing L. Woolley & T. E. Lawrence, The Wilderness of Zin (London: Cape, 1936), 107.
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