|Lehite GN||1.||Land east of River SIDON and ZARAHEMLA, on Lamanite border, given to AMMONITES by Nephites, ca. 78 BC (Alma 27:22; 43:25)|
JERSHON is probably from the Hebrew root yrš, “to inherit,” in the nominal form *yirš (this qiṭl form as a possible Hebrew Vorlage has been suggested by SDR) and with ending -ōn, yielding the GN yeršōn, “place of inheritance” (JAT, JH, and more recently, Ricks/Tvedtnes with ample commentary and notes). The Hebrew word yĕrēšâ “inheritance” (Numbers 24:18), appears to be a feminine noun close to Book of Mormon JERSHON (JAT). Compare also the biblical feminine PNs yĕrûšâʼ and yĕrûšâ (Jerusha/Jerushah, “Inherited One, Inheritance” in the KJV; see 2 Kings 15:33 and 2 Chronicles 27:1), and yĕrūššâ “inheritance, possession” = Samaritan Pentateuch yarišša (Deuteronomy 2:5,9,12,19, Joshua 1:15, Jeremiah 32:8). The same root probably stands behind the Ugaritic PNs yrt, “Heir,” and iarišunu (JH). The same root stands behind Old South Arabic wrt, Arabic warita “inherit,” and probably Akkadian rašu “take possession of.”
If JERSHON does mean “place of inheritance,” then Alma 27:22 preserves a typical Hebrew play on words that would seem to confirm this etymology (perhaps even metonymy): “We will give up the land of Jershon . . . and this land Jershon is the land which we will give unto our brethren for an inheritance” (as also in Alma 27:24, 35:14, all with puns). The GN also appears in Abraham 2:16–17, which some have linked with ancient Jerash. Because the Arabic name for this site is jeraš, we would normally expect a Hebrew root grš/s. The confusion comes because the letter /j/ in the English scriptures (at least KJV) nearly always stands for Hebrew /y/, not /g/; whereas the Arabic /j/ corresponds with Hebrew /g/ and therefore in the KJV as /g/. JERSHON, then, in the Book of Abraham might not be etymologically related to Jerash. But it is possible that it does derive from the same root as the Book of Mormon name, yielding a nice play on words (like the Book of Alma text), because the biblical GN Haran probably comes from a word meaning “journey” or “trip” (see East Semitic ḫarranu, “road, caravan, business venture,” etc.), while JERSHON could mean “place of inheritance,” thus contrasting the nomadic and sedentary patterns of living occurred in Abraham’s life (JAT).
G. Reynolds, suggested, “Land of the expelled or the strangers,” but without an etymology. This suggestion seems to be derived from grš, “to expel, drive out,” or from gēr, “stranger, sojourner” and šām, “there,” along the lines of the biblical PN geršôn and its variant geršôm, so named because he had been a stranger in a strange land (Exodus 2:22; see also Judges 18:30 and Ezra 8:2) (RFS). As the transcription in the KJV demonstrates, a Hebrew /g/ is normally transliterated into English as a /g/, not the /j/ of JERSHON. Therefore, the suggestion to derive Book of Mormon JERSHON from either grš or from gēr plus šām is unlikely.
- For personal names with this ending see M. Noth, IPN, 56. For its use with geographic names compare biblical Sharon, Almon, Heshbon, Dibon, Lebanon, etc.
- L. Schearing, “Jerusha,” in Freedman, ed., ABD, III:768, citing J. J. Stamm, Hebräische Frauennamen, VetusTestamentum Supplement 16 (1967):327.
- Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, II:442.
- Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, II:441.
- John A. Tvedtnes, “Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon,” 1994 FARMS Book of Mormon Lecture (Provo: FARMS, 1994),13; J. Tvedtnes, “Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon,” 3, citing especially Stephen Ricks & John Tvedtnes, “The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place-Names,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 6/2 (Fall 1997):257-258.
- See the footnote in the 1981 edition of the Pearl of Great Price where it is suggested that this may have been the site of Jerash in Jordan, above Wadi Zerqa (biblical Jabbok).
- Commentary on the Book of Mormon, page 362, footnote 2
See also Jershon Variant