Source:Echoes:Ch12:9:Hebraism: Cognate accusative

Hebraism: The Cognate Accusative of "Possess" and "Inheritance"

Hebraism: The Cognate Accusative of "Possess" and "Inheritance"

It is well known that Hebrew frequently uses a verb and an object using a related word: "she vowed a vow" (1 Samuel 1:11). This feature of Hebrew style is viewed as attractive if not elegant, though English stylists view it as infelicitous phrasing to be avoided. The Book of Mormon contains many examples of the cognate accusative, such as, "I have dreamed a dream [Hebrew halamtî halôm]; or, in other words, I have seen a vision [hazîtî hazôn]" (1 Nephi 8:2). Other examples include "work all manner of fine work" (Ether 10:23), and "taxed with a tax" (Mosiah 7:15).

Much more difficult to notice, however, are cognate accusatives obscured by the English translation. Consider, for example, the construction that arises from the similarity between the related Hebrew words for Jershon, inheritance, and possession in Alma 27: "And they went down into the land of Jershon, and took possession [Hebrew *YRS] of the land of Jershon" (Hebrew yarsôn, Alma 27:26) "for an inheritance" (Hebrew yarsôn, Alma 27:22). This is a remarkable instance of the cognate accusative in the underlying Hebrew text. [1]


  1. Stephen D. Ricks, "Converging Paths: Language and Cultural Notes on the Ancient Near Eastern Background of the Book of Mormon," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 12, references silently removed—consult original for citations.