Source:Echoes:Ch7:9:Compound prepositions

Compound Prepositions

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Prepositions

Compound Prepositions

Describing a characteristic feature of Hebrew grammar, Bruce K. Waltke and M. O'Connor write: "Compound prepositions are the result of the piling up of two or more simple prepositions. . . . Hebrew frequently piles up prepositions to represent more accurately the relation in question. . . . The combinations and their nuances are too numerous to catalog here."22

The expressions from before, from behind, and to behind are examples of compound prepositions from the Old Testament. For instance, "The Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel" (Judges 11:23, emphasis added). Sometimes the compound preposition is lost in the English translation, as in 2 Kings 9:18, which reads "turn thee behind me," though the Hebrew literally reads "turn to behind me."

The Book of Mormon, with its Hebrew background, similarly features compound prepositions. For example, the expression from before is found in 1 Nephi 4:28; 11:12; 2 Nephi 9:8; Mosiah 17:4; Alma 44:12; and 3 Nephi 4:12. The latter reads, "And notwithstanding the threatenings and the oaths which Giddianhi had made, behold, the Nephites did beat them, insomuch that they did fall back from before them."[1]


  1. Donald W. Parry, "Hebraisms and Other Ancient Peculiarities in 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 7, references silently removed—consult original for citations.