Category:Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Construct state

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The construct state in the Book of Mormon

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

The Construct State

Donald W. Parry:

Biblical Hebrew juxtaposes two or more nouns to form a construct chain. When this Hebrew form is translated into English, the term of is often added to show the relationship between the nouns. In Hebrew one says "tables of stone" (Exodus 24:12) or "the word of the Lord" (Genesis 15:4), not "stone tables" or "the Lord's word."

There are numerous examples of the construct state in the Book of Mormon. These include "plates of brass" (1 Nephi 3:24), "rod of iron" (1 Nephi 8:19), "sword of Laban" (2 Nephi 5:14), "temple of Solomon" (2 Nephi 5:16), "the commandments of the Lord" (2 Nephi 5:19), "land of promise" (1 Nephi 17:33), "works of darkness" (2 Nephi 25:2), and "plans of awful wickedness" (Helaman 6:30). Also, the term Lord's is found "but twice in the entire Book of Mormon, while the equivalent of the construct state of nouns using his name occurs about three hundred times in a possessive sense in expressions such as 'commandments of the Lord,' 'name of the Lord,' 'people of the Lord,' 'presence of the Lord,' 'promises of the Lord.'"25 Similarly, the term God's is found twice in the Book of Mormon, while the construct forms "church of God," "commandments of God," "kingdom of God," "Spirit of God," and so on are found more than 450 times.26 The overwhelming practice of preferring the construct state over the possessive and related forms is a strong indication of Hebraic writing.[1]

Hebrew influence on Book of Mormon text: Construct State

When English shows a possessive or descriptive relationship between two nouns, it usually puts the possessive or descriptive noun first: the king's house or wood house. Hebrew, however, uses the opposite order: house the king (which would usually be translated house of the king) or house wood (house of wood). If the Hebrew word order is kept in the English translation, the word of must be added, even though it does not exist in the Hebrew.

The Book of Mormon contains a large number of what appear to be translations from the Hebrew preserving the Hebrew word order:

"plates of brass" instead of brass plates (1 Nephi 3:24)
"works of righteousness" instead of righteous works (Alma 5:16)
"words of plainness" instead of plain words (Jacob 4:14)
"chains of hell" instead of hell's chains (Alma 5:7)
"voice of the Spirit" instead of the Spirit's voice(1 Nephi 4:18)
"skin of blackness" instead of black skin (2 Nephi 5:21)
"night of darkness" instead of dark night (Alma 34:33)
"rod of iron" instead of iron rod (1 Nephi 8:19)
The Hebrew-like expression land of promise appears twenty-two times in the Book of Mormon, while promised land (common in English) is found only ten times.[2]


  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.
  2. John A. Tvedtnes, "The Hebrew Background of the Book of Mormon," in Rediscovering the Book of Mormon, edited by John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co.; Provo, Utah: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1991), Chapter 8.

Pages in category "Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Language/Hebraisms/Construct state"

The following 2 pages are in this category, out of 2 total.