A King’s Sacred Name Reveals an Easter Egg in the Book of Mormon

An Easter egg is a fun hidden feature or message. You get an Easter egg when you type DO A BARREL ROLL in the Google search box. There are Easter eggs hidden in the Book of Mormon, too. Who knew?

Can you find the Easter eggs in this bit of Nephite history written by Mormon (Helaman 6:7-13)?

And behold, there was peace in all the land, insomuch that the Nephites did go into whatsoever part of the land they would, whether among the Nephites or the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire. And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites; and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north. Now the land south was called Lehi, and the land north was called Mulek, which was after the son of Zedekiah; for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south. And behold, there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it; and thus they did become rich. They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south; and they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south. And they did multiply and wax exceedingly strong in the land. And they did raise many flocks and herds, yea, many fatlings. Behold their women did toil and spin, and did make all manner of cloth, of fine-twined linen and cloth of every kind, to clothe their nakedness. And thus the sixty and fourth year did pass away in peace.

Classical Hebrew poets loved chiasms and plays on words (especially with people’s names), and fine examples of both are found in this passage. A chiasm is a poetic structure formed when a sequence of words or ideas is repeated in reverse order. Jesus give both a definition and an example of a chiasm in Matthew 19:30:

But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.

Chiasms are often more complex, encompassing entire paragraphs or even books. Mormon’s bit of Nephite history is one of the finest examples of a chiasm in scripture:

And behold, there was peace in all the land,

insomuch that the Nephites did go into whatsoever part of the land they would, whether among the Nephites or the Lamanites. And it came to pass that the Lamanites did also go whithersoever they would, whether it were among the Lamanites or among the Nephites; and thus they did have free intercourse one with another, to buy and to sell, and to get gain, according to their desire.

And it came to pass that they became exceedingly rich, both the Lamanites and the Nephites,

and they did have an exceeding plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all manner of precious metals, both in the land south and in the land north.

Now the land south

was called Lehi,

and the land north

was called Mulek,

which was after the son of Zedekiah;

for the Lord

did bring Mulek

into the land north,

and Lehi

into the land south.

And behold, there was all manner of gold in both these lands, and of silver, and of precious ore of every kind; and there were also curious workmen, who did work all kinds of ore and did refine it;

and thus they did become rich.

They did raise grain in abundance, both in the north and in the south; and they did flourish exceedingly, both in the north and in the south. And they did multiply and wax exceedingly strong in the land. And they did raise many flocks and herds, yea, many fatlings. Behold their women did toil and spin, and did make all manner of cloth, of fine-twined linen and cloth of every kind, to clothe their nakedness

And thus the sixty and fourth year did pass away in peace.

Chiastic poetry was typically used only for writing of unusual importance. This poem may have been written as something of a political statement, emphasizing the prosperity that both groups of people enjoyed because of their peaceful relationship and free trade, and the debt both groups owed to God. This isn’t Mormon’s only political poetry.

The structure of a chiasm naturally draws the reader’s attention to its center, and that’s usually where the main literary focus is. In the case of the chiasm above, we have a slight problem. Zedekiah is placed parallel to the Lord at the center. This doesn’t appear to be a particularly good parallel–not in English anyway. Zedekiah was a failure of a king who “did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 24:19). Why pair him up with God? And why even include a reference to Zedekiah? This reference to Mulek’s father doesn’t contribute anything to the message, and there’s no similar mention of Lehi’s father.

The answer is that Zedekiah had a cool name…in Hebrew. The iah at the end of Zedekiah is a shortened form of Jehovah. In Hebrew, Zedekiah would read “my righteousness is Jehovah.” The Lord, on the other hand, is the common English translation of Jehovah in the King James Bible. By following Zedekiah with Jehovah, Mormon is engaging in classic Hebrew wordplay, and with this wordplay, the center of the chiasm becomes complete. So there you have an Easter egg — a chiasm that’s complete only if there’s a play on words, and a play on words that exists only when the text is read in Hebrew. How cool is that!

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