Shazer: An Etymological Proposal in Narrative Context

Title

Shazer: An Etymological Proposal in Narrative Context

Publication Type

Journal Article

Year of Publication

2019

Authors

Journal

Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship

Pagination

1-12

Volume

33

Terms of use

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Bibliographic Citation

Bowen, Matthew L. "Shazer: An Etymological Proposal in Narrative Context" In Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, Vol. 33. 2019:1-12.

Abstract

In 1 Nephi 16:13–14, Nephi mentions the name Shazer as a toponym the Lehite clan bestowed on a site in western Arabia “four days” journey south-southeast of the valley of Laman. The Lehites used this site as a base camp for a major hunting expedition. A footnote to the first mention of the name Shazer in the 1981 and 2013 Latter-day Saint editions of the Book of Mormon has virtually enshrined “twisting, intertwining” as the presumed meaning of this toponym. However, the structure of Nephi’s text in 1 Nephi 16:12–13 suggests that the name Shazer serves as the bracketing for a chiastic description of the Lehites’ hunting expedition from the site. This chiasm recommends hunting as a possible starting point for seeking a more precise etymology for Shazer, one related to food supply. Consequently, I briefly argue for Shazer as a Semitic word (possibly also a loanword from an Old Arabic dialect) and a close cognate with both Hismaic šaṣar (“young gazelle,” plural šaṣr) and Arabic šaṣara (a type of “gazelle”).

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