Gazelem – Alma 37.23

Gazelem – Alma 37.23 

  1. The word Gazelem appears to have its roots in Gaz – a stone and Aleim, a name of God as a revelator or interposer in the affairs of men. If this suggestion be correct, its roots admirably agree with its apparent meaning-a seer. (George Reynolds, A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon, p. 92)
  1. “I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light.” That’s a person he is talking about; Gazelem is not the stone. His servant Gazelem has the stone; he is preparing it for him. Incidentally, that word Gazelem is a very interesting one. It’s an Aramaic word, and it has definitely to do with the shining stone. “yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations.” Now that’s what the story is going to be. That’s not very nice. These interpreters were prepared for that reason, the whole idea being this horrible story I’m telling you that “except they repent I will destroy them from off the face of the earth; and I will bring to light all their secrets [just as I did of the Jaredites] and abominations, unto every nation that shall hereafter possess the land.” All this will be highly relevant, in other words. (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Volume lecture 56, Alma 36-41)
  1. Joseph Smith’s mission in preserving and restoring scripture is emphasized by other Book of Mormon prophets. To his son Helaman, Alma taught, “The Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren” (Alma 37:23). The servant Gazelem mentioned by Alma is unidentified, but Gazelam was one of the names used in early printings of the Doctrine and Covenants as a code name for Joseph Smith.12 Of it, Elder McConkie wrote, “With reference to the name Gazelam, it is interesting to note that Alma in directing Helaman to preserve both the Urim and Thummim and the plates containing the Book of Ether, says that such record will be brought to light by the Lord’s servant Gazelem, who will use ‘a stone’ in his translation work. . . . It may be that Gazelem is a variant spelling of Gazelam and that Alma’s reference is to the Prophet Joseph Smith who did in fact bring forth part at least of the Ether record.”13 Later, in the book of Ether itself, Moroni seems to speak directly to Joseph Smith, instructing him again on his role in restoring the truths of scripture (see Ether 5:1–4). (Scott Esplin, “Millions Shall Know Brother Joseph Again”: Joseph Smith’s Place among the Prophets, Joseph Smith and the Doctrinal Restoration, The 34th Annual Sidney B. Sperry Symposium, 2005)
  1. Strange and unusual names were placed by the Prophet in some of the early revelations so that the individuals whom the Lord was then addressing would not be known to the world. The purpose for keeping these identities secret from their enemies having long since passed, the true names are now found in the Doctrine and Covenants. Two of the names which identified the Prophet himself were Gazelam and Enoch. (D. & C. 78:9; 82:11; 104:26, 43, 45, 46.) Presumptively these and other names used at the same time have particular meanings, which are not now known to us.                                                                                                                                                                                                             With reference to the name Gazelam, it is interesting to note that Alma in directing Helaman to preserve both the Urim and Thummim and the plates containing the Book of Ether, says that such record will be brought to light by the Lord’s servant Gazelem, who will use “a stone” in his translation work. (Alma 37:21-23.) It may be that Gazelem is a variant spelling of Gazelam and that Alma’s reference is to the Prophet Joseph Smith who did in fact bring forth part at least of the Ether record. Or it could be that the name Gazelem (Gazelam) is a title having to do with power to translate ancient records and that Alma’s reference was to some Nephite prophet who brought the Book of Ether to light in the golden era of Nephite history. (Bruce R. McConkie, Gazelam, Mormon Doctrine, Deseret Book, 1993)

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