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“Their Anger Did Increase Against Me”: Nephi’s Autobiographical Permutation of a Biblical Wordplay on the Name Joseph
|Title||“Their Anger Did Increase Against Me”: Nephi’s Autobiographical Permutation of a Biblical Wordplay on the Name Joseph|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2017|
|Authors||Bowen, Matthew L.|
|Journal||Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture|
|Keywords||Egypt; Joseph (of Egypt); Nephi (Son of Lehi); Onomastics; Psalm of Nephi; Small Plates; Structure; Wordplay|
Nephi’s record on the small plates includes seven distinct scenes in which Nephi depicts the anger of his brethren against him. Each of these scenes includes language that recalls Genesis 37:5‒10, 20, the biblical scene in which Joseph’s brothers “hate him yet the more [wayyôsipû ʿôd] for his dreams and for his words” because they fear that he intends to “reign” and to “have dominion” or rule over them (Genesis 37:8). Later, they plot to kill him (Genesis 37:20). Two of these “anger” scenes culminate in Nephi’s brothers’ bowing down before him in the same way that Joseph’s brothers bowed down in obeisance before him. Nephi permutes the expression wayyôsipû ʿôd in terms of his brothers’ “continuing” and “increasing” anger, which eventually ripens into a hatred that permanently divides the family. Nephi uses language that represents other yāsap/yôsı̂p + verbal-complement constructions in these “anger” scenes, usage that recalls the name Joseph in such a way as to link Nephi with his ancestor. The most surprising iteration of Nephi’s permuted “Joseph” wordplay occurs in his own psalm (2 Nephi 4:16‒35).
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