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KnoWhy #111 - Why Did Alma Add “Chains of Hell” to Abinadi’s Phrase “Bands of Death”? (Alma 5:9)

TitleKnoWhy #111 - Why Did Alma Add “Chains of Hell” to Abinadi’s Phrase “Bands of Death”? (Alma 5:9)
Publication TypeKnoWhy
Year of Publication2016
Corporate AuthorsBook of Mormon Central Staff
PublisherBook of Mormon Central
Place PublishedSpringville, UT
KeywordsAbinadi (Prophet); Alma the Younger; Chains of Hell; Hevel; Heveli-Mot; Language - Hebrew; Prophet

As Abinadi explained to the priests of Noah the manner in which God would gain “victory over death," he declares that God “breaketh the bands of death” (Mosiah 15:8). This phrase, "bands of death," in English is exclusive to the Book of Mormon in the LDS Standard Works, and it appears for the first time here. The phrase appears to be an English translation of the biblical Hebrew phrase heveli-mot. The Hebrew use of the verb hevel can carry the meaning of “sorrow, pain, travail” and is used to speak of the sorrow and pain of, among other things, drowning, childbirth, and death. It can also be used in the sense of the “binding” or “pledging” nature of covenants. It is generally used in the context of redemption or salvation and can be associated with the imagery of baptism.

The likelihood that Abinadi was familiar with these nuances of the Hebrew word hevel and purposefully used the phrase heveli-mot adds depth to our understanding of Abinadi’s words. It also adds another detail in support of the historicity and truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Abinadi assuredly knew well these key concepts of the Hebrew words and texts and understood their relevance and applicability to the mission of the Messiah, the Son of God.

Citation Key1895

Scripture Reference

Alma 5:9