When a Jew Reads the Book of Mormon

When a Jew reads the Book of Mormn

Personal experience colors our perception of everything. I’ve had some unusual experiences. I’m a Jewish convert. I believe like a Mormon, but I still have a Jewish mind (believe me, it’s something unique to us). We grabbed our five kids and moved to Israel some time ago, hoping to stay “indefinitely,” which turned out to be 8 years. I learned a lot there — about Jews, about Israel, about Judaism, and about myself. What does a Jew who has lived for years in Israel see in the Book of Mormon that others might not notice?

1. Nephi gives the Passover recitation

The Passover is the most important holiday of the year for Jews. The first night of the holiday is celebrated with a feast inside a ritual. The recitation of the story about the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt is the centerpiece of the evening and reason for the holiday.  And, in addition to the story of deliverance and redemption, Jews always include prayers that ALL people may be free from oppression. Whenever the chips are down, whether it’s Passover, or not, Jews hearken back to the miracles God performed for them in the wilderness.

Interesting that when Laman and Lemuel become most belligerent and faithless, Nephi launched into the Passover recitation, including both parts! God saves the Israelites, but is no respecter of persons. (Read it in 1 Nephi 17:23-42.)

2.  Hebrew words in Egyptian letters

jewish-isms of Hieratic Egyptian, Ladino, Yiddish
Reformed Egyptian (top), Ladino (bottom left) and Yiddish (bottom right)

Modern scholars have verified that reformed, or hieratic, Egyptian was in use by Jewish scribes in Lehi’s time, and Nephi says the Book of Mormon was written in Hebrew using reformed Egyptian script to save space on difficult-to-inscribe metal plates.

To modern Jews this sounds entirely plausible and can work both ways, depending on what is handier. (So if Hebrew took up less space, you could use the Egyptian language and use Hebrew letters). You use the script that’s the most handy and incorporate the words that mean the most to you. Jewish curses and insults have a high priority. So more recently, Jews have created Ladino (Judeo-Spanish) and Yiddish (Judeo-German, combining German with Aramaic and Hebrew, written in Hebrew script).

3. The Brother of Jared knew about the zohar that lit Noah’s Ark

Brother of Jared asking God to make stones give light
The Brother of Jared following Noah’s example

If you will now turn to Genesis 6:16 and read the verse and the footnote. “A window shalt thou make to the ark, and in a cubit shalt thou finish it above; and the door of the ark shalt thou set in the side thereof; with lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.” Notice that the word “window” has been mistranslated, and the footnote says, “HEB tsohar; some rabbis believed it was a precious stone that shone in the ark” (Ether 2:23 (23–24).

The Hebrew word Zohar, means “light” or “brilliance” and that light was connected with magical stones. The Brother of Jared logically thought that if it worked for Noah, it could work for his eight dark ships. Hence, sixteen stones presented to the Savior to be set aglow by His touch.

4. The Book of Mormon has some pretty strong insults for the Jews

Sanhedrin trial of Jesus

But then, so does the “Old Testament” (which for Jews is the Tanakh, the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings). Jews are actually pretty chill with insults and are especially good at using them on each other. They are also keen on making sure they don’t repeat the mistakes of the past, so cautionary advice is taken seriously. Two insults are notable in the Book of Mormon.

In 2 Nephi 10:3  Nephi says no other nation would crucify their God. Thinking back to 33 AD, we know of no nations that had a one-God faith. They were all poly-theistic and had many gods. One of my Israeli friends liked to imagine what would have happened if Christ had performed His miracles in Persia. They would have said, “This is fantastic; you’re a god; where would you like your statue?”

Israel had already spent centuries distinguishing itself from those societies and had become more focused on the One God than ever, to the point that they lost focus on the need for a savior or mediator. So yeah, they would have been the only nation that could get to that point.

The other “insult” is found in 2 Nephi 25:2: “For I, Nephi, have not taught them many things concerning the manner of the Jews; for their works were works of darkness, and their doings were doings of abominations.”

Well, so…the Jews Lehi’s family had escaped from were just about to be destroyed for their wickedness. They had had the good fortune of having their exact sins listed for them by their prophets. If they had listened and repented, they would have survived, but they killed the prophets instead. Their works were works of darkness at the time, no arguing with that. The condemnations in the Book of Mormon are no more harsh than those of Jeremiah.

5. “Look, they don’t even keep the Word of Wisdom”

Keeping the Word of Wisdom may not be the most important behavior for Mormons, among all of our commandments, but transgressions of the Word of Wisdom are among the most noticeable. Same with people who don’t keep the Law of Moses. Both Enos and his son Jarom added some barbs to the Book of Mormon to insult the Lamanites, who gave up keeping the dietary laws of the Law of Moses.  Remember that under the Law of Moses Jews couldn’t (can’t) consume the blood of any beast. They also couldn’t (can’t) eat anything but clean beasts, which does not include beasts of prey.

Enos had this to say about the Lamanites (Enos 1:20): “…they became wild, and ferocious, and a blood-thirsty people, full of idolatry and filthiness; feeding upon beasts of prey; dwelling intents, and wandering about in the wilderness with a short skin girdle about their loins and their heads shaven; and their skill was in the bow, and in the cimeter, and the ax. And many of them did eat nothing save it was raw meat; and they were continually seeking to destroy us.”

Jarom also enters the fray, saying, “…And they were exceedingly more numerous than were they of the Nephites; and they loved murder and would drink the blood of beasts” (Jarom 1:6).

6. Living the Law of Moses while looking forward to Christ

King Benjamin Book of Mormon
The Nephites kept the Law of Moses looking forward to Christ

Evidently, when Moses established God’s law, he also was clear about the Messiah to come and used His name. The Book of Mormon says over and over that everything in the Law of Moses was meant to typify of Christ. Somehow, many of the exact references have been lost from the biblical account. It is possible that as Jewish leaders codified the Law and set the scriptures, they had a new opposing philosophy to distinguish themselves from. In the ancient past it had been poly-theism, but later it was Christianity. Many verses that could have been construed or obviously read to refer to Christ were then omitted. There’s no way to prove this, but the Book of Mormon peoples were kinder to their prophets and heeded them more often. Note that the writings of Lehi and Nephi were preserved, but many of those of Jeremiah were destroyed.  (See Mosiah 13:27; 1 Nephi 4:15; 2 Nephi 25; Alma 25:15; 30:3; 25:16.)

7. Going UP TO and DOWN FROM Jerusalem

view of Jerusalem and surrounding highways
Jerusalem and surrounding highways via Deseret News

Book of Mormon Central just explained this specifically, but generally, it changes the way you converse with people in Israel even today. Jerusalem is in the mountains, yes, a whopping 2,500 feet of elevation or so. Not very impressive to a Utah Mormon, but much higher than the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth (about minus 1400 feet).

But if I were to leave Park City (6900 feet) and travel to Jerusalem, I would still be going up. Jerusalem is holy, so you always ascend to it. The Holy Land itself is also always up. So if someone asks you when you arrived in Israel and when you left, you always say, “I came up in this year, and descended in that one.” An immigrant to Israel is called an “ascend-er.” There’s no way Joseph Smith would have known this, so its presence in the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 3:4, for example) is one more proof that it is what it claims to be.

8. Exile and regathering

Babylon Conquering Jerusalem by Juan de la Corte
Babylon Conquering Jerusalem by Juan de la Corte

The families who left Jerusalem would need to ache for home all their lives. That’s what happens when you leave Jerusalem; that’s what happens when you leave Israel. Anyone who’s ever done it knows that. All the chapters Nephi kept from Isaiah and handed down to us have three themes only — Messiah will come; Israel will be scattered; Israel will be gathered. That gave his people hope.

They believed their descendants would someday go home. Said Jacob, “. . . and also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem, born in tribulation, in a wilderness, and hated of our brethren, which caused wars and contentions; wherefore, we did mourn out our days” (Jacob 7:26).

9. Olive trees

Ancient olive tree
Jews from Israel know a lot about olive trees

Living eight years in Jerusalem, I really got to know olive trees. They have a lot of character and are useful enough both to sustain life and provide imagery for a thousand parables. But did they have them in the Americas? Maybe not. Jacob’s story was a story from home (Jacob 5). His parable of the olive trees parallels the patriarchal blessings given by Father Jacob (Israel) to his sons, and to Ephraim and Manasseh. Judah retains the scepter and rules, while Joseph, through Ephraim, spreads abroad and grafts in the gathered to the central root and stem. As a Jew, this just feels right.

10. Urim and Thummim

“Lights and Perfections.” As hocus-pocus as these instruments seem to modern folks, they sound perfectly common to Jews who know their ancient history. Seer stones were used anciently and will be used eternally.

foster bible pictures Aaron with breastplate
Jewish writings describe the Urim and Thummim (“lights and perfections”)


Yes, there are plenty of Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon, and Mormon (and non-Mormon) scholars are finding them all the time (chiasmus, desert poetry styles, ancient names of people and places), all of which help to prove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. But there are plenty of Jewish-isms, too. I sincerely doubt young Joseph Smith was educated enough to create the Hebraisms; I truly doubt he could fathom the Jewish-isms either. What do you think?

Download a free digital copy of Gale’s book: Day’s of Awe: Jewish Holy Days, Symbols & Prophecies for Latter-day Saints, here.

And check out this article about a Jewish author who loves the Book of Mormon.

Gale Boyd is the copy editor for More Good Foundation. She is a Jewish convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has lived all over the world. She has raised 6 Third Culture Kids and is always homesick for somewhere.

  • Brenden Taylor

    “Thinking back to 33 AD, we know of no nations that had a one-God faith. They were all poly-theistic and had many gods. One of my Israeli friends liked to imagine what would have happened if Christ had performed His miracles in Persia.”

    Actually, you shouldn’t have to look too hard to find a contemporary monotheistic religion, since Zoroastrianism was well established in the region as the dominant faith of the Persian empire. It’s dogma proclaimed that there was only one god, Ahura Mazda, and by 33 AD the Jews should have been pretty familiar with it, having lived under Persian rule for some time. it was a Zoroastrian king that permitted them to return to Judea and build the temple anew. Had Christ performed his miracles in Persia there is a good chance they would have worshiped him as God.

  • M.J. Jay

    The Pearl of Great Price provides one of the greatest evidences of the prophetic calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. (See Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price, with Hugh Nibley, disc three, Lecture 21, “The Eve Theme; The Book of Enoch.” It’s the part about the Book of Enoch in this lecture that is of greatest interest.)
    The Book of Enoch was lost to all knowledge over time, after it was removed from the canon of scripture in the fourth century. It is quoted 128 times in The New Testament, but no one knew it until The Book of Enoch emerged again, and scholars saw what was being quoted.
    There are thousands of copies in existence of certain versions of The Book of Enoch, though for a long time no one recognized what they were. The version commonly referred to by scholars as the First Enoch is the Ethiopian version, discovered in 1773; it’s not a very old copy, dating back to only the 16th or 17th century (it was first translated into English in 1821 by Richard Lawrence, and therefore the only copy that could possibly have been available to Joseph Smith, but of course was not available to him, nor to any other farm boy in upstate New York at that time.)
    The Book of Moses (found in The Pearl of Great Price, as you know) was part of the translation of the Bible which Joseph Smith worked on from June 1830 – February 1831. We read of Enoch in Moses 6 and 7 in The Pearl of Great Price; Enoch is barely mentioned by name in The Bible as we have it (it’s worth your while to read the history of The Pearl of Great Price, though fairly long, and complicated.)
    The Second Enoch is known as the Old Slavonic, discovered in 1859 in St. Petersburg, Russia; this copy dates back to the 9th century. The Third Enoch is a Greek copy (fragment) discovered at the Giza Pyramid excavation in 1886-7, dating back to the 6th century (they get older and older). There’s more to the third copy than that, but to keep this shorter, I’ll leave it at this (a Hebrew copy was found by Odeberg in 1927; and then there’s the Chester Beatty version, both considered as belonging to the Third Enoch).
    The Fourth Enoch was found with The Dead Sea Scrolls in 1952. It dates to the 3rd century B.C. and is written in Aramaic. It’s the oldest and best and purest version so far. (If you buy a copy of The Book of Enoch, this is the one you want.)
    The Rockefeller Foundation took over The Dead Sea Scrolls, and dispersed all the findings among various universities, churches, and institutions. The Book of Enoch (there was more than one copy of it with The Dead Sea Scrolls) was delivered to Father Millick in Jerusalem, who wouldn’t let anyone else see it for 27 years (except for Matthew Black, who helped translate it to English).
    Contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls copies of The Book of Enoch is found the account of Mahijah/Mahujah. The remarkable thing is that no other account of this (Mahijah/Mahujah) exists in any other writing that has ever been discovered. It is only to be found in The Dead Sea Scrolls version of The Book of Enoch, and that version is the oldest and purest and plainest of all the copies of The Book of Enoch; all previously mentioned copies are corrupted to one degree or another; in other words, just bad copies, or bad translations, with lots of mistakes, omissions, and nonsensical writings, but obviously the same book. Father Millick did not release and publish his Enoch until 1977.
    So, how did Joseph Smith get his account of Mahijah/Mahujah in 1830-31? (Moses 6:40; Moses 7:2—in The Pearl of Great Price). On visiting BYU in 1977, Father Millick insisted to Dr. Nibley that one day they would find out what source Joseph Smith used. (There is more available as far as evidence goes, for those interested; cool stuff; such as parallels between various copies of The Book of Enoch and Joseph Smith’s translation, which parallels of course are to be expected in revealed writings. See August 1977 Ensign, Hugh Nibley.)

  • Leo Duren

    Thank you, Gale, for the wonderful read. I’m a Mormon who’s studied Hebrew off and on for about 20 years, and I read daily from the Old Testament in Hebrew (the Machon-Mamre version with the English translation). I blog about Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon from a linguistic perspective. I’ve always told my family members who ask me about my studies that their Book of Mormon reading experiences will be even richer if they study Judaism and the Hebrew language. Like you mentioned, there’s so much that’s in the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith didn’t and couldn’t have known about Jewish traditions and Hebraisms prior to his translation work, owing to his meager education. I’m so glad that I came across your article.

  • Dann

    I will soon be 80 years old, and have been a Mormon for 54 of those years. I can still recall my awe when my parents bought me my first “portable” radio, a tube set in a fancy wooden box, almost a foot in all three directions with a handle on top. At night it sat beside my bed, and once my parents were asleep, it often entertained me into the early mornings.

    And I recall seeing my first TV, at my cousins house, with only four hours per day of black and white programming. Years later, I and my new girlfriend (now my wife) enjoyed listening to my first 5-transistor radio. That one cost me over $50, earned in 1955 from my part time job in a model airplane shop, when i was still a senior in High School.

    During my youth, I frequently read the Bible and was attending a Baptist Church. So I was aware of the “fantastic” stories of seemingly “magic” stones occasional used by the ancient prophets. But I did not know whether to believe these objects were real or just an embellishment in the text.

    Today, as we re-read the Bible or Book of Mormon stories about “magic stones” in Sunday School class, I re-tell these parts of my personal history. Then, I finish by asking the students to search their pockets: “Do any of you have a cell phone, or a GPS, or a combination?” Several of them always do, so I continue: “Those are made of silicon (just purified sand), interspersed with tiny bits of metal and other minerals. They have no moving parts and are almost indestructible. For all intents and purposes, they are just “rocks”. Just a “stone”, that can speak to you; and show you which way to travel; or show the face of your friends who are thousands of miles away then let you read their texts; or, if you choose, read the scriptures; or let you watch ancient stories from the History Channel. I don’t believe we can actually see into the past yet, but that may be coming in an upgrade or three.

    “Also if you are having trouble seeing the message on the face of your “stone” because the reflection of sky or the sun is too bright, shade the surface of your “rock”with your hand. Or better yet, put it in a hat where you can see the text and images much better… after all, that is what Joseph Smith, the Prophet did to help him translate, over a hundred years before I was born.”

    I now believe. In a small part I believe because of the change I have seen in my life, which came from this very tiny example of His love for us. And I hope others can see through my story of my past and personal awe and wonder, and realize they have the same opportunity. The ancient scriptures are not yet finished revealing their truth, there are many other “rocks” to be found, locked in their pages. Read them often and you soon may begin to believe.

  • John Nicholson

    I am also a great fan of Margaret Barker: I have massive materials written by her!!!

  • John Nicholson

    What led you to Glgal as the possible location for the fourth Temple. When I was there thirty years ago, I did not even realize we had gone there until afterwards.

  • JD

    Gale, I would be interested in your reaction to Margaret Barker’s BYU Forum address of May 6, 2003. After hearing her, I consider Josiah’s reforms to be the first Great Apostasy. It explains why the Lord led Lehi and his family away, and why they needed to take the (presumably unredacted) brass plates with them.

    • Gale

      I have heard Margaret Barker speak, and I’m a fan of hers. I agree with her analysis of the reforms under Josiah, and probably that it was the fault of his priests. In reading the scripture, it looks like Josiah, and probably others, were unfamiliar with the contents and had drifted away from the more spiritual aspects anyway. Then they were left with the law after the reforms. It really looks like Jeremiah and other prophets were trying to restore the belief in revelation, the ministering of angels, and other things, but the people wouldn’t hear them.

  • Tal

    I was born and raised in Israel in a secular Jewish family. I moved to the States in 2001 for work and ended up finding and joining the church in 2006. My mother tongue is Hebrew, and I recently had a chance to get a peek at the only semi official translation on the BoM into Hebrew (the white book). Having grown up in Israel, and studying in the standard school system which included taking mandatory Bible lessons (Old Testament), I can say without a doubt that this “best” translation is still far from being on the right spiritual level as the Book of Mormon itself. I can’t wait for the appropriate time when the book gets fully translated, through true inspiration, into Hebrew.

    I really appreciate your insights into the correlations and the references back to Israeli culture, then and now.

    There are a few points I thought it would be interesting to bring up. First about “going up” to Jerusalem. The term going up, La’alot (לעלות) in Hebrew, is also used for other occasions and situations. For example when a boy turns 13 and he is expected to read the Torah for the first time, it is called ascending to the Torah. All these are signs of how the spiritual aspects of Jewish life is always considered going up.

    Then there is the point about the importance of the Passover. Passover is one of three major Jewish holidays where the Jews used to ascend to Jerusalem for celebrations: Passover, Pentecost (Shavu’ot) and the day of the Tabernacles (Sukkoth).

    Lastly, with regard to Noah’s window. You noted how in Hebrew there is a similarity between the word for window and the word for light. I couldn’t help but be reminded that the word for light, Zohar, is actually also the name of the very secretive Jewish mysticism. In that case there is a clear correlation between the light that this mysticism brings to a person’s life if they are fully engaged in it.

    • Gale

      Thanks, Tal, for this contribution. I talk about the three yearly pilgrimages in my book. Sukkoth is a favorite holiday of mine, especially in Israel. Magical.

  • Shawn

    I have read the Book of Mormon multiple times and read the book of First Nephi even more than I have read the other books. However I never noticed the going up and down to Jerusalem until this last time when I read it in Finnish. In my mind’s eye I always saw and pictured the area as flat as they were going in and out of the Jerusalem. The book is true! Love your insights on seeing things from a different perspective.

    • doctrine

      Oh, really? Have you ever read where the supposedly “kosher” Nephites ate raw meat? A good Hassidic Jew would rather eat roots than raw meat. The whole book is a wacky sham.

      • Gale

        A special commandment from God, as received by Lehi while his family traversed the wilderness, always trumps kosher laws. This is perfectly consistent with all of God’s doings in all of scripture.

        • Jon

          Jesus taught this same principle when defending His disciples’ eating the kernels of grain taken from the field on the Sabbath. The Lord isn’t primarily concerned with the specific food we eat, but with whether we obey Him. Lehi and his family were indeed obeying a direct command in their travel diet. Imagine if they’d responded that no, they would be cooking their food due to religious reasons.

  • Stacy Ferguson

    Gail, I really enjoyed this article. What made you leave Israel after 8 years?
    Does your book focus on your conversion story, or Judaism in general? Please excuse my ignorance! ❤
    About 5-8 years ago, I went to a baptism while living in Arizona and was captivated by a young lady that spoke on the Holy Ghost. She is Jewish. She shared that she was driving down I-10, on her way to work, and a literal voice out of nowhere told her “Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He really did atone for your sins, and you need to believe in Him.” She pulled the car over and began to cry. I had never heard of such a direct message happening to anyone except from in the Book of Mormon. (And Joseph Smith)

    I would love to read how you found the Truth.

    • Stacy Ferguson

      Sorry, I misspelled your name, Gale.

    • Gale

      We were on ‘working tourist’ visas in Israel, so impossible to stay indefinitely. My book is about the Messianic imagery in the Jewish high holy days, and does contain many personal experiences. I could not have written it without those 8 years in the Holy Land. My conversion story is fairly simple. My father, a rocket scientist, was a professor at Johns Hopkins University. We moved out to the Los Angeles area when I was 8 years old, so he could work at Jet Propulsion Labs. This took us far away from our extended Jewish family in the East. My mother shed her identity as a Jew, and my father gave in to his atheism. Our home was full of science, no religion. At 15, I reached that stage where I was asking “Is this all there is”? I developed a gaping hole that could only be filled by something spiritual. I began to attend various churches with my friends and neighbors and enjoyed most. Then a friend invited me to a youth conference at the local Mormon ward. I knew absolutely nothing about Mormons or Mormonism, but the second I walked through the door, I had an amazing spiritual experience. Essentially, “This is the place.”

  • Bob Powelson

    Many years ago as a young LDS missionary serving at the time in Richmond the LDS Stake center was at the far western end of Monument Avenue. On the other side of the Avenue was the Jewish Community Center.

    Both building were a little short of parking space, they used our Friday and Saturday and we used theirs on Sundays. The Stake Center at the time had a basketball court and the Jewish Community center had a swimming pool. In friendly fashion we used each others facilities. I played a bit of pickup Basketball against them but alas! as a missionary the swimming pool across the street was off limits.

  • Gal

    It’s my understanding that Yom Kippur is the most important Jewish holiday for Jews, with Rosh Hashanah next. Why do you say it’s the Passover?

    • Gale

      Thanks for your comment. Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, is a truncated holiday without the temple and its rituals. It is now the final day of the Days of Awe period of repentance. It’s important, but it doesn’t represent the Jewish people the way the Passover does. Passover, with its central focus on deliverance and redemption, lasts 8 days in its classic celebration, brings families together, and remembers the history and struggles of the Jewish people. To read more, download my book, Days of Awe, from the PERKS box on the home page.

  • Blythe Darlyn Thatcher

    Gale: Wow – I am so impressed with your article which holds insights that I’ve mostly not heard or read before. I went to school with many Jewish students who would annually bring Matsa (sp?) ‘bread’ to generously share with us, often even with butter! I also had a Jewish roommate at BYU. In 1996, I was privileged to spend 12 remarkable days in Israel – never to be forgotten, especially the powerful witness of the Spirit there. With all my ‘history’ with Jewish people through the years, I chuckled at your reference to their “unique”-ness to which you humorously referred. Your insights as they apply to the Book of Mormon & the Old Testament wonderfully enhance my appreciation & understanding of both, enhancing my personal witness of the truthfulness of the Scriptures and of the gospel of Jesus Christ as well. Ever so much thanks & thank you, too, for the free download of your book which I am so looking forward to reading.!

  • Ralph Hughes

    I learned about the Going UP TO and DOWN FROM Jerusalem while living and working in Israel in 1970. I was trying to explain to an Israeli that on the weekend “I rode to Jerusalem…” . He made apoint of telling me that “No, Ralph, you ascended to Jerusalem” and explained that when speaking of coming and going from and to Jerusalem one should use the words for descend and ascend. Later that day I checked in the Book of Mormon, and sure enuf,, in several verses the expressions “went up to” and went down” were used. I later noted that the German, Danish and Norwegian translations of the Book of Mormon maintained that custom in most cases, but not all.

    • Just checked my Mongolian book of mormon: очоод is the verb used (“visited”) *snaps fingers*. Still, pretty awesome that the English version keeps the importance of the direct translation from Joseph.

  • waltc

    Went to LDS.net but when I got to your book it said download below, but then there was nothing below to click on. I set up an account but still no link to download. Am I doing something wrong?

  • Robin compton

    I am so interested in your book,thank you for for your insights.


    Would love to read your book.

  • Tom Garrett

    Gail, I grew up in Memphis, Tn. and enjoy warm relationships with clients and friends here, many are in the Jewish communities here. I have relished the love and respect we’ve shared. I delighted in reading your article/post, and all the comments added. I look forward to speaking with several close friends about your book and will share the link. I have longed for the fullness of the gospel to be an available, viable blessing to their lives and families. I’ve shared, as they have allowed, and will gently continue, because I love them. Thanks, for your life’s work.

  • Marilyn Howard

    I came to this quite late, but so glad I stumbled upon this great article that I now have to share. Thank you for sharing your trove of gathered knowledge.

  • Shannon

    I would love a copy of the book. This was a wonderful article. My kids ages 11-16 are now homeschooling here in Texas and meet with a group of LDS kids. With Passover coming, we decided we wanted to celebrate it today for our group class. It was great! So my kids enjoyed hearing this article tonight as a follow up. A had a Jewish companion on my mission and a friend in our last ward who was also Jewish and converted. I always loved their insights and learning more about their traditions. So thank for this! Let me know what I need to do to download the book.

    • Gale

      Shannon, scroll down the LDS.net home page to about the middle. You will see a box labeled PERKS. Enter your email address there and then choose Days of Awe. You have permission to send the text to Kinko’s or any other printer that can bind the text into a book. You will find everything you need within the pages of Days of Awe to do a Passover of your own, including recipes. Enjoy.

      • David

        Gale, Our family purchased your book about 7 years ago and we continue to enjoy it! It has enriched our family home evenings and taught us new ways to celebrate that point to Christ. A fantastic book!
        David, Elizabeth, James, Jesse, Sydney, Justus& Joshua
        Tulsa Oklahoma

  • Evelyn Call

    enjoyed this so much

  • Kim

    I attended a meeting with Rabbi Lapkin in Washington. Most in the audience were LDS, even though it was not an LDS event. His speech was on the number 13. He talked about how it was a lucky number. He asked the audience how many Tribes of Isreal there were. We answered 13. It kind of surprised him. He spoke about many other things that definitely struck a chord with both an LDS and Jewish audience. Fun experience. Enjoyed this article as well.

  • Pat Malan

    Thank goodness you commented that printing this book was with your approval. I went to have it copied and lds.net did have the book but it did not give permission for printing. Your comments here in the comment section allowed for me to have the book printed. I am loving it! Thank you!

  • Ruth Patten

    Very interesting and informative.

  • Mark Gunn Rose

    So fascinating to read and ponder! Thank you!?

  • Dennis Tannen

    There are not many of us. I converted when I was 22 in 1972. I’ve only come in contact with three Jews who converted since I’ve joined the curch and you are the third. I learned more about being a Jewish from joining this church than when I was a Jew. I suspect there are more out there. Why don’t we ask them to make it known and let’s see how many there are. I am aware of some Jews that now call themselves Christians but have not embraced the Lord’s true church. We should also seek them out.

    • Gale

      Dennis, there is a really cool group of Jewish converts and LDS interested in Judaism called B’nai Shalom. They meet twice a year in Seattle and Salt Lake City. Their website can be found at http://www.mormonsandjews.org.

  • JE Nielson

    I would like a copy of your book or where to find it

    • Gale

      The book is not in print right now, is a collector’s item, and quite expensive if you can find it. If you follow the instructions below, you can take the PDF file to a Kinko’s or other store with a print facility and ask them to bind it for you. Since there is cover art included, it can look quite nice, even though it’s not a bound book.

  • Diana paquette

    Gale: I’m trying to find out how to get your book.

    • Gale

      Scroll down the LDS.net home page to about the middle. On the right side, you will see a box that says PERKS. Enter your email address into the box, and then you can click on Days of Awe. It is a free download in PDF format. Let me know if you run into any glitches.

  • Robert Boneck

    great article

  • Linda M Flint

    What a delight! I grew up with a choice Jewish girlfriend who lived across the street. I always felt a close affinity to her and “the Jews” even as a child. I figured we were certainly “spiritual cousins”! One time when I “slept over” I remember reading from the Book of Mormon to her and bore her my testimony. I would love to send her your book.
    Years later, as I remember it, when we were in Jerusalem, Israel we read an advertisement for a meeting to learn more about “The Jewish Faith”—we wound our ways through alleyways down stairs to a wooden door and knocked. A kind bearded man answered the door and asked us if we were Jewish…we said “No, but we are from one of the tribes of Israel”…He asked which tribe and we told him the tribe of Ephraim. He said, “I’m sorry these meetings are only for those of the tribe of Judah to re-convert them to their heritage and we are not allowed to proselytize to any others”. But, when we were at the Garden Tomb the SPIRIT was so strong (& we were so touched) we had complete strangers come up to us and ask us questions about what we were feeling. We were able to share our testimonies to the 1& 2 “discussions” at that time about the Reality of Jesus Christ. On the Temple Mount a Palestinian stopped us and started asking us questions and found out that we were also “People of A Book”, which he respected, and after a long conversation we invited him to the Jerusalem Center for Sabbath meetings (on Saturday). He rode his bike and met us there. Because of the laws against ANY proselytizing he could NOT get any materials from the Center: He asked us to Send him a Book of Mormon and any other printed material from the Church after we got home. We did so. We were amazed at the SPIRIT of the Lord which was sweeping the land! (Even at that time! 1979)

    • Gale

      Thanks, Linda, but I’m wondering about that date (1979). The Jerusalem Center didn’t open until 1987.

  • Tafiat

    It should also be noted that the Passover reading in 1 Ne 17:23-42 is chiastic, an ancient writing form of the Jews. In these verses Nephi is teaching his brethren about Israel’s wilderness journey, the center of which is vs 29 – “Yea and we know that Moses, by his word according to the power of God which was in him, smote the rock, and there came forth water, that the children of Israel might quench their thirst.” This is astounding because there is a parallel chiasmus in 1 Ne 5. In this chapter it is Lehi who reviews Israel’s journey, yet it is centered on a slightly different hinge. His center verse hee is 1 Ne 5:14, “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine.” These two centers are symmetric, the first found four chapters from the beginning, and the latter five chapters from the end. But most important are their complimentary ideas – the first centered on Israel’s preservation from famine (bread), and the second on their preservation from thirst (water). Of course, these are the emblems of His sacrament, the tokens of His Passover sacrifice! What a book, what a testament of Him!

  • Judy

    Thank you so much for sharing these insights. I studied Jewish discussions on my mission a very long time ago and have always held a fondness for the Israelite people. I am currently studying 3 Nephi in the BYU-I Pathway program and was struck with the warning that we are not to ‘spurn’ the Israelites, as our Heavenly Father will keep His covenants with them.

  • Craig Isenbarger

    Your insights are amazing and fresh. Thank you for sharing!

  • Judie Chandler

    My husband is a Jewish Jew and although he is in essence, only a cultural Jew, not a religious one, is has been our practice in our family to celebrate the Jewish holidays, most notably Passover. I have attended numerous Bar Mitzvahs and Bat Mitzvahs, Seders and other celebrations. I taught the Old Testament in seminary and loved all the symbolism and ritual of the 12 tribes. I even had several members of my classes who had been born Jewish and whose father was the Bishop. I have always felt that Judaism fit perfectly with Mormonism. I appreciate your sharing research and findings. Thank you so much for teaching me more about Judaism.

  • mynameisern

    I love this! So often, when I read The Book of Mormon (particularly Nephi) I wish I had a Jewish friend that lived nearby that I could ask questions and have discussions about background, history, culture, references, etc. This book is a great idea!

  • Tom Peters

    My great grandfather was Moses Fink Black . Is that a Jewish name?

    • Gale

      Could definitely be. When you research that, look for the first name Moishe, also.

  • Doreen Morgan

    Amazingly interesting and informative. I have wondered how the brother of Jared arrived at the thought of
    providing light for the journey to the promised land. Now I have an answer. Thank you.

  • Margie Mansell

    Gale, Did you live in Sandy Utah for a short time? In the Granite 9th Ward? I am wondering if you are the same person I thought so much of and have wondered what happened to after you left.
    Margie Mansell
    How do I download your book?

    • Gale

      We lived both up in Brighton Point and in Falconhurst in that area. Scroll down the home page on LDS.net to about the middle until you come to a box that says PERKS. Enter your email address and choose the download you want.

  • Jeffrey Gillette

    Wow that is awesome. As a Polynesian Maori from New Zealand, I have always felt akin to my Jewish heritage, having received my Patriarchal Blessing stating that I am from the house and tribe of Joseph. Joseph has always fascinated me, his trials and journey from obscurity to leadership in Egypt, I love this history and him as a person along with father Abraham. The scriptures are very exciting, as is our ancestry. I understand completely the call for the Jews to be called home to Israel, and watch that event unfolding every day, it is amazing.

  • David

    I,m a Jewish Mormon convert on mom,s side. Always maintained Jewish sympathies though been in church 40 plus.enjoyed learning more about Book of Mormon & Jews. Shalom, David

  • Carolyn Gibb

    As I learn more of Judaism, it feels like a warm, solid base is formed beneath me. Thank you!

  • Diane Walker

    Great article Gale. I miss having you in our Ward and sharing your insights with us. Come visit Kamas soon

    • Gale

      Thanks, Diane! We miss you too, and a future move is still possible.

  • Very fascinating & worthwhile to read. Thank you for having this article made available to us.

  • I have a friend that is very much a Jewish Mormon. He honors his family and culture. It was very exciting last year to attend a Mormon-Jewish Seder. I wrote a book (Jesus Son of Man A Jew -poetry) with him in mind, inspired by Susan Easton Blacks three part series- Jesus Christ Son of Man. I look forward to reading more from you and will pass this site on to him. Thank-you!

  • Susanne

    I really enjoyed reading this, and I appreciate your insight.

  • Laurie Atkinson

    Wonderful article that confirms and clarifies many points. Thank you so much. Truly looking forward to further information.

  • Dave Davies

    thank you for the confirmation of so many truths…yes you have revealed much more than you mention here…the fact that the Jewish people are still who they were 2000 years ago is testament to the truths found in the old scriptures and the Book of Mormon…..thank you for sharing

  • Ian Miller

    Thank you for the thoughtful article.
    I should like to read your book, above mentioned.
    Kindest regards,

  • Cindy Bower

    Gale, My friend shared “Days of Awe” with me last year and I finally found a copy online for myself. I have looked and looked through it. About that same time a woman in our city who is very knowledgeable about Hebrew as well as the Jewish calendar and culture began teaching a little group of us once a month. I have wanted to share the Book of Mormon with her but haven’t yet. I was happy that as we have learned Torah Portions and studied Deuteronomy as well as other related scriptures, she asked how we felt about “other scripture” citations forbidding adding to scripture, considering we LDS people have “other” scriptures. It was she who actually showed scripturally that those citations were solely about that portion only. I am learning so much and also enjoy “The Lord’s Holy Days” by Lenet Hadley Read. This study has deepened my knowledge and caused me to be even more thirsty for knowledge. I want to share this article and a Book of Mormon with our teacher more than ever now. Thanks!

  • Corinne

    Inspiring and thought provoking. Things my son and I have given much thought. If you study the scriptures you must think in terms of those who lived there and in those times. Our minds and hearts must conceive of different concepts than we live today, this is one reason why repetition is important however,not all. Thank you for this stimulating and dutiful, spiritual journey. Though I have never been there, I have been there.

    • Kenneth E Sutphin

      Well said.

  • Stefanie Littlefield

    Very interesting!!

  • Wendi Erickson

    I too am a Jewish convert. I feel a special bond and love when I find other Jewish converts. Thank you for your insights Gail. I have been doing a passover fireside for 3 yrs now. I love to see and share the proof of my 25 yr old answered search. Todah v Shalom

  • Kay

    A friend of mine was studying Ancient Hebrew and said that the story of Jacob finding that
    the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and not decayed, as stated in Alma 46: 24 (and not told in the Bible), is found in the Torah. Is this correct? Of course, Joseph Smith would have had no access to that in his day.

    • Gale

      Michael Ash discusses this in his book, Of Faith and Reason on page 79. Joseph’s father kept a remnant of his coat for a long time, and other ancient writings verify the miracle that a remnant survived. Other things said about the coat are also so uncanny that they help prove Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon is authentic.

      That said, one needs to understand what the Jews mean by the “Torah.” The Torah can be the first 5 books of the Bible, the whole of Jewish belief, or all its scripture. But what we know as the “Old Testament” is called the Tanakh, a word created by combining the first letters for the Torah, the Prophets (nevi’im), and the Writings (ketubim). So, literally, if something was in the Torah, it would be in the Bible. Hope that makes sense.

  • Thank you for the insight to Noah and the Brother of Jared. Boy, does it make sense. I also appreciated the photo of Jerusalem and it being on a hill. I have seen little of the modern-day holy land and this also helped my understanding.

  • Kristi

    One of my favorite BoM passages is 2 Nephi 29:3-5 where the Lord scolds the Gentiles for not giving due credit to the Jews for bringing forth the Bible.

  • Kathleen Hadfield (Former YSA missionary, Geneva Stake)

    Dear Gale, We loved this article, which we will forward to some of our Jewish friends. Keep up the good work

  • Jeff Davis

    Very interesting points, thank you for sharing them. My last couple of times through the Book of Mormon, I have noticed the frequent use of oaths, which I understand to be important to Hebrew speech, but I’m no expert.
    In the end, of course, no “proof” is as important as trusting in the witness of the Spirit and living worthily so that Spirit can remain with us.

  • Jared Wilson

    Thanks so much, Gale! Fascinating read! Learned a lot. I am gratefully friends with a Jewish couple who are the salt of the earth! They do so much for people. One is interested in more info on the Church. I can’t wait to share this and your book with them, as soon as I can download it. I am extremely curious about what their feedback will be.

  • Jared Wilson

    Thanks so very much Gale! Fascinating! All of it! I have a couple of great friends who I am so grateful for who are Jewish. One who has been interested in more info on the Church. I can’t wait to get their feedback on your article, and on your book as soon as I can download it. Thank you!

  • Wayne

    Passover is just the begining of the “holy convocations” or “Moed” found in (Lev 23) that signpost all Feasts to Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach). Look at these 5 videos here by Mark Biltz showiing a rich connection between christian and Jewish hermenutics and the whole crossover becomes clearer :http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLBD0367885CA95A74


  • Marsha Markham (from Medford, OR)

    Very interesting article…I am also a convert and many people did not understand why I would want to become a Mormon. I even lost a couple of friends over it, which was hard. At the time I joined the church not everyone could hold the priesthood. I did question that but felt I needed to trust so did. I remember exactly where I was the day it was announced that every worthy male could hold the priesthood and how grateful and happy I was about it. I am not a person of color, by the way.
    The enlightenment I have received over the years (line upon line, etc) have been wonderful and your article adds to that enrichment. Thank you so much, Gale.

  • Darryn

    This is awesome, thank you so much for sharing Gale. My perspective of The Book of Mormon definitely changed when I went to Israel. I learnt more about Judaism thanks to a local LDS unit joining hands with our Jewish friends in commemorating the Shoah and welcoming local Rabbis together in a spirit of unity and prayer. I feel even more closer to my Jewish brothers and sisters.

  • reshwity

    I studied hieroglyphics at university and I can tell you, there is more proof there to prove the Book of Mormon is real. When Nephi has an angel visit him, he uses a unique form of writing called MK! which translates to Behold! it is a poetic form which you can’t even google so unless you have a degree or something in hieroglyphics you wouldn’t know about it. It wasn’t even discovered until well after Joseph Smith had died.

  • Michael Shea, MD

    Thank you very much. The cross-cultural education is greatly appreciated.

  • Viola Rosengren

    Perfect timing! This answered a question I was pondering remaining from last week’s Sunday School lesson when it was mentioned, “We lived after the manner of happiness.” I knew I had read somewhere in the Book of Mormon about the unhappiness of the people, but the word I was remembering was “sorrow.” I searched, but didn’t find the quote. And here you have not only quoted, but also explained why they “did mourn out our days.” Thank you!

  • Dan

    One clarification: Jacob was quoting Zenos in ch. 5. So yes, the allegory definitely originated in Israel.

    • Gale

      Thanks, Dan.

  • Robbin R. Wohl

    Doing my genealogy documented my ancestors’ journey from Germany to Russia to America. I found many different faiths among members of my family. Interestingly, I found a large branch of Jewish relatives, mostly remaining on the East coast, with a considerable number of them converting to Mormonism. As a young woman I recall a speaker from Israel, who related his journey through his conversion. This article is reminiscent of the commonalities that “spoke” to his heart. Fascinating.

  • Love this and found it enlightening. So when is the book coming out with more detail and examples?

    • Gale

      The book is out, called Days of Awe, and you can download it as a free perk from LDS.net just for signing up for our newsletter. Click on Perks on the home page.

  • Barb Tippetts

    Have You written any other books similar to this article? I sure would like more incite in Jewish customs, laws, etc.? I think it will when teaching my seminary class. 🙂

    • Gale

      See my answer to Andrew, above.

  • jimmy

    Jacob did not write the parable about the olive three he was quoting a prophet who lived in the Holy Land so make perfect senses.

  • I throughly enjoyed this article and love learning the Jewish history! The more we learn, the more truth is fitted together into one great whole. Thank you!

  • shirley hone

    Very nice article my friend. The picture of the olive tree is beautiful. Where is that tree. I can’t tell by landmarks.

    • Gale

      Dunno. But I would want it in my garden, if I had one.

  • Carl

    Great insights that you are helping us see and understand. One thought your work keyed relates to Laman and Lemuel and why in their rebellion they still stuck it out at least until they arrived in the Promised Land. Some one, maybe you, pointed out that in the Jewish family tradition there was supreme honor given by children to the father of the family and this in part may explain why the rebellious brothers stayed in the family as long as they did.

  • Kim the Florida Mormon girl

    I lived with Gale’s family for a short time and learned alot from them. One of the many lessons shared with me in my time with them was that of the importance of the Passover, and not just its importance, but the who’s, what’s, when’s, and why’s about it. This time each year I make sure to include teachings of the Passover in Family Home Evenings and scripture studies with my children. I am forever grateful for the insight I have received from Gale and her family, and now this article expands on that even more! Beautiful and inspiring!!

  • Frank

    Thank you for your insight. You have affirmed my belief there are many paths to the truth.

  • Gail Henderson

    Offensive article to those that converted

    • Kate

      I’m unsure as to how it is offensive, especially as the author of the article is, herself, a convert to the Church. Perhaps you could clarify? 🙂

    • Gale

      I want to thank everyone who has left a comment here. I can understand the offense felt by many Jews when people convert from the Jewish faith, especially with a history of forced conversion under horrifying circumstances, the continuing of Antisemitism through the ages and alive and well even now. My story is similar to many. I was born in Washington, D.C. surrounded by extended family. My family moved to L.A. when I was eight. Once there, my father was able to resort to his native atheism and my mother to her highest value = social standing. Science was our religion. I joined the Church at 16, but only upon making a trip “back east” at age 20 did I discover the richness of my 100% Jewish heritage. Although I would never give up my new-found faith, no one can accuse me of not devoting myself to Judaica. Eight years in Israel, learning Hebrew, writing and teaching so Mormons can understand their roots in Judaism, studying my own family heritage, have been my focus since that trip.

      • Ellie

        Nicely written.

  • Marcy

    I love this!

  • Bryce

    Great article. I love the imagry provided time and again. Lots to learn and even more to do. As I look at the current landscape of our incredible country, I feel a bit like Jacob in his description,,, yet as Nephi shares there is deliverance. This article helps us have hope.

  • Thank-you for sharing your thoughts. I had never heard of the Zohar before that is pretty cool. My husband knows Arabic and is constantly finding cool linguist things and cultural things to point out. I love hearing them! Thanks.

  • Dora

    Wow, Gail! I love it! I have a few family members who have confided their doubts about the BoM and Joseph so we will be having a family home evening based on your article! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Beth Anderson

    This is emense. Today in Sunday school, the lesson covered 2 Nephi 11-25 on Isaiah repeated there in. We high lighted on some of these exact things. Coming home, BYU aired Discussions on The Book of Mormon in 3 Nephi 16, 20-22 on the inclusion of the writings of Isaiah as well. Then to have read this very article on Facebook this evening brings home the greatness of the teachings of the Jews. Thank you so much.