Insights: The Newsletter of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship


Book of Mormon, Sebus, language, consonants


When I first began studying Book of Mormon proper names more than 30 years ago, the name Sebus appeared to present a Gordian knot. Hebrew words, like other Semitic words in gen- eral, are most often built on a structure of three different consonants. This language feature emphasizes the consonants and their sequence and order. The problem with Sebus is that its first and third consonants, /s/ and /s/, are the same— something that is extremely rare in any Semitic language. That being the case, for a long time I shelved any attempt to etymologize Sebus.