Saturday, August 3, 2013

Omer, King; Emer, Witness (The Book of Ether Testifies of Jesus Christ)

Chapters eight and nine of the Book of Ether yield, in a sweep of narrative and admonitory commentary, the "exceedingly many days" of Omer, the son of Shule, "which were full of sorrow." Here we see the dancing "daughter of Jared"; we see enamored Akish, who turned, with the turn of a foot, from close friendship for Omer, to found a secret association in "the house of Jared" in order to kill Omer and take away his kingdom.

Like Lehi, Omer dreamed a dream "that he should depart out of the land" and "traveled many days" with his family. "He pitched his tent" in "a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore." (And, perhaps, "by" New York City.) There he lived, in exile, until civil war engulfed the kingdom of Akish, "Wherefore, Omer was restored again." He lived long enough to beget an heir, Emer. After anointing Emer "to be king to reign in his stead," Omer "saw peace in the land for two years, and he died." Emer "did prosper exceedingly" and "saw peace"; "yea, and he even saw the Son of Righteousness, and did rejoice and glory in his day; and he died in peace."

What does Omer signify? According to a glossary of Semitic roots, prepared by John Huehnergard for the 5th edition of the American Heritage Dictionary, the Central Semitic verbal root 'mr [ayin-mem-resh] signifies "to live, dwell, build." As a noun, *'umr is Life. Professor Huehnergard goes on to say that Israelite King Omri (my life) bears a shortened form of the name Omriyah (Jehovah [is] my life = Hebrew *'omer ~ *'umr, life). Here we recall the Arab caliph, Omar. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th ed., "Semitic Roots": "Proto-Semitic Language and Culture; Semitic Roots.")

Life begets Life, and that new Life lives to see The Light and the Life of the world.

That Omer and Emer bear ancient Semitic names, which trace back to early Proto-Semitic rootage, attests to the truth of the Book of Mormon. But the Book of Mormon, through its many testimonies, all the more importantly attests to the reality of the Son of Righteousness, even Jesus Christ! It is that second attestation--the manner in which the Book connects the reader to Christ--that brings testimony not only unto, but into the heart.

Emer, who shall live ("he shall live" - with "e" as third person verbal prefix), both lives and prospers as he builds upon his father's heritage. And, unique among kings and captains of the earth, he lives to see the Son of God. Emer thus becomes a witness of Him who shall live "in his day," and who shall live forevermore.

The root that underlies Emer, ayin-mem-resh, also invokes--at least to the modern reader--aleph-mem-resh ("to see, know, make known, say"). The anointed King who "shall live," shall also see, know, and make known. Perhaps Emer signifies sight, after all. Huehnergard also gives the Proto-Semitic verb for anoint, that is, the same ancient root known to Ether. M-sh-h likewise names Christ, the Messiah.

Ether, after bearing testimony of the glory and rejoicing--and the longed-for peace--quietly moves on. Yet even in the quick passing of a single, light-bearing verse, with Abraham as co-witness, who also, in his day, saw His day, we receive in the Holy Ghost Another Testament of Jesus Christ.

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