© 6 Mar 2012 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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The most-repeated commandment.


Several years ago I decided to read the Book of Mormon in Spanish. I don’t speak any Spanish, but I can stumble through most romance languages in text based on shared roots, context, and so on. As I did I was struck by my inability to determine when it would use “‍por tanto‍” and when “‍por lo tanto.‍” When I next read in English, I found myself asking similar questions about English phrasing as well.

One of the more difficult and enlightening tasks I set myself was to study every use of the word “‍behold‍” in the Book of Mormon. It shows up a lot, often in places where it appears to have no semantic value as well as sometimes in places where “‍look‍” or “‍see‍” would work just as well. 1 Nephi 11 is one of the places where look, see, and behold all appear in the same context. Or so I thought at first.

As I continued to read, though, I found an interesting distinction. To behold is to envision and understand. “‍Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God‍”—Nephi saw a woman; he even beheld that she was a virgin, beautiful and fair. But he was being commanded to behold a deeper level, to understand her not just as a virgin but as the mother of the Christ.

The word “‍behold‍” is sprinkled through the scriptures (more occurrences than there are pages), most often in a command form addressed to us, the readers. From Ezekiel’s asking us to behold various aspects of the strange wheeled creatures in his vision to Christ asking us to behold that His kingdom is ours, we are being asked to envision and understand, to look beyond the words and see their meaning in our lives.

If I had to guess, I’d say the most oft-repeated commandment in all of holy text is to behold.

What beholdest thou?

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