Book of Mormon/Snow

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Snow in the Book of Mormon

Summary: In 1 Nephi 11:8, Nephi says Lehi describes the Tree of Life by saying "the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow." Since Nephi and Lehi were desert folk from Jerusalem, and then likely lived in tropical Central America, why would they have used "snow" as a description?

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Question: Why does Nephi mention "snow" in the Book of Mormon?

Contrary to popular belief, snow is not unheard of in Israel and Jerusalem

In 1 Nephi 11:8, Nephi says Lehi describes the Tree of Life by saying "the whiteness thereof did exceed the whiteness of the driven snow."

Since Nephi and Lehi were desert folk from Jerusalem, and then likely lived in tropical Central America, why would they have used "snow" as a description?

Contrary to popular belief, snow is not unheard of in Israel and Jerusalem.

Dome of the Rock with snowfall. off-site

Only Old World inhabitants (Lehi and Nephi) use "snow" as a description in the Book of Mormon

It is perhaps significant that only Old World inhabitants (Lehi and Nephi) use "snow" as a description in the Book of Mormon; perhaps other writers were not familiar enough with it for it to be an effective metaphor for them or their audiences.

It should be noted too that many Old Testament scriptures which pre-date the Lehi colony's departure also use the term "snow," (the Hebrew word sheleg appears 20 times in our Old Testament). This means it is not surprising that Lehi and Nephi (who knew Israelite scripture well) would use the term. (See: Exodus 4:6, Numbers 12:10, 2 Samuel 23:20, 2 Kings 5:27, 1 Chronicles 11:22, Job 6:16, Job 9:30, Job 24:19, Job 37;6, Job 38:22, Psalms 51:7, Psalms 68:14, Psalms 147:16, Psalms 148:8, Proverbs 25:13, Proverbs 26:1, Proverbs 31:21, Isaiah 1:18, Isaiah 55:10, Jeremiah 18:14. (Note: this should not be interpreted to mean that all of these scriptural texts were available in the brass plates, but they demonstrate that the use of 'snow' as a description of 'white' was not unknown in Israel.)

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Notes