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Source:Roper:Right on Target: Boomerang Hits and the Book of Mormon:FairMormon Conference 2001:Sheum
Roper: "This term, se um, (the s is pronounced sh in semitic languages) was a term by which these ancient Near Eastern peoples referred to barley"
Matthew Roper: 
According to Zeniff’s record in the Book of Mormon account, “And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum” (Mosiah 9:9). “Pray tell me what kinds of grain neas and sheum are? Joseph Smith’s translation needs another translation, to render it intelligible.”  “We must reluctantly pass on denying the existence of neas and sheum, and put them into the same category as the unidentifiable cureloms and cumoms.”  As it turns out sheum is a perfectly good Akkadian (ancient northern Mesopotamian) name for a grain dating to the third millennium B.C.  This term, se um, (the s is pronounced sh in semitic languages) was a term by which these ancient Near Eastern peoples referred to barley, although it could also be applied to other kinds of grains. Book of Mormon peoples seem to have applied this Old World name to some New World crop. Could Joseph Smith have derived this name from some nineteenth century book? Impossible. Akkadian could not be read until 1857, twenty-seven years after the Book of Mormon was published and thirteen years after the Prophet was dead. This raises an interesting question. If Joseph Smith was really the author of the Book of Mormon, how did he come up with the word sheum? How did he just happen to choose this particular name and just happen to use it in an agricultural context?
- Matt Roper, "Right on Target: Boomerang Hits and the Book of Mormon," FAIR Presentation, 2001.
- Origen Bacheler, Mormonism Exposed, 14.
- Latayne Colvett Scott, The Mormon Mirage: A former Mormon tells why she left the Church (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1979), 84.
- Hildegard Lewy, “On Some Old Assyrian Cereal Names,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 76/4 (October-December 1956): 201-204.