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by Stephen Parker
The word Deseret is found in the most ancient book in the Book of Mormon, "And they did also carry with them Deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee" (Ether 2:3).
Because the Book of Mormon was written in "reformed Egyptian" (Mormon 9:32), Hugh Nibley has suggested that the etymology of the word Deseret is related to the ancient Egyptian word dsrt, read by Egyptologists as desheret. In Egyptian, dsrt means the red crown (of the king of Lower Egypt). The Egyptian word for bee is bt. In the discussion of the sign dsrt, Alan Gardiner, in Egyptian Grammar, states that was used to replacein two Egyptian titles wherewas used to mean the bty King of Lower Egypt. Thus, the title n-sw-bt was sometimes written as n-sw-bt, which literally means "He who belongs to the sedge plant (of Upper Egypt) and to the bee (of Lower Egypt)," normally translated "The King of Upper and Lower Egypt." This substitution of for has led Nibley to associate the Egyptian word dsrt and the Book of Mormon word Deseret.
The beehive and the word Deseret have been used variously throughout the History of the Church. The territory settled by the Mormon pioneers was called the State of Deseret. The emblem of the beehive is used in the seal of the State of Utah and is a common decoration in Utah architecture, symbolizing industriousness. Brigham Young's house in Salt Lake City is called the Beehive House. Early Sunday schools were part of the Deseret Sunday School Union. A vital part of the Church Welfare Program carries the name Deseret Industries.
(See Basic Beliefs home page; Scriptural Writings home page; The Book of Mormon home page)
Gardiner, Alan. Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed., pp. 73-74, and signs L2 and S3. Oxford, 1982.
Nibley, Hugh. Abraham in Egypt, pp. 225-45. Salt Lake City, 1981.
Nibley, Hugh. Lehi in the Desert and The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites. CWHN 5:189-94, 319-22.
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Deseret
Copyright © 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company
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