Baurak Ale was a name Joseph Smith used for himself in the D&C. Explanation below
Guy Briggs [a Mormon apologist] wrote:
Nibley tells the story of a visit from Matthew Black to BYU in 1977.
Black was the one who did the English translation of the Enoch text
found in Cave 4 at Qumran (after Father Milik sat on it for 27 years).
Anyway, just before he came to BYU, he wrote Nibley and asked if there
was anything Nibley wanted him to discuss. "Yes," says Nibley, "the
story of Mahujah and Mahijah." Also, in D&C 103:22, one of the code
names for Smith is "Baurak Ale". 4QEnoch says that the father of Enoch
was none other than Baraq'el.
>"As I said, Matthew Black was coming. He had just got
this work out. I said, 'How about this? Joseph Smith
has this story, and nobody else has it. Where did he
get it from?' He wouldn't talk about it (absolutely
nothing). When he came from the airport, he had it in
his pocket. He said, 'Here's your letter here.'
> "I said, 'All right, how about Mahijah and Mahujah?'
Nothing. I had one four-hour conversation with him,
and he never let out a peep about it. That's when we
went to a concert together. But he did let this out.
Walking along, he said, 'Well, someday we will find
out the source that Joseph Smith used. Someday we'll
find it; we'll find it, don't worry.'
>"Well, just what are the chances of Joseph Smith
(living in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1830) getting hold of
any of these sources or anything else? Of course,
none of this was there. But when you get things like
this, they are awfully hard to explain. It is really
-- Nibley, _Ancient Documents and
the PofGP_, p.13
Randy [exmormon] replied:
Guy, there were several existant, available sources from which Joseph Smith
could have obtained the name "Baurak Ale" (by whichever spelling it occurs).
To begin with, the name under discussion is found in the Old Testament at Job
32:2, although spelled "Barachel." Seeing as how Smith dictated his
"revelations" to scribes, Smith could have easily stated the name from the
Bible to a scribe, who wrote it down as it sounded to him when Smith voiced
Secondly, as previously cited, the name appeared in Francis Barrett's 1801
book "The Magus." In his "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View, " Michael
Quinn provides extensive documentation which shows that Joseph Smith designed his
"Jupiter talisman" based on those illustrated in Barrett's book, which makes
it certain that Smith had access to that book. In light of Lucy Mack Smith's
offhand comment in her autobiography about the Smith family "drawing magic
circles" and "engaging in the faculty of Abrac" during the 1820's, and the
fact that that occultic material was in Barrett's book, it's probable that the
Smiths owned a copy in Palmyra.
Thirdly, the 1830 date which Nibley claims (I'm assuming you quoted Nibley
accurately, rather than making up the date) for Smith's first usage of the
name "Baurak Ale" is false. Smith's first "revelation" the name appears in is
dated February 24, 1834 (currently LDS D&C 103:21.) As you know, the D&C was first
published in 1835, the year after this 1834 "revelation"; however, the name
"Baurak Ale", and other such "code names" do not appear in the original 1835
edition, and niether does this particular "revelation." Its FIRST usage was
in the D&C 1844 edition.
Michael Quinn explained:
"Sometime between 1841 and 1844 Smith directed that code names should
disguise the identities of some LDS leaders being prepared for publication. For a
revelation of February 1834, the published text gave Smith a code name that
sounded exactly like the name of the archangel ruling over the month of
February, over the sign of Pisces (when the revelation occurred), and over
Smith's governing planet of Jupiter." ("Early Mormonism and the Magic World
View," p. 224.)
Quinn further cites a 1974 BYU PhD dissertation by one Robert Woodford titled
"Historical Development of the Doctrine and Covenants," whose research from
the original manuscript reveals "Baurak Ale penciled in later." (Cited in Quinn,
This was verified in an August 16, 1873 sermon by Orson Pratt:
"The law of Enoch is so named in the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, but in
other words, it is the law given by Joseph Smith, Jr. The word Enoch did not exist
in the original copy; neither did some other names. The names that were
incorporated when it was printed, did not exist there when the manuscript
revelations were given, for I saw them myself. Some of them I copied. And
when the Lord was about to have the Book of Covenants given to the world it was
thought wisdom, in consequence of the persecutions of our enemies in Kirtland
and some of the regions around, that some of the names should be changed, and
Joseph was called Baurak Ale, which was a Hebrew word; meaning God bless you.
He was also called Gazelum, being a person to whom the Lord had given the
Urim and Thummim. He was also called Enoch. Sidney Rigdon was called Baneemy."
Quinn further states:
"Prior to Joseph Smith's use of 'Baurak Ale,' [Richard] Laurence's 'Book of
Enoch' was apparently the only English-language book which transliterated the
Hebrew into that phonetic sound, rather than the more common 'Barchiel' or
'Barkayal.' As previously noted, [Thomas H.] Horne's summary of Laurence's
book was on sale in Palmyra from 1825 onward, but direct reading of Laurence
would be necessary to see his transliteration 'Barakel.' In addition,
Apostle Parley P. Pratt owned a copy of Laurence's translation by July 1840 and
returned to LDS headquarters [from his mission in England] in February 1843.
Thus, Joseph Smith obviously had close access to this pseudepigraphic work
before he announced Laurence's pronounciation for the unique code name Smith
used and his scribes wrote as Baurak Ale." (Quinn, p. 224.)
Richard Laurence's 1821 "Book of Enoch" is on the web at
The word is spelled "Barkayal" there, but as noted above, Smith likely voiced
the name to whatever scribe penciled it into his 1844 "revelation," and the
finished spelling came out "Baurak Ale."
Furthermore, we know that Joseph Smith employed the Hebrew teacher Joshua
Seixas in 1835 to teach the Hebrew language in his "School of the Prophets."
So Seixas could have very well owned a copy of Laurence's 1821 translation
which he shared with Smith. Also, Alexander Neibaur, an English Jew and
Kabbalist who converted to Mormonism in 1837 and emigrated to Nauvoo in 1841,
could very well have owned Laurence's translation too. (Incidentally,
Neibaur was Hugh Nibley's great-grandfather.)
So, we have at least five available sources from which Joseph Smith could
have obtained the name "Baurak Ale" by the time of his first usage of it in 1844:
1. The Book of Job in the Bible
2. Francis Barrett's 1801 book "The Magus"
3. Joshua Seixas in 1835 (via Laurence's book)
4. Alexander Neibaur in 1841 (dittos)
5. Parley P. Pratt in 1843 (dittos).
The most likely source would be Pratt, as he was in Smith's inner circle in
1843-44, when Smith first used the term.
As for the names Smith used in his "Book of Moses" such as "Mahijah" and
"Mahujah," Hebrew scholar Louis Zucker offered:
Dialogue, Vol.3, No.2, p.48
"We come now to our main subject: the use made of Hebrew-- Hebrew from the
Bible, of course--within the Mormon Scriptures and in authoritative
statements by Joseph Smith and Orson Pratt. I say "Hebrew of the Bible";
Joseph had no idea of post-biblical Hebrew literature: so far as he was
aware, the Hebrew of the Jewish Scriptures was all the Hebrew there was.
The Book of Moses, in existence five years before the Elders turned to
Hebrew, does not show any knowledge of the sacred tongue. The true biblical
names it employs, and the off-biblical names like Mahujah and Mahijah
(which resemble "Mehujael" in Genesis 4:18), were available to Joseph in
his English Bible. The personal names Kainan (from Cainan), Hananiah, and
Shem become the names of lands, as, in the Book of Mormon, the place name
Lehi (Le-khee) was made a personal name."
Several studies have shown how many names in the "Book of Mormon" could have
been derived by slightly altering known names or combining names together,
such as "Moses" + "Josiah" = "Mosiah." Zucker shows how Smith could have easily
derived other names from other existant material which was available to him,
including the Bible.
Guy, you have quoted Nibley to attempt to show that Smith could not possibly
have known those names or terms from existing published sources when he used
them. Your purpose in doing so was to support your belief in Smith's claim
of being an "inspired prophet." The documentation I have provided utterly
refutes your contentions (via Nibley). It also shows us how Mormons like you blindly
trust in the outdated, discredited assertions of apologists like Nibley, when
if you bothered to research the issues for yourself instead of blindly
trusting in Nibley, you'd see that his assertions fail in the face of more serious,
As I've stated many times, Joseph Smith was first and foremost a magician.
He deftly used mystical terms, magical arts and objects, and the magician's
skills of illusion and deception to further his ends. The use of such terms as
"Baurak Ale" served to add to his mystique, just as a modern magician uses
"Abracadabra." The funny thing is that Hugh Nibley fell for Smith's magic,
and you have been victimized by it vicariously through Nibley.
I've likened Joseph Smith's career to the Wizard of Oz. The Wiz had the
people fooled into believing that he was a godlike, all-powerful being---but when
Toto pulled back that curtain, they found out that he was just a little old
ordinary man, manipulating things in order to fool and thus control his audience.
Just like the Wizard of Oz, the curtain has been pulled off of Joseph Smith's
mystique, Guy, and we who are doing the pulling 'pay no attention to the man
behind the curtain.'