"Stretch Forth Thy Hand and Prophesy" : Hand Gestures in the Book of Mormon
Journal of the Book of Mormon and Other Restoration Scripture
Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship
Often overlooked in scriptural text, hand and arm gestures are often used to convey meanings that complement the verbal lessons being taught. This article discusses the meaning and significance of four specific gestures referred to in the Book of Mormon: stretching forth one's hand hand(s), and stretching forth the hand to exert divine power, extending the arm(s) in mercy, and clapping the hands to express joys. Beyond the fascinating meanings of these gestures in the Book of Mormon are the correlations that can be seen in the biblical text and in other Near Eastern cultures. Also insightful, specifically in reference to Moses's hand movements at the Red Sea, is the way in which the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and other extracanonical writings build on each other to give a fuller interpretive picture.