Posted by: isaiahsfan | March 24, 2007

I Have Dreamed a Dream

posted by Isaiahsfan

Lehi Jerusalem The Old Testament records that the Lord often chose to give revelation to the faithful through the medium of dreams.  We will speak of symbolic dreams soon, when we discuss Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life.  But some of the dreams which the scriptures describe give specific instructions to the chosen individual.  The accounts of these dreams are often accompanied by the words: “the Lord spake unto me,” or “the Lord commanded me.”  See for example, Abimelech’s dream, the dream of Laban the Syrian, Solomon’s dream and Joseph’s dreams.  These dreams seem not to have been in the form of symbols, which need to be interpreted, but rather accompanied by a spoken voice giving counsel and direction.  Such is the case with the directions given to Nephi in 1 Nephi 2:19-24 and those given to Lehi soon after in 1 Nephi 3.  In both cases, the recipient avows “the Lord spake unto me, saying…” followed by concise information or directives.  Lehi describes his dream to Nephi in this way:

And it came to pass that he spake unto me, saying: Behold I have dreamed a dream, in the which the Lord hath commanded me that thou and thy brethren shall return to Jerusalem.

Though I really wish to save our discussion of symbolic dreams for later, I wonder if any of you have had dreams where instructions were given by means of a voice rather than images. 

Now, before I leave this topic, I want to call your attention to the poetic nature of the phrase, “I have dreamed a dream.”  In Hebrew, the words are: “Halamti Halom.” John A. Tvedtnes has identified this as one of the Hebraisms that exist in the Book of Mormon:

There exists in the Semitic languages a construction called the “cognate accusative.” It consists of a verb immediately followed by a noun derived from the same root, and is often used for empahsis. The Book of Mormon has examples of this:

    “they are CURSED with a sore CURSING” Jacob 3:3
    “WORK all manner of fine WORK” Mosiah 11:10
    “and he did JUDGE righteous JUDGMENTS” Mosiah 29:43
    “Behold I have DREAMED a DREAM” 1 Nephi 3:2  

It seems that many artists have sensed the power of this little phrase, Hebraism or no. 



  1. Who is that singing? It is from Youtube, but I could not find it when searching for ‘I dreamed a dream’.

  2. Austin,
    It’s Hayley Westenra. Here’s the link:

  3. Just an interesting side note: the word in Arabic for “dream” is حلم, which is pronounced “halam.” I don’t know Arabic well enough to know any poetic forms, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they use the same poetry convention.

  4. Christian Aguilera has that mormon connection, perhaps that is where her particular title comes from?

  5. Could be, Doc, and that phrase is in the Bible, too. (Genesis 37:5, 9; 40:5, 8; 41:11, 15; Judges 7:13; Daniel 2:3) So it’s possible that it has found its way into literature in the Christian world through familiarity with scriptural idiom.

  6. For the record, dreams for me are basically non-sensical, uninspired nothingness (although I did have one that stuck with me with some underlying message in its nonsensicalness). I’ve always wondered what it would be like, though, to have a real, revelation-like dream.

  7. The Book of Mormon is the instrument
    Designed by God to sweep all of the earth.
    With a flood to gather out His elect
    This sacred volume moves His gospel work

    We need to daily read from these scriptures
    It should be central in all that we preach
    And not just when it rotates every four years
    To learn of Jesus of whom it does teach

    This Book will help man get nearer to God
    If we’d learn and abide by its precepts
    We testify as we hold to the rod
    Never doubting a far reaching effect

    The Book of Mormon is the mind of God
    Here He voices to all men of His will
    We must arouse men’s interest and awe
    It answers questions with a voice that’s still

    May we display it at home and at work
    And display its quotes and scenes on our walls
    As we hold to the rod, let no man shirk
    To witness, every member has been called

    I have a vision of homes alerted
    Of classes alive and pulpits aflame
    As the characters are richly painted
    So too artists will depict the themes named

    I have a vision of missionaries
    Who take many passages they’ve memorized
    Into a world that desperately needs it
    As God lifts what condemnation’s denied

    -Ezra Taft Benson

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