BYU

BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY

Topic(s): History of the Church: Early Utah Era, 1847–77
What does the word "deseret" mean, and where does it come from?
The word deseret is found 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. 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. Also, a vital part of the Church Welfare Program carries the name Deseret Industries.
Written By:
Stephen Parker -
Stephen Parker has been a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago.
References
  • "Deseret," in Encyclopedia of Mormonism, ed. Daniel H. Ludlow, 4 vols. (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 1:370–71.