Alma uses the verb "spring" in an interesting way in his sermon to the Zoramites in Alma 32 and 33:

But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. (Alma 32:41)

And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen.(Alma 33:23)

Others have noted the intriguing reference to tree of life symbolism here, drawing upon themes in the ancient Near East, not to mention related themes in Mesoamerica. But here I wish to consider the possibility of a potential word play or poetical device in the form of a Janus parallelism.

Janus parallelism refers to the two-headed Roman god, Janus, who could look forward as well as backward. In Janus parallelism, one word or phrase serves in two parallel structures by also looking both forward and backward, relying on a double meaning to connect in both directions to nearby words or phrases. Over at Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship, I once reviewed Scott Noegel's excellent book on the abundant use of Janus parallelism in Job and also tentatively proposed several possible examples of Janus parallelism in the Book of Mormon based on the presumed Hebrew words behind the English translation. More recently Paul Hoskisson has proposed a possible example of Janus parallelism in 1 Nephi 18:16. By the way, I find it interesting that most of the examples with potential Janus parallelism come from Nephi, the man closest to the deep details of Hebrew poetry. In fact, chiasmic structures and parallelism in general is not distributed uniformly or randomly in the Book of Mormon, but has a distribution that is consistent with the details of the book's claimed ancient origins as opposed to being the fruit of Joseph Smith's mind. On the fascinating distribution of parallelism among Book of Mormon texts, see Carl J. Cranney's analysis in "The Deliberate Use of Hebrew Parallelisms in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 23 (2014):140–65.

Getting back to the verses from Alma, in English, readers may note that "spring up" naturally relates to the sprouting, growth, and flourishing of the tree that is nourished in the first portion of both verses. But "springing" and "everlasting life" seem less related. I have previously felt it was a somewhat odd word choice for discussing entry into eternal life, though it does convey a dynamic, vibrant sense that relates well to the tree. Recently I wondered if considering possible Hebrew roots behind this word might be useful.

The Hebrew word for "spring" can be Strong's H6779, tsamach, to sprout or spring up. This can refer to plants, hair, and figuratively to speech, and can also mean to grow abundantly or thickly, or to cause to grow.  This is translated 13 times as "grow" in the Old Testament, "spring forth" six times, "spring up" four times, and twice each for "grow up," "bring forth," "bud," and "spring out."

Strong's H6523, parach, can mean to bud, to sprout, to bloom, to blossom or send out shoots, as well as to break out (for leprosy) and to fly. It is most commonly translated as "flourish" (10 times), followed by "bud" (5 times), "blossom" (4 times), etc., with "spring" occurring twice and "spring up" occurring just once.

More interesting might be Strong's H5927, 'alah, which can mean to ascend or climb, as in to spring up or grow for vegetation, or to come up (before God), to go up, to excel, to be superior, and even to be exalted. This combination of meanings, the vegetative springing up of a plant but also the rising up to exaltation or coming up before God could make this an ideal word to use in Alma 32.  

By using 'alah or a related word that can both reflect the climbing or growing of a tree as well as being exalted or coming up into the presence of God, then both Alma 32:41 and Alma 33:23 could function as a Janus parallelism in which that word does double duty, creating a parallel with the preceding portion of the verse related to the growth of a tree  while also creating a parallel related to entering into eternal life in the final portion of the verse based on an additional meaning related to exaltation or coming up before God.

This is a tentative proposal that has not been subject to peer review. As always, I may be completely wrong and, as always, I welcome your relatively civil feedback on this topic.

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