Caractors Document – And it Came to Pass


This document is not intended to provide proof that the Caractors document represents snippets of scripture found in the Book of Mormon.  It is intended to bring out supporting documentation which supports this hypothesis.

The Caractors Document contains the words used to translate “it came to pass” on four occasions.  Each version of “it came to pass” is written slightly differently.  Each version incorporates the Demotic Egyptian letter N. Each version uses a demotic style of the S.  One version of the phrase is written as NS alone.  Two versions of the phrase use NST(i).  One version of the phrase uses NS3.  A modern demotic dictionary translates NS to mean for, concerning, pertaining to, after and perhaps afterwards which is compatible with “it came to pass.” The author’s theory is that N is used as a past tense indicator.  S is the pronoun for “it”. When NST(i) is used, T(i) is written hieratically as an upside down V.  T(i) can translate to “place” or even “take place”.  NST(i) thus translates literally to “(past tense) it (took) place”.   In the case of NS3, it is written demotically and 3 looks like an English handwritten uppercase Q. 3 can translate to “happen”.  NS3 thus translates literally to “(past tense) it happened”.


The Caractors Document is now generally believed to be written by John Whitmer.  John Whitmer performed duties as a scribe for Joseph Smith when translating the Small Plates of Nephi.  Handwriting analysis of the original printer’s manuscript of the Book of Mormon points out that John Whitmer was involved in writing the translation of 1 Nephi 2. He apparently was sitting in for Oliver Cowdery for periods of time.  This was demonstrated to me visually by David Hocking.  I don’t have a written reference for this.

The author of this document, Brian Nettles, made a concerted effort to translate the document using the Chicago Demotic Dictionary.  I acknowledge that it was my best effort without becoming intimately familiar with Demotic Egyptian.  Since that time, I have learned much and still believe that many of my findings are valid.  All of my later learnings of Demotic Egyptian have corrected errors and have only served to strengthen the validity of the original hypothesis.

In this document, I intend to only cover the term “it came to pass”.  When I first presented on the Caractors document in October 2021, I did not understand why the markings constructed this term.  Today, it is clear and I intend to lay out the rationale behind it.  There are obscurities. Nevertheless, I stand as a linguistic witness that the Caractors document represents specific verses of the Book of Mormon and that it is a copy of Nephi’s writing from his plates which were known as the Small Plates of Nephi.

In this document, I sometimes reference Middle Kingdom Egyptian and sometimes mention hieratic.  From a practical simplistic standpoint, hieratic is handwriting for Middle Kingdom Egyptian.  My selection of which term to use is based on my own knowledge.  If I can reference it in a book on Middle Kingdom Egyptian, I will reference Middle Kingdom Egyptian. If I can reference it from a book on hieratic, I will reference it as such. 

Line 1 – Behold, It Came to Pass

In line 1, I desire to demonstrate the transition to the phrase circled as number 5 which is “it came to pass.”  My initial conclusion of number 5 meaning “It came to pass” was based on the context of other words near it.  For example, the cross in Middle Kingdom Egyptian means to “save” or “protect”.[1, page 85]  The three final words of 1 Nephi 1 is “power of deliverance.”  The meaning of to save or protect is similar to deliver.  Therefore, I went with the hypothesis that number 5 represents the phrase, “It came to pass”.  I will now go over the rationale of image numbers 1, 2 and 3 representing “power of deliverance” or the last three words of 1 Nephi 1:20.

Circle 1. sḥn means power as defined in the Chicago Demotic Dictionary. On the image below, it contains these three letters written in an order that is consistent with early demotic writings.  The second image below is a screenshot from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary giving examples of how the term is used. I would like to note that while the ligature written out on the characters document does not look like the samples from the Chicago Demotic Dictionary, keep in mind that Nephi was using a very early demotic script intermixed with hieratic.  The Chicago Demotic Dictionary was built reflecting a few hundred years after Nephi created his record.  Therefore, ligatures may not look the same at all.

Chicago Demotic Dictionary

Circle 2.  The image circled with the number 2 is simply the letter N.  N has many usages in the Egyptian language.  One usage is to portray the word “Of”. This usage existed during the Middle Kingdom and existed into the days of Coptic. In the Middle Kingdom days, the N was a water symbol. 

[1] How to Read Hieroglyphs, Collier and Manley, page 29

Circle 3.  The upside down cross is the letter I.  To the left of the I is a cross.  In Middle Kingdom Egyptian, the cross referred to the words Protect or Save. It appears that Nephi was combining Demotic with Middle Kingdom Egyptian, I shall make an inference that the I refers to being imperative and the cross refers to salvation or deliverance.  This gives us the last word of 1 Nephi 1:20 – deliverance.

Chicago Demotic Dictionary
[1] How to Read Hieroglyphs, Collier and Manley, page 85.

Circle 4.  The word behold is the first word of 1 Nephi 2.  For behold, it came to pass…  In the Egyptian Demotic Guide written by Leonardo Caldas Vieira, the word Behold is well understood to be the letters hy.  Keeping in the traditions of the Egyptians, words are often abbreviated.  Line four is likely an h which Joseph Smith translated to “For Behold”.

[3]  Leonardo Caldas Vieira, Egyptian Demotic Guide, page 23.

I will also point out that the h symbol on the Caractors document is very much like the T(i) symbol which I will describe later.  Context tells me to look at it as an h as opposed to T(i).

Circle 5.  This brings us to the first “It Came to Pass” written into the Caractors document.  It is a ligature with two letters written into it – NS.  It is found in the Chicago Demotic Dictionary written nearly identically to the Caractors document.  It is believed to mean words such as in, for, concerning, pertaining to, after, or even perhaps afterwards.  See below.  I shall effectively end my discussion for the term used in line 1 here.  However, the letter combination of NS will be expounded on further in the next section.

Chicago Demotic Dictionary

Line 2 and Line 5a – And It Came to Pass

From Line 2

Line 2.  If there is an error, it would be the example on Line 2 as the S should extend a little more to the left so as to make a tick in the center, or it is simply missing the tick as John Whitmer did not notice it.  If correct, it corresponds with 1 Nephi 2:2 which states as follows:  And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.

From Line 5

Line 5a.  This version corresponds with 1 Nephi 3:1 which states as follows:  And it came to pass that I, Nephi, returned from speaking with the Lord, to the tent of my father.

The Letter N.

The N in line 2 and in line 5a are both legitimate ways to write an N in Demotic Egyptian.  In demotic N is usually either a straight horizontal line, or written as a roundish hook.  There are other variations, but for our studies here, this will suffice.

During the days of Middle Kingdom Egyptian, the N was used as an indicator for past tense.  It was often placed after the verb before the subject.  This usage did not last into demotic nor coptic.   

[1] How to Read Hieroglyphs, Coller and Manley, page 66

In fact, what appears to be happening in the Caractors document is that the past tense indicator is placed before the action clause as it is used in Hebrew.  In Hebrew, to indicate past tense, you place an adjective like “Yesterday” or some other indicator of time before the clause to be modified.  If I am correct about the N being used to indicate past tense, then it is being used completely consistent with Hebrew sentence structure, not Egyptian.

As our sample size of text is small, it is not possible to prove that I am correct.

The Letter S

The S is a horizontal line with a splotch in the middle of the line.  This version of the S was used during both Middle Kingdom Egyptian times and in demotic writings.  

[5] Janet Johnson, Thus wrote Onchsheshonqy, page 4.

This particular style of S is used in early demotic texts. 

[4] Eugene Cruz-Uribe and Steven Vinson, Two Early Demotic Ostraca from the Valley of the Kings.

The letter S was consistently used as a pronoun in both Middle Kingdom and Demotic Egyptian.  It satisfies the word “It”.

[3] Leonardo Caldes Vieires, Page 46.
[1] How to Read Hieroglyphs, Collier and Manley, page 82

My claim is that the letter S in this case is plain and simply the word “It”.

The Letter T or Ti

T is also a symbol carried over from the Middle Kingdom period.  It typically refers to Give or Place.

[1] How to Read Hieroglyphs, Collier and Manley.
[1] How to Read Hieroglyphs, Collier and Manley, page 21

It is important to note that the Di symbol was converted to a t or even perhaps ti in demotic. Ti was initially a different hieroglyphic symbol meaning “to take”.

Chicago Demotic Dictionary
Chicago Demotic Dictionary

My claim here is that Ti is used to represent the phrase (to take place).  

Putting it together.

N – Past Tense.

S – It

Ti – took place

Line 5b – And It Came to Pass

Line 5b.  This version corresponds to 1 Nephi 3:2 which states as follows:  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. 

Reading right to left, we once again have the letters NS.  The only question is the meaning of the 3 symbol.  Here is what the Chicago Demotic Dictionary states:

Chicago Demotic Dictionary

The phrase “to take place” is one of The Chicago Demotic Dictionaries three proposed definitions for the 3 symbol.

N – past tense.

S – It

3 – to take place.

This is probably the most clear example of “And it came to pass”.


The reconstruction of ancient language is not a simple venture.  We are fortunate today to have the resources available which represent decades of work by Egyptologists.  My claim is that the phrase “And it came to pass” is in the document 4 times.  It is translatable and fits the context of the scriptures written in this John Whitmer Caractors document.


[1]  Mark Collier and Bill Manley, How to Read Hieroglyphs, University of California Press, 1998.

[2]  Bentley Layton,  Coptic in 20 Lessons, Peters Leuven-Paris, Dudley, 2007.

[3]  Leonardo Caldas Vieira, Egyptian Demotic Guide, Sao Paulo, 2008.

[4]  Eugene Cruz-Uribe and Steven Vinson, Two Early Demotic Ostraca from the Valley of the Kings, Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt, 2005 / 2006, v. 42 pp 113-117.

[5] Janet Johnson, Thus wrote Onchsheshonqy – Third Edition, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2000.