I was a newly minted missionary in the MTC the first time someone raised the question of Jacob’s valedictory statement in Jacob 7:27, “Brethren, adieu.” What was a French word doing in the Book of Mormon, one of my fellow missionaries asked. It was a good question. What was it doing there? None of our teachers knew the answer. (This was, mind you, 1993, before the internet existed as we know it today.) I shrugged my shoulders, shelved the question and more or less forgot about it for 20 years.
One entry that caught my eye was an 1833 publication titled, “THE ADIEU! A FAREWELL TOKEN OF CHRISTIAN FELLOWSHIP,” which included entries titled “Moses’ Adieu to Canaan” and “The Christian’s Last Adieu.” That was a good start. It was easy to get a sense how “adieu” was used among Christians in Joseph Smith’s day: one’s final farewell preceding death:
A friend of mine noted that there is no equivalent English word to “adieu” that conveys Jacob’s intent. Those reading the Book of Mormon in the 1830’s would have perfectly understood it’s meaning.