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PUNS, PARONOMASIA, AND WORD-PLAY IN THE BOOK OF MORMON

by
Robert F. Smith
Oct 3, 2017

Paronomasia is quite common biblically. Note, for example, the play on words of KJV (and Book
of Mormon) Seth = Hebrew t Seth; Appointed1 (Genesis 4:25 for he has provided [t]
another seed for me), third son of Adam.2 They can be dysphemisms, as for Mephibosheth
Out of the mouth of shame (for Mippi-Baal Out of the mouth of Baal), 2 Samuel 4:4, 21:7-
9; and Ishbosheth Man of shame (for Eshbaal gift of Baal), 2 Samuel 3:14-15, 1 Chronicles
8:33, 9:39. Punning with such names can also occur in New Testament Greek, e.g., Onesimus
Useful, Beneficial, as in Philemon 10-11,20.

Jacob=s Blessing in Genesis 49 includes alliterative punning at verse 19, which is reminscent of
the best etymology for Book of Mormon Gaddianton-robbers3:

49:19 Gad will be raided by raiders, Gd gdd ygdenn


And he will raid at (their) heel(s). wh ygd qb(m)

Word-play (paronomasia), which takes various forms in the biblical tradition,4 is difficult to
establish in a translated text for which the original is inaccessible, but it is clear that punning
(which was exceedingly popular in ancient Egypt as well) does take place in the Book of
Mormon. Pedro Olavarria and David Bokovoy have noted, for example, the puns on the name
Zarahemla ASeed of compassion@ at Mosiah 9:2 and 3 Nephi 3:24, based on KJV use of the
Hebrew word Aspared; compassion@ (ml) there and at 1 Samuel 15:9. We also have instances
of metonymic naming, such as that of Zeezrum (hypothetical Hebrew *Ze-ezrum, AThat-Ezrum-
Guy; Silverman,@ following a suggestion of Ben Urrutia), the AMoney-man,@ or AMister-Silver,@

1
LDS Holy Bible (1979), 7 n.
2
John A. Wilson found Sheth in Numbers 24:17 comparable to 12 Dynasty Execration Text wtw Moab
(ANET 329; COS I:51 n. 8).
3
Spelled with the double-d in the Original Book of Mormon Manuscript. As pointed out by J. Welch in
1985 (Welch AThieves and Robbers,@ July 1985 FARMS Update, reprinted in J. W. Welch, ed., Reexploring
the Book of Mormon, 248-249), the Hebrew word for Aband; bandits,@ is spelled with the double-d,
gdd. In fact, the Hebrew phrase gddm Aband of robbers@ is even used in Hosea 6:9. Thus,
perhaps the name is metonymic or a symbolic epithet. This might also apply to later Giddianhi (note the
double-d), who was also chief of this powerful criminal conspiracy (3 Nephi 3).
4
Scott R. Noegel, ed., Puns and Pundits: Word Play in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern
Literature (Bethesda: CDL, 2000); J. Gluck, AParonomasia in Biblical Literature,@ Semitics, 1 (1970):50-78;
W. L. Holladay, AForm and Word-Play in David=s Lament over Saul and Jonathan,@ Vetus Testamentum,
20 (1970):153-189; Raymond Van Leuwen, AWhat Comes out of God=s Mouth: Theological Wordplay in
Deuteronomy 8,@ CBQ, 47 (1985):55-57; New Oxford Annotated Bible, 398-399 NT; cf. Philippians 4:3,
Colossians 10.
2

bearing as he does the name of a type of Nephite silver-measure, the ezrum B for which the
otherwise inexplicable digression on weights & measures in Alma 11 makes sense B as well as
Antionah (a chief ruler in Alma 12:20), possibly meaning AThat-Gold-Guy; Goldman; Money-
man,@ similarly based on the Nephite gold-measure, the antion (Alma 11:19).5 The two puns
thus apparently frame the explanatory digression into Nephite weights & measures as part of
an ABA triptych.

Other examples of word-play in the Book of Mormon include:

Some word-play is not onomastic at all, as with the following examples:

1 Nephi 3:2 8:2 Genesis 37:9, Judges 7:13 hinnh lamt lm / hinnh lm lamt
Behold, I have dreamed a dream /Behold, a dream I have dreamed -- following Seidels Law
on reversal of quotation.

2 Nephi 20:29 Isaiah 10:29 br6 mabr They are gone over the passage, literally they
passed over the passage, which may alse be seen as a cognate accusative construction typical
of Hebrew and Egyptian.7

----------------------------

Hirsch Miller (1922):

Alma 31:13 bny hy bm mqm gbah mqmat lamd they had a place built up
. . , a place for standing, which was high above the head

31:14 mad al gapy habbm stand upon the top thereof

31:21 wet mqm ze qr bm remmpm wtargm md qde Now the


place was called by them Rameumptom, which being interpreted, is the holy stand.

Miller missed the obvious wordplay in the name Rameumptom, which should be rendered in
Hebrew as *rm-omedm Their-high-standing-places.

---------------

5
Both these examples fully explained by Gordon C. Thomasson, AMetonymy in the Book of Mormon,@
FARMS Seminar discussion, May 3, 1984; Thomasson, AWhat=s in a Name? Book of Mormon Language,
Names, and [Metonymic] Naming,@ Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 3/1 (Spring 1994):15-16; cf.
James Barr, ASymbolism of Names in the Old Testament,@ Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 52 (1969-
1970):11-29; Barr, The Scope and Authority of the Bible (SCM/Westminster, 1980), 141 n. 6.
6
bar in Qumran Isaa, LXX, and Syriac.
7
D. Parry in Largey, ed., Book of Mormon Reference Companion, 322-323; J. Gee in FARMS Review of
Books, 5/1:179 n. 7, citing R. Faulkner, Papyrus Bremner-Rhind, in Bibliotheca Aegyptiaca, III (Brussels,
1933):70; A. Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian, 89, citing Coffin Text I 345c.
3

Ether 14:28 wtq ohlyhem . . . , wqorantmr tqa hlw . . . , wtqa bapr . . .


And they pitched their tents . . . , and Coriantumr pitched his tents . . . , and did sound a
trumpet . . . .

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Possible puns can be discerned on the following Book of Mormon words or names of foreign
origin:

ALMA (Matt Bowen)


ALPHA & OMEGA (RFS)
AMMORON / AMMARON / AMARON (RFS)
ANTION, ANTIONAH, ANTIONUM / ANTIONAM (Thomasson)
BENJAMIN (Mosiah 5:9-10)
BOAZ / BEAZ (Hirsch Miller)
CORIANTUMR (Ether 12:1)
CORIHOR (RFS)
CUMORAH / CAMORAH/ COMORAH (RFS)
ENOS (Bowen)
EZRUM , ZEEZRUM (Thomasson)
GADIANTON / GADDIANTON / GIDDIANHI
GAZELEM (Reynolds & Sjodahl, and Ostler)
HAGOTH (RFS)
HESHLON (Olivarria & Bokovoy)
JACOB
JARED (Reynolds & Sjodahl)
JERSHON (Hirsch Miller and JAT)
JESUS (2 Nephi 33:6)
JOSEPH
KORIHOR (RFS)
LEHONTI / LAHONTI (Olavarria)
MAHER-SHALAL-HASH-BAZ
MARY (Bowen)
MORMON (Bowen)
NAHOM (Nibley)
NEPHI (RFS and Gee)
NOAH
RAMEUMPTOM (RFS)
SHEAR-JASHUB
SHELEM (RFS)
SHEMLON
SHEREM (Thomasson)
ZARAHEMLA (Oavarria & Bokovoy)
ZEBULUN / ZEBULON
4

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ALMA

Alma is a likely hypocoristic form of Alma El "Lad of El," the Ugaritic epithet of King Kirta, lm
Il "Lad of El," taking a hint from Mosiah 17:2 "and he was a young man" (as well as Alma 2:30
"being a man of God"); cf. Hebrew & Aramaic elem, alam, Arabic ulam "youth, lad"); and
Aramaic alam, alma , alema "world, universe; age, eternity," as used, for example, for the
3rd century A.D. synagogue at Kfar Alma near Safed, Israel,8 and in Mandean Alma Age,
Eternity, World.9 See TB Yebamot 76b (1 Samuel 17:55), Sanhedrin 95a elem; Midrash Exodus
Rabba 1, Song of Songs Rabba I:3, Ecclesiastes Rabba I:11 almah, almot "maiden(s), young
girl(s)" (cf. TJ Megilla II, 73b); Aramaic PN alema (1 Maccabees 5:26), Eternal, which is
possibly the intended vocalization and meaning in the proper name Yehuda ben alema in
Nahal Hever Letter 44, although Yadins colleagues later jettisoned his vocalization (Alma) in
favor of Aramaic allima strong, powerful.10

Naturally, whatever significance the epithet had in the Ugaritic epic of Kirta may have been
demythologized in the much later Classical Hebrew usage,11 as here.

Matt Bowen likewise finds wordplay here.12

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ALPHA & OMEGA

This is part of the biblical (and Nephite) title of Jesus Christ as Alpha and Omega [ - ], the
beginning and the end (3 Nephi 9:18 Revelation 1:8, 21:6, 22:13); cf. KJV proper name
Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3, Acts 1:13).

8
John Tvedtnes covers both the Ugaritic as well as the late rabbinic place-name in his Hebrew Names in
the Book of Mormon, in G. Khan, et al., eds., Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, 4 vols.
(Leiden: Brill, 2013), II:787-788, online at http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/encyclopedia-
of-hebrew-language-and-linguistics .
9
Abba Yesai Nasrai, Aramaic Glossary of Mandaic-Aramaic Terms used by the Order of Nazorean
Essenes, online at http://www.volker-doormann.org/aramaic.htm .
10
The Documents from the Bar-Kokhba Period in the Cave of Letters. Hebrew, Aramaic and
Nabatean-Aramaic Papyri, eds., Yigael Yadin, Jonas C. Greenfield, Ada Yardeni, and Baruch Levine
(Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society/ Hebrew Univ. Institute of Archaeology/Shrine of the Book/Israel
Museum, 2002), 47 = Dead Sea Discoveries, 10/2 (Brill, 2003).
11
Cf. W. F. Albright, , Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths
(NY: Doubleday, 1968); Frank M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the History of the
Religion of Israel (Harvard, 1997).
12
Bowen, And He Was a Young Man: The Literary Preservation of Alma's Autobiographical Wordplay,
FARMS Insights, 30/4 (2010), online at
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/insights/?vol=30&num=4&id=913 .
5

ALPHA is the first letter of the Greek alphabet,13 which is derived from Hebrew , the alif of the
Hebrew-Phoenician alphabet. OMEGA is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, which is
equivalent to Hebrew , taw, the last letter of the Hebrew-Phoenician alphabet (Josephus and
the rabbis used alif to taw meristically to mean all-encompassing, a notion already
apparent in Isaiah 41:4, 44:6, and 48:12).14 Greek alpha = Greek n beginning (Revelation 1:8
Isaiah 41:4 rin; cf. Exodus 3:14 LXX Greek n), or = Greek prtos beginning, or arch first
(Revelation 1:11, 21:6, 22:13 Isaiah 44:6, 48:12 rin).15 Hirsch Millers 1922 Hebrew
translation of the Book of Mormon cleverly renders it here as rt waart. Greek mega =
Greek n end (Revelation 1:8), or = Greek eschatos end, or telos last (Revelation 1:11,
21:6, 22:13 Isaiah 41:4 arnm; Isaiah 44:6, 48:12 arn). Same as the Greek New
Testament proper name Alphaeus (Matthew 10:3, Mark 2:14, Acts 1:13).

Tawil advises us to note the semantic equivalence between the Heb. formula rin- arn
the first the last (Nehemiah 8:18), and Akkadian mar - ark first - last.16

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AMMORON / AMMARON

A Nephite record keeper, brother of Amos (4 Nephi 47-49); variants AMMORON in PMS/
AMMARON in 1830 edition.

AMARON

A Nephite record keeper (Omni 3-4).

Possibly derived from Canaanite & Hebrew mar to speak, 17 as *marn Speaker, with
the nominal termination -n. Cf. KJV proper name Amariah (1 Chronicles 6:7 [MT 5:33]
mary), Jehovah-said,18 Yah-has-promised, Whom-Yah-spoke-of; and KJV PN Imri (1
Chronicles 9:4 imr), Eloquent,19 My-command. Same root used in Arabic emir commander,

13
LDS Bible Dictionary, 606.
14
M. Reddish, Alpha and Omega, in Freedman, ed., ABD, I:161-162; Dov Noy, Alef in Aggadah and
Folklore, Encyclopedia Judaica (Jerusalem: Keter/Macmillan, 1996), 2:555.
15
These and other Hebrew-Greek synonyms are conveniently listed in T. Muraoka, Hebrew/Aramaic
Index to the Septuagint: Keyed to the Hatch-Redpath Concordance (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998).
16
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 13, citing CAD M 100-111.
17
J. Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, 3; Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 24.
18
B. Metzger, ed., Topical Index to the Bible, 12, in his Exhaustive Concordance, NRSV, rev. ed.
(Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982).
19
Metzger, ed., Topical Index, 101.
6

prince, governor, and in the much later rabbinic title (Aramaic) Amora One who speaks,
interprets.20

Cf. similar sounding ancient Egyptian imy-r commander, overseer (lit. who-is-mouth),21 with
wordplays on AMARON in Omni 2-3,6,9, Jarom 1,15 (RFSmith),

Also worth considering are such proper names as Aramaic m(r)n, Punic mrn (vocalization &
meaning unknown), and Arabic amrn, possibly from a Semitic root mr to live, honor,
worship (KAI #229:2-3; Arabic amara to live),22 as used in the biblical Hebrew name Omri,
omr (the) Life (which Yahweh has given).23 The same element (amr-) is used in the Amorite
name amrurapi.

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ANTION, ANTIONAH, ANTIONUM / ANTIONAM

An antion is a Nephite gold measure, or rate of exchange for gold; = 3 shiblons (Alma 11:19) =
senines of gold = 1 measures of grain (Alma 11:7,15).

Antionah is a chief ruler in AMMONIHAH, ca. 82 B.C. (Alma 12:20).

Antonum, land of Zoramites, east of Sidon R. (Alma 31:3, 43:5,22); and Nephite commander
(Mormon 6:14); ANTIONUM OMS (Alma 43:5), PMS (43:22, Mormon 6:14)/ ANTIONAM PMS
(43:5).

Based on the antion gold-measure, Gordon Thomasson has suggested that the proper name
Antionah is metonymic That-Antion-guy; Mr. Gold; Money-man, as also for the metonymous
Zeezrum, a bribe-offering lawyer in Alma 10:31, 11:22. Both of these names, based on
metonymy with antion and ezrum of weights & measures in Alma 11:6,12, are distinctive and
understandable the latter as That-Ezrum-guy; Mr. Silver; Money-man.24

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BENJAMIN

20
Paul Flesher, Amora, Amoraim, in Freedman, ed., ABD, I:199.
21
R. Faulkner, CDME, 18-19.
22
Cf. HALOT II:850, at omri.
23
Winfried Thiel, Omri, in D. Freedman, ed., ABD, V:17, for omriyyahu, zimriyahhu, etc.
24
Thomasson, Whats in a name?: Book of Mormon Language, Names, and [Metonymic] Naming,
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (Spring 1994):1-27; cf. James Barr, Symbolism of Names in the
Old Testament, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 52 (1969-1970):11-29; Barr, The Scope and
Authority of the Bible, 141 n. 6.
7

King of the Nephites and of people of Zarahemla, son of Mosiah I (Omni 23-25, Words of
Mormon 3, Mosiah 1:1,8-9,15, Helaman 5:9).

KJV Benjamin = Hebrew binymn Southerner,25 Son of the right hand,26 Son at the right
(hand)27 (Genesis 35:18). Hebrew ymn right hand, right side; south = Ugaritic ymn =
Akkadian imnu right hand, right side28 = Arabic yaman right; south = Egyptian imn right(-
hand), right-side, west.29 Note that all, except the Ugaritic and Akkadian, can be directional.

Note the opportunity for wordplay in Benjamins Speech at Mosiah 5:9-10, 12,

9 And it shall come to pass that whosoever doeth this shall be found at the right hand of God,
for he shall know the name by which he is called; for he shall be called by the name of Christ.
10 And now it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall not take upon him the name of Christ
must be called by some other name; therefore, he findeth himself on the left hand of God.
...
12 . . . I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that
ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall
be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

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BOAZ / BEAZ

Nephite city of (Mormon 4:20).

KJV proper name Boaz = Hebrew baz In him is might, splendor,30 In him is strength,
swiftness, quickness31 (Ruth 2:1; 1 Kings 7:21). Cf. Hebrew az fierce = Akkadian ezzu;
Hebrew z strength; wrath = Akkadian uzzu, uzzatu wrath.32 Stephen Ricks suggests that
Hebrew baz may be either be-az with strength, strongly (which would fit the Printers MS
and 1830 edition variant BEAZ33), or a quasi-qatl form of the Semitic root *bz, as in Arabic baz
swiftness (of horse). Hirsch Miler thus uses wordplay in his 1922 Hebrew translation: Baz .
. . bazt Boaz . . . with exceeding boldness (Mormon 4:20).

It is possible that the terms Jachin & Boaz, applied to the two massive bronze pillars in the
vestibule (forecourt) at the threshhold of the Temple of Solomon (1 Kings 7:21, 2 Chronicles

25
Speiser, Genesis, 274, based on Mari references to Amorite tribes DUMU-yamin and DUMU-iml.
26
LDS Bible Dictionary, 620.
27
LDS Holy Bible, 54 n.
28
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 143.
29
Faulkner, CDME, 21.
30
LDS Bible Dictionary, 626.
31
LDS Holy Bible, 378 n.
32
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 272.
33
R. Skousen, ATV, 6:3597,3622-3623; BOAZ is a correction of the 1837 ed.
8

3:17; cf. 2 Kings 25:16-17, Jeremiah 52:17-23),34 are a symbolic hendiadys meaning something
like He (God) established with strength.

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CORIHOR

Jaredite personal and place-names: Son of king Kib, Corihor rebelled against his father (Ether
7:3-15, 13:17); Jaredite land (14:27); Jaredite valley near the east sea (14:28).35

Possibly a hypothetical Sumerian proper name *KUR2-UR Inscribed-Enemy, while a


hypothetical homonymous toponym *KUR-UR might have meant to refer to the Jaredite
valley as Eastern-Hole (as in the American toponyms Jackson Hole, Hole in the Wall, etc.).

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CUMORAH/ CAMORAH/ COMORAH

This is a Nephite toponym referring to the land and hill, in a region of many waters, rivers, and
fountains, where the final battles of the Nephites & Lamanites were fought in the late 4 th
century A.D. (Mormon 6:2,4-5,11; 8:2); that hill being the repository of the bulk of the records
kept by MORMON (Mormon 6:6, Ether 15:11) -- the same place as Jaredite hill RAMAH (Ether
15:11) where the final Jaredite battles were fought which was likewise described as near the
great waters of RIPLIANCUM (Ether 15:8). The earliest Priners manuscript spellings are
CAMORAH, CUMORAH, and COMORAH (R. Skousen prefers CUMORAH),36 although
COMMORRE has also been found in two copies of purported Joseph Smith maps of the Book of
Mormon travels of MORONI.37

34
See discussion of Carol Meyers, Jachin and Boaz, in D. Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary,
III:597-598.
35
Note possible word-play on Hebrew tqa name, call; blow (horn); pitch tent, as Hirsch Millers
translation does in Ether 14:28, And they pitched their tents in the valley of Corihor; and Coriantumr
pitched his tents in the valley of Shurr. Now the valley of Shurr was near the hill Comnor [Comron];
wherefore, Coriantumr did gather his armies together upon the hill Comnor [Comron], and did sound a
trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle.
36
The PMS scribe wrote CAMORAH in Mormon 6:2a, which a second scribe much later corrected to
CUMORAH (R. Skousen notes that O. Cowdery stated in a letter that CAMORAH was an error LDS
Messenger & Advocate, 1/10 [July 1835]), which was the PMS reading at Mormon 6:2b,4,6ab, and 8:2,
while that same scribe wrote COMORAH in Mormon 6:5,11. The 1830 edition has CAMORAH
consistently, but the 1837 edition changes to CUMORAH throughout (FARMS Book of Mormon Critical
Text, 2nd ed., III:1163-1165,1169; Skousen, ATV, 6:3636-38). All occurrences of this name are found in
Mormon 6 & 8 (cf. D&C 128:20).
37
H. Donl Peterson in Cheesman, Nyman, and Tate, eds., Fourth Nephi Through Moroni, 244-247, cited
by T. L. Givens, By the Hand of Mormon, 99.
9

One possible Hebrew source (suggested by Eldon and Welby Ricks), which might be applied in
both verbal and nominal forms (and which also appears in Amorite and Ugaritic proper
names38), is the root qm arise, which is found in the masculine imperatives qm, qm,
qm, and qm arise! (Genesis 19:14-15, 27:19, Joshua 7:10,13, Psalms 3:8, 7:6[7], etc.),39
and which is also found collocated with r light; shine in both Isaiah 60:1 qm r
Arise, Shine! (the following verses providing many opportunities for word-play),
and in Job 25:3 l yqm rh his light shall not arise. Of course,
Hebrew r means light; flame, fire; revelation (Numbers 27:21, 1 Samuel 28:6; Isaiah 2:5 2
Nephi 12:5; Isaiah 49:6, 51:4, Proverbs 6:23; fem r, pl rt in Isaiah 26:19 as dew refreshes
plants, so the light of God shall refresh those who arise [yqmn] from the dead).

With these prominent collocations, it is possible to imagine both roots together taking part in
the hypothetical name-formation *qm-r Arise! Shine!40 -- with the variant masculine
singular imperative verb r shine!

The same name-structure, also with collocation, would be possible with the variant masculine
singular imperative verb r awake! (Psalms 7:6[7], 44:23[24], the first in parallel with qm
arise!), with the volitive ending on r arouse. Lambdin provides further examples of the
cohortative masculine ending - which can be added to the imperative, as for h save!
and pqd visit!41 Williamson adds other examples of this cohortative masc sgl ending used
in narrative as a regular imperfect verb, wanipt and we opened (Genesis 43:21).42

In any case, consider the possible word-play at Moroni 8:16, it shall be brought out of darkness
unto light. . . and it shall shine forth out of darkness, and at Moroni 8:14-15, And whoso shall
bring it [the Book of Mormon] to light, namely Joseph Smith removing the plates from the hill
and publishing them. This juxtaposition of Darkness and Light is found specifically at Psalm
139:12 where the Massoretic Hebrew text has a poetic tricolon ending with The Darkness like

38
Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, III:1086; HALAT, III:1015; Ugaritic qm, Akkadian qmu, qammu (von
Soden, AHw, 896b; CAD, Q 76), OSA qum, Eth. qm, Arab. qma (qwm). Cf. the Ugaritic place-name
Qmy (UT 110:3 = CTA 67:3), which was a town in the piedmont of the Kingdom of Ugarit, now called
Qammin; cf. Hebrew Qamn in Gilead, which is exactly comparable to Qmnz (with Hurrian suffix)
and Qamanuzi (Astour & Smith in L. Fisher, ed., RSP, II, VIII 94-95,174). However, these readings may
reflect the Egyptian transliteration Kmm for Akkadian Kamarum in the Execration Texts (Albright, VESO,
13, p. 7).
39
Koehler & Baumgartner, LVTL, 831-832; cf. Isaiah 8:10 2 Nephi 18:10.
40
Cf. Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion for Biblical Hebrew, 8, Akkadian urru, urra.
41
Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical Hebrew, lesson 45, exercise (a) 8.
42
Williamson, Annotated Key,153, note 3, on Lambdin, Introduction to Bibical Hebrew, lesson 39,
exercise (c); Williamson, 158, n. 3, on Lambdin, lesson 41, exercise (a), 11, expressing intention or desire:
hall I want to praise (you).
10

lightk r = 11QPsa 139:12 k r .43 The variable use


here of either masculine or feminine forms may be based on poetic need, as in this proposed
etymology.

Might these roots (qm and r) have even been applied in the form of coupled nouns as
hypothetical Hebrew *Qm-r Hill-of-Light, Height-of-Light (cf. Arabic qimma top,
summit, peak, qm, qama, qma to get up, stand up, rise; rise from dead, be
resurrected), although no biblical collocation in that precise form is known,44 this is certainly
related to feminine Hebrew qom , height, which, in view of Jaredite RAMAH =
Nephite CUMORAH, interestingly falls together with Hebrew ram hill, high45 at Isaiah
10:33 ram-qm 2 Nephi 20:33 high of stature; the tallest, the ones standing
highest.46 With this we should compare Arabic km hill, heap, pile, as in toponyms Kom
Ombo in Upper Egypt, Kom el-Hisn in Lower Egypt, Khirbet el-Kom in Palestine, etc.

Another possible Hebrew etymology with imperative qm arise, could be masculine


singular *r wake up! Not knowing the nature of the phonological and morphological
development of Nephite Hebrew over the millennium spent in the New World (Mormon 9:33
the Hebrew hath been altered by us also), it is difficult to say whether or how such roots
might have been combined.

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ENOS

He is a scribe, son of Jacob, and father of Jarom, between 544 420 B.C. (Jacob 7:27, Enos 1,
Jarom 1).

KJV Enos = Hebrew n Man47 (Genesis 4:26, 5:6-11) = KJV Enosh (1 Chronicles 1:1). Matt
Bowen argues for wordplay at the introduction of ENOS: just in the way NEPHI had introduced
himself as the son of parents who are goodly, perhaps Egyptian nfrw (1 Nephi 1:1), so ENOS

43
Despite BHS suggesting a gloss here, Dahood notes the Qumran text and argues that it is not an
Aramaic gloss (Dahood, Psalms III, AB 17A, 292); cf. D. Clines, Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, I:163-164,
citing ora in Isaiah 26:19 and Esther 8:16 as revival, success.
44
David Palmer, In Search of Cumorah, 21.
45
Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, III:1240, eminence (1 Samuel 22:6); high place (Ezekiel 16:24-
25,31,39); as a GN Height, Elevated-place, always with the article harama = LXX Greek ,
, or .
46
Koehler & Baumgartner, LVTL, 833.
47
LDS Bible Dictionary, 665.
11

introduces himself as son of a just man n.48 Cf. n man at 2 Nephi 18:1 Isaiah 8:1.
Cf. Mandean proper name An = Enosh, as in the Book of John (draa d-yahya or -yuhana).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

EZROM / EZRUM, ZEEZROM / ZEEZRUM

Ezrum is a Nephite silver measure (Alma 11:6,12). P MS reads EZRUM, which R. Skousen
considers the proper spelling; 1830 introduces misspelling EZROM.49

Zeezrum is lawyer and convert from AMMONIHAH (Alma 10:31, 11:21-38,46, 12:1-8, 14:2-6,
15:3-12, 31:5-6,32, Helaman 5:41); the O MS consistently spells with -u-, same as EZRUM50; City
of Zeezrum, possibly named for #1 (Alma 56:13-14).

ZEEZRUM may be parallel in morphology to Hebrew ze snai The One of Sinai, He of Sinai
(God), with ze, zi, zy as the genitive or relative particle51 (Judges 5:5, Psalm 68:8), thus
meaning That-Ezrum-guy; Mr. Silver; Money-man, since EZROM / EZRUM is a silver-measure
(Alma 11:6,12), which points up ZEEZRUMs attempt to bribe ALMA & AMULEK (Alma 11:22).
On similar instances of metonymy or nomen-omen in the Book of Mormon, see Gordon
Thomasson.52

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GADIANTON / GADDIANTON, GIDDIANHI / GADDIANHI

48
Bowen, Wordplay on the Name 'Enos', FARMSs Insights, #178, 26/3 (2006), online at
http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/insights/?vol=26&num=3&id=459 .
49
Skousen, ATV, 3:1806-1807, 6:3637.
50
Royal Skousen, however, considers this a misspelling influenced by EZRUM, ATV 3:1792-1795, 6:3637.
51
W. F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity, 1st ed., 199, and Albright, BASOR, 62 (Apr 1936):??,
citing H. Grimme; DNWSI, 310-316, zy used to introduce relatives; B. Porten, Aramaic Documents from
Egypt,?? 109ff., on genitive particle zi; Edward Lipiski, Semitic Languages: Outline of a Comparative
Grammar (Leuven: Peeters, 1997), 326, observes that ze is the oblique form of the archaic nominative
zu; cf. also Du Shara The One of the Shara Mountains (Qos, the primary deity of the Nabateans), in
Justin Kelley, Toward a New Synthesis of the God of Edom and Yahweh," Antiguo Oriente 7 (2009):260-
261, and n. 27; Lihyanite D-mn, D-rmh, D-mslmh, D-bl, and Thamudic D-baraq The One of
Lightning, in A. R. Al-Ansary, Lihyanite Personal Names: A Comparative Study, ALUOS, 7 (1969-
73):6,8,10,12-13.
52
Thomasson, Whats in a name? Book of Mormon Language, Names, and [Metonymic] Naming,
Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 3/1 (Spring 1994):1-27; cf. Andrzej Strus, Nomen-omen: la stylistique
sonore des noms propres dan le Pentateuque (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1978); James Barr,
Symbolism of Names in the Old Testament, Bulletin of the John Rylands Library, 52 (1969-1970):11-29;
Barr, The Scope and Authority of the Bible (SCM/Westminster, 1980), 141 n. 6.
12

Gaddianton is an eloquent Nephite leader of a powerful band of robbers and assassins during
mid-1st century B.C. (Helaman 2:4-10); GADIANTONs Robbers / Band, which employed secret
oaths & covenants and aspired to political power through murder (Helaman 2:8-12, 6:18-19, 3
Nephi 1:27-30, 3:3, 4 Nephi 42-46, Mormon 2:28).

Giddianhi is a leader of GADDIANTON Robbers (3 Nephi 3:9 4:14).53 GIDDIANHI in P MS, but
GADDIANHI in 1830 ed. at 3 Nephi 3:12, 4:9, probably as a typo.54

In Helaman 2:11-12, GADDIANTON is spelled with the double-d in the Original Book of Mormon
Manuscript, and is allowed by the O MS spacing at Helaman 2:4. As pointed out by Jack Welch
in 1985, the Hebrew word for band; bandits, is spelled with the double-d, gdd.55 In fact,
the Hebrew phrase gddm band of robbers is even used in Hosea 6:9 (cf. Hosea 7:1
bandits NRSV; Job 19:12 troops NRSV; Genesis 30:11 troop56 KJV), and this matches plural
Neo-Babylonian guddnu, and Phoenician bl gddm gang of robbers (cf. Psalm 56:7 ygdd
they form a gang, as emended).57 Thus, perhaps the name is metonymic or a symbolic
epithet. This might also apply to later GIDDIANHI (note the double -dd-), who was also chief of
this powerful criminal conspiracy (3 Nephi 3).

It is also possible that simultaneous word-play could be made on another root here, considering
several biblical toponyms Hazar-gaddah Village of good fortune (Joshua 15:27); Baal-gad
Lord-Gad (Joshua 11:17); Migdal-gad Tower of Gad, Tower of Fortune (Joshua 15:37); and
appelative proper names Gaddi My good fortune (Numbers 13:11, a Manassite; 1 Maccabees
2:2); Gaddiel, My good fortune is El (Numbers 13:10); Gadi My good fortune (2 Kings
15:14,17)58; Gdyw My good fortune is Yo/Yahu (Samaria Ostraca 6:16 18:30) (John
Tvedtnes)59; Gdy and Gdyhw Yahu is my good fortune (7th century B.C. Hebrew seals ##23, 24,
and 26, referring to same person)60; also from this Semitic root is Punic Gades > Cadiz (Spain),61
any resident of which is known now in Spanish as gaditano.

53
Skousen, ATV, 5:2895.
54
Skousen, ATV, 2:728-729, 731-733.
55
Welch Thieves and Robbers, July 1985 FARMS Update (reprinted in J. W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the
Book of Mormon, 248-249).
56
LDS Holy Bible (1979), 45 n, play on Hebrew words gedud troop and gad good fortune.
57
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 64, citing Genesis 49:19, Psalm 94:21 ygdd (band together
against), CAD G 120a, AHw 295b, and KAI 26A I:13:13-15.
58
Maier, Gad (Deity), in Freedman, ed., ABD, II:863-864.
59
The Bigrammaton Yo (=Yahu) is known primarily from the northern Hebrew dialect (Z. Zevit, Matres
Lectionis in Ancient Hebrew Epigraphs (ASOR, 1980), 12-13 nn. 14-15.
60
Hobbs, Gadi, in Freedman, ed., ABD, II:868, citing the Samaria Ostraca, Arad Inscriptions 71-72, and
Hebrew seals published by N. Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah (1985/1986):39-41.
61
Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan, 127.
13

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GAZELEM

This word refers either to a servant of God, or stone directors/interpreters (Alma 37:23),
which are the same as the two Jaredite stones (Ether 3:22-28, D&C 17:1), which refer no doubt
to two stones which were fastened into the two rims of a bow (Mosiah 28:13), interpreters
which were handed down through time (Mosiah 28:20).

Given the common interchange of liquid consonants r and l in Afro-Asiatic languages,


perhaps the most intriguing possibility was suggested by Blake Ostler as related to Hebrew
gizrtm their cut, polished (sapphire) (Lamentations 4:7), and which suggests also the
biblical Aramaic qatil form gzern deciders, determiners (of fate) (LXX Greek gazarnoi),62
referring either to Babylonian magi, or perhaps to the tools used by them (Daniel 2:27, 4:7
[MT4:4], 5:7,11). Both these words come from the same Semitic root: Hebrew gzar, gezer,
gzar, gizr cut, divide; decide, decree (fate); snatch, devour (Isaiah 9:19 [2 Nephi 19:19],
53:8, Ezekiel 41:12,15, 42:1,10,13, Lamentations 4:7, Psalm 136:13, Job 22:28, Esther 2:1),
gzr isolation (Leviticus 16:22), cognate with Cypriote Maronite Arabic ar stones,63 and
with Arabic jazirat island, and Ethiopic gazara circumcise.64 The Semitic root gzr close off
space, seems to be related, as in the toponym gezer Gezer (Arabic Tell Jezer) = El Amarna
cuneiform URU Gazri (EA 369, obv 1). and syllabic Ga-za-ri-ya (RS 21.07 A:18), and the Akkadian
proper name Bn-Gzry (CTA 113, III:1).65 Moreover, Antonio Loprieno affirms that Semitic gzr
and Arabic jazara to cut, are cognate with ancient Egyptian dsr holy, sacred (temenos);
seclusion; to separate.66

Ostler suggests that the meaning of GAZELEM would therefore be something like stones cut
by God or hewn stones of God, but could also be a play on the words for robbers or
plundering. This pun is possible only in Hebrew, however.67

62
HALOT, V:1844, Aramaic gzr cut; stipulate.
63
Tsrapeka, Descriptive Analysis, 31.
64
HALOT, I:187; Clines, Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, II:341-342.
65
Fisher, ed., Ras Shamra Parallels, II, VIII:23; HALOT, I:187 at gezer II; Cochavi-Rainey, Akkadian Dialect
of Egyptian Scribes, 195; cf. also Huffmon, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts: A Structural and
Lexical Study (Baltimore, Maryland, 1965), 130, cited by Val Sederholm, August 7, 2010, online at
http://valsederholm.blogspot.com/ 2010_08_01_archive.html.
66
Loprieno, La pense et l'criture - Pour une analyse smiotique de la culture gyptienne (Paris: Cybele,
2001), 15 (citing Wehr & Cowan, Arabic-English Dictionary, 146; Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT;
Pyramid Text 1778), cited by Val Sederholm, July 29, 2010, online at
http://valsederholm.blogspot.com/ search?q=zenos .
67
Apparently following Reynolds & Sjodahl, Commentary, IV:161-162 (*gz lm stone of the Most
High, for which no such divine name exists in Hebrew or Aramaic, but perhaps referring to elyn Most
14

In such a case, Ostler is apparently referring also to the use of Northwest Semitic gzl, gl, zl,
l, with a dual ending -m (Paul Y. Hoskisson).68 Thus, Ostler suggests that the word may be
derived from Hebrew gzal, gzl, gzel, gzl, tear off, seize, rob, loot; robbery (Leviticus
5:23, 19:13, Deuteronomy 28:31, Isaiah 10:2 [2 Nephi 20:2], Jeremiah 21:12, Ezekiel
18:7,12,16,18, Micah 3:2, Ecclesiasticus 16:13), cognate with Arabic jazala cut in two, halve.69

-------------------------------------------------------------------

HAGOTH

This character is a Nephite shipbuilder (Alma 63:5-8), who is said to be an exceedingly curious
man, meaning that he is very skillful; erudite; careful, diligent (Chaucer).70

The description exceedingly curious man may be part of a play on words with Hebrew hg
he mused, devised; meditated (Psalms 1:2, 2:1, 38:12, 63:6, 77:12, 143:5, Joshua 1:8), and
hgt musing, meditation (Psalm 49:3) in either the intensive plural hagt devisings, or
abstract curious, skillful, i.e., with either an abstract nominal termination with -t, -t typical
of biblical Hebrew, Arabic, East Semitic, and Egyptian,71 or as an intensive plural.72 It even
appears as the KJV proper name Higgaion, but which may have a more generic meaning
device; mediation, murmur (Psalms 9:16; cf. 19:14, 92:3).

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

High) Ostler, The Book of Mormon as a Modern Expansion of an Ancient Source, Dialogue, 20/1
(Spring 1987):72-73, online at https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/
Dialogue_V20N01_68.pdf ; see R. N. Holzapfel, D. M. Pike, and D. R. Seely, Jehovah and the World of the
Old Testament (SLC: Deseret Book, 2009), 18, on elyn upper, higher.
68
See P. Hoskisson, Urim and Thummim in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (1992), IV:1499-1500.
69
HALOT, I:186; D. Clines, ed., Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (Sheffield Academic Press, 1995), II:339-
340; cf. Ostler, Dialogue, 20/1 (Spring 1987):72-73; online at https://dialoguejournal.com/wp-
content/uploads/sbi/articles/Dialogue_V20N01_68.pdf .
70
F. N. Robinson, ed., The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer, 2nd ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1957), 942;
Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language, 2 vols., 1st ed. (N.Y.: S. Converse, 1828),
citing Exodus 28:8,27, 35:32 (maabt), Acts 19:19 (perierga magic) online at
http://machaut.uchicago.edu/websters .
71
Lipiski, Semitic Languages, 29.46 Egyptian iwt old age, 29.47 Hebrew okmt wisdom, 30.3
malkt kingship, 31.16 Assyro-Babylonian arrtu kingship; Hebrew niplt wonders, wonderful
things, Williamson, Annotated Key, 175 (Exodus 3:20); hammt all the things which had befallen
(them) (Joshua 2:23), cited in Williamson, Annotated Key, 183, re Lambdin, Introduction to Biblical
Hebrew, lesson 41, exercise (a) note 2; Joel Burnett, A Reassessment of Biblical Elohim (Atlanta: SBL,
2001); A. Cowley & E. Kautzsch, Gesenius Hebrew Grammar, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1910), 145 h-o; the last
two sources cited by Ryan C. Davies and Paul Y. Hoskisson, Usage of the Title elohim in the Hebrew
Bible and Early Latter-day Saints, in A. Skinner, M. Davis, and C. Griffin, eds., Bountiful Harvest: Essays
in Honor of S. Kent Brown (Provo: Maxwell Institute/BYU, 2011), 113-135.
72
Cf. LDS Bible Dictionary, 620, at Behemoth.
15

HESHLON

This is a Jaredite toponym, Plains of Heshlon, north of DESOLATION, near the Valley of GILGAL,
where SHARED defeated CORIANTUMR in battle (Ether 13:28).

Pedro A. Olavarria suggests an origin with Akkadian alu to grind, crush, shatter,73 and
recognizes the potential for word play. It is cognate with Aramaic l subdue (Daniel 2:40),
along with John Tvedtnes suggestion of the general Semitic root l, as in Hebrew make weak,
prostrate, weary; thin; crush (Deuteronomy 25:18),74 with -n nominal suffix (as for biblical
toponyms Heshmon, Hethlon, Heshbon, Hermon, and Hezron/ Hazor), meaning Place of Heshl,
Place of crushing, Place of weakness, prostration, due to the battle which took place there. 75

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JACOB

Many applications of this name in both biblical and Book of Mormon contexts: Father of the
Twelve Tribes (1 Nephi 5:14, 17:40, 2 Nephi 12:3 Isaiah 2:3, Alma 5:24, 3 Nephi 10:17, 20:22);
House/sons of, Nephites a remnant of (1 Nephi 20:1; 2 Nephi 12:5-6, 18:17 Isaiah 2:5-6, 8:17;
Alma 46:23, 3 Nephi 5:24, 24:6 Malachi 3:6; 4 Nephi 49, Mormon 5:12); High Priest and
brother of Nephi (1 Nephi 18:7 Alma 3:6); Plates of (Jacob 3:14); Zoramite leader of Lamanite
army against Moroni #1 (Alma 52:20-35); Wicked king of JACOB UGATH , and of Secret
combinations (3 Nephi 7:9 - 9:9)76; city of, destroyed at time of Crucifixion (3 Nephi 9:8).

Hebrew 3rd masculine singular imperfect yaqb Protector; Betrayer; Who seizes by the
heel77; Follower, Supplanter78 (Genesis 25:26), who was renamed ISRAEL (Genesis 32:28).
Phyllis Trible states that it is folk etymology which gives his name the meaning of Grasper,
Schemer, Conniver.79 Freedman proposed that it is actually short for Jacob-El as Yaaqub-alel

73
Olavarria, Heshlon As An Akkadian Word, Dec 2, 2011, online at
http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/56405-heshlon-as-an-akkadian-word/ .
74
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion for Biblical Hebrew, 122.
75
J. Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, a 1994 Book of Mormon Lecture, 3; Noth, IPN,
56.
76
However, the earliest text of 3 Nephi 9:9 says the king of Jacob (P MS, 1830 1911, RLDS 1908 > of
king Jacob 1920-1981), which suggests that the unnamed king of Jacob ruled over Jacob-Ugath as well.
77
HALOT, 872, for both verbal and nominal forms of same consonantal texts. True and folk etymologies
are mixed and take part in word-play.
78
LDS Holy Bible (1979), 41 n.
79
Trible, Wrestling with Faith, BAR, 40/5 (Sept-Oct 2014).
16

May-El-protect (him), as in Deuteronomy 33:28,80 and as in the name of the Canaanite Hyksos
ruler Yaqub-hr / Yaqub-r May the Exalted One Protect.81

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JARED

Even though Koehler & Baumgartner do not connect the Hebrew proper name Yared, Yered
with the verb descend (Genesis 5:15-20) = LXX Iared and Luke 3:37 Iaret (cf. Genesis 11:5) =
Samaritan Pentateuch yred, yet it does seem possible, via folk etymology, that Hebrew
wayered YHWH Yahweh descended82 (Genesis 11:5) to look at the city and tower, an event
which entailed the Great Tower, Confusion of Tongues, and scattering of peoples (Ether 1:32ff),
is the source of wordplay on the Book of Mormon name Jared; Hebrew-Ugaritic yrd, Arabic
warada, go down, descend (of river, channel), as in the name of the Jordan River; note the
paronomasia at 1 Enoch 6:6, yrd descend Yrd Jared. Though pausal in Massoretic Hebrew,
the more archaic form of the word is likely Jared, since the vocalic evolution of segolates goes
from a > i > e.83

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JERSHON

Jershon is a toponym referring to the Land near the east sea, and south of the land Bountiful,
given for an inheritance to the people of AMMON (Alma 27:22 - 43:25).

Several scholars have suggested hypothetical Hebrew *Yrn Place of Inheritance,with the
nominalizing ending -on,84 from Hebrew yra, to inherit (Alma 27:22, for an
inheritance,24, 35:14, all with puns).85 The same word is found in Ugaritic yrt, Old South
Arabic wrt, Arabic warita inherit,and Akkadian rau take possession of,86 and Akkadian

80
D. N. Freedman, The Original Name of Jacob, IEJ, 13 (1963):125-126; John Bright, A History of Israel,
2 ed., 91, 98; 3rd ed., 93.
nd
81
Ward in O. Tufnell, Scarabs and their Contribution to History in the Early Second Millennium B.C.
(Warminster, 1984), 68, fig. 29; Ryholt, Political Situation, 44; Krauss, A&L (1998), 41.
82
So Reynolds & Sjodahl, CBM, VI:46, Hebrew yrd descend, chase after.
83
T. Muraoka, Segolate Nouns in Biblical and Other Aramaic Dialects, JAOS, 96/2 (Apr-June 1976):226-
235, online at http://www.jstor.org/stable/599825 .
84
Noth, IPN, 56.
85
John Tvedtnes, Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon, 1994 FARMS Book of Mormon Lecture (Provo:
FARMS, 1994),13; J. Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, 3, citing especially Stephen
Ricks & John Tvedtnes, The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place-Names, Journal of Book of
Mormon Studies, 6/2 (Fall 1997):257-258.
86
Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, II:441.
17

yrittu legacy, possession.87 Compare the KJV proper name Jerusha Yr The inherited
one88 (2 Kings 15:33, 2 Chronicles 27:1), which comes from the very same root, and is
elsewhere used as the common noun yr inheritance, possession = Samaritan
Pentateuch yaria (Deuteronomy 2:5,9,12,19, Joshua 1:15, Jeremiah 32:8).89 Hirsch Millers
1922 Hebrew translation of the Book of Mormon properly renders it as yrn, and applies the
obvious wordplay in verse 24, but misses it in verse 22, and at 35:14.90

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

JOSEPH

At least four persons: Son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt (1 Nephi 5:14,16, 6:2, 2 Nephi 4:1,
Alma 10:3, 46:23-27, Ether 13:7); Younger brother of Nephi (1 Nephi 18:7, 2 Nephi 3:1-25), who
was consecrated as a priest (Jacob 1:18); Nephite tribal group, Josephites (Jacob 1:13, 4 Nephi
36-37, Mormon 1:8); Prophecy of future Joseph Smith Junior (2 Nephi 3:6-21).

Hebrew ysp He shall gather,91 possibly predictive of mission of Joseph Smith Jr to gather all
Israel in the final dispensation and restitution of all things.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

KORIHOR

An antichrist (Alma 30:6-59).

Probably taken over from Jaredite name CORIHOR (which see for etymology), and thus, since
CORIHOR was likely a metonym for a Jaredite rebel, it is fitting here that it is applied to an
antichrist also a metonym, rather than the birth-name.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

LEHONTI, LAHONTI

Possibly originally something like a Hebrew-Egyptian hybrid name *la-wnti Oh-Youthful-One


(with the vocative Hebrew lamed),92 but changed to a Hebrew dysphemism by editor Mormon

87
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 150.
88
L. Schearing, Jerusha, in Freedman, ed., ABD, III:768, citing J. J. Stamm, Hebrische Frauennamen,
Vetus Testamentum Supplement 16 (1967), 327.
89
Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, II:442.
90
Zvi Hirsch Millers translation was microfilmed by the LDS Genealogical Society in 1948.
91
Cf. LDS Holy Bible (1979), at Genesis 30:24n, on the word-play on Hebrew yasap to add, and asap
to take away; to gather.
18

as *la-on Oh-Dead-Guy; Oh-Embalmed-One,93 with a metonymic pun at Alma 47:18-19,


And it came to pass that Amalickiah caused that one of his servants should administer poison
by degrees to Lehonti, that he died. Now, when Lehonti was dead, as suggested by Pedro
Olavarria.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MAHER-SHALAL-HASH-BAZ

Symbolic biblical epithet/name of second son of Isaiah (2 Nephi 18:1,3 Isaiah 8:1,3)

Hebrew mahr ll baz In making speed to the spoile, he hasteneth the pray (1611 KJ
marg Heb), or destruction is imminent,94 or Make speed, etc.; Hebrew To speed to the
spoil, he hasteneth the prey.95 There is word-play on verbs underlying Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz
in Isaiah 5:19a 10:2b (2 Nephi 15:19, 20:2).96

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

MARY

Predicted biblical proper name of the Mother of Jesus Christ, who will be born at Jerusalem
(Mosiah 3:8, Alma 7:10).

Mary is the English KJV form of the biblical name Miriam (Hebrew Mirym, LXX Mariam Exodus
15:20; NT Mariam Luke 1:27).97

Matt Bowen calls attention to the fact that the name Mary makes best sense as an Egyptian
theophoric hypocoristicon, deriving from the Egyptian root mr(i) or mry which as a verb means
to love, want, wish, desire and as a noun (mr[.wt]) means love, will, desire, rather than
as a derivation from Mara, bitter from Ruth 1:20. Mary or Miriam in Egyptian, like
David in Hebrew, means Beloved, i.e., beloved of the god. James K. Hoffmeier writes:
Although there are many linguistic explanations for the final mem [m in Miriam/Mariam],

92
As in Psalms 119:142 le-Olam Oh, Eternal-One, 140:7 la-YHWH "Oh, Lord!" Val Sederholm
suggested that the name may reflect Egyptian *R'-wn.ti "Youthful, Rejuvenated-Re," which follows the
same pattern as Egyptian PN r-wn.ti "Youthful-Horus," since Egyptian Re = Liao or Lia: (Antonio
Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction).
http://valsederholm.blogspot.com/search/label/Book%20of%20Abraham--Names.
93
Cf. Arabic ina, anu balm (HALOT, I:333).
94
LDS Book of Mormon (1981), 2 Nephi 18:1, note b.
95
LDS Holy Bible (1979), 871 n.
96
A. Bartelt in A. Beck, et al., eds., Fortunate the Eyes That See, 169-170.
97
Albright & Mann, Matthew, Anchor Bible 26, p. CLXVII.
19

there is agreement that mary is the proposed writing of the root mry, meaning love or
beloved.98

As noted by Bowen, this provides many opportunities for onomastic word-play in the Book of
Mormon: 1 Nephi 11:1-2,6,22,25.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MORMON

Nephite place, land, forest, and waters of (Mosiah 18:4-35, 25:18, 26:15, Alma 5:3, 3 Nephi
5:12); Name of father and son (Words of Mormon 1-11, 3 Nephi 5:12,20, Mormon 1:1-5, Ether
15:11); Book of (Title Page, Mormon 1:1).

The personal name is derived from the geographical name: I am called MORMON, being called
after the land of MORMON (3 Nephi 5:12), but a place which was called MORMON, having
received its name from the king (Mosiah 18:4), which is also a well-known biblical pattern of
name-derivation.99

Nibley suggested that MORMON possibly derived from the Egyptian personal name Mry-Imn,
Beloved of Amon -- applying Egyptian mr- want, wish, desire, love; beloved, along with the
name of the Egyptian god Amun.100 Meir Lubetski recently called our attention to pre-exilic
Hebrew use of this Egyptian name Mry-Imn on Hebrew seals as mymn.101 This makes sense
since the -r- in mr(y) is dropped in Egyptian scribal Akkadian ma-a-i,102 as well as in Coptic me,
mei, mai, mi love. Matt Bowen demonstrates how this word is used for a wide array of puns
(Mosiah 18:8-11,21,28,30, Alma 5:3-6,26, Mormon 3:12, Moroni 7:47-48, 8:16-17, ), and he
applies the same understanding of this etymology to the name MARY.103

98
Bowen Most Desirable of All Things: Onomastic Play on Mary and Mormon in the Book of
Mormon, Interpreter, 13 (2015):33-34,citing James K. Hoffmeier, Ancient Israel in Sinai: The Evidence
for the Authenticity of the Wilderness Tradition (Oxford University Press, 2005), 225; cf. Ignaz Hsl, Zur
orientalistiche Namenskunde: Maria Moses Aaron: Ein philologische Studie,in Serta Monacensia fr
F. Babinger (Leiden: Brill, 1952), 80-85..
99
See the many examples of both which I give in Robert F. Smith Rules for Finding Etymologies for Book
of Mormon Words, March 2012.
100
Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, etc., Collected Works of Hugh Nibley V (FARMS/Deseret, 1988), 21, 23, 25,
29-31.
101
Lubetski, Hebrew mymn = Egyptian mrj amn: A Name? A Title? An Order? An Alternate Look at a
Group of Ancient Pre-Exilic Hebrew Seals, paper presented Nov 20, 2011, at the SBL annual meeting in
San Francisco.
102
Z. Cochavi-Rainey, Akkadian Dialect of Egyptian Scribes, 1.10, ma-a-i dA-ma-na.
103
Matthew Bowen, Most Desirable of All Things: Onomastic Play on Mary and Mormon in the Book
of Mormon, Interpreter, 13 (2015):27-61.
20

This may also entail word-play on Egyptian mr lake, pool, stream, with Mr-mn the name of a
celestial lake from which the blessed drank,104 or the land of waters in Hebrew my-Mrm
(LXX Greek marrn, Syriac mrn) Waters of Merom (Joshua 11:5-7), similar to the waters of
Mormon in Mosiah (18:8,16,30, 25:18), and Alma (5:3). Cf. the ancient Egyptian toponym in
Syro-Palestine Mrm, Mrm.105

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

NAHOM

South Arabian burial place of Ishmael (1 Nephi 16:34).

Most likely a hypothetical biblical Hebrew place-name in qal infinitive absolute form,106
*Nm Comfort, Consolation107; Mourning; Moan, as the Book of Mormon burial place of
Lehis friend Ishmael whose daughters did mourn exceedingly (1 Nephi 16:35).108 Such a
theoretical etymology is adequate in itself. However, nearby there is in fact an ancient South
Arabian proper name Nhm/Nihm on three ca. 630 to 580 B.C. limestone altar inscriptions at the
Baran temple near Marib (capital of ancient Saba), in the Yemen; Nihm is the name of a still
extant and large Yemenite tribe, within whose territory there was an extensive cemetery in
Yemen, 100 miles east of Luhaiya and 25 miles north of Sana, the current capital of the
Yemen.109 This may have been the place which was called Nahom and familiar to the Lehites
(1 Nephi 16:34), thus indicating that it was an already existing place-name (Hugh Nibley).110 It
may very well be that the Lehites used the informal Hebrew equivalent of the term as vocalized

104
E. A. W. Budge, A Hieroglyphic Dictionary, 308b; cf. Egyptian mrit another such celestial lake, 307b.
105
Budge, Hieroglyphic Dictionary, 996b, 998a, citing Lepsius, Denkmler, III:156, IV:781.
106
Which, Ed Ashment notes, is not used in the Bible in that exact form, but see Job 2:11 lnam
comfort, consolation; cf. Bennett, Comparative Semitic Linguistics, 102
107
LDS Book of Mormon, 1981 ed., note to 16:34b, HEB probably consolation, from verb naham, be
sorry, console oneself, cited by M. Ladd, And He Spake Unto Me (2011), 130, including a lexical entry
from the Blue Letter Bible at Strongs #05163.
108
Reynolds & Sjodahl, CBM, I:170; John Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, in G. Khan,
et al., eds., Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, 4 vols. (Brill, 2013), online at
http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/encyclopedia-of-hebrew-language-and-linguistics .
109
R. Christensen, Ensign 8/8 (Aug 1978):73; J. Tvedtnes, Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon, 1994
FARMS Book of Mormon Lecture, 13; J. Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, 3, citing
especially the discussion by Kent Brown, The Place That Was Called Nahom: New Light from Ancient
Yemen, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 8/1 (1999):66-68; Warren P. Aston, The Origins of the
Nihm Tribe of Yemen: A Window into Arabia's Past, Journal of Arabian Studies: Arabia, the Gulf, and the
Red Sea, 4/1 (2014): 134-148; see also the forthcoming discussion by Robert Boylan.
110
Nibley, LID, 90-91. Nibley also compares Modern Arabic naama to mourn, and nauma
graveyard, Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, 4 vols. (FARMS/Deseret, 1993; Covenant
Communications, 2004), I:192, citing Warren & Michaela Aston on the graveyard at NHM in the Yemen
cf. W. P. Aston in JBMS 10/2 (2001):56-61,71; S.K. Brown in JBMS 8/1 (1999):66-68.
21

by local ancient South Arabians, whose vocalization is today unknown to us. Moreover, there
are two different consonants in these words: the medial -h- of this Arabic term is a glottal
fricative, whereas the medial -- of the Hebrew term is a pharyngeal fricative,111 i.e., soft -h-
versus aspirated --.

The Hebrew root nm (with aspirated --) is also the source of the proper name Nam
Comfort112; Consoler113; Consolation, Compassion,114(Jo Ann Hackett, John Tvedtnes, Ed
Ashment), which is also the name of the prophetic biblical book (KJV Nahum) a root which is
also used as proper name Nm Mourning in Nehemiah 7:7; John Tvedtnes),115 where it
appears along with proper names NeemeYh Yahweh-comforts116 (KJV Nehemiah), and
Naamn (= Syriac Nm il), also built on the same Hebrew root. The same Semitic root,
meaning to console, comfort; have compassion, appears as a Phoenician proper name Nmy,
an Amorite PN Ynm, a PN in Ugaritic as mYa-an-a-mu, etc., a PN in the Amarna Letters as
Yanamu, and in Dynasty 18 Egyptian PN lists as Yanam all of which James Hoch takes to be
a qal jussive or indicative, possibly meaning May he be comforted; May He have compassion
(divine name).117 Along with similar sounding roots, biblical Hebrew nm was used in the
word-play of the biblical Flood Story of Noah (N), from nw rest, settle-down, repose;
regret. Thus, Genesis 5:29 has Noah bring comfort, consolation (nm), in 8:4 the ark comes
to rest (tn), and in 8:9 the dove (ywnh) cannot yet find a place to rest (mnw),118 thus mixing
both simple -h- and aspirated -- in the paranomasia. Compare also the biblical Hebrew proper
name Naam = LXX Greek (a hapax legomenon at 1 Chronicles 4:19), which J. Wevers
oddly claims should = LXX Greek , which he says was possibly misunderstood as deriving
from a biliteral m,119 a comment which can be ignored. More to the point, William W. Hallo
observed that the biblical Hebrew proper name Hrn (Genesis 11:26-31, with simple -h-) and
place-name rn (Genesis 11:31-32; = Akkadian arran/arranum = Sumerian GARAN, and
Classical Carrhae) may well have been loosely associated merely by similarity of sound,120 i.e., it
may be utterly silly to impose our standards of linguistic precision on peoples who evidently did
not think in such terms. In any case, both are transliterated as Haran in the KJV, once again

111
Bennett, Comparative Semitic Linguistics, 8.
112
Cathcart in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:998, a well attested NW Semitic name (citing
Cathcart in Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages 7:1).
113
LDS Bible Dictionary, 736, in 1979 Holy Bible.
114
D. Christensen in Achtemeier, ed., Harpers Bible Dictionary, 681.
115
Nehemiah 7:7 BHS note Neum = Reum in Ezra 2:2.
116
Ackroyd, Nehemiah, the Book of, in Achtemeier, ed., Harpers Bible Dictionary, 694.
117
Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts, 53 #54.
118
See the discussion by I. Kikawada in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:1123-1124.
119
Wevers, EASW, 109; cf. 105, nmyh = LXX 2 Esdras 11:1 Neemia(s), from nm.
120
Encyclopaedia Judaica, VII:1328-1329, cited in Biblical Archaeology Review, 26/5 (Sept-Oct 2000):12.
22

indicating that simple -h- and aspirated -- are not always starkly differentiated, and need not
have been starkly differentiated by the Lehites.

Thus, the Hebrew root nhm to groan, growl, is possibly related (Sidney Sperry, and Jo Ann
Hackett),121 particularly since it is the exact consonantal equivalent to the Early South Arabic
root.122 Examples of use of this root can be found in Psalm 38:9 nahmat libb groaning of my
heart, etc. (Psalms 6:6, 102:5, Job 23:2, Joel 1:18).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

NEPHI

As suggested first by Hugh Nibley, this name is most likely the Egyptian proper name Nfy
Captain,123 from ancient Egyptian nfy nf nfw, Coptic neef nef sailor; captain, skipper.124
Since it also uses the sail-sign, compare the related Ancient Egyptian nfy nf, Coptic nifi nife, nif
blow (wind), breathe, blow nose; breath125 = Egyptian Arabic naff blow nose.126 Note the
name of the 7th cent. B.C. nomarch of Athribis, Bk-n-nfy which may mean something like
Servant-of-the-Captain,127 and whose name appears in syllabic cuneiform transliteration as
I
Bu-uk-ku-na-an-ni-i-pi128; compare also the phrase nf n n breath of life, equivalent to
Genesis 2:7 nimat-ayym.129

The literary evidence merely compounds our suspicion that Nephi is Egyptian Nfy. For, not only
does Nephi build and captain his ship under divine guidance, but he is constantly referred to as
a Aruler@ (1 Nephi 2:22, 3:29, 16:37-38, 18:10, 2 Nephi 5:19, Jacob 1:9), as well as Aking@ (1
Nephi 16:38, 2 Nephi 5:18), his name becoming, in fact, a title accorded each successive king
(Jacob 1:11), and the Achief city@ of the land of Nephi being called ANephi@ (Alma 47:20). Nor
should we miss the remarkable opportunities for paronomasia, when, as Askipper,@ Nephi alone
121
S. Sperry, The Book of Mormon Testifies, 60; Jo Ann Carlton (Hackett), and John W. Welch, Possible
Linguistic Roots of Book of Mormon Names, FARMS Preliminary Report CAR-81 (Provo: FARMS, 1982).
122
Cf. G.L. Harding Index and Concordance of Pre-Islamic Arabian Names and Inscriptions (1971), 602ff.;
K. Kitchen Documentation for Ancient Arabia, part 2 (2000):744.
123
Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, part I, Improvement Era, 53/1 (Jan 1950):72 n. 43, citing S. R. K. Glanville,
The Letters of Ahmose of Peniate, JEA, 14:304, line 10.
124
Erman & Grapow Wrterbuch der gyptischen Sprache II:250-251; R. O. Faulkner, Concise Dictionary
of Middle Egyptian 131; J. ern, Coptic Etymological Dictionary 115; W. E. Crum Coptic Dictionary
238b; R. Lepsius, Todtenbuch, 99:23.
125
Crum, Coptic Dictionary, 238b-239b.
126
E. Ishaq in Atiya, ed., Coptic Encyclopedia, VIII:114; Crum, Coptic Dictionary, 238-239; Faulkner,
CDME, 131.
127
L. Habachi, MDAIK 15:69-77, cited by R. F. Smith at JBMS 5/2 (1996):110 n. 65.
128
Rykle Borger, Babylonisch-Assyrische Lesestcke, 2nd ed., I:90 (Rome: PBI, 1979), line 102. Thanks are
due to PYH and JG for pointing out this source.
129
A. S. Yahuda, Language of the Pentateuch, 131-132.
23

can successfully Aguide the ship@ (1 Nephi 18:22; cf. 1 Nephi 18:12, 2 Nephi 1:24), and when he
is bound and the ship is driven helplessly before the wind (Egyptian nf, nfw Awind@ = Coptic nife;
and Egyptian nfw, nfy, nfi Ablow; breathe; fan@), only his prayers can bring safety (1 Nephi 18:8-
10,12,21-22; cf. 2 Nephi 1:25,27).130 Finally, in ancient Maya usage (in the Madrid Codex, on
the pages dealing with the New Year rites of Uayeb), the cross glyph is prominently displayed,
representing wind, breath, and life itself.131

There might also be another play on words with this proposal, using the Hebrew root np to
shake, as in Isaiah 10:15,32, 11:15, 19:16 (hnp, tnp, mnp; 2 Nephi 20:15,32, 21:15),
applied to 1 Nephi 2:14, 17:45,54-55, 2 Nephi 1:13,23, 4:31, 8:25, 9:44-45.

John Gee makes an equally attractive proposal, suggesting use of -npy, a Semitic transliteration
of the Egyptian nfr-element which is frequently used in attested Egyptian proper names such as
K-nfrw and n-r-nfr. These were likely the sources of Phoenician proper names Knpy and
Aramaic rnpy, respectively. Nfr Beautiful, Good, itself was a well-known Egyptian personal
name.132 This proposal may even suggest to us that Nephi was born in the Egyptian capital city,
Memphis, and was first named Nfy The Memphite!!133 Later, this name may have been
dissimilated to the last part of the name, Nfr, since the etymology of this toponym was Mn-nfr
Memphis; Firm-and-Fair (= Coptic Mnfe, Mefi, Hebrew Mp, Np [Hosea 9:6, Isaiah 19:3],
Akkadian Mi-im-pi, Greek Memphis, Menophres134 = Phoenician = Aramaic , ),135
formed with ancient Egyptian nfr nfrt, Coptic noufr noufe noufi nefr- beautiful, fair, good,
goodly,136 which is frequently used for both personal and place-names,137 and which drops the
-r- in the late period suggesting to Matt Bowen a play on words by Nephi himself at 1 Nephi

130
Given Nephi=s Egyptian training, he may have seen parallels with Egyptian nb Alord, noble,@ and nby
Asupporter, friend, protector@ (2 Nephi 6:2); cf. Subakhmimic Coptic (Upper Egyptian) nep > Greek
nphis, and Bohairic Coptic (Lower Egyptian) nb, neb- Amaster, lord, chief, ruler, head, commander@ >
nebi Apatriarch, head of family@ (Babylonian Nib-; Greek -nab-, -nib- ; Arabic rabb Achief, head of
family@); and with Hebrew nabiy Aprophet, one-called-of-God.@ See Westendorf, KHw, 119; A.
Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian, 55.
131
Allen J. Christenson, Maya Harvest Festivals and the Book of Mormon, FARMS Review of Books, 3/1
(1991):1-31, n. 51, citing Thompson, Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, 73.
132
John Gee in JBMS, 1/1 (1992):189-190, and n. 11, citing Ranke, gyptische Personennamen, I:194.
133
Indeed, as Donald Redford points out, With the Egyptian Empire of the New Kingdom, Memphis had
become the seat of a Canaanite community of merchants and mercenaries centered upon the temples
of Baal and Astarte (Helck 1966). During the final days of Judah, Memphis received exiles fleeing the
advance of the Babylonians (Jer 44:1), in Freedman, ed., ABD, IV:690. What does this tell us of Lehis
possible origins?
134
Redford, Memphis, in Freedman, ed., ABD, IV:689.
135
Y. Muchiki, Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in NW Semitic, 231.
136
Faulkner, CDME, 131; ern, Coptic Etymological Dictionary, 116; Crum, Coptic Dictionary, 239-240.
137
Muchiki, Egyptian Proper Names and Loanwords in NW Semitic, 18,26,28,76-77,85-86,91,94,96-
97,168-169,231, citing the loan in Ugaritic nfr, UT 1680.
24

1:1, I Nephi, having been born of goodly parents,138 as well as similar plays on fair in 3
Nephi 2:16, and 4 Nephi 10, or, as Jack Welch has suggested in Mormon 6:17,19, O ye fair
ones! as if to say O ye Nephites!139 The possible recollection that the toponym Mn-nfr (the
capital and royal residence of Egypt) was the ultimate source of Nephis name might also have
made his name seem all the more appropriate as the name of the chief Nephite city, Nephi. 140
Note also the play on nfr in the Egyptian story of The Eloquent Peasant B1, 305, for example,
That goodness should be good is good indeed nfr nfrt nfr rf.141

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOAH

Biblical and Jaredite pdroper name: biblical patriarch of the Great Flood (Alma 10:22, 3 Nephi
2:9, Ether 6:7); a Jaredite King and usurper, son of Corihor, who was slain by sons of Shule
(Ether 7:14-18).

KJV Noah derived from Hebrew Noa (Genesis 5:29 = LXX NT Greek Ne Matthew 24:37) =
Hurrian Namasulel,142 or dNa-a-ma-?-li-el.143 Noah Rest in the context of biblical word-
play: Hebrew nm was used repeatedly in the word-play of the biblical Flood Story of Noah
(N), from nw rest, settle-down, repose; regret. Thus, Gen 5:29 has Noah bring comfort,
consolation (nm), in 8:4 the ark comes to rest (tn), and in 8:9 the dove (ywnh) cannot yet
find a place to rest (mnw).144

-------------------------------------------------

RAMEUMPTOM

Zoramite religious term for a pulpit or bima in the center of their synagogues (Alma 31:21; cf.
verses 13,23): the place of Zoramite standing (Amida), "Holy-Stand; a place of standing
which was high above the head."

138
Bowen, Internal Textual Evidence for the Egyptian Origin of Nephi's Name, FARMS Insigts, 21/11
(2001), online at http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/insights/?vol=22&num=11&id=301 .
139
Gee in JBMS, 1/1 (1992):189-191; Matthew Bowens FARMS Updates in Insights, 22/11 (2002):2; and
23/6 (2003):2.
140
Note the Assyrian practice of naming a land for the name of its capital city.
141
A. Loprieno, APun and Word Play in Ancient Egyptian,@ in Noegel, ed., Puns and Pundits: Wordplay in
the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Literature, 17. Thanks to Paul Hoskisson for calling this
source to our attention.
142
E. Speiser, Genesis, Anchor Bible 1, p. 42, citing Keilschrifturkunden aus Boghazki, VIII, 61:reverse
line 6; cf. Nibley, ABM, 2898-290.
143
N. Nozadze, Vocabulary of the Hurrian Language, SABC (Tbilisi, Georgia: SABC, 2007), 250.
144
I. Kikawada in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, IV:1123-1124.
25

Similar to Hebrew ram-qm Isaiah 10:33 2 Nephi 20:33 high of stature; the
tallest, the ones standing highest.145 so probably hypothetical Hebrew *rm-omdm "Their-
high-standing-places" (cf. Nehemiah 8:7, 9:3, 13:11 omdm their standing, their place) =
Hebrew migdal-ets "pulpit of wood, tower of wood" (KJV) Nehemiah 8:4, 1 Esdras 9:42 =
Jewish bima, or almemar = Muslim al-minbar, and Vedic yupa146; cognate with Egyptian rm
"height, elevation, high place" (cf. Semitic rm high147), with determinative glyph of someone
in prayer, arms raised, as with the Zoramites (Alma 31:14), and with Jesus (Luke 24:50).

During the Muslim Hajj, the pilgrims likewise stand on the Plain of Arafat with arms raised
praying for repentance (the formal Arabic umdan standing-prayer).148 Cf. also biblical,
Qumran, and Talmudic usage of amod and omdim suggesting the messianic return of Adam,
the Patriarchs, or Moses (Job 19:25, Ezekiel 37:24; CD XX, 1; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; Midrash
Lamentations Rabba intro, XXIV), or of the general resurrection (Ezekiel 37:10, Daniel 12:13;
Lamentations Rabba II, 3, 6), as laid out by Robert Eisenman.149

It is remarkable that the set prayer delivered at the Rameumptom appears to be an early form
of the very important Jewish Amida-prayer, which is done standing. Moreover, as pointed
out by Eisenman & Wise, one finds word-for-word correspondences between that Amida
prayer and a messianic text from Qumran cave 4, 4Q521 frag 1, column 1.150 This may extend
to the Amida as part of the Paragraph of the King read at Israelite covenant renewal time.151
Blake Ostler says that in many ways a formal covenant renewal ceremony better explains
most of Benjamins speech, while Mosiah 3:5-4:8 seems to be nineteenth-century expansions
on the atonement stressed at covenant renewal (1QS ii, 25-iii, 12). Ostler quotes John Eaton:

Since the festival meant close encounter with God, the need for purification,
atonement and forgiveness was readily acknowledged . . . . The ministry of
atonement carried out annually by the post-exilic high priest was largely inherited

145
Koehler & Baumgartner, LVTL, 833.
146
See note #670 (Alma 31:21) in Book of Mormon Critical Text, 2nd ed.; cf. Josephus, Jewish War, VII,
10, 3 (427 pyrgos); TB Sukka 51b (5:2), Soa 7:8 (41a).
147
Albright, JEA, VI:92 n. 5.
148
As noted by John Tvedtnes, Vestiges.
149
Eisenman, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians (Rockport, Mass: Element, 1996), 8, 424; E.
Werner, The Sacred Bridge, 11-13,15-16.
150
R. Eisenman & M. Wise, The Dead Sea Scrolls Uncovered (Penguin, 1992), 20-21.
151
Compare Deuteronomy 17:14-20, 2 Chronicles 20:3-5, 1 Esdras 9:37-55, 1QS (Manual of Discipline)
1:16 - 2:19, and Babylonian Talmud Soa 7:6,8 (38a,41a), for the Amida as part of the "Portion of the
King" at Covenant Renewal time; cf. J. Tvedtnes, "The Nephite Feast of Tabernacles." In John W. Welch,
ed., Tinkling Cymbals: Essays in Honor of Hugh Nibley (Los Angeles, 1978), 159-160 = Tvedtnes, King
Benjamin and the Feast of Tabernacles, in J. M Lundquist & S. D. Ricks, eds., By Study and Also by Faith:
Essays in Honor of Hugh W. Nibley on the Occasion of His Eightieth Birthday, 27 Mrch 1990, 2 vols.
(FARMS/Deseret, 1990), II:224-226.
26

from the king.152

Hirsch Miller provides the following, unavoidable puns in his 1922 Hebrew translation of the
Book of Mormon:

Alma 31:13 bny hy bm mqm gbah mqmat lamd


14 mad al gapy habbm

Compare also the way in which feminine Hebrew qom , height (cf. Jaredite
RAMAH = Nephite CUMORAH), interestingly falls together with Hebrew ram hill,
high153 at Isaiah 10:33 ram-qm 2 Nephi 20:33 high of stature; the tallest, the
ones standing highest.154 We may posit a similar construct form in the case of Rameumptom
as well.

------------------------------------------------

SHEAR-JASHUB

Biblical epithet in Isaiah (2 Nephi 17:3 Isaiah7:3)

PMS inserts hyphen. Symbolic epithet/name of first son of Isaiah (2 Nephi 17:3 Isaiah7:3), KJV
Shear-jashub Hebrew a remnant shall return)155; with word-play on Shear-Jashub at Isaiah
10:21-22.

--------------------------------------------

SHELEM

Mount in Old World, named because of its exceeding height (Ether 3:1).

Possibly a form of Hebrew-Arabic sllam ladder, stairway; elevation (Genesis 28:12 stairway
to heaven),156 cognate with Akkadian simmiltu stairway,as in simmelat ammi stairs of
heaven.157

152
Blake Ostler, Dialogue 20/1 (Spring 1987):92-93 ( -123), citing John H. Eaton, Festal Drama in
Deutero-Isaiah (London: SPCK, 1979), 11,33, and Ezekiel 45:17; 1 Kings 8.
153
Koehler & Baumgartner, HALOT, III:1240, eminence (1 Samuel 22:6); high place (Ezekiel 16:24-
25,31,39); as a toponym Height, Elevated-place, always with the article harama = LXX Greek
, , or .
154
Koehler & Baumgartner, LVTL, 833.
155
Bartelt in A. Beck, ed., Fortunate the Eyes That See, 170 n. 18.
156
Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites, 2nd ed., CWHN V:242.
157
HALOT, II:757; Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 263; CAD S 273-274.
27

Also possibly the term for an offering on a temple mount, by synecdoche the mount itself,
Hebrew elem, lmm tribute, retribution, reward, thanksgiving (peace offerings Leviticus
7:11-15, Amos 5:22)158; piel of alam, illem requite, recompense (a toponym in Genesis
46:24, Numbers 26:49); illum, repayment, retribution (Hosea 9:7, Isaiah 34:8, Micah 7:3);
allem, make amends; repay, reward, requite; cf. Punic lm kll, holocaust, offering, CIS,
I:165, from Marseille); Ugaritic lmm (pl), gifts sent as pledges of peace.159

--------------------------------------------

SHEMLON

Lamanite land, ca. 178 BC (Mosiah 10:7; Alma 23:12).

Despite misgivings by Jo Ann Hacket, Paul Hoskisson, and John Gee, this may simply be a
dialectical variant on the biblical personal and place-name Shimron/Shimrom (Genesis 46:13,
Numbers 26:24, Joshua 11:1, 19:15, 1 Chronicles 7:1), and place name Shimron-Meron (Joshua
12:20), which may, as Pedro Olavarria suggests, be derived from Hebrew mar "to guard,
keep watch," with possible word-play based on that meaning in Mosiah 10:7 guard against
them (cf. Isaiah 62:6, Judges 7:19) -- through a plausible interchange160 of -l- and -r- (=
Egyptian Ysyrir,161 Iir; = Eg. Iqrn; = Eg. qrt, qrit, qriw bolt, lock, Dem. qlt;
= Arab. qalb, qulb; Akk. Aur-bni-apli Ashurbanipal Hebrew snappar). The same
root is the source of several other biblical names, including Shomer, Shamir, Shamur, Shemer,
Shimrith, Shimrath, Shemariah, and Samaria (mrn = Akkadian Samernya). These same
considerations would apply to a homonymous Hebrew verb mar to rage (Akkadian
amru),162 in a participial or nominal form meaning rage, fury.

--------------------------------------------

SHEREM

Eloquent man who comes among the Nephites and denies Christ, demands sign, and
emphasizes Law of Moses (Jacob 7:1-20), possibly a descendant of Zoram.163

158
Gary Anderson, Sacrifice and Sacrificial Offerings (OT), in Freedman, ed., ABD, V:878-879.
159
R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, II:427.
160
Lipiski, Semitic Languages, 2.4, Egyptian did not distinguish between r and l in their script;
Antonio Loprieno, , Ancient Egyptian, Table 3.1 note c, shows that the lateral dental /l/ is frequently
conveyed by <n> and <r>, more rarely by <>.
161
Budge, Hieroglyphic Dictionary, 965, citing Israel Stele 27, and El Amarna Letters.
162
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 412-413, citing CAD 296a, and AHW 1154a.
163
A. Keith Thompson, Who Was Sherem? Interpreter, 14 (2015):1-15.
28

Gordon C. Thomasson suggests that the name is metonymic He-who-was-smitten; devoted-to-


destruction, employing a Semito-Egyptian -causative prefix on the Semitic root rm ban,
taboo, consecrated for destruction, which with the causative prefix would mean condemn to
death, destroy (Jacob 7:14 God shall smite thee; 15 the power of God came upon him). Cf.
also Semitic - and -causatives in Akkadian, Arabic, Aramaic, Geez, Jibbali, and Minaean.164

---------------------------------------------

ZARAHEMLA

This refers to a royal descendant of MULEK, son of King Zedekiah of Judah, and ancestor of
AMMON, and CORIANTUMR (Omni 14,18, Mosiah 7:3,13, 25:2, Helaman 1:15); it also refers to
the people of (Omni 14, Mosiah 1:18, 7:13-14), and is a toponym (Omni 12-13,24,28, Mosiah
1:1,18, 2:4, 7:9,13-14, Mormon 1:6,10).

It possibly comes from a hypothetical Hebrew *zera-eml Seed of Compassion (JH, JAT),165
or Merciful scattering, employing mal to spare, have compassion on, and eml mercy,
compassion, pity, commiseration (Genesis 19:16, 1 Samuel 15:9), and the same Semitic root is
a loanword (ml) in 20th Dynasty Egypt as a-ma-nra Be merciful, Have compassion!166 Paul
Hoskisson argues that eml looks like a feminine participle from the verb to pity. If so, the
preceding element in the name would probably not be a verb, thus perhaps leaving us with the
meaning Merciful-scion, Seed-who-is-spared.

However, if it is not simply a dissimilated form of it, this proposed name may have the meaning,
and be structured somewhat like Hebrew zera hammlk royal descendant (Jeremiah 41:1,
2 Kings 25:25, Ezekiel 17:13, Daniel 1:3), zera hammamlk royal descendant (2 Kings
11:1),167 and like Hebrew zera lhm progeny of God, godly offspring (Malachi 2:15),168 and
the Neo-Babylonian PN Zer-babili,169 the PN of the late biblical prince and governor Zerubbabel
Scion/Offspring of Babylon, Seed-of-Babylon, Born-in-Babylon (1 Chronicles 3:19, Ezra 3:2 =

164
Alan Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1957), 275; Patrick Bennett, Comparative Semitic
Linguistics (Eisenbrauns, 1998), 53.
165
Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, in G. Khan, et al., eds., Encyclopedia of Hebrew
Language and Linguistics, 4 vols. (Brill, 2013), online at
http://referenceworks.brillonline.com/browse/encyclopedia-of-hebrew-language-and-linguistics .
166
James Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period,
226-227.
167
Tawil, Akkadian Lexical Companion, 95-96.
168
A. Hill, Malachi, Anchor Bible 25D (Yale Univ. Press/ Doubleday, 1998), 201.
169
So B. Beyer in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, VI:1085.
29

Sheshbazzar, Ezra 1:8; NT Zorobabel Matthew 1:12-13).170 Note also that each is a royal
descendant of the House of David. Word-play based on this etymology has been found by
Pedro Olavarria and David Bokovoy at Mosiah 9:2, and 3 Nephi 8:24 (based on use of ml
spared at 1 Samuel 15:9),171 but the alternative meaning as royal descendant may play on
a descendant of Mulek (Mosiah 25:2), which is also indicated by Helaman 8:21 seed of
Zedekiah = people of Zarahemla (a descendant of Mulek, son of King Zedekiah of Judah).172

Less likely is hypothetical Hebrew *zr-emla Arm of mercy, an English phrase used thrice
in the Book of Mormon, including once by Jesus at 3 Nephi 9:14, which could be a play on
words (pun) on the name of ZARAHEMLA (using a folk etymology), whose destruction he had
just mentioned (John A. Tvedtnes). Cf. for example, the reading of zera in MT, which is not
supported by LXX Greek omos shoulder and Vulgate brachium forearm, which means that
the correct reading should be zra arm.173

Margaret Barker combines several of these meanings into complex wordplay designed to
communicate the deeper meaning of the Servant Songs of Isaiah: To whom has the arm
[zra] of the LORD been revealed? can also mean To whom has the seed/ son [zera] of the
LORD been revealed? (Isaiah 53:1 Mosiah 14:1; cf. Mosiah 15:31 The Lord hath made bare
his holy arm) without changing the Hebrew consonantal text especially since the next line
reads he grew up before him as a suckling child (Isaiah 53:2 [RSV young plant; LXX little
child] Mosiah 14:2) and this coheres with Isaiah 53:10 Mosiah 14:10 he shall see his seed/
offspring, which can also be read he shall be revealed as the son.174

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ZEBULUN, ZEBULON

Derived from Hebrew zebul exalted; exalted abode (Genesis 30:20, 49:13, Isaiah 63:15, 2;
Nephi 19:1 Isaiah 9:1), as a pun on dwell with me or honor me.175

170
J. Tvedtnes, Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon, 3, citing especially Stephen Ricks & John
Tvedtnes, The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place-Names, Journal of Book of Mormon
Studies 6/2 (Fall 1997):259.
171
In Insights 30/5 (2010), online at http://mi.byu.edu/publications/insights/?vol=30&num=58&id=917 ,
and at MDDB online at http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/52705-zarahemla-revisiting-the-seed-of-
compassion/. Cf. Helaman 8:21 seed of Zedekiah = people of Zarahemla.
172
Robert F. Smith, FARMS Update Feb 1984 = Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon 142-144;
John Tvedtnes, Hebraisms in the Book of Mormon, 1994 FARMS Book of Mormon Lecture (Provo:
FARMS, 1994), 12.
173
A. Hill, Malachi, AB 25D (Yale/Doubleday, 1998), 9, 200-201.
174
Barker, Temple Mysticism, 157, 162.
175
LDS Holy Bible (1979), 46 n.
30

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Bibliography

S. B. Noegel, ed., Puns and Pundits: Wordplay in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern
Literature Bethesda, MD: CDL Press, 2000.