Men of the East

Chapter 2

Men of the East

Strange Names

The stamp of Egypt on Lehi’s people may be clearly discerned in the names of
those people and their descendants. Hebrew and Egyptian names together make
up the overwhelming majority and occur in about equal strength, which is exactly
what one would expect from Mormon’s claim that both languages were used among
them (and which would certainly not be the case were Hebrew the only
spoken language), but Hittite, Arabic, and Ionian elements are not missing.
First, consider a few Egyptian names, setting off the Book of Mormon names (BM)
against their Old World equivalents (OW).1

Aha (BM), son of Nephite commander in chief.
Aha (OW), a name of the first Pharaoh; it means “warrior”
and is a common word.

Aminadab (BM), Nephite missionary in time of the judges.
Amanathabi (OW), chief of a Canaanite city under Egyptian domination.
The name is “reformed” Egyptian.

Ammon (BM), the commonest name in the Book of Mormon.
Ammon (Amon, Amun) (OW), the commonest name in the Egyptian
Empire: the great universal God of the Empire.

Ammoni-hah (BM), name of a country and city.
Ammuni-ra (OW), prince of Beyrut under Egyptian rule. The above
might stand the same relationship to this name as

Cameni-hah (BM), a Nephite general, does to
Khamuni-ra (OW), Amarna personal name, perhaps equivalent of

Cezoram (BM), Nephite chief judge.
Chiziri (OW), Egyptian governor of a Syrian city.

Giddonah (BM), a) high priest who judge Korihor, b) father
of Amulek.
Dji-dw-na (OW), the Egyptian name for Sidon.

Gidgiddoni and Gidgiddonah (BM), Nephite
Djed-djhwt-iw-f and Djed-djhwti-iw-s plus
ankh (OW), Egyptian proper names meaning “Thoth hath said:
he shall live,” and “Thoth hath said: she shall live,” respectively.3
On this pattern the two Nephite names mean “Thoth hath said I shall live,”
and “Thoth hath said: we shall live,” respectively.

Giddianhi (BM), robber chief and general.
Djhwti-ankhi (OW), “Thoth is my life”; see above.

Gimgim-no (BM), city of Gimgim, compare Biblical No-Amon,
“City of Amon.”
Kenkeme (OW), Egyptian city, cf. Kipkip, seat of the Egyptian
dynasty in Nubia.

Hem (BM), brother of the earlier Ammon.
Hem (OW), means “servant,” specifically of Ammon,
as in the title Hem tp n ‘Imn, “chief servant of Ammon” held
by the high priest of Thebes.

Helaman (BM), great Nephite prophet.
Her-amon (OW), “in the presence of Amon,” as in the
Egyptian proper name Heri-i-her-imn.4
Semitic “l” is always written “r” in Egyptian, which has
no “l.” Conversely, the Egyptian “r” is often written “l”
in Semitic languages.

Himni (BM), a son of King Mosiah.
Hmn (OW), a name of the Egyptian hawk-god, symbol of the emperor.

Korihor (BM), a political agitator who was seized by the people
of Ammon.
Kherihor (also written Khurhor, etc.) (OW), great high priest
of Ammon who seized the throne of Egypt at Thebes, cir. 1085 B.C.

Manti (BM), the name of a Nephite soldier, a land, a city,
and a hill.
(OW), Semitic form of an Egyptian proper name,
e.g., Manti-mankhi, a prince in Upper Egypt cir. 650 B.C. It is a late form
of Month, god of Hermonthis.

Mathoni (BM), a Nephite disciple.
Maitena, Mattenos, etc. (OW), two judges of
Tyre, who at different times made themselves king, possibly under the Egyptian

Morianton (BM), the name of a Nephite city and its founder,
cf. the Nephite province Moriantum.
Meriaton and Meriamon (OW), names of Egyptian
princes, “Beloved of Aton” and “Beloved of Amon” respectively.

Nephi (BM), founder of the Nephite nation.
Nehi, Nehri (OW), famous Egyptian noblemen.
Nfy was the name of an Egyptian captain. Since BM insists on
“ph,” Nephi is closer to Nihpi,
original name of the god Pa-nepi, which may even have been Nephi.5

Paanchi (BM), son of Pahoran, Sr., and pretender to the chief-judgeship.
Paanchi (OW), son of Kherihor, a) chief high priest of Amon,
b) ruler of the south who conquered all of Egypt and was high priest of Amon
at Thebes.

Pahoran (BM), a) great chief judge, b) son of the same.
Pa-her-an (OW), ambassador of Egypt in Palestine, where his
name has the “reformed” reading Pahura; in Egyptian as Pa-her-y it
means “the Syrian” or Asiatic.

Pacumeni (BM), son of Pahoran.
Pakamen (OW), Egyptian proper name meaning “blind man”;
also Pamenches (Gk. Pachomios), commander of the south and
high priest of Horus.

Pachus (BM), revolutionary leader and usurper of the throne.
Pa-ks and Pach-qs (OW), Egyptian proper name.
Compare Pa-ches-i, “he is praised.”

Sam (BM), brother of Nephi.
Sam Tawi (OW), Egyptian “uniter of the lands,” title
taken by the brother of Nehri upon mounting the throne.

Seezor-am and Zeezr-om (BM), a depraved judge,
and a lawyer, resp., the latter also the name of a city.
Zoser, Zeser, etc. (OW), Third Dynasty ruler,
one of the greatest Pharaohs.

Zemna-ri-hah (BM), robber chief.
Zmn-ha-re (OW), Egyptian proper name: the same elements as
the above in different order—a common Egyptian practice.

Zeniff (BM), ruler of Nephite colony.
Znb, Snb (OW), very common elements in Egyptian
proper names, cf. Senep-ta.

Zenoch (BM), according to various Nephite writers, an ancient
Hebrew prophet.
Zenekh (OW), Egyptian proper name; once a serpent-god.

It will be noted that the names compared are rarely exactly alike,
except in the case of the monosyllables Sam and Hem. This,
strangely enough, is strong confirmation of their common origin, since names
are bound to undergo some change with time and distance, whereas if the resemblance
were perfect, we should be forced to attribute it, however fantastic it might
seem, to mere coincidence. There must be differences; and what is more,
those differences should not be haphazard but display definite tendencies. This
brings us to a most impressive aspect of Book of Mormon names.

Let us take for example the case of Ammon. Being so very popular a
name, one would expect it to occur in compounds as well as alone, and sure enough,
it is the commonest element in compound names, in the West as in Egypt. But
in compound names Amon or Amun changes form following a general
rule. Gardiner in his Egyptian Grammar states:

A very important class of personal names is that
containing the names known as theophorous, i.e. compound names in which one
element is the name of a deity. Now in Graeco-Roman transcriptions it is the
rule that when such a divine name stands at the beginning of a compound
[the italics are Gardiner’s], it is less heavily vocalized than when it stands
independently or at the end of a compound.6

The author then goes on to show that in such cases Amon or Amun
regularly becomes Amen, while in some cases the vowel may disappear entirely.
One need only consider the Book of Mormon Aminidab, Aminadi,
Amminihu, Amnor, etc., to see how neatly the rule applies
in the West. In the name Helaman, on the other hand, the strong vocalization
remains, since the “divine name” is not “stated at the beginning
of the compound. Since the Semitic “l” must always be rendered
as “r” in Egyptian (which has no “l“) Helaman
would in “unreformed” Egyptian necessarily appear as the
typically Egyptian Heramon.

The great frequency of the element Mor– in Book of Mormon proper names
is in striking agreement with the fact that in the lists of Egyptian names compiled
by Lieblein and Ranke the element Mr is, next to Nfr alone,
by far the commonest.

In an article in The Improvement Era for April 1948, the author drew
attention to the peculiar tendency of Book of Mormon names to concentrate in
Upper Egypt, in and south of Thebes. At the time he was at a loss to explain
such a strange phenomenon, but the answer is now clear.7
When Jerusalem fell, most of Lehi’s contemporaries who escaped went to Egypt,
where their principal settlement seems to have been at Elephantine or Yeb, south
of Thebes. It would seem, in fact, that the main colonization of Elephantine
was at that time, and from Jerusalem.8
What then could be more natural than that the refugees who fled to Egypt from
Lehi’s Jerusalem should have Book of Mormon names, since Lehi’s people took
their names from the same source?

One serious objection to using Book of Mormon names as philological evidence
must not be passed by without an answer. Upon seeing these strange words before
him, how could the illiterate Joseph Smith have known how to pronounce them?
And upon hearing them, how could his half-educated scribe have known how to
write them down phonetically? Remember, these names are not translations into
English like the rest of the book but remain bits of the authentic Nephite language.
Between them, the guesses of the prophet as to pronunciation and the guesses
of Oliver Cowdery as to transcription would be bound to make complete havoc
of the original titles. Only there was no guessing. According to David Whitmer
and Emma Smith in interviews appearing in The Saints Herald and pointed
out to the author by Preston Nibley, Joseph never pronounced the proper names
he came upon in the plates during the translation but always spelled them
.9 Hence there can be no doubt
that they are meant as they stand to be as accurate and authentic as it is possible
to render them in our alphabet.

But Egypt was not everything. Palestine was always a melting pot and more
so than ever in Lehi’s day, when the whole Near East was being thoroughly
mixed by the operations of commerce and war. Lists of skilled workmen living
at Babylon immediately after the fall of Jerusalem show an almost unbelievable
mixture of types.10

Since the Old Testament was available to Joseph Smith, there is no point in
listing Hebrew names, but their Book of Mormon forms are significant.
The strong tendency to end in –iah is very striking, since the vast
majority of Hebrew names found at Lachish end the same way, indicating that
iah names were very fashionable in Lehi’s time.11
Hebrew names turned up on ancient jar handles from other places also have a
familiar Book of Mormon ring: Hezron, Memshath, Ziph (BM Ziff), Jether, Epher,
Jalon, Ezer, Menahem, Lecah, Amnon (BM Amnor), Zoheth, etc.,12
would never be suspected if inserted into a list of Book of Mormon names. The
Book of Mormon does give the right type of Hebrew name.

What comes as a surprise is that a number of Book of Mormon names are possibly
Hittite, and some of them are undoubtedly so. Thus while Manti suggests Egyptian
Mont, Manti, Menedi, etc., it also recalls the Egyptian name of a Hittite city,
Manda, and a characteristic element of Hurrian names (much of Hittite is really
Hurrian, as Professor Goetze has shown) -anti, -andi, likewise fairly common
in the Book of Mormon.13 So likewise
Cumeni, Kumen-onhi, Kisk-kumen (Eg.-Hitt. Kumani,
an important city), Seantum (Eg.-Hitt. Sandon, Sandas), Akish
(Eg.-Hitt. Achish, a name of Cyprus), Gadiandi (Eg. for a Hittite city,
Cadyanda).14 Their Egyptian form implies
that these names reached the people of Lehi not directly but through normal
routes, though it has recently been shown that some of Lehi’s important contemporaries
were Hittites, and that Hittite settlements and names still survived in the
hill country of Judah in his time.15

The occurrence of the names Timothy and Lachoneus in the
Book of Mormon is strictly in order, however odd it may seem at first glance.
Since the fourteenth century B.C. at latest, Syria and Palestine had been in
constant contact with the Aegean world, and since the middle of the seventh
century Greek mercenaries and merchants, closely bound to Egyptian interests
(the best Egyptian mercenaries were Greeks), swarmed throughout the Near East.16
Lehi’s people, even apart from their mercantile activities, could not have avoided
considerable contact with these people in Egypt and especially in Sidon, which
Greek poets even in that day were celebrating as the great world center of trade.
It is interesting to note in passing that Timothy is an Ionian name, since the
Greeks in Palestine were Ionians (hence the Hebrew name for Greeks: “Sons
of Javanim”), and—since “Lachoneus” means “a Laconian”—that
the oldest Greek traders were Laconians, who had colonies in Cyprus (BM Akish)
and of course traded with Palestine.17

The compiler of these studies was once greatly puzzled over the complete absence
of Baal names from the Book of Mormon. By what unfortunate oversight
had the authors of that work failed to include a single name containing the
element Baal, which thrives among the personal names of the Old Testament?
Having discovered, as we thought, that the book was in error, we spared no criticism
at the time, and indeed had its neglect of Baal names not been strikingly
vindicated in recent years it would be a black mark against it. Now we learn,
however, that the stubborn prejudice of our text against Baal names
is really the only correct attitude it could have taken, and this discovery,
flying in the face of all our calculation and preconceptions, should in all
fairness weigh at least as heavily in the book’s favor as the supposed error
did against it.

It happens that for some reason or other the Jews at the beginning of the sixth
century B.C. would have nothing to do with Baal names. An examination
of Elephantine name lists shows that “the change of Baal names, by substitution,
is in agreement with Hosea’s foretelling that they should be no more used by
the Israelites, and consequently it is most interesting to find how the latest
archaeological discoveries confirm the Prophet, for out of some four hundred
personal names among the Elephantine papyri not one is compounded of Baal.”18

Since Elephantine was settled largely by Israelites who fled from Jerusalem
after its destruction, their personal names should show the same tendencies
as those in the Book of Mormon. Though the translator of that book might by
the exercise of superhuman cunning have been warned by Hosea 2:17 to eschew
Baal names, yet the meaning of that passage is so far from obvious
that Albright as late as 1942 finds it “very significant that seals and
inscriptions from Judah, which . . . are very numerous in the seventh
and early sixth [centuries], seem never to contain any Baal names.”19
It is very significant indeed, but hardly more so than the uncanny acumen which
the Book of Mormon displays on this point.

Speaking of the occurrence of a few Arabic names in the Old Testament, Margoliouth
observes, “Considering . . . that the recorded names are those
of an infinitesimal fraction of the population, the coincidence is extraordinary.”
20 This consideration applies with multiple force to the Book of Mormon, where
the many names coinciding with Old World forms represent “but an infinitesimal
fraction” of the Nephite population.

Lehi and the Arabs

Lehi was very rich, and he was a trader, for his wealth was in the form of
“all manner of riches” (1 Nephi 3:16) such as had to be brought
from many places. His world was a world of travelers and merchants. The princes
of the Delta were merchants,21 the princes of the Syrian and Palestinian
cities were also, as the Amarna tablets show, merchants; the story of Wenamon
tells us that the princes of Phoenicia and Philistia were merchants; the Arab
princes of the desert were merchants; and the merchants of Egypt and Babylonia
would meet in their tents to transact business;22 the two wisest of the Greeks,
Lehi’s great contemporaries Solon and Thales, both traveled extensively in
the East—on business.

Very significant is the casual notice that Lehi once had a vision in a desert
place “as he went forth” (1 Nephi 1:5), as he went he prayed, we are
told, and as he prayed a vision came to him. The effect of the vision was to
make him hasten back “to his own house at Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 1:17),
where he had yet greater visions, showing that it was not necessary for him
to “go forth” either to pray or to have visions; he did not go forth
expecting a vision—for when a vision came he immediately returned home—but
one came to him in the course of a regular journey as he went about
his business and forced him to change his plans.

Lehi’s precious things and gold came to him in exchange for his wine, oil,
figs, and honey (of which he seems to know a good deal), not only by sea (hence
the great importance of Sidon), but necessarily and especially by caravan
as well. “Israel,” says Montgomery, “looked to the desert.
There alone commercially were its possible profits, by way of the great trade
routes . . . to Syria, . . . to the Mediterranean and
Egypt, or . . . to the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf. To the west
it was blocked off by the Egyptians, Philistines, Phoenicians, Syrians, cleverer
traders than the Hebrews.” Since Egypt controlled this western trade,
it is easy to see how Lehi could profit by making the most of his Egyptian
training and background. Though these western outlets were open in Lehi’s
day due to a policy of close cooperation with western powers against Babylonia,
the rule always was that the desert trade, specifically that of the South
Desert, was the one reliable source of wealth for the men of Jerusalem.23

There is ample evidence in the Book of Mormon that Lehi was an expert on
caravan travel, as one might expect. Consider a few general points. Upon receiving
a warning dream, he is ready apparently at a moment’s notice to take his whole
“family, and provisions, and tents” out into the wilderness (1 Nephi
2:4). While he took absolutely nothing but the most necessary provisions with
him (1 Nephi 2:4), he knew exactly what those provisions should be, and when
he had to send back to the city to supply unanticipated wants, it was for
records that he sent and not for any necessaries for the journey. This argues
a high degree of preparation and knowledge in the man, as does the masterly
way in which he established a base camp in order to gather his forces for
the great trek, in the best manner of modern explorers in Arabia.24 Up until
Lehi leaves that base camp, that is, until the day when he receives the Liahona,
he seems to know just where he is going and exactly what he is doing: there
is here no talk of being “led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand”
as with Nephi in the dark streets of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 4:6).

His family accuse Lehi of folly in leaving Jerusalem and do not spare his
personal feelings in making fun of his dreams and visions, yet they never
question his ability to lead them. They complain, like all Arabs, against
the terrible and dangerous deserts through which they pass, but they do not
include ignorance of the desert among their hazards, though that would be
their first and last objection to his wild project were the old man nothing
but a city Jew unacquainted with the wild and dangerous world of the waste

Lehi himself never mentions inexperience among his handicaps. Members of the
family laugh contemptuously when Nephi proposes to build a ship (1 Nephi 17:17—20),
and might well have quoted the ancient proverb, “Do not show an Arab the
sea or to a Sidonian the desert, for their work is different.” 25
But while they tell him he is “lacking in judgment” (1 Nephi 17:19)
to build a ship, they never mock their brother’s skill as a hunter or treat
him as dude in the desert. The fact that he brought a fine steel bow with him
from home and that he knew well how to use that difficult weapon shows
that Nephi had hunted much in his short life.

Lehi has strong ties with the desert in his family background. Twenty-six
hundred years ago the Jews felt themselves much closer to the people of the
desert than they have in subsequent times. “We come to realize,”
says Montgomery, “that Israel had its face turned towards those quarters
we call the Desert, and that this was its nearest neighbor.” The Jews
themselves were desert people originally, and they never forgot it:26 “This
constant seeping-in of desert wanderers still continues. . . . There
is no barrier of race or language or caste or religion” between them
and their desert cousins.27 We have often been told that the patriarchs of
old were wandering Bedouins, though far from barbaric;28 their language was
that of the desert people, many of whose words are to this day closer to Hebrew
than to modern Arabic.29 As recently as 2000 B.C. Hebrew and Arabic had not
yet emerged from “what was substantially a common language, understood
from the Indian Ocean to the Taurus and from the Zagros to the frontier of
Egypt. This common language (excluding Accadian . . .) was probably almost
as homogeneous as was Arabic a thousand years ago.”30 A curious and
persistent homogeneity of culture and language has characterized the people
of the Near East in every age, so that Margoliouth can affirm that “a
Sabaean (south Arabian) would in fact have found little to puzzle him in the
first verse of Genesis.”31 “The Hebrews remained Arabs,” is
the verdict of a modern authority; “their literature . . .
in its recorded forms, is of Arab scheme and type.”32 It is not surprising
that Professor Margoliouth holds that Arabic seems to hold “the key to
every lock” in the study of the Old Testament.

Of recent years the tendency has been more and more to equate Hebrew and
Arab, and Guillaume concludes the latest study on the subject with the dictum
that the two names are really forms of a common original, both alike referring
to “the sons of Eber.”33 The name Arab is not meant to designate
any particular race, tribe, or nation and “no sharp distinction is made
between Hebrews, Aramaeans, and Arabs in the days of the Patriarchs,”
according to Albright,34 but the word simply designates a way of life, and
was applied by the Jews to their own relatives who remained behind in the
wilderness after they themselves had settled down in the city and country.

One interesting tie between Israel and the Arabs should not be overlooked since
it has direct application to the Book of Mormon. We refer to those Hebrew genealogies
in which “the nomenclature is largely un-Hebraic, with peculiar antique
formations in –an, –on, and in some cases of particular Arabian
origin.” 36 “The loss of the
ending on is quite common in Palestinian place-names,” according to Albright,
referring to places mentioned in Egyptian records. 37
One can recall any number of Book of Mormon place names—Emron, Heshlon,
Jashon, Moron, etc., that have preserved this archaic –on, indicative
of a quaint conservatism among Lehi’s people, and especially of ties with the
desert people.

Now of all the tribes of Israel, Manasseh was the one which lived farthest
out in the desert, came into most frequent contact with the Arabs, intermarried
with them most frequently, and at the same time had the closest traditional
bonds with Egypt.38 And Lehi belonged to the tribe of Manasseh (Alma 10:3).
The prominence of the name of Ammon in the Book of Mormon may have something
to do with the fact that Ammon was Manasseh’s nearest neighbor and often fought
her in the deserts east of Jordan; at the same time a prehistoric connection
with the Ammon of Egypt is not at all out of the question.39 The seminomadic
nature of Manasseh might explain why Lehi seems out of touch with things in
Jerusalem. For the first time he “did discover” (1 Nephi 5:16),
from records kept in Laban’s house, that he was a direct descendant of Joseph.
Why hadn’t he known that all along? Nephi always speaks of “the Jews
who were at Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 2:13) with a curious detachment, and
no one in First Nephi ever refers to them as “the people” or “our
people” but always quite impersonally as “the Jews.” It is
interesting in this connection that the Elephantine letters speak only of
Jews and Aramaeans, never of Israelites.40

Not only do both Nephi and Lehi show marked coolness on the subject of tribal
loyalty, but both also protest that the tribe is not a decisive factor in salvation,
that the same blessings are available to all men at all times and in all parts
of the world (1 Nephi 10:17—22), that “the Lord esteemeth all flesh
in one” (1 Nephi 17:35), there being no such thing as an arbitrarily “chosen”
people (1 Nephi 17:37—40). This is in marked contrast to the fierce chauvinism
of the Jews at Jerusalem and is of a piece with Lehi’s pronounced cosmopolitanism
in other things. Lehi, like Moses and his own ancestor, Joseph, was a man of
three cultures, being educated not only in “the learning of the
Jews and the language of the Egyptians” (1 Nephi 1:2), but in the ways
of the desert as well.41 “There
is a peculiar color and atmosphere to the biblical life,” says Professor
Montgomery, “which gives it its special tone. . . . And that
touch comes from the expanses and the free-moving life of what we call Arabia.”42
The dual culture of Egypt and Israel would have been impossible without the
all-important Arab to be the link between, just as trade between the two nations
was unthinkable without the Bedouin to guide their caravans through his deserts.
Without the sympathetic cooperation of the Arabs any passage through their deserts
was a terrible risk when not out of the question, and the good businessman was
ever the one who knew how to deal with the Arabs—which meant to be one
of them.43

Lachish letter No. 6, in denouncing the prophet Jeremiah for spreading defeatism
both in the country and in the city, shows that Lehi, a supporter of the prophet,
could have been active in either area of “the land of Jerusalem”
(1 Nephi 3:10). Even the remark that Lehi “dwelt at Jerusalem in all
his days” (1 Nephi 1:4) would never have been made by or for people who
would not think of living anywhere else, and a dwelling “at Jerusalem”
would be an aid rather than a hindrance to much travel,44 for “the wilderness
of Judah is a long projection north from the Arabian deserts to the gates
of Jerusalem.”45

The proverbial ancestor of the Arabs is Ishmael. His is one of the few Old
Testament names which is also at home in ancient Arabia.46
His traditional homeland was the Tih, the desert between Palestine and Egypt,
and his people were haunters of the “borders” between the desert and
the town; 47 he was regarded as the
legitimate offspring of Abraham by an Egyptian mother. His was not a name of
good omen, for the angel had promised his mother, “he will be a wild man;
his hand will be against everyone, and every man’s hand against him,”48
so the chances are that one who bore his name had good family reasons for doing
it, and in Lehi’s friend Ishmael we surely have a man of the desert. Lehi, faced
with the prospect of a long journey in the wilderness, sent back for Ishmael,
who promptly followed into the desert with a large party; this means that he
must have been hardly less adept at moving than Lehi himself. The interesting
thing is that Nephi takes Ishmael (unlike Zoram) completely for granted, never
explaining who he is or how he fits into the picture—the act of sending
for him seems to be the most natural thing in the world, as does the marriage
of his daughters with Lehi’s sons. Since it has ever been the custom among the
desert people for a man to marry the daughter of his paternal uncle (bint
), it is hard to avoid the impression that Lehi and Ishmael were related.49

There is a remarkable association between the names of Lehi and Ishmael which
ties them both to the southern desert, where the legendary birthplace and central
shrine of Ishmael was at a place called Be’er Lehai-ro’i.50
Wellhausen rendered the name “spring of the wild-ox jawbone,”51
but Paul Haupt showed that Lehi (for so he reads the name) does not mean “jaw”
but “cheek,”52 which leaves
the meaning of the strange compound still unclear. One thing is certain, however:
that Lehi is a personal name. Until recently this name was entirely unknown
save as a place name, but now it has turned up at Elath and elsewhere in the
south in a form that has been identified by Nelson Glueck with the name Lahai,
which “occurs quite frequently either as a part of a compound, or as a
separate name of a deity or a person, particularly in Minaean, Thamudic, and
Arabic texts.”53 There is a Beit
Lahi, “House of Lahi,” among the ancient place names of the Arab country
around Gaza, but the meaning of the name has here been lost.54
If the least be said of it, the name Lehi is thoroughly at home among
the people of the desert and, so far as we know, nowhere else.

The name of Lemuel is not a conventional Hebrew one, for it occurs only in
one chapter of the Old Testament (Proverbs 31:1, 4), where it is commonly
supposed to be a rather mysterious poetic substitute for Solomon. It is, however,
like Lehi, at home in the south desert, where an Edomite text from “a
place occupied by tribes descended from Ishmael” bears the title, “The
Words of Lemuel, King of Massa.” These people, though speaking a language
that was almost Arabic, were yet well within the sphere of Jewish religion,
for “we have nowhere else any evidence for saying that the Edomites used
any other peculiar name for their deity” than “Yahweh, the God of

The only example of the name of Laman to be found anywhere to the writer’s
knowledge is its attribution to an ancient Mukam, or sacred place,
in Palestine. Most of these Mukams are of unknown, and many of them
of prehistoric, date. In Israel only the tribe of Manasseh built them.56
It is a striking coincidence that Conder saw in the name Leimun, as
he renders it (the vowels must be supplied by guesswork), a possible corruption
of the name Lemuel, thus bringing these two names, so closely associated in
the Book of Mormon, into the most intimate relationship, and that in the one
instance in which the name of Laman appears. 57
Far more popular among the Arabs as among the Nephites was the name Alma, which
can mean a young man, a coat of mail, a mountain, or a sign.58
While Sam is a perfectly good Egyptian name, it is also the normal Arabic form
of Shem, the son of Noah.

It should be noted here that archaeology has fully demonstrated that the
Israelites, then as now, had not the slightest aversion to giving their children
non-Jewish names, even when those names smacked of a pagan background.59
One might, in a speculative mood, even detect something of Lehi’s personal
history in the names he gave to his sons. The first two have Arabic names—do
they recall his early days in the caravan trade? The second two have Egyptian
names, and indeed they were born in the days of his prosperity. The last two,
born amid tribulations in the desert, were called, with fitting humility,
Jacob and Joseph. Whether the names of the first four were meant, as those
of the last two sons certainly were (2 Nephi 2:1; 3:1), to call to mind the
circumstances under which they were born, the names are certainly a striking
indication of their triple heritage.

1. The Egyptian names may be found in
Hermann Ranke, Die Ägyptischen Personennamen (Glückstadt:
Augustin, 1935); Jens D. C. Lieblein, Dictionnaire de noms hiéroglyphiques
(Christiania: Brögger & Christie, 1871); J. A. Knudtzon, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln
(Leipzig: Hinrich, 1915; reprinted Aalen: Zeller, 1964) 2:1555—83; and
scattered throughout the JEA.

2. Knudtzon, Die El-Amarna-Tafeln

3. Ranke, Die Ägyptischen Personennamen,
412, lines 8 and 9.

4. Ibid., 252, line 15.

5. Wilhelm Spiegelberg, “The God Panepi,” JEA 12 (1926): 35.

6. Alan H. Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar
(London: Oxford University Press, 1950), 437.

7. Hugh W. Nibley, “The Book of Mormon as a Mirror of the East,” IE 51
(1948): 249. In 1948, the following had been said: “It requires no great
effort of the imagination to detect a sort of parallelism between the two short
listings. But aren’t we using unjustified violence when we simply take the names
at random and place them side by side? That is just what is most remarkable;
we did pick names at random, and we had the whole Near East to draw on, with
Egyptian names by no means predominating numerically in the lists before us.
Yet the only Old World names that match those in the Book of Mormon episode
all come from Egypt, nay, from one particular section of Egypt, in the far south,
where from an indefinite date, but at least as early as the mid-seventh century,
a Jewish colony flourished. What is more, all these names belong to the later
dynasties, after the decline. The Book of Mormon tells us that Lehi was a rich
merchant, who, though he ‘dwelt in Jerusalem all his days,’ enjoyed an Egyptian
education and culture, which he endeavored to transmit to his children. The
book continually refers to the double culture of the people of Lehi: Hebrew
to the core, but proud of their Egyptian heritage. Egyptian civilization was
one to be admired and aped,’ writes Harry R. H. Hall, speaking of Lehi’s own
land and time. The only non-Hebraic names to enjoy prominence among the Nephites
should, by the Book of Mormon’s own account, be Egyptian, and such is found
to be the case.” After discussing the names Sam and Ammon, as in the text above,
the 1948 article then concluded: “To return to our question: What did Joseph
Smith, translator of the Book of Mormon, know about the Old World? So much seems
certain, that he knew:

“(1) A number of typically Egyptian names, queer-sounding words in no
way resembling Hebrew or any other language known to the world of Joseph Smith’s

“(2) He knew the sort of plot and setting in which those names would figure
in the Old World and seems quite at home on the Egyptian scene.

“(3) He gives a clear and correct picture of cultural relationships between
Egypt and Israel, with due emphasis on its essentially commercial nature, in
the remarkably convincing picture of Lehi—a typical merchant prince of
the seventh century B.C. The picture of life in the ancient east which the Book
of Mormon allows us to reconstruct is the more wonderful in the light of those
fantastic conceptions of the gorgeous East which bedizened the heads of even
the best scholars at the time the book came forth. The whole field of Book of
Mormon names still awaits the careful study it deserves—the purpose of
the present sketch being merely to indicate that such a study will prove anything
but a blind alley. As a parting example of the validity of this claim, we cite
a principle stated by Albright: ‘The loss of the ending on is quite common in
Palestinian place-names.’ William F. Albright, The Vocalization of the Egyptian
Syllabic Orthography
(New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1934) 10:12.
In Egyptian or ‘reformed’ Egyptian such an ending would be preserved, and so
we have Book of Mormon place-names Emron, Heshlon, Jashon, Moron, Morianton,
etc. It is no small feat, as was demonstrated in Harold Lundstrom, ‘Original
Words of the Book of Mormon,’ IE 51 (February 1948): 85, simply to
have picked a lot of strange and original names out of the air. But what shall
we say of the man who was able to pick the right ones?”

8. William F. Albright, “A Brief
History of Judah from the Days of Josiah to Alexander the Great,” BA
9 (February 1946): 4—5.

9. E. C. Briggs, Saints Herald
(21 June 1884), 396—97.

10. William F. Albright, “King
Joiachim in Exile,” BA 5 (December 1942): 51.

11. Harry Torczyner, The Lachish
(London: Oxford University Press, 1938) 1:198. We are following
the spelling used in Torczyner’s text rather than the transliterations in his

12. R. A. Stewart Macalister, “The Craftsmen’s Guild of the Tribe of Judah,”
PEFQ (1905), 333.

13. Ephraim A. Speiser, “Introduction
to Hurrian,” AASOR 20 (1941): 216 (index). But Jens D. C. Lieblein, Handel
und Schiffahrt auf dem rothen Meere in alten Zeiten
(Leipzig: Christiania,
1886; reprinted Amsterdam: Meridian, 1971), 143—44, finds the name Anti
in the far south, around the Red Sea.

14. Other references to Egypto-Hittite names are found in Sidney Smith, “Kizzuwadna,”
JEA 10 (1924): 108; Anton L. Mayer & John Garstang, “Kizzuwadna
and Other Hittite States,” JEA 11 (1925): 24 (Cadyanda), 26 (Kumani);
Gerald A. Wainwright, “Keftiu,” JEA 17 (1931): 27—29, 43
(Sandon), 35, 38, 40 (Achish).

15. Emil O. Forrer, “The Hittites in Palestine II,” PEFQ (1937),

16. Robert H. Pfeiffer, “Hebrews and Greeks Before Alexander,” JBL 56
(1937): 91—95, 101; William F. Albright, “A Colony of Cretan Mercenaries
on the Coast of the Negeb,” JPOS 1 (1921): 187—94; Joseph G. Milne, “Trade
Between Greece and Egypt Before Alexander the Great,” JEA 25 (1939):
178; F. B. Welch, “The Influence of the Aegean Civilization on South Palestine,”
PEFQ (1900), 342—50. At Tel-el-Hesy, just west of Lachish, “the
Greek influence begins at 700 B.C., and continues to the top of the town.”
William M. F. Petrie, in PEFQ (1890), 235. Nelson Glueck, “Ostraca
from Elath,” BASOR 80 (December 1940): 3.

17. Eduard Meyer, Geschichte des
, 2nd ed. (Stuttgart: Cotta, 1928), vol. 2, pt. 1, p. 553.

18. Joseph Offord, “Further Illustrations of the Elephantine Aramaic Jewish
Papyri,” PEFQ (1917), 127.

19. William F. Albright, Archaeology
and the Religion of Israel
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1942), 160.

20. David S. Margoliouth, The
Relations between Arabs and Israel Prior to the Rise of Islam
, Schweich
Lectures (London: Oxford University Press, 1924), 13.

21. Harry R. H. Hall, “The Eclipse
of Egypt,” Cambridge Ancient History (New York: Macmillan, 1925) 3:256,
269, 292.

22. Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums
(Stuttgart: Cotta, 1909), vol. 1, pt. 2, p. 156; Hall, “The Eclipse of
Egypt,” 256.

23. James L. Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1934), 52;
second quote is on 18.

24. The danger of preparing for an
expedition in the city is obvious, since the curiosity aroused leads to dangerous
questions and may have far-reaching effects. See generally, Bertram Thomas,
Arabia Felix (New York: Scribner, 1932), 36; for an account of preparations
and activities at the “base camp,” see ibid., 112—13; Harry S. J.
B. Philby, The Empty Quarter (New York: Holt, 1933), 9—13.

25. Arthur E. Cowley, Aramaic
Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C.
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1923), 226 (col. 14,
1, 208).

26. To this day there are farmers
in Palestine who spend much of their time living in tents on the desert; our
friend Mose Kader was of this class. See George E. Kirk, “The Negev or
the Southern Desert of Palestine,” PEFQ (1941), 60. On the other hand,
H. H. Kitchener, “Major Kitchener’s Report,” PEFQ (1884), 206,
noticed tent-dwelling Arabs, true Bedouins, sowing barley on the land around
Gaza. Of the Moahib Arabs Doughty writes: “Their harvest up, they strike
the hamlets of tents, and with their cattle go forth to wander as nomads,”
Charles M. Doughty, Travels in Arabia Deserta (London: Cape, 1926)
1:276. Carl R. Raswan, Drinkers of the Wind (New York: Creative Age
Press, 1942), describes at length the easy coming and going between desert and
city, rich Arabs of the town often going out to spend a season or a few hours
on the sands. See also J. W. Crowfoot and Grace M. Crowfoot, “The Ivories
from Samaria,” PEFQ (1933), 24. Nearly a contemporary of Lehi is “the
Arabian chief who camped in the outskirts of Jerusalem at Nehemiah’s time and
bore the good North Arabic name of Geshem (Jusham).” Nabih A. Faris, ed., The
Arab Heritage
(New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1944), 35.

27. Montgomery, Arabia and the
, 23; the Montgomery quote earlier in the paragraph is on 185; see
also Eduard Meyer, Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme (Halle,
1906; reprinted Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1967), 209—561.

28. Margoliouth, The Relations
between Arabs and Israel Prior to the Rise of Islam
, 25; Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible
, 186; Philip J. Baldensperger, “The Immovable East,”
PEFQ (1922), 163, and (1926), 93—97. This is not to say that
the patriarchs were “primitives,” for “we are learning to think of
the immigrants not as nomads in the savage or semi-savage state, but as colonists
carrying with them to their new homes the memories of a developed political
organization, with usages and practices, having a history behind them.” Margoliouth,
The Relations between Arabs and Israel Prior to the Rise of Islam,
25. See also, Edouard P. Dhorme, “Le Pays de Job,” RB 8 (1911):
102—7; George A. Barton, “The Original Home of the Story of Job,”
JBL 31 (1912): 63.

29. Baldensperger, “The Immovable East,” PEFQ (1923), 176.

30. William F. Albright, “Recent Progress in North-Canaanite Research,”
BASOR 70 (April 1938): 21.

31. Margoliouth, The Relations
between Arabs and Israel Prior to the Rise of Islam
, 5, 8; Theodor Nöldeke,
Die semitischen Sprachen (Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1899), 52, 57; Meyer,
Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme, 305—7 .

32. Montgomery, Arabia and the
, 53, citing Duncan B. MacDonald, The Hebrew Literary Genius
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1933), 26—27.

33. “I do not think that there is much doubt that the Hebrews were what
we should call Arabs, using the term in its widest sense.” Alfred Guillaume,
“The Habiru, the Hebrews, and the Arabs,” PEFQ (1946), 65—67.

34. Albright, “Recent Progress in North-Canaanite Research,” 21.

35. Guillaume, “The Habiru, the
Hebrews, and the Arabs,” 64—85; Stephen L. Caiger, Bible and Spade
(London: Oxford University Press, 1936), 84—85.

36. Montgomery, Arabia and the
, 47.

37. William F. Albright, Vocalization
of Egyptian Syllabic Orthography
(New Haven: American Oriental Society,
1934), 50 (ch. 10, C, line 12).

38. Abraham Bergman, “The Israelite Tribe of Half-Manasseh,” JPOS 16
(1936): 225, 228, 249; Moses H. Segal, “The Settlement of Manasseh East
of the Jordan,” PEFQ (1918), 124.

39. It has been suggested that Ammon, like his competitor Aton, was originally
from Syria-Palestine, a theory that has somewhat to recommend it, expecially
since Wainwright has shown the pre-historic Palestinian associations of Min
of Coptos (the original Amon). Gerald A. Wainwright, “The Emblem of Min,”
JEA 17 (1931): 185—95; and Gerald A. Wainwright, “Letopolis,”
JEA 18 (1932): 161—63.

40. Albright, Archaeology and
the Religion of Israel
, 171.

41. In the 1950 magazine version,
Nibley noted: “This three-cornered culture is an established pattern in
that part of the world where the caravans of Egypt and Israel pass each other,
guided through the sands by those men of the desert who were the immemorial
go-between of the two civilizations.” Hugh W. Nibley, “Lehi in the Desert,”
IE 53 (1950): 155. “The natural character of the Bedu
tribes has always been to act as a kind of intermediary people, with no fixed
politics.” Baldensperger, “The Immovable East,” PEFQ (1925),
85. Even today “the ‘Arishiye(t) Bedus on the Egyptian frontier carry goods
by land from Gaza to Egypt and vice versa. They are a peculiar intermediate-class;
they practice commerce and agriculture and are camel rearers.” Ibid. , PEFQ
(1922), 161. Cf. John L. Burckhardt, Notes on the Bedouins and Wahábys
(London: Colburn & Bently, 1831), 1:9, 26—27, 30—31, 275—76.
In the sixth century B.C. the Arabs took Gaza, the northern anchor of the Egyptian
trade line. Herodotus, Histories III, 5; III, 7; III, 91; William F.
Albright, “Egypt and the Early History of the Negeb,” JPOS 4
(1924): 130. Arab merchants, enriched by the three-cornered trade founded the
Nabataean state. Kirk, “The Negev or the Southern Desert of Palestine,”
62. At all times the Palestine-Egyptian trade was the main, if not the only
source of wealth to these people. Taufik Canaan, “Byzantine Caravan Routes
in the Negeb,” JPOS 2 (1922): 144. On the antiquity of the three-cornered
trade, see Lieblein, Handel und Schiffahrt auf dem rothen Meere in alten
, 76, 134—36; William J. T. Phythian-Adams, “Israel in
the Arabah,” PEFQ (1941), 61—62; Stewart Perowne, “Note
on I Kings, Chapter X, 1—13,” PEFQ (1939), 201; Albright,
“Egypt and the Early History of the Negeb,” 130—32.

42. Montgomery, Arabia and the
, 5.

43. Baldensperger, “The Immovable
East,” PEFQ (1925), 85 and (1922), 161; Burckhardt, Notes on the
Bedouins and Wahábys
1:9, 26—27, 30—31; Kirk, “The
Negev or the Southern Desert of Palestine,” 62; Canaan, “Byzantine
Caravan Routes in the Negeb,” 144; Phythian-Adams, “Israel in the
Arabah,” PEFQ (1933), 143; Perowne, “Notes on I Kings, Chapter
X, 1—13,” 201; Albright, “Egypt and the Early History of the
Negeb,” 131—41. Of the ties between the Bedouins and the merchants
and farmers of Palestine and Egypt, Warren says: “Anybody who takes the
trouble to investigate and understand these relationships will find it comparatively
easy to make arrangements with tribes in the desert, however far they may be.”
Charles Warren, “Notes on Arabia Petraea and the Country Lying between
Egypt and Palestine,” PEFQ (1887), 45, n. 23. From the beginning the
Jews were forced by their geographical position to deal with Arabs and to engage
in trade, see Elias Auerbach, Wüste und Gelobtes Land, 2 vols. (Berlin:
Schocken, 1932).

44. Thus “the Arabs of the south, though settled at their bases, were
indomitable travelers and merchants.” Guillaume, “The Habiru, the Hebrews,
and the Arabs,” 67. There is nothing to prevent Lehi, though settled at his
base, from being an indomitable traveler, unless one interprets 1 Nephi 1:4
to mean that he never set foot outside the city from the day of his birth-a
palpable absurdity.

45. Montgomery, Arabia and the
, 12.

46. Margoliouth, The Relations
between Arabs and Israel Prior to the Rise of Islam
, 29; Guillaume, “The
Habiru, the Hebrews, and the Arabs,” 84—85.

47. Meyer, Die Israeliten und
ihre Nachbarstämme
, 302.

48. John Zeller, “The Bedawin,” PEFQ (1901), 198.

49. The writer’s attention was called
by Professor Sperry to a statement attributed to Joseph Smith, that Ishmael
was of Ephraim, and that his sons married Lehi’s Daughters. G. D. Watt &
J. V. Long, reporters, Journal of Discourses (Liverpool: Cannon/London:
LDS Book Depot, 1862; reprinted Los Angeles: Gartner, 1956), 23:184, discussed
in Sidney B. Sperry, “Did Father Lehi Have Daughters Who Married the Sons
of Ishmael?” IE 55 (September 1952): 642. Ephraim, like Manasseh,
was of the desert.

50. Meyer, Die Israeliten und
ihre Nachbarstämme
, 322—23.

51. Ibid., 322.

52. Paul Haupt, :”Heb. leḥi, cheek, and loa, jaw,” JBL 33 (1914): 290—95.
Cf. Judges 15:17, 19.

53. Glueck, “Ostraca from Elath,” 5—6, fig. 2.

54. Edward H. Palmer, “Arabic
and English Name Lists,” in Survey of Western Palestine (London: Palestinian
Exploration Fund, 1881) 8:358.

55. Eliezer ben Yahuda, “The
Edomite Language,” JPOS 1 (1921): 113—15; Montgomery, Arabia
and the Bible
, 171, notes that there was an Arabic Massa tribe, but “there
is no Hebrew king Lemuel.”

56. C. Clermont-Ganneau, “The
Arabs in Palestine,” in Survey of Western Palestine, Special Papers
(London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1881) 4:325.

57. Claude R. Conder, “Moslem
Mukams,” in Survey of Western Palestine, Special Papers (London: Palestine
Exploration Fund, 1881), 4:272.

58. Palmer, “Arabic and English Name Lists,” 17, 40, 66.

59. Adolf Reifenberg, “A Hebrew
Shekel of the Fifth Century B.C.,” PEFQ (1943), 102; Albright, Archaeology
and the Religion of Israel
, 113. Among the children of those contemporaries
of Lehi who fled to Egypt, Persian, Babylonian and “even Arabian names
may be suspected,” though they remained good Jews. Samuel A. Cook, “The
Jews of Syene in the Fifth Century B.C.,” PEFQ (1907), 68-73.