Book of Mormon Names Attested in Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions
John A. Tvedtness, John Gee, and Matthew Roper
[For correct symbols and diacritical marks, please see the pdf version of this article. Ed.]
Personal names found in the Book of Mormon but unknown from the Bible have long intrigued LDS scholars. Some have proposed Hebrew etymologies for many of the nonbiblical names used in Nephite and Lamanite society. While this kind of activity suggests an Israelite origin for these peoples and hence provides strong evidence for the historicity of the Book of Mormon, we now have an even stronger source of evidence. In recent years, a large number of ancient writings have been found in and around Israel. While many of these include names found in the Bible and other ancient texts, others were previously unattested in written sources. Some of these previously unattested names are unknown in the Bible but are found in the Book of Mormon. The discovery of these Hebrew names in ancient inscriptions provides remarkable evidence for the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and provides clear refutation of those critics who would place its origin in nineteenth-century America.
Two of these names have been discussed in previous issues of the Journal. Jeffrey Chadwick demonstrated that Sariah, known in the Book of Mormon as the name of Lehi's wife, appears on one of the papyri written by members of a Jewish community in Elephantine, Egypt, in the fifth century BC and discovered at the turn of the twentieth century, and on several seals and clay bullae (for the meaning of this and other technical terms, see the glossary on page 44) found in Israel that date from the time of Lehi.1 Paul Hoskisson, following up on previous notes from Hugh Nibley,2 showed that the name Alma appears on a Jewish document of the early second century AD, also found in Israel.3 Terrence Szink provided evidence that the name Alma is even older, being attested on clay tablets found at the northwestern Syrian site of Ebla and dating to the second half of the third millennium BC4 A number of other biblical names have been found at Ebla, which is in the region that some scholars consider to be the homeland of the Hebrews.
The Hebrew Language
Some peculiarities of the Hebrew language will help the reader appreciate the value of the various names that we will discuss in this article. The ancient Israelites spoke the same language as their neighbors, the Canaanites, though there may have been some dialectal variation. The Canaanite languages (which include Canaanite/Hebrew, Phoenician and its descendant Punic, Moabite, Ammonite, and Edomite) are part of a larger family known as Semitic.
The Canaanite languages, along with a number of other Semitic languages, were written with consonants only, right-to-left rather than the left-to-right orientation of English writing. The reader had to mentally add the vowels according to the context of the words—which is still the case in modern Hebrew. The vowels found in medieval Hebrew Bible scrolls and in modern printed Hebrew Bibles were supplied by later scribes. Thus, the Hebrew form of Alma was written ʾlmʾ. From Hebrew phonetic rules, the most likely pronunciation was Alma, which is how its discoverer, Yigael Yadin, rendered it in English.5
Hebrew names tend to have meanings in that language, making it possible for us to assign etymologies to most of the names discussed in this article and to other names in the Bible and the Book of Mormon.
The Hebrew form of the the great battle at Cumorah also bore this name (see Mormon 6:14). In the Old name Sariah is Sryh. The first element of the name is sar (with vowel), generally rendered "prince" in the KJV.6 The second element is a theophoric element, Yah or Yahû, an abbreviated form of the divine name that appears as either Jehovah or LORD (all caps) in the KJV. Thus the correct vocalization would be saryah, meaning either "prince of Jehovah" or "Jehovah is Prince."
The theophoric element is usually transliterated -iah in the Bible, as in the names Jeremiah and Isaiah, though sometimes it is rendered -jah, as in Elijah and Abijah. (In earlier forms of English, the letters j and y were pronounced alike, and even names like Ishmael and Isaiah begin with the y sound in Hebrew.)
Previous to its discovery as a woman's name at Elephantine, Sariah was known from the Bible as a male name, transliterated Seraiah in English, though spelled the same in Hebrew, which, as previously mentioned, was originally written without vowels.7 Indeed, the name seems to have been common in the time of Jeremiah, a contemporary of Lehi and his wife Sariah (see Jeremiah 36:26; 40:8; 51:59, 61; 52:24), and is attested on seals and bullae of that time period.8
It may seem strange to modern readers that a male name could be given to a woman, but the phenomenon is common in many languages, including English (e.g., Jan, Kim, Bobbie), and is known from the Bible (e.g., Abijah is a man's name in 1 Kings 14:1 but a woman's name in 2 Chronicles 29:1). Even the name Solomon (Hebrew Šlmh) is attested on a bulla in the Moussaieff collection as the name of a woman, the "daughter of Shebniah."9
Other Book of Mormon Names
In addition to Alma and Sariah, a number of other Nephite names are attested in ancient Hebrew inscriptions. These include Aha, Ammonihah, Chemish, Hagoth, Himni, Isabel, Jarom, Josh, Luram, Mathoni, Mathonihah, Muloki, and Sam, none of which appear in English Bibles. The name Gilgal is known from the Bible as a place name and refers to something that rolls, such as a wheel (see Joshua 5:9). In addition to the Nephite city Gilgal (see 3 Nephi 9:6), one of the Nephite military leaders who perished in World, it also appears as the name of a man (Glgl) on Arad Ostracon 49, from the second half of the eighth century BC10
Sources of the Attested Names
Most of the Book of Mormon names that are now attested are known from Hebrew inscriptions on bullae. These inscriptions typically give the owner's name and often his or her paternity. In the early 1960s, Israeli archaeologist Yohanan Aharoni discovered the first collection of Hebrew bullae in a pottery jar at Lachish, some twenty miles southwest of Jerusalem. Because one of them bore the name of a royal official, he suggested that they had been part of an administrative archive.
In the mid-1970s, a group of nearly 70 bullae and two seals of the Persian period came to light. Their provenance is unknown because they fell into the hands of private collectors.
A number of bullae from a hoard illegally excavated near Tell Beit Mirsim began appearing in the Jerusalem antiquities market in 1975. Of these, nearly 200 were acquired by a single Israeli collector, Yoav Sasson, while another 49 were purchased by Dr. Reuben Hecht of Haifa and donated to the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The clay bullae were accidentally preserved by being fired when the site was burned during the Babylonian invasion of 588–587 BC The Sasson and Hebrew University collections, comprising 255 bullae impressed by 211 different seals, were published in 1986 by Nahman Avigad.11 Bullae from the same site ended up in the collections of Solomon Moussaieff of London and Ch. Kaufman of Antwerp.
In 1982, another 50 Hebrew bullae were discovered in the ancient City of David, south of the current Old City of Jerusalem. Other bullae were uncovered during archaeological excavations at Tell el- Judeideh, Beth-Zur, Lachish, Beer- Sheba, and Tel el-Hesi. By 1997, Robert Deutsch was able to report that some 510 bullae had been published.12
Arrowheads are another source for the names. To date, about forty ancient bronze arrowheads of the tenth and eleventh centuries BC, inscribed with the names of their owners, have been discovered in northern Israel and Lebanon. A few of them bear names also found in the Book of Mormon. Some of the arrowheads are held by private collectors, others by museums.
A feature of the Book of Mormon that is unknown from the Old Testament is the naming of a son after his father. Thus, we have Alma son of Alma, Helaman son of Helaman, Nephi son of Nephi son of Helaman, and Pahoran son of Pahoran. Until recently, patristic names of this sort were unknown from epigraphic sources. But an ostracon from the late seventh or early sixth century BC in the Moussaeiff collection lists one ʾlkn bn ʾlkn, "Elikon [or Elkanah] son of Elikon."13
Implications for the Book of Mormon
Critics of the Book of Mormon have long suggested that Joseph Smith (or sometimes another nineteenth-century personality, such as Solomon Spaulding or Sidney Rigdon) wrote the Book of Mormon and invented all of the nonbiblical names found therein. One critic claimed that Book of Mormon names "were the product of a schizophrenic mind that was excessively religious. They are in no sense divinely inspired."14
Another critic wrote that "There is not a single discovery or scrap of evidence in support of any of the following names of heads, under which the book has been divided. . . . This altogether remarkable production of an over-imaginative mind bears evidences of the eagerness with which the would-be prophet sought to study his profit, and how he mistook his calling in life, rather than anything in the way of support towards its claims."15
A pair of critics wrote, "It would be easy to make up hundreds of 'new names' by simply changing a few letters on names that are already known or by making different combinations with parts of names. . . . If he used a list of Bible names and a little imagination, it would have been very easy to have produced the 'new names' found in the Book of Mormon."16
Critics of the Book of Mormon have been reluctant to grant the historical complexity of Book of Mormon names, even when faced with evidence supporting their authenticity. One man, after writing a series of inflammatory letters designed to elicit negative comments about LDS scriptures from prominent Near Eastern scholars, received a response from William F. Albright of Johns Hopkins University, who expressed doubts that Joseph Smith could have learned Egyptian from any early nineteenth century sources. Explaining that he was a Protestant and hence not a believer in the Book of Mormon, he observed, "It is all the more surprising that there are two Egyptian names, Paanch[i] and Pahor[an] which appear in the Book of Mormon in close connection with a reference to the original language being 'Reformed Egyptian.'" Puzzled at the existence of such names in an obscure book published by Joseph Smith in 1830, Albright vaguely suggested that the young Mormon leader was some kind of "religious genius."17
Incensed by this response, the critic wrote to another scholar in England. Without mentioning Albright by name, he complained of "another scholar who is renowned in ancient Semitic studies" who "though a Protestant, he writes of the Book of Mormon like it had authentic Egyptian-Hebrew support. He even offered me what he said were two good Egyptian names in the Book of Mormon— Paanchi and Pahoran. . . . Certainly he would know Joseph Smith didn't understand Egyptian, but why would he leave an impression that Joseph Smith was on the right track?"18
The names described in this article deal a serious blow to critics of the Book of Mormon. Found in both the Book of Mormon and ancient inscriptions, these names are Hebrew in origin, as one would expect for people who emigrated from ancient Jerusalem. Except where noted, these names are not known from the Bible. Of particular interest is the fact that most of these names are attested in inscriptions dating to the time of Lehi. Indeed, some are relatively common for that time period.We can only speculate about how they made their way to the New World—whether on the brass plates of Laban or on the large plates of Nephi (which we no longer have) or in the names of the sons of Ishmael or their children or Lehi's grandchildren.
With ongoing excavation in Israel and elsewhere in the Near East, it is likely that more Book of Mormon names will show up in ancient Hebrew inscriptions.
Abish is the name of a Lamanite woman, a servant to king Lamoni's queen (see Alma 19:16). Abish corresponds to the Hebrew name ʾbšʾ, found on a seal from pre-exilic times (prior to 587 BC) in the Hecht Museum in Haifa.19 The addition of the Hebrew letter aleph (symbolized by ʾ in transliteration) to the end of the name is known from other Hebrew hypocoristic names, suggesting that the name on the seal may be hypocoristic. (See Hypocoristic Forms on page 50.) However, no etymology has been proposed. The form ʾbšʾ is also attested as a Semitic name on a wall relief in the tomb of Khnum-hotep III at Beni Hasan, Egypt, dating to the nineteenth century BC The relief depicts a group of Asiatics, probably Semites, entering Egypt with their donkeys. Scholars have often compared the scene to the emigration of Abraham and later his grandson Jacob into Egypt. W. F. Albright suggested reading the name as Abi-shar, but in view of the more recent evidence, this must now be abandoned.20
Aha was one of the sons of the Nephite military leader Zoram (Alma 16:5). Hugh Nibley proposed that the name was of Egyptian origin, ʿhh, meaning "warrior". But the name is now attested in several early inscriptions as Hebrew ʾhʾ, thought by scholars to have been vocalized ʾAhaʾ and to be a hypocoristic name based on ʾah, "brother". The longer form, rendered Ahijah in the King James Bible, is ʾahîyah(û), which means "brother of Yah (Jehovah)" or "Yah is my brother",21 which is also attested in a dozen ancient Hebrew inscriptions.22
The name ʾiiʾ is inscribed in Canaanite letters of the eleventh and ninth centuries BC, respectively, on two bronze arrowheads in the possession of a collector who prefers to remain anonymous, and on a Moabite seal.23 More importantly, the name also appears on several Hebrew ostraca, including Samaria Ostracon 51,24 Ostracon 1543/1 from Khirbet el-Meshash,25 and Arad ostraca 49, 67, 74.26 It is also known from four jar stamps, two from Tel el-Judeideh,27 and two from Khirbet Rabud,28 along with a Hebrew bulla of unknown provenance.29 Of particular significance for our study is a Hebrew bulla found in Jerusalem that dates from the time of Lehi.30
The addition of the Hebrew letter aleph to the end of the name Aha is also known from other Hebrew hypocoristic names.
Ammonihah was the name of a Nephite who founded the city of the same name (see Alma 8:6–7). The name is attested on two Hebrew seals, one known to date to the seventh century BC, in the forms ʿmnyhw and ʿmnwyhw.31
Nibley saw the ending -ihah, found in this and several other Book of Mormon names, as the theophoric element rendered -iah in the KJV and found in many Hebrew names from the time of Lehi.32 The use of -ihah for the divine name Yhwh (KJV "Jehovah") suggests that the Nephites may have used this longer form. It is possible, however, that the first h merely reflects Joseph Smith's transliteration.
Chemish was a descendant of Jacob and one of the guardians and authors of the small plates of Nephi (see Omni 1:8–10). His name is apparently related to that of the Ammonite god Chemosh, spelled Kmš in prevocalic Hebrew and Ammonite (related languages). A number of names containing the element Kmš are known, in which it is clear that the divine name was meant.33 Also known is a seal currently in the Israel Museum that has Kmš as the name of a man or woman.34
Hagoth was a Nephite shipbuilder who constructed ships that took colonizers into the land northward (see Alma 63:5). Contrary to LDS folklore, there is no indication in the text that Hagoth himself sailed on any of them (see Alma 63:6–9).
One Book of Mormon critic argued that Joseph Smith derived the name Hagoth from the name of the biblical prophet Haggai.35 Indeed, the names may be related, but a closer parallel is the biblical Haggith (see 2 Samuel 3:4; 1 Kings 1:5, etc.), which may have been vocalized Hagoth anciently. All three names derive from a root referring to a pilgrimage to attend religious festivals.
The name Hagoth is attested in the form Hgt on an Ammonite seal inscribed sometime in the eighth through the sixth centuries BC36 (The Ammonites, neighbors of the Israelites and descendants of Abraham's nephew Lot, wrote and spoke the same language as the Israelites.)
Himni was one of the four sons of Mosiah2 who went on the mission to the Lamanites (see Mosiah 27:34; Alma 22:35; 23:1; 25:17; 27:19; 31:6). Of this name, an early critic wrote, "It appeared to the present writer, by this time, almost certain that the name Harmony, that of the town where Joseph Smith spent so many happy, loving hours courting Emma, would be discernible, so he again consulted the list and found HiMNI. I need not point out the radical resemblance. Is that resemblance accidental, and not due at all to the haunting cadences of that doubly blessed name 'Harmony?'"37
Contrary to this speculation, the name Himni is clearly Hebrew and is represented by the unvocalized form, Hmn on two Israelite seals. The first, from the eighth century BC, was found at Megiddo in the Jezreel Valley.38 The other is from the first half of the seventh century BC39
Because the seal inscriptions do not have vowels, we cannot know precisely how the name is to be read. The Bible knows of a non-Israelite Haman from the time of Esther, and Heman was a noted poet and musician in the time of David and Solomon. The vowel at the end of Himni suggests that it is a gentillic form, meaning "Hemanite". (See the glossary on page 44.)
Isabel was a harlot in the land of Siron, on the border between the Lamanites and the Zoramites (see Alma 39:3). LDS scholars have generally assumed that the name is identical to that of the Old Testament Jezebel, the Hebrew form of which was ʾÎzebel, and this is probably correct. But the spelling Yzbl is now attested on a seal in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem that is thought to be Phoenician in origin.40
Jarom was the son of Enos and grandson of Nephi's brother Jacob (see Jarom 1:1, 14). The fifth book in the Book of Mormon bears his name. One might wish to compare Jarom with the biblical name Jehoram, which is found twenty-one times in the Bible, while its hypocoristic form Joram occurs twenty-four times. But several Hebrew inscriptions bear the name Yrm, which scholars consider to be the hypocoristic form of Yrmyh(w), Jeremiah, whose name means "Yah (Jehovah) exalts."41 Yrm is found in four Hebrew inscriptions, including a seal of the seventh century BC, found in Egypt,42 and three items from the time of Lehi: a jug inscription from Tel esh-Shariʿah, and an ostracon and bulla in the Moussaieff collection.
Josh was the name of a city destroyed at the time of Christ's crucifixion (see 3 Nephi 9:10) and of a Nephite military leader who died in the great battle at Cumorah (see Mormon 6:14). Critics have suggested that this is merely the American diminutive for the name Joshua.
But a number of Hebrew inscriptions bear the name Yʾš, probably vocalized Yôʾš, which Israeli scholars have acknowledged to be hypocoristic for the biblical name Yʾšyhw, Josiah, in whose reign Jeremiah began his prophetic mission (see Jeremiah 1:2; 27:1).43 The name appears in three of the Lachish letters (2, 3, and 6) from the time of Lehi.44 It is also the name of four persons named in the fifth-century BC Jewish Aramaic papyri from Elephantine, Egypt.45 Four of the bullae found near Tel Beit Mirsim and dating from ca. 600 BC bear the name Yʾš.46 Three of them were made from the same seal.
Luram is the name of a Nephite military leader who served with Mormon (see Moroni 9:2). The name is reflected in the second element of the name 'dn-Lrm, "Lord of LRM," known from a seal of ca. 720 BC found during excavations at Hama (Hamath) in Syria. The name is also known from graffiti on three bricks from the same level at Hama.47
Mathoni and Mathonihah were the names of two of the twelve disciples chosen by Christ during his visit to the Nephites (see 3 Nephi 19:4). Critic Walter Prince suggested an unusual derivation for the name, writing, "Just lisp the sibilant and you have the entire word 'Mason' and almost the entire word "Masonic" in both of these appellations."48 Prince would have done better to look to the Bible.
The fact that Mathoni is hypocoristic for Mathonihah reinforces the idea that the element -ihah is the Nephite form of the divine name (see Ammonihah, above). This being the case, Mathonihah would correspond to KJV Mattaniah (Hebrew Mtnyhw), the birth-name of Zedekiah (see 2 Kings 24:17), who was king of Judah when Lehi left Jerusalem (see 1 Nephi 1:4). Several other biblical personalities bore this name. We can then compare Mathoni to biblical Mattan, the name of two different men, one of whom was a contemporary of Lehi and Jeremiah (see Jeremiah 38:1). (Note that the Hebrew letter tav is sometimes transliterated t in the Bible, as in these names, and sometimes th, as in Methuselah.)
Hugh Nibley was the first to suggest that the Book of Mormon name Mathonihah corresponded to biblical Mattaniah, while its biform Mathoni (see 3 Nephi 19:4) corresponded to biblical Mattan. He further noted that both names are found in the Elephantine Papyri and that the longer form occurs in the Lachish letters, written just a few years after Lehi left Jerusalem.49
The Hebrew name Mtnyhw appears on a seventh-century BC wine decanter,50 on six seals,51 and on seven bullae, most of them from the time of Lehi.52 The hypocoristic Mtn, which could be vocalized either Mattan (as in the Bible) or Mathoni (as in the Book of Mormon), is found on Ostracon 1682/2 from Khirbet el-Meshash (second half of the seventh century BC),53 seven seals (most from the seventh century BC),54 and eleven bullae (most from the time of Lehi).55
Muloki was one of the men who accompanied the sons of Mosiah on their mission to the Lamanites (see Alma 20:2; 21:11). His name suggests that he may have been a Mulekite. Also from the same root are names such as Mulek56 and Melek,57 which is the Hebrew word meaning "king". Mulek is hypocoristic for Hebrew Mlkyh(w) (KJV Melchiah and Malchiah), which is attested both in the Bible (see 1 Chronicles 6:40; Ezra 10:25, 3; Nehemiah 3:14, 31; 8:4; 11:12; Jeremiah 21:1; 38:1, 6) and in numerous ancient inscriptions, most of them from the time of Lehi. Indeed, it has been suggested that one of the men bearing this name is the Mulek of the Book of Mormon. He is called "Malchiah the son of Hammelech," which means "Malchiah, son of the king" (see Jeremiah 38:6).58
Muloki corresponds to the name Mlky on a bulla found in the City of David (Jerusalem) and dating from the time of Lehi.59
Sam, brother of Nephi, came to the New World with his father Lehi and family (see 1 Nephi 2:5; 2 Nephi 5:6; Alma 3:6). Critics have suggested that Joseph Smith simply used the common English diminutive of Samuel. What these critics failed to realize is that the name Samuel, which appears in the English Bible, is from the Hebrew name (Šəmûʾel) comprised of two elements, Shem ("name") + El ("God").
The name Sam is attested on a bronze ringmounted seal dated to the seventh century BC60 While others have read this name as Shem, in paleo-Hebrew there is no distinction in writing between s and š (the latter written sh in English). (It is the same letter used at the beginning of the name Sariah.) Various dialects of Hebrew pronounced this letter in different ways anciently. From the story in Judges 12:6, we find that some of the tribe of Joseph pronounced it s instead of š, reminding us that Lehi was a descendant of Joseph (see 1 Nephi 5:14).
Biform—Parallel forms of the same name, such as English Rick and Richard.
Bulla (plural Bullae)—The impression of an engraved seal made on clay or wax. Hebrew bullae were formed when scrolls were rolled up and sealed with a lump of clay onto which the seal (often carved in stone) was pressed. Most bullae had the name of the scroll’s owner or sender. When a bulla was removed from the document, the underside often retained the impression of the strips of papyrus to which it had adhered.
Etymology—The origin or meaning of a word or name.
Hypocoristic—An adjective denoting an abbreviated name. A parallel in English would be diminutives, such as Joe for Joseph or Will for William. Hebrew hypocoristic names generally dropped the theophoric element, usually from the end.
Ostracon (plural Ostraca)—A shard or fragment of pottery on which writing has been affixed, either by engraving or by ink and pen.
Seal—A carved stamp, usually of stone, that was used to impress an image or writing onto wet clay. Most seals had the name of the owner, often with his patronymic (“son of N”). The seals of government officials often included the individual’s title, the most common being “servant of K,” where K is the name of the king. Occasionally, a seal included some sort of design. These often included Egyptian motifs.
Theophoric—An adjective denoting a divine name. Many Hebrew names were composed of a verb or adjective plus the divine name, which could be either 'El (generally rendered “God” in the Bible) or various shortened forms of the name rendered “Jehovah” or “Lord” in the Bible, such as Yĕhô- or Yô- at the beginning of names or -Yāh or -Yāhû at the end. Sometimes the theophoric element was dropped from the name, perhaps out of respect for deity.
Transliteration (verbal form Transliterate)—A method of depicting a foreign alphabet by means of the Latin alphabet used in English. Because some sounds do not exist in English, it is sometimes necessary to add diacritical marks above or below the character.
Symbols Used in Transliteration
'—the sound produced when the vocal cords open up, as in English words beginning with a vowel (e.g., orange); no equivalent in written English
ˆ—the Egyptian glottal stop, equivalent to ' for Hebrew
h—nonexistent in English; very much like the ch in German ich or Scottish loch
'—nonexistent in English; pronounced in the back of the throat
ś—an s sound
ŝ—like English sh in ship
ß—an emphatic s sound; in modern Hebrew, it is pronounced like English ts, as in its
Hypocoristic Forms There is abundant evidence from the inscriptional material that hypocoristic forms sometimes have a suffixed aleph, represented in transliteration by '. Thus we have the biforms Ŝbn' (biblical Shebna) alongside Ŝbnyhw (Shebniah), both attested in Hebrew inscriptions. Similarly, the biblical name Ezra (Hebrew 'zr), whose name is borne by one of the books of the Bible, has a final aleph and is hypocoristic for biblical Azariah ('zryh), the name of two biblical kings. The longer form is also known from contemporary inscriptions, as is the form 'zr. Neriah (Hebrew Nryh), known from the Bible as the name of the father of Jeremiah’s scribe Baruch, is attested in inscriptions in both its long form and in the hypocoristic form Nera (Hebrew Nr'). Alongside the biblical name Obadiah ('bdyh), whose hypocoristic form Obed ('bd) is also known in the Bible, the inscriptions have several occurrences of the hypocoristic form 'bd', with a suffixed aleph. Also known from the inscriptions are the biblical name Asaiah ('Śyh) and its hypocoristic form 'ś'. Finally, we have the name Hzd', hypocoristic for an unattested Hzdyh. These facts suggest that Alma, which is written with a final aleph on a document found in Nahal Hever in 1961, may also be hypocoristic.61
1. Jeffrey R. Chadwick, “Sariah in the Elephantine Papyri,” JBMS 2/2 (1993): 196–200. The name is known from three seals: Nahman Avigad, “New Names on Hebrew Seals,” Eretz-Israel 12 (1975): 69, pl. 14:11; Nahman Avigad, “The Seal of Seraiah (Son of) Neriah,” Eretz-Israel 14 (1978), 86f; Nahman Avigad and Benjamin Sass, Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1997), 91; and two bullae: Nahman Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1986), 46–47, 103–4. A variant spelling, Sryh, is attested on a seal from the eighth or seventh century B.C., probably found in Syria, M. de Vogüé, “Intailles î légendes sémitiques,” Revue Archéologique 17 (1868): 447f. Note that all the names attested in this article can also be found in G. I. Davies, Ancient Hebrew Inscriptions: Corpus and Concordance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991).
2. Hugh W. Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1989), 281–82. The original notice of the discovery was in Yigael Yadin, Bar Kokhba (New York: Random House, 1971), 176.
3. Paul Y. Hoskisson, “Alma as a Hebrew Name,” JBMS 7/1 (1998): 72–73. See also the discussion in David K. Geilman, “5/6Hev 44 Bar Kokhba,” in Ancient Scrolls from the Dead Sea, ed. M. Gerald Bradford (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1997), 39.
4. Terence L. Szink, “Further Evidence of a Semitic Alma,” JBMS 8/1 (1999): 70.
5. In recent years, the name Alma has drawn fire from critics, who claim that it is from the Hebrew word meaning “young woman.” However, this word has a different Hebrew spelling ('almāh) than the man’s name as it appears on the Bar Kochba document.
6. For a discussion of this term as a political title in ancient Israel, see Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 95–97, 106, 113, 128; Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There Were Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 7–9, 98–99; and, more recently, John A. Tvedtnes, The Most Correct Book: Insights from a Book of Mormon Scholar (Salt Lake City: Cornerstone, 1999), 59–75.
7. See 2 Samuel 8:17; 2 Kings 25:18, 23; 1 Chronicles 4:13–14, 35; 6:14; Ezra 2:2; 7:1; Nehemiah 10:2; 11:11; 12:1, 12.
8. For examples, see Nahman Avigad and Benjamin Sass, Corpus of West Semitic Stamp Seals (Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 1997), 122, 134, 163, 189, 237.
9. Robert Deutsch, Messages from the Past: Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Isaiah through the Destruction of the First Temple (in Hebrew) (Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publications, 1997), 67–68.
10. Yohanan Aharoni, Arad Inscriptions (Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1981), 80.
11. Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah.
12. Deutsch, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Isaiah, 172.
13. See Robert Deutsch and Michael Heltzer, New Epigraphic Evidence from the Biblical Period (Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publication, 1995), 89–90.
14. Dwight C. Ritchie, The Mind of Joseph Smith: A Study of the Words of the Founder of Mormonism Revealing 24 Symptoms of Mental Derangement (n.p.: Dwight C. Ritchie, 1954), 41.
15. M. A. Sbresny, Mormonism: As It Is To-Day. Some Striking Revelations (London: Stockwell, 1911), 24–25.
16. Jerald Tanner and Sandra M. Tanner, Mormonism: Shadow or Reality, 5th ed. (Salt Lake City: Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1987), 95.
17. William F. Albright to Grant S. Heward, Baltimore, Maryland, 25 July 1966.
18. Grant S. Heward to I. E. S. Edwards, Midvale, Utah, 14 March 1967. We thank Boyd Peterson, who discovered the correspondence and provided photocopies, for bringing this exchange to our attention. 19. Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 66–67.
20. See James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East in Pictures Relating to the Old Testament, 2nd ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1969), 2–3, 249.
21. See 1 Kings 11:29–30; 12:15; 14:2, 4–6, 18; 15:27, 29, 33; 21:22; 2 Kings 9:9; 1 Chronicles 2:25; 11:36; 26:20; 2 Chronicles 9:29; 10:15; Nehemiah 10:26.
22. See Yohanan Aharoni, “Excavations at Ramat-Rahel,” Biblical Archaeologist 24 (1961): 107; Nahman Avigad, “A Group of Hebrew Seals,” Eretz-Israel 9 (1969): 5, pl. 2:12 (in Hebrew, with English summary); Nahman Avigad, “New Names on Hebrew Seals,” Eretz-Israel 12 (1975): 70, pl. 14:16 (in Hebrew); Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah, 34, 103; S. A. Cook, “Inscribed Hebrew Objects from Ophel,” Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly Statement 56 (1924): 183–86, pl. VI; Deutsch, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Isaiah, 74–75; David Diringer in Lachish III: The Iron Age, ed. O. Tufnell (London: Oxford, 1953), 332f.; B. Maisler, “Two Hebrew Ostraca from Tel Qasile,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 10 (1951): 265f.; J. T. Milik, “Notes d’Épigraphie et de Topographie Palestiniennes. I: L’Ostracon de l’Ophel et la Topographie de Jérusalem,” Revue Biblique 66 (1959), 550–53; Yigael Shiloh, “A Group of Hebrew Bullae from the City of David," Israel Exploration Journal 36 (1986): 28f.; Y. Shoham, “A Group of Hebrew Bullae from Yigal Shiloh’s Excavation in the City of David,” in Ancient Jerusalem Revealed, ed. H. Geva (Jerusalem, 1994); H. Torczyner et al., Lachish I: The Lachish Letters (London: Oxford, 1938), 51; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 69. The feminine form, ʾht, is known from a seal in the Hecht Museum in Haifa, Nahman Avigad, “An Early Aramaic Seal,” Israel Exploration Journal 8 (1958): 228–30; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 283.
23. Deutsch and Heltzer, New Epigraphic Evidence, 21–23; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 375.
24. G. A. Reisner, Harvard Excavations at Samaria, 1908–1910 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard, 1924), 237, 242.
25. V. Fritz and A. Kempinski, Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen auf der Óirbet el-Mśaś (Masôs) 1972–1975 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1983), 134–35, pl. 79.
26. Aharoni, Arad Inscriptions, 80, 93, 97.
27. I. Ben-Dor, “Two Hebrew Seals,” The Quarterly of the Department of Antiquities in Palestine 13 (1948): 66–67, pl. XXVII:3.
28. M. Kochavi, “Khirbet Rabûd = Debir,” Tel Aviv 1 (1974): 18; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 200.
29. Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 179.
30. Yigael Shiloh, “A Hoard of Hebrew Bullae from the City of David” (in Hebrew), Eretz-Israel 18 (1985): 80; Shiloh, “Bullae from the City of David,” 28f.; Shoham, “A Group of Hebrew Bullae from Yigal Shiloh’s Excavation.”
31. Nahman Avigad in Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 40 (1988): 14; Nahman Avigad, “Two Seals of Women and Other Hebrew Seals” (in Hebrew), Eretz-Israel 20 (1989a): 90.
32. Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 283, 288–89; Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1993), 1:88; 2:263.
33. Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 373–74, 380–82.
34. Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 380.
35. Wesley P. Walters, “The Use of the Old Testament in the Book of Mormon,” (master’s thesis, Covenant Theological Seminary, 1981), 18.
36. C. Clermont-Ganneau, “Sceaux et cachets israélites, phéniciens et syriens,” Journal Asiatique 8 (1883): 144f.; Walter E. Aufrecht, A Corpus of Ammonite Inscriptions (Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen, 1989), 34–35.
37. Walter Franklin Prince, “Psychological Tests for the Authorship of the Book of Mormon,” American Journal of Psychology 30 (1919): 382.
38. W. E. Staples, “An Inscribed Scaraboid from Megiddo,” in New Light from Armageddon: Second Provisional Report (1927–29) on the Excavations at Megiddo in Palestine, ed. P. L. O. Guy (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1931), 49–68, figs. 33–34; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 99.
39. Nahman Avigad, “Some Unpublished Ancient Seals (in Hebrew),” Bulletin of the Israel Exploration Society 25 (1961): 242, pl. 5:4.
40. Nahman Avigad, “The Seal of Jezebel,” Israel Exploration Journal 14 (1964): 274–76; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 275.
41. The name Jeremiah is attested in Lachish Letter 1, H. Torczyner et al., Lachish I: The Lachish Letters (London: Oxford, 1938), 23; Diringer, Lachish III, 331; on two Arad ostraca, Aharoni, Arad Inscriptions, 46f., 100; on a jar stamp, E. Grant and G. Ernest Wright, Ain Shems Excavations (Palestine), vol. 5 (Haveford: Haveford College, 1939), 80, pl. III:4; on six seals, including one found in Egypt and another in Iraq, Avigad, “A Group of Hebrew Seals,” 6, pl. 2:14; Avigad “Two Seals of Women,” 94; Bordreuil and Lemaire, “Nouveau sceaux,” 47f., pl. IV:6; Nahman Avigad, Festschrift Reuben R. Hecht (Jerusalem: Koren, 1979), 73f.; C. Clermont-Ganneau, “Sur quelques cachets Israélite archaïques,” Revue d’Assyriologie et d’Archéologie Orientale 4 (1901): 56f.; L. A. Wolfe and F. Sternberg, Objects with Semitic Inscriptions, 1100 B.C.–A.D. 700. Jewish, Early Christian and Byzantine Antiquities (Jerusalem: Auction Catalogue, 1989), 13; and on five bullae, Yohanan Aharoni, “Trial Excavations in the ‘Solar Shrine’ at Lachish. Preliminary Report,” Israel Exploration Journal 18 (1968), 167, pl. XI:6–7; Yohanan Aharoni, Investigations at Lachish: The Sanctuary and the Residency (Tel Aviv: University of Tel Aviv, 1975), 5:19–22, pl. 20–21; Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah, 64; Deutsch, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Isaiah, 81, 101–2. The vocalization of Yarom (Jarom) for the hypocoristic form of Yirmiyāh(û) (Jeremiah) follows the pattern found in other names acknowledged by Bible scholars to be hypocoristic: Bārûk (KJV Baruch) for Berekiyāh(û) (KJV Berechiah), Nahum for Nehemiah (both in KJV), Shallûm (KJV Shallum) for Shelemiyāh(û) (KJV Shelemiah), and Zakkûr (KJV Zaccur) for Zekariyāh(û) (KJV Zechariah).
42. M. Lidzbarski, “Altsemitische Inschriften auf Siegeln und Gewichten des Ashmolean Museum zu Oxford” (Giessen: Richer’sche, 1900–02), 11; A. R. Millard in Catalogue of Near Eastern Seals in the Ashmolean Museum. III. The Iron Age Stamp Seals, ed. B. Buchanan and P. R. S. Moorey (Oxford: Clarendon, 1988). 45.
43. For this view, see Deutsch and Heltzer, New Epigraphic Evidence, 56.
44. Torczyner, Lachish I, 37, 51, 117; Diringer, Lachish III, 332–34.
45. See Elephantine 12:8; 13:13; 18:5; 22:89; 39:4; 40:5 in A. Cowley, Aramaic Papyri of the Fifth Century B.C.E. (Oxford: OUP, 1923). E. G. Kraeling, The Brooklyn Museum Aramaic Papyri (New Haven: Yale, 1953), adds 9:25 to the list.
46. Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah, 42–43, 59; Deutsch and Heltzer, New Epigraphic Evidence, 56–57; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 184, 202–3.
47. Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 760.
48. Walter Franklin Prince, “Psychological Tests for the Authorship of the Book of Mormon,” 380.
49. Nibley, The Prophetic Book of Mormon, 388.
50. Robert Deutsch and Michael Heltzer, Forty New Ancient West Semitic Inscriptions (Tel Aviv: Archaeological Center Publications, 1994), 23.
51. Ruth Amiran and A. Eiten, Qedem 3 (1970): 65; Avigad, “Two Seals of Women,” 92f.; P. Bordreuil, Catalogue des Sceaux Ouest-Sémitiques Inscrits de la Bibliothèque Nationale du Musée du Louvre et du Musée biblique de Bible et Terre Sainte (Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale, 1986), 54; P. Bordreuil and A. Lemaire, “Nouveau sceaux hébreux, araméens et ammonites,” Semitica 26 (1976), 49, pl. IV:9, 11; A. Lemaire, “Nouveaux sceaux nord-ouest sémitiques,” Semitica 33 (1983): 17f., pl. 1.1; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 83, 92, 126–27, 130, 138, 142, 148, 187, 196, 216–17.
52. Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah, 38, 81–82; Deutsch, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Isaiah, 107–8; Deutsch and Heltzer, New Epigraphic Evidence, 52–53; K. G. O’Connell, “An Israelite Bulla from Tell el-Hesi,” Israel Exploration Journal 27 (1977): 197–99, pl. 26G.
53. Fritz and Kempinski, Ergebnisse der Ausgrabungen, 134, pl. 78C.
54. Avigad, Festschrift Reuben R. Hecht, 122f.; Nahman Avigad, “Titles and Symbols on Hebrew Seals” (in Hebrew), Eretz-Israel 15 (1981), 303, pl. 57. Nahman Avigad, “Another Group of West Semitic Seals from the Hecht Collection,” Michmanim 4 (1989b): 10; Bordreuil and Lemaire, “Nouveau sceaux hébreux,” 51, pl. IV:16; P. Bordreuil and A. Lemaire, “Nouveau groupe de sceaux hébreux, araméens et moabites,” Semitica 29 (1979): 72f., pl. III:2; P. Bordreuil and A. Lemaire, “Nouveaux sceaux hébreux et araméens,” Semitica 32 (1982): 22f., pl. V:2; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 59, 69, 121, 125–26, 162, 193, 205, 215–16, 223.
55. Avigad, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Jeremiah, 53, 62, 79–81, 90; Deutsch, Hebrew Bullae from the Time of Isaiah, 66.
56. See Mosiah 25:2; Alma 51:26; 52:2, 16–17, 19–20, 22, 26, 28, 34; 53:2, 6; Helaman 5:15; 6:10; 8:21.
57. See Alma 8:3–4, 6; 31:6; 35:13; 45:18.
58. See the discussion in Robert F. Smith, “New Information about Mulek, Son of the King,” in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, ed. John W. Welch (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1992), 142–44. This identification has been challenged on the grounds that the vocalization of Mulek would not allow it to be hypocoristic for Hebrew Malkiyāh(û). See David Rolph Seely in Review of Books on the Book of Mormon 5 (1993): 311–15. But similar vowel changes are acknowledged by scholars for other hypocoristic names in the Bible (Baruch for Berechiah, Nahum for Nehemiah, Shallum for Shelmiah, and Zaccur for Zechariah). See John A. Tvedtnes, “What’s in a Name? A Look at the Book of Mormon Onomasticon,” FARMS Review of Books 8/2 (1996): 39 n. 7.
59. Shiloh, “Bullae from the City of David,” 28f.; Shoham, “A Group of Hebrew Bullae from Yigal Shiloh’s Excavation.”
60. Israel Museum No 68.35.199; **** ** ** ****** (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1979), 108; Ruth Hestrin and Michal Dayagi-Mendels, Inscribed Seals (Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1979), 111; Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 69.
61. For a discussion of the hypocoristic nature of names ending in aleph, with an extensive listing of examples, see Avigad and Sass, West Semitic Stamp Seals, 471.