Lehi in the Desert, I

Hugh Nibley, Ph. D.

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 (OW), a name of the first Pharaoh; it means "warrior" and is a common word.

Amanathabi (OW), chief of a Canaanite city under Egyptian domination. The name is "reformed" Egyptian.

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

Khamuni-ra (OW), Amarna personal name, perhaps equivalent of Ammuni-ra. 2

Chiziri (OW), Egyptian governor of a Syrian city.

Dji-dw-na (OW), the Egyptian name for Sidon.

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.

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.

Manti (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 auspices.

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.

Strange Names

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 out. 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 places.

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. 35

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 'ammi), 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 Hebrews." 55

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 (Gläckstadt: 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 2:1561.

3. Ranke, Die Ă„gyptischen 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. William F. Albright, "A Brief History of Judah from the Days of Josiah to Alexander the Great,'' BA 9 (February 1946): 4-5.

8. E. C. Briggs, Saints Herald (21 June 1884), 396-97.

9. William F. Albright, "King Joiachim in Exile,'' BA 5 (December 1942): 51.

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

11. R. A. Stewart Macalister, "The Craftsmen's Guild of the Tribe of Judah,'' PEFQ (1905), 333.

12. 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.

13. 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).

14. Emil O. Forrer, "The Hittites in Palestine II,'' PEFQ (1937), 100.

15. 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.

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

17. Joseph Offord, "Further Illustrations of the Elephantine Aramaic Jewish Papyri,'' PEFQ (1917), 127.

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

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

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

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

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

23. 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.

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

25. 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.

26. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, 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.

27. 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.

28. Baldensperger, "The Immovable East,'' PEFQ (1923), 176.

29. William F. Albright, "Recent Progress in North-Canaanite Research,'' BASOR 70 (April 1938): 21.

30. 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 .

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

32. "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.

33. Albright, "Recent Progress in North-Canaanite Research,'' 21.

34. Guillaume, "The Habiru, the Hebrews, and the Arabs,'' 64-85; Stephen L. Caiger, Bible and Spade (London: Oxford University Press, 1936), 84-85.

35. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, 47.

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

37. 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.

38. 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.

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

40. 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 Zeiten, 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.

41. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, 5.

42. 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).

43. 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.

44. Montgomery, Arabia and the Bible, 12.

45. Margoliouth, The Relations between Arabs and Israel Prior to the Rise of Islam, 29; Guillaume, "The Habiru, the Hebrews, and the Arabs,'' 84-85.

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

47. John Zeller, "The Bedawin,'' PEFQ (1901), 198.

48. 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.

49. Meyer, Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstämme, 322-23.

50. Ibid., 322.

51. Paul Haupt, :"Heb. lehi, cheek, and lo', jaw,'' JBL 33 (1914): 290-95. Cf. Judges 15:17, 19.

52. Glueck, "Ostraca from Elath,'' 5-6, fig. 2.

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

54. 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.''

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

56. Claude R. Conder, "Moslem Mukams,'' in Survey of Western Palestine, Special Papers (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1881), 4:272.

57. Palmer, "Arabic and English Name Lists,'' 17, 40, 66.

58. 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.