Dr. Einar C. Erickson
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Even more striking if possible is the fact that the term for overseer, inspector or superintendent is literally translated in the New Testament as Bishop and they were the sons of Aaron who the overseers, inspectors and superintendents

In 1967, Naomi Shermer, Israel's most celebrated songwriter, wrote a stirring ballad titled Yerushalayim shel zahav, Jerusalem of Gold. During various visits to Israel, many of the restaurants at which we ate included in their background music, and often as key singers or soloists, the melodious music of that ballad. The title of the song has links to ancient cuniform tablets. Paul Shalom, a professor emeritus of biblical studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, leads a group of academic sleuths in exploring cultures of antiquity. Paul is part literary critic, part historian, part biblical interpreter, and an expert in Near Eastern history and archaeology. Paul considers artifacts in light of history for a fuller understanding of ancient life and practices. Those who enroll in his advanced courses must possess fluency in two ancient and three modern languages and have a background in history, ancient literature, archaeology, linguistics, theology, and comparative ancient religions. It helps to be able to read cuniform as well. With cuniform tablets, Talmudic tractates, diligence and luck, Paul unraveled the obscurity of the lost tradition of Jerusalem of Gold and restored it to its former glory.

Paul's struggle to decode the Jerusalem of Gold began in the late 1960's with an ancient cuniform document from the Canaanite [Phoenician] city of Ugarit. A city well known to Lehi.  The ancient Semitic language of Ugarit shares common roots with Hebrew.  The ancient documents included an inventory of the trousseau of one Queen Aatmilku. In her catalogue of Jewelry was the phrase ‘uru  kugi'.  Recall that Jerusalem was original called Urusalem.  Uru kugi translates as ‘one city of gold'.  The golden object was a crown; its weight was 215 shekels, or the equivalent of 4.5 kilograms, or 10 pounds. Ten pounds of pure gold! It would have a value today of $100,000.   The phrase ‘city of gold' resonated with the Talmud, the corpus of ancient rabbinic literature that expounds upon the Torah with abundant commentary and legends. The crown was an opulent symbol of wealth, and figured in many stories. The Talmud implies that it is customary for brides to wear one, but only a wealthy woman is permitted to flaunt one in public. There is also the story of Rabbi Akiva who presented his wife with a ‘city of gold' as recompense for selling her hair to subsidize his Torah studies. The stories interchange the crown being called ‘Crown of Gold' and ‘City of Gold' in rabbinic literature, the same crown bears another name: Jerusalem of Gold, because the city par excellence and the one most often referred to is Jerusalem. Some how a Greek loan word had been absorbed into the Hebrew Text, a variant compound of ‘krisos' or gold, and ‘katellion' or castle, thus Paul discovered that the crown was designed to resemble a citadel or fortress, or ancient city, sculpted into turreted segments to evoke the ramparts of an ancient city defined by its turreted surrounding walls. Paul also knew that recent excavations at Dura Europus Synagogue in Syria depicted Queen Esther with a turreted crown on her head.  Other research also revealed that Hittite female deities depicted on the rock sanctuary of Yazlikaya in Turkey, dating from 1200 BC, wore such a crown, as did two Assyrian women in the same era. Also, the Greek goddess Tyche, patron deity of cities, is perpetually rendered with a turreted crown.  It seems to have come full round when Aramaic tablets from neo-Assyrian times, recorded the sale of a slave, and required that anyone contesting the sale must give a ‘city of gold' to Kikkai, wife of the moon god Sahar.  Shambaz, a jeweler, designed a belt based on the turreted design of the crown, it was sold to the House of Cartier, avowing the existence of biblical-era wedding belts termed ‘cities of gold' The error was perpetuated by the New York times. But Paul's daughter revived the wearing of the crown at their nuptials, and became the first bride in 3,000 years or so, to don the crown of gold, and to walk down the aisle in the image of her foremothers. (Hantman p. 17)

In the ancient tablets and documents there is more than the references to Gold Crowns, and extolling Jerusalem of Gold, there are names, nuggets of pure gold, that were brought to the new world by those who had lived at Jerusalem, Lehi and the Mulekites, precious evidence indeed that Joseph Smith had an ancient text and the text, the Book of Mormon is authentic.  How absolutely incredible that we could go to the ancient tablets and find such treasures of confirmation.


Again the source of Phoenician and Punic names is the glossary compiled by Benz representing as complete a list of names from transcriptions, documents, and other sources up to 1972.  Giselle Halff compiled the Punic names from Carthage in 1965 (Benz p. 257), and Benz included her work as well. Our interest in Punic names that were emerging about 600 BC after Lehi left Jerusalem is to see if any such names may have been brought by the Mulekites to the Americas since they left 15 to 20 years ore perhaps even more, perhaps they even lingered for some years before debarking to the Americas; after the Punic change began to occur and appear in the Book of Mormon, after discovery of the Mulekites. Such evidence is being found, it is unique in its importance. Joseph Smith would not have known about this little technical detail of the short window in which Punic names might have become available.

Benz provides the consonantal form of the Phoenician name, and where possible, he also has provided the vocalized form employing the vowels most likely utilized.  The final results are that the Book of Mormon has correct final forms, and other relationships indicated by the various interpretations possible with different vowels. Where possible, Benz also includes a translation of the element, but with limited discussion of verbs and infinitive forms.  Experts in the field of Phoenician no doubt might be able to extract more from the lists of names than has been accomplished in these studies.  Again, the effort here is to be comprehensive, but not necessarily exhaustive.  No doubt further studies will be accomplished in the light of names accumulated after 1972 and more exact improvements in the understanding of languages.


PART II of this study now continues as more names emerge that shed light on unique Book of Mormon names, from the ancient transcriptions and documents of Phoenician and Punic sources.



In the available transcriptions of Phoenician names Gallabau is listed by Benz, which is old Akkadian and the Hebrew name Gallab also found in the Phoenician lists, both have the prefix Gal or Gall.  The suffix of ‘abau' and ‘ab' in both Semitic names means ‘barber' since the Book of Mormon name has an ‘im' or ‘lim' suffix, the name probably means something different. In Ebla contemporary names, since it was Akkad that destroyed Ebla about 2250 BC, the suffix ‘Lim' can mean ‘wild bull' or ‘love' (Pagan p. 346) and the prefix ‘Gal' can mean "valiant or angry'. (Pagan p. 310)  Gallim may mean ‘valiant love'.  In some Ebla contexts, the suffix ‘Lim' is a theophoric ending for deity, so the name may be in some contexts intended to mean ‘a valiant God'. (Pagan p. 346) such as in the Eblaite name Limadagan where Lim is the prefix, so we get Dagan is Lim, or Dagan is God. (Pagan p. 346)


"And behold the city of Gadiandi and the city of Gadimonah, (Erickson 17 Aug 2006) and the city of Jacob and the city of Gimgimno, all these have I caused to be sunk, and made hills and valleys in the places thereof. (3 Ne 9:8).  The prefix name GIM, is a Phoenician name, and the suffix name GIMNO, with the addition of GMN to GIM, is found in two inscriptions from Carthage. (Benz p.296).  The name is not found in the Ebla name list, though there are several names with a gim-prefix, but they are unlike the Phoenician. (Pagan p. 312)  There are no parallels in the Amorite name lists (Gelb p. 537) now available.  But the name Gim is found in the Neo-Assyrian Empire name lists where it means ‘favour' in such names as Gimilabu, ‘Favour of the father', and Gimillu, ‘Favour'. (Radner p. 423) However, in these instances the name is Akkadian, going back to the time of Ebla and the association of Phoenician royal families from Byblos with Ebla, involved in intermarriages. So it is an Akkadian personal name transmitted down in Phoenician and Punic personal name lists most likely coming into the Nephite names from the Mulekites.


Helman is an exact parallel to a Phoenician name. HELAM was one of the first to be baptized by Alma in Mosiah 18:12.  Benz would consider it to be related to the Ugaritic name HLM found in a transcription from the famous Phoenician smelter city of Ugarit. (Benz p. 320)  It is a Phoenician name, and may have been a name known to Lehi who was familiar with Ugarit. In the Book of Mormon, Helam was the name of a person, a land, and a city, so the name had some popularity. (Ricks p. 331-332)  The Phoenician name HLM, or Helam, is also the full prefix in the name Helaman.  Helam means ‘dreamy', or visionary, in the Hebrew form of Helem. (Mandel p. 198) Certainly a description that is apt for such a great mAn who carried that name. Helaman was the name of a son of King Benjamin. (Mos 1:2-8) It was the name of the eldest son of Alma and keeper of the records and Liahona. (Alma 37:7, 45:2)  As the son of Helaman, and grandson of Alma he was a great prophet, recorded the Book of Helman. He died about 39 BC. (Largey pp. 328-329) The preservation of the name through several generations is an example of Papponymy prevalent in the Book of Mormon and Ancient Semitic family name giving in the New East.  The 'an',  suffix ending in Halaman is a hypocoristicon, or abbreviation for deity. The name probably meant ‘God's visions'.

The consonants HLM can be volcalized with the vowels ‘e or a'. The suffix elements ‘LM, ( ‘elim') found in Phoenician names is a plural of  ‘L,  ‘Gods' and as a plural of majesty for individual masculine deities. (Benz p. 267)


The name Helem appears once in the Book of Mormon. "And Ammon took three of his brethren, and their names were Amaleki, Helem, and Hem, and they went down into the land of Nephi. (Mosiah 7:6) There was a city during the days of Samuel the Prophet, called Amalek. However, Amaleki seems to be a Punic name (See Part l of this series) brought over by the Mulekites, in association with that name is Helem and Hem, both having Phoenician parallels. The name Helem could also be Punic but from another source.  Helem is found in Zachariah 6:14, as a returnee from the Babylonian Exile taken by the prophet Zechariah, together with Tobiah and Jedaiah, when  Nehemiah was rebuilding the temple.  He participated in priesthood authority and activities. (Mandel p. 199)  As noted, in Hebrew the name Helem means ‘dreamy', or visionary.  Because of his relationship with authority, he may have received his name from parents who were familiar with the Punic trade activities that involved Phoenician coastal cities with Babylon.  However, the name may also have been transmitted down in the Brass Plates because Helem was the Chief of a clan of the tribe of Asher, and considerable genealogy is provided for him. (Chronicles 7:35; Mandel p. 198)  The name Helem appears in Phoenician transcriptions, in Hebrew and Biblical sources and as a name for individuals with an interesting history during the Exile in Babylon.  So what thin air did Joseph get that name out of?  


Hem is one of the three named along with Amaleki in Mosiah 7:6.  Benz gives its etymology as probably Hebrew because of the name Ham, one of the three sons of Noah (Genesis 5:32)  Note also the name Haman, a Persian Name of uncertain meaning. (Esther 3:1)  Haman was the high official in the court of Persian King Ahasuerus, he was a descendant of Agag, the king of Amalek because of Saul's failure to be obedient it required that Samuel the Prophet kill him. The Persian Haman was hung on his own gallows for having tried to get all the Jews in Persia killed. The Hebrew name Heman, meaning ‘Raging', is found in Genesis 36:22, and Heman, meaning ‘faithful', is found in l Kings 5:11. (Mandel p. 199) These may be related names to the Phoenician name Hem. (Benz p. 311-312)  


Horeb is a Biblical name found in Ex 3:l, 19: 18, 9, 16-20 and other Old Testament references.  Mandel does not include the name in his study. (Mandel p. 206)  Those rewriting the texts of the writings of Moses shy away from identifying it as the Mountain on which Moses received Godly instructions. It is, however, a Phoenician name, much older than the Hebrew name. The Midianites under Jethro may have given that particular mountain its name. They were great traders and merchants and had caravans of camels. (Erickson 20 Aug 2004)  They no doubt had contact with the early Phoenicians of the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.  The Book of Mormon asserts, contrary to the revisionists,  that Horeb is the Mountain where Moses was given the Law. "Remember ye the law of Moses, my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgements." (3 Nephi 25:4)  This is further confirmed by the cross reference in Mosiah 12:33: "If ye keep the commandments, which the Lord delivered unto Moses in the mount of Sinai."  "The words of God, which he spake unto Moses at a time when Moses was caught up into an exceedingly high mountain." (Moses l:l) "These words (Moses l) were spoken unto Moses in the mount, the name of which shall not be known among the children of men." (Moses l:42) However the Book of Mormon does name the mountain and the place where it is located. Check the foot notes for this cross referencing. These references identify Horeb as the Mountain and Sinai as the geographic place for its location. 

Horeb is HR in Hebrew, and it means ‘Mountain'. (Benz p. 303)  The use of the noun in older Phoenician and later Punic names has the meaning ‘sanctuary, Citadel', (Benz p. 303) adding a little more significance to the place where Moses received so much and conversed with the Lord for so long and often.  Horeb is also HRB in Phoenician, with all of the three consonants utilized. Instead of a name, it is rather cleverly utilized in Phoenician genealogies at the end referring back to so and so as ‘The Chief'. (Benz p. 303)  In Phoenician it is also harrab. (Benz p. 303)  In the list of names from Ebla, the forms for mountain is hura and huursana. (Pagan p. 319) . There is too much detail and content in such references and items as these for Joseph to have fictionalized the Book of Mormon.   


HIMNI is found in six references in Mosiah and Alma, first appearing in Mosiah 27:34. This would be after the discovery of the Mulekites. The name is almost an exact match with the Phoenician name HMN. (Benz p. 312) Vowels being interchangeable, the Phoenician form can also be ‘hammon', meaning, (but in the case of Himni the vowel is ‘i') ‘Lord of the Incense Altar', the chief god at Carthage. This was a Punic area after Lehi left Jerusalem, there is some possibility since the name does not show up in the transmitted Book of Mormon records until after the Mulekites are found, that the form Himni is a Punic name derived from Phoenicians who transported Mulek to the western Hemisphere.  The suffix element ‘on', in Hammon, is a hypocoristicon for deity, in Himni, the end of  ‘i' is also a hypocoristicon, generally for Jehovah, in the book of Mormon that would be the preferred deity any suffix for deity would reference. Did the name Himni in the Book of Mormon represent a Punic name brought by the Phoenicians modified with the principal Deity, Jehovah, of the Book of Mormon suffix ending of ‘i'?  It is more than a coincidence that the two greatest Phoenician Sea Captains were Hanno and Himilco, both engaged in great sea faring trips around the horn of Africa to India and the Persian Gulf, and up the Atlantic coast to England, and out into the Atlantic to the Islands off Africa? Their main sea voyages were between 625 and 600 BC. (Moscati p. 81) Lehi would have known about these great Captains, and the need for transport half way around the world would have required those who made arrangements for sea transport for Mulek to have known about the best and most experienced among the great of the Phoenicians or somebody they trained and who had traveled with them. A great untold story lurks in these names and dates. 


Benz, Frank L., Personal Names in the Phoenician and Punic Inscriptions, Biblical Institute Press, Rome, 1972

Erickson, Einar C., Ishabah - Son of Abraham-Ancient documents confirm LDS Doctrine concerning the Magi, Web Site 20 Aug 2004

Gelb, Ignace J., Computer-Aided analysis of Amorite, Anthropological Studies No. 21, The Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Ill. 1980

Hantman, Melissa F., Striking Gold, Scholarly: sleuthing cracks an ancient code, July 28-Aug 3, The International Jerusalem Post, Jerusalem 2006

Mandel, David, Who's Who in Tanakh, Ariel Books, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2004

Moscati, Sabatino, The Phoenicians, Abbeville Press, New York, 1988.

Pagan, Joseph Martin, A Morphological and Lexical Study of Personal Names in the Ebla Texts, Missione Archaeologica Italian in Siria, University Degli Studi Di Roma, 1998

Radner, Karen, The Prosopography of The Neo-Assyrian Empire, Vol. l/ll, BG, The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, University of Helsinki, Finland 1999



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