Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
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But the woman is united to her husband in the bridal chamber. And those who have been united in the bridal chamber shall no longer be separated.

MARI:

It was August 1933, residents of the little town of Abu Kemal, the first town on the Euphrates after one crosses the border from Iraq into Syria, were digging a grave in Tell Hariri, the largest of eleven ruins in the region used as cemeteries by the locals, only to find the spot occupied by a headless stone statue of a man. The French Inspector,  Lieutenant, E. Cabane was notified, he sent the information up the ladder and it reached Paris in October. The Louvre immediately sent the famous archaeologist, A. Parrot, to investigate and he started to excavate right away. In the second season more statues were found, one with cuniform on the shoulder: “Isqui-Mari, Lamgi-Mari” -King of Mari, proof that the Tell or mound of ruins, was the ancient city of Mari. The ancient city was well known to Assyriologists who had translated the Sumerian King Lists which included the dynasty of Kings of Mari who had ruled the great plains of southern Mesopotamia during the Early Dynastic period about 2500 BC. Sargon of Akkad, the founder of the first known Mesopotamian Empire, claimed that the god Dagan granted him possession of the city (by conquest) during the 23d century BC.  (Heimpel p. 3) Northwest of Mari was another Empire ruled from the early city of Ebla.  Sargon’s son conquered Ebla about 2250 BC. (Erickson 23 Feb 2005)  Tablets from these two great cities figure greatly in the studies of this series on Book of Mormon names. The ancient founders had built their city on a grand design on a terrace above the flood plain. They carved out with bronze tools a canal that permitted water from the Euphrates to reach the city and permit boats to anchor in placid waters next to the city. A circular wall surrounded the city enclosing  plenty of open land. After centuries of great prosperity, the walls were destroyed by Hammu-Rabi of Babylon two years after he conquered the city, (1760-1758 BC)

EXCAVATIONS AT MARI

After six years of excavations Parrot had gathered more than 20,000 tablets. (Heimpel p. 134) They were cleaned, packed, and shipped to the Louvre for study, where they languished in storage. During the last year of digging in the Great Palace they found, a longish room along with other rooms near by all were excavated and more tablets were found. Here room 115 yielded a sensational find in a marked tablet coffer, the marker reads: “box with tablets of the servants of Zimri-Lim (the last King of Mari), on one side was a date from the Babylonian calendar, the 28th day of  the 7th month of Hammu-Rabi’s 32nd regnal year, autumn 1761 BC.  When reconstructed, the names and the sequences of the Semitic calendar of Mari was found to correspond exactly to that of EBLA, a  Kingdom northwest of Mari, both involved in synchronous trade and other relationships.” (Young p. 135) Another tag identified a box of letters sent to Amsi-Adad, and the son of Amsi-Adad, Yamah-Addu, who ruled Mari on behalf of his father before the last King,  Zimri-Lim. Most of the 4,000 tablets found in room 115 had been assembled by scribes of Hammu-Rabi during a three day period for shipment back to Babylon. No doubt the intelligence officers wanted to identify from the tablets those who may have been traitors or dissidents so they could be dealt with. But for some reason the coffers of tablets were never removed after having been so carefully prepared for shipment. Some tablets seem to have been entered into the archive within a year of the sealing of the coffers, but another year later in 1758, it was over for Mari.

The writers of the letters were unaware of the historical events that were transpiring at the time they wrote. Many of them participated in what happened soon after their letters were tagged and placed in tablet coffers. Some became aware of the transpiring events through the normal communications between towns and cities. No cell phones in those days. Some 20,000 Babylonian soldiers had descended on Mari, and within two years the eight hundred year reign of Mari was over.

Babylonian soldiers looted and ransacked the palace, breaking and scattering the boxes and tablets in room 115 and finally burning the palace. The last of Mari was wafted into the heavens in smoke. During excavations most of the some 4,000 letters were recovered. Publication was entrusted to G. Dossin and C.F. Jean, and the great Assyriologist Francois Thureau-Dangin published the first letter. (Heimpel pp. 4-7)  Then Heimpel selected from the many tablets just those received by King Zimri-Lim at the end of Mari’s existence and published them with historical summaries and a summary history of Zimri-Lim, notes and other data in 2003.  Just the names found on this small selection of tablets are the subject of this study.

EXTISPICY AT MARI

The archive from room 115 permitted Heimple and others to reconstruct the downfall with all of the problems, battles and intrigue that ended in the capture and destruction of Mari. (Heimple pp. 7-163)  It is interesting reading, the letters reflect many individuals who played a role in the defense and demise of this empire. One interesting aspect is the religious dependency on extispicy, not a common practice in the world today, though in some cultures it may be. That is, divination by means of inspecting the entrails of sacrificial animals. It was the most widely practiced method of divination in ancient Mesopotamia. It was believed that the entrails of animals contained divine directives. (Heimple p. 173) The diviners were always male and the practice was passed from father to son. Clearly at this time Mesopotamia was in absolute apostasy, no true prophets existed except in the rare family lines leading from Noah, Shem to Abraham, and they had left the debased and human sacrificing culture for a new land. Wars would rage across the Mesopotamian lands for many centuries and wars are still there today. And wars will not cease until the lands begin to accept the gospel according to the prophecies of Isaiah in Chapters 11 and 19.  

WOLFGANG HEIMPEL

Heimpel was a specialist in Mesopotamian history and languages, and became intrigued with the content of letter 26 404, which he struggled to translate into English. That led to wanting to learn the content of other letters, and that led to a greater interest in mastering the early Semitic Akkadian language, and that led to his selection of the tablets limited in his book to the Letters to the King of Mari. (Heimple p. 167)  Earlier tablets from Mari had already yielded parallels to Book of Mormon names. (Erickson 29 June 2005) But these tablets were different; they did not originate in Mari. They came from people and places in the entire region, and some in different languages. Heimple lists and locates on a map some 58 originating places, mostly towns and cities, for the tablets and letters. (Heimple pp. xxii-iii) Of these towns and cities we have presented studies from only two of them in the submittals made so far. Many are not excavated, if they ever will be, if so, no doubt further confirmation of the veracity of the Book of Mormon will be found. But, could there be from these multiple sources, none originating in Mari itself, any parallels to the Book of Mormon names?  Every tablet has at least two names.  The sender and the receiver. Many tablets refer to other individuals so you get more names than you have tablets. This study was a challenge.  If the Book of Mormon names were authentic ancient names, then from the myriads of sources, some 58 towns and cities, in northern Mesopotamia, with cultural differences and languages, private, individual letters were sent to Mari, to its ruler. Surely some of the names on them should reflect some kind of relationship to the Book of Mormon names, perhaps in the use of prefixes, or suffixes, or cores, or even near exact matches to the Book of Mormon names. We found all of this to be true!  It took a while, but the search was worth it.  This was an extraordinary adventure in Book of Mormon research with great results.  

The well known epigrapher, J.M. Durand, spent most of his time during 1980-1986 reading and re-reading the lists, the tablets were not in the best of condition, and it was complicated because while written in cuniform, they were in the Akkadian Language which is a dead language. Many other students of the region and subject were also engaged. It was more than 150 years after reading cuniform before headway could be made in this old Akkadian. (Heimple p. 7; Isre’el p. 1)  During the discussions below many references will be made to the recently available book: A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian by Black, et al, not available until 2000.  Without this book and several others recently published, the comparison with Book of Mormon names with names from these tablets would have made little progress and with few results.

TELL HARIRI-THE RUINED CITY

The modern name of this ancient Tell or mound is Tell Hariri.  Now it is known to be ancient MARI, situated on the middle Euphrates River in Syria.  It was a wealthy and powerful city State in the 3rd and early 2nd millennium BC.  The City dates back to the Early Dynastic II period. The Old Akkadian period which proceeds it dates before 2870 BC. one of the early East Semitic Empires. (Moscati 1969; Weiss p. 39)  Mari appears on the scene about 2550 BC., reaching its peak about 2250 BC. It was conquered by Sargon of Akkad, and then over the centuries flourished again until its final destruction by Hammarabi in 1758 BC. In the 19th century BC there was competition for hegemony in Mesopotamia and northern and central Syria, these competitors were Yamhad in northern Syria and Mari on the Euphrates. A foundation stone excavated from the Shamash temple in Mari boasts of a military campaign to the Mediterranean to fell trees in Lebanon and impose its authority on the coastal towns of the Phoenicians. (Mazar p 13) The Mari archives confirm the Egyptian surge in influence about 2000 BC confirming the account of Egyptian influence in the Book of Abraham. (Mazar pp 6-7) Among the important Early Dynastic buildings are six temples dedicated to Ishtar, goddess of love. During the Old Babylonian period (about 2000 BC) there is evidence of growing secular power.

During the campaign of Hammurabi he destroyed a great palace that had been in use with frequent enlargements for 400 years. This palace at Mari is  “the best-known, the best preserved, and the richest not only of all the palaces of the Amorite dynasties, of which approximately a dozen examples have been recovered to date, but also of the entire Bronze Age (including more than twenty monuments of the third and second millennia). …every approach to the world of the palace, its life, and its realities-the art of living space-in the Bronze Age, and particularly in the epoch of the Amorite dynasties, must begin with the study of the palace of Mari.” (Margueron p. 885) The last King of Mari was Zimri-Lim, the palace was used by him. By his time it had 250 rooms, an audience chamber, administrative and residential quarters. Palaces at that time had multiple functions as administrative and residential quarters, reception area for guests, a center for the civil service, tax and storage depot for important trade items. As noted, the tablets from the various archives number more than 25,000, many not as yet published in English. Near the room, No. 115, where the archive was found was what is considered to be a school. Vast murals painted on thin layers of clay plaster of representational pictures and geometric patterns were exposed during excavation; a new and impressive school of decoration. (Whitehouse p. 306)

The tablets of Mari tell of the extensive trade in all directions; from the Levant, Israel, came timber, fabric, fine metal, oil, wine, and honey.  Momentous development occurred during the Mari zenith, also known as the Middle Bronze ll period, and in Egypt known as the Middle Kingdom, where barter trade was highly developed including trade with the Minoans in Crete.  The culture of the Minoans came to horrible end because of a great earthquake. But during its hay-day the Minoans made a major contribution to the development of international relations. (Mazar p. 218)

 The descendants of Noah except for the line of Shem through to Abraham flourished in spite of the fact they were horribly debased.  Out of this mass of apostasy and degradation the Jaredites were led to the Americas, and Abraham to the promised land, and Shem-Melchizedek and his people were translated. (Taylor pp. 84-88)

 

THE NAMES

 

As we have recently been doing in presenting the name parallels, the Book of Mormon names are on the left side of the name headings, then the names from the Letters to the King of Mari are on the right.  The names are extracted from the Letters to the King of Mari in approximate alphabetical order.  Some of the other sources and entries in this series are mentioned where more information on the name may be obtained, or where additional light on the meaning can be gleaned. The Letters themselves do not provide the meaning of the names, the prefixes or the suffixes. Other sources are used and referenced in order to get what information is available to understand the meaning of names, because for the most part, the meaning of the names is not given in the Book of Mormon except for a rare few. And then, when the meaning is given, it provides a critical point to be put to analysis from whatever the sources to see if the meaning given in the Book of Mormon is correct. The results are often astonishing as noted below.    

ABINADI, ABINADOM, ABISH:  ABDU-SURIM, ABDUMA-DAGAN, ABI-DAGON, ABI-EPUH, ABI-EQAR, ABI-MEKIM, ABI-SULULI, ABI-SADI, ABUM-EL.

ABINADAI is one of the most well known characters in the Book of Mormon, a Prophet of unknown origins. (Mos 11:20; Erickson 13 Jul 2005) The name has been found in other contexts and has been dealt with elsewhere in these studies. In the book of OMNI we have a three generation father-son-son mentioned. “I, ABINADOM, am the son of Chemish” (Om l:10)  “I am Ameleki, the son of ABINADOM.” (Om 1:12) The name CHEMISH, which is found in the ancient HITITE city name of CARCHEMISH, which means ‘quay’, a port city on the Euphrates at about the time of the Jaredites. Abraham had to cross the river at this quay when he was sent into the Promised Land. The name may have been derived from the Jaredite records or the Brass Plates. In Alma 19:10 there is reference to a women named ABISH. This name is also related to Jaredite names such as Akish and Kish. (See the posterity of Jared, Largey p. 431; Erickson 4 Aug 2005)  CARCHEMISH, a HITTITE official city, will be the subject of a future study for the web site.

In the ancient Upper Mesopotamian texts, the prefixAB’ or ‘ABA, means ‘father’ (Radner p. 1) the prefixABI’ meansmy father’ (Radner p. 8) There are eight pages listed by Radner of names having this prefix. Recall the Semitic term of Abba-father used by Christ in the New Testament where it literally translates ‘daddy’. Most of the ancient Mesopotamian names are Aramaic-Semitic, as are most of the Book of Mormon names, one of the reasons this search in Mesopotamia for parallels to Book of Mormon names is so productive. While pointed out by Nibley in his writings, most other students of the Book of Mormon have not picked up on this connection, or someone else would have been writing this study. 

The names from the Letters use both aspects of the prefixes, as the Book of Mormon does, and the various suffixes added to the names modify or enhance the use of the prefix.  The Letters describe each of the individuals, who they were and something about them, but most often do not describe what their names mean. For example: ABI-EPUH who was the Governor of Yasmah-Addu in Suhum; talks with people of Yabliya about secession of Za’kum. ABDU-SURIM wrote about a problem of succession in Ekallatum, ABDUMA-DAGAN was one of six soldiers from Humsan, ABI-EQAR was a barber, ABI-MEKIM was scheduled to bring troops from Babylon and is instructed to close the city gates of Mari. ABI-SULULI was a servant of Asqudum sent to Kar-Kamis, (Carchemish, as mentionied, was a famous city and quay on the Euphrates which Abraham used to cross over to head for the promised land; Whitehouse p. 86), ABI-SADI, also a barber; ABUM-EL was an envoy from Han-Sura. (Heimpel pp. 525-526)  Some of the towns or places mentioned in some tablets have not as yet been identified.

Note in the name from the letters, ABUM-EL, the hypocoristicon, or abbreviation, EL,  for Elohim is used.  Elohim is a god often referred to in ancient times, as years went by, he was referred to less and less. Now the LDS revere him as God the Father.

AGOSH:  AGAGGA, AGADE

AGOSH is a place name, the name of a plain, found in the Jaredite record. (Ether 14:15)  There are twelve names with the prefixAG’ in one of the available ancient name lists, the name elements  seem to have ancient origins, even in loan words from ancient Akkadian, going back to the time of the Jaredites. (Radner p. 55) In some names the prefix may be related to the meaning ‘to hire’. (Radner pp. 55-56)  Certainly, the prefix shows up in many West Semitic names. West Semitic peoples were in contact with the northern ten tribes, thus the name may have appeared in the Brass Plates. AGAGGA was the son of a servant of Askur-Addu. (Heimpel p. 526) More importantly, from the list of place names found on the tablets received by the King, is the name AGADE, which is the name of the ancient early city of Akkad, certainly confirming the use of very old names and forms of names and place names in the Book of Ether. (Heimpel p. 604)  If the Book of Mormon names were fictional there would have been no way Joseph Smith could have come up with the complicated relationships of the names and the unique prefix elements that are involved, let alone expect that these names with their various prefixes and suffixes would show up on tablets from various ruins of ancient Mesopotamia.   

AHA, AHAH:  AHAM-ARISI, AHAM-NIRSI, AHATUM

In Alma 16:5, two brothers, Lehi and Aha are mentioned: AHA and AHAH, both of these have been discussed elsewhere in these studies. In the Book of Mormon, the names probably came from the Jaredite record where AHAH is listed as the son of Seth, the 39th in the posterity of Jared, and AHAH is 40th, and his son Ethem is the 4lst. (Largey p. 431)  In ancient West Semitic and Akkadian, in masc. and fem. forms, the prefix means ‘brother’. In the Ebla Texts ‘AHA’ means ‘the brother’. (Pagan p. 278) The Ebla and Mari Empires or City States were contemporary for much of their existence. To get the female form, woman or sister, the ending or suffix of TUM is added in the MARI texts, as in the name AHATUM, ‘sister’. (Heimpel p. 526: Radner p. 56) In the Ebla Texts Ahadum, or Ahatum, means ‘sister’. (Pagan p. 278) In Ebla the name AHAM-ARISI probably means ‘the brother is Arisi’. (Pagan p. 278) The Book of Mormon follows the rules precisely.  In the Letters to the King of Mari, AHATUM was a servant girl of Dagan-Malik; she received divine messages in trances. (Heimpel p. 56)

When the Jaredites passed northward through Assyria they would have been aware of the Empires of Ebla and especially Mari as they most likely passed specifically through the territory of the latter.  In the Ebla Texts ‘AHA’ appears also as a suffix in the name ‘ALKUAHA, meaning ‘the city is brother’. (Pagan p. 279)  Because the references to ‘brother’ are frequent and often referred to, it would have been unusual if the Book of Mormon did not contain this name or the prefix or suffix use of it.  This is a rather subtle confirmation of the Book of Mormon usage.  

AMALEKI, AMALEKITE, AMALEKITES, AMALICKIAH, AMALICKIAHITES, AMALICKIAH’S, AMARON:  AMAT-SAKKANIM 

Here we have the prefixAMA’, which appears in seven names in the Book of Mormon found in: Om. l:12; Al. 21:5, Al. 21:2; 46:3; 46:3; 46:28; 47:8 and  Om. 1:3 (Shapiro pp. 38-39), respectively; and in one name in the Mari Letters:  AMAT-SAKKANIM.(Heimpel p. 527)  In the Ebla Texts the prefixAMA’ means ‘the uncle’.  In the Akkadian Texts, it has various meanings, because Akkadian is older than the Ebla and Mari histories, the meaning became specific by the time of its later usage in Mesopotamian areas. (Black pp. 11-12)  Most of the Book of Mormon usages of this prefix are linked to AMALEKI and AMALICKIAH and variations of these names with endings referring to peoples by that name. Amaleki was the son of Abinadom, descendant of Jacob, the last of nine Nephite scribes to write on the small plates of Nephi (ca 130 BC; Largey p. 44) He was born in the days of Mosiah, but we know not where or when. In the Phoenician name lists, the elements AMLK contains the theophorous elements of -LK, this may make a statement about the deity or the name bearer. (Benz pp. 218-219; Erickson 16 Aug 2006)  At Amarna in Egypt (Erickson 15 Sept 2005) a discussion of the prefixAM’ for the Egyptian deity Amon or Amun, is provided. 

AMALICHIAH has a hypocoristicon or abbreviation ending, -IAH,  for Jehovah; deity endings like AMALICHIAH  are also found in the Ebla Texts, and are very abundant in the Book of Mormon, and some Biblical names, such as Jeremiah and Zachariah.  The Book of Mormon was consistent in this kind of linguistic usage applying the appropriate suffix to indicate peoples and special modifications of the name.  Inbedded in the name AMALICHIAH is the name MALICHI, the important Biblical prophet, which in Hebrew means my messenger/angel’ (Pope p. 277)

There were no names beginning with the ‘C’ found in the limited names listed in these particular Mari letters.

There are no unusual names in the Book of Mormon that begin with ‘D’, except the Jaredite word for Bee:  Deseret.  In the OLMEC world (Considered by Mormons to be the JAREDITE TIME) of Central America (2100 to 200 BC) there are, today, Indians who retain an ancient knowledge of the Bee. “The royal bee was probably kept for its honey. Even today the Populuca Indians who live in the ancient Olmec [Jaredite?] area practice a number of rites connected with the keeping of this insect, thus indicating its ancient origin.” (Bernal p. 20)  In many such subtle ways the Book of Mormon is confirmed. The reference to Bee found in 2 Ne 17:18, refers to the “bee that is found in the land of Assyria. The land from which the Jaredites would have come from. The Jaredites called the bee, Deseret, which “by interpretation, is a honey be.” (Eth 2:3)  There is also the reference that the Jaredites “did carry with them swarms of bees.” (Ether 2:3)

HIMNI:  HIMDIIYA

HIMNI was one of the four sons of Mosiah. (Mos 27:34)  In Akkadian, the prefix HIM has various meanings, suggesting that the Jaredites were familiar with the usage of this prefix and Mosiah may have obtained the name or suggestion for the name from the Jaredite records that he translated, especially since –NI is found in Akkadian as a useful suffix, meaning ‘me, or our’. (Black p. 251) In Akkadian it is also a much used prefix. (Black pp. 251-256)  As a prefix it appears in the Ebla texts as ‘spring, gift and desire’. (Pagan 356)   Note the Book of Mormon name uses  NI’  as a suffix.   The suffix           ‘-DIYA’, in the Mari name, shows up in Old Babylonian in the word dyantu, meaning ‘afflicted by headache’, which may not be applicable; just suggesting that the form was there anciently. (Black p. 61)  The ancient Akkadian uses the prefix HIM (possibly based on ‘hmy’ ‘to protect’ with a theophorous suffix of –NI, meaning ‘that deity protects’.) (Baker p. 472)

More likely there is a Phoenician connection, the name HMN (Hammon) was that of an altar official, “Lord of the Incense Altar”;  BA’AL HAMMON was Chief God at Carthage, and with Tennit and Melquart made up the Carthage pantheon. (Benz p. 312)  Two noted Phoenician boat Captains, HNN (Hanno) and HML (Himilco, voyaged to Britain and Ireland 650 BC, and around Africa 600 BC and on to India. (Moscati p. 81) They or some one like them may have conveyed the Mulekites to the Americas, and it may be that HIMNI, certainly a famous and well known name, is a name that could have been introduced by the Phoenician colonists at the time Mulek was brought to the Americas since the name does not show up in the Nephite record until after the discovery of the Mulekites.

While there are many names in the Book of Mormon that begin with an ‘L’, most of them are biblical names. There were no names in the Letters to the King of Mari that began with an ‘L’.

KIB:  KIBIR-ESTAR, KIBRI-DAGAN, KIBSI-ADDU,

In the list of descendants from Jared to Ether, a man by the name of KIB occupies the 6th place in the genealogical line. (Largey p. 431)  He first appears in the Book of Mormon as the father of Shule (Eth l:31) and the son of Orihah. (Eth 1:32). He was a king, dwelt in captivity, and later restored to his father’s Kingdom. (Shiparo p. 500) The name KIB is also found among the names in the records of a mercenary group of Jews hired by the Egyptians to protect the upper Nile on the Island of Elephantine where they had their headquarters and built a temple. (Erickson 9 Mar 2005) about 600 BC. (Porten p. 141) and has been discussed elsewhere. (Erickson 18 Feb 2005)

Three names with the prefix KIB appear in the Letters to the King of Mari as listed above. (Heimpel p. 547)  There are more than 26 names with the prefix KIB listed in the Ancient Akkadian dictionaries. (Black pp. 153-154)  At Nineveh, the great Assyrian-Babylonian City, there were more than 500 god and goddesses and a huge temple erected for their worship, among them were ESTAR, DAGAN and  ADDU.  DAGAN was also used much earlier in the Akkadian times as a prefix in such names as DAGAN-MILIK meaning  ‘DAGAN IS MY KING’. (Radner pp. 355-356) Other names will show up in this study as many names occur in the Letters to the King of Mari with the deity theophoric element added as a suffix. ADDA was a very much used theophoric element, used as a prefix to many names from the early Akkadian down to much later times. (Radner pp. 43-51), but with the ‘A’ ending rather than an ‘U’.  KIBIR-ESTAR was an official in Dur Yahdun-Lim, KIBRI-DAGAN was governor of Terqua, communicating on various subjects with the King of Mari Zimri-Limi in many letters, KIBSI-ADDU, addressing the king from Sippur, appointed by the King to lead a strike force against raiding Suteans in Babylon. (Heimpel p. 547)

The name KIB means ‘honored’. (Porten p. 141) So the names in the Letters to the King of Mari would mean ‘The Goddess ESTAR Honored’, The ‘God DAGAN Honored’. The  ‘God ADDU Honored’.  This is a precise match and confirms the Jaredite and Jewish usage of an actual ancient name.  

MANTI:   MANKISUM, MANUHATAN,  MANATAN, MANNANUM, MANNU(M)-BALU-INANA, MANUM

MANTI appears in the Book of Mormon first in Alma l:15 as the name of a hill, but in Alma 2:22, it is the name of one of the four spies, Limher, MANTI, Amnor, and Zeram, sent to watch the camp of the Amlicites a Nephite group engaged in rebellion (ca. 87 BC)  They returned with the alarming news that the Amlicites had joined a host of Lamanites and were marching upon the Nephites above the land of Zarahemla (Alma 2:22-25; Largey p. 52)   The apostate Nehor was carried to the top of the hill Manti after being pronounced guilty for having killed the righteous Gideon (ca 91 BC), there he acknowledged his false teachings and suffered an ignominious death. (Alma l:2-15)  This was about a hundred years after the Jaredite record had been made known, the name could have come from that source, or from the early history contained in the Brass Plates.  The prefix MAN- is found in two names from the letters to Mari, both in the context of place names, MANKISUM and MANUHATAN.  The first was a city on the east bank of the Tigris, an important Tigris crossing. (Heimple p. 616) An informant would send the King of Mari information gained there about Babylonian movements. Isome Dagan suggests that children or troops be sold there for grain, one of a few references to human trade or slave activity. (Heimple p. 617)  MANATAN, was an individual in charge of the Guards, MANNANUM, was a messenger from Babylon passing through Mari, MANNU(M)-BALU-INANA, was a Regent of Atamrumin Suhpad, and MANUM was a Babylonian courier accompanying Prince Mutu-Numaha to Mari. (Heimple p. 549) Notice the use of –UM ending, consistent with the use in Jardite times.

In West Semitic, sometimes also called ‘AMORITE AREA’ embracing the area where Mari is located and which on their southern border at a later date were members of the Ten Tribes, for which reason the name or prefixes of MAN- may be in the Brass Plates; the prefix comes from mny ‘to count’, (Baker p. 676) but anciently in Akkadian the prefix means ‘who’, which meaning is found in many names in Akkadian. (Baker pp 677-702)  Later in Arabic the prefix came to mean ‘to be’ and in Egyptian we find an exact match to the book of Mormon in the name MANTI-ME-HE where the word MANTI means ‘the God’ month, the suffix  –ME-HE when added means ‘(the God) month is in the lead’.  The man MA-AN-TI-ME-AN-HE-E was as Egyptian vassal of Assyria appointed by Esarhaddon and reinstated by Asurbanipal when he reorganized the administration of Egypt after Taharqu’a revolt in 667 BC, he held the office of Mayor of Thebes and Governor of Upper Egypt, and was considered to be the ‘Fourth Prophet of Amun’. Several portraits of him are extant; he was a hero and died in 648 BC, (Baker p. 701) about the time Lehi would have been born, and because of Lehi’s connection to Egypt, the prefix name MANTI may have been familiar to Lehi and been in his record as well as in the Brass Plates. Nibley pointed out much of this: “Manti, the name of a Nephite soldier, a land, a city, and a hill… A Semitic form of an Egyptian proper name, e.g., MANTI-mankhi, a prince of Upper Egypt cir. 650 BC. It is a late form of the Month, god of Hermonthis.” (Nibley p 27 1988)  Nibley also states that it was popular to give names after Egyptian hero names; Manti, among other names he listed, was an Egyptian hero. (Nibley p. 286, 1957-1988)

NAHOM:  NAHIMUM

NAHOM appears in the Book of Mormon not long after the family of Lehi has left Jerusalem and where Ishmael died and was buried. (l Ne 16:34)  Here the daughters of Ishmael did “mourn exceedingly.” In Hebrew the word NAHAM means ‘to groan, or to “be sorry, console’. (Largey p. 580) The word has been treated elsewhere in these studies and we get the impression it means ‘to comfort’. (Erickson 18 May 2005)  However, it is essentially a Phoenician Name, NHM, meaning ‘to have compassion, console’. (Benz p. 359) In the letters to the King NAHIMUM (Note the UM ending, a hypocoristicon or abbreviation for deity), also reflecting mimation (Nibley 8, p. 98) discussed elsewhere in this series, and peculiar to Jaredite times and Jaredite names. So the name in the letters is really NAHIM (NHM), differing only by a vowel from NAHOM in the Book of Mormon without changing the meaning. NAHIMUM was an official of Sura-Hummu and writes about the deterioration of relations between Mutebal and Mari. (Heimpel p. 551)   

In Arabic and in Old South Arabian, the letter h in Nihm represents a soft aspiration, wheras the h in Hebrew word Nahom is the letter het and carries a stronger rasping sound. (Parry p. 113)

Nibley points out that the “Hebrew Nahum means “comfort” (Nibley Vol. 5)  Nahom/Nahum is translated as “mourners” in Isaiah 57:18 and as “repenting” in Hosea 11:8.  Anciently “repenting” was a translation of a word that today would be translated as “grieving” as such it was used “when the mother [in heaven] had recognized the vein of darkness [that had come over a son, Lucifer] because he was not created perfect and she knew that her partner [Elohim] did not agree with her she ‘repented’ [grieved] with much weeping and the whole Pleroma [eternal host] heard the prayer of her ‘repentance’, [grieving] and praised for her sake.” (Giversen p. 73)  So Hosea used the term to mean grieving, in complete harmony with the implications of the word Nahom in the Book of Mormon. This is an incredible confirmation of the reference in the Doctrine and Covenants that when Lucifer after his rebellion was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son all heaven wept: “And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.” (D&C 76: 25-26)  Certainly Mother had ‘grieved” and wept!

The names from the Letters to the King of Mari reflect another aspect of Onomastic science. “Of all the names of persons mentioned in the Old Testament none are surnames. Biblical characters, whether notable or not, were known by one name only. And those names, as translated into the English language, neither use the letters q. x, or w nor begin with F.  Book of Mormon shares those same peculiarities: not one surname is mentioned among its 337 proper names, which, as transcribed into English, do not use the letters q, x, or w and do not begin with F.”  (Parry p. 1899) Joseph Smith could have really slipped up here. But he did not. (Erickson 18 May 2005)

PAANCHI:  PA-ILA

PAANCHI was the son of Pahoran who, after the death of his father, contended with his brothers, Pahoran and Pacumeni for the judgment seat. (Alma 61”3-5) about 62 BC. He lost out, with supporters he initiated a rebellion; he was arrested and condemned to death because he sought to destroy the liberty of the Nephites. (Largey p. 616; He l:5-7)  His followers had Kishkumen assassinate Pahoran and revived secret oaths again. ( Hel l:11) The band was taken over and highly trained in the craft of murder and robbery by Gidianton. (Hel 28-34; Nibley Vol. 6, pp. 380-381)  PA-ILA, meaning unknown, was a merchant official of King Zimri-Lim in Larsa, sent to check on a Mariote prisoner in Dapirum. (Heimpel p. 552)  There was only one name in the Letters to the King of Mari using the letter ‘P’. However, the PA- prefix is an unusually common one in Ancient Akkadian. (Black pp. 261-271)  Seven of the nine names in the Book of Mormon that begin with the letter ‘P’ use the prefix PA-.  Nibley has pointed out that names beginning with Pa- are the most common type of late Egyptian history, and as noted above along with MANTI,  PAANCHI are among the names given by Nibley for Egyptian heroes, (Nibley Vol. 6, p. 286) and he notes there is an exact match with PAANCHI, son of Kherihor, a chief priest of Amon, and also to a ruler of the south who conquered all of Egypt and became high priest of Amon at Thebes. Note the similarities to other Egyptian names such as Painkh, Pianchi, and Paankh. (Nibley Vol. 5, 24, 29) Such names were not known to scholars until the late 1800’s a full fifty years after similar names appear in the Book of Mormon. (Nibley p. 192, 93)  Most of the Book of Mormon names were not known until archaeologists began to translate the many tablets they recovered from their extensive excavations, and much of that has only become available since 1997, the last ten years. Since there are very few people checking the occurrence of Book of Mormon names in ancient documents, this reality is little known, but it is extremely important.

RABABNAH:  RABUM

“And one of the King’s servants said unto him, ‘Rabbanah, which is, being interpreted, POWERFUL or GREAT KING, considering their kings to be powerful, and thus he said unto him, Rabbanah, the king desireth thee to stay.” (Alma 18:13)  This is one of those rare names that because of some point of detail the abridgers of the Book of Mormon considered it necessary to point how the name was being used. Did they get it right? In verse 11, it should also be noticed Ammon was also being called ‘the GREAT SPIRIT’.  So we have the three designations: POWERFUL, GREAT KING and GREAT SPIRIT, to look for and an explanation of this name to confirm the unique digression in verse 13 to explain how the term RABABNAH was being used especially with its subtle connection in some way with deity. Rarely does this kind of digression appear in the Book of Mormon. It becomes a test to see if Joseph Smith had a correct impression or guidance in the particular use of the name. 

In fourteen names listed in the morphological and lexical study of personal names in the Ebla texts, one where there are thousands of names collected, of those with the prefix RABA or RABU, seven, or half of the names, has the meaning of ‘Great’, the other seven have the meaning of ‘compensation’. (Pagan p. 358) Clearly the Book of Mormon abridger did not want to confuse the meaning with the use of ‘compensation’! While this name has been treated elsewhere in the web site studies, more detail is given here because of the acquisition of additional resources. It is important then, that the abridger, Mormon, digressed to make sure the proper meaning is understood in the Book of Mormon usage to mean  GREAT’.  But note that in verse 11 there is an association of the name with deity.  Did Joseph Smith make a mistake in hinting at this subtle relationship?  Apparently Joseph got it right in all instances of the implications in both verses.  The usage in verse 11 finds confirmation in the Ancient Akkadian language where the name from the Letters to the King of Mari has its exact counterpart, RABU(UM), with a strong emphasis on the use of mimation and the use of the abbreviation ‘–UM’ for deity. There it’s meaning is pointed out:  (4.) ‘great’ or ‘deity’, ‘king’….’the great gods’, the ‘greatest’.  The reference to ‘the ‘Great Spirit’ in verse 11 is extremely exact in reference to the connection with the Gods, and also king.  And in the summary of meanings, confirming verse 13, is the usage of the prefix (l. and 4.) as ‘big’, ‘major’ ‘chief’, so however used it means something big and powerful. (Black p. 294)  This Akkadian usage goes back before 2750 BC, so was imbedded deeply in the ancient Eastern Semitic, and Mormon knew this. An outstanding confirmation of the Book of Mormon.  RABUM was the subject of a request by Yamsum for a lance for the young man. He may have been in some type of guard detail; a military situation would not have needed or required such a request. (Heimpel p. 553)

RIPLAH, RIPLAKISH, RIPLIANCUM:  RIP’I-ADDU, RIP’I-DAGAN

RIPLAH, with the prefix elements RIP,  R’, and RP, common to all three of the Book of Mormon names, appears first as a place name of a hill east of the river Sidon, near the land of Manti, in Al 43:31. Did this name come from the Jaredite records?  The other two names having these prefix elements do!  RIPLAKISH was a Jaredite King, he was a descendant of Shez (Eth l:23) in the old age of Shez. (Eth l:24) He did not do that which was right (Eth 10:5) and so was killed (Eth 10:8). He was 25th in the line from Jared.  Indicating this name and its prefix was ancient Semitic. RIPLIANCUM is a place name for waters, and is also a Jaredite name. (Eth 15:8)  The suffix ending of –UM, a common mimation in the Jaredite records and in ancient Aramaic and Semitic names is a hypocoristicon for Jehovah. Fourteen names in the Book of Mormon have the –UM ending.  The-UM ending was also a prevalent hypocoristic suffix among the Mari Texts. (Huffman p. 132) We would expect then, that these names would have some parallel in the Jewish TANAKH which would confirm their antiquity. (Mandel p. 445) The name RIPHATH, with the prefix elements is found as the name of the son of Gomer the son of JAPHETH, the eldest son of Noah. (Mandel p. 445) There the meaning is unknown, but it goes back to just after the flood when the sons of Noah begin to have more children, all of their first children had perished in the flood. (Moses 8:14-21) The prefix elements also appear in Phoenician, where the meaning seems to be ‘friend, or companions’, (Benz p. 409), it is also considered a possible theophorous one. (Benz p, 408) In the two names from the Letters, the suffix elements are related to theophorous connections such as the deities -Addu and -Dagan.  RIP’I ADDU was a witness to threats made by Yasim-Addus against Zakira-Hammu in Qattunan. (Heimple p. 553)  RIP’I-DAGAN, he along with Yaqqim-Addu and Yarim-Dagan witness an ordeal in the town of Id. (Heimple p. 553)  These names from the Letters to the King of Mari may mean ‘friend of the God Addu’, and ‘friend of the God Dagan’.

The ending of –AH in RIPLAH is a theophoric suffix representing JEHOVAH. The core element LAH, in RIPLAH, may have the meaning ‘without’ or ‘may’, in old West Semitic and Akkadian. (Baker p. 651) In other words, the elements in the names appear in ancient contexts and biblically go back to at least two generations after Japheth and the flood, just before the time the Jaredites would have been making their departure from the region. Note that the Jaredites lived near a great city called Kish, there was a King called Kish, (Erickson 4 Aug 2005) and the name KISH appears in several names in Jared’s genealogy. (Largey p. 431)  The Brass Plates, more complete than the present Jewish Tanakh may have also been the source of many names appearing in the Jaredite record.

Certainly the Jaredites brought some kind of records available to them down to their time with them and these would have been available to Ether, the Jaredite Chronicler. 

SAM:  SAMI-ERAH, SAMMETAR, SAMSI-ADDU, SAMSU-BAL, SAMSU-ERAH, SAMUHEL, SAMUSA, SAMU-ADDU, SAMUYUM

SAM, the well known third son of Lehi, 600 BC. ( l Ne 2:5)  After returning from a Mission in Iceland, Ty. B. Erickson, presented a fireside at the Valley Music Hall in Bountiful, Utah on Linguistical Evidences for the Book of Mormon, which had been taped as RESTORATION PARALLELS TAPE No. 105.  An individual commented that it was ridiculous that the common English name Sam should be found in a so called ancient text such as the Book of Mormon. Ty pointed out that the name, in keeping with the association of Lehi with Egyptian connections, was in fact an ancient Egyptian name. (Erickson, Ty, No. 237)  Nibley had pointed out that “Sam is a perfectly good Egyptian name; it is also the normal Arabic form of Shem, the son of Noah.” (Nibley Vol. 5,  p. 42)  In this instance the name means just that a ‘name’.  Nibley also lists SAM as the brother of Nephi, and points out the usage of SAM in the Egyptian name SAM TAWI, an Old World name meaning “uniter of the lands,” a title taken by the brother of Nehri upon mounting the throne. (Nibley Vol. 5, p. 28)

The name has been discussed in several of the web site entries, but more will be added here. In the ancient Ebla name lists, a City State contemporary with Mari, the name in the form of SAMA means ‘posterity’ and ‘destiny’. As a prefix the name SAM appears in eleven names in the Ebla lists, most often with the meanings as noted. (Pagan p. 366)  In the Akkadian Dictionary the name  SAM as a  prefix appears in more than 60 names. (Black pp. 352-354)  And in the Tanakh there are five names with the prefix SAM, including the well known names of Samuel and Samson. (Mandel pp. 450-453) Most often the suffix modifies the meaning of the name elements.  Most likely, however, Lehi obtained the name from his Phoenician connections. The name element SM are prominent in ancient Ugarit names (1800 BC) and Amoritic names in and around Ebla and Mari areas, and in these sources it also means ‘name’, (Benz p. 419) as Nibley had pointed out. So, even though it appears to be a common English name, it most certainly is just as common an Egyptian and Phoenician name and appears to have had an ancient history, especially since it goes back to the elements in the name of Shem, second son of Noah.

SAMI-ERAH, was a staff member of Ibal-Pi-El; en route to Mari with news of Hammu-Rabi of Babylon. (Black p. 553)  While SAM means ‘destiny or posterity’, SAMI  with the possessive ‘i’ ending it means ‘my destiny, my posterity’. (Pagan p. 366)  With the mimation ending common to Jaredite names, SAMUM, it would mean only ‘posterity or destiny’, but there is a social linkage between the use of ‘name’ in the since of ‘posterity and destiny’ because posterity maintains and perpetuates your name and your mortal destiny. . SAMMETAR 1, was the King of Asnakkum and  Sammetar 2, was the son of La’um, governor of Terqa. (Heimple p. 554)  SAMI-ADDU was a Yamina leader, concerned about some of his tablets being stolen and SAMSI-ERAH was King of Tilla and was causing problems for the King of Mari. (Heimple p. 554)  SAMSU-BAL was a Yamhadean messenger traveling with Zui-Hadnim 2, and SAMU-ADDU was King of Karana. (Heimple p. 554) SAMUHEL was a Zalmaqean messenger on his way to Mari, the suffixEL in his name is a hypocoristicon for ELOHIM, with implications about his religious background.  SAMUSA 1, was a Kurdaite messenger and SAMUYUM was a guide for two officials going to Mari. (Heimple) Note the  -UM endings on some of these names consistent with the usage of mimation in ancient times and in Jaredite names.  Most of the endings of the names are theophorous, the names of various deities invoking their influence on the name. The Book of Mormon name of SAM is right at home in the ancient names of the region of Mari and surrounding regions from where letters were generated to the King of Mari.  So, again, the Great Joseph got it right the first time.

Among the Book of Mormon names there were a few beginning with the letter ‘T’ but no names in Letters to the King of Mari were similar.

The names in the Book of Mormon beginning with the letter ‘U’ were all biblical, and not parallel to the few names in the Letters to the King of Mari starting with that letter.

There are no names starting with   Q, V, W, X, or F in the Book of Mormon, and there are no names starting with those letters in the Letters to the King of M   ari. This may be a very subtle additional confirmation of the veracity of the Book of Mormon that would have backfired had Joseph conjured up names beginning with these letters.  How would he have known to avoid names starting with those letters?  Inspiration? Exactly!

There are many names in the Letters to the King of Mari that begin with a ‘Y’ but there are no names beginning with this letter in the Book of Mormon, and that may only be because in the records abridged by Mormon and Moroni, the names were not included in any part of the records retained in the Book of Mormon.

There are many names in the Book of Mormon lists that begin with the Letter ‘Z’, therefore to be consistent with all of the above, there should be a lot of names beginning with that letter in the Letters to the King of Mari. There are, it just happens that none of them are parallel to the Book of Mormon names, but in other tablet studies we have made, we find parallels to the ‘Z’ names. However you look at the names in the Book of Mormon, the consistency and adherence to the rules of linguistic and Onomastic science is remarkable. It can only be explained by the acceptance that the Book of Mormon is a divinely prepared and translated book of real history and of real people.  The tablets of Letters to the King of Mari, along with others, from 58 towns, cities and localities in the Empire of Mari, before 1940 and recently translated, are one of the most important archaeological evidences to be recognized in these last few decades that confirm the truth of the Book of Mormon and the reality of Joseph Smith as an inspired prophet, and the gospel as truly restored.  

BIBLIOGRAPHY

AHITUV, Shmuel & Baruch A. Levine, Ed.,  The Early Biblical Period, Israel Exploration Society, Jerusalem, 1986

BAKER, Heather D., The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, V0l. 2, 1 H-K, The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, University of Helsinki, Finland, 2000

………………………The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Vol. 2/11 L-N, The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, University of Helsinki, Finland, 2001

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

BERNAL, Ignaico, The Olmec World, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1969

BLACK, Jeremy, Andrew George, Nicholas Postgate, Eds., Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, 2nd Ed. Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2000

ERICKSON, Einar c., The Ancient Kingdom of Kish, the Jaredites and the Brass Plates, Web Site, 4 Aug 2005

………………………Tell Amarna in Egypt and the Book of Mormon, 15 Sept. 2005

………………………Ether and Ebla, 23 Feb. 2005  A more exhaustive study of the names found in Ebla is in preparation.

……………………..  Reformed Egyptian, 18 May 2005

ERICKSON, Ty, B. &  Michelle R., Erickson,  Book of Mormon Names, the Evidence, deposited with FARMS in Provo, Utah, 1978.  Much of the Web Site entries are expansions this work by Ty. He could not continue his studies because of lack of data, much of the present web site entries are based on publications, most of them two to three decades after Ty’s original research, and most are after 1998

GIVERSEN,  Soren, Apocryphon Johannis, Coptic Text...Nag Hammadi Codex 11, Prostant Apud Munksgaard, Copenhagen 1963

HEIMPEL, Wolfgang, Letters to the King of Mari, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake,      Indiana, 2003

SHLOMO, Isre’el, Amurru Akkadian, Harvard Semitic Studies 40, Scholars Press 1991

LARGEY, Dennis L., Ed.,  The Book of Mormon Reference Companion, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2003

MANDEL, David, Who’s Who inTanakh, Aerial Books, Tell Aviv, Israel, 2004

MARGUERON, Jean-Claude, MARI: A Portrait in Art ;of a Mesopotamian City-State, in Civilizations of the Ancient Near East, Ed. Jack M. Sasson, Vol, l and 11,  Hendrickson, Publishers, Peabody, Mass. 1995

MOSCATI, Sabatino, The Phoenicians, Abbeville Press, New York, 1988

……………………… Ed. An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages, Wiesbaden 1969                         

NIBLEY, Hugh, Lehi in the Deseret, the World of the Jaredites, There were Jaredites, Vol. 5, FARMS, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 1988

………………...An Approach to the Book of Mormon, Vol. 6, FARMS, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1957-1988

……………….. The Prophetic Book of Mormon, Vol. 8, FARMS, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah 1989

…………………Since Cumorah, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah 1967)

PAGAN, Joseph Martin, A Morphological and Lexical Study of Personal Names in the Ebla Texts, Missione Archaeologica Italiana in Siria, Archivi Reali Di Ebla StudiIII, University Delgi studi Di Roma, “La Sapienza”, 1998

PARRY, Donald W., Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch., Ed. Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, FARMS, BYU, Provo, Utah 2002

POPE, John A., Who’s Who in the Bible, Readers Digest, Pleasantaville, N.Y., 1994

PORTEN, Bezalel, Archives From Elephantine,  University of California Press, Berkeley, 1968

RADNER, Karen, The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Vol. I/I A, The Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project, University of Helsinki, Finland, 1998

SHAPIRO, R. Gary,  An Exhaustive Concordance of the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price, Hawkes Publishing Inc, Salt Lake city, Utah, 1977

TAYLOR, John, The Mediation and Atonement, Stevens & Wallis, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah 1950

WHITEHOUSE, Ruth D. Ed., The Facts on File Dictionary of Archaeology, Facts on File Publications, New York, 1983

WEISS, Harvey, Ed. Ebla to Damascus, Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C. 1985

YOUNG, Gordon D., Ed. Mari in Retrospect, Fifty Years of Mari and Mari Studies, Eisenbrauns, Winona Lake, Indiana 1992   

 

 

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
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