Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
Main Menu
Articles View Hits


There is the lower group called the unredeemed and the second group ordinary Christians saved by faith, and the third group saved by knowledge with eternal bliss.

As we proceed with the study of the names in the Book of Mormon, there is another group of names that have some bearing on the Book of Mormon. These include over 400 Amorite names so far identified in the Mari tablets from the Ancient City of Mari. The Amorites are well known to Old Testament Scholars. At the time the Israelites entered their Land of Inheritance the Amorites lived ‘in the Mountains'. (Num 13:29)  Their control extended east of Jordon. (Num 21:26)  They continued to inhabit areas of Palestine after the conquest and were never totally driven out. (Judges l:35-36)  The Amorites were centered at their capital city, Mari, located on the south west side of the Euphrates River. It was a most influential city in northwest Mesopotamia.

"The Amorites were a Semitic (archaic Aramaic) speaking people stemming from the middle Euphrates area, who spread  to Mesopotamia and Syria-Palestine...in the late third and early second millennium BC.  Their Language ...is the earliest recorded example of West Semitic. They were prominent in the population of Mari, whose documents throw much light on patriarchal customs. After the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites, many of the Amorites were absorbed"  (Alexander p. 660) by the Israelites. (see l Samuel 7:14) The Amorites were most likely the descendants of Shem.

Since the Amorites were contemporaries of Israel during the conquest and through the reign of King Solomon, down to about approximately 200 years prior to Lehi's departure, we might expect to find their influence among the names of the Book of Mormon. Most likely the Brass Plates would have many Amorite names in it, since many of the northern Tribes would have had contact with the Amorites. Some of these names may have surfaced at any time during Nephite times, and be among the biblical and non-biblical names in the Book of Mormon. As the Amorites had a long history, their influence and therefore their names would be present in most Mesopotamia settings, so we expect to find their names and parallels to their names in Assyrian and other Mesopotamian name lists, as well as in the Tanakh and the various Bibles used by Christians.   

In 1965, Herbert B. Huffman published a work entitled, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts. He details the Linguistics constructs of over 400 names and demonstrates certain consonant combinations that were characteristic of Amorite names, some of which overlap with other West Semitic name constructs. There are a large number of these unique and interesting constructs and consonant grouping in Nephite names. Since the work of Huffman a much larger corpus of documents have become available, these will be referred to in what follows. Again, this study like most of them, is by way of an introduction, this study will not be exhaustive.  There is much more work to be done.


"In August 1933, a Bedouin preparing a burial tomb at a mound in Syria known as Tell Hariri, accidentally came upon a large fragment from a stone statute. This chance discovery was brought to the attention of the French Colonial authorities, and thus began archaeological research at Mari. By December of the same year, in the course of the first season of excavations, it was possible to identify Tell Hariri with the ancient city of Mari already known from southern Mesopotamian documents...From 1933 to the present, systematic excavations at Tell Hariri have exposed large portions of this 60-hectare city." (Weiss pp. 130-132) Excavations..."From 1933 [by the] (Musee du Lourvre and Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) were directed and reported by French Archaeologist Andre Parrot." (Weiss p. 130)  The City of Mari  "made use of irrigation agriculture, making use of the banks of the Euphrates where intensive garden and date palm planting was possible;" exporting huge amounts of barley and other cereals and dry goods. (Weiss p. 194)  One of the chief problems was dealing with cattle thieves and nomadic tribesmen seasonally crossing the river valleys with their herds. ( Weiss p. 194).

"Mari was in a strategic position on the trade route between coastal Syria and Mesopotamia...[which] effectively gave Mari control over all trade, both overland and along rivers," (Hunt p. 44) in all directions. Mari was an active trade city during the life of a merchant called Lehi. Had he ever visited Mari? The early Palace of Zimri-Lim of 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 the entire Bronze Age, 3500-1500 BC, including more than twenty monuments of the third and second millennia BC. (Margueron  p. 885)  Mari was "A key trade center, it was a military base for the Akkadian empire and grew to great size by the time of its destruction by Babylonians." (Hunt p. 44)  Thus it has a variety of names and languages in its tablets.  "Democracy's ancient ancestor was MariMari also experimented with collective governance." (Fleming p. 1)  The Mesopotamians were extremely practical. "The inhabitants of Mesopotamia established commercial and banking practices, standard weights and measures, written contracts, contract formulas, price and wage fixing, and codified laws. They divided the day into 24 hours, the hour into 60 minutes, the minutes into 60 seconds and the circle into 360 degrees." (Altman p. 17) Their astronomical observations were extremely acute. "From about 2350 BC [after the tower] to approximately 1500 BCE, the Akkadian phonetic syllabary plus Sumerian lopogram cuniform remained the writing system of inter-ethnic diplomacy, local laws, and administration [as well as all trade]. It was in use in most of the Semitic speaking areas." (Altman p. 28) As is well demonstrated by the tablets from Mari

"The approximately 25,000 tablets from the palace archive of the late third and early second millennium BC give us--from the perspective of the palace--insight into the life of the city and its relations within Syria." (Weiss p. 194) And all other nations.  


"In the fourth millennium BC remarkable changes took place in Southern Mesopotamia ....These innovations, which occurred in the Uruk [3700 BC,  Hunt p. 20] and Jemdet Nasr periods, constituted what has been called the Urban Revolution."  (Weiss p. 42)  "...it was a crucial step in human progress...it involved the development of cities...a society in which large numbers of people lived in small areas...a society organized politically on territorial principles... divided by class and ruled by a religious, military and political elite.  The invention of writing, the beginning of the exact and theoretical sciences and the appearance of representational art were also an integral part of the urban revolution...the erection of public buildings affirmed the existence of a society in which there was a central authority with sufficient resources to carry out the work....some archaeologists refer to ‘state formation'."  (Roaf p. 58)

The LDS see this as the consequence of the introduction of Adam and Eve into the world, the fall, and the implementation of the mortal experience on earth.  It is significant that historians and archaeologists recognize this urban revolution at precisely this time. This urban revolution would have continued until the great flood, at about 2500 BC. (Shulman p. 17) The chronologies worked out by students of this period are summarized in a number of publications. Few students give any credence at this time to the Adamic world centered in the Americas, though there are profound archaeological sites in the Americas during this period. (Ford pp. 16, 23-40) Adam's posterity spread throughout the world, it was not confined to the western Hemisphere. For the most part the students of history concentrate, because of their bias, on other areas of the world.

‘Pre-Adamic Man' made the first simple settlements in southern Mesopotamia.  "the earliest permanent settlement of the southern plains of Mesopotamia occurred sometime before 5000 BC...this marked the beginning of the ‘Ubaid period, named after the site of Tell al-‘Ubaid. Where distinctive artifacts were first discovered." (Hunt p. 14) 

Adam's children then spread out over the world. One of the earliest of the developments was the Ubaid period in southern Mesopotamia developed about 4000 BC which persisted for nearly a thousand years. (Roaf  p. 53) Then came the foundations of Mesopotamian Colonies along the Euphrates: Habuba  Kabira/Qannas, and Jebel Aruda, 3500-3300 BC. (Weiss p. 83) The dates given are approximate, the best that are available at this writing (2005) and will no doubt change as more details are provided, but they permit us a framework in which to make preliminary interpretations. "Early and Middle Uruk [now known as modern Warka] periods saw the crucial transition between village to city take place." (Roaf p. 58) "Uruk was one of the three major cities of ancient Sumer. It was a port city just north of the Persian Gulf on the Euphrates River." (Altman p. 20)  Tokens were then in use. "By 3100 BC the clay ball ‘envelope' [with tokens inside] was flattened out into tablets... The Sumerian writing system is called a syllabary. Each symbol in a syllabary stands for a consonant and a vowel...the earliest tablets show that the Sumerians already used syllabograms. (symbols representing the spoken consonant-plus-vowel.)" (Altman p. 21) Writing had begun in that part of the world. There was also a vast increase of sites at this time. (Roaf p. 59) This holds true for the rest of the world as well. On the plains of Susiana in Iran the great city of Susa was established, whose history ran parallel to that of Mesopotamia. (Roaf p. 65) By 3000 BC the Eye Temples at Tell Brak at the end of the Sumerian Colonial period with a northern Mesopotamia plan, but also similar to Tepe Gawra in northern Iraq, were in full glory. (Weiss p. 89)  By 2900 BC the Early Dynastic period in southern Mesopotamia, were in place, and soon after some of the important cities yielding tablets were established. One was the Ninevite V Period in Northern  Mesopotamia. (Weiss p. 542) By 2800 BC the Sumerian Cuneiform writing was highly developed, and during the next 100 years the earliest evidence for cuniform writing of Akkadian was left behind in the ancient ruins. By 2600 the pre-Sargonic palaces at Mari were in place and the Royal Cemetery at Ur with its prodigious wealth was about to be buried by the flood. The flood came; the Tower of Babel followed a few generations later, and then an enormous proliferation of tongues. On page 327 of Science News for May 21, 2005, Vol. 167, America's leading linguist, Dr. John McWhorter, identifies some 6,000 languages. (Ether 1:3-33) The pre-flood city of Ebla was established about 3500 BC, and emerges again after the Flood only to be captured after the Tower of Babel by the grandson of Sargon of the older Akkadian Empire. (Matthiae p. 134)  Most of the Tablets from Ebla come from this destructive period. (Archi pp. 140-144)  In Sumer, the Ur 111 kingdom was powerful, but short lived. "The first two rulers of the First  Dynasty of Babylon bore Amorite names, they were followed by three with early Akkadian names, and then came six rulers, beginning with Hammurabi [of pre-Biblical fame] with Amorite names, after that there were many contending dynasties along the two great Rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris.  Mari was the chief Amorite power for much of that time. (Weiss pp. 188-189) The Amoritic language (archaic Aramaic) was ancestral to Hebrew and different from that spoken in southern Mesopotamia, particularly in Sumer. (Hunt p. 44) Mari contended with Ebla to the northeast and Kish to the southwest. "According to the Sumerian King List, the first city to claim dynastic privilege after the great flood was Kish (Kic)." (Hunt p. 22) See Maps.  A study on Kish will be added to the web site.


Following the Urban Explosion, within the next several generations circumstances would lead to the incident called the Tower of Babel, and following that incident the diversity of languages. The Tower has been adequately discussed by Nibley. (Nibley Vol. 8, pp. 108-111) Most of the kingdoms, city states, and tribal areas around Mari emerged after the Tower, speaking Aramaic, a Semitic language, each with some variations. Because of this relative similarity, names from the ancient sites of whatever date, are often useful for comparison to the Book of Mormon names. Then the languages changed over the next three thousand years. Some of have only been translated since January of 2005 when after some 40 years of study, Elamaitic, was finally understood. Note that the name Elam is found in the Book of Mormon. (2 Ne 21:11)  For the purposes of this study the emphasis will be on the names found on the tablets from Mari.     


Mari was an ancient city located on the Middle Euphrates in SE Syria. Since 1933 the location of Mari, as noted, has been identified as Tel el-Hariri. This identification is secondary to the excavations of A. Parrot for the Musee du Louvre in Paris, which he conducted during 1933-39 and 1951-74. "After 1978 the excavations continued under French Anthropologist Jean-Claude Margueron." (Hunt p. 44) Contemporary with Uruk, the great Mesopotamian civilization to the south, Mari held its own in the fourth millennium BC. (Pettinato p. 11) and "Toward the end of the third millennium BC only Mari, on the Euphrates and Tell Brak, on the Gezira flood plain, show[ed] any vitality."  (Pettinato p. 10) Mari was located about half way between Ebla to the northwest and Kish to the southeast. (See maps provided for this series)

Mari was the Capital of a strategic and major Amorite city-state and Kingdom, well established in the 3rd millennium BC, it was already a powerful centre when it came for a while under the suzerainty of Ebrum of Ebla. Ebrum was the great grandson of Shem. (Gen. 10:14) He had become King of Ebla after the Tower Incident. (Erickson, Ebla and Ether this web site) Mari had close relationships during the period 2400-2250 BC with Ebla when Ebla had reached its economic, political and cultural apogee. Ebla was then conquered by the grandson of Sargon of Agade, about 2250 BC, after the flood. (Weiss p. 137) Mari also suffered a similar fate. Thereafter it was ruled by governors dependent on Ur until freed by the Amorite Ishbi-Irra about 1820 BC. (Douglas pp. 945-946)

Mari had a long and illustrious history, its tablets show the exchange between it and many of the key kingdoms and cities of the entire region.  Ugarit, which like Sidon, figured in the life of Lehi, was a major commercial center, one important to the Egyptians (Young p. 6) where it maintained long term relations with Egypt and Mari. Barley and goods reached Egypt by way of Ugarit and Sidon. Copper was traded from Cyprus [which means copper], just off the coast from Ugarit; east through the lands of the early Subartu, down the main trade corridor through Mari to the land of Shinar to Ur at the head of the Persian Gulf. (Aharoni pp. 8-25) Lehi must have had a fascinating life in his day, as his contacts and trade would have made him familiar with all such places. That he retained his own personal spirituality and integrity throughout all this, sufficient for him to be called as a Prophet, is most remarkable.  The Book of Mormon is a great memorial to this great prophet who paradoxically remains unknown to but a few of the Jews today.     


Over 25,000 cuniform tablets have been recovered from digging at Mari. Many of them  contain names, approximately 900 Amorite personal names were identified. (Huffman p. 8)  The Mari texts date over a 70 year span ending 1750 BC when Harrurabi, of Babylonia, conquered the city. (Miller: 418)  The name lists from Mari contain ancient names as well as later ones.  Mari was also associated with the Kingdom of Kish, a name which figures prominently in the Jaredite record. (Ether 1:19, 10:17) Because of its antiquity, one would expect that Mari would have a baggage of names that would include some of those carried by the Jaredites when they departed the region just before the Tower of Babel, as well as names after the flood. Because of the constant contact the Amorites had with the peoples and Tribes of Israel it could be expected that Amorite names may also have been transmitted through the Brass Plates into Nephites usage.  And that is exactly what is found.

The following Chart contains the Amorite constructs as outlined by Huffman.  These consonant grouping are authentic elements of Amorite names and as can be seen there are significant parallels in the names in the Book of Mormon.  The letters making up the elements or constructs, including a suffix, root, or prefix are in the column on the left. In the center column are names from the Mari texts, and in the right column are names taken from the Book of Mormon for comparison. The comparisons and parallels are obvious.  



             CONSTRUCT             MARI           BOOK OF MORMON            

            ELEMENTS             NAMES                                NAMES


               1)   Ab-               Abuum  Abierah                 Abish, Abinadi

                                                                                    Abinadom, Ablom

               2)   Abn-              Ibaelabnu                          Abinadi, Abinabom

               3)  -Add               Yamuuraddu                     Amingaddah

               4)   Ah- Aha        Ahulim, Ahuum                 Aha, Ahah

               5)   Ak-               Akian, Akierah                  Akish, Riplakish

               6)   Am-               Amatan, Amudadu            Ameleki, Amalickiah,

                                                                                    Aminadab, Aminadi

                                                                                    Amaron, Amgid,

                                                                                    Ammah, Amlici,

                                                                                    Ammaron, Ammon

                                                                                    Ammonihah, Amnihu

                                                                                    Amnigaddah, Amoron

                                                                                    Amnor, Ammoron, 

                                                                                    Amulon, Amulek                                 

                7)   Amr-              Atamra                           Amaron, Amoron

                8)   Gd                  Yagidlim                           Gid, Giddianhi,

                                                                                    Giddonah, Gad

                9)   dd                    Dudanim                        Giddianhi, Giddnah,


               10)   dn                   Yadinim                         Gidgidonah, Gidgiddoni                                                                                                                   
               11)   zrh                  Izrah, Yazrah              Zerahemnah, Zarahemla

               12)   hlm                 Halima                           Helam, Helaman, Helem

               13)   hr                   Yahar, Abiyahar            Limher, Korihor

               14)   hrm                 Muthirman                    Hermounts

               15)   k or ki             Niqmuk, Ammuk,         Amaleki, Amalekiah,


               16)   lm or Lm         Limim, Limadu                  Limhah, Limher, Limhi

                                                                                    Limnah, Laman


               17)   -lum                Igihluma                        Shiblum

               18)   mlk                  Amlik                           Amulek, Ameleki,

                                                                                    Mulek, Melek

               19)   nhm                 Nahmau                        Nahom

               20)   ntn                   Yantin                         Antionah, Antionum,

                                                                                    Corianton, Gadianton,

                                                                                    Morianton, Antion

                21)   rm                   Yarimim                       Rameumpton

                22)   Irra                 Yahsinirra                    Irreantum


An Explanation and discussion of the numbered items above is provided below.

Hypocoristica were also commonly found at Mari. The simplest forms did not have suffixes, but most often endings were placed on the names demonstrating the abbreviated nick name for God.  One of the most common suffixes at Mari is:  -um endings. Over 20 such names are listed by Huffman. (Huffman p. 132) this suffix has been termed mimation (ending in -m) and was common among ancient Middle Eastern Names. (Nibley Vol. 5, p. 242)  There are fourteen names with this characteristic ending in the Book of Mormon. (BKM p. 532-535) It is extremely remote that Joseph could have known of this subtle concept in 1829. What a confirmation of the Book of Mormon!


1). Ab-   As a prefix element, Ab- meaning  ‘Father', is common in most of the Semitic languages of the Middle and Near Eastern areas. (Huggman p. 154) It has been discussed in various studies of this series. Excluding Abraham, there are four names, as listed, in the Book of Mormon with the prefix elements Ab-. In the Tanakh, Abi is also an element  meaning,  ‘my father'. (Mandel p. 4) But Abi- is also the name of the daughter of Zechariah, sometimes she was also called Abijah, the abbreviation for Jehovah being added. (2 Chron 29:1) meaning, ‘God is my Father'. In the Tanakh (Jewish Old Testament) there are twenty seven names with the prefix Abi- all connoting father, the suffix in each name adds details to the meaning of the name. The Tanakh has both forms, the Ab- and the Abi-.  In the New Assyrian Empire at the time Lehi left Jerusalem, the prefix Abi- also meant ‘my father'. (Radner p. 8, and is listed as West Semitic-Amorite)  However, not all forms of Ab- in the Tanahk mean ‘father'. The Book of Mormon has the same two forms, and in some instances, the Ab- prefix does not mean ‘father'. In the name Abinadi, you have the prefix elements Ab, meaning ‘father', the root elements ‘nad' meaning generosity, and the hyporcoristica abbreviation for God as the suffix ‘i', meaning God. The name would then mean God, the father of generosity. A similar form with the same meaning is Abindab, a name given to four men in the Bible. (Mandel p 10) which means father of generosity because in Abindab the suffix means Father, so the prefix and root, ‘Abi-nad' alone can mean generosity, or God's generosity.                                

2)  The prefix Abn- can also be used in the suffix portion of the name, such as in Ibaelabnu, but it appears in Book of Mormon names as the usual prefix in Abinadi and Abinabom.  In Amorite it is an unexplained construct (Hoffman p. 155) but in Hebrew, for example, the name Abner, with the Abn- prefix,  means ‘Father of light'. (Mandel p. 13) This may be a case where the Hebrew form was taken into later Amoritic names.  Whether Hebrew or Amorite, but both confirm the proper use in the Book of Mormon.

3)  The suffix elements -add are a theophoric construct representing the Northwest Semitic Deity Haddui. (Huffman p. 156)   The elements -add are almost exclusively found at the end of names. (Huffman p. 157) This is also true for the examples cited from the Book of Mormon.

4)  The prefix Ah-, meaning ‘brother', is common in most of the Semitic languages. (Huffman p. 160).  The earlier Akkadian form is Aha- (Radner p. 56)  But it is quite common just used as an Ah-(prefix).  The suggestion that the prefix Aha- or elements may have considerable antiquity is supported by the fact that Ahah is the name of the 40th descendant of Jared.  Zoram, Chief Captain over the Nephite armies had two sons, the second was named Aha. Both fought with their father and rescued a lot of captives (Alma 16:4-8) about 81 BC. (Largey p. 809)  Could this Zoram have obtained the name for his second son from the Jaredite Gold Plates?  Whatever, in the Book of Mormon the proper elements and constructs and names are evident.  The Aha construct also appears in Old Akkadian as a feminine name as well. (Radner p. 56)  The use of the name in the Jaredite record suggests that Aha has great antiquity, and this is verified by the use of the construct Aha and Ahua in ancient Akkadian names. (Di Vito pp. 159)  

5)   The prefix Ak- is a core element as well, may be either Hurrian or Akkadian (Huffman p. 161) and thus had considerable antiquity.  This is very evident when we realize that it appears in two very old names in the descendents of Jared.  Akish, the man who married the daughter of a Jared, she was the fifteenth descendent of Jared and her father, also called Jared, was the fourteenth. Akish carried a name reflecting names known before the tower of Babel, or shortly thereafter.  The Kish portion of the name is also the name of the 30th descendent of Jared, and appears in the construct of the name Riplakish the 25th descendent of Jared. (Largey p. 431)  Before and after the flood, there was a Kingdom and a House, a family, and a King of Kish in the records. (Saggs p. 27)  In some names, Ak- was used as a theophoric element (Hoffman p. 161) as is evident in the use A-Kish.  Nibley thinks there is a link to the Hittites in this name as well, "Akish being the Egyptian Hittite name for Cyprus." (Nibley Vol 6, p. 289) That will be dealt with in a later study on Kish.    

6)  Am-  is an Amorite divine name, possibly derived from Ham (Father in Law) or the Qatabanian moon god Amm. (Huffman 2:166). It can also mean ‘chosen' and in some names, ‘Paternal uncle'. (Radner 1998 pp. 98-103) And in the Tenakh it often means, ‘people' or ‘truthful'. (Mandel pp. 47-50) It is a common prefix to many Book of Mormon names as shown. In the Neo-Assyrian Empire, it appears abundantly in the prefix forms of Am and Amm. (Radner 1998, pp. 97-108)  Am- also has an obvious Egyptian connotation that will be developed elsewhere. Am is the most abundant prefix in the Book of Mormon, and because of its Egyptian connection, is that surprising?  That's as is should be. (Nibley Vol. 5, p. 25)

7)   The prefix or core elements Amr- means ‘to speak or command'. (Huffman p. 168) The elements are found in at least two Book of Mormon names as listed.

8)   Gd   means ‘to be or become good'. (Hoffman p. 179)  Depending on the suffixes used, it can also mean ‘increased' as in Giddel, a servant of Solomon (Ezra 2:56), or in Giddalti, ‘I have made great' a Levite (I Chron 25:4), or as in Gideon ‘warrior' the youngest son of Joash of Manasseh. (Mandel p. 173) These names seem to be tribal names and could have been in the Brass Plates, along with Gidaia, Gidgidanu, Akkadian names, with variations are comparable to those names listed from the Book of Mormon. These all are consistent with: Gidgidaanu, Gidgidaani, Gidgidaan. (Radner p. 422) All these forms are variations of the Phoenician-Egyptian name for Sidon, the port used by Lehi, Giddonah. (Nibley Vol. 6, p. 89, Vol. 5, p. 2)  Giddonah is also the name of the father of Amulek, companion to Alma (Alma 10:2)  Phoenician names are prominent in the Book of Mormon. (Erickson, web site study: Reformed Egyptian)

Gad was the seventh son of Jacob and the second of his wife Zilpah (Mandel p. 165), ancestor of the Tribe of Gad, therefore most likely a name from the Brass Plates. The Biblical name Gad means ‘fortune'. (Mandel p. 165)  It is, however, an ancient name, appearing about 2250 BC in the Ebla lists of names as Gada, Gadabaan, Gadamu, Gadana, Gadanati, Gadane, Gada, Gaduri, Gaduum, and others, meaning ‘good fortune'. (Pagan 309)  Gd in the form of the Gid prefix, also appears in the Ebla lists as Gidalu, Gidamu, (Exultation of Damu), Gidanaim, Gida, and Gidum. Meaning ‘good'. (Pagan p. 311)  The meanings of all of these ancient forms remains the same or similar throughout history, consistent with the Book of Mormon usages. These names are not fantasy, they are overwhelming evidence for the veracity and reality of the Book of Mormon. More ancient records than the ones quoted contain similar evidence.

9)   dd   Meaning  ‘good fortune', the double dd is an authentic construct in names, (Huffman p. 182) as noted in the Mari names and especially in the Book of Mormon names. This construct is especially found in names from the Neo-Assyrian Empire at the time of or before Lehi left Jerusalem in such names as: Gadda, ‘good fortune',  Gaddi, Gaddijka, Gaddiu, are variations of the name of a personal Guard of the King in Nineveh. (Radner p. 417)  Gaddija, also meaning ‘good fortune', was an official during the time of Tiglath-pileser 111, whose name was also spelled Gadd, Gadja, Gadda, Gaddi, Gaddiu, just as other individuals by the same name, with no change in meaning. When checking on parallel names, one must be constantly aware that there may be a number of variations. All of the endings are hypocoristicons of God.  Other names include Gad-iata (also meaning ‘good fortune'), as well as: Gad-il, Gadja, and Gaddija. (Radner p. 418)  All meaning the same thing.  Thus the Book of Mormon correctly preserves varieties of this use of the double consonant ‘dd' .  These are exceptionally good parallels and distinctive confirmations of the Book of Mormon correctness in name constructs. How truly astonishing that these names appear historically in ancient Mesopotamian tablets, which would only be the case if the names are authentic confirming that the Book of Mormon is a genuine translation of an ancient record.  It might be mentioned that the prefix for the Book of Mormon name of Middoni, Mid (meaning ‘to know'), is found in the Neo-Assyrian name lists, and another abbreviated prefix, Mi (meaning ‘who') is also found in the same name lists. (Baker p. 740)  The same prefix is found in the name of Midian, one of the sons of Abraham by his last wife Keturah. However, in this instance, Midian means to ‘Quarrel'. (Mandel p. 362) As noted above, the elements ‘dd also appears in the Phoenician name, Giddonah, of Sidon for the Port the Merchant Lehi used; the name found in the Book of Mormon, . (Largey pp 292-293) and, as noted, the name of the father of Amulek.  

10)  dn   means ‘to Judge'. This is a common west Semitic (Amorite) root. (Huffman p. 182).  There is an ancient Akkadian name which filtered down into the Neo-Assyrian Empire that carries these elements: Gidgiddanu. (Radner p. 422) Notice how close the name is to the Book of Mormon names, much closer then even the names found at Mari.  The prefix Gidgi- found in the names from the Book of Mormon is an exact prefix found in the Akkadian name. Other forms of the same prefix used in names in the ancient records include: Gidgida, Gidgidaani, Gidgidaan, Gidgiddani, Gidgidaanu,  (Radner p. 422). There is also an ancient town named Gidgiddani. (Radner p. 423) The ancient port city used by Lehi, Sidon, had a Phoenician-Egyptian name of Giddonah. (Nibley Vol. 5, p. 2) All of the prefixes in the names are abbreviated forms for God.  The names are all Theophoric, just as the Book of Mormon names are.

11)  zrh  These elements mean: ‘to sow or seed, or rising light'.  (Huffman p. 188, Mandel p. 546).  These elements show up in Biblical Names in the Tenakh: Izrhriah (Nehmiah 12:42), a leader of singers in the 5th Century, and in (l Chronicles 7:3) Izrhiah is the father of Joel, his sons were leaders in the tribe of Issachar. (Mandel p. 227)  Most likely the Nephites found these elements in names in the Brass Plates.  However, in the Book of Mormon, these elements are contained in the name Zarahemla, a descendant of Mulek the son of Zedikiah. Most likely this name came from the Mulek colony as it does not appear in the record until after Mulek's people are taken in by the Nephites  (Omni 1:13-14)   In Hebrew zhr means ‘Rising Light' and in the Tenakh or Jewish Bible the name Zerah and variant Zarah, (Gen. 38:30)  has the same elements as those of the Book of Mormon, in fact, two additional Biblical names, Zerahiah, meaning ‘the rising of God' and Zeresh, all have the same three elements zhr. (Mandel p. 546) confirming the Mulek people are truly Jewish in origin, and the Book of Mormon names of Zerahemnah and Zarehemla are true Hebrew names. More will be said of these details in a later study.   

12)  hlm   The meaning  of these elements is ‘dreamy'. (Mandel p. 198) The parallels in Mari and the Book of Mormon are completely evident. Note carefully that the Mari name Helima, has an abbreviated hypocoristicon ‘a' for a suffix ending for Jehovah. Two of the Book of Mormon names Helam and Helem, vary only with the vowels, ‘e' or ‘a' a strictly Hebrew practice, otherwise, they are the same name, meaning ‘dreamy'.   

The Biblical name Helem, with the very same elements hlm, meaning ‘dreamy', was a member of the tribe of Zephaniah, (Zechariah 6:14), and another Helem, also known as Hotham (l Chron 7:32) was the chief of a clan of the tribe of Asher. In other words, these names probably all came from the Brass Plates!  They are tribal names. In all aspects Joseph maintained the chronological, tribal, and elemental construct details of these names, but the original name Helima, Helim without the God ending of ‘a' is also an ancient name, that could have been obtained by the northern Tribes having contact with the Amorites. This also suggests that some of the Mari names, like the some names found at Ebla carried the hypocoristicon for Jehovah way back in ancient history. Historians do not want to acknowledge this because it suggests some link with Hebrew Theology having a greater antiquity than they want to give it. But the LDS emphatically state, it goes clear back to Adam.  The LDS are grateful for this additional confirmation of their doctrine!

13)  hr   The meaning of these root and suffix elements are unknown at present. (Huffman p. 204) Note the Mari and Book of Mormon parallels are quite distinctive.

14)  hrm  These root and prefix elements mean ‘to become sacred, vowed'. (Huffman p. 204)  The Book of Mormon example, Hermounts, or Hermonthis, is a name used to designate ‘wilderness' in Egyptian , and is exactly so used in the Book of Mormon (Alma 2:36, Largey p,. 331)  The Egyptian Min of Hermonthis, "infested with wild and ravenous beasts" (Nibley p. 247), confirms this Egyptian connection.

15)   k or ki   A root, is the second feminine singular pronominal suffix.  In the Mari texts something unusual occurs and that is the use of this typically feminine suffix with masculine names. (Huffman p. 218)  We find the same unique usage in the Book of Mormon with three names!  Chalk another one up for Joseph. In the Tanakh the suffix ki is in the name of an idol worshipped by pagan settlers of Samaria. (Amos 5:26, Mandel p. 321)

16) lm   These elements are most often a prefix and anciently were used in Theophoric names. "Lim is an important Amorite deity.  This God is honored in the names of all three non-Assyrian rulers of Mari during the Old Babylonian period. The probable explanation of the name was suggested to refer collectively to ‘thousand'." (Huffman p. 226)  During the Neo-Assyrian Empire, tablets carried at least four names with this prefix: Limras-libbi-ili, (Let the Heart of God  -Lim- be concerned),  Limraas, Limtu-remutu, Limusu. (Radner pp. 662-663)  Lim is the prefix referring to God.  The lm as used in the names of Lemuel and Laman means:  "Why" with the hypocoristicon ending for diety, both of those names mean:  "Why God?" clearly defining the attitude of these two wayward sons of Lehi.

17)  -lum   This root and suffix has an uncertain meaning. (Hoffman p. 227), anciently it referred to God. The Book of Mormon name utilizes it correctly.  The suffix shows up in tablets from the Neo-Assyrian Empire in Lumaia, Lumaaa.  (Radner p. 668) The parallels are so precise. Di Vito points out that "the elements ‘il' in early Akkadian theophorous names representing the diety (DN) ‘il (later ‘El) and that its prevalence as a DN [for God] in the Pre-Sargonic onomasticon indicated that he [‘El] was the chief divinity of the Mesopotamian Semites in the Pre-Sargonic period." (Di Vito p. 235)  Later "The question now is if some such convention governs the interchange of i-lum ‘god' i-li ‘my god' and ‘dinger' [meaning god] in the Akkadian onomasticon of the third millennium." (Di Vito p. 243)  The form -lum was extensive.  Di Vito also worked out a Chronological distribution of i-lum  usages showing its presence in ancient Fara, abundant in the Pre-Sargonic, and still occurring in UR III, at about 2000 BC. ( Di Vito p. 243).  A future disicussion will treat the Ancient City of Fara and its contribution to Book of Mormon names, particularly the Jaredite names.

More will be said about all this in a future study. Jehovah and Elohim were well known Gods before the Tower of Babel, but became distorted and replaced by a terrible proliferation of Gods after the confusion of the tongues. Apostasy was in progress before the Tower, after the Tower it almost became complete.  

18)  mlk  These elements mean ‘to rule, possess or counsel'. A common Semitic root and prefix. (Huffman p. 230)  Used in the Book of Mormon names, Mulek, and Melek, it probably designates a ‘prince'.  The same elements are found in Melech a King, (l Chron 8:35), and in Melchizedek, ‘King of Righteousness'. [Note that the h, k, or u, are interchangeable and do not change the meanings of the names], (Gen. 14:18) And also found in Melic[k]u, ‘Regnant'. (Mandel p. 348)

19 nhm  These elements mean ‘to be pleasant, gracious, compassionate'. A common Semitic root. (Huffman 237)  In the Book of Mormon, it is the place where Ishmael was buried (l Ne 16:34-36) The name Nahum, the prophet, (Nahum 1:1) in the Bible, means ‘comforted'. (Mandel p. 396) In the Neo-Assyrian Empire there are variations on the name meaning the same thing: Na'manu, Na'in, and Na'im, all meaning ‘pleasant'. (Baker p. 923) A variation of the use of these elements is found in the Index of Geographic Names during the time of Nebuchadnezzar: Nahallum. (Weisberg p. 75) A campsite, a previously settled place during the wilderness Journey of Lehi's family was called Nahom. (l Ne 16:34) It was so called by a Yemani tribe.  It means comforted, it was the place where Ishmael was buried. (Hilton pp. 123-125) All other campsites were named by the Lehi and Nephi (Hilton p. 1) "Nahom is a place with water." (Potter pp. 107-120)

20)  ntn   These elements are common in Semitic as a prefix, root or suffix, and are found in a number of Book of Mormon names, and means ‘to give'. (Huffman p. 244)

21)  rm  These elements mean ‘to be high', used as a prefix or root in some names.   (Huffman p. 261) It also means to be ‘exhalted' or ‘above'. In that sense the prefix represents the Divine ‘Ram', abbreviated from Ramman,  found in the Neo-Assyrian names as a prefix for many names: Ram-il, (Exhalted is the god/El),  Ram-Il, and Ramaan, meaning the same thing. (Baker  2002, p. 1031)

22)  Irra  These elements are found both as a prefix and a suffix and represent a Mesopotamian deity, [or God]. (Huffman p. 271)  An abbreviation of the God's name, Ir, was the name of a member of the Royal Court at Kalhu during the reign of Sennacherib. (Baker p. 565) So the prefix is genuine, and the reference to one of the more than 500 Gods in the pantheon of the Mesopotamians is accurate. In the Tanakh, Ir  means ‘city'. (Mandel p. 215) Also it is the name of a descendant of Benjamin and could have been found in the Brass Plates, or among the Jews in Jerusalem as Benjamin had joined Judah there. (l Chron 8:25, Mandel p. 214) Iri, [is a variation of Ir], and means ‘urbane' and again the name is in the Tribe of Benjamin. (l Chron 7:7, Mandel p. 215)  In the Brass Plates it may have been a Tribal name, and therefore acceptable among the Nephites.

Another suffix that needs to be noted, is -atm.  These elements are a Feminine name ending.  This cannot be evaluated in the Book of Mormon because there are only a few women listed. However, note that none of the masculine names with the element -endings have the feminine form -atm, thus being consistent with appropriate gender linguistic rules.

Thirty names in the Mari lists end with the hypocoristic suffix: -an. (Huffman p. 137) These elements are a hypocoristicon for God. But in the Book of Mormon there are only three names with this ending: Laman, (Meaning ‘Why God?'), Laban, (meaning ‘white', Gen. 24:29, Mandel p. 324) and Pahoran.  In this last name, the prefix ‘Pah' is found in Neo-Assyrian Empire names Pahamka, Pahenu, Pahharu, (meaning ‘Potter'), Pahime,  and in an Egyptian name Pahi. (Baker 2002 p.979)  An-a,  is also a common prefix in Akkadian and West Semitic names, often in these names it means ‘in'. (Radner 1998, pp. 109-110)  In the Book of Mormon there are thirteen names with these elements used as a prefix.

It can be seen therefore that there are profound linguistic similarities between the Amorite (Western Semitic, north of where Damascus is today) personal names and the names contained in the Book of Mormon. We should expect this since there was an intermingling among the Amorite and the Israelites for years prior to the departure of Lehi and his family from Jerusalem.  Sidon, the trade port favored by Lehi, was located on the Sea Coast of the Southwestern Amorite region. (Erickson, Reformed Egyptian)  Mari was one of the great Key Cities of the Amorites, in the northern center of Mesopotamia on a major trade corridor.  Mari has much more to yield from the vast tablets recovered and will be included in future studies.

Only briefly mentioned in these studies is how in antiquity names designated the essence and identity of a person.  They affirmed his or her existence.  In some instances, the reception of a new name was to be kept hidden. (Porter -Summary)

Each of the Book of Mormon names will be fully developed in a larger study in progress. These present studies are but short treatments of the available data on names in general, and how various Semitic groups constructed the names. The Book of Mormon is totally consistent with all of the varieties so far found.           


Alexander, David  & Pat Alexander, Ed. Eerdmans' Handbook to the Bible, Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1977

Altman, Rochelle,  Absent Voices: The Story of Writing Systems in the West, Oak Knoll Press, New Castle, Delaware, 2004

Archi, Alfonso, in Weiss, Ed. Ebla to Damascus, The Royal Archives of Ebla, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Washington 1985

Baker, Heather D., The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, Vol. 2/11, Vammkalan Kirjapaino Oy, University of Helsinki, 2001

----------Vol. 3, Part l,  2002

Brookbank, Thomas, Hebrew Idioms and Analogies in the Book of Mormon, Improvement Era Vol 13, 17, 18,  LDS Church, Salt Lake City, 1910

Di Vito,  Robert A., Studies in Third Millennium Sumerian and Akkadian Personal Names, Editrice Pontificio Instituto Biblico, Roma 1993

Erickson, Einar C., Reformed Egyptian, The Phoenician Connection, Web Site 2005

Roaf, Michael Cultural Atlas of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Near East, Facts on File, New York, 2004

Douglas, J.D., Ed. The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Part 2. Inter-Varsity Press, Tyndale House Publishers, Sidney, 1980

Fleming, Daniel E., Democracy's Ancient Ancestor: Mari and Early Collective Governance, Cambridge, 2004

Ford, James A., A comparison of Formative Cultures in the Americas, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington 1969

Hilton, Lynn M, and Hope A. Hilton, Discovering Lehi, CFI, Springdale, Utah, 1996

Huffman, Herbert, Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts, John Hopkins Press, Baltimore 1965

Hunt, Norman Bancroft, Historical Atlas of Ancient Mesopotamia, Checkmark Books, New York, 2004

Largey, Dennis L., Book of Mormon Reference Companion, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah, 2003

Mandel, David, Who's Who in Tanakh, 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. 1 - 2, Hendrickson Publ. Peabody, Mass. 1995

Matthiae, Paolo, in Weiss, Ed., Ebla to Damascus, Ebla Recovered, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition 1985

Miller, Madeleine, & Miller, J., Harper's Bible Dictionary, Harper & Row Publishers, 1973

Nibley, Hugh, Lehi in the Desert, The World of the Jaredites, There were Jaredites,

FARMS, Vol. 5, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City, Utah 1988

---------- An Approach to the Book of Mormon,  FARMS Vol. 6,  Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City 1988

----------The Prophetic Book of Mormon, FARMS, Vol. 8, Deseret Book Co., Salt Lake City 1989

Pagan, Joseph Martin, A Morphological and Lexical Study of Personal Names in the Ebla Texts, Archivi Reali Di Ebla Studi 111, University a Degli Studi Di Roma, 1998

Porter, Bruce H., & Stephen D. Ricks, Names in Antiquity: Old, New , and Hidden, FARMS, BYU, Provo, Utah, 1990

Potter, George & Richard Wellington, Lehi in the Wilderness, Cedar Fort, Springville, Utah, 2003

Radner, Karen, Ed. The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire Vol.  l, Part 1,,  University of Helsinki, Vammalan Kirjkapaino Oy,  Helsinki, 1998

-----------Vol. l, Part 11,  The Prosopography of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, University of Helsinki, Vammalan Kirjkapaino Oy, Helsinki, 1999

Saggs, H. W. F., The Babylonians, The Folio Society, London, 2002

Weisberg, David B., Texts from the Time of Nebuchadnezzar, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1980

Weiss,  Harvey, Ed. Ebla to Damascus, Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, Washington, DC., 1985

Young, Gordon D., 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.
To find out more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please see their offical websites at LDS.org and Mormon.org