Search this Website
Blogger Tips And Tricks|Latest Tips For BloggersFree BacklinksBlogger Tips And Tricks

Why are there so many unfamiliar and strange names in the Book of Mormon?
The Book of Mormon has roughly 200 new names not found in the Bible. 
Where did they come from? 
In 1830 when the Book of Mormon was first translated and published in English, there was no additional information, other than the Book of Mormon plates, available to Joseph Smith about the Semitic origin or background of these new strange personal names.   [Semitic is a language relating to or denoting a family of languages that includes Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, and Ancient Egyptian.]
It has been discovered since the publication of the Book of Mormon that many of these have been found to have genuine ancient Hebrew and Egyptian heritage.

"Dr." Walter Martin in The Maze of Mormonism states,  "Alma is supposed to be a prophet of God and of Jewish ancestry in the Book of Mormon. In Hebrew Alma means a betrothed virgin maiden-hardly a fitting name for a man."

Why was "Alma" used in the Book of Mormon as a male name?

The name of Alma refers to two prominent men in the Book of Mormon. Some have argued the Alma is not an ancient Semitic man’s name but a Latin woman’s name.


<< Yigael Yadin, one of the most prominent of all Israeli archeologists in this century.
  I think maybe one of the most intriguing ways to look at Joseph Smith is to look at some of the "mistakes" he made and see how he's been vindicated by them. There are two that I think of in connection with the Book of Mormon. One that I'm particularly fond of is the personal name Alma. Now, we know the name Alma. It's been a woman's name in the West for quite some time. You find it in phrases like alma mater. It's a Latin-based woman's name not given to men. Critics of the Church for a long time have made fun of Latter-day Saints because they say it's only among the Mormons that you will find men with the name Alma. How ridiculous. This is not an ancient Semitic man's name; this is a relatively modern Latin woman's name. So Joseph Smith clearly made a mistake. Well, it's here I think that his performance is most impressive, because if Joseph Smith had ever heard the name Alma before, that's exactly how he would have heard it, as a woman's name.
So how is it applied to a man in the Book of Mormon? Well, it is, to at least two prominent people in the Book of Mormon. And it's only been recently that discoveries have come forth that have vindicated that name as an ancient Semitic man's name. The discovery was made not by a Latter-day Saint, but by Yigael Yadin, probably the most prominent of all Israeli archeologists in this century, a man who went on to become deputy prime minister of Israel. He was chief of staff of the Israeli military in the 1948 war of independence. His is a very impressive man and a great scholar. While investigating a cave down by the Dead Sea, he found a document that bore the name Alma son of Judah. It is unmistakably written A-L-M-A in everything Yadin published about that excavation. It's a remarkable thing. Again, Joseph Smith probably, had he sought guidance from people around him on what to come up with as a masculine name for his Book of Mormon character, would have made a mistake. It turns out that a seeming mistake is not a mistake at all, but a powerful vindication of Joseph Smith's prophetic claims. And yet you will still see articles written ridiculing that name by people who should know better. In fact, in one case people that I happen to know do know better go on making the claim, repeating the old tired argument as if it were true, which it's not. Alma is a vindication of the Book of Mormon.

  (The Book of Mormon Online, Scholary Look at Evidence, By Daniel C. Peterson)


Strange names in the Book of Mormon.  Why?
The following is a list by Hugh Nibley, of 27 exact or near-exact names which are non-Biblical but have a Ancient Middle East/Egyptian background, confirmed by finds in this century.

The stamp of Egypt on Lehi's people may be clearly discerned in the names those people and their descendants. Hebrew and Egyptian names together make up the overwhelming majority and occur in about equal strength, which is exactly what one would expect from Mormon's claim that both languages were used among them (and which would certainly not be the case were Hebrew was the only spoken language), but Hittite, Arabic, and Ionian elements are not missing.

Egyptian names, in the Book of Mormon names (BM) compaired to their Old World equivalents (OW).

Aha (BM), son of the Nephite commander in chief. 
Aha (OW), a name of the first Pharaoh; it means "warrior" and is a common word.

Aminadab (BM), Nephite missionary in the time of the judges. 
Amanathabi (OW), chief of a Canaanite city under Egyptian domination. This name is "reformed" Egyptian.

Ammon (BM), the commonest name in the Book of Mormon. 
Ammon (Amon, Amun) (OW), the commonest name in the Egyptian Empire: the great universal God of the Empire.

Ammoni-hah (BM), name of a country and city. 
Ammuni-ra (OW), prince of Beyrut under Egyptian rule. The above might stand the same relationship to this name as

Cameni-hah (BM), a Nephite general 
Khamuni-ra (OW), Amarna personal name, perhaps equivalent of Ammuni-ra.

Cezoram (BM), Nephite chief judge. 
Chiziri (OW), Egyptian governor of a Syrian city.

Giddonah (BM), a) high priest who judged Korihor, b) father of Amulek. 
Dji-dw-na (OW), the Egyptian name for Sidon.

Gidgiddoni and Gidgiddonah (BM), Nephite generals. 
Djed-djhwt-iw-f and Djed-djhwti-iw-s plus ankh (OW), Egyptian proper name meaning "Thoth hath said: he shall live," and "Thoth hath said: she shall live," respectively. On this pattern the two Nephite names mean "Thoth hath said I shall live," and "Thoth hath said: we shall live," respectively.

Giddianhi (BM), robber chief and general. 
Djhwti-ankhi (OW), "Thoth is my life"; see above.

Gimgim-no (BM), city of Gimgim, compare Biblical No-Amon, "City of Amon."
Kenkeme (OW), Egyptian city, cf. Kipkip, seat of the Egyptian dynasty in Nubia.

Hem (BM), brother of the earlier Ammon. 
Hem (OW), means "servant," specifically of Ammon, as in the title Hem tp n 'Imn, "chief servant of Ammon" held by the high priest of Thebes.

Helaman (BM), great Nephite prophet. 
Her-amon (OW), "in the presence of Amon," as in the Egyptian proper name Heri-i-her-imn. Semitic "l" is always written "r" in Egyptian, which has no "l." Conversely, e Egyptian "r" is often written "l" in Semitic languages.

Himni (BM), a son of King Mosiah. 
Hmn (OW), a name of the Egyptian hawk-god, symbol of the emperor.

Korihor (BM), a political agitator who was seized by the people of Ammon. 
Kherihor (also written Khurhor, etc.) (OW), great high priest of Ammon who seized the throne of Egypt at Thebes, cir. 1085 b.c.

Manti (BM), the name of a Nephite soldier, a land, a city, and a hill. 
Manti (OW), Semitic form of an Egyptian proper name, e.g., Manti-mankhi, prince in Upper Egypt cir. 650 b.c. It is a late form of Month, god of Hermonthis.

Mathoni (BM), a Nephite disciple. 
Maitena, Mattenos, etc. (OW), two judges of Tyre, who at different times made themselves king, possibly under the Egyptian auspices.

Morianton (BM), the name of a Nephite city and its founder, cf. the Nephite province Moriantum. 
Meriaton and Meriamon (OW), names of Egyptian princes, "Beloved of Aton" and "Beloved of Amon" respectively.

Nephi (BM), founder of the Nephite nation. 
Nehi, Nehri (OW), famous Egyptian noblemen. Nfy was the name of an Egyptian captain. Since BM insists on "ph," Nephi is closer to Nihpi, original name of the god Pa-nepi, which may even have been Nephi.

Paanchi (BM), son of Pahoran, Sr., and pretender to the chief-judgeship. 
Paanchi (OW), son of Kherihor, a) chief high priest of Amon, b) ruler of the south who conquered all of Egypt and was high priest of Amon at Thebes.

Pahoran (BM), a) great chief judge, b) son of the same. 
Pa-her-an (OW), ambassador of Egypt in Palestine, where his name has the "Reformed" reading Pahura; in Egyptian as Pa-her-y it means "the Syrian" or Asiatic.

Pacumeni (BM), son of Pahoran. 
Pakamen (OW), Egyptian proper name meaning "blind man"; also Pamenches (Gk. Pachomios), commander of the south and high priest of Horus.

Pachus (BM), revolutionary leader and usurper of the throne. 
Pa-ks and Pach-qs (OW), Egyptian proper name. Compare Pa-ches-i, "he is praised."

Sam (BM), brother of Nephi. 
Sam Tawi (OW), Egyptian "uniter of the lands," title taken by the brother of Nehri upon mounting the throne.

Seezor-am and Zeezr-om (BM), a depraved judge, and a lawyer, resp., the latter also the name of a city. 
Zoser, Zeser, etc. (OW), Third Dynasty ruler, one of the greatest Pharaohs.

Zemna-ri-hah (BM), robber chief. 
Zmn-ha-re (OW), Egyptian proper name: the same elements as the above in different order--a common Egyptian practice.

Zeniff (BM), ruler of Nephite colony. 
Znb, Snb (OW), very common elements in Egyptian proper names, cf. Senep-ta.

Zenoch (BM), according to various Nephite writers, an ancient Hebrew prophet. 
Zenekh (OW), Egyptian proper name; once a serpent-god.

(From the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.5, Part.1, Ch.2)