While the name Laman is attested in the Near East, its meaning is uncertain. However Matthew L. Bowen notes:
If the frequently paired name Lemuel—which transparently means ‘Belonging to El’—can be used as an analogue for Laman, perhaps we get nearer to how the name Laman might have been understood by Hebrew speakers and hearers, if not to an as-yet irretrievable etymology. In this scenario, the initial lĕ in Laman would, as in the name Lael (lāʾēl) and the longer form lĕmô in Lemuel, connote possession: ‘belonging to.’ In terms of sound, but not necessarily etymology, the remainder of the name evokes forms of the Semitic/Hebrew root ʾmn: ʾōmen (‘faithfulness,’ ‘trustworthiness’), ʾāmēn (‘verily, truly,’ ‘surely!’ < ‘trustworthy’), ʾēmun/ʾēmûn (adjective, ‘faithful, trustworthy’; noun, ‘trusting, faithfulness,’ ‘faithfulness, trustworthiness’), ʾĕmûnâ (‘faith,’ ‘firmness, steadfastness, fidelity’; ‘steadfastness’; ‘trustworthiness, faithfulness’). Thus it is possible to hear something akin to ‘belonging to [the God of] faithfulness’ or ‘belonging to [the God of] truth’ (cf. “God of truth,” “God of faithfulness,” ʾĕlōhê ʾāmēn, Isaiah 65:16, cf. Christ as “the Amen” in Revelation 3:14; “the faithful God,” hāʾēl hanneʾĕmān, Deuteronomy 7:9) in the name Laman, whatever its actual etymology. It would have been, in any case, not only natural but almost irresistible for an Israelite to associate the name Laman with the root ʾmn on the basis of homonymy (i.e., a play involving similar sounds or paronomasia).– Matthew L. Bowen – Laman and Nephi as Key-Words: An Etymological, Narratological, and Rhetorical Approach to Understanding Lamanites and Nephites as Religious, Political, and Cultural Descriptors
With this meaning of the name Laman, Bowen goes on:
If the name Laman can be linked to Hebrew ʾmn—even if by sound association, whatever its real etymology—then Nephi’s emphatic attempts to contrast his faith with older brothers Laman’s and Lemuel’s lack of faith become far more than didactic ideation. Laman and Lemuel did not believe their father, “neither did they believe that Jerusalem, that great city, could be destroyed according to the words of the prophets” (1 Nephi 2:13). Nephi, in contrast, states: “I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father” (1 Nephi 2:16).
To brothers lacking covenant ʾĕmûnâ—faith and faithfulness—when seeking the plates of brass: “Wherefore let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (1 Nephi 3:16); “I [did] persuade my brethren that they might be faithful in keeping the commandments of God” (1 Nephi 3:21); “Let us go up again unto Jerusalem, and let us be faithful in keeping the commandments of the Lord” (1 Nephi 4:1); “Yea, and how is it that ye have forgotten that the Lord is able to do all things according to his will, for the children of men?—if it so be that they exercise faith in him. Wherefore, let us be faithful in him. And if it so be that we are faithful in him, we shall obtain the land of promise” (1 Nephi 7:12-13). Later in that same episode Nephi is obliged to exercise his own faith “according to my faith [ʾĕmûnātî] which is in me [> thee], wilt thou deliver me from the hands of my brethren” (1 Nephi 7:17).– Matthew L. Bowen – Laman and Nephi as Key-Words: An Etymological, Narratological, and Rhetorical Approach to Understanding Lamanites and Nephites as Religious, Political, and Cultural Descriptors
Why would Nephi continually encourage Laman to be “faithful”?