View the full PDF (420+ pages)View PDF

How would Joseph Smith manage to choose appropriate names for Lehi’s sons?

If Joseph Smith had written the Book of Mormon himself, wouldn’t we expect the names to contribute little to the meaning of the text. Curiously we see the opposite. 

Hugh Nibley writes:

It should be noted in speaking of names that archaeology has fully demonstrated that the Israelites, then as now, had not the slightest aversion to giving their children non-Jewish names, even when those names smacked of a pagan background. One might, in a speculative mood, even detect something of Lehi’s personal history in the names he gave to his sons. The first two have Arabic names—do they recall his early days in the caravan trade? The second two have Egyptian names, and indeed they were born in the days of his prosperity. The last two, born amid tribulations in the desert, were called with fitting humility, Jacob and Joseph. Whether the names of the first four were meant, as those of the last two sons certainly were (2 Nephi 2:1; 3:1), to call to mind the circumstances under which they were born, the names are certainly a striking indication of their triple heritage, and it was certainly the custom of Lehi’s people to name their children with a purpose (Helaman 3:21; 5:6) 

– Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition

Would Joseph Smith have taken the time to do this intentionally? Wouldn’t we expect Joseph, with his limited education, to employ names rather randomly?


Add a Question
Thank you for your submission