|Lehite PN||1.||NEPHITE son of OMNI, the brother of AMARON, and father of ABINADOM; 3rd century B.C. (Omni 1:8, 9, 10).|
Even though this could be taken as the name of a pagan god, it may possibly be derived from HEBREW-Canaanite DN and PN, Kemîš, Kemôš = KJV Chemosh (Numbers 21:29, Judges 11:24, 1 Kings 11:7,33, 2 Kings 23:13, Jeremiah 48:7, 13 ,46 [ketib Kemîš; qere Kemôš]), as attested on a seal in the Israel Museum,20 and same as ASSYRIAN DN dKa-am-muš (= Resheph/Nergal), Eblaite dKa-mi-iš, dKa-me-iš, Ugaritic kmš, Moabite Kemoš ǁ‘Aštar-Kemoš (especially in the 830 B.C. Moabite Mesha Inscription, as well as the inscription at Dhiban/Dibon), and the Eblaite PN iti kamiš.21 Cf. CARCHEMISH, “City/Port-of-the-god-Kemish,” which is located on the bank of the Euphrates River (Kar-kemîš; 2 Nephi 20:9 ǁIsaiah 10:9 Jeremiah 46:2), transliterated in EGYPTIAN of the Ramesses II period as Qa-ar-qa-mi-ša = Gargamiš.22 The appearance of this name in the Book of Mormon is consistent with the extensive pattern of names connected with the transjordanian area throughout the Book of Mormon.
Since numbers are sometimes used as name-components (as for Bathsheba), Jo Ann Hackett has been suggested that the derivation of CHEMISH is from Hebrew ḥameš “five,” possibly because CHEMISH was the 5th generation from LEHI.
CHEMISH may also be derived from the HEBREW verb kāmaš (kābaš), “conquer, subdue,” as used in the GN Mikmāš = KJV Michmash, a place of victory over the PHILISTINES (2 Nephi 20:28 ǁIsaiah 10:28; 1 Samuel 13:2 – 14:31, Ezra 2:27, Nehemiah 11:31; 1 Maccabees 9:73).
John Tvedtnes has suggested derivation from the HEBREW passive participle ḥumaš, “warrior” (JH), as in ḥamušîm [ḥamîšîm in some mss] “in battle array,” describing the ISRAELITES at the time of their Exodus (Exodus 13:18 KJV “in harness” = Targum Onqelos “armed” – also in Joshua 1:14). There were debates concerning the meaning of the Exodus passage in medieval Judaism: Rashi noted the Onqelos translation, suggesting the possibility that only one in five of the ISRAELITES came out of EGYPT, the others having died during the plague of darkness. Ibn Barun noted the suggested meanings of “five in a rank” (cf. Arabic ḥms, “five”) and “harnessed” (i.e., “assembled together,” cf. Arabic ḥmš. ”to collect, gather”). But, comparing the HEBREW with the Arabic root ḥms, “to be courageous,” he suggested that the real meaning in Exodus 13:18 was that the ISRAELITES went up out of EGYPT “courageously.” If, indeed, there was a root of this meaning in HEBREW, then it would have been a stative verb, in which case the participial form would likely have been ḥa-me-š from an original *ḥa-miš, “courageous.” The vowels of the latter suggest Book of Mormon CHEMISH.
See also George Reynolds, The Story of the Book of Mormon, 296.
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐟𐐀𐐣𐐆𐐟 (ʃiːmɪʃ)
Cross, Frank Moore. “Papyri of the Fourth Century B.C. from Dâliyeh,” in D. Freedman & J. Greenfield, eds., New Directions in Biblical Archeology. Doubleday, 1969, 47.
Dahood, Mitchell. In Pettinato, Giovanni. Archives of Ebla: An Empire Inscribed in Clay Garden City: Doubleday, 1981.
Mattingly, Gerald L. “Chemosh,” in Anchor Bible Dictionary , 6 vols., ed. D. N. Freedman, I:895–897. Doubleday, 1992.
Pettinato, Giovanni. Archives of Ebla: An Empire Inscribed in Clay. Garden City: Doubleday, 1981 – translation of his 1979 Italian edition.
Tvedtnes, John A. “Hebrew Names in the Book of Mormon,” paper delivered at the 13th World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, August 12–17, 2001, which is available online at (7pp).
Wargo, Eric. “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Kemosh (But Were Afraid to Ask),” BAR, 28/1 (Jan–Feb 2002):44–45.