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Lehite GN 1. City and land, ca. 346 AD (Mormon 2:16, 17)


Perhaps the best suggestion is to see in JASHON an analogous form to JAROM (q.v.), i.e., qal 3ms jussive. The issue here is that there is no known root šv̄n to correspond with the root rām of JAROM. But there is a West Semitic root with an ayin-aleph, šʾn, which means “to be at rest, be peaceful, be undisturbed” (HALOT). However, in biblical Hebrew the root is attested only in the pilpel stem. But Ugaritic has G-stem verbal and substantival forms.[1] It is therefore possible that the form JASHON might then contain the theophoric element ja- plus a perfect form of the lexeme šʾn, and could mean either “Jehovah gives rest,” or “Jehovah is at rest.” Not impossible is “Jehovah is rest.” An imperfect verbal form of the type yaqtul from the lexeme šʾn, meaning, “he shall rest,” or “he shall give rest,” is also possible.

The root yšn (Ugaritic, yṯn), “to be old,” and yšn (Ugaritic, yšn), “to sleep,” provide plausible etymologies. In both cases the passive participle form, yȃšûn, “is old,” or “is asleep,” could account for the form of the GN JASHON. For the attestation of the lexeme “to be old” in GNs, see the biblical GN Jeshanah (2 Chronicles 13:19), possibly “old city.”[2] The biblical HEBREW PN Jashen (2 Samuel 23:32), from the root “to sleep,” hence perhaps “sleepy,”[3] though not a GN per se, does give evidence for “sleep” being used in names.

It is possible that JASHON can be derived from the verb *ʾwš, “to give.” This lexeme appears in the biblical period Hebrew name yʾwš.[4] Also Ugaritc ušn means “gift.”[5]. While this vocable provides a useful name element, as the attested examples demonstrate, the form this lexeme would have to take to produce JASHON is not entirely transparent. A verbal form, as the Hebrew PN yʾwš, would account for the Ja- prefix, but not the ending –on. A noun form, as in the Ugaritic PN ušn would account for the ending –on but not the prefixed Ja- . The Amorite names containing ya-(ú-)uš plus a theophoric element (see Huffmon),[6] are not helpful. Not only does Huffmon list the root as “uncertain,” but he suggests the preferred etymology be taken from *ġwṯ.

Perhaps JASHON is an abstract noun from the root yšh, of uncertain meaning, represented in biblical HEBREW by the noun tûšîyah, “success, wisdom” (RFS). But this suggestion has its own difficulties. After discussing the etymological possibilities for the noun tûšîyah, HALOT states, “The various suggestions surveyed above have been presented to show how difficult it is to give an adequate translation of the Hebrew sbst [substantive], for it has no real equivalent in modern languages.”

Given that JASHON first appears in the late NEPHITE period, long after other possible Greek names have appeared, it cannot be ruled out that it may be a NEPHITE late rendering of the Hebrew PN Joshua by way of the Greek name Jason. For example, Jason was used by Judeo-Christians in New Testament times as a form of the Hebrew PN Joshua.[7]

Cf. Book of Mormon JACOM, JOSH


Deseret Alphabet: 𐐖𐐁𐐟𐐊𐐤 (dʒeɪʃʌn)


  1. For Ugaritic šan, šant, and šin see Manfried Dietrich and Oswald Loretz, Analytic Ugaritic Bibliography, 1872-1988 (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1996), 876-7.
  2. HALOT, sub ישנה.
  3. HALOT, sub ישן I.
  4. See Ahiutuv, Echoes, 481, where he takes Yāʾuš as a hypocoristic from yʾšyhw.
  5. UT 117, which takes ušn from *ʾwš
  6. Amorite Personal Names in the Mari Texts [Balimore: Johns Hopkins, 1965], 171
  7. HALOT יהושוע. Perhaps the phonological similarities facilitated the Hellenistic use of Greek Jason for Hebrew Joshua. Hebrew /š/ in PNs can be rendered in Greek as /s/, to wit, Hebrew šimšôn becomes in the Greek Septuagint sampsōn (σαμψων), Samson in the King James Bible. Sam Browning made this suggestion privately, 5 February 2014, to Paul Hoskisson. Robert F. Smith also has drawn attention to Jason in 2 Maccabees 2:23, 4:7-26 and 5:5-9.
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