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Lehite PN 1. Jerusalemite prophet who fled to the New World ca. 600 BC (1 Nephi 1:Preface (x2), 4, 5, 18; 2:1; 5:6, 10, 14, 16; 7:1 (x2); 18:17; 2 Nephi 1:Preface, 1, 6, 9; 2:17; 4:12; Jacob 1:1; 2:34; Enos 1:25; Mosiah 1:4; 2:34; 6:4; 28:20; 29:46; Alma 9:9, 13; 10:3; 18:36, 38; 28:2; 36:22; 49:8; 50:19; 56:3; Helaman 8:22; 3 Nephi 1:Preface, 1, 2; 2:6; 4:11; 5:15, 20, 22; 10:17; Mormon 4:12; Ether 13:5)
2. Son of ZORAM, possibly a ZORAMITE, ca. 81 BC (Alma 16:5)
3. NEPHITE general, ca. 74 BC (Alma 43:35, 36, 40 (x3), 52, 53; 49:16 (x2), 17 (x2); 52:27, 28 (x3), 29, 30, 31, 36; 53:2 (x3); 61:15, 18, 21; 62:3, 13; 62:32 (x2), 34, 37; Helaman 1:28) (possibly the same as No. 2?)
4. Son of HELAMAN No. 3, ca. 45 BC (Helaman 3:21; 4:14; 5:4, 18, 20, 23 (x2), 26, 36, 37, 44; 6:6; 11:19, 23; Ether 12:14)
Lehite GN 5. All the land south of the narrow neck of land inhabited by the descendants of LEHI I (Helaman 6:10)
6. City and land on eastern shore (between MORIANTON and MORONI?), hence not the same as No. 5, founded ca. 72 BC (Alma 50:15, 25 (X2), 26, 27, 28, 36; 51:1, 24, 26; 59:5; 62:30)


The name element לחי lḥy is well attested in Semitic PNs. For example, Jeffrey Chadwick suggested years ago that LEHI may be seen in the Northern Israelite name אבלחי ʾblḥy “My-father-is-Lehi” in the 4th century B.C. SAMARIA papyri.[1] Recently, Matthew Bowen and Pedro Olavarria also make a strong case for LEHI, from the vocable לחי lḥy, meaning, “my strength of life, my vitality,” that is, a shortened form of hypothetical *leḥy-ʹEl “God is my strength.” This etymology is buttressed by lēḥô (לֵחֹֽה) in Deuteronomy 34:7, which is translated as “his natural force” in the KJV translation, probably from לחח (HALOT).[2] (PYH)

Other, sometimes similar, suggestions about לחי lḥy have been made. Nibley notes the discovery in Elath in 1940 of a potsherd bearing the PN lḥy. He also points out that Nelson Glueck has detected the same root in many compound names found inscribed on stones in Arabia. E.g., the PN lḥytn, “Lehi hath given” appears on a *Lihyanite monument (ABM, 239). Lynn M. Hilton has tied the tribal name lḥyān to Book of Mormon LEHI, who passed through the Arabian peninsula after his flight from JERUSALEM.[3] Nibley notes one Minaean and eight Thamudian examples of the PN lḥy, and indicates that it exists as a PN also in Arabic (ABM 58–59, 239, fn. 26 to Chap. 22); a variant lḥyn also exists.[4] There is also a Hadrami example of the PN lḥy in ANET, 670 (JAT), and the PN lwḥy appears in writings from the Jewish colony at Elephantine (14:3) (EHA).

Nibley further notes the existence of a site known in Arabic as “Beit-Lahi,” which he suggests can be read as “House of LEHI,” in the vicinity of Gaza.[5] There is also a ḫirbet bêt lahi (spelled in English texts “Lei,” though the local inhabitants pronounce it lahi) near Mareshah which has been discussed by Joseph Ginat, who connected a cave in the area with that of 1 Nephi 3.[6]  (JAT).

Nibley has connected LEHI to the well of ISHMAEL, known in the Bible as beʿēr la-ḥay roʾī (Genesis 16:14), generally translated “well of the one who sees me,” but believed by Wellhausen to mean “spring of the antelope jawbone” or “cheek” as others render it. Nibley believes that the name LEHI can be tied to the well because LEHI, too, had close ties to a man named ISHMAEL, whose daughters married the sons of LEHI. (ABM, 58–59 and 239). Shunary also tied Book of Mormon LEHI to biblical HEBREW la-ḥay, “belonging to the Living One (= God)” (YS). If LEHI means “belonging to the living one,” as the story of Joseph in Genesis 16 implies, then it should be compared with the Book of Mormon name PAANCHI, an EGYPTIAN name meaning “the living one” (Genesis 41:45), which was part of the name of Joseph who was sold into Egypt, and who was Lehi’s ancestor.[7] Also note Amorite *la ḥwi, *lu la ḥya and *la ḥa, a local deity or angel subordinate to El.[8] The לחי ראי la-ḥay roʾī, “LHY sees me,” of Beer-Sheba parallels the YHWH yirʾeh, “YHWH sees,” of Mamre in Gen. 22:14 (RFS).

John Gee has pointed out (personal email 6 March 2015) a possible Luwian example of the name Lehi from the 8th century written in Luwian hieroglyphs: la-hi-ia-sa (KULULU lead strip 3+ frag. 2, line 5).[9] The individual owns a house and there are three men and two women in the house.

A commonly available etymology for LEHI takes the Semitic vocable לחי lḥy  as the HEBREW word for “jaw, cheek bone” in the GN attested in Judges 15:9, 14, 19 (MWJ, JH). The vocable is also found in Arabic *( laḥiy), Ugaritic *(lḥ), and Akkadian *( laḫû).[10] If lḥy meaning “cheek bone” is behind LEHI, this PN could be a shortened form of a name that could mean something like, “(Incline thy) cheek, (O Jehovah).” This would make a suitable personal name for one of God’s prophets, and would be an analogous form to the Neo-Babylonian feminine PN Le-et-ka-i-di-i, which could mean approximately “(O God,) incline thine head,”[11] that is, “(O God,) please pay attention.”

[1] Jeffrey Chadwick, “The Names Lehi and Sariah—Language and Meaning,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 9/1 (2000): 32–34, 77, citing Frank Moore Cross, “Personal Names in the Samaria Papyri,” BASOR 344 (2006): 76 (75–90).

[2] Matthew Bowen and Pedro Olavarria, Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 61 (2023): 106.

[3] Hope A. Hilton and Lynn M. Hilton, “The Lihyanites.” SEHA, Oct 22, 1983 = Sunstone, 9/1 #43 (Jan/Feb 1984):4-8, https://sunstone.org/wp-content/uploads/sbi/articles/043-04-08.pdf .

[4] Alessia Prioletta, Inscriptions from the Southern Highlands of Yemen [Rome: Bretschneider, 2013], 246.

[5] Nibley, ABM, 75, footnote 13 (page 463), citing Edward H. Palmer, “Arabic and English Name Lists,” in Survey of Western Palestine (London: Palestine Exploration Fund, 1881), 8:358;  and ABM, 291, endnote 32 (page 500).

[6] Ginat, “The Cave at Khirbet Beit Lei,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the S.E.H.A. # 129 (April 1972):3; Jeffrey Chadwick, “Khirbet Beit Lei and the Book of Mormon: An Archaeologist’s Evaluation,” Religious Educator, 10/3 (2009), https://rsc.byu.edu/vol-10-no-3-2009/khirbet-beit-lei-book-mormon-archaeologists-evaluation .

[7] Coptic petonḥ “The Living One,” in Gospel According to Thomas, Logion 37; Rev 1:18 Greek ho zōn “The Living One” (Jesus).

[8] Cazelles, Ugaritica VI:33-35.

[9] John David Hawkins, Corpus of Hieroglyphic Luwian Inscriptions (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000), I.2:511.

[10] J. Wevers in EASW, p. 108.

[11] Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, vol L, p. 150. I would like to thank my research assistant, Jonathan Gimmell, for finding this rather obscure example.



Deseret Alphabet: 𐐢𐐀𐐐𐐌 (liːhaɪ)



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