RAMEUMPTOM

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Lehite noun 1. Prayerstand, ca. 74 BC (Alma 31:21)

Etymology

The name RAMEUMPTOM is defined in the Book of Mormon as “the holy stand” (Alma 31:21&23) and is described as “a place of standing, which was high above the head” (Alma 31:13).[1]

The first element of the name is most likely related to HEBREW rām, “to be high, to be exalted,” and rāmâ, “eminence, high place,” the same root that appears in the biblical geographic name RAMAH, “hill” (cf. Book of Mormon RAMAH). RAMEUMPTOM could be a noun chain with râme as a masculine construct plural, meaning “the elevations of.” The -umptom would then be a nomen rectum, possibly from HEBREW ʿōmed , “place, position, location,” with either a pronominal suffix, analogous to the 3rd person plural possessive pronoun -ām,[2] or with the nominalizing ending –ōm.[3] The latter ending is probably to be preferred because of the analog form in Arabic, ʿumdān “standing.” Given these two HEBREW lexemes, rām and ʿōmed, the meaning of RAMEUMPTOM would then be “the heights/ elevations of (their) stand” (RFS), a definition that accords well with the interpretation that the Book of Mormon writers provided.

The Masoretic pronunciation ʿōmed for “stand” denotes a “qutl” form that would have originally been pronounced with an initial /u/, as in Arabic ʿumdān.[4] This could explain the /u/ vowel rather than the /o/ of ʿōmed. The “qutl” form with affix would also explain why there is no vowel between the m and the t.[5]

The fact that the /p/ is the locus of several scribal corrections in the original and the printer’s manuscripts may indicate an initial question in the dictation process about its presence in this proper name.[6] (Semitic languages in general do not tolerate consonant clusters, such as -mpt-.) However, what might seem like an extraneous /p/ and the unvoicing of voiced /d/ can be explained phonetically. The insertion of a bilabial voiceless plosive between the preceding bilabial /m/ and a following dental is not without precedent. In English, for example, the p in redemption represents a phonetic spelling of redeem plus the nominalizing ending –tion. The phenomenon also occurs in the Semitic languages. The common Semitic word for “sun” is šmš, the vowels varying between šamaš and šamšu. The latter form cannot be pronounced without the insertion of a voiceless bilabial plosive, a /p/. Thus, the HEBREW personal name Šimšōn, which is based on šmš, is sometimes spelled with a /p/ when the name passes into another language, such as Greek, Sampson.[7]

The voiceless /t/ instead of the voiced /d/ can be explained by assimilation. I.e., the bilabial /m/ produces the voiceless /p/ before a dental, and the voiceless /p/ influences the voiced dental /d/, becoming the unvoiced /t/.

See also Rameumptom Variants

Variants

Rameupptom

Deseret Alphabet: 𐐡𐐈𐐣𐐀𐐊𐐣𐐑𐐓𐐊𐐣 (ræmiːʌmptʌm)

Notes


  1. The original manuscript, the printer’s manuscript and the 1830 edition all read, “a place of standing.” The 1837 replaced of with for, “a place for standing,” followed by 1837-2013. The reading with of is more Hebraistic, that is, in a Hebrew vorlage place and standing would be a noun chain without a preposition between them. The Hebrew could be mĕqôm ʿōmed, which would form an appropriate alliterative poetic parallel to the meaning proposed here for Rameumptom.
  2. Nehemiah 8:7 “the people stood in their place,” where “their place” is pointed ʿōmdām; see also Nehemiah 9:3; 13:11; 2 Chronicles 30:16; and 35:10.
  3. -ōm as in Gershom (Exodus 2:22; 18:3); Milcom, the Ammonite deity (1 Kings 11:7&33); and ʿēyrōm, “the state of being naked, naked” (Deuteronomy 28:48, Ezekiel 18:7 and Genesis 3:7), possibly similar to the common Semitic nominalizing ending –ān/ōn.
  4. In his “Vestiges,” John A. Tvedtnes has suggested the connection of HEBREW ʿōmed with Arabic ʿumdān “standing,” which is descriptive of Muslim pilgrims on Hajj who stand on the Plain of Arafat with arms raised praying for repentance. RFS notes the ancient Jewish tradition of speaking the ʿAmida (from the same root as ʿōmed) prayer while standing. See E. Werner, The Sacred Bridge, pp. 11-13, 15-16, which relates directly to the form, function and meaning of RAMEUMPTOM, “holy stand.” Interestingly, the term ʿōmed, translated “standing-place” is always preceded in the HEBREW Bible by the preposition ʿal, hence “upon their standing-place,” which may imply a special spot, perhaps a platform for notables such as the one used at the festival of Sukkot (JAT), or a type of “high place” (“shrine” in the JPS translation), from the HEBREW bāmā (see 1 Kings 11:7; Jeremiah 48:35, etc.). Some early Christian church buildings also contained a bema, a raised platform, for example at Qirk Bize, Syria. Many synagogues also still feature a bima.
  5. Qutl forms in HEBREW take a helping vowel between the second and third radicals when there is no affix. But when an affix is added, such as the pronominal suffix, the helping vowel is no longer needed and elides.
  6. The original manuscript reads “[ram]eum{p}tom” while the printers manuscript reads “Rameu{p(-)׀m}ptom”.
  7. The Greek spelling of the HEBREW name Šimšōn (a name based on šmš) is Sampson σαμψων. Also, the Ugaritic spelling of šmš is špš, clearly with a voiceless bilabial plosive replacing the voiced bilabial /m/ in the writing.
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