|Lehite GN||1.||LAMANITE land, ca. 178 BC (Mosiah 10:7; 11:12; 19:6; 20:1; 24:1; Alma 23:12)|
A good possibility is HEBREW śimlâ, "cloak, cover," with the well-known ending -ōn (good form for a GN), hence SHEMLON "covered place" (JH), or "place of the cloak" (PYH). Cf. biblical PN Samlah (Genesis 36:36).
Less likely is something like Arabic samala "to scoop, gouge, tear out," which might apply if the land of SHEMLON was in a depression--perhaps requiring a tower in NEPHI to view the LAMANITES coming from that lower elevation or depression (JAT).
SHEMLON may be composed of HEBREW šēm, "name," and lyn/lwn, "to rest," "to lodge," "to spend the night." The resulting noun chain, *šēmlôn, might mean "name of the dwelling." HEBREW šēm and mālôn, "lodging-place," would require a vowel between the m and the l, e.g., *šēmālôn, but the Book of Mormon spelling does not have the called-for vowel.
Despite misgivings by Jo Ann Hackett and Paul Hoskisson, this may simply be a dialectical variant on the biblical PN and GN Shimron/Shimrom (Genesis 46:13; Numbers 26:24; Joshua 11:1; 19:15; 1 Chronicles 7:1), and GN Shimron-Meron (Joshua 12:20), which may, as Pedro Olavarria suggests, be derived from HEBREW šāmar "to guard, keep, watch," with possible word-play based on that meaning in Mosiah 10:7 "guard against them" (cf. Isaiah 62:6; Judges 7:19)--through a plausible interchange of -l- and -r- (ישראל=EGYPTIAN Ysyri3r, '3šir; אשקלון= Eg. Iśq3rn3; כלא= Eg. qrt, qrit, qriw "bolt, lock," Dem. ql3t; קרב= Arab. qalb, qulūb; Akk. Aššur-bâni-apli "Ashurbanipal">HEBREW ʾĀsnappar). The same root is the source of several other biblical names, including Shomer, Shamir, Shamur, Shemer, Shimrith, Shimrath, Shemariah, and SAMARIA (šōmrôn= Akk. Śamerīnāya). These same considerations would apply to a homonymous HEBREW verb šāmar "to rage" (Akkadian šamāru), in a participial or nominal form meaning "rage, fury."
A derivation from North-West Semitic sml "statue, image," is very unlikely, since the HEBREW /s/ (samekh) seldom changes to /š/, as SHEMLON would require.
Less likely perhaps is a derivation from HEBREW śěmʾol "left, on the left hand; north" (RFS), plus the ending -ōn. This would make good sense if SHEMLON were "north" of NEPHI (JAT). the difficulty with this reading is the glottal-stop-vowel (ʾaleph) between -m- and -l-, required in order to break up the consonant cluster (cf. Mari śimʾal; Akkadian šumēlu, šumēlû). However, Palmyrene šml "left, north," and the ready acceptance of consonant clusters in Late EGYPTIAN and Coptic, suggest that SHEMLON could indeed be so derived and expressed.
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐟𐐇𐐣𐐢𐐊𐐤 (ʃɛmlʌn)
- Lipiński, Semitic Languages, § 2.4, "EGYPTIAN did not distinguish between r and l in their script"; Antonio Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian, Table 3.1 note c, shows that the lateral dental /l/ "is frequently conveyed by <n> and <r>, more rarely by <3>."
- E.A.W. Budge, A Hieroglyphic Dictionary. (London: John Murray, 1920/reprint Dover, 1978.), 965, citing Israel Stele 27, and El Amarna Letters.
- Hayim ben Yosef Tawil, An Akkadian Lexical Companion for Biblical Hebrew: Etymological-Semantic and Idiomatic Equivalents with Supplement on Biblical Aramaic. (Jersey City: KTAV, 2009.), 460.
- Ibid., 412-13, citing "Š," CAD, 296a, and Wolfram von Soden. Akkadisches Handwörterbuch: unter Benutzung des lexikalischen Nachlasses von Bruno Meissner (1968-1947). (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1965),1154a.
- Ibid., 378, citing "Š," CAD, 267b, 272a, and Wolfram von Soden, Akkadisches Handwörterbuch: unter Benutzung des lexikalischen Nachlasses von Bruno Meissner (1969-1947). (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1965), 1271.
- J. Hoftijzer and K. Jongeling. Dictionary of North-West Semitic Inscriptons, 2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 1995.)