|Lehite PN||1.||Scribe, most likely 2nd c. BC (Omni 1:12, 23, 30; Words of Mormon 1:3, 10)|
|2.||"Brother" of AMMON, ca. 121 BC (Mosiah 7:6)|
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It would be most tempting to relate this name to the biblical Amelik, ʿmlq. Though as pointed out, it would be difficult to explain how a HEBREW-dependent culture would use the name of a hated enemy (JAT), because the name would mean, with gentilic ending, “the Amalekite.” But the possibility cannot be ruled out. (For example, note the name of one of the priests during King DAVID’s reign, Obed-Edom, meaning “servant of Edom” first mentioned in 2 Samuel 6:10.)
Years ago, this and other names containing the English consonants mlk were connected with the common Semitic root meaning, depending on the language, “king; to rule; to advise, to counsel” (AC). The most common meaning in the West Semitic languages, including HEBREW, is “to rule, be king; king.” Though this etymology is tempting, it leaves the initial and final vowels unexplained. Possibly the initial vowel could be an affix to form a place name and the final vowel could be the gentilic ending, which would yield the meaning, “the (one from) Malek.”
Ebla contains the PN name a-ma-lik (MEE 2, pt. 1, 25 v. VIII: 14; and perhaps the same individual, 20 r. X:11), probably to be read “A-malik.” See also the many “malik” names in Amorite (CAAA, 152). But the initial vowel remains unexplained. As pointed out, it is probably not a prosthetic vowel because it does not break up a consonant cluster (JH). See, however, UT, 8.40, for Ugaritic examples.
Note that the Book of Mormon spellings for AMALEKI and AMALEKITES (Amalekites/Amalikites) are consistently spelled with a “k,” while AMALICKIAH, etc., and AMALICKIAHITES are consistently written with a “ck” This would tend to indicate that these two sets of words are not to be taken from the same root. However, the variants Amlicite/Amlikite muddy the waters.
John W. Welch suggests that “the Amalekite” may not be quite so unlikely. He posits “two possibilities: first, that LEHI’s desert experience had brought him and his group into sympathy or contact with this group, assuming they were not totally destroyed several centuries earlier, or second, that AMALEKI became an acceptable name among the tribe of EPHRAIM, from which Eshmael descended, inasmuch as the AMALEKITES appear to have settled, possibly peacefully, as far north as the land of EPHRAIM where a mountain was named after them.”
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐈𐐣𐐈𐐢𐐀𐐗𐐌 (æmæliːkaɪ)
- For all the variant spellings of these names see Skousen, Royal. Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon 6 Parts. Provo, UT: FARMS, 2005. For AMALEKI see p. 1116 and for AMALICKIAH p. 2529. Also see Smith, Robert F. Critical Text Second Edition. Provo, UT: FARMS 1986-7, Appendix III, “Book of Mormon Onomasticon Variants, 1225”).