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Lehite GN 1. NEPHITE city (Mormon 2:4)


ANGOLA is the name of a NEPHITE city. If the name is from a HEBREW root, it may be a combination of words, since the HEBREW letter nun in contact with any other consonant within a word would make it subject to "progressive assimilation" or "regressive assimilation" (i.e., "ng" or "gn" becomes "gg"). Thus, the name may derive from the HEBREW word ʿayn, "spring, well" (for ʿayn as a geographic name see Numbers 34:11), and a word from the root GLH, "to uncover, reveal" or GLL, with the basic meaning of "to roll, roll away (a rock or stone)." A combination of ʿayn plus a form of either of the roots may generate the names "Revealed Spring" or "Rock Spring." (PYH)

It also seems unlikely that the transliteration practices used by the prophet Joseph Smith for representing the ʿayin with gn or ng were used in representing the ng of ANGOLA. Joseph adopted the practice as a result of his study of HEBREW with his Sephardic Jewish teacher, Joshua Seixas, after his arrival in Kirtland, Ohio, in the early 1830s, after the publication of the Book of Mormon.

Alternatively, ANGOLA may derive from the ancient Greek angelos, angela, "messenger angel." THe occurrence of names of Greek origin suggests the possibility of Greek contacts with the eastern Mediterranean in antiquity. Since the late second milennium B.C. Syrians and Phoenicians had trading contacts with the Aegean kingdoms, and in the first millennium B.C. Greek mercenaries and merchants maintained a significant and ongoing presence in Syro-Palestinian territories.[1] It is also possible that Greek speakers may have arrived in the New World in the period after the Nephites arrived there.

Distance and chronology make it unlikely that the Book of Mormon city name is related to the ancient (and modern) Anatolian city name, Angora (Ankara, Greek ʼAnkyra). However, during the 7th century B.C., it was the principle city of Phrygia, after the destruction of nearby Gordion by the Cimmerians ca. 700 B.C.[2] The City was famous for "Phrygian" wool (and woolen embroidery). It was of such fine quality that the word "Phrygian" came to refer to this wool even as far away as Coptic Egypt.[3] Thus it is possible that the name of the capital city was also well known.[4] (Note that the name elements cumen/kumen-name found elsewhere in the Book of Mormon could also be Anatolian (RFS).) However, JAT doubts that Angora was well-known in the Iron Age, unless through Hittite or Luwian sources.

It seems unlikely that the GN ANGOLA is connected with the name of the African state of Angola (a former Portuguese colony), whose name derives from the title ngola held by the kings of Ndongo. It is quite likely that Joseph Smith had never heard of the name Angola before translating the Book of Mormon. Neither can the Book of Mormon GN be derived from the three cities in the United States bearing that name because Angola in New York (1854-5), Indiana (1838), and Louisiana (1830s?) were all founded after the printing of the Book of Mormon in 1830.

See also Angola / Angolah Variant


Angolah, Angelah

Deseret Alphabet: 𐐈𐐤𐐘𐐄𐐢𐐂 (ænɡoʊlɑː)


  1. Stephen D. Ricks, "I Have a Question: The name of one of the Lord's disciples listed in 3 Nephi 19:"4-Timothy-seems to be Greek in origin. Is there an Explanation for the Appearance of a Greek Name in the Book of Mormon?" Ensign 22/10 (October 1992): 53-54.
  2. G.K. Sams, "King Midas: From Myth to Reality," Archaeology Odyssey, 4/6 (Nov-Dec 2001): 14-26.
  3. J. Černý, Coptic Etymological Dictionary, 33.
  4. B. Burke, From Minos to Midas: Ancient Cloth Production in the Aegean and Anatolia.
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