IRREANTUM

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IRREANTUM		

Lehite GN		Sea, most likely off the Arabian coast, meaning “many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5)

The best suggestion for an etymology comes from Egyptian, r3-ʿntyw-m, and r3-n(n)-t3[]wm-dšr, names for the mouth of the Red Sea in both the Louvre and British 
Museum mss. of a mythological papyrus. In the first we have the dual of ʿnt, “finger, ten thousand,” of which the second is the philological equivalent of the Hebrew rb, 
rbb, “myriad, ten thousand,” the highest number in Hebrew for which there is a word65 (RFS, “Egyptianisms”).

Nibley also points that “one of the more common Egyptian names for the Red Sea was Iaru...[which] is not Egyptian...[and whose] meaning is unknown,” and that “antum” 
from iny-t and ʿnjt both describe large bodies of water (SC, 196). Also note that “many waters” is a typical Egyptian designation, e.g., Fayyum (SC, 195).

As attractive as the Egyptian etymologies are, Semitic sources should not be overlooked. My colleague, Brian Hauglid, drew my attention to the root rwy in South Semitic 
dialects. In North-west Semitic dialects it means to “saturate oneself, . . . to saturate, . . . to irrigate, . . . to be saturated.”66 He also made me aware that the “-tum” may 
consist of the feminine marker “t” and the nominative singular ending “-um.”67 In the South Semitic dialects, the “n” does not always to assimilate when not followed by 
a vowel to the following consonant.68 The fact that Nephi gave us a translation of the name probably means that “Irreantum” was not a word in the language that 
constituted the language of the plates.

Confer the city name URUa-ri-ia-an-ta in North-west Syria [M.C. Astour, “The Partition of the Confederacy of Mukiš-Nuhašše-Nii by Šuppiluliuma,” Orientalia 38 (1969): 
410]. 

See also the king of Ashdod during Sennacherib’s Third Campaign, Mi-ti-in-ti (Col II, line 54).

Cf. Book of Mormon Antum, et al., Moriantum, Coriantum

Notice that not all Semitic languages regularly assimilate the “n”. E.g., RS 8.145:26 ta-na-an-din, “she shall give.”

Mandaic, I am told, does not always assimilate the “n” to a following dental.

65 Higher numbers must be expressed by combinations of lesser numbers. It is interesting to note that in the Nephite sections of the Book of Mormon, the highest numbers expressed are in thousands. Only in the Jaredite section does the number “millions” appear.

66 DNWSI, p. 1063

67 Moscati, §12.75, in Epigraphic South Arabian, mimation can occur “in the singular, the internal plural, and the external feminine plural.” 

68 Moscati, §§9.3 and 16.117.