|Lehite GN||1.||City of people of Jacob No. 4, ca. 30 AD (3 Nephi 9:9)|
Most likely the name means “Jacob of the winepress” or similar (JH), from the biblical PN yaʿaqōb and gt, “winepress,” appearing in the Philistine GN Gath. The medial “-u-” could be the vestigal nominative case ending, such as in the biblical GN Penuel or in the PN Methuselah. But by the time of Lehi such use of the case endings had long ceased to be a part of the living language. Therefore, its appearance in this Book of Mormon GN must have been a conscious (even if misunderstood) anachronism. Compare the biblical PN Genubath in 1 Kings 11:20, which means *
The “u” can also be explained, though with less likelihood, as the common Semitic conjunction “and.” This yields the interpretation “Jacob-and-the-wine-press” (reading “gath” as above) (RFS). The conjunction is always written with a vav (ו) in North-west Semitic, but pronounced in Masoretic Hebrew sometimes as “u” and sometimes as “ve,” depending on the *environs. In the case here, Masoretic pronunciation would require the “ve” and not the “u,” which is why reading the “u” as a conjunction is less likely (JAT). However, no one has yet proven that Lehi and his descendants were subject to Masoretic pronunciation.
- After reading “Jacob” as a verb with a vestigial proto-Semitic “u” of the indicative mode, JH adds that “this is a rather desperate explanation,” because it would require that the “u” be added by analogy to other place names with vestigial case endings (e.g., Penuel) by people who did not understand the significance of that vowel. But according to JAT, the problem could be resolved, of course, if the name Jacobugath were built around Jacob as a PN rather than as a verb, which it was, of course, for the Israelites (JAT). This is what I have done above.