Nibley notes the discovery in Elath in 1940 of a potsherd bearing the PN lḥy. He also points out that Nelson Glueck has detected the same root in many compound names found inscribed on stones in Arabia. E.g., the PN lḥytn, “Lehi hath given” appears on a *Lihyanite monument (ABM, 239). Lynn M. Hilton has tied the tribal name lḥyān to Book of Mormon LEHI, who passed through the Arabian peninsula after his flight from JERUSALEM (NPSEHA **). Nibley notes one Minaean and 8 Thamudian examples of the PN lḥy, and indicates that it exists as a PN also in Arabic (ABM 58–59, 239, fn. 26 to Chap. 22); a variant lḥyn also exists (Alessia Prioletta, Inscriptions from the Southern Highlands of Yemen [Rome: Bretschneider, 2013], 246). There is also a Hadrami example of the PN lḥy in ANET, 670 (JAT), and the PN lwḥy appears in writings from the Jewish colony at Elephantine (14:3) (EHA). Nibley further notes the existence of a site known in Arabic as bêt-la*hi, “house of LEHI,” in the vicinity of Gaza (ABM, 58–59 and ABM, 239). There is also a ḥirbet bêt lahi (spelled in English texts “Lei,” though the local inhabitants pronounce it lahi) near Mareshah which has been discussed by Joseph Ginat, who connected a cave in the area with that of 1 Nephi 3 (NPSEHA *) (JAT).
Others have suggested that the name might be derived from the HEBREW word for “jaw, cheek bone,” lḥy, such as in the GN Judges 15:9, 14, 19 (MWJ, JH). The HEBREW word for “jaw, cheek bone” is also found in Arabic *( laḥiy), Ugaritic *(lhm, with enclitic m), and Akkadian *( laḫû) (J. Wevers in EASW, p. 108). Some have faulted Nibley for not noting this word (RFS), but instead connecting LEHI to the biblical placename Lahairoi (ABM, 239 & fn. 24), thus implying that this is the only occurrence of the name in the Bible (RFS). However, Nibley was correct in ignoring this possibility, because a PN based on the word “cheek bone” hardly seems possible given the nature of the PNs onomastica of the ancient Near East.
Nibley ties LEHI to the well of ISHMAEL, known in the Bible as beʿēr la-ḥay roʾī (Genesis 16:14), generally translated “well of the one who sees me,” but believed by Wellhousen to mean “spring of the wildox jawbone” or “cheek” as others render it. Nibley believes that the name LEHI can be tied to the well because LEHI, too, had close ties to a man named ISHMAEL, whose daughters married the sons of LEHI. (ABM, 58–59 and 239). Shunary also tied Book of Mormon LEHI to biblical HEBREW la-ḥay, “belonging to the Living One (= God)” (YS). If LEHI means “belonging to the living one,” as the story in Genesis 16 implies, then it should be compared with the Book of Mormon name PAANCHI, an EGYPTIAN name meaning “the living one.” Also note Amorite *la ḥwi, *lu la ḥya and *la ḥa, a local deity or angel subordinate to El (Cazelles, Ugaritica VI:33-5). The la-ḥay roʾī, “LHY sees me,” of Beer-Sheba parallels the YHWH yirʾeh, “YHWH sees,” of Mamre in Gen. 22:14 (RFS).
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐢𐐀𐐐𐐌 (liːhaɪ)
- LaMar C. Berrett "New Light: The So-Called Lehi Cave." Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8, no. 1 (1999): 64-66.
- Joseph Ginat “The Cave of Khirbet Beit Lei.” The Society for Early Historic Archaeology 129 (April 1972): 1-5.
- Hope A. Hilton and Lynn M. Hilton “The Lihyanites.” Sunstone 9 (January-February 1984): 4-8.
- M. Wells Jakeman “Izapa Stela 5 and the Book of Mormon.” Instructor 96 (December 1961): 410-11, 429.
- Henry A. Smith “Interesting Clipping.” Church News 35 (September 11, 1965): 6; reprint from "Chiapas Find of Relevance to Document." El Paso Times, July 5, 1965.