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Lehite PN 1. General, 4th c. AD (Mormon 6:14)


Inasmuch as there are several Book of Mormon names beginning with lim, perhaps this element should be analyzed se¬parately. Until then, there are two viable etymologies for lim.

Lim occurs in Amorite PNs of the Bronze Age, perhaps the most prominent being the king of Mari, Zimri-Lim. If, as the consensus affirms, lim is a theophoric element, then it might be, by syncretism, a title for HEBREW Yahweh.

The element -hah[1] may be related to the HEBREW word for “life; alive; live; make alive,” ḥayah, from the proto-Semitic root *ḥyy. If so, then LIMHAH could be etymologized, analogous to LIMHI, to mean “Lim has preserved alive,” or “Lim makes life.”

The element lim could also be related to Ugaritic lim, a cognate with HEBREW lĕʾom. Both mean “people/nation.” “People,” together with the HEBREW word for “alive; live,” ḥay, might yield “the people live,” that is, “the people are preserved alive.” The main issue with this etymology for LIMHAH is that the final h cannot be explained. (RFS)

On analogy with the etymology of LEMUEL, “Belonging to God,”[2] it may be tempting to suggest that LIMHAH means, “belonging to Yahweh.” However, this possibility seems unlikely. The expected form would be something like lĕmîyāh or lĕmûyāh (JH), which would have either an /i/ or a /u/ between the m and the a, and not an h.

In Akkadian, lim/līmu means “1,000” (which may be related to HEBREW lĕʾom, “people"[3]) and is used as a shorted form of “thousand gods” that appear in Syro-Hittite treaties and Ugaritic texts[4] (RFS). But Akkadian līmu and its Ugaritic cognate lim do not seem to be helpful in explaining Lehite names (JH). An etymology based on lmk such as the biblical PN Lamech is unlikely. While it is true that under certain conditions, the Masoretic pronunciation of k is spirantized, thus allowing for a transcribed /h/, it would not be spirantized in LIMHAH, even if the Lehites held to the much later Masoretic pronunciation conventions. Other etymologies might be sought in other North-west Semitic, East Semitic, and South Semitic languages, and possibly in EEGYPTIAN.

Cf. Book of Mormon LIMHI, LIMHER, LIMNAH, perhaps LAMAH.[5]


Deseret Alphabet: 𐐢𐐆𐐣𐐐𐐂 (lɪmhɑː)


  1. -hah seems to be an element in the Book of Mormon onomasticon and may be analyzed separately.
  2. HALOT למואל.
  3. AHW 1:553b.
  4. Huffmon, 226.
  5. The brother names MAHAH and ORIHAH are not included in this list because they are exclusively JAREDITE names attested only in Ether 6:14, while all the names above are attested exclusively in NEPHITE/Mulekite contexts. On the other hand, all the NEPHITE names ending in -hah only appear in the NEPHITE record after the NEPHITES could have theoretically come in contact with JAREDITE names.