The structure of LIMHI seems to follow the well-established pattern of LEHI, NEPHI, OMNI, and the biblical PN Zimri, etc. This would suggest an etymology based on a root *lmh, *lmḥ or *lmḫ. However, no such roots appear in HEBREW. Nevertheless, a gentilic from a root lmh has been suggested (JAT). Also, based on the pattern of Zimri, “my help/my strength," LIMHI might mean “my lmh.” The element lim could be related to several Semitic words. In Ugaritic lim is a cognate with HEBREW lĕʾom, and both mean “people/nation.” Together with the HEBREW word for “alive; live,” ḥay, LIMHI might be etymologized as “the people live,” that is, “the people are preserved alive.” (RFS)
The element lim also 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 an Amorite theophoric element, then perhaps by syncretism with HEBREW Yahweh, it could be used as such among the Lehites. Thus, when the theophoric element lim is combined with HEBREW ḥay, “live; life,” LIMHI could mean, “Lim makes life,” or perhaps, “Lim has preserved life.”
In Akkadian, lim/līmu means “1,000” (which may be related to HEBREW lĕʾom, “people") and is used as a shorted form of “thousand gods” that appear in Syro-Hittite treaties and Ugaritic texts. 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 LIMHI, 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 EGYPTIAN. Cf. Book of Mormon LIMHER, LIMHAH, LIMNAH, and possibly LAMAH.
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐢𐐆𐐣𐐐𐐌 (lɪmhaɪ)
- Herbert B. Huffmon, Amorite Names in the Mari Texts (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1965), 226.
- AHW 1:553b.
- Huffmon, 226.
- 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.