|Lehite noun||1.||Largest NEPHITE gold-measure, equivalent in value to one silver ONTI(ES) (Alma 11:5,10).|
Since the Book of Mormon was apparently written in EGYPTIAN script, and since the phonemes l, n, and r frequently interchange among EGYPTIAN & HEBREW cognates and loanwords, we may possibly have here a variant pronunciation of HEBREW nimnā “be counted, numbered, reckoned, assigned” (Isaiah 53:12; Mosiah 14:12), a niphal verbal form of KJV maneh (Ezekiel 45:12, capitalized as “Maneh” in 1611 KJV), the HEBREW weight-measure māne (translated “pounds” at 1 Kings 10:17, Ezra 2:69, Nehemiah 7:70–72) = Ugaritic mn, mana, Arabic mny, mnw, Old South Arabic mnw, and Akkadian manû, transliterated in ancient EGYPTIAN as man-nu2 “mina weight.” Some Akkadian verbal forms of manû are very similar to LIMNAH – from the same root as the general ancient Near Eastern mina-weight (manum/ MA.NA, ca. 500 gm in ancient Mesopotamian usage), which ranged from 40 to 60 times the weight of a sheqel (varying from 11.4 gm among the Classical ISRAELITES, to the 8.4 gm EGYPTIAN qdt or Canaanite sheqel). The mina-weight also appears twice in Aramaic as mene- in Daniel 5:25-28, where it is placed poetically with the weights sheqel and peres, and is part of the prophetic punning and rhyme scheme there.
Reynolds & Sjodahl suggested that prepositional HEBREW l- (lamed) had been prefixed to nominal māne, thus meaning something like “for a maneh,” or “according to a maneh,” or “concerning a maneh” That has also been done in many instances in the Bible, e.g., laMenî “for Meni (god of fate),” and laGad “for Gad (god of good fortune),” both in Isaiah 65:11, and identified as such in the footnotes of the LDS Bible. One might also define the lamed in this case as a “lamed of specification or reference.” As Paul Hosskison has suggested, something like this is surely intended by the HEBREW lmlk-seals (two- and four-winged) found on the large storage jars placed in strategic Judaean fortresses by King Hezekiah in defensive preparation for a likely ASSYRIAN invasion. Lemelek means “royal; belonging to the king.” Nearly all of these HEBREW prepositional forms and meanings have a close analog in cognate EGYPTIAN prepositions, r- and n-.
The weight/value of the sheqel, qdt, and LEAH (here as 1/56th mina = LIMNAH) are well matched – despite the way in which a normative EGYPTIAN might have dealt with this issue, since we are not dealing with EGYPTIANS, but with a derivative system in ISRAEL and JUDAH, and then later among the NEPHITES under King MOSIAH II. Pricing and relative value is all-important here, i.e., metals or their equivalents being weighed out in payment for grain, or vice-versa. The ratio and proportion is the thing, the ISRAELITES being free to adapt earlier systems to their own needs without hindrance from any formal EGYPTIAN practice.
As a practical matter, this meant that, in the eighth & seventh centuries B.C. (probably earlier), the ISRAELITES redefined the EGYPTIAN Hieratic decimal numerals 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40, as 4, 8, 16, 24, and 32, on their sheqel weights, i.e., they used the EGYPTIAN Hieratic numerals but reinterpreted them – while retaining the same proportions. Below the 8-sheqel weight were the fractional weights, 1, 2, and 4 (also in Hieratic), obtained by halving, and above the 8-sheqel level each weight was enlarged by 8. As Bill Dever notes, the ISRAELITE “basic module” here was the 8-sheqel weight = 1 EGYPTIAN diban (= 10 qdt/kite). The proportional sequence for each system may be correlated and displayed as follows:
In other words, the NEPHITE system was virtually the ISRAELITE-EGYPTIAN system, with only a few changes – mostly in nomenclature. The Bible never gives a hint of the use of EGYPTIAN Hieratic on ISRAELITE weights, and, even as recently as forty years ago, most scholars were unaware that professional, EGYPTIAN-speaking ISRAELITE scribes wrote the Hieratic found at Tel Arad VII, at Kadesh-Barnea, and in the Samaria Ostraca.
Deseret Alphabet: 𐐢𐐆𐐣𐐤𐐂 (lɪmnɑː)
- EGYPTIAN n(i) “of,” n “to, for” > Dem. n > Coptic n = HEBREW l-, ʾel (Arab. l-); EGYPTIAN iyr, “stag; doe”> Dem. 1ywr = HEBREW ʾayîl; EGYPTIAN (s)#r, i#r, #ry “(cause) to ascend, mount up”; #rtyw “they who ascend” = HEBREW (he)ʿelā, ʿôlîm (Arab. ʿalāʾ, Assyr. elû); EGYPTIAN #gn “calf” > Copt. aol (Gk. αγολ) = HEBREW ʿēgel; EGYPTIAN #grt “wagon, cart” > Dem. #klt > Copt. aolte, akolte = HEBREW ʿagālā (Arab. ʿajala); EGYPTIAN fnḫ “split”; png “detach” > Dem. plk, pnq > Copt. pols, ple , pre = HEBREW pillēg (Arab. falaja); EGYPTIAN pr “bean; fava bean” > Copt. phel = HEBREW pôl (Arab. f©l); EGYPTIAN mrḥw, mrḥm “salt” > Copt. moulh, malh, mlah, merh = HEBREW melaḥ; EGYPTIAN mktr “tower” > Copt. metol, miktwl = HEBREW migdol (Gk. µς(∗Τ8≅<, Arab. mjdūl); EGYPTIAN ns “tongue; language” > Dem. ls > Copt. las, les = HEBREW lašôn (Arab. lisān, Akkad. liš∼nu); EGYPTIAN nšm(t) “green felspar” = HEBREW lešem “precious stone”; EGYPTIAN rhbw “heat of fire” > Dem. lhb > Copt. lhwb = HEBREW lāhab (Arab. lahab); EGYPTIAN ḥsmn “bronze” = HEBREWḥašmal, ḥašman; EGYPTIAN ḫnmt “reddish jasper” = HEBREW ʾaḥlāmā; EGYPTIAN snm “locust” = HEBREW sālʿām; EGYPTIAN q1rt, qrit “bolt, padlock” > Dem. ql1t > Copt. kele = HEBREW kēlēʿ; EGYPTIAN qrr “burnt-offering”> Dem. gll = HEBREW kālîl; EGYPTIAN qrt “vessel” > Copt. alaht, kalaht = HEBREW qallaḥat “cauldron”; EGYPTIAN knm “wrap up, a garment” > Dem. glmlm = HEBREW gālam; EGYPTIAN grt, grgy(t) “kidney” > Copt. alwt, looe, loote = HEBREW kelîyôt “kidneys” (Ug. klyt); EGYPTIAN d1rt “bitter gourd” = HEBREW ṣeʿēl; EGYPTIAN d1rt “a fruit” = HEBREW ṣeʿelîm “bough” (Job 40:21 – Humbert, ZAW, 62 , 206); EGYPTIAN bnti > blti > Coptic bilti “thigh.”
- Ludwig Köhler-Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, II:599; A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, 584; cf. Genesis 13:16 limnôt . . . yîmmāne; 1 Kings 3:8 yîmmāne 2yîssāper; 8:5 yîmmānû; Ecclesiastes 1:15 lehimmānôt; in nominal form as GN Timnā “Portion, Territory” (Genesis 38:12-14, Joshua 15:10,57, 19:43, Judges 14:1,2,5, 2 Chronicles 28:18) = LXX 1∀µ<∀. Indeed, since both EGYPTIAN and HEBREW n- are also nominal prefixes (Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed., § 276; HALOT, II:656), it is also possible that this was assumed to be its proper form and meaning by the time of King MOSIAH II.
- Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts, #162 (p. 127): Dyn. 19/20; cites Albright, VESO, IX.C.2 (citing Burchardt 452).
- Cf. the verbal precative forms in Akkadian, limnu, limnanni, limannu, “may he count”; W. von Soden, AHw, 604, cited in FARMS Staff, “Weights and Measures in the Time of Mosiah II,” Preliminary Report STF-83; CAD, “L” 10:219-221.
- Note the 400-sheqel (=8 mina) weight of 4,565 gm found at Tell Beit Mirsim by Albright (8th century B.C., Iron II, stratum A – AASOR, 21-22:76-78, plate 57 dil), which is very close to the 4,780 gm basalt weight found near Taanach, which N. Avigad and R. B. Y. Scott likewise interpret in light of Genesis 23:16 as a standard 400-sheqel weight (E. Stern, “Weights and Measures,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, 16:382-383,387-388, citing Scott, BASOR, 32:35).
- Gurney, The Hittites, 68; this would be in line with the 22 sheqel pair of pure gold earrings from Ramesses II to the Queen of Ḫatti = 8 ⅓ gm Canaanite sheqel (or EGYPTIAN qdt) weight – Christine Lilyquist, “The Objects Mentioned in the Texts,” in Royal Gifts in the Late Bronze Age Fourteenth to Thirteenth Centuries B.C.E.: Selected Texts Recording Gifts to Royal Personages, Beer-Sheva, XIII:218.
- “Bible Dictionary,” in “Appendix” to The Holy Bible (SLC: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Intellectual Reserve, 1979), 731 (mene mene tekel upharsin).
- Reynolds & Sjodahl, CBM, 282.
- Köhler-Baumgartner, HALOT, II:509:20, thus dividing a whole into its parts, as in Genesis 1:11,25, lemînô, lemînā “according to its kind,” or Numbers 4:29, “according to their families,” etc.
- Köhler-Baumgartner, HALOT, II:510:25, in inscriptions and titles, as in Ezekiel 37:16 “For Judah [lÎhûdā], and for the children of Israel his companions; . . . , For Joseph [leYôsēp], the stick of Ephraim,” or Isaiah 8:1, 2 Nephi 18:1 “concerning Maher-shalal-hash-baz.”
- The Holy Bible (1979), 939 n. 11ab.
- T. Muraoka, “Emphasis in Biblical Hebrew,” 92, as in the list in 2 Chronicles 5:12, and in Proverbs 25:3. Or with the HEBREW emphatic or vocative lamed prefixed, as in Ugaritic l, and Akkadian l©, li, la, meaning “namely,” as in Psalm 135:11-12 leSîḥôn . . . leʿÔg “namely Siḥon and Og” (Köhler-Baumgartner, HALOT, II:510-11; von Soden, AHw, 559b; Dahood distinguishes between vocative and emphatic in Biblica, 47:407).
- David Ussishkin, “The Destruction of Lachish by Sennacherib and the Dating of the Royal Judean Storage Jars,” Tel Aviv, 4 (1977):28-60.
- Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, 3rd ed., §§ 86B, 100, 158, 178, 180C, 181D, 262, 379:2.
- The Classical ISRAELITES simply equated the qdt-weight with their sheqel, and marked them with Hieratic numerals of a type fixed already in the 9th or 10th centuries at the latest.
- See S. Wimmer, Palästinisches Hieratisch, Ägypten und Altes Testament 75.
- W. Dever in P. Achtemeier, ed., Harper's Bible Dictionary, 1128-1129, and Tables B & C (at the same time, the ISRAELITES had altered the Mesopotamiansexagesimal system to their own overall quinquagesimal system); M. Powell in Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, VI:906-907, presents deviations from these norms, but the exceptions effectively prove the rule.
- Cf. John W. Welch in JBMS, 8/2 (1999):36-46; J. W. Welch in Parry, Peterson, and Welch, eds., Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, 348-350, citing J. B. Pritchard, ed., ANET, 3rd ed., 161; and J. W. Welch, “The Laws of Eshnunna and Nephite Economics,” FARMS Update #121, Insights (Dec 1998):2, reprinted in J. W. Welch & Melvin J. Thorne, eds., Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon, 147-149.
- P. Rytting, “Mosiah2,”in D. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, II:960; reprinted in Ludlow, Brown, and Welch, eds., To All the World, 190; cf. John Gee in FARMS Review of Books, 5 (1993):180.
- Rainey, “The Saga of Eliashib,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13/2 (Mar-Apr 1987):37,39.
- Ivan Kaufman, “Samaria Ostraca,” in D. Freedman, ed., ABD, V:923.
ABD = David Noel Freedman, ed., Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols. N.Y.: Doubleday, 1992.
CAD = Chicago Assyrian Dictionary = Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the Univ. of Chicago (Chicago: Oriental Institute/Glückstadt: J. J. Augustin, 1956– ).
Dever, William G. “Weights and Measures,” Harper’s Bible Dictionary, SBL, ed. P. J. Achtemeier, 1126–1131, and Tables. S.F.: HarperSanFrancisco, 1985).
Gardiner, Alan H. Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs, 3rd ed. Oxford: Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, 1957.
Gurney, O. R. The Hittites, rev. ed. Penguin, 1990.
Hoch, James E. Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period. Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1994.
Kaufman, Ivan T. “Samaria Ostraca,” in D. Freedman, ed., ABD, V:921–926.
Lilyquist, Christine. “The Objects Mentioned in the Texts,” in Royal Gifts in the Late Bronze Age Fourteenth to Thirteenth Centuries B.C.E.: Selected Texts Recording Gifts to Royal Personages, Beer-Sheva, XIII. Beer-Sheva: Ben Gurion Univ. of the Negev Press, 1999.
Muraoka, Takamitsu. “Emphasis in Biblical Hebrew,” doctoral thesis. Jerusalem: Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 1969.
Powell, Marvin A., Jr. “Weights & Measures,” Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols., ed. D. N. Freedman, VI:897–908. Doubleday, 1992.
Rainey, Anson F. “The Saga of Eliashib,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 13/2 (Mar–Apr 1987):37,39.
Rytting, Paul. “Mosiah2,” Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols., ed. Daniel Ludlow, II:960– 961. N.Y.: Macmillan, 1992 = reprinted in To All the World, ed. D. H. Ludlow, S. K. Brown, and J. W. Welch, 189–190. Provo: FARMS, 2000.
Stern, Ephraim. “Weights and Measures,” Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1st ed., ed. C. Roth, 16:376–388. Jerusalem: Carta/ N.Y.: Macmillan, 1972.
The Holy Bible. “Appendix: Bible Dictionary,” 599–793. SLC: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints/Intellectual Reserve, 1979.
Ussishkin, David. “The Destruction of Lachish by Sennacherib and the Dating of the Royal Judean Storage Jars,” Tel Aviv, 4 (1977):28–60.
Von Soden, W. Akkadisches Handwörterbuch, 3 vols. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1965– 1981. AHw
Wimmer, Stefan. Palästinisches Hieratisch: Die Zahl- und Sonderzeichen in der alt- hebräischen Schrift. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2008.