From Book of Mormon Onomasticon
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Mulekite PN 1. Son of Zedekiah, king of Judah, ca. 590 BC (Mosiah 25:2; Helaman 8:21)
2. Name of all of the land northward, originally settled by colony which included No. 1 (Helaman 6:10)
3. City east of Zarahemla by the seashore and near the cities of Gid and Bountiful, ca. 67 BC (Alma 51:26; Helaman 5:15)

The fairly common West Semitic root mlk, “a type of sacrifice,” would appear to have the requisite vowel, as is indicated by Latin terms derived from Punic, molchomor, probably from mlʾk ʾmr, “sacrifice of a lamb” (DNWSI 642). Mulek would then be a hypocoristicon meaning “(the divine) sacrifice.”

An Arabic noun, *mulk, means “power” (DNWSI 640) and may be part of a hypocoristic Mulek, meaning “(divine) power,” or “(DN) is power.”

It is tempting to derive Mulek from the common Semitic root mlk, “to reign; king; to counsel; counselor.” However, the u vowel does not fit any verbal or noun pattern of North-West Semitic. An a vowel would be expected for both the noun form, malku, and the verbal forms mālik and malik.

There are Arabic forms that have a u vowel, such as a diminutive mulik, “little king” (HWN *), which would make sense if Mulek had been little when he escaped the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, or if he had been derisively called Mulek by those who did not recognize him as king. (Some have suggested that Malchiah in Jeremiah 38:6 might be Mulek. The person in this passage is called Malchiah, the son of Hammelech in the KJV, but the Hebrew text should read “Malkiyahu, son of the king” [mlkyhw bn hmlk]. The context seems to indicate that Malchiah was at least of age, and not a small babe or child.)

This name surely derives from the common West Semitic root mlk, “to rule, king,” etc. (as noted by Ariel Crowley, “The Escape of Mulek,” Improvement Era, May 1955, p. 324; and Sjodahl, Authenticity of the Book of Mormon, p. 11). Mulek was the son of Zedekiah (Helaman 6:10, 8:21), the king in Jerusalem when Lehi left. He came with a party of people to the New World, disembarking in the Land Northward (Helaman 6:10). At least some of the descendants of that group migrated southward to found Zarahemla (Mosiah 25:2). But it has always been assumed, (?) It is very tempting to read Mulek as a shortened form of the full name, perhaps a hypocoristicon. But this would not explain the change of vowel quality (always phonemic in the Semitic languages) from [a] to [u]. Reading [u] with common West Semitic would provide the translation “kingdom, dominion” instead of “king” (RFS).

Less likely is “sacrifice” from molk in Punic and other West Semitic languages (Albright YGC, pp. 205–210; and Sjodahl Improvement Era 24:140–141) (RFS, JH). Another most unlikely possibility is to derive it from the root hlk, “to go, walk,” which has been suggested by some as the root of the divine name Molech. If so, Mulek would mean “traveler, sojourner” (JH). It would be a name befitting an individual who had traveled a great distance from his homeland; it might be important for the study of metonymy in the Book of Mormon, if only in the sense of wordplays. However, it would be significant only if metonymy can be shown to be a major factor in the determination of Book of Mormon names (JAT).


See also Mulek / Muloch Variants