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Lehite GN 1. Burial site of ISHMAEL (1 Nephi 16:34)


Surprisingly, evidence for NAHOM as a Book of Mormon name is based primarily on historical, geographic, and archaeological—and only secondarily on etymological— considerations. Three altar inscriptions containing NHM as a tribal name and dating from the seventh to the sixth centuries B.C—roughly the time period when LEHI’s family was traveling through the area---have been discussed by Warren P. Aston,[1] and S. Kent Brown.[2] Nhm appears as a place name and as a tribal name in southwestern Arabia in the pre-Islamic and early Islamic period in the Arab antiquarian al-Hamdani’s al-Iklíl[3] and in his Sifat Jazírat al-‘Árab.[4] If, as Robert Wilson observes, there is minimal movement among tribes over time,[5] the region known as “Nehem” may well have had that, or a similar, name in antiquity. The HEBREW root nhm meaning “to groan” (of persons),[6] attested in Ezekiel 24:23 and Proverbs 5:11, may reflect the actions of the daughters of ISHMAEL in 1 Nephi 16:35 in “mourn[ing] exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness.” Were the name originally “Neḥem,” the Semitic roots suggested in 1950 by Hugh Nibley (the Arabic naḥama, “to sigh or moan;” and the HEBREW root nḥm, “comfort”)[7] would also fit the context of 1 Nephi 16.

Cf. Book of Mormon NEUM, JAROM, JACOM


Deseret Alphabet: 𐐤𐐁𐐐𐐊𐐣 (neɪhʌm)


  1. Warren P. Aston, “The Origins of the Nihm Tribe of Yemen: A Window into Arabia's Past,” Journal of Arabian Studies: Arabia, the Gulf, and the Red Sea, 4/1 (2014): 134-148
  2. S. Kent Brown, “New Light from Arabia on Lehi’s Trail,” in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, ed. Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2002), 55-125, esp. 81-82.
  3. Al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Hamdani, al-Iklíl, ed. Nabih Faris (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940), 35, 94.
  4. al-Hamdani, Sifat Jazirat al-‘Árab, ed. David H. Müller (Leiden: Brill, repr. 1968), 49, 1.9; 81, 1.4, 8, 11; 83, 1.8, 9; 109, 1.26; 110, 112.2, 4, 126, 1.10; 135,1.19, 22; 167, 1.15-20; 168, 1.10, 11, where nhm is listed as either the name of a “region, territory” (Ar. balad) or a “tribe” (Ar. qabíla); Jawad ‘Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Ta’ ríkh al-‘Árab qabla al-Islām (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm lil-Malayan, 1969–73), 2:414, gives Nhm as the name of a “region” (Ar. ard) during the period of the mukarribs and the [ancient] kingdom of Saba” (Ar. fī ayyām al-mukarribína wa-fī ayyām mulūk Saba’); he also gives Nhm as a place name, Al-Mufassal, 4:187 and 7: 462.
  5. Robert Wilson, “al-Hamdani’s Description of Hashid and Bakil,” Proceedings of the Seminar for Arabian Studies 11 (1981): 95, 99-100.
  6. D. J. A. Clines, ed, The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 5:631.
  7. Hugh W. Nibley, “Lehi in the Desert.” Improvement Era 53 (June 1950): 517; Nibley, Lehi in the Desert and the World of the Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1952), 90-91; Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/The World of The Jaredites/There Were Jaredites (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 79.