There are 8 thoughts on “Proper Names and Political Claims: Semitic Echoes as Foundations for Claims to the Nephite Throne”.

  1. The analysis in the article is excellent. I had noted the MLK names and their function before, but really appreciate Brother Hamblin’s linguistic chops in locking the meaning/function of MLK down. And the point about the timing of MLK names is really strong, e.g., their disappearance after the King men were suppressed. I had not noticed that before. In the context of this strong analysis, I have just two relatively minor quibbles. First, while I understand the urge to enroll Amaleki, the last Small Plates author, as a Mulekite or Mulekite influenced person and name, I don’t think that is sustainable. Amaleki’s father, Abinadom, says that he knows of no revelation or prophecy save that which has been written. This implies that he did not know about Mosiah1’s revelation that the people should leave the Land of Nephi and did not participate in Mosiah’s migration. If not, Amaleki would have been born in the Land of Nephi before the migration. And I think Amaleki’s writings are solid evidence that he was. I read his writing closely in “Josiah to Zoram to Sherem to Jarom and the Big Liitle Book of Omni,” and I think I show pretty well in that analysis that Amaleki is a Land of Nephi man. That takes one MLK name away. But my second quibble adds one back in that the article throws into question. In my view, Conkling’s point about how no explanation is given for where the Amalekites come from and who they are, as if we already knew about them when they first show up, combined with Skousen’s claim that the C in Amlicite was pronounced as a K by Joseph Smith, are strong textual evidence that the Amlicites are Amlikites and are a variant spelling of Amalekites. Both the Conkling and Skousen points are cited in the article. So it puzzles me that Brother Hamblin thinks the textual evidence, on balance, weighs against the conclusion that the Amlicites and Amalekites are the same people. Having listed my quibbles, let me again affirm my admiration for the bulk of the analysis in this fine paper.

    • As a very different take on Amaleki, I think it is important to understand that Amaleki’s name comes from the small plates which Mormon did not edit. My argument has been that Mormon uses names to further his story, and that the MLK names are intentional (rather than represent the person’s actual name). That argument does not apply to the small plates, so the reason for the names are completely different.

      The Amalekites are interesting in that the don’t fit well into specific stories. There appear to be two different Amalekite groups. Rather than try to place them, if we posit Mormon as the author of MLK names, then the different Amalekites don’t matter. The name shows their religious/political/social identity, and that was what mattered, not the specifics of the group.

  2. Interesting article. Thank you for writing it.

    With regards to Question 2, I suppose part of the reason Mormon didn’t elaborate on the Mulekite justifications for neo-monarchism is that he feared we modern readers might miss the mark. The fact that political fault lines and coalitions are often built from national, racial, and ethnic divisions is, taken in a vacuum, a morally neutral observation. However, if Mormon were to have dwelled on the Judahite tribal motivations of the king-men, I think it is quite likely that many readers would have interpreted it as moralizing against Jewish influence in politics (which, for one, would go against one of the stated purposes of the Book of Mormon of fighting antisemitism (3 Nephi 29:8)). As the Book of Alma is written, it stands as a clear warning to us against modern modes of authoritarianism, without scapegoating some outsider group in a way that would obliviate our need for spiritual and political self-reflection.

    Now, regarding the references to the king-men being those of “high birth” and those “who professed the blood of nobility,” I do take some issue with this implying that the king-men were disproportionally Mulekitish, mainly on the grounds that the Nephites had had their own tradition of monarchy for several centuries prior to that point, as well as their own problems with social classes.

  3. Excellent in-depth and comprehensive analysis of the subject. I could find nothing I could disagree with (Even though I was searching for it. 🙂 )

    I would add emphasis to two minor points in the paper:


    “The Mulekite language may have been Hebrew when fleeing Jerusalem, but their probable passage on a Phoenician vessel had them shifting to the dialect of the majority — the Phoenician majority.” (Brian Stubb’s quote, page 415)

    The Phoenicians are the only people at the time known to have the capability of crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The Greek historian, Herodotus, recorded that under contract from the Pharaoh, the Phoenicians built a fleet of ships on the Arabian Gulf Coast of Egypt in 600 BC, in which they circumnavigated Africa and back to a Mediterranean Egyptian port, in a two-year voyage. (Herodotus on the First Circumnavigation of Africa, )

    There is speculation that some of these ships had crossed the Atlantic and were aware of the land that later became known as the Americas.

    “And the [Mulekites] journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16).

    It is interesting that the Mulek Party journeyed through the wilderness prior to crossing the great waters. It is probable that they fled from Jerusalem across the Wilderness of Sinai to Egypt where they bought passage on the Phoenician ships. That it was Phoenicians who first sailed up the river of the Book of Mormon is substantiated by the name “Sidon. Omni 1:16 above states that they sailed “into the land,” and established the city of Zarahemla on the banks of the river. Zarahemla was the capital of the Nephite civilization for over 600 years, who were a “shipping and ship building people” (Helaman10:14), requiring that the Sidon be a navigable river from Zarahemla to the sea. It is also probable that the Phoenician crews would not have returned to Egypt for fear of reprisal from the Babylonians, and therefore would have been among the Mulekites in Zarahemla.


    Hamblin points out (page 435) that Jaredite names were not used in Mormon’s record until after the Jaredite record had been published and widely shared (Mosiah 28:17-18; Alma 37, 63:12). Had these names come from supposed, unmentioned surviving Jaredites, they should have appeared earlier in the record.

    • I should add that the Phaeacian ship building heritage in Zarahemla would explain how the Nephites became a “shipping and ship building people” (Helaman10:14), 500 years after Nephi built his ship.

      • That would be a very interesting connection if Hagoth was also Phoenician word. Looking it up on the Onomasticon and FAIR, possible Hebrew connections have already been noticed. I really enjoyed the Phoenician ideas you presented above. Seeing that Phoenician was a related and contemporary language it makes sense that there could have been remains of it in the records that Mormon was pulling from.

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