Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Olimlah (Facsimile 3, Book of Abraham)

I like Hugh Nibley's reading of the name Olimlah, a slave of the Egyptian prince in Facsimile 3 of the Book of Abraham: Ol-im-lah, Great is Amun-Re (wrj jmn-r'), Abraham in Egypt, 588. Here is specificity. What we see here, though not in hieroglyphs, is supposed to be an Egyptian name--and it is (Facsimile 3: http://ww-w.lds.org/scriptures/pgp/abr/fac-3?lang=eng).

Clear, specific, and compelling: Yet without determinatives (those suffixed hieroglyphs that provide the key to any word's meaning), the first two elements of the name remain up for grabs.

We might also posit wrj mj r' or even wrj mj jmn-r', Great like (Amun)-Re, with Oli- as wrj and -m as mj (like), a construction which matches the Egyptian name Rekhmire (rx mj r', Omniscient like Re).

A fourth and a fifth guess, with barely a blink, would be '3(j) jmn-r' and '3 mj r' (Great is Amun-Re; Great like Amun-Re). '3j (great, a synonym of wrj) fits just as well as wrj since the ayin (') often appears in Coptic with the outcome of o and the aleph (3) corresponds, at least in earliest Egyptian, to the Afroasiatic laterals r and l = Oli-.

For the Middle Kingdom, Wrj jmn-r' works best though.

The name of the sun god, Re, was originally (and variously) pronounced as liaw or lia: Lia-hona, to be sure--or even Le-hon-ti; and what about Olea Shinehah?

The Prophet, by further revelation, thus throws open a flood of light upon the Book of Mormon names as well.

I like this inscription in Greek letters (AD 202):

May I see Isis with Osiris. May I see Amun-Lah.

The British say Ra, the Germans Re. I like Re, but Lah makes you rethink everything you ever learned. How wonderful to think that we, with all our encyclopaedic reach, don't even know how to pronounce the names of the Egyptian gods correctly.



Notes: Inscription in Greek letters found in Pierre Lacau and Perdrizet and Lefebvre.

For Re as Liao or Lia in both proto-Egyptian and also later, as dialectal and even idiolectal variant of Ria (the "r"-grapheme masks both "phonemes"), see Antonio Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, 31, 35, and class notes. The Lehites may have pronounced Liahona as either Liahona or Riahona (or Lahona)--it's all good Egyptian--and our own ears (and likely Alma's ears too, after half a millennium) might not have even noted a difference. I note the same allophones everyday in spoken Swahili.

Lia-hona could, theoretically, be read as either Re is the one steers or navigates or to Re is the steering (l/r-ria/lia-hona; the last element, hona, being perhaps the active participle of Eg. hnj, to steer with rudders; esp. of the solar bark; cf. Hugh Nibley's reading of the name). The two rudders of the solar bark find a match in the two splindles of the Liahona globe, a spherical reflection of the cosmos that the sun god navigates.

The name of the Lamanite king, Lehonti, could reflect the same roots, or perhaps be read R'-hwn.ti (Youthful or Rejuvenated Re) after the pattern of the attested epithet Hr-hwn.ti (Youthful Horus).

Olea suggests a common root for names of both sun and moon (Hebrew Ya-reah).

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