Saturday, April 30, 2011

And with neas, and with sheum (Mosiah 9:9)

The Record of Zeniff serves up the following healthful diet:

And we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land (Mosiah 9: 9).

Corn, wheat, barley, neas, sheum, and seeds of all manner of fruits: these last words have prompted much searching. (And what is corn? what are all manner of fruits?) When the Prophet Joseph Smith translated the gold plates, he occasionally came across a word for which he was not able to give an English equivalent. In lieu of translation, he chose to transliterate and to leave it at that.

As long ago as 1973 students of the Book of Mormon sought to identify the grain sheum with what appears to be the very same word in Akkadian, the East Semitic language of Mesopotamia. What could be closer to Zeniff's sheum than sheum? (See Robert R. Bennett, "Barley and Wheat in the Book of Mormon," on the Website of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute, BYU.) According to Bennett, it was Robert F. Smith, in a talk given at Brigham Young University, who first compared Akkadian sheum to the sheum of Mosiah. The guess was good, but the understanding of ancient languages moves on and, as it moves on, waits for no man.

In his "Glossary of Akkadian Words," Professor John Huehnergard comments on the correct reading of the cuneiform signs that write the Akkadian word for barley or grain, um:

"Sum[erian]. lw.? always written with log[ogram] SHE, e.g., acc. SHE-am or SHE-a-am for am; also written either SHE.UM or SHE. IM, regardless of case) 'barley, grain'; note: until very recently this word was read in Akkadian as sheum, and appears as such in both dictionaries and all text publications up through 1990" (John Huehnergard, A Grammar of Akkadian, 1997, p. 528).

For any student, the matter is now crystal clear: there is no such word as sheum in Akkadian. The correct Akkadian word for barley, um, perforce takes as determinative (or classifier) the Sumerian logogram SHE (grain), which marks classes of grains. Such classifiers were neither intended to form part of the word nor ever to be pronounced. SHE um, of which the second element alone was ever part of the word, simply signifies the um-grain.

Two decades on, we can ask Why the initial--and long--misreading by the lexicographers? It's tricky because um, with its -m ending, first suggests the nominative case ending in Akkadian; -m thus can easily be taken for morpheme, rather than part of the semantic root. That um should sometimes modify for case, um, am, im or em (but not -um, -am, -im = umu(m), unam, unim) makes not a lick of difference.

Robert Smith's early suggestion was a bit sketchy anyhow. Akkadian final-m (the mimation as marker of nominative case) would by no means have survived as a borrowing into Hebrew and Nephite until the days of Zeniff; besides, if putative Akkadian sheum is barley, then barley it is and should be, not sheum. The latest version of the online Book of Mormon Onomasticon, though failing to note the reading um, also disavows an Akkadian reading for Book of Mormon sheum.

A better candidate for Zeniff's grain appears in an Egyptian term (shm') dating from Old Kingdom texts onward. The Woerterbuch defines the word as Upper Egyptian grain (used for making bread) and notes that it was called both it shm' (grain of Upper Egypt) and, simply, sm' ('Upper Egyptian' grain). That Lehi knew it shm' ought not to admit of any doubt.

What put me on track was the following entry from Professor Vladimir E. Orel's (and Olga V. Stolbova's) Hamito-Semitic Etymological Dictionary (a pioneering work published in 1995 and not without its errors):

#2235 [page 472] *si'uem- "cereal" [Note: there is an umlaut over the u]

Eg shm'y "barley" (OK)
Metathesis. Vocalic -y.

Then Professor Orel gives the following evidence for the word in Chadic and other Sahelian languages:

CCh *siHum- "seed", "millet", "corn": Mba siyom, Bata sume, Bud shimo.
Mba -y- < *-H-.
ECh *siHVm- "sorghum": Bid sima.

What we see here is the magic of a loanword from Egyptian into neighboring African languages. (I'm not sure Professor Orel identifies the grain as a loanword though--a whopping error. The grain takes its name from a specific region of Egypt.) Upon entering the languages of the Sahel (or doubtless prior to that time), the word undergoes a metathesis, which is not an uncommon thing for Egyptian words ending in ayin (a gutteral consonant). What that means is that the ayin and the mim trade places: shm' becomes sh'm. The center of the word, when rendered into English, has to account for the metathesis: she'ym and she'um both work.

And that's how we get sheum.

Book of Mormon sheum is thus "Upper Egyptian"--grain, that is--grain serving as a "Brotkorn" (used for bread). No wonder the Prophet left it untranslated. How would you have liked to translate all that into English?

Is there any hope for the neas?

I turn again to Professor Orel:

#1849 [page 399]
*nawac- [the c with diacritic is an s] "wine, beer"

Sem [that is, Proto-Semitic] *na[w]as- "kind of beer": Akk nashu.
Eg wnsh.t "wine" (XIX).

I always examine Brigham Young University's Book of Mormon Onomasticon prior to posting on Book of Mormon names. An update for neas in the Onomasticon, dated 2 June 2011--a month after my original 30 April 2011 posting--lists nashu beer (Late Babylonian: KASH nashu) and similar words under "highly questionable" etymologies. We further find in the updated entry for sheum (again, 2 June 2011), several "suggestions unlikely," among which newly appear "shm'.t, 'granary,' and shm', 'southern,' which is used to refer to a type of grain." The rejection of the word follows upon its "final weak nature." Alas! we catch a whiff of the dictionary, of dry-as-dust book grammar. "Southern"? A mere "type of grain"? A "final weak nature"? (Hint: that's why metathesis happens in the first place.)

I say the categories "etymologies," "questionable," and "highly questionable" all add up to the same thing. Besides, as we all know, when an idea is taken seriously enough to be put under such intense scrutiny--highly questioned--it often comes out with flying colors. Let us have no etymologies that are not "highly questionable!"

Still let's forget about Orel's proposed etymology for the Egyptian word wnsh.t (wine). I don't buy it. On the other hand, a Proto-Semitic noun *naas or *nawas something recalls Zeniff's neas. If sheum might have been the grain for Nephite bread (a world-famous Egyptian variety); neas could then be a wheat or barley used for healthful drinks.

Now I don't know if Zeniff actually drank the stuff, but if he did I'm sure it was a lot better for him than his son's grapes. I can see tough old Zeniff quaffing a healthful postum; Noah became a winebibber. That's how it goes. . .

Copyright 2011 by Val Sederholm

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cumorah's Wine Press

Note: For a revised take on the name and nature of Cumorah, now also see:

Cumorah's Wine Press

 Years ago someone published a book entitled, In Search of Cumorah.

On a wall of a Nubian temple in the forgotten village of Amarah West, hidden amid the parade of Syrian place names all written in the syllabic hieroglyphic "group writing" used to spell Semitic words, appears the following: Ginta Kumara, or Gath Kumara, the Wine Press of Cumorah (K. A. Kitchen, Ramesside Inscriptions II, 217, no. 98 [Dynasty 19] = James Hoch, Semitic Words in Egyptian Texts of the New Kingdom and Third Intermediate Period, #425).

It is Professor James Hoch who transcribes the reading of the place name as Ginta Kumara (Proto-Semitic *ginta, q=--n=ta). The first element, Ginta, says Hoch, appears variously in the Amarna Letters (royal Egyptian correspondence that documents many Syro-Palestinian place names) as Gimtu-, Ginti-, or Giti, which corresponds to Hebrew and Ugaritic, gt or gath, a winepress. As for Kumara, the "group writing" admits of no doubt: ku-ma-ra. Kumara or Cumorah, as a vineyard, perfectly matches the description of the terrain in Mormon Chapter 5: "a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains."

And where was Ginta Kumara? (Another old book cries out Cumorah--Where?)

A second Kumara--if not the very same place--lies in ancient Hurrian country, according to the Great North Syrian List of Thutmose III (and other lists): "k-m-r- (ka-m-r-w)," Michael C. Astour, "Place-Names from the Kingdom of Alalah in the North Syrian List of Thutmose III: A Study in Historical Topography," Journal of Near Eastern Studies (1963, 22:4), 230. The place, "still called Kimar," lies "in the Gebel Sim'an, east of the Afrin River," Michael C. Astour, "Semitic Elements in the Kumarbi Myth: An Onomastic Inquiry," Journal of Near Eastern Studies (1968 27:3), 173. As Professor Astour reminds us, the name of the Hurrian god Kumarbi means "(He) of Kumar." At the ancient Levantine city of Ugarit the name Kumarbi appears as follows: k-m-r-b/w (E. Laroche, in his Glossaire de la langue hourrite, transcribes ku(m)-mar-bi, which may also answer to *kum-wi-erbi, Lord of Kummi, see Arnauld Fournet, A Dictionary of the Hittite Language with Comparative and Etymological Indications [online: updated, August 2010], 25).

What does Kumara mean? Many students of the Book of Mormon have sought the etymology of Cumorah in Hebrew, Egyptian, and Akkadian lexicons. K-m-r in Hebrew can refer to a pagan priest, km in Arabic to a tell, which is a heap or city dump or ruin, a word also recalling the Akkadian verb kumaru, to "heap up," etc. (Paul Y. Hoskisson, "What's in a Name? The Name Cumorah," Journal of the Book of Mormon, 13:1, 158-160). Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes favor Cumorah as signifying priesthood; Joann Carlton Hackett sees in Cumorah a corruption of the Hebrew Gomorrah; Robert F. Smith, citing David Palmer, looks for the name in the prophetic words of Isaiah: Qumi! 'Ori! ki ba' 'orekh, Arise! Shine! For thy light has come! (see Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes, "The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place Names," Journal of the Book of Mormon, 6:2, 255-9 = Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon (1999), 88-92).

The famous Brown, Driver, Briggs, Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament separates k-m-r into up to three separate roots: I. grow warm and tender, be or grow hot (a verb of ripening or even fermentation [modern Syriac kemr]; II. black, dark, gloomy, sad, be sad; III. overthrow, lay prostrate: a mikhmar or makhmar is a net, following the Akkadian verb kamaru and noun kamaru [also, net], 485. In Akkadian the verb kamaru, which Professor Paul Y. Hoskisson favors, means to heap up, pile up, to add (in mathematics), and is often "said of ruins, mounds, and corpses." A second root, kamaru, signifies to annihilate. The nominal form, with its long second a-vowel, refers to 1. "a trap with a snare" and 2. "defeat, annihilation"; without the long vowel kamara signifies "a (garden) wall, ramp, or similar earthen construction" (Chicago Assyrian Dictionary 8:111-114; see also Paul Hoskisson, "The Name Cumorah," note 18).

These roots are all too familiar to Professor Astour, who tells us: "The place name kumar/kumur is Semitic and goes back to the root KMR, Akk. kamaru, 'to heap up, pile up, throw down." By further associating the root with the word for priest (in Phoenician, Aramaic, Hebrew, and Akkadian), and with that for chamber (kummur), Astour speculates that k-m-r represents a "sacred precinct," which, he says, answers to the determinative sign house found for Kumar in the Egyptian hieroglyphs.

One thing is certain: Kumarbi, who procreates a stone at earth's beginning (stone = the earth itself), is the god associated with a place named Kumar. Might not Kumar then be the place of creation's beginning, the navel of the earth? In neighboring Egypt a sacred mound marks the First Place at the Beginning of Time, the place that emerges out of the flood waters of the Nile.

A telling suggestion, found in the Maxwell Institute's unpublished Book of Mormon Onomasticon and attributed to Robert F. Smith, compares Cumorah to an Egyptian designation for certain bodies of water and waterways, the Km-wr, the Great Black (Channels), or even the Km-wr-m3; the same student then observes how the Egyptian "Black Land" registers "the Delta region rich in black volcanic soil." Dr. Joann Carlton Hackett further notes how "The Hebrew root kmr occurs in words having to do with heat, ripening, fermentation, darkness, gloom," etc. (Now also see the newly published Book of Mormon Onomasticon.) All of these guesses--however fully articulated--lie at the heart of the matter, as we shall see.

Addressing another set of Egyptian hieroglyphs used in "group writing" to express the Semitic word for blindness: kmn or kaman (#459), Hoch considers the rare Semitic root kmr, which he thinks may well be "a by-form" of kmh (blind, obscure). Kmr suggests darkness or gloom. Syriac and Hebrew both attest the word, and Job speaks of a day that is kamirire yom, a day of darkness--even a day of terrifying darkness--that blots out, by the sheer terror of it all, the very day in which Job was born. Kamirire yom may refer to a day of solar eclipse, an exceedingly gloomy cloud cover, or "mist of darkness," or, perhaps, a sky choked with sand and dust. A search of the online Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon (CAL Website housed at Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati) reveals two separate verbal roots for k-m-r in Aramaic, including Syriac and Mandaean: 1. to pile on, do again, to cover, keep hot; 2. to be sad, be gloomy, Gt to be obscured, Dt Mandaean: to be blackened, scorched. A masculine noun, kmara, signifies sadness. In Biblical Hebrew (Lamentations 5:10) we read of skin whose quality takes on the appearance of an oven: k-m-r, which, as in Mandaean, signifies "to be blackened, scorched." Kumria, in Mandaean, signifies blackness (Driver's Mandaean Lexicon). All this recalls a veritable array of Arabic roots, including kamida (kamb-), which conveys sadness, grief, and a smutty, swarthy, dull, or dark appearance; gamma [the first letter a ghayn], a cover, veil, grief, or an overcast sky--as in Job (Wehr-Cowan, Arabic-English Dictionary). Combine the meaning of the Semitic root k-m-r and the Egyptian root km (kmm = kamam), which signifies black, further note that tells and heaps would appear as looming black spots on the horizon, and we're on to something.

Linguist Alexander Militarev indeed considers the proto-Semitic root *kVm to underlie like Egyptian, Aramaic, Rabbinic Hebrew, and Akkadian words. Yet he omits to notice the same word in Biblical Hebrew; neither does he note the vocalic similarity that obtains between the several languages: Kumat and Kumria, or Kamat and kamida, etc. The Akkadian evidence recalls a Book of Mormon motif: the mist of darkness (akamu 'cloud of dust, mist'). Cumorah is more than hill: Alfred Lambourne's dramatic painting, Hill Cumorah, bubbles over with murky akamu, and the enveloping gloom surely evokes in every observer both the battle at the hill and Lehi's inpenetrable mist. (Alexander Militarev, "A complete etymology-based hundred wordlist of Semitic updated: Items 1-34"). [This paragraph added on 12/03/2012]. [The Book of Mormon Onomasticon has now been updated and published online: 7/23/2013:].

To the Ancient Egyptians, the Black Land, Kumat (note the vowels), refers to das Fruchtland, or Fertile Land, being that precious strip on either side the Nile which yields the breadbasket of the ancient world. And that's exactly what we find in Ginta Kumara, the Wine Press of Blackness, i.e., of fertile, heaped-up earth, a rich and productive spot, even "a spot of land, very choice" (Doctrine and Covenants 101:44). It's a good name for the Upper New York State drumlin country. Comparable is the Biblical place name, Gath Rimmon, Pomegranate Wine Press, the pomegranate with its abundant seeds being, like the fertile black humus, a symbol of fruitfulness par excellence. In the palace garden of Ashurnasirpal III pomegranates and vines richly intertwine (see E. Cook, AJA 108, 56).

When a would-be Book of Mormon king, likely of Mulekite descent, sought to found a rival nation in the land Northward, the first official act of his reign, after being granted the royal name Jacob, was to plant a new capital bearing the name Jacobugath = Jacob-wa-Gath, Jacob-and-Wine Press, Jacob-cum-Wine Press, or even Jacob's Cornucopia. The action follows the typical ceremony marking the foundation of a new reign, as duly noted in the unusual wording of the 1830 edition, which speaks of "the people of the king of Jacob," that is the people of the New Jacob in remembrance of the Ancestral Jacob. They "did gather themselves together, and did place at their head a man whom they did call Jacob; And they did call him their king" (3 Nephi 7:9-10). King Noah, who inaugurated a system vastly different from that of his father Zeniff, likewise planted vineyards and dug presses.

Again we recall Mormon's description of the many waters, rivers, and fountains to be found at Cumorah (and the Proto-Semitic root *rimm- [as in rimmon, pomegranate] does denote moist, humid soil, a place well-watered; see "Semitic Etymology," Militarev). Wine press much recalls vineyard (Heb. kerem), and, as we might expect, built into the name Gath Kumara are inherent possibilities for word play: the Gath Kumara is thus also the Gath Kerem, the Wine Press of the Hilltop Vineyard. A play on words indeed appears in Isaiah's Song of the Vineyard: the Kerem is planted in a Qeren (horn), even the Qeren ben Shamen, or "a very fruitful hill" (Isaiah 5:1). But Qeren ben Shamen, though often rendered as "a hillside rich in oil," that is, "fertile," first registers the "horn of rich olive oil," the cornucopia. Cumorah, the Fruitful Land, the Cornucopia, thus provides a nice bookend with the Land Bountiful (perhaps from the Semitic root ts-m-r, Tsumar), being respectively the north and south boundaries of the land Northward in the Book of Mormon, even Kumar and Tsumar (see F. Grondahl, Die Personennamen der Texte aus Ugarit, 199: ts-m-r, "fruchtbar sein"; the Prophet Joseph Smith is on record as naming fruitful Zion, Zomar).

The root kmr (Semitic gmr, gml) or km (in Egyptian) also tallies completion: black being the sum of all color. The energy of nations is drawn inward--the scriptural phrase says "gathered in"--to Cumorah. Cumorah, as Black Hole, becomes also the final census, the tally of nations. To take things a bit further, Cumorah also calls up that which is thrown down (= a net, makhmor) to catch the wicked (risha'im). But I drift into the nets of midrash (see Psalms 141:10). . .

Professor Astour explains the place name Kumar in light of Akkadian kumaru (to throw down and thus heap up, etc.). But the Sumerian lexeme answering to kumaru is GUR-GUR and again refers to the tallying up of a sum: you heap up and then you total the gain. Hurrian Kumar certainly shares semiotic, if not semantic correspondence, with Egypt's fertile Kumat, or Black Land. "Every spring," explains Professor Ronald J. Leprohon, "the Nile flood would subside and what first emerged from the water were triangular-shaped islands of rich black earth. These little mounds represented the promise of new life, which led to the notion that all creation must have begun exactly the same way" ("Egyptian Religious Texts," Egyptology Today (ed) R. H. Wilkinson, 231). Such ideas need not be exclusively Egyptian, and Kumarbi's Kimar may thus be another Black Land, another place of beginning where life stirs into being. Similar little mounds do indeed reappear in the Mesopotamian record, but here the theme is not "the promise of new life," but annihilation: "as if the flood had devastated them, I [Sargon] piled up (his cities) into ruin mounds [u-kam-mi]" (CAD 8:114). Taking in the entire cycle of birth, destruction, and rebirth, we can argue for Egypt and Kumar also being the place of fullness, the sum of the universe (cf. the idea of Egypt as Temple of the whole world).

But how about the sacred precincts and the komer-priesthood? The widespread word for a Semitic priesthood may have to do with the original home of the god of the Hurrians: komer-priests may thus be (originally) priests of Kumar, either the priesthood of Kumarbi or of the fertile Black Land (whether Kumar or Kummiya/Kumme, the city of Teshub), that is, an chthonic, fertility priesthood. In the Song of Kumarbi one generation of gods battles another for patriarchal supremacy: Alalu, Anu (Heaven), Kumarbi (the Semitic El or Dagan), Teshub (the Storm-god) (see Astour, "Kumurbi"). When Anu successfully rebels against Father Alalu, Alalu "fled before him and went down to the dark earth. Down he went to the dark earth." Here we recall how Kumubi impregnated a stone and brought forth a son in the form of a stone pillar. The Egyptian center place, the place of creation, Iunu (Heliopolis), takes its name from such a stone pillar. The Jaredite name for Cumorah, Moroni tells us, was Ramah, a marked High Place, as its name indicates (Ether 15:11). At Ramah the Jaredites gathered during a four-year span, then blindly met their own kamirire yom.

Fools! They had already had a taste of the end at the aptly named Hill Comron--Place of Darkness (root cmr + morpheme of place -on; close to Qumran). Comron mirrors Cumorah as through a glass darkly: climbing high, Coriantumr "did sound a trumpet unto the armies of Shiz to invite them forth to battle." They came, and came again--and yet a third time, they came. "And the battle became exceedingly sore" (Ether 14:28-9; the Printer's Manuscript of the Book of Mormon names the hill Comron, not, as in our editions, Comnor: Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of The Book of Mormon, 6:3874; The Book of Mormon Onomasticon, q.v., "Cumorah," also suggests an etymological link between Cumorah and Comron, although no specific conclusion is reached).

The Prophets of Israel thunder against the komer-priesthood. The famous Hebrew lexicographer Gesenius long ago associated the Komer priests with the color black, and it may be significant that 2 Kings 23:5 distinguishes the offerings of the Komer priests (though broadcast from the high places in the cities throughout the land) with those made for Baal and the powers of the sky (to which compare the power struggle between chthonic Kumarbi and the storm god Teshub in the Hurrian myth cycle). As for kummu (chamber, cella), what we are to picture is a shadowy back room. The root kummi (Eg. qmj), found in Greek as kommi (and in our word gum and gummy bears), easily associates with the root k-m-r, given the color of saps and gums. The German word for kommi, Harz, again recalls the stones associated with Kumarbi, as the fundamentum or substance around which the world is then to be organized. It is the navel of the world, like the omphalos-stone at Delphi, the center place of the Greek universe (see Joseph E. Fontenrose, Python: a study of Delphic Mythology and Its Origins).

Black or darkness for k-m-r also best explains further associations of the root with agitation, heat, energy--even dancing. Black absorbs light and heat and thus connotes intense energy, the energy necessary for the germination of life. Again we recall the Egyptian imagery of the Black Mound emerging from the Waters of the Primeval Flood and the foundation stone of Kumarbi. Cumorah is also a special place, a vineyard apart, a hidden corner of the world (knm, Arabic kamana, to hide, see Hoch #459) from which life can emerge anew from the compost of nations: "Truth shall spring out of the earth" (Psalms 85:11). From the darkness of apostasy and destruction, the Book of Mormon springs from Cumorah's earth, Cumorah, both the Black and Fruitful Land and the Hiding-Place (or mikhman: Daniel 11:43) of the sacred record. 

Kmara may bespeak an unspeakable sadness, but the same sad burial place of two nations brings forth "Glad Tidings from Cumorah": "A voice of gladness! A voice of mercy from heaven; and a voice of truth out of the earth; glad tidings for the dead; a voice of gladness for the living and the dead; glad tidings of great joy" (Doctrine and Covenants 128:19-20).

And righteousness will I send down out of heaven; and truth will I send forth out of the earth, to bear testimony of mine Only Begotten; his resurrection from the dead; yea, and also the resurrection of all men (Moses 7:62).

But before resurrection comes corruptibility. The Egyptian Osiris, as the Km-Wrj, the Great Black One, must rot and rot, prior to rebirth (see Woerterbuch V, 126). After "the great and tremendous battle at Cumorah," Nephite "flesh, and bones, and blood" will "molder," "crumble," and "return to their mother earth," even "moldering in corruption," a compost heap deposited at Cumorah. "Rent with anguish," Mormon cries: "O ye fair ones!. . O ye fair ones!" (see Mormon 6). All this recalls the Mesopotamian record of annihilation: I [Tiglath-Pileser I] heaped up in mounds [lu-ke-mir] the corpses of their warriors like the smiter (i.e., Adad)," CAD 8:114; "(the goddess) whose people('s bodies) have been heaped up [ik-kam-ra] says, 'O my people,'" 8:114. Cumorah now becomes the very place of kemr (fermentation), in which the seed, "which is the record of a fallen people," is planted (see Doctrine and Covenants 20). Its germination requires some 1600 years! Meanwhile, another place, also bearing a fruitful Syrian name, Palmyra (or Tadmur, Palm Oasis), is also planted in the American forest, and a prophet grows up, imperceptibly, with the dawn.

"Let us take the Book of Mormon," says the Prophet Joseph Smith, "which a man took and hid in his field, securing it by his faith, to spring up in the last days, or in due time; let us behold it coming forth out of the ground, which is indeed accounted the least of all seeds, but behold it branching forth, yea, even towering with lofty branches and God-like majesty, until it, like the mustard seed, becomes the greatest of all herbs. And it is truth, and it has sprouted and come forth out of the earth, and righteousness begins to look down from heaven, and God is sending down His power, gifts and angels to lodge in the branches thereof" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 301).

All things return to Cumorah, it is both origin and completion--it is accountability. "Cumorah's lonely hill," best depicted in the somber painting of Alfred Lambourne, complete with cloud cover and lightning--and the coming light of dawn--is the "geodetic gnomon" or pillar of the Americas, the place of l'eternel retour, the eternal return.


Kumat: For the vocalization of Egyptian km.t (kumat, by late New Kingdom, kemet) and kmm (kamam), see Antonio Loprieno, Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, 42, 88. Egyptians referred to themselves as the Ramats ni Kumat (the people of Kumat), or even as the Kumut (the Blacks). Egypt was also dualistically termed: Kumat-Tushrit, Black-Red, Soil-Desert. For a possible-yet-impossible Indo-European connection, I note Greek khamai and Latin humus (or even Tokarian tkam, kem) as belonging to a, at least, similar-sounding root (d-g-m = earth), R. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek 2:1612-13; 1632-3). I also posit the black (seed) for Hebrew kamun or cumin. 
Jacobugath: The etymology for Jacobugath appears in I Know Thee by Name: Hebrew Roots of Lehi-ite Non-Biblical Names in the Book of Mormon, Independence, 1995; see also the headlong charge to discountenance this sound reading (and others, such as Chemish as Five, a favorite with Hugh Nibley) in John Tvedtnes, "What's in a Name? A Look at the Book of Mormon Onomasticon," Journal of the Book of Mormon 8:2, 34-42; Robert F. Smith, in the unpublished Book of Mormon Onomasticon, also reads "Jacob-and-(his)-Wine Press." George Reynolds, A Dictionary of the Book of Mormon (1891), is apparently among the first to notice how Jacobugath makes reference to Jacob's wine press, 301.

For the significant noun phrase "the people of the king of Jacob," which English Professor Royal Skousen, following a long line of editors, too hastily dismisses as reflecting a scribal accident made "during the dictation of the text," see Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon, 5:3331-2 [Provo, 2008]; for Jacobugath, which Skousen emends to Jacob-Ugath, see 3329ff. If necessary to so "emend" the name, Jacob-u-Gath would be preferred. (A paperback copy of the Book of Mormon, once in the possession of Hugh Nibley, shows the name separated as follows: Jacob/u/gath (BYU Ancient Studies Library, Hugh Nibley, BX 8622.1 A1 1963b [copy bearing date 7/5/78]. Brother Nibley's annotated Book of Mormon from 1978--one of many annotated copies--also reveals his thoughts on Cumorah: "Redoubt; Armageddon; Flanders," and another note tying together the idea of the redoubt and the land of many waters, rivers, and fountains: "spots"; "rock-pits."

Wine Presses: The article to read on wine presses is "New Insights from Old Wine Presses," Palestine Exploration Quarterly 130 (1998), Carey Walsh and J.R. Zorn. These authors point out that in the most literal sense gath signifies "treading floor," 155. See also Carey Walsh, The Fruit of the Vine: Viticulture in Ancient Israel (2000).

Cumorah as Geodetic Gnomon: For the "geodetic gnomon" and the Greek (and Egyptian) omphalos, see Peter Tompkins, Secrets of the Great Pyramid, 181. The pilgrim motifs on the Joseph Smith Papyrus (Book of the Dead of Tshemmin, newly edited by Michael Rhodes) have much light to shed on this matter of returning to the center and of taking the measure of the world. Tompkins further discusses Egyptian measurement rules that speak of the central importance of Pi-Hapy (the House of the Nile), and of Kher-aha, in calculating the measurement of Egypt. Kher-aha as the apex of the Delta (which lies just across from the center of Egyptian measurement, Pi-Hapy), to my mind, something recalls the phrase found on Facsimile 2 of the Book of Abraham: "the measurement of this earth, which is called by the Egyptians Jah-oh-heh." Kher-aha (when written in hieroglyphs) is not terribly far from Jah-oh-heh. Other (better) etymologies for Jah-oh-heh are to be found in Hugh Nibley, "The Three Facsimiles of the Book of Abraham," FARMS, 1980).

Misc.: Hurrian (and Indo-Aryan) names in the Book of Mormon (that is, esp. the Jaredite Book of Ether) may well include: Kumen, from *kumi(H)ni (Fournet) or kummeni (Laroche) and, perhaps, Morianton, Moriancumr, etc., which recalls *marjanni (chariot fighter, hero, knight, warrior), maryanni (Laroche) = mar-ya-an-ni, "from Indo-Aryan marya with a Hurrian suffix -nni," A. Fournet, A Dictionary of the Hurrian Language. The forms are very close: Ma-ri-ya-nni ~ Mo-ri-a-nni-tum, although the title dates only from the Mitanni Kingdom and is therefore too late a coinage for a Jaredite connection (although a bit of Proto Indo-European mixed with the Semitic elements is to be expected for the archaic Jaredites). The noun mar/mara is also found in Proto-Semitic, where it carries a like meaning. An even better fit may be the Semitic word mr/mrr (to be strong, sharp), W. A. Ward, "Comparative Studies in Egyptian and Ugaritic," JNES 20:1 (1961), 31-40; reference on page 36 n. 16). Moriancumer or Morianton as among the many "strong and mighty" men of the Book of Ether. Thus we also have Moron, the Jaredite royal residence, as the "place of strength," or "stronghold" (Moroni, as is well-known signifies "one of Moron"). (Kumen as a Hurrian name is also well-treated by Hugh Nibley, in Lehi in the Desert; I note that Robert F. Smith, of the Book of Mormon Onomasticon project, has previously suggested Ugaritic mryn as a possible match for the place name Moron.) In my view, the names Morianton and Corianton, Coriantumr, etc., form a name pair and both may be of Indo-Aryan origin. Cori- recalls the Indo-Aryan term: "beloved." Another possible derivation is from the IE root *gher, from whence our word grace derives. Sanskrit thus also yields caru (cAru): agreeable, esteemed, lovely, carus, approved, beloved, beautiful (Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon). Coriantumr further recalls the Indo-Aryan name uccair (high, above), which becomes Hurrian Ushrianni (heir, prince), which also shows the Hurrian suffix -nni, Fourner, 42.  To Nibley, Morianton also recalls Egyptian Meriaten (Beloved of Aten), from the Egyptian root, mrj, to love, a root that does correspond chronologically as well as culturally to the Afroasiatic Jaredite origins. Corihor might thus yield: Prince of Horus or Beloved of Horus. Coriantumr also yields to an Ancient Egyptian analysis (and remember that the c--as opposed to the k = Kish, likely is a qof: q3j ~ qrj signifies to be tall, exalted, great, the enthroned king, etc., and is also a name of the Creator god, Atum, who stands on the primeval Hill (the q33).

As for -an/-antum, the form best recalls -an as a "particularizing participle" in Akkadian, a morpheme of adjectival significance expressing particular qualities; almost the same morpheme, -an, appears in Proto Indo-European as an adjectival expression of quality; -um/-tum shows the case ending with mimation. Various Semitic and Hurrian hypocoristic endings also recall the Jaredite endings -on/ant/antum. Professor Huffmon, Amorite Names at Mari, 137, lists the following hypocoristic ending(s) for Amorite names: -an from *anu(m) and *(i)yan. This last, (i)yan, combines the hypocoristic -yan "with a primary element ending in -i," to which compare Cor-i-yan. Another hypocoristic is given as *atan/*atanu(m). (Note that the letter -n is often dropped when followed by a -t.) Coriantumr/Corianton, etc., "the one characterized by the quality of *gher." That a single name recalls both Afroasiatic and Proto Indo-European roots is to be expected. "In more recent times, attention is being paid to the witnesses of prehistoric contact between Egyptian and Indo-European," says Professor Loprieno, who gives a short bibliography (Ancient Egyptian: A Linguistic Introduction, 251 n. 9).

To try a couple more: Jared's son Mahah recalls Semitic maHa'u (uncle)--something like Semitic 'ammu. Hearthom has a physiognomic reference (the nose). 

Copyright 2011 by Val Sederholm