Source:Ricks:Some Notes on Book of Mormon Names:Interpreter:Three altar inscriptions containing NHM

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Three altar inscriptions containing NHM exist in the correct Old World location, and a non-LDS archaeologist has dated one of them to the seventh to sixth centuries BC.

Stephen D. Ricks: [1]

Surprisingly, evidence for Nahom, the name of the place where Ishmael was buried (1 Nephi 16:34), is based 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 sixth centuries BC—roughly the time period when Lehi’s family was traveling though the area—have been discussed by S. Kent Brown.[2] Dan Vogel, writing in the misleadingly named Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet and responding to two books by LDS authors about Lehi’s journey in the Arabian desert, has objected to the dating of the Arabian word NHM: “There is no evidence dating the Arabian NHM before A.D. 600, let alone 600 B.C.” [3] It should be noted, however, that Burkhard Vogt, perhaps unaware of its implications for the Book of Mormon, dates an altar having the initial letters NHM(yn) to the seventh to sixth centuries BC. [4] This is not insignificant since Vogel’s book was published in 2004, while Vogt’s contribution was published in 1997.

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-Iklīl [5] and in his Ṣifat Jazīrat al-’Arab. [6] If, as Robert Wilson observes, there is minimal movement among the tribes over time, [7] the region known in early modern maps of the Arabian Peninsula as “Nehem” and “Nehhm” as well as “Nahom” may well have had that, or a similar, name in antiquity.


  1. Stephen D. Ricks, "Some Notes on Book of Mormon Names," Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 4 (2013), 155-160.
  2. 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. Dan Vogel, Joseph Smith: The Making of a Prophet (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2004), 609.
  4. Burkhard Vogt, “Les temples de Maʾrib,” in Yémen: au pays de la reine de Saba (Paris: Flammarion, 1997), 144.
  5. Al-Hasan ibn Ahmad al-Hamdani, al-Iklil, ed. Nabih Faris (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1940), 35, 94.
  6. al-Hamdani, Sifat Jazirat al-‘Arab, ed. David H. Müller (Leiden: Brill, repr. 1968), 49, l. 9; 81, l. 4, 8, 11; 83, l. 8, 9; 109, l. 26; 110, l12. 2, 4 126, l. 10; 135, l. 19, 22; 167, l. 15–20; 168, l. 10, 11, where nhm is listed as either the name of a “region, territory” (Ar. balad) or a “tribe” (Ar. qabila); Jawad ‘Ali, Al-Mufassal fi Ta’rikh al-‘Arab qabla al-Islam (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm lil-Malayin, 1969–73), 2:414, gives “Nhm” as the name of a “region” (Ar. ard) during the period of the “mukarribs and the [ancient] kings of Saba” (Ar. fi ayyam al-mukarribina wa-fi ayyam muluk Saba’); he also gives “Nhm” as a place name, Al-Mufassal, 4:187 and 7:462.
  7. Robert Wilson, “al-Hamdani’s Description of Hashid and Bakil,” Proceedings of the Seminar on Arabian Studies 11 (1981): 95, 99–100.