Book of Mormon/Language/Names/Cumorah

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    The name "Cumorah" in the Book of Mormon



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Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes,"The Hebrew Origin of Some Book of Mormon Place Names", Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 6/2 (1997)

Cumorah is the name of the hill in which Mormon buried the Nephite records before turning his abridgment of it to his son Moroni (Mormon 6:6). Suggested etymologies range from a corruption of the biblical Gomorrah1 to a comparison with Qumran, the name of the site near the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.2 An early suggestion linked Cumorah to the Hebrew words found in Isaiah 60:1, qûmî ’ûrî , "arise, shine!"3 Related to this is David A. Palmer's suggestion that Cumorah means "Arise-O-Light," on a reconstructed form of qûm ’ôrah.4 But there are two problems with this. One is that the Hebrew word for light, though feminine in gender, does not usually take the feminine suffix -ah and is simply ’ôr. This objection is lessened by the fact that the Bible uses the form ’ôrah twice, in Psalm 139:12 and Esther 8:16. But the second problem is more serious: because the Hebrew word for "light" is feminine, the word would take the feminine form qûmî for the imperative, not the masculine qûm. For a meaning of "arise, o light," one would expect the Hebrew form qûmî ’ôr, though qûmî ’ôrah would not be impossible.5 The suggested etymology kûm ’ôrah, "mound of light/revelation,"6 is a better explanation.
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