Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch22:12:Names that are absent

Book of Mormon Names—Names that are Absent

Book of Mormon Names—Names that are Absent

The compiler of these studies was once greatly puzzled over the complete absence of Baal names from the Book of Mormon. By what unfortunate oversight had the authors of that work failed to include a single name containing the element Baal, which thrives among the personal names of the Old Testament? Having discovered, as we thought, that the book was in error, we spared no criticism at the time, and indeed, had its neglect of Baal names not been strikingly vindicated in recent years it would be a black mark against it. Now we learn, however, that the stubborn prejudice of our text against Baal names is really the only correct attitude it could have taken; and this discovery, flying in the face of all our calculation and preconceptions, should in all fairness weigh at least as heavily in the book's favor as the supposed error did against it.

It happens that for some reason or other the Jews at the beginning of the sixth century B.C. would have nothing to do with Baal names. An examination of Elephantine names lists shows that "the change of Baal names, by substitution, is in agreement with Hosea's foretelling that they should no more be used by the Israelites, and consequently it is most interesting to find how the latest archaeological discoveries confirm the Prophet, for out of some four hundred personal names among the Elephantine papyri not one is compounded of Baal."41

Since Elephantine was settled largely by Israelites who fled from Jerusalem after its destruction, their personal names should show the same tendencies as those in the Book of Mormon. Though the translator of that book might by the exercise of superhuman cunning have been warned by Hosea 2:17 to eschew Baal names, yet the meaning of that passage is so far from obvious that Albright as late as 1942 finds it "very significant that seals and inscriptions from Judah, which . . . are very numerous in the seventh and early sixth [centuries] seem never to contain any Baal names."42 It is significant indeed, but hardly more so that the uncanny acumen which the Book of Mormon displays on the point.[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 22, references silently removed—consult original for citations.