Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch6:4:Lehi and Ishmael are authentic desert names

Lehi and Ishmael authentic desert names

Lehi and Ishmael are authentic desert names

There is a remarkable association between the names of Lehi and Ishmael which ties them both to the southern desert, where the legendary birthplace and central shrine of Ishmael was at a place called Beer Lehai-ro'i.10 Wellhausen rendered the name "spring of the wild-ox jawbone," but Paul Haupt showed that Lehi (for so he reads the name) does not mean "jaw" but "cheek,"11 which leaves the meaning of the strange compound still unclear. One thing is certain however: that Lehi is a personal name. Until recently this name was entirely unknown save as a place name, but now it has turned up at Elath and elsewhere in the south in a form which has been identified by Nelson Glueck with the name Lahai which "occurs quite frequently either as a part of a compound, or as a separate name of a deity or a person, particularly in Minaean, Thamudic, and Arabic texts."12 There is a Beit Lahi, "House of Lehi," among the ancient place names of the Arab country around Gaza, but the meaning of the name has here been lost.13 If the least be said of it, the name Lehi is thoroughly at home among the people of the desert and, so far as we know, nowhere else.[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 6, references silently removed—consult original for citations.