Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch22:11:Laman and Lemuel as "Pendant names"

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Book of Mormon Names—Laman and Lemuel as "Pendant names"

Book of Mormon Names—Laman and Lemuel as "Pendant names"

Pendant names are two names that "hang together" (like a pendant). When you hear one, you think of the other, or they seem to "go together." Modern examples might be "Mike and Ike," "Abbot and Costello," or "Ken and Barbie."

But the most striking thing about the names of Laman and Lemuel is the way they go together; as we saw above it has been suggested that the former is but a corruption of the latter.37 Whether that is so or not, the musical pair certainly belong together and are a beautiful illustration of the old desert custom of naming the first two sons in a family with rhyming twin names, "a pair of pendant names," as Spiegel puts it, "like Eldad and Medad, Hillek and Billek, or Jannes and Jambres. The Arabs particularly seem to enjoy putting together such assonant names Yāǵuǵ and Maǵūǵ for Gog and Magog, HārÅ«n and KārÅ«n for Aaron and Korah, HābÄ«l and KābÄ«l for Abel and Cain, ḪillÄ«t and MillÄ«t for the first dwellers in hell."38 Speigel is here discussing the names Heyya and Abeyya, and might well have included in his parallels the recently discovered romance of Sul and Shummul. Harut and Marut were the first two angels to fall from grace, like Laman and Lemuel, according to Arab tradition of great antiquity. These names never go in threes or fours but only in pairs, designating just the first two sons of a family with no reference to the rest. This "Dioscuric" practice has a ritual significance which has been discussed by Rendel Harris, 39 but of the actual practice itself, especially among the desert people, there can be no doubt, for we read in an ancient inscription: "N. built this tomb for his sons Hatibat and Hamilat."40 One could not ask for a better illustration of this little-known and, until recently, unsuspected practice than we find in the Book of Mormon where Lehi names his first two sons Laman and Lemuel.[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.