Journal of Book of Mormon Studies


In our search for understanding, it is often instructive to determine what something does not mean. This is the case with the ending on some Book of Mormon names, -(i)hah. Because one of the most common names ending with -(i)hah is Moronihah, the son of Moroni, it might be tempting to understand these names as patronymic; however, of eleven names with the suffix -(i)hah, Moronihah is the only occurrence in which the father is known. The case of the brothers Mathoni and Mathonihah also casts doubt on this interpretation. The suffix -(i)hah can also be interpreted as a shortened form of Jehovah, yhwh. For this to occur, however, -i(j)ah would have to switch to -(i)hah through metathesis, which is extremely rare in Semitic languages. Among other arguments against this understanding are that there are no instances in the corpus in which -(i)hah is used as a shortened form of Jehovah and, with one possible exception, no geographical name compounds with yhwh, as -(i)hah does in the Book of Mormon. Although this leaves the question currently unresolved, the use of sound methodology has helped to settle what -(i)hah is not, which will ultimately aid in determining what it is.