Journal of Book of Mormon Studies

Article Title

It Is OK Not to Have Every Answer: The Book of Mormon Onomastic Ending -(i)hah


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.