“Anti-Nephi Lehies”: A Possible Explanation? A New Church Folk Doctrine?

Bruce Nielsonbook of mormon 49 Comments

There seems to be a lot of head scratching over the converted Lamanites suddenly taking the name “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” in The Book of Mormon. (Alma 23:17) To our modern ears it sounds like the Lamanites decided that they were against all that the Nephites stood for. It’s like some new convert coming to love The Book of Mormon so she decides to name her son “Anti-Mormon.”

I’ve heard all sorts of attempts to explain this. I’ve heard “anti” means “in place of” rather than “against.” I’m not sure why being a changeling would be better than being against someone, but there you go. I’ve heard that “Anti” was just a Nephite word that didn’t get translated but probably had some meaning to the Lamanites. I like that one better, but it doesn’t really explain much.

Perhaps we’re trying too hard. Maybe “Anti” in this context just means “not” or “not of” and maybe the real punctuation should have been “Anti-Nephi Lehies”. So “Anti-Nephi Lehies” really just means “the Lehies (i.e. descendants of Lehi) that are not of Nephi.” In other words, they wanted to emphasize their “Lehite” origins.

Perhaps even the son named “Anti-Nephi Lehi” (Alma 24:3) meant to Lamanite ears “Lehi who is not from Nephi’s lineage.”

Any takers for starting a new Church folk doctrine? 🙂

Comments 49

  1. Keep in mind that if it is a historical work, The Book of Mormon must be seen in part as a justification of Nephite political dominance. Nephi gives considerable print to justification of his normally-unlawful ascendancy, and the theme is revisited continually throughout the book, whether explicitly or subtly (such as negative descriptions of Lamanite culture, that in our day could easily be considered racist).

    That being the case, I have understood the “Anti-Nephi Lehies” label as a declaration that the subject group had newly embraced the faith of Lehi, but did so while explicity rejecting the political rule of Nephi and his successors.

    1. One possibility that should be considered is that it is exactly what the BOM says it is. The people had a desire to have a name to reflect their new status. Remember just chapters before King Lamoni was freed from the political rule of his father who was King of the Lamanites. He was given a politically independent kingdom, something it seems the people had not had previously. Additionally the land in which they dwelt was called the Land of Ishmael. One of the several tribes that made up the collective peoples known to us as the Lamanites was the Ishmaelites or the people of Ishmael stemming from the lineage of the Sons of Ishmael. Thus the name Anti-Nephi-Lehies may simply be the Assertion of a people’s non-nephite, non-Lehite origins as a means of removing themselves from the unending conflict between the two predominant powers in the region both of which strongly identified themselves with a Nephite origin or a Lehite origin. In short it becomes a way for a people desiring never again to go to war to express neutrality in and separation from the crux of the issue driving the conflict. That issue being the right of rulership through lineage. The name state we are not Nephites and we are not Lehites (an emphasis of Ishmaelite heritage) so this is not our fight.

  2. Post


    I can go with that explanation. That makes a lot of sense to me. And that way the “anti” isn’t even a “not” per se, but literally an “anti” in terms of politics. The key being that it’s “Anti-Nephi” not “Anti-Lehi”.

  3. My take on this was that the “Lehies” part was in place of “Lamanites”. Since they weren’t “Nephites” by birth, they couldn’t take on that name.

    The “Anti-Nephies” part I take as indicating an opposing philosophy to the Lamanites or Lehies who lived in the land of Nephi. Remember, that the land Nephi originally established was called “Nephi” and the Nephites had to flee that land in the Book of Omni I believe. The Lamanites took over the land “Nephi” and therefore, the people of Ammon were separating themselves from their father Laman, and from the people that lived in the land of Nephi in one fell swoop (IMHO).

  4. This is one of many a BoM head-scratcher. The most generous I can be to Joseph Smith were to be the usage of the “anti-” prefix here which can mean, “unlike the conventional form, e.g., anti-hero.” The Anti-Nephi-Lehies weren’t conventional Nephites, they were converted Lamanites, of different blood and cultural background, but spiritually sympathetic.

  5. I’m with you, Bruce. They’re stressing their descent from Lehi, whom Nephites would ostensibly revere. The interesting question is what would be the historical memory of Lehi in the Lamanite culture? Would he be a positive figure, or the one who took them away from their swanky Jerusalem condominium?

  6. I think it was just an etymological coincidence. The prefix anti- wasn’t even really used in its current connotation until the late 18th century (1790’s). Furthermore, Joseph uses the prefix several more times: Ani-anti, Antiomo, Antion, Antionum, Antiparah, Antipus, Antum, and even Onti. Maybe it just sounded and looked like an ancient prefix; or, one could just say that it was the unfortunate translation of an ancient word, if one believes in its historicity.

  7. Post

    NM Tony,

    You said: “one could just say that it was the unfortunate translation of an ancient word,” That’s the same as what I said here: “I’ve heard that “Anti” was just a Nephite word that didn’t get translated but probably had some meaning to the Lamanites.”

    However, I don’t buy it. I also don’t buy that the word “anti” wasn’t in use. (You actually said it was in use, I realize. But contextually you were implying it wasn’t in wide use and may not have been intended that way.) Consider these Bible verses: 1 Jn. 2: 18, 22; 1 Jn. 4: 3; 2 Jn. 1: 7. They all mention “antichrist” which clearly meant “against Christ” and was clearly not meant to be a good thing. Also, this would seem to run against the idea it wasn’t in modern (or almost modern) use until 1790 since the KJV is older than that.

    Now compare to these verses in the Book of Mormon: Alma 30: 6, 12. Here “Anti-Christ” is used in the same way. So I think the case for “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” not just being a “Nephite word” (or an ancient sounding word in your case) is pretty strong. Furthermore, we know from the way it’s punctuated (i.e. “Anti-Nephi-Lehi”) that the 19th century translator and scribe apparently didn’t think of it as a “Nephite word” or else they would have written it more like Antinephi-Lehies or something like that.

    Going back to my previous point that Joesph Smith didn’t always understand the Book of Mormon (since I believe he was translator not author, after all) than I think we can make a good case that it was supposed to be “Anti-Nephi Lehies” not “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” and it was punctuated wrong and never fixed. (Also, keep in mind that the printer did the punctuation in many cases, though if we had a critical text I wouldn’t be suprised if Oliver punctuated this one.)

  8. The term “Lehies” is also anachronistic to the convention for expressing “followers of…” or “descendants from…”. So how about we agree to just say that extra hyphen was the cross-bar on a lowercase “t” errantly written to the left four spaces consistently errant in every instance in which the name appears. Therefore it should have been “Anti-Nephi Lehites.” That all works better. And I didn’t even need a peep stone. Now I’m ready to go retranslate the Bible without actually examining any source texts… >:-)

  9. I think getting hung up on things like this where there is lack of evidence is counter productive when the meaning contextually is clearly not against. That much you can prove from the text. The precise meaning of it will forever elude us until we get some plates to have Egyptologists examine. So in my mind, the argument should be made for what you can prove rather than trying to be in fantasy island about what you cannot.

  10. Post
  11. Bruce: You say, “I think we can make a good case that it was supposed to be “Anti-Nephi Lehies” not “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” and it was punctuated wrong and never fixed.” So how do we know it shouldn’t have been Antinephi-lehi? Because how can one differentiate between the other anti- words listed in the BofM? One can make any number of suppositions based on the idea that Joseph didn’t really understand and the scribe made mistakes. I am just postulating one more.

    As far as the mention of antichrist, you are correct. It was used around 1300 (antichristus or antikhristos), but my point was that the actual common usage of anti- with other root words really didn’t start until the late 18th century (I never said it wasn’t in use as you may have been suggesting, simply that it was uncommon). The only other pre-eighteenth century words I could find wherein the prefix meant “against” or “in opposition” were: antidote, antiseptic, antipathy, and antithesis. I’m sure there may be a few more, but again, I don’t think it was very common. Furthermore, anti- words were not hyphenated as they are now when referencing groups or ideas that against something (e.g. anti-Semitic, anti-Mormon, anti-Muslim, anti-American, etc.) So, if Joseph was referring to this particular group in the above context, then one can only see it as “against” Nephi-Lehi.

    Anti- also was interchangeable with ante-, meaning “before.” So, maybe you can work that in.

  12. Although, on second thought, hanging out on the island, I have to admit that some of the things Joseph Smith said actually does support your idea.
    For example, he said that the word Mor-Mon means “more good”. And the only part of this word that is Reformed Egyptian/Nephite or whatever, according to Joseph Smith is the particle “mon”. And “Mor” is actually a contraction of an English word “more”. So the word is actually more-mon. So Joseph Smith actually used an English word as a prefix to an Egyptian one in this case. Maybe your idea isn’t so crazy after all. This is the type of half translation-half transliteration thing I would expect from a farm boy translator. Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah.

  13. Post

    >>> So how do we know it shouldn’t have been Antinephi-lehi?

    Well, obviously it could be. But based on the modern punctuation, I can fairly safely conclude that Joseph Smith, Oliver, and everyone else thought it wasn’t that – regardless of what the original intent was. They punctuated it (and Joseph had plenty of chance to fix it) just like “Anti-Christ” i.e. with the more modern prefix usage. (Compare to Alma 30: 6, 12 where it’s spelled with the hyphen, unlike the Biblical version. This gives us a good clue as to how Joseph and Oliver understood what they were writing.)

    In other words, I’m commenting that we can perhaps draw conclusions on how 19th century Mormons, including Joseph Smith, thought it should read because… they wrote it that way. And we have the proof today because that’s the way it’s still written. Thus we can probably rule out the possiblity that Joseph Smith thought “anti” was ancient sounding and decided to affix it in front of “nephi” to make up a new word. If that had been the case, Joseph likely would have written it that way or at least fixed it later. He would not have written it “Anti-Nephi” just like he wrote “Anti-Christ” in the Alma verses because he would have know this was misleading.

    No, it’s no conclusive, but it currently fits the facts better than assuming Joseph was trying to write “antinephi” to make up a new word and never noticed how misleading it was written.

    What we can’t conclude is what the original intent was. (As per #9’s point.) Thus any of the above explanations (including the ones I made fun of in my post like “in place of”) actually should be considered possiblities.

    I like your “ante” idea.

  14. To me, this discussion and the puzzling appearance of “anti-Nephi Lehies” is an evidence that Joseph Smith did not just “make up” the Book of Mormon. If he had just “made up” the Book of Mormon, one would expect his fabricated record to be comprehensible to Joseph’s contemporaries, as well as consistent in its use of language and terminology. One would not expect a “fabricated” history to include completely puzzling details such as these that seem to defy the contemporary meaning of words in Joseph’s day.

  15. The real question is whether ‘anti’ is a translation (as in ‘antichrist’) or simply an Nephite name particle (as in Antipus, Antiparah, Antionum, and Antiomno, Antum [Jaredite] or even Manti). If the latter — and I would argue for the latter, since we don’t have any other ‘translations’ of names (except possibly “Jesus” and “Christ”) — then there’s no need to come up with an ‘explanation’ or ‘translation’ for Anti-Nephi-Lehi. ..bruce..

  16. Post


    Who knows. You could be right. 🙂 Obviously it could be that “anti” was a Nephite word and Joseph/Oliver didn’t realize that so they hyphenated it.


    I agree. 🙂

  17. This may be out there but…

    It may be referring to geography, i.e. they convert to the Church of Christ and reject the teachings of their fathers who lived in the land of Nephi-Lehi (I know it’s referred to as the land of Nephi, but I don’t know if Lehi is ever referred to, even though he was an original inhabitant as well).

  18. Post

    Adam Ant,

    Not so out there. See post #3.

    Just for Quix,

    Concerning #8: Had me laughing out loud. Hey, I’ll buy it.

  19. Hmm. I guess I missed post #3. Sorry ’bout that.


    theradicalmormon, your idea about the name referring to the land of Nephi is very interesting. Genius, even!

  20. It’s pretty clear, guys. This is actually a prophecy, which in fact has been fulfilled. To be specific, it’s a prophecy of the BYU dress code — which is, indeed,


  21. Post

    But Kaimi,

    It must be a false prophecy then… because the BYU dress code is pro-knee-high-levis!!! Oh no, the Church isn’t true after all! 😛

  22. How about this for some mental gymnastics. The passages in the BofM concerning the Anti-Christ are in reference to Korihor. Now the correct way to write Anti-Christ is antichrist. So maybe Joseph Smith, scribes, editors, and the like figured that Anti- must have some other sort of meaning beside against or opposite. Now, for the flying flip with a triple twirl. One can look at Korihor as a potential Christ-like figure (a Bizzaro world Christ so to speak). He is charismatic, has a strong message, gains followers, he taught a message that was against the standard of the people, etc. So in a since he was like Christ in many ways, except he taught a message that was contradictory to what Christ taught. Now for the back double somersault with an attempt to stick the landing, feet close together. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are much like Korihor in the idea that they are like the Nephites, but opposite by the way they were raised and in tribal affiliation. They were Lamanites after all, the opposites of the Christian Nephites, but the same in that they now have the same beliefs.

    Highlights of the tumbling exercise:

    Korihor-like Christ in outward appearances; opposite in spirit.

    Anti-Nephi-Lehis–like Nephites in spirit; opposite in outward appearances.

    Arms raised, gymnast waits the scoring of performance.

  23. Post

    NM Tony says: “One can look at Korihor as a potential Christ-like figure (a Bizzaro world Christ so to speak). … Anti-Nephi-Lehies are much like Korihor in the idea that they are like the Nephites, but opposite by the way they were raised and in tribal affiliation”

    Hate to break the news to you, but this approach is (I think) the one Hugh Nibley believed. Great minds thing alike? In any case, it’s a common way to interpret Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

    In fact, I’ve already referenced this theory in my original post, admittedly to make fun of it: “I’ve heard all sorts of attempts to explain this. I’ve heard “anti” means “in place of” rather than “against.” I’m not sure why being a changeling would be better than being against someone, but there you go.”

    Oh, and while I mocked it in my post, the truth is that I consider it a realistic possiblity. I was just being humorous as a way of advancing my own theories… which I don’t actually believe in any more than anyone elses since it’s all just speculation anyhow.

  24. “Hate to break the news to you, but this approach is (I think) the one Hugh Nibley believed. Great minds thing alike?”

    LOL. I have never been accused of that before, so I don’t know whether to take it as a compliment or dis.:)

    My tongue-in-cheek attempt was to simply show that anti- can be twisted into meaning both for and against, or the same and opposite. We can twist the language to fit what ever paradigm we want when given enough wiggle room.

    But Hugh Nibley…oh man.

  25. Obviously it could be that “anti” was a Nephite word and Joseph/Oliver didn’t realize that so they hyphenated it.

    Actually, it doesn’t appear to be hyphenated in either the original or the printer’s manuscript (it was just “AntiNephiLehies”), which suggests that the hyphenation was likely done by E. B. Grandin, the publisher of the Book of Mormon. (See Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon: Part Four: Alma 21-55, Royal Skousen, FARMS, 2007, p. 2092.)

    Who knows. You could be right.

    I’d be in good company, then, since Skousen makes the same argument: “the initial morpheme Anti appears to be an independent morpheme whose original meaning is not recoverable from the text of the Book of Mormon (at least as we have it)”. (Ibid., p. 2095). 🙂 ..bruce..

  26. Post

    NM Tony = Hugh Nibley’s departed spirit. Don’t try to deny it. Only Hugh Nibley would have come up with that theory. 🙂

    Okay, so bfwebster. According to your theory we know have (if I might summarize):
    1. The original work was “AntiNephiLehi”
    2. Grandin decided it needed hyphenation, so it got published as “Anti-Nephi-Lehi”
    3. Joseph Smith thought that was right, that’s why he didn’t fix it.

    We can actually conclude either your theory or mine from this evidence. It’s either a Nephite word that got mistaken for “Anti-” (bfwebsters theory) OR in fact it is “Anti-” and it means “in place of” (if you believe NM Tony, who is actually Hugh Nibley returned from the dead) of or “not of” (my theory.)

    P.S. for the record, I can’t actually remember if that is Hugh Nibley’s theory or someone else’s.

  27. Joseph Smith thought that [the hyphenation] was right, that’s why he didn’t fix it.

    Actually, the original and printer’s manuscripts had almost no punctuation whatsoever, so Grandin put in most of it himself (something to keep in mind the next time someone argues a doctrinal point out of the BofM based on commas and semi-colons).

    Joseph Smith did do some editing for the 1837 edition of the BofM — much of which was not so much to correct errors as to ‘modernize’ some of the more archaic/colloquial grammar and phrasing in the 1830 edition, as well as to clarify a few passages. I don’t know off hand if he corrected much in the way of punctuation. But there are still plenty of discrepancies, errors, and changes between the original and the printer’s manuscripts as well as between the printer’s manuscript, the 1830 edition, the 1837 edition, and subsequent editions. Furthermore, it’s clear that Joseph’s scribes often made transcription errors while taking down what Joseph was translating; some of these got caught, others appeared not to be caught. So arguing that something must be correct because Joseph didn’t fix it in the 1837 edition is not supported by analysis of the actual manuscripts and printed editions.

    If you can, track down and spend some time with one or more of Skousen’s Analysis of Textual Variants volumes (four volumes to date, 2700+ oversized [9″x12″] pages, covering up through Alma 55) to get a sense of what some of these changes and errors are. I suspect that sometime after Skousen has finished his work — which the Church wholly supports — the Church will issue a new edition of the Book of Mormon with a number of textual changes. For example, it’s clear from the original manuscript — which only exists for about 1/3 of the Book of Mormon text — that 1 Nephi 12:18 actually reads “the sword of the justice of the Eternal God” rather than “the word“. As another example, Skousen argues that the Amlicites (mentioned in Alma 2 and 3) and the Amalakites (Alma 21 ff) are actually the same group; Oliver Cowdery was not always consistent in his spelling and transcription (Amlicites => Amelicites => Amalekites).

    Anyway, FWIW. ..bruce..

  28. Post

    >>> So arguing that something must be correct because Joseph didn’t fix it in the 1837 edition is not supported by analysis of the actual manuscripts and printed editions.

    You misunderstand me. I’m NOT arguing that it “must be correct” because Joseph didn’t fix it. I’m ONLY arguing that Joseph, when reviewing it, didn’t suddenly think “What the heck!? Anti-Nephi-Lehies? That sounds like they are against the Nephites!!! Holy Molly what a huge mistake from my original intent which was “Antinephi Lehies”! I better fix that because it’s embarrassing and by my prophetic power I know that 200 years from now people on blogs will be arguing about this!”

    You know, I’ve had a long standing belief that the Amlicites and Amalakites were the same people since the Amlicites just suddenly disappear and there is no origin given for the Amalekites. I had assumes that the name changed but the BoM didn’t capture it historically. It had never occurred to me before that it might just be a misspelling.

    I saw Skowen speak at a fireside and he thought the Church was going to ignore all his research and not make any changes. I’m glad to hear that they are interested in it now and that we might get an improved edition of the Book of Mormon out of it. Might be cool if they add back in some of the Hebrewisms that Joseph removed in the 1837 edition because he didn’t know what they were.

  29. Pingback: By Common Consent » BCC Zeitcast #6

  30. Several chapters after the people’s name is changed, the son of the Lamanite king (ie one of King Lamoni’s brothers) is made king, and the verse reads like this.

    Alma 24

    3 Now the king conferred the kingdom upon his son, and he called his name Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

    My guess is that his name was Anti-Nephi-Lehi all along, but he just happened to be an important convert, so the people were named after him.

  31. Pingback: Adventures in Mormonism » Blog Archive » A few thoughts on “Anti-Nephi-Lehi”

  32. OK, I’ve pulled all my thoughts here as well as some new ones and put them into a single, cohesive (at least, I like to think so) post over at my blog. Two new items of interest that I’ve discovered:

    — all the personal names in the Book of Mormon that start with “Anti” are political and/or military leaders (including the Lamanite king over Middoni, Antiomno)

    all instances of BofM names containing *anti* appear only in the book of Alma with a single exception: the name Antionum, which (like Mormon) appears first in Alma as a place name also (like Mormon) appears in Mormon as the name of a military leader (one of the captains of 10,000)

    FWIW. ..bruce..

  33. Pingback: “Anti-Nephi Lehies”: A Possible Explanation? A New Church Folk Doctrine? - Mormon Matters

  34. I’ve also wondered before at that name. I was fascinated to see all the different reactions, and I’d definitely never heard the “Anti”-as-a-Nephite-word one before, which actually sounds okay because of similar names in the BoM.

  35. The preposition “anti” in this sense can signify “against” or “in place of” respectively. Thus, declaring the Anti-Nephi-Lehies was not “against” the Nephites or the Lehies. Leaving us with the only logical explanation, they are “in place of.” Understand that it is NOT “Anti-Nephi Lehies. “ It is Anti-Nephi-Lehies with two hyphens. A hyphen in Greek means “to one” and it is a mark to unite making a compound word. As an example, an antichrist can be someone that is against Christ or takes on the role or “place” of Christ, just as the Anti-Nephi-Lehies are taking on the role or place of the two groups in reference to their mutual conversion in and by the Spirit of Christ.

  36. The name “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” denotes the followers of the king’s son, Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

    In Chapter 23, vs 16, the king of the Lamanites met with Aaron and many of the priests to discuss what their name would be. In Chapter 27, vs 6, the new king (Anti-Nephi-Lehi) explains why they are hestitant about taking the name of the “Nephites”. With the conversion of the Lamanite king to the gospel of Jesus Christ, a clear division was occurring in the kingdom WITH the executive decision to change their name (including the ones who did not believe). The final decision was to call themselves “Anti-Nephi-Lehies”.

    In the beginning of Ch 24, the king of the lamanites notices that those who do not want to take upon themselves the new name begin to rebel and prepare for a war. In vs 3, we are told that the kingdom is conferred upon the king’s son “Anti-Nephi-Lehi”. In vs 4, the king dies. From an analytical standpoint, I believe that the king’s son, Anti-Nephi-Lehi, was already born and being prepared to assume the kingdom upon the king’s death. This is consistent with the interaction that Ammon had with the new king in Ch 27. This also fits in with the decision to change the name of the people as mentioned before.

    I assess that the king knew who he was going to confer the kingdom to upon his death (which came soon after). By renaming the people after the future king (a person who the father knew would lead them according to righteous ways), those who pioneered the gospel track would have at least one generation to establish a foothold in the ways of the righteous living.

    The old king of the lamanites explained the reason for the name change. Implementing the name change was the final division in the kingdom. The future of the king’s followers was going to be with the converts of the gospel. The next in line was the king’s son, Anti-Nephi-Lehi. It was a wise, selfless act to rename the people that allowed for the new converts to test their faith.

  37. In the Book of Mormon Reference Companion, edited by Dennis Largey, the entry concerning Anti-Nephi-Lehi says the following:

    The name “Anti” of “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” may be a reflex of the Egyptian nty “he of, the one of.” Thus, rather than having the sense “against,” it has the meaning “the one of Nephi and Lehi.”

    Please forgive my english I’m from Brazil and serve my mission on Colorado…
    Thank you for all you explanations that help me find a answer…
    I dont no if this will help anybody, but in portuguese the meaning for Anti that is a prefix wich means “the opposite of”… making more sence when you try to explain why Anti-Nephi Lehies in saying that they try to say that they are not from Nephi lineage but the are Lamanites or the opposite of the Nephites.

    I hope this will help.
    Obrigado that means Thank you in portuguese.

  39. I’ve enjoyed reading these posts, but as a diversion, not as something with real meaning.

    We don’t know what the name meant in the first century BC in the language and culture in which it was coined. We don’t know what Mormon made of it when creating his opus almost 500 years later in a language and culture that were far different from those in use when the name first appears. We don’t know what Joseph actually saw he came across this name. We only know what Oliver wrote as his interpretation of what he heard. We don’t know if “anti” was a translation or a transliteration or a misspelling.

    What we do know is once it was in print, neither Joseph nor any of his successors as prophet corrected it. We don’t know why it has never been corrected. Nobody has said. We can all invent reasons that suit our personal ideas about what the name means and why it is still the way it is after all these years. My personal theory is this is a minor issue and not worth the effort when compared with the mission of the Book of Mormon.

    As to the possible negative connotations of the name, I defer to Shakespeare. “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet”. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies were a righteous people. They and most of their descendants remained a righteous people for years, if not centuries. In that respect they are the role models for us in the Book of Mormon, by whatever name they are called and irrespective of how it sounds to us in 21st Century America.

  40. For many years it has been my understanding that the land of Ishmael was on the north side (opposite) of the land of Nephi, and on the south side (opposite) of the land of Lehi. The land of Lehi having two meanings, being on the extreme northeast side of Zarahemla and sometimes used to refer to the land of Zarahemla.

    So, the land of Ishmael was opposite the land of Nephi and opposite the land of Lehi. Another way of saying that is “Anti-Nephi-Lehi, (not Nephites-Lehites). It was common for people to use geographical names in the Book of Mormon – such as Mormon, et. al.

    Proof of this theory is the reality that once the Anti-Nephi-Lehis moved from the land of Ishmael to the land of Jershon, they changed their name to The People of Ammonn. Why? Because they were no long opposite the lands of Nephi and Lehi.

    Jerry Ainsworth

    1. As usual, Brother Ainsworth’s thinking is careful and thorough. The name change after arriving in Jerson is thought provoking.

      However, Nibley’s conjecture about the Egyptian word “nty”, meaning “he from” or “the one who is from” (a genealogical term, I suppose) strikes me as more characteristic of the Book of Mormon peoples.

      Then there is another blogger’s observation that “Anti” shows up in several names, nearly all in Alma, and often having a common denominator of elevation or leadership. He theorizes that the king took on the name “Leader of Nephi-Lehi” (which could mean he changed the name of the land from Lehi-Nephi), and the people took upon themselves his name, which is certainly consistent with the Book of Mormon peoples generally.

      I wonder if AntiNephiLehi could mean “elevate/praise Nephi and Lehi” This would be much like “Holiness to the Lord”

      To change that name to “people of Ammon” (Ammonites?) would be quite a step down, but may have simply been more convenient. It’s quite a step down from Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to “Mormons.”

  41. Anti-Nephi-Lehi is a name. It is a title of a king. It is probably also the name of the “lands” named after the predecessors to the area. The “Land of Nephi” and the “Land of Lehi” are mentioned previously in the Book of Mormon. However, the “Land of Anti” isn’t mentioned previously. But by the time of King Anti-Nephi-Lehi, there were many “lands”. Not all of the lands were mentioned in the Book of Mormon.
    There are several names in the Book of Mormon that have the name (full or part) “Anti” (Antipas, Antipus, Antiparah, Antigonah, Ani-Anti, ect.) so it is evident that this is a name, and not a prefix. There is another “prefix” name: Omni, but it doesn’t get all the discussion over its definition or coincidentally-prefix spelling.
    When the Lamanites that were taught (by the four sons of Mosiah and their companions) and converted to believe in Christ, they wanted to forsake the “blood-thirsty and ferocious” behavior that was common among the Lamanites. To distinguish themselves and delineate from Lamanites, they adopted the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi. This was a very logical thing to do because it was the name of their respected king, and the lands of their home.
    There’s a whole separate discussion on who was named Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Lamoni’s father, who is referred to as the old king, gave his oldest son the title Anti-Nephi-Lehi. The reference is made to him (the old king) when he gave that title to the younger Anti-Nephi-Lehi (though it is vague) and is evident that he had that title previously.

  42. Well i have thought about this today, as it came up in Church. I noted that in Alma 21:11 There is a village named  Ani-Anti mentioned, and it occurred to me rather suddenly that the term Anti-Nephi-lehi is connected to that. Considering that “NEPHI-LEHI” is referencing PERSONS, I further suggest that Ani-Anti refers in part to a PERSON named “ANTI” … something like maybe, “ANI-ANTI” = The Village of Anti, in some ancient American tongue, and that Anti is simply a notable person that was otherwise further unnamed, mentioned, or expounded upon in the unsealed, translated portion of the plates. Perhaps in the future we may learn who this “Anti” is? If you would like to further elaborate, let me know – friend me at http://www.facebook.com/JessBottles

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