Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2008, June 20

Interesting Book of Mormon Word: “Anti-Nephi-Lehies”

Ok, lots of people have written about what “Anti” could mean, etc., but–and I could be mistaken–I don’t recall anyone writing about the other strange part of the words.

For example, why Nephi-Lehi? So could Anti-” mean something like “through”, “descended”, “of”, etc.?

Then, the big one for me: it’s “Lehies” instead of “Lehites”. As in “Nephites”, “Lamanites”, “Jacobites”, “Josphites”, “Zoramites”, “Amalekites”, “manner of -ites”, etc. But they call themselves not “Anti-Nephi-Lehites” (as an “-ite”), but “Anti-Nephi-Lehies”. Why? What does that mean? I don’t know. Was it written down wrong by a scribe? I don’t know. I don’t think so.

Here’s the reference:
Alma 23:17 And it came to pass that they called their names Anti-Nephi-Lehies; and they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites.

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  1. You probably have read this already, but I didn’t see it in any string. From Hugh Nibley, of course:
    Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon, Semester 2, p.404
    This is what he says here in verse 18: “And they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them.” He tells us again right across the page here that what they did was to remove all the barriers; they opened trade to everybody. That’s what we call “glasnost” today, I suppose. They were named Anti-Nephi-Lehies. You know that Nephi-Lehi means a combination of Nephi and Lehi, and anti means “combination, face-to-face, meeting.” You have Adam-ondi-Ahman. That’s one of the richest prepositions we have. This anti means so many things. We get it in the Book of Mormon a good deal—Antiomno and things like that. There’s anti in the Book of Mormon. The Latin ante means “standing in front of a person and facing him.” Of course, that’s the Greek anti and the Arabic cinda. The Old English is *and-. The word answer, for [p.405] example, is answarian—swear back at a person. This means “face to face confrontation” whether it’s in Old Norse, Old English, Semitic, Arabic, Greek, Latin, or in the Book of Mormon. It means “a face-to-face meeting, a joining together with somebody.” We are going to find later on about an Anti-Christ, who is a person who pretends to be Christ, who matches Christ, who pretends to take the place of Christ. It’s not somebody who opposes Christ, but somebody who pretends to be Christ. We get that a little later when we get to Korihor. But first they gave themselves this name of Anti-Nephi- Lehies. “And they were called by this name and were no more called Lamanites.” So they were set apart, but they began to be an industrious people—getting to work at last. They did open a correspondence with the Nephites, “and the curse of God did no more follow them.”

    Comment by Ken Kartchner — 2008, August 6 @ 1:46 am

  2. I have sometimes wondered if “anti” might mean before, rather than meaning against as we usually think of it. Kind of like the prefix in “anti-pasta” signifies something you eat before the pasta main course. Could it therefore mean that they were claiming allegiance to Nephi and Lehi, at a point prior to when the Nephites and Lamanites separated. In other words, they are claiming to be Lehites, and looking with fondness back to a time when there were not any ites.

    Comment by mitch — 2008, October 1 @ 5:46 pm

  3. i found a really cool link about this i provided 3 different explanations for why Anti appears in the name.

    Comment by Preston — 2009, January 14 @ 6:11 am

  4. “Anti” is found many times in the Book of Mormon used as a name. The title “Anti-Nephi-Lehi” is a name, and “Anti” in this case, is not a prefix and has no connotation of “opposition”. The village name Ani-Anti (Alma 21:11) illustrates that Anti is used as a name, and not just a prefix. There are several names that indeed do begin with Anti: Antipus, Antiparah, Antiomno, Antipas. When the “old king” (who himself may have held the title of Anti-Nephi-Lehi after the lands of his kingdom), felt that his days were numbered, he gave the title to his oldest son, Lamoni’s brother. Their people took upon them the name of their king when they went into the land of the Nephites because they no longer wanted to be known as vile and bloodthirsty Lamanites. The land of Lehi is mentioned, and the land of Nephi. Anti was likely one of the early patriarchs, perhaps a son of Nephi or Laman, who founded a colony, whose people named the land after him. Hence the name Anti-Nephi-Lehi was the name of the united lands under the rule of the “old king” Anti-Nephi-Lehi.

    Comment by Brad Rich — 2009, December 4 @ 3:32 pm

  5. The Old Testiment Hebrew word we translate into the English “Anti” means “descender or something that descends”. Possibly it means the Anti-Nephi-Lehites physically and spiritually descended from those two patriarchs, not just Laman.

    Comment by Kyle Mills — 2012, July 20 @ 4:09 pm

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