How Helaman Got His Name: A Theory

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Most Mormons likely know of Helaman, the son of Alma the Younger. He fought with Captain Moroni and led the 2,000 stripling warriors.

But how did he get his name?

One may be tempted to say that his name was just a name his parents liked. But I have a theory. It’s completely speculative, but I thought I would share it anyhow.

First, a bit of genealogy. Helaman was the son of Alma the Younger. Alma the Younger was the son of Alma, a priest of King Noah.

Second, Alma the Elder’s contemporary in Zarahemla was King Mosiah. In fact, their sons spent a lot of time together. I do not think, however, that the five sons hung out together just because they were members of the same church or because they were good friends.

Third, there are roughly 20?¢‚Ǩ‚Äú28 years between when Alma arrived in Zarahemla and Alma the Younger was visited by the angel. In addition, Alma the Elder was likely single when he moved to Zarahemla.

Fourth, King Mosiah’s two brothers were Heloram and Helaman.

Fifth, people in the Book of Mormon are often named after ancestors: Nephi, Lehi, Helaman, Alma, Moroni, Laban, and so forth.

So, here’s my theory.

King Mosiah had at least one sister, whom Alma the Elder married. This made Mosiah and Helaman uncles to Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah his cousins. Alma the Younger, therefore, named his eldest son after his uncle.


4 thoughts on “How Helaman Got His Name: A Theory

  1. What I found interesting is that Mormon says that he was named after the land of Mormon, which name was given to the land by “the king” (see Mosiah 18:4; does this refer to King Noah?) “being in the borders of the land having been infested, by times or at seasons, by wild beasts”. It sounds like it’s trying to draw a connection between the idea of a land filled with wild beasts, and the name “Mormon”.

    Does this go back to Nibley’s comments on the name “Hermounts” in Alma 2:37?

    “Now where does the word Hermounts come from? This is certainly not a Latin word. It’s not a Greek word, a Hebrew word, or a Semitic word. Where was it? It was the land on the borders that was infested at times by wild beasts, at certain seasons of the year. It was way up in the borders. They went way up there. So it is the Egyptian word hr-Mntw, obviously. Month or Monthis was the Egyptian Pan; he was the god of wild places, wild animals, and the wild country. Hr-Mntw was the outmost part of Egypt where the land was sometimes visited by lions and crocodiles and things like that. It was under cultivation, but it was a place that was in danger from animals. They called it hr-Mntw because it was Month’s country, wild animal country.” (Teachings of the Book of Mormon, lecture 44, p. 242)

    So, I just wonder if there’s some kind of a tie between “Hermounts” and “Mormon”.

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