Hugh Nibley claims that there have been discovered lists of the names of prisoners that Nebuchadnezzar brought back to Babylon with him from his great expedition into Syria and Palestine. These represent a good cross section of proper names prevailing in those lands in the days of Lehi, and among them is a respectable proportion of Egyptian names, which is what the Book of Mormon would lead us to expect. . . . Himni, Korihor, Paanchi, Pakumeni, SAM, Zeezrom, Ham, Manti, Nephi and Zenoch are all Egyptian hero names. [Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, F.A.R.M.S., p. 246]


According to Cleon Skousen, the name "Sam" (1 Nephi 2:5) is not an abbreviation for Samuel as many have supposed, but it is a pure Egyptian name of great dignity. It is the Egyptian word for Shem, son of the prophet Noah. It also takes this same form in the Arabic (Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, pp. 62-63). This is of particular significance when it is realized that the highest order of the priesthood among the Egyptians was the "holy priesthood" after the order of Sam (Shem). The great Rameses, himself, belonged to the order of Sam (Reynolds, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. I, p. 26). The original Pharaohs were of that lineage which could not hold the true Priesthood but they claimed it through their ancestor, Ham (Abraham 1:27). It is highly interesting that they later attributed their priesthood to Shem or Sam, apparently intending to give it an air of greater authenticity. [W. Cleon Skousen, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1, p. 1031]

Alan C. Miner -

Alan C. Miner

Step by Step Through the Book of Mormon: A Cultural Commentary