“The People Were Desirous to Retain in Remembrance His Name”

Alan C. Miner

We find in Jacob 1:11 that the people of Nephi "were desirous to retain in remembrance his name. And whoso should reign in his stead were called by the people, second Nephi, third Nephi, and so forth . . ." Dallin Oaks notes that in the ancient world, a name represented the essence of the person named. Thus, a prominent Bible dictionary declares:

In biblical thought a name is not a mere label of identification; it is an expression of the essential nature of its bearer. A man's name reveals his character.

The dictionary explains, "Nothing exists unless it has a name. . . . It's essence is concentrated in its name" (Interpreter's Dictionary, 3:501). For this reason, in biblical thought a change of name signifies a change of nature or essence (see ibid, 2:408; 3:506). The dictionary observes:

It could also be said soberly of anyone that his name is his very self. Thus, when a radical change in a person's character took place so that he became a new man, he was given a new name. [Ibid., 2:408]

Thus, a king receives a new name on his ascending the throne. [Dallin H. Oaks, His Holy Name, pp. 46-47]

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