Brant Gardner

Etymology: There is disagreement as to the possible origin of the name Korihor. Sorenson suggests that it is a Jaredite name (Sorenson 1985 p. 207). Nibley suggests an Egyptian origin:

‘This is the Memphite Theology or the Shabako Stone. I think it was Breasted’s greatest achievement to discover the importance of this. If you want to know about it, read Breasted’s book called The Origins of Religion (of course, it’s long out of date now; 1912). I say this is the oldest book in the world, and what a religious document it is. Do you expect this to be primitive mumbo jumbo, a lot of hocus pocus, wonders, and miracles, etc.? Ah, just wait. Shabako was the third king of the twenty-fifth dynasty. Interesting relationships to the Book of Mormon here. His name means “wild cat,” and he came to the throne about 716 B.C. You say is this the oldest in the world. Ah, just wait. The twenty-fifth dynasty was founded by Kashta, and then his son was Piankhi. It’s very funny. The twenty-first dynasty was founded by a person called Korihor whose son was Piankhi. That’s a very funny name; you don’t invent a thing like that. It wasn’t discovered until the 1870s that Piankhi is a name that we have in the Book of Mormon. Korihor was a priest of Amon who usurped the power of the state. His son Piankhi became king.

 (Hugh Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe [n.p., n.d.], 11.)

The presence of the Korihor name on an Egyptian text is intriguing, and would complicate our understanding of Korihor’s cultural associations. Were we to take Sorenson’s assumption of Jaredite origin, we would have Korihor as a possible descendant of the Mulekites who sojourned in Jaredite territories, and would therefore have retained the name their Jaredite ties.

Korihor as an Egyptian name would appear to require that we have a different take on the nationality of Korihor. While he might still be of Mulekite descent, the transmission lines of the name would have to be different. There is little to suggest that a royal line from Israel would carry an Egyptian name (Mulek being a son of a king, although a puppet king). It is possible to that the name could have come through servants accompanying Mulek.

The other transmission line comes through Lehi. This has some greater appeal since there are apparent Egyptian ties for the name Nephi (Gee, John. “A Note on the Name Nephi.” In” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (Fall 1992) FARMS: p.189.) With one Egyptian-related name, another from the same family would not be too surprising.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon