Book of Moses Essay #7
With contribution by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw and Matthew L. Bowen
As Hugh Nibley was finishing the concluding, August 1977 article in his long-running series on ancient Enoch manuscripts and Moses 6–7 for the Ensign magazine, he received—“just in time”1—the anxiously awaited English translation of the fragments of Aramaic books of Enoch from cave 4 at Qumran.2 In his article, Nibley was the first to suggest a remarkable correspondence between a Book of Giants character named Mahaway3 (Aramaic MHWY) and the names “Mahujah” (likely equivalent to Hebrew MHWY or MḤWY) and “Mahijah” (likely equivalent to MHYY or MḤYY) in the Book of Moses.4 In this Essay, we describe this finding in more detail.
A Remarkable Correspondence
In Joseph Smith’s story of Enoch, Mahijah appears out of nowhere, as the only named character in the account besides Enoch himself:
And there came a man unto him, whose name was Mahijah, and said unto him: Tell us plainly who thou art, and from whence thou comest? (Moses 6:40)
Later in the account, the similar name “Mahujah”5 appears. Curiously, in the Masoretic Hebrew text of the Bible, the name variants MḤYY’L (= Mahijael, with the suffix “-el” representing the name of God) and MḤWY’L (= Mahujael) both appear in a single verse of the King James Bible as references to the same person.6
Significantly, because the King James translation renders both variants of the Hebrew name identically in English, Joseph Smith would have had to access and interpret the Hebrew text to see that there were two versions of the name, similar to the two versions found in the Book of Moses. But there is no evidence that he or anyone else associated with the translation of Moses 6–7 knew how to read Hebrew at that time or, for that matter, even had access to a Hebrew Bible.7
It should be observed that Joseph Smith was well aware that the biblical book of Jude explicitly cites Enoch,8 even if he evinced no knowledge of 1 Enoch, the source Jude was quoting. If he had actually been looking for ways to bolster the case for the authenticity of his Bible translation, the most obvious thing he could have done would have been to include the relevant verses from Jude somewhere within his Enoch account. But this the Prophet did not do.
Were the Names “Mahaway,” “Mahujah,” and “Mahijah” Simply Copied from the Bible?
A possible historical explanation for the similarity of the Book of Moses and Book of Giants names is that Joseph Smith and the Qumran author independently created highly similar names for an important character in their respective accounts. One might well ask: What are the chances that they would come up with these closely resembling names independently?
Even if, for a moment, we were to grant the hypothesis that Joseph Smith created the name directly or indirectly through his knowledge of Genesis 4:18, why did he pick this name for his account instead of some other? If it were an arbitrary choice, why did he not pick Irad or Methusael or the more prominent Lamech from the same verse, or some other name from the surrounding verses instead? Why is Mahujah the only named character in the Enoch chapters of the Book of Moses apart from Enoch himself—and also the only other plausibly biblically-related name besides Enoch in the Book of Giants as well?
Going further, one of the most important parallels in the Book of Giants and Book of Moses names is that, in contrast to the biblical name, they both lack the theophoric element (-el). If Joseph Smith derived the names “Mahujah” and “Mahijah” by adapting them from Genesis 4:18, why wouldn’t he, for the sake of consistency, have dropped the “-el” in his translation of the Bible verse itself? And if, instead, he were deliberately trying to create a new and distinctive name with the theophoric ending “-jah,” what sufficiently important purpose would that have served for him to have gone to that trouble?
Moreover, since the author of the Book of Giants was apparently not completely bound to the written tradition and had the liberty to include names unattested elsewhere such as ’Ohyah and Hahyah to facilitate wordplay, as some have suggested, why wouldn’t he have invented a name that was more similar to the other two instead of the more distinctive name Mahaway?9 And why would Joseph Smith, who has sometimes drawn criticism for the many new names that have been included in his scriptural translations, have been averse to “making up” just one more?
Instead, both authors are, without a viable explanation for motive, putatively seen as creating a name that is coincidentally very similar to one found in the same biblical verse, then using these modified names to serve as a moniker for a prominent player who just happens to function in an analogous role within two independent accounts of the prophet Enoch.
Salvatore Cirillo’s Explanation for the Origin of the Names
Some non-Latter-day Saints have taken notice of the striking nature of the resemblance of these prominent names in the Book of Moses and the Book of Giants. For example, in his master’s thesis at the University of Durham, Salvatore Cirillo, drawing upon the similar conclusions of the well-known Book of Giants’ scholar Loren Stuckenbruck,10 considers the names of the gibborim, notably including Mahaway, as “the most conspicuously independent content” in the Book of Giants, being “unparalleled in other Jewish literature.” Moreover, according to Cirillo, “the name Mahawai in the Book of Giants and the names Mahujah and Mahijah in the Book of Moses represent the strongest similarity between the Latter-day Saint revelations on Enoch and the pseudepigraphal books of Enoch (specifically the Book of Giants).”11 Arguing in strong terms that Joseph Smith must have known about the Book of Giants as he prepared the Book of Moses account of Enoch, Cirillo writes:12
Nibley‘s own point that Mahujah and Mahijah from the Book of Moses share their name with Mahaway in the Book of Giants is further evidence that influence from pseudepigraphal books of Enoch occurred in Joseph Smith’s Enoch writings.13
What goes conspicuously unmentioned in Cirillo’s arguments for the influence of the Aramaic Enoch text on Moses 6–7 is that, apart from 1 Enoch, none of the significant Jewish Enoch manuscripts were available in an English translation during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. It is baffling that Cirillo’s strongest arguments for the Prophet’s having been influenced by ancient Enoch pseudepigrapha come from the Qumran Book of Giants—a work that was not discovered until 1948! Cirillo does not attempt to explain how a manuscript that was unknown until the mid-twentieth century could have influenced the account of Enoch in the Book of Moses, written in 1830.
Matthew Black’s Explanation for the Origin of the Names
The only known attempt to explain how a manuscript discovered in 1948 could have influenced Joseph Smith’s translation of the Book of Moses in 1830 comes from remembrances by two individuals about the well-known Aramaic scholar Matthew Black, who collaborated with Józef Milik in the first translation of the fragments of the Book of Giants into English in 1976. Black certainly knew enough about ancient Hebrew and Aramaic to have recognized whether the Book of Moses names Mahujah and Mahijah were reasonable English equivalents of the Book of Giants “Mahaway.”
Black was approached by doctoral candidate Gordon C. Thomasson after a guest lecture at Cornell University, during a year that Black spent at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton (1977–1978).14 According to Thomasson’s account:15
I asked Professor Black if he was familiar with Joseph Smith’s Enoch text. He said he was not but was interested. He first asked if it was identical or similar to 1 Enoch. I told him it was not and then proceeded to recite some of the correlations Dr. [Hugh] Nibley had shown with Milik and Black’s own and others’ Qumran and Ethiopic Enoch materials. He became quiet. When I got to Mahujah,16 he raised his hand in a “please pause” gesture and was silent.
Finally, he acknowledged that the name Mahujah could not have come from 1 Enoch. He then formulated a hypothesis, consistent with his lecture, that a member of one of the esoteric groups he had described previously [i.e., clandestine groups who had maintained, sub rosa, a religious tradition based in the writings of Enoch that pre-dated Genesis] must have survived into the 19th century, and hearing of Joseph Smith, must have brought the group’s Enoch texts to New York from Italy for the prophet to translate and publish.
At the end of our conversation he expressed an interest in seeing more of Hugh’s work. I proposed that Black should meet with Hugh, gave him the contact information, [and he] contacted Hugh the same day, as Hugh later confirmed to me. Soon Black made a previously unplanned trip to Provo, where he met with Hugh for some time. Black also gave a public guest lecture but, as I was told, in that public forum would not entertain questions on Moses.
Hugh Nibley recorded a conversation with Matthew Black that apparently occurred near the end of the latter’s 1977 visit to BYU. Nibley asked Black if he had an explanation for the appearance of the name Mahujah in the Book of Moses, and reported his answer as follows: “Well, someday we will find out the source that Joseph Smith used.”17
A More Satisfying Explanation for the Origin of the Names
During the intervening years, no documentary evidence has surfaced that bears out Black’s unsupported hypothesis that Joseph Smith somehow obtained access to an Enoch manuscript like the Book of Giants from an esoteric religious group in Europe. On the other hand, during this same span of time much additional evidence has come forth linking Joseph Smith’s revelation about Enoch to a variety of relevant ancient textual traditions, notably including many from the Book of Giants.18 The Mahijah/Mahujah parallel is just one of many ancient connections for which there is no completely satisfying historical explanation. In our view, the idea that these correspondences have come by coincidence or through borrowing and alteration is unconvincing. Instead, we are persuaded that they are due to a common ancient tradition that pre-dates both texts, as Matthew Black apparently felt compelled to believe.19
In contrast to the idea that the Book of Giants is almost exclusively dependent on the Bible and 1 Enoch, current scholarship sees hints of more ancient and complex roots for the text than were once acknowledged. For example, André Caquot, among other scholars, has argued that “the reference to Gilgamesh argues for the original of the Book of Giants in an eastern diaspora.”20
Consistent with this idea, Nahum Sarna21 and Richard Hess,22 following Umberto Cassuto,23 suggest that the name Mahaway might be explained on the basis of the Akkadian maḫḫû, denoting “a certain class of priests and seers.”24 And what was the role of these seers? Among other things, the royal archives of the Old Babylonian kingdom of Mari recount the comings and goings of maḫḫû as intermediaries and messengers, bearing words of warning from the gods for the king,25 a role that is arguably similar to that of Mahaway.
Further strengthening Cassuto’s argument for the derivation of the name is the agreement he finds in the word maḫḫû behind Mehujael, the name of Mehujael’s son Methusael (a name that is “analogous not only in form but also in meaning”26), and the name of Mehujael’s grandson Lamech, which Cassuto sees as likely to have come from the Mesopotamian word lumakku, also signifying a certain class of priests.27 Significantly, Hess reports that while the root lmk is unknown in West Semitic, it is found both in third millennium BCE personal names and in names from Mari in Old Babylon in the early second millennium BCE.28
In summary, though additional possibilities may yet be found, scholars have already identified what seems to be an attractive option for a common Akkadian root behind the similar names in the Bible, the Book of Giants, and the Book of Moses. In light of such a suggestion, is it possible that Mehujael, Mahaway, Mahujah, and Mahijah were independently derived from the same or similar roots, having come down to the author through extracanonical traditions rather than merely borrowed from the Bible? At present, we do not see any reason why this plausible scenario should be ruled out.
Conclusion: Ancient Names Restored Through Revelation
After a review of the evidence, readers may understandably question whether the names “Mahujah” and “Mahijah” were merely borrowed and adapted from the Bible. This scenario makes it hard to account for the surprisingly specific parallels between these names in the Book of Moses and the name “Mahaway” from the Book of Giants.
Could Joseph Smith have been aware of the names through an unknown Aramaic manuscript of the Book of Giants that was translated into English and secretly made available to him before its discovery by scholars at Qumran in 1948? Were the names somehow transferred to Joseph Smith through an unknown esoteric group, as professor Black proposed? Once again, purely historical explanations disappoint. Such proposals are based purely on speculation, and can provide no answers about the identity of these putative collaborators, how they stumbled upon such a manuscript, why they secretly translated it into English and made it available to Joseph Smith, and how the Prophet either hid this fraud from his associates or persuaded them to collude with him. As the chain of required conjectures grows, their cumulative likelihood diminishes.
A more convincing conclusion, in our view, is that these names, along with other evidences of antiquity in the Book of Moses Enoch account, were directly restored from the ancient world through the process of divine revelation.
This article was adapted from Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Matthew L. Bowen, and Ryan Dahle. “Where did the names ‘Mahaway’ and ‘Mahujah’ come from? A response to Colby Townsend’s ‘Returning to the Sources’,” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): submitted for review.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014, pp. 42–45, 69, 128.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Could Joseph Smith have drawn on ancient manuscripts when he translated the story of Enoch? Recent updates on a persistent question (4 October 2019).” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 33 (2019): 305–373. https://journal.interpreterfoundation.org/could-joseph-smith-have-drawn-on-ancient-manuscripts-when-he-translated-the-story-of-enoch-recent-updates-on-a-persistent-question/. (accessed October 23, 2019), pp. 312–319.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Matthew L. Bowen, and Ryan Dahle. “Where did the names ‘Mahaway’ and ‘Mahujah’ come from?: A response to Colby Townsend’s ‘Returning to the sources’.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): submitted for review.
Draper, Richard D., S. Kent Brown, and Michael D. Rhodes. The Pearl of Great Price: A Verse-by-Verse Commentary. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 2005, pp. 96, 112.
Nibley, Hugh W. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986, pp. 277–279.
———. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004, pp. 268–269.
———. 1992. Hugh Nibley on the Book of Enoch. YouTube video from FairMormon, with description of the visit of Matthew Black to BYU at about 6:04–6:50 in the video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PvM-4T7dU.
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al-Tha’labi, Abu Ishaq Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ibrahim. d. 1035. ‘Ara’is Al-Majalis Fi Qisas Al-Anbiya’ or “Lives of the Prophets”. Translated by William M. Brinner. Studies in Arabic Literature, Supplements to the Journal of Arabic Literature, Volume 24, ed. Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, 2002.
Bandstra, Barry L. Genesis 1-11: A Handbook on the Hebrew Text. Baylor Handbook on the Hebrew Bible, ed. W. Dennis Tucker, Jr. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008.
Black, Jeremy, Andrew George, and Nicholas Postgate, eds. A Concise Dictionary of Akkadian Second ed. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz Verlag, 2000. https://books.google.com/books?id=-qIuVCsRb98C. (accessed May 19, 2020).
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Bowen, Matthew L. E-mail message to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, March 18, 2020.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and David J. Larsen. Enoch, Noah, and the Tower of Babel. In God’s Image and Likeness 2. Salt Lake City, UT: The Interpreter Foundation and Eborn Books, 2014. www.templethemes.net.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., Matthew L. Bowen, and Ryan Dahle. “Where did the names “Mahaway” and “Mahujah” come from?: A response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the sources”.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): submitted for review.
Bradshaw, Jeffrey M., and Ryan Dahle. “Textual criticism and the Book of Moses: A response to Colby Townsend’s “Returning to the sources”.” Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship (2020): in press. www.templethemes.net.
Brenton, Lancelot C. L. 1851. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.
Calabro, David. E-mail message to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, January 24, 2018.
Caquot, André. “Les prodromes du déluge : légendes araméenes du Qoumrân.” Revue d’Histoire et de Philosophie religieuses 83, no. 1 (2003): 41-59. https://www.persee.fr/docAsPDF/rhpr_0035-2403_2003_num_83_1_1011.pdf. (accessed April 11, 2020).
Cassuto, Umberto. 1944. A Commentary on the Book of Genesis. Vol. 1: From Adam to Noah. Translated by Israel Abrahams. 1st English ed. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, The Hebrew University, 1998.
Cirillo, Salvatore. “Joseph Smith, Mormonism, and Enochic Tradition.” Masters Thesis, Durham University, 2010.
Clarke, Adam. The Holy Bible Containing the Old and New Testaments. New York City, NY: N. Bangs and J. Emory, for the Methodist Eposcopal Church, 1825. https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Holy_Bible_Containing_the_Old_and_Ne.html?id=Lds8AAAAYAAJ. (accessed February 19, 2020).
Dogniez, Cécile, and Marguerite Harl, eds. Le Pentateuque d’Alexandrie: Texte Grec et Traduction. La Bible des Septante, ed. Cécile Dogniez and Marguerite Harl. Paris, France: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2001.
Faulring, Scott H., Kent P. Jackson, and Robert J. Matthews, eds. Joseph Smith’s New Translation of the Bible: Original Manuscripts. Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2004.
George, Andrew, ed. 1999. The Epic of Gilgamesh. London, England: The Penguin Group, 2003.
Goff, Matthew. “Gilgamesh the Giant: The Qumran Book of Giants’ appropriateion of Gilgamesh motifs.” Dead Sea Discoveries 16, no. 2 (2009): 221-53.
Halloran, J. A. Sumerian Lexicon: A Dictionary Guide to the Ancient Sumerian Language. Los Angeles, CA: Logogram Publishing, 2006. https://www.sumerian.org/sumerlex.htm. (accessed May 20, 2020).
Heimpel, Wolfgang. Letters to the King of Mari: A New Translation with Historical Introduction, Notes, and Commentary. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003.
Hendel, Ronald S. The Text of Genesis 1-11: Textual Studies and Critical Edition. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Hess, Richard S. Studies in the Personal Names of Genesis 1-11. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2009.
Martinez, Florentino Garcia. “The Book of Giants (4Q203).” In The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English, edited by Florentino Garcia Martinez. 2nd ed. Translated by Wilfred G. E. Watson, 260-61. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1996.
McKane, William. 1994. Matthew Black. In Obituaries of Past Fellows, Royal Society of Edinburgh. http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/cms/files/fellows/obits_alpha/black_matthew.pdf. (accessed April 3, 2013).
Milik, Józef Tadeusz, and Matthew Black, eds. The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments from Qumran Cave 4. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1976.
Nibley, Hugh W. “Churches in the wilderness.” In Nibley on the Timely and the Timeless, edited by Truman G. Madsen, 155-212. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1978.
———. Enoch the Prophet. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 2. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1986.
———. 1992. Hugh Nibley on the Book of Enoch. Excerpted from a FARMS videocassette entitled “The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Era Dawns.” The videocassette contains material recorded in connection with a National Interfaith Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls, 20 November 1992 in the Kresge Auditorium of Stanford University. In FairMormon Channel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u3PvM-4T7dU. (accessed May 20, 3030).
———. “Letter to Frederick M. Huchel.” Provo, UT: L. Tom Perry Special Collections. Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Boyd Jay Petersen Collection, MSS 7449, Box 3, Folder 3, May 6, 1997.
———. 1978. “Churches in the wilderness.” In The Prophetic Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch. The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley 8, 289-327. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1989.
———. 1986. Teachings of the Pearl of Great Price. Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS), Brigham Young University, 2004.
Oppenheim, A. Leo. 1964. Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization. Revised ed. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1977.
Peters, Melvin K. H., ed. A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek Translations Traditionally Included under that Title: Deuteronomy Provisional ed. NETS: New English Translation of the Septuagint, ed. Albert Pietersma and Benjamin Wright. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 2004. http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/nets/edition/deut.pdf.
Reeves, John C. Jewish Lore in Manichaean Cosmogony: Studies in the Book of Giants Traditions. Monographs of the Hebrew Union College 14. Cincinnati, OH: Hebrew Union College Press, 1992.
Sarna, Nahum M., ed. Genesis. The JPS Torah Commentary, ed. Nahum M. Sarna. Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989.
Shoulson, Mark, ed. The Torah: Jewish and Samaritan Versions Compared: LightningSource, 2008.
Smith, Joseph, Jr., Andrew F. Ehat, and Lyndon W. Cook. The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, 1980. https://rsc-legacy.byu.edu/out-print/words-joseph-smith-contemporary-accounts-nauvoo-discourses-prophet-joseph. (accessed April 25, 2020).
Smith, Joseph, Jr. 1805-1844. The Joseph Smith Papers, ed. Dean C. Jessee, Ronald K. Esplin and Richard Lyman Bushman. Salt Lake City, UT: The Church Historian’s Press, 2008-. https://www.josephsmithpapers.org.
———. 1902-1932. History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Documentary History). 7 vols. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1978.
———. 1938. Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1969.
Stuckenbruck, Loren T. The Book of Giants from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary. Tübingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.
Thomasson, Gordon C. “Items on Enoch — Some Notes of Personal History. Expansion of remarks given at the Conference on Enoch and the Temple, Academy for Temple Studies, Provo, Utah, 22 February 2013 (unpublished manuscript, 25 February 2013).” 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaRw40r-TfM.
———. “Email message to Jeffrey M. Bradshaw.” April 7, 2014.
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Notes on Figures
Figure 1. Photograph of 4QEn Giantsa[4Q203], Fragment 7, column ii from Plate 31, J. T. Milik et al., Enoch, with permission. Unlike many of the other poorly preserved Aramaic fragments of the Book of Giants, the translation of this one is straightforward: “(5) [ … ] to you, Mah[awai … ] (6) the two tablets [ … ] (7) and the second has not been read up till now [ … ].” Though the “Ḥ” is difficult to see in the photograph of the manuscript we have reproduced here, F. G. Martinez, Book of Giants (4Q203), Fragment 7, column ii, lines 5–7, p. 260, reads the end of line 5 as “MḤ.” Milik also sees an “MḤ” on line 5 and interprets it as being the first part of the name MḤWY (J. T. Milik et al., Enoch, p. 314). By way of contrast, L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, p. 84 and J. C. Reeves, Jewish Lore, p. 110 see only “M” and not “MḤ” in this particular fragment. Although only the first one or two letters of the name MḤWY are extant in Fragment 7 of 4Q203, the full name Mahawai/Mahujah appears in other, more complete fragments from the Book of Giants (e.g., 4Q530, 7 ii). In English translations of the Book of Giants, the name is usually transliterated as “Mahaway” or “Mahawai,” but in the Book of Moses it is given as “Mahijah” (Moses 6:40) or “Mahujah” (7:2).
Figure 2. National Portrait Gallery, London. https://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/person/mp77746/matthew-black (accessed September 16, 2019).
1 H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 276. Cf. Ibid., pp. 267–268.
2 Published as J. T. Milik et al., Enoch.
3 Note that the vowels in the English transliteration of the Book of Giants name MHWY are largely a matter of conjecture, since no vowels appear in the Aramaic text. On the other hand, with respect to Mahujah (MHWY/MḤWY) and Mahijah (MHYY/MḤYY) from the Book of Moses, we have English versions of the names containing vowels, but it is impossible to tell from the English text alone whether the second consonant in the names would have been written anciently as the equivalent of an “H” (as in the Book of Giants) or an Ḥ (as in Genesis 4:18).
With respect to the similar King James Bible name Mehujael, twice-mentioned in Genesis 4:18, the underlying Hebrew is spelled differently in each case, i.e., both as Mehujael (MḤWY-EL) and Mehijael (MḤYY-EL). The presence of variant spellings of the name (“u” vs. “i”) is intriguing in light of the Book of Moses names with similar vowel variants (Mahujah vs. Mahijah). On the one hand, the Book of Moses names resemble the two Hebrew versions of the name in Genesis 4:18 in that both a “u” and an “i” variant of the name is present. On the other hand, the Book of Moses names are both similar to the Book of Giants name in that they omit the Genesis 4:18 theophoric ending “-EL,” a name for God.
The Book of Moses names terminate with an “h” in their English spellings. This makes them different from both the names in both Genesis 4:18 and in the Book of Giants. It is impossible to know from the manuscript evidence alone whether the “-jah” termination of the Book of Moses names was meant to stand for the name of the God of Israel (Psalm 68:4), or if the “h” on the end of the English version of the name is present for some other reason. For example, given the prevalence of “-jah” terminations in Old Testament names (e.g., Elijah), it is not surprising that an English-speaking scribe who heard the JST Genesis name pronounced during the dictation process might have written the name with an “h” at the end to make the spelling conform to this common naming convention.
Compounding the difficulty for non-specialists in recognizing similarities and differences in the spellings of ancient names is that translators differ in their English transliteration conventions. For example, the English letters “j,” “y,” and “i” variously used to represent the Semitic letter yod. Thus, in English translations of the Book of Giants, we see several variants of the same name: Mahaway (the most common), Mahawai, Mahway, and Mahuy — or, with the “y” transliterated with a “j” as frequently done with other names containing a yod in the King James Bible, Mahuj.
As in every language, the form and spellings of names also change over time and as they pass from one culture to another. In J. M. Bradshaw et al., Where Did the Names “Mahaway” and “Mahujah” Come From?it is argued that despite a significant difference in one consonant (“Ḥ” [Bible] vs. “H” [Book of Giants]), there is currently no compelling reason why the Book of Giants name MHWY (with all the variety of its English equivalents) could not have been related at some point in its history to the King James Bible name elements Mehuja-/Mehija- (spelled as both MḤWY- /MḤYY-) and to the Book of Moses names Mahujah (MHWY/MḤWY) and Mahijah (MHYY/MḤYY).
4 H. W. Nibley, Enoch, pp. 277–279; H. W. Nibley, Churches, pp. 156-159; H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, pp. 267–269. In evaluating Nibley’s suggestions, LDS scholar David Calabro observes that Nibley, while brilliant, was more of a philologist than a linguist, “and as such he did not generally focus on laying out the details of linguistic connections. He was also treating connections at a broad literary level, taking for granted that words and names sometimes get garbled in transmission” (D. Calabro, January 24 2018).
While maintaining the possibility of a correspondence between the ancient equivalent of these names, Calabro explains why we cannot posit a direct equivalence between all of them (including the related names Mahujael/Mahijael in Genesis 4:18) in their current forms (ibid.):
The -ah in Mahujah and Mahijah is problematic if you are interpreting the current forms of these names as equivalents of both Mahawai and also of Mehuja-/Mehija- in Mahujael/Mahijael at the same time. In other words, Mahujah can = MHWY + Jah or Mehjael can = Mahujael can = Mahujah + El, but both equations can’t be applied to the current forms of these names at the same time.
Of course, Calabro observes, the rules were different in earlier times, since “dropping of final vowels only happened sometime between 1200 and 600 BC” (ibid.):
But it’s unlikely that the names in Moses are making a point of this. Joseph left the rest of the biblical names untouched. And if Lehi, Paul, and Jude all had access to the Book of Moses (as I believe they did), the name would have dropped any final short vowels before the text was finished being transmitted.
That said, Calabro goes on to explain why the connections between these names are not unlikely, even in the face of these considerations (ibid.):
Very often in pseudepigraphal traditions, you get names that sound similar (or sometimes not even similar), just garbled a bit. It’s frequent in Arabic forms of biblical names: Ibrahim for “Abraham” (perhaps influenced by Elohim or some other plural Hebrew noun), ‘Isa for Yasu‘ “Jesus,” etc. So Mahujah, Mahijah, Mehujael/Mehijael, and MḤWY could all be connected, with something getting mixed up in transmission.
With respect to correspondences between Mahujah and Mahijah, Nibley (H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 278; H. W. Nibley, Churches, p. 157) argues that they are variants of the same name, given that “Mehuja-el” appears in the Greek Septuagint as “Mai-el” (C. Dogniez et al., Pentateuque, Genesis 4:18, p. 145; M. K. H. Peters, Deuteronomy, Genesis 4:18, p. 8) and in the Latin Vulgate as Mawiah-el (R. Weber, Vulgata, Genesis 4:18, p. 9). Since the Greek version had no internal “Ḥ,” Nibley reasons that “Mai-” could come only from “Mahi-” (MḤY-).
J. W. Wevers likewise writes that the Septuagint spelling of Mai-el [in Genesis 4:18] “follows the Samaritan tradition of [Mahi-el]” (J. W. Wevers, Notes, p. 62 n. 4:18) with the only difference being the dropped “h.” According to Nibley, the Mahawai version that we see in the Book of Giants, is probably related to Genesis 4:18. It shows up in the Latin Vulgate as “Maviahel” likely because the fact that Jerome went to the Hebrew version for his translation. He didn’t use the “Ḥ” either and made the “W” a consonant (“v”) instead of a vowel (“u”) in his transliteration. This is why in the Douay-Rheims Bible (based on the Vulgate), we see the name rendered as “Maviael.” See more on Genesis 4:18 below.
Note that the grandfather of the prophet Enoch also bore a similar name to Mahawai/Mahujah: Mahalaleel (Genesis 5:12–17; 1 Chronicles 1:2; Moses 6:19-20. See also Nehemiah 11:4). As a witness of how easily such names can be confused, observe that the Greek manuscript used for Brenton’s translation of the Septuagint reads “Maleleel” for “Maiel” in Genesis 4:18 (L. C. L. Brenton, Septuagint, Genesis 4:18, p. 5).
5 Moses 7:2. It has been argued that the presence of two similar names, “Mahijah and “Mahujah,” in the Book of Moses is due to a transcription error. In J. M. Bradshaw et al., Textual Criticism it is argued that the evidence for such an error is questionable.
Note that Mahujah can be read either as a place name or a personal name. In the 2013 canonical version of the Book of Moses, Moses 7:2 reads: “As I was journeying, and stood upon the place Mahujah, and cried unto the Lord, there came a voice out of heaven, saying—Turn ye, and get ye upon the mount Simeon.”
On the basis of the pronoun “I” that is present in the OT1 manuscript (see S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, p. 103) and the use of the second-person plural “ye” that appears twice later in the verse, Cirillo argues for an alternate reading: “As I was journeying and stood in the place, Mahujah and I cried unto the Lord. There came a voice out of heaven, saying—Turn ye, and get ye upon the mount Simeon” (S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith., p. 103, punctuation modified). This reading turns the name Mahujah into a personal name instead of a place name, i.e., with the meaning that Enoch is “standing with” Mahujah, “not on Mahujah” (ibid., p. 103). An issue with this reading is that afterward, Enoch went up to meet God alone (“I turned and went up on the mount; … I stood upon the mount” [Moses 7:3]). The only way to reconcile the absence of Mahujah in subsequent events would be if he did not follow Enoch to the mount as he had been commanded to do in Moses 7:2 (taking the “Turn ye” to be plural).
On the other hand, in a different reading, David Calabro points out that Moses 7:2 “As I was journeying … and I cried” “could be an example of the use of ‘and’ to introduce a main clause after a circumstantial clause, which is a Hebraism that is frequently found in the earliest Book of Mormon text” (D. Calabro, January 24 2018). In this case, the “ye” in “Turn ye” would have to be interpreted as singular rather than plural.
If indeed the name for mount Mahujah on which Enoch ascended to pray relates to the idea of questioning (as proposed in a note by Nibley below), it would provide a neat counterpart to the name of the mount Simeon (Hebrew Shi’mon = he has heard), where Enoch was commanded to go in order to receive his answers. Note Al-Tha’labi’s account of Adam and Eve being rejoined after their separation when “they recognized each other by questioning on a day of questioning. So the place was named ‘Arafat (= questions) and the day, ‘Irfah.” (A. I. A. I. M. I. I. al-Tha’labi, Lives, p. 54; cf. al-Tabari, Creation, 1:120, p. 291).
6 The use of two variations of the same name in one statement is not uncommon in the Hebrew Bible. In this case, the Masoretic text of Genesis 4:18 includes both spellings of the name (Mehuja-el and Mehija-el) one right after the other, and in a context that leaves no doubt that the two occurrences refer to the same individual (see, e.g., B. L. Bandstra, Genesis 1-11, p. 268; ibid., p. 268; ibid., p. 268). R. S. Hendel, Text, pp. 47-48; ibid., pp. 47-48; ibid., pp. 47-48 attributes this phenomenon either to a graphic confusion of “Y” and “W” (cf. H. W. Nibley, Enoch, p. 278; H. W. Nibley, Churches (1989), pp. 289–290) or to linguistic modernization of what seems to be the older form (Mehuja-el). Note that instead of featuring two different forms of the name in succession as in the Masoretic text, some other texts render the names consistently. For example, the Cairo Geniza manuscript gives Mehuja-el twice, while the Samaritan version has Mahi-el (cf. Mehijael) twice (M. Shoulson, Torah, Genesis 4:18, p. 11; B. Tsedaka et al., Israelite Samaritan, Genesis 4:18, p. 12).
7 As an alternative explanation for the two variant names in the Book of MOses, it has been argued that Joseph Smith possessed and used a copy of Adam Clarke’s 1825 Bible commentary (A. Clarke, Holy Bible), which lists transliterations of the two variant Hebrew variants of Mehujael in Genesis 4:18 on page 151. But, for reasons fully explained in J. M. Bradshaw et al., Where Did the Names “Mahaway” and “Mahujah” Come From?, this seems unlikely.
Among other considerations, evidence from Joseph Smith’s name translations in Genesis 4:18–19 cast doubt on the idea that he would have been interested in meticulous scrutiny of Clarke’s table of spelling variants for two versions of the name Mehujael he could alter and use in his account of Enoch. Within the span of the few lines that contain his rendering of the biblical name Mehujael, we find three examples of variant name spellings: Mehujael/Mahujael, Mathusael/Mathusiel, Lameh/Lamech (S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, OT1 page 10, p. 95). The evidence provided by these variants gives the impression that these name spellings were based simply on what the scribes heard Joseph Smith read, rather than on an effort to conform to the Bible or other written documents for consistency.
Regardless of whether or not Joseph Smith referenced a published commentary as a translation aid during the earliest phases of his work on the Bible, what weakens the argument that Joseph Smith relied on Clarke’s table in this case is the lack of a credible argument for why the Prophet would have been motivated to do so. Readers will have to judge for themselves the likelihood that Joseph Smith would actually have had the time, patience, and — most importantly — a compelling reason to search through Clarke’s commentary for two variant names he could use for an obscure, twice-mentioned character in his Genesis translation, presumably in order to give it more credibility. It should be remembered that he had no hesitation in previously publishing scores of strange-looking names in the Book of Mormon for which he had no Bible to back him up.
8 Jude 1:14–15. For evidence of Joseph Smith’s awareness of these verses, see this remark in the preface to Moses 7, the account of Enoch’s vision, as part of his history (J. Smith, Jr., Documentary History, December 1830, 1:132. Cf. J. Smith, Jr., Papers 2008-, History, 1838–1856, volume A-1 [23 December 1805–30 August 1834], p. 81, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/history-1838-1856-volume-a-1-23-december-1805-30-august-1834/87 [accessed May 20, 2020]):
The common remark was, they are “lost books”; but it seems the Apostolic Church had some of these writings, as Jude mentions or quotes the Prophecy of Enoch, the seventh from Adam.
Though the portion of Joseph Smith’s history in which this quote appears was not compiled before about January 1843 when William W. Phelps began assisting Willard Richards in this task, Joseph Smith “dictated or supplied information for much of A-1” and was well-acquainted enough with the New Testament to make his knowledge of these verses in Jude probable by December 1830 and January 1831 when the account of Enoch was translated.
Note also that the Prophet quoted a passage from Jude’s citation of Enoch (Jude 1:14) in a letter to the Saints in Missouri written on December 10, 1833 (J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 10 December 1833, p. 36. Cf. J. Smith, Jr., Papers 2008-, JS Letterbook 1, Letter to Edward Partridge and Others, 10 December 1833, p. 72, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/letter-to-edward-partridge-and-others-10-december-1833/4 [accessed May 20, 2020]). And he used Jude 1:14–15 in connection with his teachings about Enoch on October 5, 1840 (See J. Smith, Jr., Teachings, 5 October 1840, p. 170; J. Smith, Jr. et al., Words, discourse recorded in the hand of Robert B. Thompson, 5 October 1840, p. 41; J. Smith, Jr., Papers 2008-, Instruction on Priesthood, 5 October 1840, p. 6, https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/instruction-on-priesthood-5-october-1840/11 [accessed May 20, 2020]).
9 It seems possible that the names ’Ohyah and Hahyah were invented for wordplay based on the Hebrew forms of their names. However, for a detailed description of several reasons that wordplay based on an Aramaic form of a verb in the name Mahaway is unlikely, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., Where Did the Names “Mahaway” and “Mahujah” Come From?.
10 S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith., p. 97. Cf. L. T. Stuckenbruck, Book of Giants, p. 27.
11 In this and later quotes from Cirillo, we spell out the names of works he cites rather than using abbreviated versions of the names as he did.
12 S. Cirillo, Joseph Smith., p. 126.
13 Cirillo goes on to say “And additional proof of Smith‘s knowledge of the [Book of Giants] is evidenced by his use of the codename Baurak Ale.” For more on Barak Ale/Baraq’el, see J. M. Bradshaw et al., God’s Image 2, M6-19, pp. 96–97.
14 W. McKane, Matthew Black.
15 G. C. Thomasson, Items on Enoch — Some Notes of Personal History. Expansion of remarks given at the Conference on Enoch and the Temple, Academy for Temple Studies, Provo, Utah, 22 February 2013 (unpublished manuscript, 25 February 2013); G. C. Thomasson, April 7 2014.
16 Moses 7:2.
17 H. W. Nibley, Teachings of the PGP, p. 269. For the complete account, see pp. 267–269. Elsewhere Nibley gives a similar account (H. W. Nibley, Letter to Frederick M. Huchel):
On the week [the Milik and Black translation of the Aramaic Enoch fragments] appeared in 1976, I spent several days with Dr. Black. He was greatly impressed by certain parallels between the Qumran Book of Enoch and Joseph Smith’s. When I started asking for explanations he would switch to other topics. … He is president of the St. Andrews Golf Club in Scotland, the oldest in the world, and greatly preferred talking golf with Billy Casper, who also happened to be visiting here at the time, than splitting heads about the Book of Enoch. He did say a number of times, shaking his head in a bemused fashion, “Someday we will find out where Joseph Smith got that. … Someday a source will turn up.” Which I doubt not for a moment, since we already have an impressive sampling. I am afraid it will not be what Brother Black is hoping for.
See also the video excerpt of an interview of Hugh Nibley recorded in connection with a National Interfaith Conference on the Dead Sea Scrolls, 20 November 1992 in the Kresge Auditorium of Stanford University (H. W. Nibley, Hugh Nibley on the Book of Enoch). Nibley’s comments on his encounter with Black appear at about 6:04–6:50.
18 See “Enoch’s Teaching Mission: Were ancient Enoch manuscripts the inspiration for Moses 6–7?” Book of Moses Essay #5 (May 29, 2020), for an overview of these connections.
19 An argument for common, older Mesopotamian traditions within Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7, 1 Enoch 14, and the Book of Giants is given in A. M. Bledsoe Davis, Throne Theophanies, p. 85. Specifically, she argues that 1 Enoch 14’s adoption of the Danielic idea of the deity shows only that this idea was “accepted even at a late period, and does not automatically make [1 Enoch 14] older even if the tradition may be observed in generally more ancient writings.” More generally, she concluded “that all three of these texts drew from a common tradition(s) regarding the heavenly throne and then adapted it to fit within their individual context” (ibid., p. 90). In other words (according to Bledsoe-Davis), Daniel, 1 Enoch, and the Book of Giants independently draw on “common tradition(s)” that are older than any of the three texts.
With specific respect to the origins of the names in the Book of Giants, scholarly consensus recognizes that the surprise appearance of the names Gilgamesh and Ḥobabish in the Book of Giants is due to direct and/or indirect influences of some kind from the Akkadian Gilgamesh epic (A. George, Gilgamesh). Milik was the first to note the first and “only mention of Gilgamesh outside the cuneiform literature” as well as to recognize that the name Ḥobabish derives from Humbaba, the monster slain by Gilgamesh (J. T. Milik et al., Enoch, p. 313 n. L-6). Matthew Goff, among others, has clarified and amplified the relationship among the Old Babylonian epic and the fragmentary Aramaic Enoch text (M. Goff, Gilgamesh the Giant). Though a few of the Book of Giants names (e.g., ’Ohyah, Hahyah) may be ad hoc inventions to facilitate wordplay in the text, it has been argued elsewhere that such invention for that purpose seems much less plausible for the name Mahaway (J. M. Bradshaw et al., Where Did the Names “Mahaway” and “Mahujah” Come From?). Like Gilgamesh, Mahaway appears more likely to be a name already known in tradition than one that was created ad hoc for the Book of Giants for wordplay (like ’Ohyah and Hahyah).
20 A. Caquot, Les Prodromes, p 50.
21 N. M. Sarna, Genesis, p. 36.
22. R. S. Hess, Studies, p. 41.
23 U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, p. 232.
24 Ibid., p. 232. For more about their role and function, see A. L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia, p. 221. Cf. W. Heimpel, Letters to the King, p. 578 s. v. ecstatic.
25 See W. Heimpel, Letters to the King, 26 220, p. 262 and 26 221, p. 263.
26 U. Cassuto, Adam to Noah, p. 233.
27 Ibid., p. 233. Cf. R. S. Hess, Studies, p. 46.
28 R. S. Hess, Studies, p. 46. Bowen further comments on Cassuto’s analysis and other possible Mesopotamian etymologies for these names as follows (M. L. Bowen, March 18 2020):
Methusael may or may not constitute a Hebraization of the widely accepted, but still (as yet) theoretical and unattested Akkadian form, mutu ša ili (“man of god”). Nevertheless, Mesopotamia seems to be a good place to look in terms of obtaining more precise etymologies for the names in the Genesis genealogies.
Since Umberto Cassuto opens the door to considering Akkadian maḫḫû (“ecstatic, prophet,” J. Black et al., Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, p. 190) as the source of the first element in Mehujael, we can also consider the word maḫḫû (“great”) as a possible source. The latter term derives from Sumerian MAḪ (adj. “high[;] … exalted, supreme, great, lofty, foremost, sublime, splendid” J. A. Halloran, Sumerian Lexicon, p. 168). If Cassuto is right that Lamech can be connected to Akkadian lumakku , we do well to note that lumakku or lumaḫḫû (which can also mean “chief, ruler,” J. Black et al., Concise Dictionary of Akkadian, p. 185) also appears to derive from Sumerian MAḪ (LÚ.MAḪ = “great man”). This may have some further bearing on the etymology of the Book of Moses name “Mahan” in Moses 5:31, 49 [spelled “Mahon” in Joseph Smith Translation OT1, p. 10, S. H. Faulring et al., Original Manuscripts, p. 94].
I think the point that lmk does not occur in West Semitic is more important than it may seem at a glance.