7. Do Remnants of the Maya Language Appear in the Book of Mormon?

Copyright © 2015 by Jerry L. Ainsworth

I believe that remnants of the Maya language exist in the Book of Mormon. For example, one of those remnants is the use of the term “hah.” In Maya, this term denotes “associated with water in some way.” Those who have vacationed in Cancun may have seen such Maya places as Xel-Ha, Zazil-Ha, Misol-Ha, etc., all meaning places in proximity to water.
Similar terms are found in the Book of Mormon, such as the cities of Moronihah and Nephihah, which appear from the text to be close to, or adjacent to, water. 
The Meaning of “Nah”
Another Maya expression found in the Book of Mormon is the term “nah.” In Maya, the term “nah” conveys a variety of similar meanings, such as lord, number one, the chief, the head, the leader, the best, the biggest, etc. It is somewhat akin to the Spanish term “jefe.” 
In its description of the final Nephite battle of AD 385, the Book of Mormon lists those who led cohorts of ten thousand and were subsequently killed in this battle. After addressing the ten thousand of his group and those of Moroni, his son, Mormon next listed a man named Gidgiddonah, who fell in the midst with his ten thousand (see Mormon 6:13; emphasis added).
The facts that his name ends in “nah” and that he was the first captain mentioned after Mormon and his son lead me to believe that this man was Mormon’s chief captain, his number one commander. 
We must remember, however, that over twenty different dialects of Maya are spoken and that the languages vary within these dialects. The term “nah” is not used the same in all of the dialects. In addition, in some of the dialects, two meanings of the term are possible. In Yucatecan Maya, the term “nah” also means house.
Use of “Nah” in the Book of Mormon
I then began to peruse the Book of Mormon for other possible names ending in nah and discovered the following references:
“And they were inspired by the Zoramites and the Amalekites, who were their chief captains and leaders, and by Zerahemnah, who was their chief captain, or their chief leader and commander.” (Alma 43:44; emphasis added) 
Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah.” (Alma 30:23; emphasis added)
 Alma, during one of his missionary journeys, encountered a man by the name of Antionah, “who was a chief ruler among them.” (Alma 12:20; emphasis added)
“And one of the king’s servants said unto him, Rabbanah, which is, being interpreted, powerful or great king.” (Alma 18:13; emphasis added)
One of the cities mentioned as being destroyed during the catastrophic events of the crucifixion is named Gadiomnah. Although an interpretation of this name is not given, as with those personal names already mentioned, analysts could assume that this city was the major city in this locale, possibly the “county seat,” so to speak. 
Apparently, the term “nah” is used to convey a “head” status in more than personal or city names. Consider, for example, the weights and measures of gold among the Nephites:
Now the reckoning is thus—a senine of gold, a seon of gold, a shum of gold, and a limnah of gold. (Alma 11:5; emphasis added)
And a limnah of gold was the value of them all. (Alma 11:10; emphasis added)
Not every use of “nah” in the Book of Mormon appears in a context indicating a “head” status, but enough instances of this phenomenon occur to suggest a direct association among events, history, and language in the Book of Mormon and comparable events among the Maya—relationships few people, if anyone, knew about in 1830 when the Book of Mormon was first published.
The Military Status of Moroni
Some analysts may believe that Moroni was the second in command during the war of AD 385 around the hill Cumorah. But a close look at Mormon 6:12 shows that Moroni was a newcomer to the Nephite army. The ten thousand people whom he led were not his people, as was the case of the other twenty-two captains of ten thousand. The ten thousand troops whom Moroni led belonged to his father: “And we also beheld the ten thousand of my people who were led by my son Moroni.” 
A reading of Mormon 6:10–15 will show that all the ten thousand people led by the other twenty-one captains were “their people,” whereas the ten thousand Moroni led belonged to his father. This was probably Moroni’s first battle, and that is why Gidgiddonah was probably the second in command to Mormon and not Moroni.
Moroni probably may have been called to the battle because his father expected to be killed and because Mormon was preparing to turn the record he was working on over to his son for completion.
Contact me with a question or comment: eljefejla@aol.com
Ainsworth, Jerry L.