In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Kish and Zenock, Whats in a name?

Kish, "Kix"hieroglyph from
The question has often been asked if there are any known Book of Mormon names in Mayan hieroglyphs? The answer differs depending on who the question is being asked too. There are some names that may or may not have a direct reference to the Book of Mormon or due to language and writing/translation differences they may or may not apply to similar names found in the Book of Mormon. One of such names is that of Kish. We know very little about Kish and it comes from the Book of Ether in the Book of Mormon. In Ether 10:17-18 it states “…and Kish reigned in his stead. And it came to pass that Kish passed away also, and Lib reigned in his stead.”

As pointed out by Daniel Johnson in his article, “Book of Mormon Comparisons, Names and Maya glyphs” Joseph Allen seemed to take first notice of this name when it was originally cited by Bruce Warren who is an LDS archaeologist. Both noted that a name and birth date of the possible Jaredite King named Kish could be found in Maya glyphs on the Temple of the Cross in Palenque. Daniel then asked the question, “Why would a Jaredite King be mentioned in Classic Maya text dealing with royal lineages in Palenque?”

Temple of the Cross Tablet in Palenque
This is answered to some degree in the way that Maya Kings justified their royal lineages. They would do this by tracing their lineages back through other kings or civilizations. The Maya would do this with the great Olmec civilization.It appears that this is what was being done at Palenque by Kan Balam, son of the great King Pakal. Apparently Kish was one of the people traced in his lineage. The actual name in at the Temple of the Cross in Palenque is "U Kix Kan" but the word "Kix" is translated as "Kish" thus reading King U Kish Kan who was born on Wednesday, 8 March 993 B.C. In San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan in southern Mexico.
According to Bruce Warren the translated meaning of his name is Kish means "feather" and Kan means "serpent". Daniel Johnson offered a subsequent translation meaning "stingray spine" which would have been used for bloodletting sacrifices. Kish is considered a prominent Olmec and Mayan name. It was also common among the Jaredites who existed during the same time as the Olmecs (many LDS scholars agree that the Jaredites to some degree were part of the Olmec civilization). Different versions of the name were used by the Jaredites such as Akish and Riplakish.

It must be noted as pointed out by Daniel Johnson that further insights into the translation of the work "kix" have come into question as of recently. Daniel noted that, "The glyph does represent a stingray spine, but since these items were used for sacrificial bloodletting, it may also signify a needle, fang, or other sharp implement used for the same purpose. In a wider sense, it also represents creation and conception, so the same glyph can refer to parentage. Cross-referencing these words in Mayan dictionaries suggests that the reading of this glyph should be kokan". "Kokan" means "fang of serpent" meaning that stingray spine glyph may have originated as a snakes tooth also meaning that the name of the king in question would have been U-Kokan-Kan. We may never know which translation is correct but it does open the door for further study.

Tenoch artwork, founder of Tenochtitlan
Another name that may have persisted in Ancient America that was pointed out by Diane E. Wirth in her article "Did Book of Mormon Names Persist in Ancient America?" is that of Zenock. Zenock was an Israelite prophet who prophesied the coming of Jesus and his ministry. He can be found quoted through the Book of Mormon by other prophets such as Alma and Nephi. These prophecies would have been available to both Nephites and Lamanites because both at times played the role of the wicked and righteous and both having had ample opportunities to be familiar with the teachings of Zenock. In the original Book of Mormon manuscript the spelling of Zenock was actually "Zenoch".

Zenoch's Mesoamerican relation can be found in names like that of Tenoch, the Nahuatl name of a legendary Aztec priest and leader. Tenoch was one of the founders of the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan that was one of the thriving cities when the Spanish Conquest arrived. The Nahuatl name of Tenoch may have originally have been Tzenoch or Zenoch. Depending on what area of Mesoamerica different spelling variations of the Tz, z, t, and ts combinations can be found. A few examples that Diane used to support this theory of Tz Nahuatl names where Tzihuacohuatl (also known as Tezihuaccoahutlutl) who was a Nahua chief and also the name of Zwanga a Tarasco King which was also spelled Tzihuanga. This suggests that with the name of Zenoch would have eventually shifted to Tzenoch and eventually dropped the "z" and became Tenoch. What I have presented here today are two possible Book of Mormon names that influence either direct or indirect in Mesoamerican glyphs and language. Although the study of Mesoamerican languages and their influences past and present would be required for any attempt to further substantiate these examples they do stand as significant places for those interested to start.

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