Evidence #144 | February 1, 2021

Attestations of Cumorah and Comron

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Scripture Central


The Book of Mormon names Cumorah and Comron refer to hills where major Jaredite and Nephite battles were fought and where fallen soldiers were left unburied. These names may derive from an Akkadian term related to heaps or mounds of items, including corpses.

Cumorah and Comron (Comnor) in the Book of Mormon

I Even Remain Alone, Walter Rane. 

Before the final Jaredite battle took place, the opposing armies spent years gathering together their forces, which involved arming men, women, and even children (Ether 15:14). While a precise count isn’t given, the number of enemy combatants in these armies must have been vast. Importantly, this conflict centered around a hill named Ramah—the very same hill, renamed as Cumorah, where the Nephites gathered all of their people for a final battle with the Lamanites.1 Cumorah, therefore, was a place of immense slaughter, the epicenter for the destruction of two civilizations.

Before the battle at Ramah, the Jaredites fought another major conflict at the hill Comnor (Ether 14:28). While the current edition of the Book of Mormon for Ether 14:28 reads Comnor, Royal Skousen has noted that “the printer’s manuscript clearly reads Comron both times in Ether 14:28.”2 The original manuscript containing this name is no longer extant, but the evidence from the printer’s manuscript suggests that an error was made during the Book of Mormon’s 1830 typesetting.

With this adjustment in spelling, the names Cumorah and Comron are more similar than most readers might recognize. The similarities are even closer under the assumption that these names derive from an ancient Semitic language, in which vowels weren’t written out. Several proposals have been given for the etymology of these names.

A Hebrew Etymology for Cumorah

As suggested by Stephen Ricks and John Tvedtnes, the name Cumorah may derive from the Hebrew word kĕmôrāh (“priesthood”) which is based on the word Kômer (“priest”).3 The Hebrew word kôhēn is the usual word for priest in the Hebrew Bible and refers specifically to Levitical priests. In contrast, the word Kômer refers to priests who weren’t of the Levitical order.4 Ricks and Tvedtnes argue that “since Lehi’s party did not include descendants of Levi, they probably used Kômer wherever the Book of Mormon speaks of priests.”5

Akkadian Etymologies for Cumorah and Comron

An alternate and intriguing possibility, in light of the Book of Mormon text, is that both Cumorah and Comron may derive from the Akkadian verb kāmaru (“to heap up, pile up”).6 “The Akkadian verb kāmaru in the G-stem means ‘to heap up, to layer’ including corpses, and in the N-stem it is applied to ruin mounds and piled up corpses.”7 Mesopotamian texts which utilize this term, for example, speak of “the wall of Eanna which had buckled and become a heap of ruin,” while in another the goddess “whose people(‘s bodies) have been heaped up says, ‘O my people!’”8 An Akkadian derivation for two place names in lands that once belonged to the Jaredites may be explained in light of the Jaredites’ Mesopotamian origins (Ether 1:33; 2:1).9

Antiochus cylinder seal, written in traditional Akkadian. Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Heaps of Bones and Dead Bodies in the Book of Mormon

The Akkadian etymology is especially attractive since Cumorah and Comron in the Book of Mormon were both places of tremendous slaughter. Concerning the wicked, a Jaredite prophecy warned of a great curse in which “their bones should become as heaps of earth upon the face of the land except they should repent of their wickedness” (Ether 11:6; emphasis added). The destruction recorded in the final Jaredite battles seems to at least partially fulfill this prediction. Ether 14:21, for example, mentions that “the whole face of the land was covered with the bodies of the dead.”

Further evidence of this outcome can be found in the record of Coriantumr, the last Jaredite king, which mentioned that the Jaredites’ “bones lay scattered in the land northward” (Omni 1:22). The Nephites who first stumbled into this land (by accident) also confirmed that it “was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with ruins of buildings of every kind” (Mosiah 8:8; cf. Mosiah 21:26). In Alma 22:30 Mormon consciously references this same “land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken” (emphasis added).10

Consequences of Two Kings, by Brian C. Hailes

It seems likely that the hills Cumorah (Ramah) and Comron—where two of the final Jaredite battles were fought—were especially covered with the remains of fallen soldiers. In a sad twist of fate, Cumorah would once again be littered with dead in the aftermath of the final Nephite-Lamanite battle. Mormon recorded that his people’s “flesh, and bones, and blood lay upon the face of the earth, being left by the hands of those who slew them to molder upon the land, and to crumble and to return to their mother earth” (Mormon 6:15).

From all these statements, it becomes clear that the association of the Jaredite lands (and their Nephite counterparts) with heaps of moldering bones and bodies is almost ever-present in the Nephite record.11


While the term Cumorah might derive from a Hebrew word meaning “priesthood,” the possibility that Cumorah and Comron both stem from the Akkadian term kāmaru (“to heap up, pile up”) is enticing. Both of these hills were the sites of major Jaredite battles, and the Jaredites’ Mesopotamian origins provide a good (although not the exclusive) pathway for Akkadian to have influenced Nephite languages.12 What better etymology for these names than an ancient term which denotes the piling or heaping up of things, including dead bodies? This proposal is reinforced by the way that the Nephite record keepers repeatedly commented upon the bones which covered the places of Jaredite destruction.

Cumorah,” Book of Mormon Onomasticon, last updated July 3, 2020, online at onoma.lib.byu.edu

Comnor,” Book of Mormon Onomasticon, last updated September 5, 2020, online at onoma.lib.byu.edu

Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes, “The Hebrew Origin of Three Book of Mormon Place Names,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 6, No. 2 (1997): 89–91. Reprinted in John W. Welch and Melvin J. Thorne, eds., Pressing Forward with the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1999): 88–92.

Omni 1:22Mosiah 8:8Mosiah 21:26Alma 16:11Alma 22:30Mormon 6:2Mormon 6:4Mormon 6:5Mormon 6:6Mormon 6:11Mormon 6:15Mormon 8:2Ether 11:6Ether 14:21Ether 14:23Ether 14:28

Omni 1:22

Mosiah 8:8

Mosiah 21:26

Alma 16:11

Alma 22:30

Mormon 6:2

Mormon 6:4

Mormon 6:5

Mormon 6:6

Mormon 6:11

Mormon 6:15

Mormon 8:2

Ether 11:6

Ether 14:21

Ether 14:23

Ether 14:28

  • 1 Compare Ether 15:11 and Mormon 6:6.
  • 2 Royal Skousen, Analysis of Textual Variants of the Book of Mormon Part Six: 3 Nephi 19 – Moroni 10 Addenda (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 2009), 3874.
  • 3 Stephen D. Ricks and John A. Tvedtnes, “The Hebrew Origin of Three Book of Mormon Place Names,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 6, No. 2 (1997): 89–91.
  • 4 Sometimes Kômer refers to priests who were idolatrous.
  • 5 Ricks and Tvedtnes, “The Hebrew Origin of Three Book of Mormon Place Names,” 91.
  • 6 Erica Reiner, ed., The Assyrian Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Oriental Institute, 1971), 112–114. Cumorah could represent “a grammatically feminine ending” while “Comron may represent the form of a masculine place name.” Book of Mormon Onomasticon, “Cumorah,” last updated July 3, 2020, online at onoma.lib.byu.edu.
  • 7 Book of Mormon Onomasticon, “Cumorah,” online at onoma.lib.byu.edu.
  • 8 Reiner, ed., The Assyrian Dictionary, 114. Compare with Mormon’s lament after the final battle at Cumorah in Mormon 6:17–19: “O ye fair ones, how could ye have departed from the ways of the Lord! O ye fair ones, how could ye have rejected that Jesus, who stood with open arms to receive you! … O ye fair sons and daughters, ye fathers and mothers, ye husbands and wives, ye fair ones, how is it that ye could have fallen!”
  • 9 Several textual details—including references to the “great tower” and the confounding of languages (Ether 1:33), a valley named after “Nimrod” (Ether 2:1), and other items pointed out by Hugh Nibley—suggest that the Jaredites came from ancient Mesopotamia, where traditions of these events were known (Genesis 10:7–1211:1–9). See Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Deseret/The World of the Jaredites/There Were Jaredites, The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Volume 5 (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1988), 153–282; W. St. Chad Boscawen, “The Legend of the Tower of Babel,” Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 15 (1877): 303–312; Samuel Noah Kramer, “‘The Babel of Tongues’: A Sumerian Version,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 88 (1968): 108–111; K. van der Toorn and P. W. van der Horst, “Nimrod Before and After the Bible,” Harvard Theological Review 83, no. 1 (1990): 1–29.
  • 10 This indicates that Mormon was aware of giving the prior statements on this topic, probably because he knew they fulfilled Ether 11:6. See Evidence Central, “Book of Mormon Evidence: Editorial Promises,” September 19, 2020, online at evidencecentral.org.
  • 11 Among the Nephites, a similar description is given of the city of Ammonihah after its complete destruction. Concerning its former inhabitants, Mormon reported that “their dead bodies were heaped up upon the face of the earth” and that “so great was the scent thereof that the people did not go in to possess the land of Ammonihah for many years” (Alma 16:11). In addition to echoing the language of the prophecy in Ether 11:6, this is also reminiscent of the Jaredite destruction reported in Ether 14:23: “the people became troubled by day and by night, because of the scent thereof.” It seems to be no coincidence, therefore, that after its destruction Ammonihah was renamed as the “Desolation of Nehors” (Alma 16:11), perhaps to distinguish it from the land of “Desolation” associated with the Jaredites (Alma 22:30). It appears that the Nephites saw the slaughter at Ammonihah as a repeat (although on a smaller scale) of the destruction of the Jaredites.
  • 12 Among other possibilities, the Akkadian term kāmaru may have come down to the Nephites through their own ancient Near Eastern background, by direct contact with Jaredite survivors, or through the people of Zarahemla who for a time cared for a Jaredite king named Coriantumr (Omni 1:21).
Attested Names
Cumorah and Comron
Book of Mormon

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