Wherefore, he (Shule) came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom and restored it unto his father Kib.
This is a curious verse in the etymological sense. Assume that Moroni was not transposing a Nephite name upon a Jaredite hill.
The hill’s name thus predates the naming of Joseph and Asenath’s son Ephraim.
And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. (Genesis 41:52)
Ephraim is also a place name three times in the Bible.
The hill country in Palestine (1 Samuel 1:1).
A forest where Absalom was killed (2 Samuel 18:6).
One of the gates of Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:13).
Some scholars speculate that Ephraim was an Egyptian name, or was derived from a place name in the land of Canaan. But the Jaredites trace their origin to Babel. They left Babel at the time when the Lord confounded the language of the people in Genesis 11. Biblical dates are difficult to determine, but this departure was “30 chapters” before Joseph begat Ephraim.
The reference in Ether 7:9 thus appears to predate each of the Bible’s usage of this name.
Another interesting case is the name Levi which means attached or joined in harmony in Hebrew.
The first instance of this name in the Bible is Genesis 29:34.
And she (Leah) conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Now this time will my husband be joined unto me, because I have born him three sons: therefore was his name called Levi.
Levi’s naming thus reflected the desired harmony that Leah sought with Jacob.
But Levi is given at an earlier time in the Book of Mormon, in Ether 1:20
And Corom was the son of Levi.
The name Aaron is given in both Ether and the Bible.
And Amnigaddah was the son of Aaron. Ether 1:15
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. Exodus 4:14
The name Aaron may have been form unknown Egyptian origin, while some reference claim a Hebraic origin.
Jones’ Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names derives Aaron from the Hebrew word הר (har) meaning mountain, hill. A mountain is sometimes used as metaphor for a large group of people. From this perspective, the name Aaron is related to the Hebrew names Ararat and Haran.
– Tom Irvine