“Kish” – A Personal Name
By Bruce W. Warren
(Source: New Evidence of Christ in Ancient America, pp.19-22; Book of Mormon Research Foundation)
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The personal name Kish gives us an especially intriguing connection between the Book of Mormon Jaredites and the Olmec culture.
In the Old Testament in about 1000 B.C., Saul’s father was named Kish (1 Samuel 9:1). Interestingly, in the book of Ether, a Jaredite king, King Kish, lived about the same time. The book of Ether’s account gives little information about King Kish other than his name. He was the son of a righteous king named Corom and the father of a righteous king named Lib (Ether 1:18-19; 10:17-19). Thus, King Kish was apparently one of the Jaredite monarchs.
Within the past twenty years, a new technique has been developed to translate Maya hieroglyphs. The process is a complex one that involves assigning sounds to as many of the glyphs as possible and then converting the sounds to the Maya language that is still spoken today by many native Mesoamericans.
Before the development of this method of translation, little more than dates could be deciphered from archaeological findings. With the new procedures, however, significant new information is now coming to light. For example, the name of the Jaredite king Kish, as well as his birthday, birthplace, and the day he ascended to the throne, may have been deciphered.
On the Tablet of the Cross at Palenque are found engravings that trace the genealogy of Kan Balam, the son of King Pacal, who is buried in the great tomb there. Among the names of Kan Balam’s royal ancestors is found what may be the full name of King Kish_U-Kish Kan, an ancient king of the Olmec culture.
Kan means serpent. One of the meanings of Kish is feathered. Now that the Maya code is being deciphered, the name of U-Kish Kan has been translated as “he of the feathered serpent.”
This symbolic connection between U-Kish Kan with the feathered serpent suggests a relationship to Jesus Christ, whom the Jaredites knew to be the Mesoamerican Messiah or the white god of Mesoamerica who is also known as “the feathered serpent.”
This connection, in combination with the Old Testament account in which Moses lifted up the brazen serpent as a similitude of Christ, may indicate that the serpent motif as a representation of Christ’s condescension to earth was prominent in both Old and New World cultures.
U-Kish Kan was born on Wednesday, 8 March 993 B.C. In San Lorenzo Tenochtitlan in southern Mexico an engraved stone known as Monument 47 depicts a king who has a serpent around his waist and who holds the head of the serpent in his hands. The serpent has feathers on its head. This monument is Olmec in style and dates to the beginning of the first millennium B.C. The monument’s head is missing, but because of the dating and imagery of the monument, it could be a representation of Kan Balam’s ancestor, U-Kish Kan, who took the throne on Wednesday, 25 March 967 B.C. Kish, an Olmec and a Maya name, is prominent throughout the Jaredite history of the book of Ether. The component Kish is also evident in the compound names of two other Jaredite kings, Riplakish and Akish.
As can be seen, evidence continues to mount connecting the Jaredite culture with the Olmec culture. At the same time, information continues to surface suggesting that the Jaredite/Olmec culture knew about Jesus Christ as the Messiah-Redeemer – the Mesoamerican Messiah.
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