Yah of the Negev, the American Southwest and the Las Vegas Temple?

Apr 6, 2014
3 min read

In the book The Name of God: From Sinai to the American Southwest, James R. Harris asks the question:

“Was the Shepherd of Israel, known as Jehovah, also known as Quetzalcoatl (The Feathered Serpent), as Pahana, as The Great Mystery, as Gucumatz, or as Kumastramho, by our Lord’s other sheep who left their witness on the rocks of the Negev in Israel, Jordan, the East Desert of Egypt and on the rocks of the American Southwest?” (p.1)

Living in the Las Vegas area of Nevada, I have hiked out to see many of the petroglyphs in New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah so this book by Harris really interests me.

Evernote Snapshot 20140406 151052

Harris’ research examines a script called “Old Negev” (a Canaanite script derived from Proto-Sinaitic) which appears on petroglyphs in the Middle East. He shows how these petroglyphs may be translated and understood. This script was used in the Negev from 1200BC to the 6th century BC.

Where it gets really mind-boggling is his hypothesis that a very similar script also shows up in the Southwestern deserts of the United States and Mexico. He provides photos and sketches of these petroglyphs along with his translations. Here is a comparison of Proto-Sinaitic, Proto-Canaanite, Old Negev and some of the signs we find in the American Southwest.

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Here is an example of the name of God, Yah (Yahweh or Jehovah) as it appears on a petroglyph on a mountain called Har Karkom in Israel. The name “Yah” is the black circle with the Y shape protruding from the top, the squiggly lines form the name into a “burning bush”.

Evernote Snapshot 20140406 150746

The next page shows how the name Yah is constructed using this symbol.

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Now check this out; below is one of many, many examples of the name “Yah” as it appears in petroglyphs in the American Southwest. This example is taken from the lid of a stone box found in St. George Utah. Harris book provides for the potential translations of many of these petroglyphs that display distinct connections to the Israelite faith.┬áThis one symbol has caught my eye, and as you might be able to tell by the little sketch I made in the book, I’ve made an interesting correlation which I’ll explain next.

Evernote Snapshot 20140406 150857

This particular symbol is believed to also be the name “Yah” or Jehovah, and is strikingly similar to the symbol we see repeated all over the Las Vegas temple. The temple is also conveniently situated right in the heart of the Southwest where many of these inscriptions have been found.


I have no idea if there are any connections between all of these symbols, but I find the similarity intriguing. The association between Yah and the burning bush or tree of life finds a direct parallel to the relationship between Jesus and the tree of life that we also find in the scriptures, particularly 1 Nephi 11:8-33. Below is a comparison between the three symbols and the “Tree of Life” symbol card that I produced in relation to LDSSymbols.com.

It’s wonderful to think that the temple is possibly covered with the name of Jehovah and hidden in plain sight. Did the architects know about this research? Why did they pick that particular symbol? Was it┬ájust inspiration, deliberate or just pure coincidence? We may never know.


There’s one other interesting thing I found in the book on page 44. I saw this particular sequence of characters that were interpreted to mean “El (God) Yah (Yahweh or Jehovah)”. Those two characters seemed really familiar to me so I checked where I thought I had seen them together like this before.

Evernote Snapshot 20140406 173409

Compare the characters above with the characters below from the so-called Anthon Transcript. The H shape and upturned E shape with the tail are remarkably similar, could those characters below perhaps be translated to read Yahweh El or “Lord God”?


I realize that these associations could be pure coincidence, but what if they aren’t? Further research needs to be done by individuals much better versed in these subjects than I am.

Other references

  1. Link 1
  2. Link 2
  3. Link 3
  4. Link 4
  5. Link 5


  1. Travis Washburn

    Wow. That is all super cool. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Sure thing. It would be interesting to see if there are more connections here that might be missing if there is a legitimate correlation.

  2. I also heard Dark Side of the Moon plays exactly along with Wizard of Oz. His research is severally flawed as he already assumes his opinions are correct and only works backwards to prove the point…. How these MAY be translated, HIS hypothesis, HIS translations, Similar script, POTENTIAL translations…. When you think you’ve got the answer everything you see will start coming together – your brain will remove logic from the equation. The symbol on the temple, to me, looks like a ball sitting inside a V… Perhaps it’s a female giving birth to a baby? Hmmmm.

    • I agree with your points which is why I put a question mark in the title of the article and made it clear that I have no idea if there is any connection between the three symbols other than their similarity. Similarity alone does not prove anything. Many cultures have used the cross symbol but not because it had a connection to Christianity, it’s just an easy symbol to draw and to build with sticks or to carve into stone.

      When I first visited the Las Vegas temple I had the same thought about that symbol looking like a circle resting inside of a V. In fact, that’s what I thought it was until I noticed it on the inside of the temple where there was some separation between the individual symbols and it became clear that it was V protruding from a circle and not a circle resting inside a V.

      That said, I have seen a similar motif on other temples that have a circle resting within a V, and I agree with you that this has strong ties to the idea of a female womb. I’ve done a lot of research on the association of the womb with the tree of life as well and there are very strong fundamental shared associations. Perhaps the Las Vegas temple symbols placed that close together can convey both ideas at once.

      Symbolism is meant to be loose and abstract anyway. Not only can many different people see and learn different ideas but many different ideas can come to the same person. It’s a unique way of teaching and learning; it’s how Christ taught.

      The Old Negev script makes use of many ligatures that can be accurately translated. That circle with the Y shape does indeed say “Yah” or Yahweh. What we find in the American Southwest may or may not be a form of Old Negev script, but I’d suggest reading Harris’ research.

      Harris’ mentions in his work the words of Professor P. Kyle McCarter who suggested an important criteria when judging the soundness of a proposed translation: “Five letters in a row seem a bit too many to attribute to an accident involving coincidental letter forms, especially when these letters produce a linguistically intelligible sequence”.

      Harris responds in his book that “about 80% of the inscriptions in this volume [which features only a small fraction of the hundreds of samples he has discovered] were composed with FIVE to FIFTY plus signs in a sequence that make sense in the Old Hebrew language.”

      In one particular area 19 out of 35 inscriptions were “Yah” inscriptions. Even if you toss aside Harris’ research, the association with Jehovah/Jesus and the tree of life is well-established. The use of the the arched V-like shape in LDS symbology associated with the tree of life goes all the way back to the Kirtland temple.

      The fact that the name Yah as it appears in the Old Negev script and the temple symbol may both be associated with tree of life concepts is a sound association. The V-like temple symbol we see is consistently associated tree of life themes on LDS temples.

      This is not removing logic from the equation, it is applying logic based on evidence. While it is certainly true that the similarity between the symbols may be coincidental, the usage of that particular V-like design to represent the tree of life is not coincidental.

      There’s still a lot to think about here, like I said, this was just an observation I made based on what I already knew concerning the history and background of the elements involved. I don’t claim to know if man or God specifically put these things together with this exact intention in mind, but there’s something there and I left it open for people to speculate and explore it more rather than saying it’s an open and shut case.

      I do appreciate your comment and your skepticism. I think it is always healthy to be skeptical and force theories to prove themselves in light of the best evidence.

      • Steven you did not address my Pink Floyd reference. Kidding. Have you contacted Pres. Tate who designed the LV Temple?

        • LOL, well I thought my explanation took care of that, I guess not ;-)

          Pres. Tate, huh? I’ve never heard of him and I thought it was F. Keith Stepan who was the designed the Las Vegas temple? Do you have the contact information for Pres. Tate? If so, I’d love to talk to him if he’s willing.

    • Garrison Russell

      Why would it be a female giving birth to a baby When the Temple is all about Jesus ( Yah )

  3. Hey, another angle(s) for you. The root (ball) and stem are also symbols of “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots”. What you read in the book as an abbreviation of His whole names.

    Yes the ball and stem don’t always have to be arranged the same way and it is perfectly logical for the name to be the same either way you arrange it. As a matter of fact in the book you will see examples of completely different arrangements but the same name. This is because the script in the book should be considered somewhat like “cursive ancient Hebrew”. Things don’t have to line up and march along all that directly. It allows Chiasmus to be used and is also just practical.

    That the letters would be out of “order” sometimes should be no more confusing than the saviors explanation of how is both the Father and the Son…:)

    Grandpa always admitted that some carvings were just graffiti even though they might be dated to the same time(ish). He admitted that some translations were more of a stretch than others because it’s hard to know what they meant or if they even finished the thought. (I would not have finished very many thoughts if I had to chisel them in stone first – in the desert.)

    However – as you have noticed – there is a preponderance of evidence; too many good translations to dismiss the theory.

    Take a look at the Cherokee syllabary by Sequoyah. While it might take a very long look without the training grandpa had – theres more there than meets the eye.

    Lots of people were found their way to N / S America long before Columbus and not all of them came from China. And the other “half” didn’t all come from Israel or the tower of babel either. So when BOM prophets say the language and its learning have changed – it has dramatically. It would be similar to us trying to understand earlier english – we kinda get it but strain for it.

    • Cool stuff, James, thanks for taking the time to comment. I thought your perspective on things being out of “order” was interesting to think about and makes sense to me. I agree that many of those carvings were indeed graffiti. I was out in St. George Utah a month ago and took pictures of several petroglyphs and many of them appeared to be just doodles.

      I’m into art myself and I do a lot of sketching and have done sculpture, etching, etc. I know what it is like to create something intentionally meaningful and just having fun or passing time. I imagine there was a lot of time back to sit and enjoy making pictures. There’s something about getting something out of your mind and leaving a mark for others to see. For that reason it makes sense that there would be meaningful things mixed in among the doodles. I think your grandfather discovered some of those things and I’m not sure why I don’t hear more about his work especially when some of those translations are so amazing.

      It’s also hard to know what point in history some of those things were written, by who, and what influences they had in their lives that impacted their glyphs. But just when you think you’ve hit a dead end, something new reveals itself.

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