City or Land of Nephihah
|Alma 50:13 indicates that in the same year the Nephites began the city of Moroni, they also began the "city, or the land, Nephihah," around 70bc. As already indicated the land was in the east part of Zarahemla, but west of the cities that were on the seashore. Some LDS demographers like to claim Nephihah was the Maya city of Tikal. The problem with this is that Tikal dates back to around 250bc, while the city of Nephihah was not started until 70bc. (see Alma 50;14-16
Although the Book of Mormon does not state it as such, one can assume the city of Nephihah was named after the first chief Judge who filled the judgment seat in 83bc, as well as his son, who took over the position of chief judge in 72bc, (see Alma 62:43). Both men served righteously, and the city of Nephihah was begun two years after Nephihah's son became the chief judge, (70bc).
The term "hah" in Maya means connected to water in some way, and it has always been my assumption that the same is true when that term is used in the Book of Mormon. I therefore assume that the Chief Judge(s) were given that name because they were associated with a place related to water. The city that bears their name, the city of Nephihah, is referred to as the city of Nephihah, which indicates it was named after the chief judges, and not because it was close to the water. It wasn't, it was inland.
This is very similar to Captain Moroni retiring from his command of the Nephite armies and turning the command over to his son, who was named Moronihah. There is so little information about some of these cities, that one must of necessity make assumptions of the data that is given. I first assume that Captain Moroni retired to the city that was named after him, and which also was on the east sea. Assuming this was the home of Captain Moroni. His son Moronihah, (Alma 62:43), must have been named for a city that also on the east sea shore, named Moronihah. The Savior in 3 Nephi 9:5 refers to this as the "city Moronihah," not the city of Moronihah. Therefore it appears the son of Moroni was named after the city, not the other way around.
The city Moronihah was covered over by a mountain during the crucifixion of the Savior. (see 3 Nephi 8:10) I have always assumed the mountain range that covered the city of Moronihah is the small range of mountains in southern Belize, named the Maya Mountains.