Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Leaving Jerusalem in Secret

Lehi had been called to preach to the people of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:18). The Jews mocked him and wanted to kill him (1 Nephi 1:19-20). This was because the Jews in 600 B.C. did not believe that God would turn against his chosen people and allow his sacred temple and his holy city to be destroyed. As a result, they considered anyone preaching the overthrow of the Jewish nation, the destruction of the temple, and the captivity of the people in Babylon a heretic. This led to their stubborn, stiffnecked reaction to any prophet preaching repentance, and would have led them to take his life.

Because of this the Lord told Lehi, “Because thou has been faithful and declared unto this people the things which I commanded thee, behold, they seek to take away thy life” (1 Nephi 2:1). Lehi promptly left his house and his land, property and wealth (1 Nephi 2:4), and traveled south from the area of Jerusalem to the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5).

This was all done in secret, for it was the tendency of the Jews to follow the prophets, even down into Egypt and bring them back to Jerusalem and put them to death. Nephi makes this abundantly clear when he seized Zoram, stating the purpose as, “Now we were desirous that he should tarry with us for this cause, that the Jews might not know concerning our flight into the wilderness, lest they should pursue us and destroy us” (1 Nephi 4:36).

Had Lehi lived within the walls of Jerusalem it would have been near impossible for him to leave without anyone knowing it, for the gates to the city were crowded with people and were the busy centers of activity. Most shopping was done there in a market, in a bazaar-like manner, and everyone was aware of the comings and goings of the people.

Nor would Lehi have been able to go into the city and purchase things needed for his flight, such as tents, donkeys, camping supplies, etc. Thus, these things would already have been in Lehi’s possession at the time the Lord told him to flee (1 Nephi 2:2). For an explanation of this, see the earlier posts “Location of Lehi’s Home” and “Lehi’s Possible Business” and “Why Did Lehi Have Tents.”
Thus, Lehi left his home in such a hurry, he did not even bother to pack up any of his gold, silver, or precious things, nor did he bother to see about obtaining the records, nor did he stop to talk to Ishmael and get him to go into the wilderness with him. All this suggests that Lehi was in a hurry when leaving and took only those things within his possession that he could quickly pack and load on his donkeys that would be necessary for a wilderness journey.

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