Monday, November 11, 2013

Where did Lehi Live Before Departing into the Wilderness? Part IX

Continuing with Chadwick’s article sent to us by one of our readers, the “comments” are Chadwick’s writing regarding his belief in where Lehi’s home and property were located, the “response” is our reply mostly based on the scriptural record.    
    Comment: Even though Lehi did not live on the land of inheritance, he had "left gold and silver and all manner of riches" on the property—these were probably buried in caches known only to the family. A common practice during the Iron Age II period, when Lehi lived, was to place loose silver in ceramic jugs and then bury those containers for safekeeping."
Response: Even in the Iron Age II period, there is no indication that a man would have buried his wealth in a land controlled by another nation and farmed by another people while he lived 50 miles or more away in another land. Common sense should suggest to even Chadwick, that such a distance between a man and his wealth would be foolhardy.
    Comment: “Lehi probably hid (buried) the bulk of his wealth at a secret location on his land of inheritance in Manasseh because he knew those riches would not be safe in Jerusalem—he knew the Babylonians would eventually destroy and loot the city or, as Nephi put it: “Let us go down to the land of our father's inheritance, for behold he left gold and silver, and all manner of riches. And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord. For he knew that Jerusalem must be destroyed. (1 Nephi 3:16–17)”
    Response: First of all, Chadwick is misreading the scriptural intent--Nephi is telling us that Lehi knew the city of Jerusalem was to be destroyed after the Lord told him to flee the city. Secondly,  if you read further, you will find that Nephi is telling us that Lehi did not place his wealth within the city of Jerusalem, where part of his business must have been located “For he knew that Jerusalem must be destroyed, because of the wickedness of the people. For behold, they have rejected the words of the prophets. Wherefore, if my father should dwell in the land after he hath been commanded to flee out of the land, behold, he would also perish. Wherefore, it must needs be that he flee out of the land“ (1 Nephi 3:17-18). Nephi’s discourse here is about two things, 1) fleeing out of the land and, 2) obtaining the records. The wealth was merely a means to that end. 
As for “And all this he hath done because of the commandments of the Lord” refers to the fact that Lehi left his gold and silver, etc., behind because the Lord commanded him to do so, it does not mean he hid or buried his wealth because of the commandment of the Lord as Chadwick would have us believe--that would be ridiculous since Lehi knew he would not be returning to Jerusalem but had been given a Land of Promise for he and his posterity far away.
Comment: If, as proposed above, Lehi's recent ancestors had come to Jerusalem as refugees from the north, they would have found themselves landless in Judah. This was not an ideal situation in a society where farming was the way much of the population made its living. Upon establishing themselves in the refugee camp that eventually became known as the Mishneh of Jerusalem, Lehi's great-grandparents and grandparents would have to have figured out a way to support themselves without any land to farm—something that they could do living inside the city wall that Hezekiah had built between 705 and 701 BC. As first pointed out by John Tvedtnes, indications in the writings of Nephi suggest that both he and his father Lehi were professional metalsmiths.”
    Response: People within Jerusalem were not farmers—there was no property within the city to farm, even a small plot of land for one’s property consisted of a house and an inner courtyard, two story with the bottom level where the animals were also kept, and a small garden on top of the roof. With space at such a premium inside the walls of a town, even a small tree or bush would have been a rarity, but most of the women who lived in a village would probably have had some sort of garden as a source of food, flowers and pleasure, probably on the roof, as the one of Nephi (Helaman 7:10). Since walls surrounded the city, the houses were tightly cramped together, and important meetings were held in the gateways of the town walls, and even the markets were also held in gateways.
    The occupations most often listed to have existed within Jerusalem in Lehi’s day were millers, bakers, weavers, barbers, potters, fullers, tilers, carpenters, textile dyers, masons, tanners, market and food venders, wine makers, locksmiths, inn keepers. There were also porters, donkey drivers, cooks, jewelers, blacksmiths, bronze smiths, coppersmiths, silversmiths, goldsmiths, and servants. Then there were those who lived outside Jerusalem that were mostly farmers and herdsmen, who hired day workers, probably from the city, to plant, harvest, herd, pick grapes, etc. In addition, many people hired themselves and even their families out as servants to the more wealthy. In fact, when Nephi and his brothers went back to Lehi’s camp after visiting with Ishmael, “Ishmael and all his household” went with them (1 Nephi 7:5). “All his household” is a Jewish phrase of the time regarding not only the bloodline, which often included parents, children, married children and grandchildren, etc., but also household servants and workers, most of which lived on the property with their extended families. This, in fact, is one of the reasons we cannot be certain of the size of the Lehi Colony that set sail for the Land of Promise, for it was not the custom of writers of that time to mention such matters.
As for metallurgy, we know that Nephi was adept at that activity, for he knew how to forge materials (1 Nephi 17:9, 16) and how to make a bellows (1 Nephi 17:11), and instructed his people how to work with all sorts of material, including wood, iron, copper, brass and steel, as well as gold, silver and precious ores, but there is no record or inference that he was a metalsmith, let alone his father. As an example, Nephi was also a swordfighter, but not a military man by profession; he made a bow, but was not a bowmaker by occupation; he built a ship, but was not a shipwright by trade; he built a temple, but was not in construction as a business; he was an accomplished bowman, but was not a soldier; he engraved numerous plates, but was not a writer by employment. Speculation about things not mentioned, suggested or eluded to in the scriptural record is simply a waste of time. There is not enough information given us to make such wild assumptions of any value. Lehi, and later Nephi, could have had one of numerous occupations--we simply do not know which one was their area of labor.
    Comment: “Such a vocation would have been ideal for Lehi's ancestors to learn since it would not require the ownership or rental of property outside the city. Like most professionals of that age, Nephi would have apprenticed with and learned the metalworking trade from his father. Lehi had likely learned it from his father, who in turn learned it from his father, the man who came to Judah as a refugee, who had learned it in order to survive as a landless resident of Jerusalem's Mishneh.”
    Response: This is all supposition. Several occupations (mentioned above) would have filled the same criteria. However, metallurgy in that time would not have made a man as wealthy as Lehi, whose wealth Nephi said was “exceedingly great” (1 Nephi 3:25), and to which Laban "lusted after it." If one is to look for Lehi's occupation, one has to look to an area that would have made him a wealthy man, with gold, silver, and precious things (1 Nephi 2:4).
    Comment: “Expertise in smithing precious metals such as silver and gold, particularly in smithing iron and hardening it into steel, is not something a person picked up as a hobby or sideline skill. Smithing, and in particular iron and steel smithing, was the high-tech profession of Lehi's day—the period that archaeologists call Iron Age II.”
Response: There is no indication that Lehi was a metalsmith, or even knew how to do such work. It is Nephi who had the ability, and he might have picked it up from different sources—after all, how did he built a ship that would take them ten thousand miles across deep ocean, something that could not be done by shipwrights of the time? This ability would certainly be a greater trade skill than metal smithing, for everyone’s life depended on his ability in building his ship. Lehi, on the other hand, is not mentioned in any way as having anything to do with any of Nephi’s skills. Besides, forging metal ore to make tools is not the same as that needed for smithing precious metals. The former he could do when building his ship, and might have been the high tech occupation of his day—at least when making a ship like that of Nephi’s vessel. His ship was not made of iron, nor were the houses, buildings and temple he built in the Land of Promise. The "ore" mentioned by Nephi was to build tools (1 Npewhi 17:9). After building his ship and sailing to the new world, Nephi teaches his people how to work with precious metals, but does not describe to what extent is meant, or the level of skill involved--a skill he obviously picked up when the Lord instructed him how to build his ship.
(See the next post, “Where did Lehi Live Before Departing into the Wilderness? Part X,” for more of Chadwick’s comments regarding where Lehi lived before he and his family went into the wilderness)

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