Tuesday, November 12, 2013

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

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: “Evidence of Lehi's and Nephi's expertise in all sorts of metals—in other words, evidence that smithing was their profession—is found in several passages of Nephi's writings. A convenient list of ten such passages may be considered: 1) Lehi left behind gold and silver, two precious metals likely to have been used in expert jewelry smithing.”
Response: They were also a matter of wealth in a society and time when paper money was not used. How many people today have gold and silver that are not used by them in metalsmithing? There are all sorts of reason to have gold, especially when it is associated with wealth, that has nothing to do with metalsmithing.
    Comment: “2) While the population at large often utilized silver as money, in the form of cut pieces and small jewelry (no coins were in use in Judah during Iron Age II), to possess gold was very rare—gold was not used as a medium of common monetary exchange. For Lehi to possess both gold and silver suggests that he worked with gold, which in turn suggests gold smithing (gold and silver are also mentioned in 1 Nephi 3:16, 22, and 24).”
    Response: Because Laban lusted after Lehi’s gold, silver and precious things, according to Chadwick, that must mean he worked with gold and was a metalsmith? Seriously, Chadwick’s rationale and comment are totally inaccurate. As an example, Homer in 850 B.C. when writing about the Trojan war of 1250 B.C., said that Achilles gave a half-talent of gold to Antilochus as a prize; and in Old Testament times, a talent was a biblical measure of weight, usually applied to precious metals such as gold or silver, though occasionally applied to other metals such as lead, bronze, brass, or iron. All six of these metals are mentioned in the monies raised for Solomon’s (First) Temple. Even earlier, in the time of David (400 years before Lehi), gold was a monetary value—at that time, though David wanted to build the temple, it was Solomon who constructed it with the materials David had set aside (I Chronicles 28:1-19; II Chronicles 2-4; I Kings 6-7), which included 3,000 talents of gold (I Chronicles 29:4), and the captains and rulers of the king’s work gave 5,000 talents of gold (1 Chronicles 29:7). At the time, a standard talent was equal to 75 to 95 pounds, was equivalent to 60 mina or 3000 shekels. A value of the shekel was priced “at the going merchant's rate” (Genesis 23:16), “by the sanctuary weight” (Exodus 30:13), or “by the king's stone” (2 Samuel 14:26). Over time, and for different purposes, and in different locations, different values may have been considered “standard.” Solomon was said to have received a weight of 666 talents of gold per year (2 Chronicles 9:13). 
The holy of holies in Solomon’s temple was overlaid with 600 talents of gold (2 Chronicles 3:8). 650 talents of silver plus 200 talents of gold and silver utensils were delivered to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 8:26). Hezekiah, king of Judah, paid the King of Assyria 300 talents of silver plus 30 talents of Gold to withdraw their attacking troops (2 Kings 8:14). The point is, gold was used as a medium of common monetary exchange. In addition, the Nephite nation was constantly mentioned as having much gold, silver and precious things. Certainly Chadwick is not trying to tell us that all those people who possessed gold were working with gold and were metalsmiths?
    Comment: “3) Nephi's evaluation of the sword of Laban includes his assessment that the hilt was of pure gold (1 Nephi 4:9). This suggests that, at his young age, he was experienced in gold working (nonexperts are rarely able to judge the purity or content of gold-colored metal). He also mentioned the blade of the sword as being of "the most precious steel" and said that "the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine," assessments that suggest he was experienced in iron and steel work.”
    Response: That is one possibility. However, perhaps we are getting too fine on the concept of pure gold. Saying something is of pure gold is not the same as one judging the purity of gold, unless you are a goldsmith. Nor is the problem of judging pure gold today the same as judging it anciently since today we have all sorts of grades, beginning with 24-karat gold, considered to be 99.9% gold (though China has a 99.99% gold, called “ten thousand exact”), 22-karat (91.6% gold), 21-karat (87.5% gold), 19.2-karat (80% gold), 18-karat (75% gold), all the way down to 9-karat (37.5% gold). This karat (carat) measurement, a system developed in the mid-15th century A.D., is believed to have originated from the Roman siliqua around 309 A.D., believed to be the origin of gold purity measurement.

When copper, silver, nickel, manganese, aluminum, iron, zinc, or a few other elements, are added, the color changes. As an example, rose-gold (crown gold) is 22-karat; red gold is 18-karat; green-gold is 18-karat without copper, just gold and silver—known to Lydians in 860 B.C. as electrum; adding cadium turns gold to a darker green color; grey gold has manganese and copper added; purple gold (amethyst and violet golds) have aluminum added; and blue gold has indium added. The point of this is simply to say that gold that is not pure has a coloring change based upon what is the added element other than gold. Anciently, the purity of gold could be determined in part from its color, and would be known to anyone who had gold riches in the amount described for Lehi. Therefore, while Chadwick is interpreting pure gold as to its gold weight (24k), Nephi could just as well have been describing its color, which anciently would have been about the only way for a layman to describe the appearance of gold in relation to its purity.
    Comment: “4) Lehi predicts that the "plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time" 1 Nephi 5:19—a surprisingly accurate statement that could probably be made only by a person experienced with the properties of copper-based alloys like bronze and brass (bronze is a combination of copper and tin, and brass a combination of copper and zinc). Whereas iron, the hardest metal of Lehi's day (it could even be hardened into steel by Lehi's time), will oxidize and rust away over time if neglected, copper alloys such as bronze and brass will not. Even the most damp conditions will not cause plates of copper to "perish." And while it is possible over time for bronze or brass items to be "dimmed . . . by time" with a greenish or greyish patina, even minimal maintenance on a regular basis would prevent this.”
Response: All this is true about the metal, however, Lehi is not relating to the physical brass plates, but is relating to the material, or scriptures, contained upon the plates. Perhaps if Chadwick had read the entire passages involved in this comment, he would see that Lehi was prophesying about the future of God’s words. After reading the brass plates, and discovering his genealogy, “he began to prophesy concerning his seed. That these plates of brass should go forth unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people who were of his seed. Wherefore, he said that these plates of brass should never perish; neither should they be dimmed any more by time. And he prophesied many things concerning his seed. And it came to pass that thus far I and my father had kept the commandments wherewith the Lord had commanded us. And we had obtained the records which the Lord had commanded us, and searched them and found that they were desirable; yea, even of great worth unto us, insomuch that we could preserve the commandments of the Lord unto our children. Wherefore, it was wisdom in the Lord that we should carry them with us, as we journeyed in the wilderness towards the land of promise” (1 Nephi 5:17-22). It is unfortunate and quite disingenuous when someone takes a scripture out of context to try and prove a point to which the scripture is very obviously not related at all.

(See the next post, “Where did Lehi Live Before Departing into the Wilderness? Part XI,” for more of Chadwick’s comments regarding where Lehi lived before he and his family went into the wilderness)

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