Thursday, November 14, 2013

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

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: “Nephi taught his people to erect buildings and work wood, using only general terms for those activities, but then he reports specifically each type of metal he taught them to work in—iron, copper, brass, steel, gold, silver, and other precious ores (2 Nephi 5:15). Not only does this clearly indicate that Nephi himself is a metalsmith but serves as something of a resumé of his varied smithing experience and abilities.”
Response: What Nephi said, was: “I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15). First of all, Chadwick’s comment is that wood is a product, as is iron. Copper is a separate product, and is brass, as is gold, as is silver, and other precious ores, though that is a collective term. Within iron is pig-iron, cast iron, malleable iron, gray iron, ductile iron, wrought iron; within wood is sycamore, walnut, beech, oak, maple, mahogany, cherry, etc; within steel is carbon, alloy, tungsten, cobalt, stainless, chromium, manganese, annealing, quenching, tempering, etc. Note that in neither of these three products did Nephi delve into any details. Secondly, Nephi’s first item was in building buildings, which is not a metalsmith’s work, especially in 600 B.C. After that came “working in all manner of wood,” which is definitely an occupational factor. After all, in 600 B.C. there were all sorts of things that could be built from wood, including ships, boats, house framing and roof supports, stairs, fences, floors, etc. On the other hand, iron in the time of Lehi was basically used for weapons (swords, knives, daggers), cutting tools, cooking pans, personal ornaments and pottery. Obviously, of the two, wood-working would have been far more important and valuable. And, again, with buildings first mentioned and wood second, it would seem that metallurgy was not only less valuable, the verse certainly doesn’t suggest that metallurgy was Nephi’s occupation.
    Comment: “Nephi again mentions the two sets of metal plates that he had personally made in order to write the two separate records he was keeping. The thinness and uniformity of size of these plate collections would require considerable skill in metallurgy and smithing.”
    Response: It would require some experience working with metals, as Nephi obviously had as shown within the spiritual record; however, making metal plates of a similar consistency and thinness requires more patience that metallurgical training. And since gold is so malleable, and pounding gold into sheets is not the task Chadwick would have us believe.
    Comment: “This ample evidence that Nephi and his father Lehi were experienced in mining metallic ores and smithing a variety of precious and utilitarian metals sheds light on a number of interesting questions often asked about 1 Nephi. For example, why did Lehi and Nephi both seem to have been competent in Egyptian language and writing as well as their native Hebrew? The fact that Egypt was a primary center for gold trade could suggest that Lehi had regularly traveled there to conduct gold business or procure gold supplies.”
Response: There is no evidence that Lehi knew anything about metal working, let alone being a metallurgist. The fact is, Nephi made metal tools (1 Nephi 17:9), and we have no evidence he made anything else out of iron which, of course, would be needed to a new colony in the Land of Promise, and out of steel, he made swords (2 Nephi 5:14) for the defense of his people. We do not know that he taught his people regarding iron and steel to make anything other than these. But if he did, it would probably have been farm tools, especially for tilling (1 Nephi 18:24). We also need to consider something Chadwick does not mention, and that is when Nephi’s steel bow broke (1 Nephi 16:18), he did not try to fix it or even fashion another metal bow—if he was the metallurgist Chadwick claims, why did he not do so? After all, the welding of two pieces of steel is a simple process, and there are many methods—at least three of which were available to Nephi: 1) Melt two pieces (both ends of the break), adding a “filler metal” in the joint to act as a binding agent, 2) Use pressure to bind the metal together, and 3), A combination of both heat and pressure. Had Nephi been the metallurgist Chadwick claims, he certainly could have repaired his metal bow; however, instead, he made himself a wood bow (1 Nephi 16:18). Does that mean he was a carpenter by trade?
    Comment: “Why did Lehi and Nephi seem to have readily known the way from Jerusalem to the Red Sea (Gulf of Eilat) and back without the aid of the Liahona, which they later needed in Arabia? The fact that copper ore was mined in several locations near the Gulf of Eilat and in northern Sinai could suggest that Lehi and Nephi had traveled to the region several times over the years to obtain copper supplies and knew the route well prior to their permanent departure from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2).”
Egypt obtained almost all of its copper from the Red Sea Hills, which are located on the west side of the Red Sea, around Porst Sudan, just south of Egypt
    Response: First of all, the Egyptians obtained their copper from an area located on the other side (west) of the Red Sea around the Port of Sudan; Solomon obtained his copper from the area of Khirbet en-Nahas, which is in southern Jordan, near Petra, about 50 miles north of Aqaba. Actually, copper mines in the north transported their copper to Aqaba for additional working, but no copper was produced in and directly around Aqaba.
The nearest copper to Jerusalem was located at Khirbet en-Nahas, about 50 miles north of Aqaba; the Egyptian copper mines were nowhere Lehi would have ever been. In neither case would Lehi and sons traveled to Aqaba as Chadwick claims
    Secondly, Lynn and Hope Hilton claim that Lehi traveled down from Jerusalem with his donkeys to the King’s Highway to await the numerous camel caravans that traveled out of Arabia to the trading destinations of Damascus and the eastern Mediterranean, there he traded for goods to take up to Jerusalem to sell to the many merchants operating there. The caravans could not travel to Jerusalem because the shale like rock in the hills cut the camel’s soft under-hooves. In doing so, Lehi could have amassed wealth, had reason to deal with the Arabs, and later trade goods or convert exchange into gold with the Egyptians. Whether he or his sons actually traveled down to Aqaba is unknown. He would not have needed to do so in order to know it was there, how to get there, and how to get beyond there to where he would later find the Liahona, for travel southward to the Red Sea was through the Wadi al-Araba, a lowland area between hills between the Judean Hills (south of Jerusalem) to Ezion-gerber at Aqaba, and led nowhere else.  
Upper Left: The wilderness of Judea at the south end of the Dead Sea; Other Images: The Wadi al-Araba (HaAravah,) meaning a "desolate dry area," is a section of the Jordan Rift Valley running in a north-south orientation between the southern end of the Sea of Galilee (as the Jordan river valley) down to the Dead Sea, and continuing further south where it ends at the Gulf of Aqaba. It was a very well known area in the ancient world and the only method of travel southward to Aqaba and the Red Sea. No Liahona was necessary for such travel
    Travelers tend to be gregarious and it would be unusual for Lehi not to have picked up knowledge in his dealings with the caravan merchants and the Egyptians. This scenario provides us with Lehi’s contact with both the Arabs (naming his two oldest Laman and Lemuel, Arab names), and the Egyptians (naming his next two sons, Sam and Nephi, Egyptian names), how he got his wealth, the an occupation.
(See the next post, “Where did Lehi Live Before Departing into the Wilderness? Part XIII,” for more of Chadwick’s comments regarding where Lehi lived before he and his family went into the wilderness)

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