Friday, November 15, 2013

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

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: “Certainly, however, their expertise in metalworking suggests this had been their primary vocation in Jerusalem.”
    Response: You have to love writers who claim something unprovable, and sometimes, in opposition to the scriptural record, to be a fact, then use it upon which to claim another fact. There is no suggestion at all in the scriptural record, or anything Chadwick has claimed, to support the idea that Lehi was a metallurgist by trade or profession, and no certainty at all that Nephi was, other than he might have known how to forge tools, and later make swords—which is done by a blacksmith, and not necessarily a talented one (it might be noted that most farmers would have known how to forge simple working tools out of necessity).  
    Comments: “Their standard of living would have been comfortable by itself since metalworking was a respected middle-class occupation.”
Response: The middle class do not acquire gold, silver, riches, and precious things, in quantities that were “exceedingly great” (1 Nephi 3:25), working a trade. Such a thought is ludicrous. The best we can say with any certainty, is that Nephi may have known blacksmithing—which history has shown us was an honorable profession, but certainly not one that brought such wealth at all to a man.
    Comment: “When the rental monies Lehi was presumably able to collect from Samaritans living on and farming his land of inheritance are factored in (income which Lehi's father and grandfather would not have enjoyed, but which became available by the time Lehi was an adult), the combined wealth probably placed Lehi's family in an economic situation approaching Jerusalem's upper class. Thus it is no surprise to read that, in addition to gold and silver, Lehi had possessed "precious things" (1 Nephi 2:4; 3:22) and "all manner of riches" (1 Nephi 3:16).”
Response: Keep in mind that this so-called extra income is coming from a source that we do not know existed, and most likely was the very land upon which Lehi was living upon at Jerusalem. As for becoming Israel’s upper class, again, we have no idea from what source Lehi earned his wealth, but being a landlord over farmland and working with metal is hardly professions that lead to “exceedingly great" wealth. What we do know, and all that we know, is that Lehi had “exceeding great” wealth of gold, silver, riches and precious things.
    Comment: “Lehi's house at Jerusalem was probably a large version of the typical pillared or four-room style with as much as 2,000 square feet of living space on two floors, representative of a family with considerable means in his day. Although the Mishneh area had begun as a refugee settlement in the eighth century BC and Lehi's grandparents would likely have plied their presumed metalsmithing trade in the courtyard of their own four-room house, the nature of the Mishneh changed in the eighty years between the completion of Hezekiah's wall in 701 BC and Josiah's Passover festival of 622 BC (by which time Lehi was likely a young father). By then the Mishneh had evolved into a rather upscale neighborhood [which] fact led Avigad to conclude that "the Mishneh was probably a well-to-do residential quarter.”
    Response: We don’t know that Lehi had anything to do with Mishneh, nor his parents or grandparents. That is simply Chadwick’s scenario. What we do know is that Lehi lived all his days at Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4). Once again, there was no room inside the city at any time to farm. Yet, Chadwick seems to overlook one very important clue in Nephi’s writing:
When Lehi left Jerusalem, he had sufficient seed with him for the colony to plant and provide food for their survival in the New World. He didn’t take his gold and wealth, because he knew he was going to a new land the Lord had promised him. If he lived inside Jerusalem as Chadwick claims, and had his wealth buried somewhere in the land of Manesseh far to the north, why would he have seed of every kind when leaving Jerusalem?
For Nephi said, “we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24). Note he did not say from the land of Manasseh, or the city of Jerusalem. He brought it from the Land of Jerusalem where his residence was located, where he did some farming, and where he had room for tents and donkeys, and also where he had seeds—one of the most important things he brought to the New World.
   Comment: Lehi's relative wealth would have placed him at home in such a quarter. But upscale neighborhoods, even in ancient settings, tended to eschew industrial or heavy commercial operations in their midst. The relatively small plot of city property in the Mishneh that Lehi probably inherited from his father, or that he acquired nearby, was of adequate size for a comfortable four-room house but was no longer a place where smithing could be carried on as it had been in his grandfather's day.”
    Response: We have no idea what Lehi’s grandfather did to earn a living. Chadwick makes an enormous amount of assumptions without one shred of scriptural support. Besides, any smithing that could have been done inside the city walls of Jerusalem would have been scant, indeed. It certainly would not have provided any sizeable income. Yet Lehi had such an income that produced great wealth by the time he was about 50 years old or so and left Jerusalem. In addition, under Chadwick's scenario, families of the time were large, rather than small, and there is no indication that what Lehi would have inherited would have been sizable after being divided between the sons (his brothers).
    Comment: “The question then becomes: If Lehi and his sons were indeed metalsmiths, where in Jerusalem did they conduct their metalworking and marketing operations? The answer may be that they did so in the other Jerusalem quarter previously mentioned—the Makhtesh.”
    Response: The wordage “if Lehi and his sons” should be duly noted. This is all assumptive and we need to keep in mind that the scriptures are not open to private interpretation. That is, we cannot look at something written, then create an entire lifestyle, occupation and income out of it when there is not a single suggestion to back it up. Nowhere does it say Lehi was involved in metallurgy, let alone his parents and grandparents, who are not mentioned in any way, let alone where they lived. Nor is it mentioned that Lehi had ancestral property in the land of Manasseh. However, the fact that nothing is mentioned or even suggested about any of this, does not stop Chapwick from creating it and trying to convince us that such existed.
Other suggestions of Lehi’s occupation, especially that suggested by Hope and Lynn Hilton regarding Lehi and his sons traveling down to the king’s highway where they waited for the soft-footed camel caravans and traded with them (or bought outright) goods to carry back on donkeys and sell to the merchants in Jerusalem where the caravans did not go, are far more believable and consistent with the scriptural record than that of Chadwick's suggestions--besides answering the question why Lehi had tents, donkeys, and traveling equipment when he fled into the wilderness with his family (and living outside Jerusalem and farming answers why he had seeds of every kind); none of which is answered by living inside Jerusalem and being a metalsmith.
    Comment: “It is entirely possible that while Lehi's upscale home was located in the Mishneh, his metalsmithing shop, where he also likely marketed his work, was in the Makhtesh quarter of Jerusalem among the merchant people and "they that bear silver" mentioned in Zephaniah 1:11. This is admittedly conjecture, but it is at least plausible.”
    Response: Interesting, Chadwick now introduces three entirely different places for Lehi's property--a resaidence inside Jerusalem and a land of inheritance in the land of Manasseh, and now he is introducing a third area, that of his workshop elsewhere in Jerusalem.  But while we are dealing with conjecture (that is, guessing), perhaps it should be noted that when discussing blacksmithing or metallurgy, according to Jerusalem William J. Hamblin ("Sacred Writings on Bronze Plates in the Ancient Mediterranean"), the first labor unions were formed among ancient Phoenician blacksmiths who united themselves into guilds to protect their secrets. Of all the smiths in the ancient world, none were more acclaimed for their secrets than the Phoenicians living along the northeast coast of the Mediterranean Sea in what is now Lebanon. Phoenician blacksmiths refined the art of steel making, a secret they kept closely guarded and one that garnered them a great deal of wealth. King Solomon hired blacksmiths from Sidon, a famous port city along the Mediterranean coast, to assist him in building the temple. In fact, before that in the days of King Saul, the Philistines put a ban on Hebrew blacksmiths: "Now there was no smith found throughout all the land of Israel: for the Philistines said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears" (I Samuel 13:19). The Philistines required the Hebrews to bring their coulters and mattocks to the vicinity of Ramle to be sharpened, and this district in the Valley of Ajalon for many years afterward came to be known as the Valley of Smiths. Whether there were smiths in Lehi’s time, or that of his grandparents, is not known, blacksmithing and metal works may not have been known in Israel during their time.
(See the next post, “Where did Lehi Live Before Departing into the Wilderness? Part XIV,” for more of Chadwick’s comments regarding where Lehi lived before he and his family went into the wilderness)

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts:

    1: Lehi probably did not live in the portion of the land appointed to Manasseh, because they only learned they were OF the tribe of Manasseh after perusing the brass plates. You'd think that would be a bit obvious if they'd been there all along.

    2: Israel almost certainly had metalsmiths by Nephi's time, which was 400 years after the verse in 1st Samuel. However, when Zedekiah was implanted as king (see 1st Nephi 1), the king of Babylon carted off all the rich people AND craftsmen. I wish Nephi had mentioned how they escaped deportation at that time. It might also explain why Laban was so eager to get his hands on their gold if that sort of wealth was rare by then.