Wednesday, November 6, 2013

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

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, and the “response” is our reply based on the scriptural record.    
    Comment: “The land of Jerusalem is clearly not the same as the land of inheritance. Since the location of Jerusalem has not changed, the question now becomes: Where was the land of inheritance?”
    Response: What silly and disingenuous reasoning. While the Land of Jerusalem is not synonymous with the land of inheritance, the land of inheritance is within the land of Jerusalem. Chadwick’s very lengthy article is really just a waste of time for anyone to read other than to verify the lengths theorists will go to discredit the simple statements of the Book of Mormon in order to further their own standing or models.
    Comment: “Lehi's land of inheritance was most likely not located within the borders of the southern kingdom of Judah. The most likely location for Lehi's ancestral real estate in the ancient land of Israel was the region of Manasseh.”
Shechem, the most southern city of Manasseh is 40 miles north of Jerusalem, with the rest of Manasseh further, still. Shechem would be about a 2 to 3 day journey on foot and in the opposite direction of Lehi's flight--a really dumb place to have his wealth stored
    Response: As is shown, the area of Manasseh is anywhere from about 40 miles north of Jerusalem to Shechem, and as much as 75 miles to Beth Shean. If you picked a middle ground of around 60 miles, that would be at least a three day journey on foot for Lehi to walk from a house in Jerusalem to his land of inheritance property in Manasseh, and most likely a four-day trip. Since Chadwick claims Lehi lived in a house in Jerusalem, but had his gold, silver, riches and precious things in Manasseh, one might wonder why anyone in the time of Lehi when there were no banks, or other secure places, would have his wealth 60 miles away where he can neither guard it, use it, or enjoy it. Chadwick’s effort to separate Lehi from his wealth simply does not make any sense whatever. In addition, when Lehi fled into the wilderness, he would have been 60 miles closer to fleeing the area of Jerusalem than if his property was in Manasseh, for it was at that property he would have had his tents, donkeys, seeds, and supplies needed to go secretly into the wilderness. This is because people in Jerusalem had no space for such items, nor any use for them in confined city  life.
Because Lehi preached repentance to the Jews, they wanted to kill him as they did other prophets who likewise preached against the Jews. As a result, the Lord commanded Lehi to flee or they would kill him also—obviously it was imperative that Lehi leave his home at Jerusalem or he “would also perish”
    When considering the fact that Lehi was ”commanded to flee out of the land” (1 Nephi 3:18) because the Jews wanted to kill him (1 Nephi 2:1) for preaching that Jerusalem would be destroyed, it stands to reason that he would not have gone north for 60 miles, gotten his tents, donkeys, seeds, supplies, etc., then turned around and traveled 60 miles back toward Jerusalem, which was filled with people that he did not want to know what he was doing or where he was going. In addition, traveling from Manasseh to the Red Sea would take him down the King’s Highway, which was a heavily trafficked area (east of the Dead Sea), rather than west of the Dead Sea from Jerusalem, where fewer people would have seen him leaving. And being discreet in this was paramount as is seen in Nephi being “desirous that he [Zoram] 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).
    Lastly, there would have been no reason for Lehi to have had two homes, especially some sixty miles apart. That he might have inherited property through his Manasseh lineage is a possibility, but it is far more likely that he was a “self-made man,” an entrepreneur of his day, and involved with the Egyptians in some type of business requiring his knowledge of a reformed or abbreviated Egyptian language. Two such possibilities have been presented by several writers on the subject, including that of Lynn and Hope Hilton who wrote extensively on the subject and was hired by the Ensign to write articles about Lehi.
    Comment: “Lehi is reported to have been a descendant of Manasseh, the son of Joseph who was sold into Egypt (see 1 Nephi 5:14 and Alma 10:3). The ancient tribe of Manasseh possessed large tracts of land on both sides of the Jordan River…Historical considerations suggest that the area west of Jordan and north of Tappuah—specifically between ancient Tirzah on the east and modern Jenin on the west—was more likely than any other segment of Manasseh to have been the location of Lehi's ancestral land tract.”
Response: Aminadi tells us that Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh (Alma 10:3). Chadwick tells us that Lehi’s likely land was some 21 miles north of Jerusalem; however via the roads available at the time of Lehi, and based on modern Israeli measurement, the distance from Jerusalem (northwest) to Shechem was 40 miles and Tirzah lies about eight miles northwest of Shechem, and Jenin another 18 miles northeast of there, for a total of 50 to 68 miles northward from Jerusalem (see map left). This entire area is closer to the Sea of Galilee than Jerusalem, which again begs the question—why would Lehi have his riches in the north while living 50 to 60 miles away or more in the south?
    Comment: “At least two significant migrations of Israelites from the Manasseh tribal areas to Jerusalem are now known. The first is reported in the Bible, and the second (for our investigation the more significant) has been discerned through the efforts of Israeli archaeologists working in Jerusalem. The first account reports that a number of Israelites from northern tribes left the northern kingdom of Israel (about 900 B.C.) and defected to the southern kingdom of Judah during the fifteenth year of Asa, king of Judah (2 Chronicles 15:9).”
    Response: It is always interesting when a writer decides arbitrarily to choose one of two choices, especially when it meets his own thinking or model better than the other one. In this case, there were several reasons why Jews left the Northern Kingdom. Consider these events:
As the Assyrian Empire spread south, Israelites left the north and traveled southward. During Lehi’s lifetime, the Assyrian Empire controlled all the northern lands. For Lehi to be traveling into the northern kingdom, closer to the Assyrian heartland during his lifetime would be foolhardy, let alone leaving his wealth there unprotected and out of his control
    1. To the north of the northern kingdoms, the Assyrians began to extend their borders through conquest. They won the battle of Kharkar, and the Hittite city of Aleppo fell to Assyria;
    2. The people of the ten northern tribes had asked Rehoboam to make their lives easier, and the older advisers of the kingdom advised Rehoboam to do so. However, he followed the bad advice of his young associates who told him to increase the taxation and burden on the ten tribes. The northern tribes rallied around Jeroboam and made him their king;
    3. Shortly after Jeroboam became king of Israel, he established calf worship by setting up calf altars at Dan and Bethel. He wanted to prevent the people from going down to the temple at Jerusalem where they might be influenced to join Rehoboam;
    4. Idolatry was rampant in the northern kingdom under Ahab and his son, Ahaziah, with Baal worship, and a series of murders in the palace took place;
    5. During Asa’s long reign in Judah, order was restored in the southern knigdom, and the fruits of his victories were enjoyed by his son Jehospahpat;
    6. The kingdom of Damascus became a big threat to the northern kingdom of Israel;
    7. There was a division within the northern kingdom between Jehu and Jehoram and battles between then two armies took place;
    8. There were wars between the northern kingdom and Syria;
    9. Hosea prophesied about the fall of the northern kingdom, and the restoration of the southern kingdom;
    10. Assyria attacked the northern kingdom and had to be bought off.
    Any one or a combination of these events would have been sufficient to cause a peace-loving, God-fearing family or group of families to flee from the northern kingdom for safety in the south and especially around Jerusalem. In addition, there well might have been inspiration or visions among some of these more righteous family heads to leave the north and travel into the south. Lehi’s ancestors could have been among such families.

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

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