Thursday, November 7, 2013

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

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 based on the scriptural record.    
    Comment: “While it is possible that these early defectors from Manasseh were the ancestors of Lehi, it is highly improbable. Political factors work against it. For example, Judah and Israel, led by King Asa and King Baasha respectively, were enemies at the time. In leaving Baasha's northern kingdom to join Asa's Judah, the defectors essentially forfeited all rights and privileges they might have claimed in the north, including title to their lands.”
Numerous northern families left for the south as the war with Assyria appeared on the horizon.
    Response: Hmmm. Isn’t that what Lehi did when he went into the wilderness, headed for the Land of Promise? He forfeited his land, titles, gold, silver, riches, and precious things. What would have kept Lehi’s ancestors from fleeing the northern Kingdom if they had known it would be overrun and the people led off or destroyed, as Lehi had been told about the southern kingdom? Let's not discount the Lord's hand in things.
    Comment: “It is most unlikely that Lehi would have had any claim to land in Manasseh if he were descended from those who left the region to ally with Asa in the south. Moreover, since Lehi's family was living around 600 BC, nearly three hundred years after Asa, it is unlikely that any record or even memory of land ownership would have remained with them if they had been descended from the early defectors.”
    Response: And this should only prove that Lehi did not have property in Manasseh as Chadwick claims.
    Comment: “It is far more probable that Lehi was the grandson or great-grandson of people who left western Manasseh as refugees around 724 BC and fled south to settle in Jerusalem. The Bible reports that many people of the northern Israelite tribes were deported from the land of Israel in connection with Assyrian conquests between 732 and 722 BC.”
When Lehi read from the brass plates that Nephi brought back from Laban’s treasury, he learned that he was a descendant of Joseph. Nephi writes: “And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers” (1 Nephi 5:16)
    Response: If Lehi’s family came south about 100 years before Lehi was born, rather than the earlier date, which was about 300 years before Lehi’s birth, then why did Lehi not know that he was descended from Manasseh? Or that Manasseh was Joseph’s son? When Nephi obtained the brass plates from Laban, and after his father read them, Nephi writes as though it was a surprise, “And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine” (1 Nephi 5:14). While this knowledge might have been unknown or forgotten by Lehi if he did not have inherited possessions in Manasseh; if he did have such possessions of land, he would have absolutely known he was of Manasseh, Joseph’s son, and much of his genealogy, which the scriptural record suggests he did not: “And thus my father, Lehi, did discover the genealogy of his fathers” (1 Nephi 5:16).
    Comment: These deportations occurred in several different actions. The earliest action in 732 B.C., carried out by the Assyrian emperor Tiglath-pileser III and known as the First Northern Deportation, involved the transfer of Israelites from the northern part of the land of Israel and also from across the Jordan in Gilead (where half of Manasseh's territory was found). A subsequent series of deportations, known collectively as the Second Northern Deportation, was carried out by the Assyrian emperors between 724 and 722 BC, resulting in the transfer of Israelites from the hill country of Samaria—the area of Ephraim and the western area of Manasseh.
Response: Once again, if Lehi’s family have been involved in these deportations, there is no reason that Lehi would not have known his genealogy and that his land of inheritance in Manasseh was because he was of that tribe, and who Manasseh’s father was. Yet, he discovered this information only from the brass plates (1 Nephi 14, 16). Chadwick’s argument, for all his historical ramblings, simply does not hold up against the scriptural record.
    Comment: “[The] recently arrived refugees who decided to settle at Jerusalem began to build new homes on the western hill of the ancient city (Jewish Quarter of the Old City). By Lehi's day, this area had become known by the Hebrew name Mishneh (addition). [It] was a second, or additional, part of ancient Jerusalem, which began essentially as a refugee camp for the arrivals from the north after 724 BC but was eventually considered part of the city of Jerusalem proper…We even know, within a window of roughly four years, just when this Mishneh was physically annexed to Jerusalem—sometime between 705 and 701 BC. And we can deduce with some certainty that it was to that original Mishneh refugee camp on Jerusalem's western hill that Lehi's Manassite grandparents must have relocated sometime between 724 and 701 BC.”
    Response: Obviously, this information is historically correct except for Lehi’s Manassite grandparents. Who those people were, when they came to the south, and where they settled are all unknowns. Chadwick here simply puts historical facts together, then inserts Lehi’s grandparents into those historical facts without a single scriptural reference or any outside support. It is not good scholarship to make such assumptions and expect accurate history to cover up a total lack of factual data on the insertion. As stated earlier, there were ten good reasons why his family (parents, grandparents, great grandparents) may have come much earlier from the northern kingdom about 900 B.C. onward. There is simply no way to know when this happened. But one thing is certain. Lehi did not know of his genealogy, therefore he would not have possessed inherited property as being part of the tribe of Manasseh for he did not know of his genealogy as shown in the scriptural record (1 Nephi 5:16).
    Comment: “We know all this because of Sennacherib.”
Response: Chadwick then goes on to recount the Assyrians attacking the kingdom of Judah, destroying the entire southern kingdom, and laying siege to Jerusalem. What actually happened is recounted in three places, none from a disinterested source. Whether Jerusalem fell as Assyria claims, or was spared as the Jews claim, is questionable, but the point is that over 200,000 Jews were taken by Assyria and deported from Jerusalem and the surrounding villages up to 20 miles away. While this is an historically accurate recount, it does not include or suggest where Lehi was at the time. The emphasis of Sennacherib’s attack, however, was against Jerusalem, the king, and the people there. Lehi’s ancestors 1) could have fled into the city for protection once Assyria attacked, 2) fled to Egypt during the attacks and siege (as readers of the Old Testament know, almost all persons known to flee from Jerusalem and its environs went southwest to Egypt), or 3) taken some other course divinely or simply intelligently guided to protect themselves at this time. History tells us that Sennacherib left his General Rabshakah in charge of the siege of Jerusalem while he went on to Egypt to lay siege to the outpost city of Pelusium, the easternmost major city of Lower Egypt, situated on the easternmost bank of the Nile, the Ostium Pelusiacum, to which it gave its name. Why Sennacherib went on to Egypt instead of laying siege to Jerusalem himself, is not mentioned in history, but perhaps he was chasing many important Jewish families who fled to Egypt (under the Lord’s direction?) and took refuge in the city of Pelusium. 
    This may answer why Sennacherib retired from the siege without a battle (Isaiah 31:8). There are interesting stories attributed to this retreat by Herodotus and Strabo, which suggests a supernatural intervention, but in the end the Assyrian army in Egypt was unsuccessful and lost many in their retreat from Egypt back to Jerusalem, where Sennacherib found his army devastated there from a plague and returned to Assyria. All we know is that about fifty years later, Lehi is born. But we do not know where he was born, for when Nephi says his father "lived at Jerusalem all his days," that does not preclude his being brought to the Jerusalem area as a babe in arms where he lived out all his days until going into the wilderness. The point is, these historical events do not prove or support where Lehi’s ancestors were in 701 B.C. as Chadwick claims, nor can we surmise any second location for Lehi's house from them.

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

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