Wednesday, April 2, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part III

We continue to have comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. Here are a few more with our responses. 
    Comment #1: “Some of us have been talking about the “Book of Lehi” you wrote about. Do you think it was written on the Large Plates and translated in those lost 116 pages?” Tyler C.
    Response: The Large Plates were "an abridgment of the account of Nephi,” which he said was written so he could "engraven upon them the record of [his] people" (1 Nephi 19:1). Obviously the phrase account of Nephi acknowledges Nephi as the maker and principal author of the beginning portion of the Large Plates, which were later abridged by Mormon. That abridgement was later translated by Joseph Smith and was ultimately lost.
So what can we make of "the plates of Lehi"? Nephi tells us "And upon the plates which I made I did engraven the record of my father (shown preaching left), and also our journeyings in the wilderness, and the prophecies of my father; and also many of mine own prophecies have I engraven upon them" (1 Nephi 19:1). In the following verse, Nephi adds, “Wherefore, the record of my father, and the genealogy of his fathers, and the more part of all our proceedings in the wilderness are engraven upon those first plates of which I have spoken" (1 Nephi 19:2).
    Therefore, it can be said that though Lehi might not have actually engraved his record on the plates, the plates contained the record of Lehi and could correctly be called the “plates of Lehi.” Thus, he was the first on Nephi’s list, and the first “author” of those plates. Some scholars believe that while Nephi made an abridgement of the record of his father (1 Nephi 1:17) on the Small Plates, the Large Plates actually held the full account of the writings or book of Lehi. Some scholars claim that Lehi’s record must have been written on perishable material, like parchment, etc., since Nephi copied it onto the large metal plates. However, that rationale might not hold up since Nephi also copied onto the Small Plates the Isaiah chapters from the brass plates, which were not written on perishable material.
Thus, with the Large Plates beginning with Lehi’s record, then that portion could accurately be called the plates of Lehi. Certainly there is precedence for such labeling as is seen when Jacob wrote: “These plates are called the plates of Jacob, and they were made by the hand of Nephi" (Jacob 3:14). That is, though Nephi made the Small Plates he called the Plates of Nephi, the continuation of the record that Jacob engraved on these plates he called the Plates (or book) of Jacob. Consequently, though Nephi made the Large Plates and wrote upon them, that portion on the plates of Lehi’s record could accurately be called the Plates of Lehi, or “an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon.” Obviously, those first pages that Joseph Smith translated would have included or totally contained that portion of the record referred to as the book of Lehi, which were ultimately lost through Martin Harris.
    Knowing this would eventually happen, the Lord had Nephi abridge his father’s record on the Small Plates as well as his own, of which the Lord said, “there are many things engraven upon the plates of Nephi which do throw greater views upon my gospel” and “all the remainder of this work does contain all those parts of my gospel which my holy prophets, yea, and also my disciples, desired in their prayers should come forth unto this people” (D&C 10:45-46).
    Comment #2: “How far did Lehi travel before he camped and sent his sons back to Jerusalem after the brass plates of Laban? And what is meant ‘by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea’ and is there a different in ‘in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea’?” Genniel M.
Response: “Lehi led his family from Jerusalem to the “shore of the Red Sea,” which would have been the eastern arm of the Red Sea that goes north and is called the Gulf of Aqaba; however, it is part of the Red Sea. That distance from Jerusalem to the shore of the Gulf of Aqaba, is about 180 miles—a trip of about 11 or 12 days. From there they turned south traveled down the eastern side of the Gulf of Aqaba to where it empties into the Red Sea proper, which took three more days (1 Nephi 2:5), where they camped in a river valley Lehi called Lemuel—a total distance of about 250 miles, and about 14 to 15 days travel.
This area is close to the place where the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba empties into the Red Sea, thus the river, he called Laman, emptied into the Red Sea, with the valley near the mouth of the Gulf of Aqaba (1 Nephi 2:5). The journey to Aqaba is a hot and barren country, known for thieves who waited to rob unprepared travelers, which obviously is one of the reasons Lehi left his gold, silver and precious things.
This distance and time should also give some additional understanding to the travel of the four boys back to Jerusalem after the brass plates, and why they “took our journey in the wilderness, with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 3:9). In a 14 or 15 day journey to Jerusalem, they would have wanted their tents.
    Comment #3: “Were Nephi’s two sisters the same as the sisters who Pres. Snow claimed married two of Ishmael’s sons?” Hannah P.
    Response: First of all, we don’t know how many sisters Nephi had. He only says “sisters,” which implies at least two. Second, if they were married to Ishmael’s sons, it would be rather odd that they upped and left their husbands and children to follow Nephi when he left the area of first landing and fled into the wilderness. Anything is possible, but such an act certainly does not fit Jewish, Middle Eastern or oriental custom regarding family relationships. While no girls are mentioned at any time being born to Lehi in the wilderness or elsewhere, it is simply a question that cannot be answered. My personal feeling is that, normal to good oriental custom, females not being mentioned but rarely, Lehi could have had daughters who left Jerusalem with him, been born in the wilderness, or born after reaching the Land of Promise. While Lehi says Joseph was his last-born, and that he was born in the wilderness (2 Nephi 3:1), suggests three possibilities that allow for daughters to have been born after leaving Jerusalem: 1) Joseph might well have been referred to as last-born son (the birth of girls are seldom mentioned in oriental thought), or 2) Girls were  born in the wilderness after leaving Jerusalem, but before Joseph, or 3) Joseph was the last-born in the wilderness and the sisters were born after reaching the Land of Promise.
    Comment #4: Comment #4: Now just show me a working wood submarine that can cross the Pacific with humans and animals. Go ahead. I'll wait” Winfield.
    Response: The answer lies in “the top thereof was tight like unto a dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door thereof, when it was shut, was tight like unto a dish“ (Ether 2:17). Now show me a tree that won’t float, and if it is buried in the sea that wouldn’t come back up to the surface. Go ahead. I’ll wait."

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