Friday, April 11, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part XII

Following are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses. 
    Comment #1: “John L. Sorenson claims that Ishmael, who followed Lehi into the desert, was about 53 or 54 when he left, and that he was probably 21 when he married his wife, who was probably 19. This doesn’t seem to match your ideas on these ages” Karolina T.
    Response: Depending upon who you read, Jewish men married when they were as young as 21 or as old as in their thirties. The problem is, those who write about the younger ages seem not to be aware of the conditions and culture of the Near East around the time of Lehi. First of all, it was necessary for a man to be able to support a wife, even if he brought her into his father’s household, before he could marry. Most Jewish families were not equipped to begin adding mouths to their table without in some way the son involved being able to contribute to the living needs.
In addition, most men were apprenticed in a vocation, either to their own father, or to someone else who had a teachable trade (as an example, Jesus was a carpenter apprentice to his father). By the time the apprenticeship achieved an individual capable of performing a payable trade, the young man was in his mid-to-late twenties. Not until then, could he marry, i.e., would his father consent to a marriage (nobody eloped in ancient Israel—they would be outcasts).
    Consequently, the idea that Lehi was 21 when he married is foolhardy and would have been completely contrary to ancient Jewish custom. It should also be kept in mind that a Jewish man was not even considered mature enough to make decisions, have a voice in the community, etc., until he was 30 years old (at the age of 30 a man could legally go out and teach or preach—thus, Jesus was 30 when he began teaching). People who write about the Book of Mormon need to know more about the time of Lehi and the customs then in practice. Otherwise they begin to use their own wisdom (?) rather than knowledge, by which the Spirit is able to work.
    Comment #2: “How could Lehi have daughters in the wilderness, at Bountiful or after reaching the land of promise, like you have suggested, when we are told that Joseph was his last-born in the wilderness?” Claudio W.
Response: First of all, Bountiful was not considered in the wilderness, but the answer to your question could be answered several ways: 1) Joseph as last born in the wilderness could have been the last of two girls and two boys born in the wilderness; 2) a child born in the Land of Promise would not have been included in the wilderness, for Nephi limited that term to the eight years prior to reaching Bountiful, and not afterward either at Bountiful or in the Land of Promise; or 3) it was simply not the Oriental (Middle East) custom of making statements about births, etc., in regard to girls—only sons, As an example, in that part of the world at that time, the terms first-born and last-born were applied to sons.
    Comment #3: “Captain Moroni seems to have lacked authority over the commanders of other Nephite armies, since there is some indication that major military decisions were arrived at jointly with other chief captains in a “council of war” (Alma 52:19), and that major military decisions were arrived at jointly with other chief captains, with each captain having some say in where, when, and how his forces were to be employed. These decisions were made in a "council of war" (Alma 52:19).” Travers G.
Response: First of all, military leaders, like Generals, who are in command of entire military operations of a particular area or theater, come in two basic types: 1) those who seek the opinions of subordinate officers and commanders who may have knowledge of areas not known to the General, or insights he trusts, or 2) those who simply make up their own minds based on their own judgment and tell subordinate commanders what he wants done, where and when. There is a place and circumstance for both types.
    In combat, the more immediate the problem and the greater need for a quick decision, the less tendency there is to ask for other people’s opinions. On the other hand, when planning for an operation, it usually works well to get everyone on the same page and everyone on board with the plan that is, ultimately, the decision of the General. To do this, most military leaders consult with those in the field in that particular area of operation, both to learn about the conditions of the land and enemy forces, and to get a feeling for the troops’ attitudes and morale, as well as their particular expertise, in that particular area where a battle or plan is to unfold.
In this sense, it would be only normal for Moroni to meet with his sub-commanders of the various military units under his control to “feel them out” on how they thought it best to prosecute a particular need. Only a fool makes decisions that can cost lives, resources, and advantage without seeking unit commanders in the area an operation is to take place. Obviously, Moroni was no fool when it came to command! On the other hand, though his sub-commanders felt willing to venture their opinions, the ultimate decision would be left up to Moroni and the others would have done exactly as he decided after listening to their input.
    Comment #4: The two daughters of Lehi did not marry the two sons of Ishmael as you have claimed, based on the following verse: ‘Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words’ (2 Nephi 5:6). His sisters were obviously not married at this time so they could not have been married to Ishmael’s two sons” Rhonda T.
Response: First of all, I am not the one that claims Lehi’s daughters married Ishmael’s sons—it was Elder Erastus Snow of the Quorum of the Twelve, who claimed to have received that information from Joseph Smith (Journal of Discourses XXIII, p 184). Secondly, We do not know how many sisters Nephi had. We only know at least two sisters were with the colony at the time the Lord told Nephi to flee from his brothers (2 Nephi 5:6). There is nothing to preclude Lehi and Sariah from having two older daughters than Laman, who married Ishmael’s two older sons, which would explain the tie between Lehi’s family and that of Ishmael’s family. In addition, though we know that once in the wilderness, that Sariah bore two sons, Jacob and Joseph, we know of no other births, but that is not unusual for Middle Eastern record keeping, which seldom included the birth of girls. On the other hand, there could have been two or more sisters in the original group that left Jerusalem, and Nephi’s lack of listing them is not unusual either. In fact, we do not know of any sisters in the scriptural record until this one verse in 2nd Nephi.
    Comment #5: “When a Nephite army was on the march, it was on foot, which is consistent with Mesoamerican warfare. There is no indication that armies used animals to carry men or supplies into battle” Chalmers O.
Response: That is also consistent with the Roman Legions, the Japanese (before the Samurai), the Chinese, the Greeks, the Persians, the Macedonians, the Carthaginians (Hannibal), the Celts, the French Foreign Legion, Egyptians (chariots were very expensive), Great Britain and most modern armies have a majority force of infantry, even today. In fact, any mounted soldiers (cavalry) were considered a secondary force anciently—the infantry or foot soldiers were always the main fighting force.  The idea is not unique to Mesoamerica, but consistent with the time.

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