Monday, June 29, 2015

Who Were the Mulekites? Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding Zedekiah, his capture and death, and the survival of his youngest son, Mulek. First of all, while we do not know how old Mulek was at the time he escaped from Jerusalem, we can assume he was quite young. After all, Zedekiah was only 32 when he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar, and though he had several wives once he was made king at the age of 21, it is unlikely that Mulek would have been one of the older sons, who the Babylonians would have known all about.
Young king Zedekiah brought before Nehuchadnezzar, who killed his sons before his eyes, then had him blinded
It also seems likely that Mulek would have been the youngest son and as such, probably unknown to Nebuchadnezzar, having been born during the peaceful years that Zedekiah as a puppet king, drew little attention from the Babylonians.
    As for the period when Mulek left Jerusalem, it is likely this happened before Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to the city in 589 B.C.—an event that lasted 18 months before the city fell. Zedekiah’s first overtures to Pharaoh Hophra (Herodotus calls him Apries) were in 589 B.C., and likely there was little time between Zedekiah sending his ambassador into Egypt, for almost immediately Nebuchadnezzar sent his armies to Jerusalem.
The Egyptians immediately marched to the relief of Jerusalem, but when Nebuchadnezzar drew off a portion of his army to meet the Egyptian threat, the Egyptians returned to Egypt without attempting to engage the Chaldeans in a pitched battle, leaving Jerusalem to fend for itself, and her king, Zedekiah (left), at the mercy of the Babylonians.
    “And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon came, he and all his army against Jerusalem, and pitched against it, and built forts against it round about.  So the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. (Jeremiah 52:4-5).
It seems likely that just before this total siege, Mulek was escorted out of the city to the south, before a full siege was in place, as a precautionary measure, while the rest of the males in the Royal family remained to defend the king. It is also likely that Nebuchadnezzar did not know of Mulek, for after the fall of Jerusalem, the death of the Royal Family and capture of Zedekiah, the dispirited remnant of Judah, against the advice of Jeremiah, fled into Egypt with the prophet, only to be overrun by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.
For Mulek to have escaped a similar capture and likely death, his retinue would have fled into the Negev and then to the Red Sea and down the route that Lehi had earlier taken.
    To believe that Mulek would have been taken to the Mediterranean coast, which Babylon controlled and would have been on the lookout for any escapees from the Royal Family or ranking members of Jerusalem, is simply without merit, as is the thought that the Phoenicians sailed away with Mulek, his retinue and their confiscated funds from the Royal Treasury—an act that the entire Chaldean army, then engaged all along the coast from Babylon to Egypt, would have easily prevented.
Nebuchadnezzar surveys his domain in Babylon. He was a very jealous leader, demanded perfect loyalty from his conquered peoples and punish those who set against him very severely
    It should also be kept in mind that the Phoenicians at this time were under the control of Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians (Chaldeans) referred to as the Neo-Babylonian Empire Rule in history. Phoenecia—Lebanon—had been under foreign rule from the 13th to the 12th centuries B.C., and from the 10th to the 7th centuries B.C., by first the Hittites and then the Assyrians. When the Babylonians, under Nebuchadnezzar the year before he took power in 605 B.C. while his father, Nabopolassar, lay ill in Babylon, finally defeated the Assyrians at Carchemish, much of Lebanon and Syria was already in their hands. Since the Babylonians were the most formidable enemy of the area the Phoenicians had known, and since Nebuchadnezzar placed a very high degree of importance on loyalty, it is highly unlikely that the Phoenician would have agreed to rescue a member of the Jewish Royal Family from Babylonian capture under any circumstances.
    Thus it should be seen that Mulek and his Royal retinue would have had no chance at all of hiring a Phoenician ship to sail them to the Americas, and just as improbable that they would have headed toward Babylonian controlled lands to the west in any event.
    Considering that Mulek would have been born somewhere in Zedekiah’s late twenties, he would have been somewhere between an infant and about 4 years old in 589 B.C., when Nebuchadnezzar lay siege to Jerusalem, and he was spirited away to safety. It is also just as likely that those involved in this rescue, no doubt members of the Palace Guard and their families, would have been led down the same course Lehi had taken, and benefited from the crops Lehi grew along the way, and all that had been planted and provided at Bountiful.
    Obviously, they were led by the Lord. This was not a chance happening, with people uninformed about their destination or purpose. For “they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16). The fact that “they were led by the hand of the Lord” should suggest to us that the Lord had a hand in this group, its travels, and destination.
    No doubt, the Mulek party sailed on the same currents and with the same winds that had taken Lehi to the Western Hemisphere a few years earlier, and landed a little to the north of Lehi, in an area today called Lima (Calleo) and built Zarahemla, the site now known as Pachacamac.
The city of Pachacamac, a major site in the ancient Andean kingdom, and a religious center for centuries—no doubt, the same status Zarahemla held, especially after being located by Mosiah around 225 B.C.
    Like the Nephites before them, the Mulekites came from the Jerusalem area, themselves having lived inside Jerusalem, in the Palace of the king, and would have been used to such structures as the palaces and temple, and would have built a city for Mulek, their lineage king, out of the best constructive methods available to them.
    Sometimes in our modern world of modern and very advanced technologies, which we take for granted each day, the idea of being in the desert and led by the hand of the Lord, we forget the trials and strengthening processes that took place with the ancients as they overcame the rigors of their day, like that of Lehi of which Nephi wrote as they started across the great Rub’ al Khali, the largest sand desert in the world: “And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness. And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings” (1 Nephi 17:1-2).
    It is also interesting to note that Nephi said, ”Wherefore, he did provide means for us while we did sojourn in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:3). No doubt, part of the means he provided for the later Mulek party were those things of which Nephi wrote about, and the many things the Nephites left along the way, for they spent much time there. In fact, “we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:4).
    It also seems most likely that since both the Lehites and Mulekites originated their travel from the same place, and both were doing so under cover with an effort not to be noticed and found out, and their destinations were the same place (Land of Promise) within a few miles of each other, it is most likely they traveled the same route, left by ship from the same shore, traveled the same winds and currents, and landed in the same general area.
(See the next post, “Who Were the Mulekites? Part III,” for the continuation of this regarding Mulek, the youngest son of Zedekiah, and how he came to be in the Land of Promise and founded the city of Zarahemla)

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