Sunday, February 4, 2018

How Did Mulek Escape Jerusalem? – Part II

Continued from the previous post, regarding the conditions at Jerusalem and the surrounding region leading up to, and at the time Mulek and his party fled Jerusalem. 
   Since there are so many theorists who claim that Mulek landed along the east coast of the Land of Promise in the Land Northward, and intermingled with the Jaredites, we outlined in the previous post the four possible movements away from Jerusalem showing how a ship could have reached the Western Hemisphere from the Jerusalem area. The first of these four possible routes involves leaving the eastern Mediterranean shore directly, such as in a Phoenician or Egyptian ship as several theorists claim. There are two problems with this idea, which should not be taken lightly:
White arrow and black circle shows the eastern Mediterranean seaports blockaded or controlled by the Babylonians at the time of Nebuchadnezzar's siege of Jerusalem

1. As shown in the previous post and the image above, any eastern Mediterranean seaport would have been controlled by the Babylonians whose Empire stretched from well into the area of Asia Minor in the north (today’s Turkey), all the way in the south to Egypt’s coast. It would not have been possible to hire any type of vessel, Egyptian, Phoenician or other, at the time of the siege of Jerusalem to spirit Mulek and his party out of the region and away from the Babylonians, whose very strict orders had been to capture king Zedekiah and all his household, as the Biblical record so clearly states, and which they did when the king and his family “went forth out of the city by night, by the way of the king's garden, by the gate betwixt the two walls: and he went out the way of the plain” into Babylonian controlled land.
    Jeremiah tells of this attempted escape: “But the Chaldeans' army pursued after them, and overtook Zedekiah in the plains of Jericho: and when they had taken him, they brought him up to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him” (Jeremiah 39:5). In fact, the Lord told king Zedekiah through the prophet Jeremiah when the king refused to listen to the prophet and follow the Lord’s advice, "Then afterwards," declares the Lord, "I will give over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people, even those who survive in this city from the pestilence, the sword and the famine, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their foes and into the hand of those who seek their lives; and he will strike them down with the edge of the sword. He will not spare them nor have pity nor compassion” (Jeremiah 21:7).
    There was simply no escape from the brutal Babylonians anywhere within the Babylonian-controlled lands for anyone other than who the Lord chose to spare, which obviously included Mulek and his party as he had spared Lehi and his family earlier.
2. On two different occasions in the scriptural record, with two different authors, we are told that when Mulek and his party left Jerusalem, they did not head toward the coast and a nearby ship, but that they went into the wilderness. In this important understanding the scriptural record gives us quite clear picture that after Mulek and his party left Jerusalem (Helaman 8:21), which was “at the time Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon” (Omni 1:15), Mulek and his party, which was made up of “those who came with him into the wilderness” (Mosiah 25:2, emphasis added), and that “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 that they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16, emphasis added).
    That is, as Mulek and his party left the Palace and Jerusalem, they were led “into the wilderness” by the hand of the Lord. It is interesting that this is the same language that Nephi used when describing their journey. “And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness…And he left his house, and the land of his inheritance, and his gold, and his silver, and his precious things, and took nothing with him, save it were his family, and provisions, and tents, and departed into the wilderness…And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family” (1 Nephi 2:2,4,5, emphasis added).
    It might be of interest to know what was considered the “wilderness” around Jerusalem at the time of these events. First of all, “the wilderness” to the Jews meant a “place of refuge.” In Jerusalem, the closest wilderness was to the south, in the area called the Judean Wilderness, also known as the “Desert of Judah,” Jeshimon, Midbar Yehuda, “Wilderness of Judaea,” and “Wilderness of Judah.” Because of its lack of water and good routes, the Judean wilderness has been mostly uninhabited throughout history. Consequently it was an ideal place for those seeking refuge from enemies or retreat from the world, or even a safe, hidden route out of the area. When on the run from King Saul, David hid in various places in the Judean Wilderness (the Wilderness of Ziph, Maon, and En Gedi are part of the Judean Wilderness). John the Baptist preached here, and Herod the Great built two fortresses (Herodium and Masada) in this area for protection should his people ever revolt against him. The Nahal Darga in this area is the largest wadi in the northern Judean desert.
Ein Avdat Canyon in the Zin Valley in the Negev, considered the Wilderness in ancient Judah. Through here runs the Nahal Zin, a seventy-five mile long limestone wadi that drains 600 square miles

South of the Judean Wilderness is the Negev, a rocky desert, that covers more than half of Israel, some 4700 square miles in the south, where rocky mountains are interrupted by wadis, deep craters and craterlike makhteshim (box canyons), covering the area of northern (more fertile land), western (sandy soils) and central Negev (where sand dunes can reach a hundred feet in height), the high plateau of the Negev Mountains and the Arabah Valley along the Jordanian border, and stretches from Eilat in the south to the tip of the Dead Sea in the north.
    All of this area was considered the wilderness outside the handful of settlements in the area, such as Beersheba, and little grows in this dry, nearly waterless area other than Acacia trees, flowering pistacia and retama bushes, and thymelaea shrubs,with Doum Palms in the far south. Arabian leopards tortoise and shrew roam this hot, arid land along with Edomite and Nabataean nomads.
    Thus, to head into the wilderness in the time of Lehi was basically to enter “no man’s land” for escape, seclusion, and meditation. For Lehi, it was a means of separating himself from those who sought his life, and no doubt he headed to the eastern side of the Negev and followed the Wadi Arabah down toward the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqabba).
    Thus, it seems likely that no movement by Mulek would have been into Babylolnian-controlled areas, such as found along the eastern Mediterranean, which would eliminate the west, and north, or south along the sea toward Egypt. After all, those directions would not have been considered “into the wilderness” by the Hebrews at the time, as found in numerous writings, like: “The home of the nomad such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and others, was the wilderness, often dry and arid, but with occasional oasis, river, water basin and pasture” (JeffA. Benner,” Ancient Hebrew Research Center, Magnolia Ms).
Seaports along the eastern Mediterranean coast and any area where a ship might be hired or purchased to sail out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic were under the military control of the Babylonian Empire at the time Mulek left Jerusalem, denying Mulek and his party of any possibility escape route in that direction

Thus, we see that if Mulek had headed toward a sea port, they would have been stopped along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, which was under Babylonian control at that time, with the exception of Tyre, which was under Babylonian siege and did not fall until a few years after. However, nobody could have passed through the Babylonian siege of Tyre without being thoroughly inspected as to their purpose and business.
    To think that Mulek could have escaped via a seaport and ship in the Eastern Mediterranean is simply out of the question. His retinue alone would have drawn considerable attention, and being Jewish would have been a red flag to the Babylonian military guarding the city. Such realities are, unfortunately, frequently ignored by theorists who are so involved in trying to prove their models that they reject any idea that is not part of their ideology.
(See the next post, “How Did Mulek Escape Jerusalem? – Part III,” for more on how Mulek and his party reached the Land of Promise)

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