LDS Articles of Faith, Part XXXVIII
Article 8, LDS Scripture, Book of Mormon, Part 5
The introduction in the front of the Book of Mormon (B. of M.) says it “is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible. It is a record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas and contains, as does the Bible, the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” But are all those claims for the B. of M. true? Our previous blog raised some questions, but many other questions need to be answered. The quotation above says the B. of M. contains “the fulness of the everlasting gospel.” But Joseph Smith said part of the gold plates containing the B. of M. was sealed and wasn’t translated (History of the Church, vol. 4, p. 537). Orson Pratt, one of the original LDS Twelve Apostles said, two-thirds of the plates were sealed (Journal of Discourses, vol. 3, p. 347) and LDS often quote him. So, if Smith was inspired to only translate one-third of the plates which Doctrine and Covenants 20:8-9 and 27:5 and the introduction in the B. of M. says contains “the fulness of the everlasting gospel,” what was on the other two-thirds of the plates? Jacob 4:1-3 in the B. of M., says it is very difficult to engrave the writings on the plates, so why did God inspire the writers of the B. of M. engrave two-thirds of the gold plates with content that wasn’t important enough to translate with the other third?
I Nephi chapters 1 and 2 in the B. of M. are dated about 600 B.C. In I Nephi 1:2, Nephi said “I make a record in the language of my father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians.” In I Nephi 1:4, Nephi said his father, Lehi, dwelt in Jerusalem all his life. Lehi was supposedly a devout Jew living in Jerusalem but speaking Egyptian! The Jew’s language was Hebrew and it was sacred to them. In 607 B.C. Jeremiah the prophet said the Lord was “against Egypt” (Jer. 46:1-2) because in 608 B.C. King Josiah of Judah was killed in battle by Pharaoh-Necho of Egypt and Josiah’s son, Jehoahaz, became the new King of Judah until he was captured by Pharaoh-Necho and taken to Egypt where he died in prison (II Kings 23:29-34). Then Pharaoh-Necho made Eliakim, another son of Josiah, the King of Judah and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Jehoiakim reigned in Jerusalem for eleven years but in 605 B.C. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon defeated Egypt in battle and Jerusalem came under his control. Jehoiakim became Nebuchadnezzar’s servant for three years and then he rebelled against Nebuchadezzar. Because of Judah’s wickedness the Lord sent Nebuchadnezzar’s army and other armies to fight Judah and Jehoiakim was captured by Nebuchadnezzar who planned to take him to Babylon when he suddenly died (II Kings 23:28-24:6 and II Chron. 36:5-6). Pharaoh-Necho of Egypt killed Judah’s King Josiah and captured King Jehoahaz who died in prison in Egypt, so any Jew speaking Egyptian in Jerusalem in 600 B.C. would not be liked!
I Nephi 1:4 of the B. of M. is dated 600 B.C. when Nephi said, “In the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.” But II Kings 24:1-18 in the Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, made Zedekiah king of Judah afterhe “came against the city (Jerusalem), and his servants did besiege it” and his army took all the treasures out of the temple and the king’s palace. They were also going to take King Jehoiakim to Babylon when he suddenly died. Jehoiakim’s son, Jehoiachin, was made Judah’s King, but he only reigned three months in Jerusalem and then was taken captive to Babylon along with ten thousand captives from Jerusalem before Zedekiah became king of Judah in 597 B.C. I Nephi 1:4 says the beginning of Zedekiah’s reign was in 600 B.C., but Jehoiakim was still the King of Judah then. So, Jerusalem had been attacked and sacked by Nebuchadnezzar before I Nephi 1:4 warned that Jerusalem would be destroyed unless they repented. In 587 B. C. Jerusalem was again attacked and destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.
I Nephi 2:2 in the B. of M. says the Lord commanded Lehi to leave Jerusalem and take his family into the wilderness (in Arabia). In I Nephi 2:5 Nephi names the family members of Lehi who left Jerusalem with him. He said they were “my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers who were Laman, Lemuel and Sam.” These were supposed to be Jews from Jerusalem, but no Jew named his son “Sam.” Sam is an American name, not a Jewish name! I Nephi 2:6-8 says they camped by a river that emptied into the Red Sea and called the river “Laman.” When Lehi saw that the river Laman emptied into the Red Sea, he said to his son Laman, “O that thou mightiest be like unto this river continually running into the fountain of all righteousness” (I Nephi 2:9). No rivers in all of Arabia continually run into the Red Sea! A few dry ravines called wadis empty a little rainwater into it occasionally, but Arabia is a desert with an average rainfall of 2.36 inches of rain each year, so there is no river in Arabia like I Nephi 2: 6-8 describes! The Red Sea is an arm of the Indian Ocean that that runs in a north-northwest direction and is connected to the Mediterranean Sea on the north by the Suez Canal. Both sides of the Red Sea are mostly sandy desert with a few swampy areas. The Red Sea is bordered on the east by Arabia and on the west by Egypt and other African countries. I Nephi 17:4 says Lehi’s family spent eight years in the desert by the Red Sea before going to the promised land of America. They called their last camp in Arabia “Bountiful because of its much fruit and wild honey” (I Nephi 17:5-6.) Where they found “much fruit and wild honey” in the desert is unclear. They also ate raw meat because “The Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire…” (I Nephi 17:2 & 12)! The raw meat was from wild animals in Arabia which included hares, wild cats, hyenas, foxes, wolves, oryxes (antelopes), gazelles, camels and lizards. Which one would you like to eat raw? Why didn’t the Lord want them to build fires when the winter temperature sometimes dropped below zero? In I Nephi 5:9 Lehi’s family offered burnt offerings to the Lord and when Nephi was building a ship, he “smote two stones together” to make a fire so he could melt ore to make tools to build the ship (I Nephi 17:9-11). Why did the Lord allow fire for burnt offerings and to melt ore, but not to cook meat or keep warm?
Nephi’s father didn’t know which tribe of Israel to which he belonged until he saw the brass plates of Laban which said they were descendants of Joseph (I Nephi 5:14). Alma 10:3 also says Lehi was a descendant of Manasseh, one of the sons of Joseph. So, why is Jerusalem called “the land of Lehi’s inheritance” in I Nephi 2:11; 3:16-17 and 22? In the Bible, Numbers 36:7-9 says the inheritance of Israelites can’t be moved from tribe to tribe. Jerusalem belonged to the tribe of Judah, not Manasseh! Ezra 2 in the Bible shows that the Jews returning to Jerusalem after 70 years of captivity in Babylon knew the tribe to which they belonged, so why didn’t Lehi know his lineage 70 years earlier? Did an all-knowing God inspire the B. of M. with inaccurate information or were these errors made by a man?
We will continue our discussion of the B. of M. in our next blog.