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Lehi's Exodus


volgadon

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Today I happened to read an old article on the FARMS site, by Mark Johnson. The Exodus of Lehi Revisited

The argument struck me as a little forced and contrived.

The Burial of Ishmael: A Matter of Grave Importance

In 1952, Hugh Nibley first pointed out the significance of the name Nahom in relationship to the death of Ishmael.2 He also mentioned the importance of Ishmael's daughters mourning his loss. What also becomes apparent is that, by the way Ishmael is buried in the desert, they (the Lehites) are following in the footsteps of their fathers (the children of Israel under Moses).

Let us examine, side by side, two accounts of death and burial in the desert:

And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom. (1 Nephi 16:34) And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought. (Joshua 24:32)

I feel that it is most likely that Ishmael died well before (possibly weeks or even months)3 the Lehites arrived at Nahom. Dr. Nibley points out it is not uncommon for desert people to carry their dead many miles to locate the proper place of burial.4 Just as Joseph was buried in a special parcel of land, it seems only natural that the Lehites would wait until they found a proper place to bury Ishmael.

In their report to F.A.R.M.S., Warren and Michaela Aston show that the place of Nahom is a few miles off the main trail that the Lehites took.5 It is unlikely that they would go out of their way unless it was rather important. Surely, one thing that would make them go out of their way would be the death of a loved one. It is important to note, as do the Astons, that Nahom already existed and was already a place of burial.6 The chances seem slim that Ishmael would die as the party arrived at Nahom. The logical conclusion is that Ishmael died along the way and was carried to Nahom.

We cannot conclude whether the Lehites were aware of the parallels to the Exodus as they were reenacting them, although it appears that Nephi did at least thirty years later.7 We can be sure that, like the children of Israel, they honored their patriarchs and also were following ancient ritual in burying their dead.

The differences in these two incidents far outweigh the similarities. The children of Israel carried the bones of long-dead Joseph to be buried in the family plot. Joseph was dead many years before they set out. They were carrying out the express command of Joseph. The children of Israel were also returning to the land of their ancestors.

Lehi's party set out for an unknown destination. Nahom died along the trail. There is no indication that Nahom was a family plot purchased by Ishmael's father. To follow the example of Joseph, they would have had to wait a year or more for Ishmael's flesh to decompose, before taking the bones back to Jerusalem.

I doubt that they would have traveled any great distance before burying Ishmael. There has always been a great horror among the inhabitants of Israel and Palestine of delaying burials. Whilst it could be argued that Deut 21:23 only refers to executions, but I think that if it were a loved one people didn't have to be instructed to bury them as soon as possible. Not only was leaving a body exposed a disgrace and poretty distressing for the relatives, but in hot climes bodies left unburied rot quickly. If they weren't far from Nahom, an existing burial sitem it would make sense. Otheriwse, they would have buried him where they were.

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Volgadon, it is difficult for those of us raised in one culture to understand another culture. I wasn't raised in a desert. I doubt you were either. And did you notice Dr. Nibley's statement that in those cultures it is not uncommon to carry the bodies of their dead until they found a proper place for burial? I am sure those desert people understood what happpens to dead bodies in hot climates. But they did it anyway.

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The reason the Israelites took Joseph's bones with them is that Joseph made their ancestors promise that they would. I've always wondered though; why didn't they bury him in the cave of the Patriarchs? Why would they choose to bury him in Shechem? (unless it had something to do with Shechem being given as part of the inheritance of Ephraim...) I don't see many similarities to Ishmael's burial although I think it is very possible that they carried him with them for a time and didn't just bury him in the most convenient spot. They would have buried him in a place they deemed appropriate for their family leader.

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Volgadon, it is difficult for those of us raised in one culture to understand another culture. I wasn't raised in a desert. I doubt you were either. And did you notice Dr. Nibley's statement that in those cultures it is not uncommon to carry the bodies of their dead until they found a proper place for burial? I am sure those desert people understood what happpens to dead bodies in hot climates. But they did it anyway.

Well, I think the condition of Joseph's body was the last thing they would have had to worry about. It had been some 300 years since he died, plus, he was likely embalmed after the manner of the Egyptians, being royalty.

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True, I guess the last verse in Genesis says they embalmed him, but you aren;t suggesting that Lehi's were embalmers?
This Lehi isn't, fer shure.

But decoding your missive was a problem to start with because "... the Lehi's were ..." doesn't make sense as written. I finally decided you must have meant "... the Lehites were ...". Was I right?

Lehi

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True, I guess the last verse in Genesis says they embalmed him, but you aren;t suggesting that Lehi's were embalmers?

No idea, but given that they were aware of the learning and language of the Egyptians, it wouldn't surprise me. They were also wealthy, and that generally equates with knowledge. The numerous mummifications found in ancient america settings is too much of a coincidence to think otherwise, at least to me. For all we know, Zoram was egyptian.

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This Lehi isn't, fer shure.

But decoding your missive was a problem to start with because "... the Lehi's were ..." doesn't make sense as written. I finally decided you must have meant "... the Lehites were ...". Was I right?

Lehi

No, I ment Lehi's company.

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No idea, but given that they were aware of the learning and language of the Egyptians, it wouldn't surprise me. They were also wealthy, and that generally equates with knowledge. The numerous mummifications found in ancient america settings is too much of a coincidence to think otherwise, at least to me. For all we know, Zoram was egyptian.

Considering that embalming was a well-kept secret even among Egyptians, I would be highly surprised.

Why on earth should we assume that Zoram was Egyptian? He has a good semitic name and the text says narry one word about his not being a Jew.

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How were the Egyptian embalming secrets "well kept"? Was the Egyptian culture the only one that embalmed? Where there other groups that used slightly different emblaming techniques? Within Egypt, did different groups embalm differently (surely everyone did not carry out the 70+ day technique)?

Not a great deal of precision in regard to Egyptian embalming techniques and whether or not such knowledge or similar knowledge was exclusive.

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Considering that embalming was a well-kept secret even among Egyptians, I would be highly surprised.

Why on earth should we assume that Zoram was Egyptian? He has a good semitic name and the text says narry one word about his not being a Jew.

Too many unknowns to make any real guess, but the embalming techniques were not secret, and have been widely used.

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