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By Rajah Manchou
In another thread we discussed briefly the similarities between the Book of Mormon and the History of the Rechabites. Both accounts tell of a group of Israelites that were led by God from Jerusalem to an island in the 6th century BC. Since these accounts have been shown to be similar in detail, it occurred to me that we might find some clues in the numerous versions of Rechabite apocryphal history that could help us identify the intended setting of the Book of Mormon account.
But, you might ask, the Rechabites are not Lehites. So what would it matter?
Well, I came across this interesting statement in the writings of Hugh Nibley:
"Chapter 35 tells us how [Jeremiah] dealt with the Rechabites (they come out earlier in the history of Israel). This tells us that he set them up to the Jews as an example of integrity. The Rechabites were given a permanent position in the temple. Lehi and his family were Rechabites; they joined that particular movement. They were the people who went out into the wilderness and tried to live the gospel in its purity out there." (source)
If this be true, and the Lehites were Rechabites, then the Lehites most likely were led by God to the same island the Rechabites were carried to in the 6th century BC. This island was called Qamara and it was said to be inhabited by the Camarini, an Eden-like civilization documented in the first few centuries of the Christian era. (source) This would be the same period as the Book of Mormon's 200 years of peace when the Lehites lived in the Land of Cumorah as a Zion-like society.
A document attributed to Joseph Smith as a revelation, the exact date of revelation is not given.
"The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship. They traveled nearly a South-Southeast direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then nearly East to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a Southeast direction, and landed on the continent of South America
in Chile thirty degrees South Latitude." The Bernhisel Manuscript p. 135 (see also BYU Studies, spring 1972, Vol. 12 no. 3 pp. 312-14).
So lets say they landed around the area of Vina del Mar, Chile. Google 33 deggees latitutde to get a good view. But we know that Nephi was warned to leave his brothers..
2 Nephi 5
5 And it came to pass that the Lord did warn me, that I, Nephi, should depart from them and flee into the wilderness, and all those who would go with me.
6 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.
7 And we did take our tents and whatsoever things were possible for us, and did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days. And after we had journeyed for the space of many days we did pitch our tents.
8 And my people would that we should call the name of the place Nephi; wherefore, we did call it Nephi.
9 And all those who were with me did take upon them to call themselves the people of Nephi.
10 And we did observe to keep the judgments, and the statutes, and the commandments of the Lord in all things, according to the law of Moses.
11 And the Lord was with us; and we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance. And we began to raise flocks, and herds, and animals of every kind.
12 And I, Nephi, had also brought the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass; and also the ball, or compass, which was prepared for my father by the hand of the Lord, according to that which is written.
13 And it came to pass that we began to prosper exceedingly, and to multiply in the land.
14 And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us; for I knew their hatred towards me and my children and those who were called my people.
15 And I did teach my people to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance.
16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.
17 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands.
So lets say they landed around the area of Vina del Mar, Chile. But we know that Nephi was warned to leave his brothers..
Where did Nephi leave if he started from the 33 degrees South Latitude? We know that he went north right, his Lamanite brothers were in the land south of course.
So I did some research on the area in Chile....
Here is the first paragraph of the link below- The mining sector in Chile is one of the pillars of Chilean economy and copper exports alone stands for more than one third of government income. Most mining in Chile is concentrated to the Norte Grande region spanning most of the Atacama Desert. Mining products of Chile includes copper, gold, silver, molybdenum, iron and coal.
So basically, every ore Nephi mentions ...And some he does not mention by name but as precious basically account for 1/3 of the governemtn revenues directly from Northern Chile. Kind of a remarkable coincidence?
So my question is....Is the Bernhisel Manuscript true and does this support it in some way? I personally think Nephi and his people did some good mining in the Great North of Chile. Any comments?
By Bernard Gui
In 2 Nephi 2, Joseph, son of Lehi, is given this promise by his father:
There is some question who this "one mighty among them" will be. It's not Joseph Smith, because the one will be a descendant of Lehi. Joseph Fielding Smith and Spencer Kimball suggested it would be a future prophet to come out of the remnants of Lehi (a "Lamanite" or "Indian" prophet).
Let me propose another candidate, one who we all know well but perhaps take for granted.
He did much good in word and deed. He was an instrument in the hands of God. He had exceeding faith. He worked mighty wonders. He did that thing which is great in the sight of God in bringing restoration to the house of Israel and the seed of Lehi. 1. He did much good in word and deed.
2. He was an instrument in the hands of God.
3. He had exceeding faith.
4. He worked mighty wonders.
5. He did that thing which is great in the sight of God in bringing the restoration to the house of Israel and the seed of Lehi.
Yes, I'm talking about that giant of a Nephite, the Prophet Mormon. As a boy, he was a leader of men. As a man, he was one of the greatest prophets of God. As a prophet, he was fearless in his faith and secure in his knowledge. As a warrior, he gave his life in defense of his people. As a father, he inspired greatness in his son Moroni. As a historian, he was entrusted to make and preserve the record of his people that became the foundation of the Restoration. Truly, he was "one mighty among them."
Granted, some may point out that he claimed to be a descendant of Nephi, not Joseph, but it is reasonable to conclude that the descendants of the faithful Lehites (Nephi, Sam, Joseph, Jacob, and Zoram) intermarried and all could claim to be descended from Nephi. In fact, all the descendants of those Lehi sons became grouped under the head of Nephi. But is it not possible that this man was the one prophesied to come and bring restoration to Lehi's family?
Others may have come to this conclusion, but I'm not aware of any who have proposed Mormon. Feel free to burst that bubble of pride.
As I've been studying the BoM this year for Gospel Doctrine I have a nagging question I can't fully itch.
We are taught that Lehi and his family are led from Jerusalem to the new world to establish a righteous people.
But there is no discernible remnant of Lehi's people in America. So I wonder if the purpose is to raise up the BoM for the people of this day. But I still have to wonder why Lehi would have been necessary. Why wouldn't Christ have established his church among the people who were already here?
It's kind of like Raiders of the Lost Ark. If you take Indiana Jones completely out of the story the Nazi's still accomplish their aim and open the ark of the covenant and get their faces melted off.
Take Lehi and his family out of the story and we have the same outcome and evidence of their existence as if they had really been in the Americas. There was no righteous posterity to connect his day with ours. There was no lasting Christian tradition that survived after Moroni.
The only "evidence" of the value of Lehi's involvement is the BoM which just as easily could have been written by the American natives.
In light of the recent discussion on archaeology we've been having on this board, here is what biblical scholar Christa Schäfer-Lichtenberger wrote on the limitations of archaeology. The context is the debate on whether or not there was a state in ancient Israel, and archaeology is an important component of the various arguments pro and con.
"Stones and walls do not speak for themselves and even their descriptions are not unambiguous. Data derived from archaeological artifacts exist only in linguistic form. Being elements of a linguistic structure, however, they are subject to an interpretation as well. The description of archaeological findings is already interpretation and it is subject, like any other literary form of expression, to the singular choice of the narrative procedure, to the concept of explanation, as well as to the value-orientation of the descriptive archaeologist. And—depending on the perspective of the describer or the observer—there are various interpretational levels which can be differentiated, ranging from the singular data to the immediate context, or from the immediate and the extended environment to a geographical region or even beyond. The answer to the question whether there were centrally organized fortifications in Israel-Judah during this time period is not only dependent on material findings, but is determined largely by the conception of the term 'state', by the understanding of society, as well as by the evaluation of biblical texts used as historical sources."