Book of Mormon Notes– How deep can you dig?

2011, April 25

“Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 2:6 Putting up a Tent after Three Days in the Wilderness/ Desert?” by grego

Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 2:6 Putting up a Tent after Three Days in the Wilderness/ Desert?

grego
(c)2011

Here is something I found that I haven’t really thought about before. Lehi travels three days, then puts up his tent:

1 Nephi 2:6 And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.

This is so un-American; everyone knows you pitch your tent every night to sleep in, right?

Un-American, because it’s not an American in America. Is this typical desert travel for a Bedouin? ;)

6 Comments »

  1. Intriguing. A non-stop 72-hour journey might indicate the urgency of getting far out of range of Jerusalem.
    Do you suppose they slept on their pack animals while en route, or do you suppose they stayed awake the entire time?

    Comment by Michaela Stephens — 2011, April 27 @ 8:30 pm

  2. Going very far very fast makes sense, yes–good point. At this point there likely weren’t any children/ food/ etc. problems, so they could have.
    I tried to find more info about this, but came up empty. Thinking about it, it reminds me of the main character’s travel in the movie “Four Feathers” (not well-known)–they just slept out when tired.
    Then when they got where they were going to camp, they pitched.
    Hugh Nibley wrote about the travel for a few days and then longer-term camping in “Lehi in the Desert”, but didn’t mention this part of it (at least that I’m aware of).

    Comment by grego — 2011, April 28 @ 1:28 am

  3. Dr. S. Kent Brown explains that Lehi, arriving in the Valley of Lemuel after a three day journey from what was likely the mining town of Timna or possibly the port city of Aqaba at the northernmost point of the Fountain of the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba), offered what appears to be a peace offering sacrifice in gratitude for safe arrival and finding a source of water (Brown, S. Kent; “What Were Those Sacrifices Offered by Lehi?” chapter 1 of Brown, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon, Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1998). Other Old Testament prophets offered peace offerings after arriving in new lands (Genesis 8:18-20; 12:5-8; 13:1-4, 18; 26:23-25; 33:17-20; 35:1-7; Exodus 17:15; 18:12; 24:4-6). And many of those trips were described as having traveled a three day journey. Nephi doesn’t record the number of days of travel between Jerusalem and the Red Sea, but he specifically describes the final leg of the journey as a three day affair. Abraham traveled three days to a place where he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:4). The Lord instructed Moses to request from the King of Egypt that the Israelites be permitted to travel three days journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to the Lord and Pharaoh’s refusal resulted in the legendary plagues of Egypt (Exodus 3:18, 5:3; 8:27-28; 10:24-26). During the Exodus, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, then traveled three days in the wilderness (Exodus 15:22, Numbers 33:8).
    The law of moses required that if you pitched your tent within a three day journey of any exisiting temple or altar where a levite officiated in the sacrfice, then you must go to that location and offer your sacrifice there. However, if you were outside of a three day distance, then you were to build your own altar and offer sacrifice. Nephi specifically tells us that they reached the edge of Israelite religious bondaries when the arrived at the Red Sea, and then they traveled three additional days. Its likely that the offering of the sacrifice in the Valley of Lemuel is how Lehi and Nephi announced that they were a new nation, a new people of God, and though they were still Jews and they obeyed the law of Moses, they were no longer tied to the nation of Israel.

    Comment by David G. Woolley — 2011, June 15 @ 10:45 pm

  4. It is estimated that a single day journey is about 25 miles (at least the maximum travel distance for a group traveling with camels over sandy terrain). A three day journey is considered to be about 75 miles. It is interesting to note that the most likely candidate for the Valley of Lemuel, Wadi Tayyib al Ism, is located 73 miles south of the port city of Aqaba.

    Comment by David G. Woolley — 2011, June 15 @ 10:47 pm

  5. Dr. S. Kent Brown explains that Lehi, arriving in the Valley of Lemuel after a three day journey from what was likely the mining town of Timna or possibly the port city of Aqaba at the northernmost point of the Fountain of the Red Sea (Gulf of Aqaba), offered what appears to be a peace offering sacrifice in gratitude for safe arrival and finding a source of water (Brown, S. Kent; “What Were Those Sacrifices Offered by Lehi?” chapter 1 of Brown, From Jerusalem to Zarahemla: Literary and Historical Studies of the Book of Mormon, Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1998). Other Old Testament prophets offered peace offerings after arriving in new lands (Genesis 8:18-20; 12:5-8; 13:1-4, 18; 26:23-25; 33:17-20; 35:1-7; Exodus 17:15; 18:12; 24:4-6). And many of those trips were described as having traveled a three day journey. Nephi doesn’t record the number of days of travel between Jerusalem and the Red Sea, but he specifically describes the final leg of the journey as a three day affair (1 Nephi 2:5-6). Abraham traveled three days to a place where he was commanded to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:4). The Lord instructed Moses to request from the King of Egypt that the Israelites be permitted to travel three days journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifice to the Lord and Pharaoh’s refusal resulted in the legendary plagues of Egypt (Exodus 3:18, 5:3; 8:27-28; 10:24-26). During the Exodus, the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, then traveled three days in the wilderness (Exodus 15:22, Numbers 33:8).
    Dr. David Rolph Seely points out that the Law of Moses forbids the building of altars and offering of sacrifice outside the place the Lord has chosen for that purpose (Deuteronomy 12). Specifically the law prescribes that the Israelites were to, “Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest; but in the place which the Lord shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee (Deuteronomy 12:13—14).” In Judaism “that place” is interpreted to be the temple at Jerusalem (Seely, David R; “Lehi’s Altar and Sacrifice in the Wilderness,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 10/1 (2001): 62–69). And scholars refer to the injunction in Deuteronomy as the centralizazation of the cult or the centralization of worship in which the most important rituals of the Mosaic law were to be carried out in one location (For a recent review of biblical scholarship on Deuteronomy 12, see Bernard M. Levinson, “The Innovation of Cultic Centralization in Deuteronomy 12,” in Deuteronomy and the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 23–52. An excellent discussion of the issue of the restriction of sacrifice to a single sanctuary can be found in Jeffrey H. Tigay, Deuteronomy: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1996), 459—64).
    The Book of Mormon frequently indicates that the Nephites continued to live the Law of Moses until the coming of Christ (2 Nephi 5:10; Jarom 1:5; Alma 30:2—3; 4 Nephi 1:12). Lehi offered sacrifices in the wilderness and Nephi built a temple in the New World which likely included an altar (1 Nephi 5:9; 7:22; 2 Nephi 5:16; Mosiah 2:3; see also Welch, John W, “The Temple in the Book of Mormon: The Temples at the Cities of Nephi, Zarahemla, and Bountiful,” in Temples of the Ancient World: Ritual and Symbolism, ed. Donald W. Parry (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1994). The Dead Sea scrolls provide an alternative interpretation of this particular Mosaic Law which explains why Nephi was careful to record that he and his family traveled an additional three day journey after they reached the edge of the Israelite Kingdom near the shores of the Red Sea before pitching their tents and offering sacrifice to the Lord (1 Nephi 2: 5-6). The expression “three days’ journey from the temple” occurs twice in the Temple Scroll, first in column 43:12 about the law of the tithe, and again in column 52:14 concerning sacrifice, this second reference being the most important to understand Nephi’s explanation of a three day journy: “You shall not slaughter a clean ox or sheep or goat in all your towns, near to my temple (within) a distance of a three days’ journey; nay, but inside my temple you shall slaughter it, making it a burnt offering or a peace offering, and you shall eat and rejoice before me at the place on which I shall choo{se} to put my name.” Scholar Aharon Shemesh has demonstrated that a three day journey is synonymous with the entire nation of Israel, since an ancient Israelite could reach the temple in Jerusalem from any location in Israel within three days. He also points out that ancient rabbis did not condemn the templs, altars, or sacrficies in the Jewish temple of Inias in Egypt because they were outside the land of Israel. For many years critics pointed out that Nephi’s reference to build an altar of stone after traveling three days beyond the boundaries of Israel and also the building of a temple in the New World contradicted the Law of Moses, however the Dead Sea scrolls seem to indicate that Nephi was acting in accordance with the accepted practice of the law. It is also possible that Nephi was subtly stating that his family had left the Kingdom of Israel. They were venturing out into new territory, no longer subjects of King at Jerusalem, but fully intended to continue living the Law of Moses.

    Comment by David G. Woolley — 2011, June 15 @ 11:34 pm

  6. David,

    Thanks for the sharing research and comments, especially the “three days” part.
    “Good ol’ Joe Smith–got it right again!”

    grego

    Comment by grego — 2011, June 20 @ 4:59 am


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