Temples outside of Jerusalem? A psalm outside the Bible?

Temples outside of Jerusalem? A psalm outside the Bible? January 29, 2018

political map of Egypt, sort of
Elephantine Island sits in the middle of the River Nile at Aswan, in Upper Egypt (Wikimedia CC)

Some additional notes from John W . Welch, et al., eds., Knowing Why: 137 Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is True (American Fork: Covenant Communications, 2017):


“Is Nephi’s Psalm Really a Psalm?” (75-77)

2 Nephi 4:16-35, which is sometimes referred to as the “Psalm of Nephi,” does indeed evince both verbal and stylistic parallels with the Old Testament book of Psalms — and perhaps particularly (according to Kenneth Alford and D. Bryce Baker) with Psalms 25-31.

Matthew Nickerson has demonstrated that Nephi’s Psalm fits a biblical psalm type called the “individual lament,” which has five structural units:  1) Invocation [2 Nephi 4:16-17], 2) Complaint [2 Nephi 4:17-19], 3) Confession of Trust [2 Nephi 4:20-30], 4) Petition [2 Nephi 4:31-33], and 5) Vow of Praise [2 Nephi 4:34-35].

The Psalm of Nephi is saturated with specifically psalmic language, arguing that its author was himself saturated with the Psalms.  In my judgment, this doesn’t seem to fit the barely literate, biblically unread, young Joseph Smith of 1828-1829.


“Did Ancient Israelites Build Temples outside of Jerusalem?”  (78-79)

It was long thought that they didn’t, and some modern critics of the Book of Mormon who should know better still use this mistaken notion as what they imagine to be a lethal weapon against the Book of Mormon, since Nephi built a small temple in the New World.

In fact, though, archaeological remains of Israelite temples have been found at Megiddo, Arad, Lachish, and Beersheba.  (I’ve personally seen all four.)  And the Bible itself identifies at least eleven other apparent Israelite temple shrines (at Shiloh, Dan, Bethel, Gilgal, Mizpah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Nob, Ephraim, Oprah, and Gibeah).

The most important Israelite temple outside of Jerusalem may be the one built on Elephantine Island, near Aswan in Egypt.  (See “The lady Sariah of Elephantine.”)  As Hugh Nibley remarked,

“The discovery of the Elephantine documents in 1925 showed that colonies of Jews actually did flee into the desert in the manner of Lehi, during his lifetime, and for the same reasons; arriving in their new home far up the Nile, they proceeded to build a replica of Solomon’s Temple, exactly as Lehi did upon landing in the New World.”




The Interpreter Radio Show from Sunday, 21 January 2018 — which featured Martin Tanner, Neal Rappleye, and S. Hales Swift, is now archived on the Interpreter Foundation’s website, where you can listen to it if ever and whenever you choose:


Interpreter Radio Show — January 21, 2018


We’re still getting our bearings for the program and will, no doubt, be making improvements to it.  But I’m encouraged thus far.  We hope that some of you are taking the opportunity to listen, and we welcome (kind and well-intentioned) suggestions.



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