I would like to note here an article by a BYU colleague and longtime friend who has accumulated extensive experience over the course of more than three and a half decades of living and excavating pretty much annually in the Holy Land — Jeffrey Chadwick, “Dating the Departure of Lehi from Jerusalem,” BYU Studies Quarterly 57/2 (2018): 6-51.
Based on a meticulous reading of the relevant passages in both 1 Nephi and the Old Testament as well as on a detailed understanding of the history of Israel and surrounding nations in the late seventh century BC and the early sixth century BC, Professor Chadwick argues that Lehi left Jerusalem for his ultimate destination in the New World in the year 605 BC, and, even more specifically, sometime in November of that year.
It was, incidentally, a very dramatic era. The fall of the Assyrian Empire and the rise of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. (On which, see this interesting recent article: “Megadrought Helped Topple the Assyrian Empire: Paleoclimate records shed light on the ancient civilization’s meteoric rise and catastrophic collapse.”) The prophecies (and imprisonments) of Jeremiah. Josiah dying in battle with the Egyptians near Megiddo. A succession of puppet kings. Great power politics between the rulers of Egypt and of Mesopotamia. Small power politics in Ammon, Moab, and Edom. The fall of Jerusalem. The destruction of Solomon’s temple. Military campaigns. Conquests. Everything swirling with unpredictable change.
I find Professor Chadwick’s argument entirely plausible.
It’s a very complex argument, drawing on a great many significant facts, some of them large but many quite small. The suggestion of a specific month and year is interesting. However, what impresses me most about it is how well, how snugly, the Book of Mormon’s account of Lehi appears to fit the historical data.
Clever boy, that Joe Smith!
By the way, some of the information above is perfectly suited for inclusion in your Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File.
And, finally, I was pleased to see this:
I like the somewhat unconventional look — rather like the Bangkok Thailand Temple, which is currently under construction — and the spire’s nod toward traditional Indian architecture.