Nephi Did Not Exist in Jerusalem at the Commencement of the First Year
of the Reign of Zedekiah, King of Juda h
He would have just been deported from Jerusalem to Babylon.
The self-proclaimed author of I Nephi in the BkM begins his story as a resident of Jerusalem at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. “ . . . (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); . . .”13 leads the reader to believe Nephi was a Jerusalem resident as well. This is emphasized in II Nephi 1:4 which records Lehi as having said, “ . . . had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished.” The â€˜we’ of that verse included Nephi as a Jerusalem resident. Nephi verifies his Jerusalem residency when, speaking of his father’s gold, silver, and precious things left in his father’s house at their departure,14 he states “ . . . we did gather together our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.”15 His father Lehi’s house is declared to be in Jerusalem in I Nephi 1:7, and the entire family departed Lehi’s Jerusalem home in I Nephi 2:3-5.
Nephi is recorded as “ . . . exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, . . . ”16 His exact age is never specified, but he declared himself to be a man in I Nephi 4:31, which states “ . . . I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, . . .” Nephi claimed to be a strong young man of large stature. These characteristics would have been necessary to accomplish the tasks recorded in I Nephi 4:7-19 following.
Having discovered drunken Laban sprawled upon the ground outside his house in Jerusalem, Nephi allegedly took Laban’s pure gold hilted sword in one hand, Laban’s hair in the other, and “ . . . I smote off his head with his own sword.”17 Afterwards Nephi took Laban’s garments, armor, and sword, (bloody garments one would suppose). He then redressed himself before approaching Zoram, Laban’s servant of the treasury, with the intent to deceive Zoram while pretending to be Laban.
Wearing Laban’s garments, armor, and pure gold hilted sword would have been no small feat when one considers that Nephi records Laban to have been “ . . . a mighty man, . . . he can slay fifty; . . .”.18 Nephi’s stature as a large man could have filled the garments, but what of his strength? A pure gold hilted sword must have been heavy when wielded with two hands, yet Nephi controlled it with a single hand. Nephi’s strength appears to have been sufficient to wield such a heavy instrument, but consider the strength necessary to accomplish the events that allegedly followed.
Clothed in Laban’s apparel and pretending to be Laban, it is recorded that he successfully petitioned Zoram to open the treasury and obtain some brass plates within. “And I also spake unto him that I should carry the engravings, which were upon the plates of brass, to my elder brethren, who were without the walls.”19 One has to wonder how heavy the plates of brass could have been and why Nephi did not force the servant to carry them. Did he not have Laban’s sword and armor?
The question of why Nephi carried the plates of brass himself becomes even more curious when we discover how heavy they must have been. Written upon them were:
These plates of brass could have weighed hundreds of pounds! Keep in mind that Nephi was clothed with Laban’s garments, armor, and pure gold hilted sword. Dare anyone question Nephi’s strength?
Nephi records himself as the youngest of four brothers from a wealthy family. Although exceedingly young he declares himself to be a man. Nephi’s stature and strength lead this writer to the conclusion that he could have been between fifteen and twenty years of age; a strong young Jewish man in his prime. Nephi would have been considered strong and apt (able) for war. Nebuchadnezzar’s armies would have seen the potential for future problems in this young man because he could have been trained for war and could have posed an obstacle the next time Jerusalem might need to be confronted. The Bible record of II Kings 24:16 below reveals that all such young men were deported to Babylon just prior to Zedekiah’s appointment:
As a strong young man of great stature in his prime, Nephi would have been deported to Babylon just prior to the beginning of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah. He would not have been left in Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar’s armies to cause future problems. It is evident that Nephi did not exist in Jerusalem when the book of I Nephi states. Nephi could not have authored the books of I and II Nephi in the BkM if he did not exist. The events declared in the BkM could not have happened as recorded if the characters about which they are written did not truly exist. Nephi was not the author. Apparently he was nothing more than a fictional character invented by the true author of the BkM.
Joseph Smith claimed to be the author and proprietor of the BkM on the title page of the 1830 printing of the BkM. An actual photograph of the original title page of the 1830 printing can be found in The Restored Church, on page forty of the twelfth edition printed in 1965 by the Deseret Book Company or on the world wide web at www.inephi.com/1.htm
We have considered evidence from II Kings that proves Nephi could not have existed in Jerusalem when the author of First Nephi claimed he had, but there is much more to be considered. Nephi would have grown up in Jerusalem during the time of the Prophet Jeremiah if his father Lehi had truly dwelt in Jerusalem all of his days. We will consider in future chapters what the Prophet Jeremiah recorded about the residents of Jerusalem during the days of his prophecy and discover that the very first sentence of the BkM isn’t true. Ultimately it will be seen that the mass of evidence from the Bible will prove that Joseph Smith must have been telling the truth only in the first printing of the BkM when he claimed to be the author. Nephi cannot have written I and II Nephi because they who have never existed cannot tell the truth! If Nephi did not author those two books then someone else was Nephi’s author by proxy. Who was it?
#13 1 Nephi 1:4, Book of Mormon (BkM), All BkM quotations are taken from the 1981 Copyright BkM printed in 1989 by the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Utah.