Chapter Seventeen
Nephi Did Not Attempt to Trade Treasures With Laban in Exchange  
for Brass Plates
God had already given all of Jerusalem’s treasures to Nebuchadnezzar.

“ . . .   he left   gold and silver, and   all manner of riches.”62  
“ . . .   we did gather together   our gold, and our silver, and our precious things.”63
“ . . .   when Laban saw our property, and that it was   exceedingly great, . . .”64

     In chapter six we learned that Lehi could not possibly have dwelt in Jerusalem at the beginning of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah because all of the wealthy people had just been deported to Babylon prior to Zedekiah’s appointment. One might argue that Lehi’s family was only middle class rich instead of upper class rich since the amount of riches recorded in I Nephi are vaguely quantified. In this chapter we will discover that by God’s decree, all the treasures of Jerusalem were appointed to be taken to Babylon. It is certain that there were no treasures left in Jerusalem for upper, middle, or lower class.  
     God had warned for years through the Prophet Jeremiah that he would give all the treasures of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. God’s final warning came just before Nebuchadnezzar’s second siege and Zedekiah’s appointment. Although the record of that second siege in II Kings 24:10-17 does not specifically list all of the treasures of Jerusalem as having been taken, the evidence will suggest that the majority were gone.  
     When all of the wealthy people of Jerusalem were deported to Babylon, one might ask how Nebuchadnezzar’s armies went about determining which residents of Jerusalem were wealthy as opposed to the ‘poorest sort of the people of the land’. This writer concludes that the armies of Nebuchadnezzar must have searched the entire city gathering everything they could find of precious value for King Nebuchadnezzar. No doubt the wealthy attire of some would have been a signal for the looting armies. It would not be honest to assume that anybody would have dressed in rags thinking to deceive the searching soldiers. The Jerusalem residents would have had to have known the future to realize that wearing rags might have allowed them to escape deportation. God would not have been fooled anyway! He divided the residents according to his judgments. (Please reconsider chapter four.)  
     In their search through Jerusalem, it is certain that houses containing riches would have marked the owners as wealthy residents. Our studies in chapter fourteen revealed that the entire city had turned away from God to worship idols. Consider the multitude of false gods in Jerusalem; many of them were made of gold and silver:

“In that day a man shall cast his   idols of silver, and his idols of gold, which they made each one for himself to worship, to the moles and to the bats;”65  

“For   according to   the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and   according to   the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to   that   shameful thing,   even   altars to burn incense unto Baal.”66

     Wealthy inhabitants would have stood out among the rest by their expensive idols among other things. Many of the people were probably kneeling before their gods praying when the soldiers entered their homes. They learned the hard way how little power stones and metal really have. Their precious idols could have been the bait and hook used to snatch them from their stream and send them to the frying pot called Babylon.
     Chapter thirteen revealed the judgments that befell Jerusalem, which were God’s appointed punishments for the rebellious inhabitants who refused to hear and obey his laws. Although Nebuchadnezzar performed the task, it must be remembered that Nebuchadnezzar was merely a pawn in God’s hand. Nebuchadnezzar missed nothing appointed by God because God was the controlling force:  

Jer. 1:14 Then   the LORD   said unto me, Out of the north an evil shall break forth upon all the inhabitants of the land.
Jer. 1:15 For, lo,   I will   call all the families of the kingdoms of the north, saith the LORD; and they shall come, and they shall set every one his throne at the entering of the gates of   Jerusalem, and against all the walls thereof round about, and against all the cities of Judah.
Jer. 1:16 And   I will utter   my judgments   against them touching all their wickedness, who have forsaken me, and have burned incense unto other gods, and worshipped the works of their own hands.

Jerusalem would have fallen regardless of how hard they attempted to defend themselves. It is certain that God knew who the wealthy residents were, and the treasures appointed for deportation were as good as gone by God’s decree:   (For brevity consider specifically the underlined sections.)

Jer. 15:5 For who shall have pity upon thee,   O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest?
Jer. 15:6 Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward:   therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.
Jer. 15:7 And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave   them   of children, I will destroy my people,   since   they return not from their ways.
Jer. 15:8 Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused   him   to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city.
Jer. 15:9 She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the ghost; her sun is gone down while   it was   yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the LORD.
Jer. 15:13   Thy substance and thy treasures will I give to the spoil without price, and   that   for all thy sins,   even in all thy borders   .
Jer. 15:14 And I will make   thee   to pass with thine enemies into a land   which   thou knowest not: for a fire is kindled in mine anger,   which   shall burn upon you.

Jer. 17:3 O my mountain in the field,   I will give thy substance   and   all thy treasures to the spoil,   andthy high places for sin,   throughout all thy borders.

Jer. 20:5 Moreover   I will deliver   all the strength of   this city, and all the labours thereof, and   all the precious things thereof, and   all the treasures of the kings of Judah   will I give into the hand of their enemies, which shall spoil them, and take them, and carry them to Babylon.

One should take notice that this final warning was given immediately prior to Nebuchadnezzar’s second siege of Jerusalem. Second Kings 24:10-17 records the treasures of the kings of Judah as having been taken to Babylon just prior to Zedekiah’s appointment. Although the treasures of the local citizens are not mentioned, it is certain that Nebuchadnezzar’s armies took advantage of the 10,000 pack humans they were deporting to Babylon during that second siege. Some of the deported residents may well have carried their own treasures to Babylon for Nebuchadnezzar. Those gold and silver idols that they had been worshiping didn’t save them like the one true God could have. It appears that the only things left in Jerusalem were some large brass pieces(67) and a few small gold pieces in the Temple.(68)  These were eventually taken to Babylon as well. God said he would deliver ‘all’ the precious things   into the hands of their enemies and it is certain that he did. It is certain that there would not have been any gold, silver, or precious things left in Jerusalem for Nephi and his brothers to return for, and since they never truly existed anyway the question is moot. By God’s decree, everything was appointed to be taken to Babylon!  
     For those who might argue that the treasures were well hidden by Lehi during the siege, this writer will point readers to these two verses in the book of Jeremiah:

Jer. 16:17 For   mine eyes   are   upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes.
(God’s eyes were   upon all their treasures as well!)

Jer. 23:24 Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.  
(Can any hide treasures in secret places that God shall not see them? NO!)

There were no treasures hidden from God!  
     Laban’s treasury and pure gold hilted sword need some consideration while the treasures of Jerusalem are under scrutiny. His treasury alone would have indicated to Nebuchadnezzar’s armies that he was one of the wealthy residents of the city. This would have had him deported to Babylon during the siege recorded in II Kings 24:10-17. His pure gold hilted sword would have made him a special target by the soldiers besieging the city, and death or deportation would have been his fate. The pure gold hilted sword would not have been in Jerusalem after the siege, and his treasury building would have been damaged or destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s soldiers in their search for valuables. Had Laban entered the city after Nebuchadnezzar’s second siege recorded in II Kings 24, this writer will argue that he was a coward, not a mighty man. Whatever city he had originally dwelt in would have been already desolated, and Laban had run away to hide behind stone walls rather than fight. Hiding indicates cowardice, not the bravery of a mighty man.
     Some might argue that Laban hid out in the woods during the siege of Jerusalem (the brave thing to do no doubt!). Anybody who is familiar with the terrain of that area would have to question that idea especially as we consider God’s instructions found in Jeremiah chapter six:

“For thus hath the LORD of hosts said,   Hew ye down trees, and cast a mount against Jerusalem:”66

Had Laban attempted to hide in the woods near Jerusalem during the siege, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar would have discovered him while cutting down the trees. Hiding near or far was not an option anyway because this was God’s judgment against a rebellious city, and God would not have missed him regardless where he attempted to hide. Chapter eighteen will show that there were no habitable places for Laban to hide in the wilderness due to an extended drought brought upon the land of Judah by God. The drought also proves Lehi and his family did not flee into the wilderness as recorded by Joseph Smith, although it is not the sole thing that proves they did not leave Jerusalem as written. Let’s consider Nephi’s family flight into the wilderness as presented in I Nephi and find out what God’s Word through the Prophet Jeremiah has to say about the truth of it.

#62  1 Nephi 3:22, BkM
#63  1 Nephi 3:25, BkM
#64  Isaiah 2:20, KJV Bible
#65  Jeremiah 11:13, KJV Bible
#66  Jeremiah 6:6, KJV Bible
#67  Jeremiah 27:18-22, KJV Bible
#68  Jeremiah 52:19, KJV Bible