Friday, June 21, 2013

The “Land of Jerusalem” (Howlers #7)

“`The land of Jerusalem.’ . . . There is no such land. No part of Palestine bears the name Jerusalem, except the city itself.”

            Origen Bacheler, Mormonism Exposed Internally and Externally (1838), 14.

The phrase “land of Jerusalem” is a common phrase in the Book of Mormon and is used by prophets in the Book of Mormon to refer to the place of their original inheritance before their journey to a new land of promise (1 Nephi 2:11; 7:2; 7:7; 16:35; 17:20; 2 Nephi 1:1).Hugh Nibley and subsequent Latter day Saint scholars have shown that, while the phrase, “land of Jerusalem” is not found in the Bible, it does appear five times in the El Amarna Tablets, which date to the fourteenth century B.C. (Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, 1988, 6-7),  as shown in the examples from El Amarna Letters 287  AND 287 and 290 below.

“Behold this land of Jerusalem . . .”

“[If] they send into the land [of Jerusalem] troops, let them come with an Egyptian officer”

“Let my king requisition for them much grain, much oil, (and) much clothing, until Pawure, the royal commissioner, comes up to the land of Jerusalem

“Behold, the king has set his name in the land of Jerusalem for ever; so he cannot abandon the lands of Jerusalem!”

“But now even a town of the land of Jerusalem, Bit-Lahmi by name, a town belonging to the king, has gone over to the side of the people of Keilah”

James B. Pritchard, The Ancient Near East, 1:271-272, 274 emphasis added.

The Amarna tablets were not discovered until 1887, some fifty-seven years after the publication of the Book of Mormon.

The phrase “land of Jerusalem” has more recently turned up in a fragment from the Dead Sea Scrolls attributed to the prophet Jeremiah (4Q385b).

[…and] Jeremiah the prophet [went] from before YHWH, [… the] exiles who were brought into exile from the land of Jerusalem and were led […] king of Babel, when Nabuzaradan, chief of the escort, struck […] … and he took the vessels of the temple of God, the priests [… and] the children of Israel and led them to Babylon.

Florentino Garcia Martinez and Eibert J. C. Tigchelaar, eds., The Dead Sea Scrolls Study Edition (1998), 2:773.

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