KnoWhy #719 | February 20, 2024

How Did Jacob’s and Ezekiel’s Peoples Each Respond to Exile?

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Scripture Central

“And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.” 2 Nephi 10:20

The Know

Portions of the house of Israel have been scattered and relocated many times throughout the people’s long history, and the prophet Zenos likened this to branches of an olive tree being transplanted to different plots of a vineyard (Jacob 5:8). These separations happened with different degrees of willingness and intentionality, some groups being “led away” and others being “carried away captive” (2 Nephi 6:8; 10:22). Lehi’s family and the Israelites who were exiled in Babylonian are two such groups who endured the painful process of relocation but in two different and yet inspiring ways.

As Avram R. Shannon recently discussed, the ministries of Ezekiel (ca. 593–573 BC) and Jacob (ca. 544–495 BC) provide a unique window of insight from a prophetic and priestly perspective into how these two groups adjusted to their circumstances:

Ezekiel and Jacob represent a privileged place for comparison on the religious ideas facing Israel in the period just after the Judahite monarchy because they are roughly contemporaneous individuals reacting to similar cultural and religious impetuses. … By comparing and contrasting Ezekiel and Jacob’s approach to worshiping the God of Israel while not living in the land of Israel, we see two distinctive responses to the trauma of exile from two disparate prophetic voices.1

Shannon notes that both prophets were exiled Israelites who saw God and were concerned with the temple and prophetic responsibility, and both were also priests.2 Ezekiel also addressed many themes relevant to the Book of Mormon like repentance motivated by love, the scattering and gathering of Israel, a new Jerusalem, and false prophets.3

To understand the difficulties for both the Nephites and the exiles in Babylon, it is important to recognize that Israel’s ancient Near Eastern setting was dominated by “a religious concept that religion and deities were rooted in specific places.”4 Naaman the Syrian thought that he needed to bring Israelite soil with him in order to worship Jehovah (2 Kings 5:8–19).5 These nations also saw their temples as the house of their god, and they saw warfare between nations as battles between these localized deities.6 In contrast, Israel had an established conception of a universal God who could be worshipped anywhere.7 However, it also highly valued specific and physical aspects of worship like the promised land and the Jerusalem temple.

Ezekiel was a priest who was likely exiled to Babylon in the first wave of Babylonian exile just before Lehi left Jerusalem, and the two may have even known each other.8 Many of these exiles likely wondered, “How could we be taken away from the Holy City to this place, and how do we worship here? Is God’s presence confined to his temple, or can he still be with us here?”9

Ezekiel had remarkable visions in exile that seem to offer an answer (Ezekiel 1, 8, 11). In the visions, Ezekiel saw God riding on what seems to be a throne-chariot.10 God’s throne is on a platform that sits above the angelic cherubim and above multidirectional wheels, and it travels to Ezekiel. Behind the puzzling aesthetic details of Ezekiel’s vision is an important doctrinal principle for Ezekiel’s people: God’s presence is mobile and not confined to the temple in Jerusalem.11 They needed this lesson because, as Ezekiel and others taught, the people had defiled the temple and trusted in it instead of God, prizing location of worship above proper worship.12

However, Ezekiel does not imply that because God’s presence is not limited to one location, temples or promised lands are unnecessary or simply symbolic. Instead, Ezekiel also had a vision of the return of the Israelites to their homeland, symbolized by resurrection and the reunion of the “sticks” of various tribes, representing tribal leadership staffs and writings (Ezekiel 37). He also foresaw a future return of God’s presence to a new temple in Jerusalem.13 Without the temple, the exiled Jews focused their worship on scripture and became a stricter scribal community (just as they would after its final destruction).14 However, the expectation of returning to their sacred land and building another temple loomed large, and eventually, a few generations later, it did happen.

Lehi’s family was reluctant to leave Jerusalem, and Laman and Lemuel were especially reluctant because they believed the Jerusalem community was law-observing and that remaining there would bring happiness (1 Nephi 17:22). Throughout their journeys, Lehi’s family maintained temple performances like animal sacrifice, though this was still a sad departure from the Jerusalem temple.15 The Nephites continued to remember their Israelite identity, homeland, and temple throughout their exodus and even into later history.16

Jacob was born after Lehi and Sariah had left Jerusalem, but he developed a keen awareness of his Israelite identity and of his exile from the homeland: “And also our lives passed away like as it were unto us a dream, we being a lonesome and a solemn people, wanderers, cast out from Jerusalem … wherefore, we did mourn out our days” (Jacob 7:26).17 Thus it is unsurprising that Jacob discusses the exiled state of his people in several of his sermons and writings (see 2 Nephi 6–10 and Jacob 4–6). Jacob quoted Isaiah and Zenos to scripturally contextualize the Lehites as an Israelite colony on the “isles of the sea,” where they understood themselves as living.18

Unlike Ezekiel’s group, the Nephites were divinely permitted to permanently adjust to this new land. Lehi declared that the land had been given to him as a Josephite promised land, and Nephi constructed a new temple like that of Solomon (2 Nephi 1:9; 5:16). Jacob explained their divine relationship with the land further: “We are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).

Despite his own feelings of being a suffering exile, Jacob encouraged his people to adapt to this new scripturally supported locale as their new promised land. Rather than teaching that only Jerusalem is sacred or that no locations are sacred, he taught that multiple locations could be sacred.19 As other Book of Mormon prophets taught, Jerusalem would remain the gathering place for Ezekiel’s exiled group and would one day be purified, but descendants of Joseph would ultimately build a New Jerusalem in the new land as well.20

Other Israelite colonies, some of which are also upon the “isles of the sea,” are referred to peripherally in the Book of Mormon.21 Some examples of Israelite colonies are known from archaeology, such as the one living on the Elephantine island in Egypt around the time of Lehi.22 This group constructed a temple in their new home like the Nephites.23 Whether or not this colony is one of the groups mentioned in the Book of Mormon, it provides another example of Israelites coping with being separated from their temple and sacred locale for worship.24

Jacob assured his people that these Israelite “branches” are known and loved by God just as much as the “roots” of Israel are (Jacob 6:4). He also uses their existence to teach the Nephites they were not alone: “The Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also” (2 Nephi 10:22). Like Ezekiel’s vision of the restoration of Israel and uniting of the tribes’ “sticks,” Jacob and his family knew that “the house of Israel, shall be gathered home unto the lands of their possessions; and [God’s] word also shall be gathered in one” (2 Nephi 29:14).25

The Why

Jacob’s and Ezekiel’s reactions to exile can teach us about the way that God interacts with us today. Sometimes we, like Jacob, are driven away from something we love to obtain something better (2 Nephi 10:20). The scattering of Israel is referred to negatively in many scriptural contexts, but it is also a way that God blessed the world by diffusing sacred scripture and covenants to many nations.26 Conversely, we sometimes lose blessings for a time, like Ezekiel’s people with the promised land and temple, so that we appreciate their value in their absence and learn new skills. God is mindful of all nations and of all individuals, and He can tailor His plan for our lives to our unique situations.

We can also learn about the physical and spiritual aspects of worship from Jacob and Ezekiel. It is evident from scripture that physical things and even location can play a role in our spirituality.27 We must remember to always “stand … in holy places, and be not moved” (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8). Yet scripture also makes it abundantly clear that worship need not be limited by physical or geographic location. Zeniff and his people were overzealous to worship God specifically in the land of Nephi although God had recently led them away, and this zeal landed them in bondage (Mosiah 9:3). A similar obsession with location fueled ancient crusades and spurs conflict today.

The Book of Mormon suggests that though location is significant, covenant keeping is more significant. As Steven L. Olsen says, “the Book of Mormon equates the promised land with the places where sacred covenants govern human relations and where the blessings of the gospel are realized by covenant-based communities. … [It] equates ‘promised lands’ as the places where the plan of salvation is manifest in the lives of a covenant people … that is, locations whose significance is defined primarily by experiential, not empirical and scientific, criteria.”28 Or, as David Rolph Seely put it, “the Abrahamic promise of land transcends geography.”29

Even though the Nephites lived in a promised land, Alma spoke of a “far better land of promise” in the next life (Alma 37:45). Similarly, the author of Hebrews speaks of those who “confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. … But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:13, 16). Certain locations and physical things may be sacred, but the spiritual is still preeminent; Zion is a real place but is also wherever the righteous, “the pure in heart,” are (D&C 97:21).

Further Reading

Avram R. Shannon, “Location, Location, Location: A Comparison of the Experiences and Teachings of Ezekiel and Jacob,” in Jacob: Faith and Great Anxiety (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2024), 121–139.

Steven L. Olsen, “The Covenant of the Promised Land: Territorial Symbolism in the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 22, no. 2 (2010): 137–154.

Jared W. Ludlow, “A Tale of Three Communities: Jerusalem, Elephantine, and Lehi-Nephi,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 16, no. 2 (2007): 28–41, 95.


  • 1. Avram R. Shannon, “Location, Location, Location: A Comparison of the Experiences and Teachings of Ezekiel and Jacob,” in Jacob: Faith and Great Anxiety (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2024), 121–139. For a chronology of Ezekiel’s revelations, see Moshe Greenberg, Ezekiel, 1–20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983), 8. For approximate chronology of Nephite authors, see John W. Welch and Greg Welch, “Who Kept the Records in the Book of Mormon? (By Lineages),Charting the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies [FARMS], 1999). However, the sermons of Jacob recorded by Nephi would have occurred before Nephi’s approximate death date of 540 BC.
  • 2. Shannon, “Location,” 122–123. Kevin Christensen, “The Temple, the Monarchy, and Wisdom: Lehi’s World and the Scholarship of Margaret Barker,” in Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem, ed. John W. Welch, David Rolph Seely, Jo Ann H. Seely (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004), 462, says, “The first explicit discussion of priesthood in the Book of Mormon comes from Jacob. He makes associations with the temple and reports the same obligations as does Ezekiel.” Christensen follows Margaret Barker in asserting that Ezekiel’s preexilic priesthood and temple tradition differed from the later revisionist Jewish priesthood but would have conformed with Book of Mormon priesthood and temple traditions.
  • 3. Compare Ezekiel 33:11 to 2 Nephi 26:23–33; Ezekiel 36:19, 24–28 to 2 Nephi 6:11; Ezekiel 43:4–7 to Ether 13:5, 11; and Ezekiel 13:1–7 and 34:1–6 to 2 Nephi 26:29–31.
  • 4. Shannon, “Location,” 123, calls this locative religion.
  • 5. Shannon, “Location,” 123.
  • 6. Shannon, “Location,” 123–124, cites the example of the Mesha stele, which depicts the Canaanites’ war with Israel as their god Kemosh overcoming Israel and its god; he also cites Rabshakeh, the Assyrian messenger who gloats over defeated nations and their defeated gods.
  • 7. Greenberg, Ezekiel, 1–20, 59: “YHWH is nowhere in Scripture anything less than a god of universal dominion; however, his special favor, the manifestation of his sanctity and, consequently, the sites at which he may be worshiped are usually limited to the people and the land of Israel, respectively.”
  • 8. Though Ezekiel’s first recorded vision is from 593 BC in Babylon, some have speculated his prophetic mission may have begun in Jerusalem. Gerald N. Lund, “Ezekiel: Prophet of Judgment, Prophet of Promise,” in Isaiah and the Prophets: Inspired Voices from the Old Testament, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 1984), 75–88: “In 1 Nephi 1:4, Nephi writes, ‘For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah … there came many prophets.’… Ezekiel was contemporary with Lehi and could easily have been one of those prophets.”
  • 9. Terryl Givens, 2 Nephi: A Brief Theological Introduction (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2020), 4–6: “For Lehi and his people, the destruction of Jerusalem changed everything. Jerusalem was the center of the Jewish universe. … The circumstances of Lehi's family were not those of a captive nation, but they may have felt like exiles—certainly they felt abandonment of a sort—after they learned of Jerusalem’s demise.”
  • 10. Shannon, “Location,” 130: “The vision recorded in Ezekiel 10 is based on this idea [in the mercy seat of the temple] of the cherubim supporting the throne of God.” Greenberg, Ezekiel, 1–20, 54, 56–57, delves further: “The image of God as a rider in the sky with the clouds as his chariot is common to the Bible … [but] the search for analogues to the structure of the apparition and, particularly, to its creatures give the same result: individual elements are found in the tradition, but the ensemble is unique. … It seems that the cherubs were celestial winged bearers of God upon which he was imagined as sitting enthroned. … Two concepts appear to be fused in the apparition taken as a whole: that of a deity borne by mythical beings and that of a throne-chariot. … Now, YHWH is said to ride in a chariot too (Hab 3:8; Isa 66:15), and it appears that Ezekiel’s vision combined the two modes of locomotion.”
  • 11. Shannon, “Location,” 131: “In Ezekiel’s vision, Jehovah’s glory (that is, his visible presence) mounts on his cherub chariot throne and leaves the temple of Jerusalem. Both the glory and the cherubim were already seen by Ezekiel on the banks of Chebar, as described in Ezekiel 1. Ezekiel’s explanation for why he can see a vision of Jehovah, his glory, and his chariot throne is remarkable from the ancient perspective of the locative nature of religion. Ezekiel explains that the reason he could see this vision of Jehovah from his standpoint in exile is that Jehovah has left his house in Jerusalem. This powerful statement shows Ezekiel’s view of the corrupt nature of the Jerusalem temple (which he describes in detail in Ezekiel 8). The temple in Jerusalem is no longer an appropriate place for Jehovah to dwell, so he leaves it behind to destruction and settles his presence among the exiles living in Babylon.” However, Greenberg, Ezekiel, 1–20, 59, warns against oversimplifying this and questions “the widespread view that the vision showed ’God’s ability to work as he wishes. He is not bound to the holy land. This was an almost revolutionary idea.’ … In these general terms the view is untenable; YHWH is nowhere in Scripture anything less than a god of universal dominion; however, his special favor, the manifestation of his sanctity and, consequently, the sites at which he may be worshiped are usually limited to the people and the land of Israel, respectively.”
  • 12. Ezekiel sees abominations in the temple in vision (Ezekiel 8), he sees God enter His heavenly chariot to leave His temple (Ezekiel 10:4, 18–19), and God promises to profane it Himself (Ezekiel 24:21). Jeremiah says that they have made it “a den of robbers” and threatens to abandon it, a teaching with which Lehi and Nephi may have been familiar (Jeremiah 7:11, 14; 23:11).
  • 13. This new temple and new Jerusalem and several other Ezekiel themes, like marking foreheads, Gog and Magog, the fall of Babylon, and Ezekiel’s visions of the heavenly temple, all seem to have parallels with or be the basis for similar themes in the Revelation of John. Kevin Christensen sees many similarities between those visions and the visions of Lehi and Nephi, which he believes go back to an ancient temple context. Christensen, “Temple, the Monarchy, and Wisdom,” 452–457.
  • 14. Robert P. Carroll, “Israel, History of (Post-Monarchic Period),” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, 6 vols., ed. David Noel Freedman(New York, NY: Doubleday, 1992), 3:572: “The Hebrew Bible was the product of the Second Temple period, though how much of it was produced in the Persian era cannot be determined. … Elements of the Hebrew Bible may have been produced in writing before the Persian era, but there is no concrete evidence for this presupposition nor is it possible to say which parts existed in writing before the destruction of the temple. It is logical to locate the framing of the various scrolls and the production of the bulk of the biblical books in the period of the Second Temple because one of the most dominant traits of that period is the production of writings which later became scripture for many religious communities. Temple and texts are therefore two of the key elements in the understanding of the period.” Tzvee Zahavy, “Judaism (Mishnaic Period),” in Anchor Bible Dictionary, 3:1083, 1087–1088: “The destruction of the Temple and the subsequent Roman imperial domination of Israel deprived Jewish leaders of meaningful political power and forced them to turn inward for fresh expressions of Jewish identity. … The most consequential advance for the history of Judaism during this era within rabbinism is the establishment of a Torah-dominanted theology. … Rabbinic scribal values made study of the Torah the central ritual, as noted.” Givens, 2 Nephi, 6–8, argues that this occurred among the Nephites too and was the impetus for the writings of Nephi.
  • 15. Don Bradley argues that Lehi’s family erected their own sacred tabernacle for use during their travels in The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Book of Mormon’s Missing Stories (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2019), 145–156. This, as well as Lehi’s desert sacrifices, could conflict with the Deuteronomic prohibition of multiple sanctuaries or places of sacrifice, though it accords with some interpretations (Deuteronomy 12:5–6). Book of Mormon Central, “How Could Lehi Offer Sacrifices outside of Jerusalem? (1 Nephi 7:22),” KnoWhy 9 (January 12, 2016). Many scholars have probed the extent to which Lehi’s family was divided over how to interpret the law code and ideology of Deuteronomy specifically. See Neal Rappleye, ”The Deuteronomist Reforms and Lehi’s Family Dynamics: A Social Context for the Rebellions of Laman and Lemuel,” Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture 16 (2015): 87–99.
  • 16. Lehi’s family is deeply steeped in Israelite culture and scripture, as evinced by Nephi’s repeated use of Exodus imagery and his and Jacob’s use of Isaiah. However, it is uncertain how culturally distinct the Lehites would have remained from their neighbors over time and consequently how much Old World or New World culture should be expected. Nibley asserts that both Nephites and Lamanites maintained a distinctly Near Eastern desert culture, which accords well with Alma 26:36, in which Ammon says, “This people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.” Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon (Provo, UT: FARMS, 1988), 400–415. Even later Latter-day Saint scholars of Mesoamerica, who have been more prone to suggest immediate cultural integration upon arrival, acknowledge continued influence from their ancient Near Eastern roots. John Sorenson wrote, “Because both Jaredite and the combined Nephite/Mulekite lifeways derived to a significant degree from the ancient Near East, although at different times and from different places of origin, we would expect considerable correspondence in ideas and behavioral patterns between the transplanted branches from the Near Eastern tree of culture … [but] they [also] accommodated to their respective environments and native Amerindian host cultures.” John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Codex (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book; Provo, UT: Neal A. Maxwell Institute, 2013), 147–148.
  • 17. In some ways, Jacob is in his second exile. His family left Jerusalem when he was born, but he was also driven from the land of first inheritance to the land of Nephi. 2 Nephi 5:5–6. The Nephites would later be driven or led away to Zarahemla, then later to the land northward. Omni 1:12; Mormon 2:29.
  • 18. In particular, Jacob focuses on the promises made in scripture to those on “the isles of the sea,” a single Hebrew word used repeatedly by Isaiah. See Isaiah 11:11; 20:6; 23:2, 6; 24:15; 40:15; 41:1, 5; 42:4, 10, 12, 15; 49:1; 51:5; 59:18; 60:9; 66:19. It comes from the Hebrew iyyim and is probably better translated as “coastlands.” Ludwig Koehler, Walter Baumgartner, and Johann J. Stamm, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, trans. and ed. Mervyn E. J. Richardson, 2 vols. (Leiden, NL: Brill, 2001), s.v. “אִי,” offers “coast” as its primary meaning but notes that “island” is also an option. The New Revised Standard Version consistently translates it as “coastlands.” This term is used in the Old Testament to refer to all the Mediterranean regions west of Israel that were typically accessed by boat, even though Africa and Europe are connected to Israel by land. Shannon, “Location,” 129, notes: “The idea of the isles of the sea is central to Jacob’s disussion here—the Lehites have travelled over the sea to their ‘better land,’ making their new home an ‘isle of the sea.’” Grant Hardy takes “island” more literally: “Isaiah mentions ‘isles’ or ‘islands’ more than a dozen times in his prophecies. … The Nephites thought of themselves as living on an island, and they believed other groups of Israelites had been led away by God to other islands as well; see 1 Nephi 19:10, 15–16; 21:1, 8; 22:3–4; 2 Nephi 10:7–8; 29:7.” Grant Hardy, ed., The Annotated Book of Mormon (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2023), 118, note on 2 Nephi 10:21–22. Thus, it makes sense that the Nephites, who arrived in their new land by boat and lived with two seas in the near vicinity, conceived of themselves as living on an island, or coastland. It seems that Zenos, a Josephite, also prophesied of those on the isles of the sea. 1 Nephi 19:10, 12, 16; 3 Nephi 10:16. Brant Gardner, Second Witness, 6 vols. (Salt Lake City, UT: Greg Kofford Books, 2007), 1:366, says, “Nephi [and Jacob] evidently shared the biblical understanding of ‘isles of the sea’ meaning any land whose principal access was by the sea, even though a land route also might be available. The LDS Bible Dictionary indicates that ‘[isles] was frequently used to denote any lands washed by the sea, especially the islands and coasts of the Mediterranean.’” He cites John L. Sorenson, Mormon’s Map (Provo, UT: FARMS, 200), 18, 131n20. See also M. W. Mansfield, “Jacob’s Isle,” Improvement Era 7, no. 4 (1904): 265: “Lands distant from Palestine, where the sea separated them from that land, are referred to by the prophets as isles of the sea.”
  • 19. Shannon, “Location,” 134: “Jacob does not interpret the Nephites’ new land of promise as the only place where God can visit Israel—by connecting their land to Isaiah’s articulation of the ‘isles of the sea,’ it creates space for not just a single location, but multiple locations, where God’s presence and power can be felt.” Steven L. Olsen, “The Covenant of the Chosen People: The Spiritual Foundations of Ethnic Identity in the Book of Mormon,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 21, no. 2 (2012): 21,shares a similar view: “That is, land in the Book of Mormon, particularly promised land or land of promise, connotes not terra firma but rather ‘the place where covenant people prosper.’... Because lands are defined in terms of the covenant, not vice versa, the Nephite capital can be relocated from one land to another—for example, from Nephi to Zarahemla to Bountiful—without major social disruption.” However, the Zeniff story shows that such a theological flexibility about location did not distill across all Nephite society.
  • 20. Jacob’s group seemed to adjust to separation from Jerusalem differently than Ezekiel’s group, but Jacob also looked forward to a day of final gathering when the Nephites could be united with the rest of Israel: Moroni later taught that a New Jerusalem like Ezekiel’s would be built in the Nephites’ new land of promise (Ether 13). Even though they might be living in a promised land, the Nephites could still hope to gather and spiritually rebuild the Holy City from which they departed. See Book of Mormon Central, “Why Do the Prophets Speak of Multiple Jerusalems? (Ether 13:3–6),” KnoWhy 247 (December 7, 2016).
  • 21. They are referred to peripherally in Zenos’s allegory, in which they are sent off to unknown locales, and Jesus informs later Nephites that He will visit them. Jacob 5; 3 Nephi 15:15–17, 20; 16:1–3; 17:4. Nephi assures us that their sacred records will one day come to light. 2 Nephi 29:12–14. Gardner, Second Witness, 2:190, notes, “Jacob had reminded his listeners that they were on ‘an isle’ but uses here [in 2 Nephi 10:21–22] ‘isles,’ thus saying that his people are part of a typical pattern, not an unusual one. There are other isles—therefore other locations to which Yahweh has led other Israelites. His listeners should understand that they are part of a great plan, inheritors of blessings and promises in a pattern Yahweh has established to benefit many of his children.”
  • 22. Jared Ludlow, “A Tale of Three Communities: Jerusalem, Elephantine, and Lehi-Nephi,Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 16, no. 2 (2007): 28–41, 95, juxtaposes this group with the Nephites and exilic Jews, particularly their observance or lack thereof of Sabbath worship, intermarriage, and temple building.
  • 23. The construction of the Elephantine temple as well as sanctuaries at Arad and elsewhere challenge the Deuteronomic prohibition of multiple temples. Deuteronomy 12:5–6. See Book of Mormon Central, “Did Ancient Israelites Build Temples outside of Jerusalem? (2 Nephi 5:16),” KnoWhy 31 (February 11, 2016).
  • 24. Some evidence points to the Elephantine colony syncretizing with local religion, but Ludlow, “Three Communities,” 35, gives them the benefit of the doubt: “Some have labeled the Jewish worship at the Elephantine temple as syncretistic, but it is unclear whether all the Jews were worshipping foreign gods or merely allowing offerings to be made to other deities in a type of ecumenical arrangement.”
  • 25. Lehi prophesies of the unity of the Book of Mormon with the Bible in language similar to Ezekiel’s prophecy of the sticks, and the Doctrine and Covenants furthers the connection. 2 Nephi 3:12; Ezekiel 37:15–28; see 1 Nephi 13:20–42; Doctrine and Covenants 27:5. See Book of Mormon Central, “Why Is There a Need for the Testimony of Two Nations? (2 Nephi 29:8),” KnoWhy 56 (March 17, 2016).
  • 26. Victor L. Ludlow, “The Scattering and Gathering of Israel: God’s Covenant with Abraham Remembered through the Ages,” in Window of Faith: Latter-day Saint Perspectives on World History, ed. Roy A. Prete (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2005), 97–120: “Although this scattering was a punishment to the unfaithful Israelites, it did provide some blessings to other peoples as these Israelites carried scriptures, gospel teachings, moral-ethical values, and other blessings of the house of Israel to various peoples and nations.” The dispersion of Jews during the Second Temple period is called the Diaspora and played a foundational role for the spread of Christianity through the Mediterranean.
  • 27. We Latter-day Saints believe in a literal resurrection and that caring for our bodies is a sacred duty, that God is embodied, that heaven is a physical place, that physical ordinances are required for salvation, that God’s presence abides in physical temples, and that Israel will be literally gathered. 1 Corinthians 6:18–20; Alma 40:5; D&C 97:15–16; 130:9, 22; Articles of Faith 1:3–4, 10.
  • 28. Steven L. Olsen, “The Covenant of the Promised Land: Territorial Symbolism in the Book of Mormon,” FARMS Review 22, no. 2 (2010): 153.
  • 29. David Rolph Seely, “Sacred History, Covenants, and the Messiah: The Religious Background of the World of Lehi,” Glimpses of Lehi’s Jerusalem, ed. John W. Welch, David Rolph Seely, and Jo Ann H. Seely (Provo, UT: FARMS, 2004), 393.
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