In my research of the Lachish Letters, I created a timeline of Lehi’s life. I was fascinated by some fairly obvious details the timeline revealed, which I had never heard discussed, but which add light and motive to Lehi’s actions. I will give you a link below where you can download and print “Life of Lehi Timeline.pdf”.
Lehi and his family lived through an earlier Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 601 BC. This was four years before Lehi left Jerusalem. Historically, Israel had been political allies with Egypt, who began a war with Babylon in about 610 BC. Babylon attacked and easily occupied Jerusalem, but did not destroy it. They wanted tribute money to help with the war with Egypt. Babylon installed King Zedekiah on the throne of Israel and demanded a heavy tribute.
It was during this little window of “peace” from 601 to 597 BC, that Lehi began to preach. The Lord instructed him to preach that Babylon was going to destroy Jerusalem and take everyone captive into Babylon. This was considered sedition, or even treason by King Zedekiah, as well as by Babylon, their new master. It is little wonder that “the Jews” tried to kill him, his preaching scared the people and demoralized the army. We learn of this fact in the Lachish letters, discussed in the previous Un-Blog. It isn’t unreasonable to assume that Babylon ordered Zedekiah to silence the prophets.
Lehi left Jerusalem in 597 BC (the fist year of the reign of Zedekiah). Six years later, in 591 BC Israel switched allegiance from Babylon to Egypt in defiance of Jeremiah’s warnings, and Lehi’s prophecies. One year later, Egypt was defeated, and Babylon laid Siege to Jerusalem in retaliation.
siege is a war tactic where an army surrounds a city and literally starves them into defeat. Two years later Jerusalem surrendered. The city was burned to the ground and the temple destroyed.
According to the timeline, the same year the siege began, Lehi and his family were boarding the ship to the Promised Land.
The main assumption I made in developing this timeline was that Sariah would not have been much older than 45 when her two sons, Jacob and Joseph, were born in the wilderness. I also assumed Nephi would have been at least 14 when they left Jerusalem, with his older brothers each born two years ahead of each other. I don’t expect this to be accurate, but close enough for the purposes of a timeline of almost 3000 years ago. The timeline you see below is the result.
You can download “Life of Lehi Timeline” in PDF form.