In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The 1897 Audio Record of Wilford Woodruff's Testimony

This video was recorded in 1897 on the 3 wax cylinders and in this recording President Wilford Woodruff is 90 years old and of all the things that he can bear his testimony about he chose to bear it about the Prophet Joseph Smith jr. There is an accompanying spirit that is found in this recording especially when you realize that he is bearing his testimony about the being the last person still alive who was at that famous "Last Charge" meeting in which Joseph Smith rolled the priesthood and church responsabilities off onto the quorum of the twelve and then celebrated joyfully that through the help of the Lord he was able to do something that Solomon and Hyrum of Tyre were not able to do, namely establishing the fulness of the gospel including the building of the temple here on earth never to be removed from earth again....enjoy!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Khirbet Beit Lei (The Lehi Cave) or not?

subterranean columbarium

 In 1961 Israeli Military Engineers while building a road exposed an ancient Judean tomb containing eight human skeletons in two burial cavaties. There were multiple drawings and etchings and inscriptions on the walls including the name Yahuweh (Jehovah) and the city name Yerushalem (Jerusalem).  The Israeli archeologists named it the Jerusalem Cave but a while later it became known as the Lehi Cave to the LDS community. A couple hundred meters from the Jerusalam Cave  was an abandoned village of ruins in an Arab village called Khirbet Beit Lei (pronounced "bait lay").  In Arabic the term lei means "twisting".  In the 1970's many of the LDS community attempted to connect Lehi to this village of ruins and it became known as Beit Lehi and the Lehi Cave.

It appears that the driving force behind the name change began with Joseph Ginat who is an Israeli anthropologist who studied for his doctorate at the University of Utah and also taught anthropology as a professor at the University of Haifa.  It seems as though it was Joseph Ginat who introduced Glenn Kimber and W. Cleon Skousen to the idea that this area may be the same area of Lehi in the Bible that was connected to Sampson. (Judges 15:8-19). 

According to,
"Joseph Ginat's interest concerning the cave caused him to go back to Israel and investigate the site.  While doing so he was surprised to meet a Bedouin who told him that just above this cave, about 1\4 of a mile away, were the remains of an ancient oak tree. This was the place where , according to the traditions and the legends of the Bedouins, a Prophet named Lehi sat while he blessed and judged the people of Ishmael as well as the people of Judah.  The Bedouin said that Lehi lived many years before Muhammad.  The Arab people built a wall of large rocks around the remains of the tree to protect it as a sacred spot.  Upon return
ing to Salt Lake City, Joseph exitedly shared this information with W. Cleaon Skousen as well as others in the area."

Many of the scholars associated with the site speculated that the Arabic term "Lei" proundounced "lay" is the equivalent of the Hebrew term Lehi.  It was also assumed that the term had the same meaning as the Hebrew version meaning "cheek" or "jawbone" instead of "twisting" as noted above.  The term Khirbet Beit Lei means "ruin of Beit Lehi" according to their translation.  Jeffrey R. Chadwick in his Neal A. Maxwell Institute article entitled "Khirbet Beit Lei and the Book of Mormon: An Arcdhaeologist's Evaluation" has done a pretty thorough job of reviewing not only the archeological findings that have been found but also the names translation and the correlations of the ruin sites with possible locations in the story of Sampson in the Bible and later Lehi and his family in the Book of Mormon and states that the translations in Hebrew and Arabic are completely seperate and thus it would not be the "house of Lehi" but the "house of Lei".

Byzantine period ancient mosaic
At the ruin site there have been inscriptions exclaiming " Yahveh (is) the God of the whole earth; the mountains of Judah belong to him, to the God of Jerusalem" as well as what appears to be drawings of human like figures on the wall, ship etchings and a possible rough depiction of the layout of the city of Lachish.  Other findings were a Byzantine period church complex  featuring an amazing mosaic floor that included Greek inscriptions and an olive oil pressing and a subterranean columbarium (a man made dovecote or structure used to house pigeons) dating to the Hellenistic and Roman periods. In reviewing the dates of many of the findings Chadwick has also come to the conclusion that the burial tombs could not be the "cavity of a rock" in which Nephi and his brothers hid in.  This along with the fact that the site lays about 22 miles to the southwest of Jerusalem leads many LDSscholars to assume that it wouldn't lay within the best route leading out of Jerusalem which would have been used by Lehi and his group. Lehi and his family including Zoram along with Ishmael and his family would have used a nearly southern route which eventually lead to a southeast direction in fleeing Jerusalem and to assume that Khirbet Beit Lei was either the land of Lehi's inheritance or the cave in which Nephi and his brothers fled too would have required them to go out
of their way which was something that more than likely wouldn't have happened in the inital fleeing assuming Lehi's life was in trouble.

Excavation Site Map
Although Chadwick has come to the conclusion that Kirbet Bet Lei could not have been tied into the story of Lehi or the story of Sampson he admits that the site will "remain a site of interest to students of archaeology, historical geography, and the scriptures, since its inscriptions and drawings seem connected to the drama described in Isaiah 36-37, namely the Assyrian attack on Judah in 701 BC, and the subsequent salvation of Jerusalem."  I will leave it to the reader to do their own research and come to their own conclusions of the "Lehi Cave".

I really wanted to share this information since I found the original stories and videos that I had seen about the area to be amazing but then I didn't hear much more and it seemed as though progress on linking the site to Lehi had completely dropped off.  I still feel there is much historical information to be obtained form the site that can help us come to a better understanding of the scriptures.  I will include the link to Jeffrey R. Chadwicks above referenced article as well as links to beit lehi foundation for further research.  I will also include a link to the site panorama that was done by the Utah Valley University archaeology department.  This panorama view is litterally a vitrual tour of the every tomb and ruin and allows you to see these findings first hand.  I wish that every archaeology digging could inlcude a panorama view of their findings as well.  So enjoy.

Jeffrey Chadwicks "Khirbet Beit Lei and the Book of Mormon: An Archaeologist's Evaluation

Beit Lehi Foundation

Beit Lehi Panorama virtual tour