LEHI MANY HERITAGES
The caravans of Egypt and Israel pass each other, guided through the sands by those men of the desert (Arabs) who were the immemorial go-between of the two civilizations. Hugh Nibley.
Arab: Arab designates a way of life, and was applied by the Jews to their own relatives who remained behind in the wilderness. , Manessah lived furthest out of Jerusalem and had contact with Arabs the most
Israeli: Of Manasseh through Joseph and the 12 tribes of Israel
Egyptian: Language of Lehi consists of learning of Jews and language of Egyptians: Heritage, culture. Ammon was Manassah’s nearest neighbor and is an Egyptian name.
Hebrew: Lehi means Jaw Bone in Hebrew. From Eber, Jewish because they live near and around Jerusalem. Learning of the Jews.
Christian: Through Christ, and lived the law of Moses
Arabic Names: Laman, Lemuel
Egyptian Names: Nephi, Sam
Israeli Names: Jacob, Joseph
Biet Lehi Foundation
The Beit Lehi Foundation was organized to support the excavation of the Beit Lehi archaeological site, located 22 miles south of Jerusalem, for the benefit of the general public and to advance the understanding and awareness of the general public of ancient religious history associated with this site through scientific research and education. Additional objectives include protection and preservation of the archaeological site, education for visitors and to facilitate the opportunity for families and young people to work at the excavation site under the guidance of a qualified archaeologist and his staff.
In 1961 Israeli soldiers unearthed a cave that had inscriptions and drawings including the oldest known Hebrew writing of the word “Jerusalem” dated to approximately 600 B.C. by Dr. Frank Cross Moore, Jr. of Harvard University.
“I am Jehovah thy Lord. I will accept the cities of Judah and I will redeem Jerusalem”
“Absolve us oh merciful God. Absolve us oh Jehovah”
The drawings depicted men who appeared to be fleeing and two ships.
While investigating the cave, Dr. Joseph Ginat of The University of Haifa met a Bedouin who told him about the remains of an ancient oak tree about 1/4 of a mile away where, according to Bedouin legends and tradition, a prophet named Lehi blessed and judged the people of both Ishmael and Judah. The Bedouin told Dr. Ginat that Lehi had lived many years before Muhammad and that Arab people had built a wall of large rocks around the remains of the tree to protect it as a sacred spot, long known by arab inhabitants as “Beit Lehi”, meaning “Home of Lehi.”
Dr. Ginat shared this information with W. Cleon Skousen whom he had met while studying anthropology at University of Utah and teaching at Brigham Young University from 1970 through 1975.
In 1983 Dr. Skousen and Dr. Glenn Kimber worked with Dr. Ginat and Dr. Yoram Tsafrir of Hebrew University to secure permission and funding to excavate the site. The first excavations began in December 1983. By noon of the first day, archaeologists found an ancient village and well-preserved mosaic floor of a Byzantine era chapel. Since that time, “hewn subterranean installations, including columbaria, olive presses, water cisterns, quarries, a stable, and hideaways,” have been discovered along with pottery and other items suggesting that the area had been populated from 600 B.C. until the Mameluke period of 1500 A.D. The discovery has been featured in the book Ancient Churches Revealed, published in 1993 by the Israel Exploration Society.
After 1986 the site was covered to protect it until additional funds could be raised and conditions were right to continue future excavations.
In 1994 Dr. Kimber and about 40 others, including a number of students, joined Dr. Ginat and Dr. Tsafrir to re-open the site. Since 1994, many groups have visited the site and participated in the excavation.
Dr. Tsafrir, has since retired and according to Israeli law, passed responsibility for archaeological exploration to Dr. Oren Gutfeld of Hebrew University who continues to manage the excavation.
What’s in a name? Almost every town or city is named for something, a person, an event or a nearby geographical wonder. Beit Lehi is no different. Beit comes from the Arabic word meaning house or dwelling. Lehi means jawbone. Beit Lehi means the “house” or “dwelling” of the jawbone. An odd name without the rest of the story.
The story begins around 1160 B.C. As recorded in the Bible Judges chapters 13-15, Manoah and his wife have no children, but a man of Manoah’s means and stature in the community must have an heir. He and his wife traveled often to a holy place near their home to make sacrifice and pray for a child. That prayer is heard and answered when an angel appears to his wife and tells her that she will bare a son by God’s providence; that he should be a goodly child, of great strength; by whom the Israelites will be delivered from the hands of the Philistines. He was to be a Nazirite, one who takes a vow of dedication to God. At the time of Samson’s birth, the Israelites had been in bondage to the Philistines for more than 40 years.
Perhaps the strongest man in biblical history, Samson’s impetuous nature causes havoc among the Philistines. He ties torches to the tails of 300 foxes and releases them into the fields of the Philistines destroying all their crops. He kills 30 Philistines when they didn’t play fair in solving a riddle. The Philistines seek to remedy the situation by sending an army of one thousand men to capture Samson who is hiding in the cave of a rock at Etam. The army demands that 3,000 men of Judah capture Samson and deliver him into their hands. With Samson’s consent, the men of Judah bind him with rope and are about to hand him over to the Philistines when he breaks free. Using the jawbone of an donkey that lays at his feet, Samson slays 1,000 Philistines.
Exhausted and near death from thirst, Samson prays for water. Miraculously, a spring bursts forth from the ground to revive the champion. “And when he drunk, his spirit came again and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof Enhakkore (meaning fountain of the crier), which is in Lehi unto this day.” (Judges 15:19). In writing “The Antiquities of the Jews”, the great Jewish historian Josephus (1st century A.D.) confirms the biblical account and notes that the spring remained vibrant in his day. Samson remained at Lehi for 20 years as a judge of the people of Israel.
More than 3100 years later, Jewish tradition suggests that the spring that gave life to Samson continues to this day near Beit Lehi.
Book of Mormon Linked to Site in Yemen
A group of Latter-day Saint researchers recently found evidence linking a site in Yemen, on the southwest corner of the Arabian peninsula, to a name associated with Lehi’s journey as recorded in the Book of Mormon.
Warren Aston, Lynn Hilton, and Gregory Witt located a stone altar that professional archaeologists dated to at least 700 B.C. This altar contains an inscription confirming “Nahom” as an actual place that existed in the peninsula before the time of Lehi. The Book of Mormon mentions that “Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom” (1 Ne. 16:34).
This is the first archaeological find that supports a Book of Mormon place-name other than Jerusalem or the Red Sea, says Brother Witt.