2020
What Was Jerusalem Like in Lehi’s Time?
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“What Was Jerusalem Like in Lehi’s Time?” Ensign, January 2020

Come, Follow Me: Book of Mormon

1 Nephi 1–7 (January 6–12)

What Was Jerusalem Like in Lehi’s Time?

Ensign Magazine, 2020/01 Jan

Jerusalem, 600 BC. The capital city of the kingdom of Judah is filled with political intrigue and wickedness. The past decade has been especially calamitous. Judah’s kings have been killed or captured; Jews have been marched off to Babylon; prophets, such as Jeremiah, have been threatened and imprisoned. It’s no wonder the Lord tells Lehi to flee (see 1 Nephi 2:1–2).

  • Population: 25,000 (big by ancient standards)

  • Terrain: desert, fertile valleys, sloping hills

  • Currency: money by weight (silver, copper, gold; no coins)

  • Language: Hebrew

  • Workforce: craftsmen, merchants, slaves (considered members of the family); most also farm

  • Food: fruit, bread, olives, figs, stew

  • Clothing: coarse wool, sandals; white robes for priests

  • Religion: corrupt,idolatrous; false prophets proclaim peace; a trumpeting ram’s horn announces daily prayer

  • Social structure: patriarchal, including elders of the city, chiefs of the families, and the excellent, or “men of good birth”

  • Families: households consist of multiple homes surrounding a courtyard, led by the father. Includes sons’ families, unmarried daughters and aunts, and aging relatives.

  • Military: none at present. Any soldiers are Babylonians, to whom Judah pays tribute.