Chronology/History: After Lehi preaches repentance in Jerusalem for an indeterminate time, Yahweh directs him to take his family and leave the city. He began preaching in the first year of Zedekiah’s reign, which was 597 B.C. Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C., but Lehi’s family left early enough during that nine-year period that they could make several trips back to the city without encountering military action.
Randall P. Spackman quotes 1 Nephi 7:14: “For behold, the Spirit of the Lord ceaseth soon to strive with them; for behold, they have rejected the prophets, and Jeremiah have they cast into prison. And they have sought to take away the life of my father, insomuch that they have driven him out of the land.” He then comments:
This passage provides one of the most important clues for dating the time of Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem. According to Nephi, the actions taken against Jeremiah and the other prophets were directly connected with the threats on Lehi’s life. This argument was not an academic discussion between friendly brothers, but an intense debate involving life and death issues.… Thus, the knowledge of Lehi’s sons concerning Jeremiah’s imprisonment places the escape of Ishmael’s family after the time when the Egyptians invaded the land of Judah [587 B.C.E].