Jerusalem¹ (Near East geography model)

Capital of the kingdom of Judah

Jerusalem¹ (Near East geography model)

Jerusalem, often referred to as the “great city,” was the capital of the kingdom of Judah and the central locale for the early events depicted at the beginning of the Book of Mormon. It was the setting from which the prophet Lehi, living at Jerusalem all his days, was commanded by God to flee because of the impending destruction due to the inhabitants’ wickedness (1 Nephi 1:4). In the first year of the reign of King Zedekiah, around 600 BC, Jerusalem was a place teeming with prophetic activity, with many prophets warning of its destruction if the people failed to repent.

Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem marks a pivotal event in the narrative, as the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come to the world six hundred years after Lehi’s exodus from the city (1 Nephi 10:4). The city itself holds a dual significance in the record — both as a tangible location of ancestral origins and as a symbol of spiritual heritage and covenant affiliations for the descendants of the people who emigrated from it, as well as those who perpetuated its memory across the generations.

The Book of Mormon also records the visions of the prophet Nephi, Lehi’s son, which included the future birth and ministry of Jesus Christ in the region of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 11:13). Furthermore, the text recounts the prophet’s profound sorrow for the destruction that would come upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 19:20). The narrative illustrates the city’s role as a focal point of prophecy and religious doctrine, its destruction serving as an admonitory symbol for the covenant people throughout the text.

Despite its destruction, prophesied by Lehi and later witnessed in a vision by Nephi (2 Nephi 1:4), Jerusalem was never forgotten by the people in the Book of Mormon. It remained in their collective memory as their ancestral home and as a symbol of their covenant relationship with the Lord, although physically distant from their new lands of inheritance. The promise of Jesus Christ, who would minister back in the land of Jerusalem and ultimately be crucified there, further interconnected the peoples’ history with that of the great city (1 Nephi 19:13; 2 Nephi 25:11).

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