Similarity #1: THE DESTRUCTION OF JERUSALEM
I will now examine specific similarities that are cited most often by critics. The first supposed similarity is the fact that both View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon reference Jerusalem being destroyed. This is described in the first chapter of VOTH and Lehi is warned of Jerusalem’s destruction in the first chapter of 1 Nephi. As I will show, however, the only similarity between the two works is that they both say that at one point in time Jerusalem has been destroyed. This is not a significant similarity because the destructions referenced in the two works refer to two completely different events. I will be comparing the 1825 Edition of View of the Hebrews (Ethan Smith, http://www.thechristianidentityforum.net/downloads/View-America.pdf) and the 1981 Edition of the Book of Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
- The destruction of Jerusalem referenced in VOTH is the destruction that occurred in 70 A.D. by the Romans.
- In VOTH, Ethan Smith states the reason that Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. “Here were the city and the temple to be destroyed, for the infidelity, malice, hypocrisy, and persecution of the Lord of glory” (pg. 8).
- VOTH goes into explicit detail of Jerusalem being destroyed by Romans in 70 A.D. This is to illustrate that the predictions of Jesus about the future of Jerusalem came true, proving that he was the Son of God. See the first page of the chapter, which states “And the Messiah uttered against them, in consequence of their rejecting him, a new edition of these fatal denunciations, which we find in Matt. 24, Luke 19:41-44, chapter 21, and 23:27-30.” (pg. 7)
- The only reference in VOTH to the Babylonian destruction is a single sentence that states “that it [Jerusalem] should be consumed on the same month, on the same day of the month, on which the Babylonians had before destroyed it by fire.”
- In the BOM, however, Lehi’s family escaped the Babylonian attack on Jerusalem in 600 B.C. The Book of Mormon never mentions the destruction of Jerusalem by Romans, nor the prophecies of Jesus concerning its destruction in 70 A.D.
- This is not a significant parallel because the destruction referred to in both sources is hundreds of years apart, caused by different invaders, and serves a different purpose in the narrative of the BOM and VOTH.
Similarity #2: The Scattering of Israel/The lost ten tribes
This parallel is based on the fact that both the BOM and VOTH argue that Israelites were led to the Americas. However, many differences exist between the two works. The Book of Mormon does not claim that the Native Americans are descendants of the lost tribes of Israel, whereas View of the Hebrews states explicitly that the Native Americans are the ten lost tribes of Israel who were preserved by the Lord in an outcast and a savage state.
- The Native Americans are the lost ten tribes of Israel. “The ten tribes of Israel must now have, somewhere on earth, a distinct existence in an outcast state.” (pg. 30)
- They were expelled from Canaan in 725 B.C., living in “an outcast state for thousands of years” (pg. 20) after they were carried out by Shalmanezer of Assyria.
- Expelled and outcast from the promised land because of their iniquity and idolatry (Amos 8:11,12)
- They became a savage people as vindictive Providence punished them for their idolatry in 725 B.C. (pg. 70)
- This is not a record of the lost ten tribes of Israel. Lehi was a descendant of Joseph and Manasseh. (Alma 10:3)
- Two families (Lehi and Ishmael) were led out of Jerusalem in 600 B.C. to avoid destruction from the Babylonians as well as the Jews for preaching heresy. Mulek, a son of Zedekiah, was also led out of Jerusalem during its destruction. (1 Nephi 2:1-2/Helaman 8:21)
- Lehi’s family was led from Jerusalem because of their righteousness and to avoid death. “And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness.” (1 Nephi 2:2)
- Three separate peoples come to the Americas by way of boats (Jaredites, Mulekites, Nephites)
- BOM prophets acknowledge that they do not know where the lost ten tribes of Israel are. “But now I go unto the Father, and also to show myself unto the lost tribes of Israel, for they are not lost unto the Father, for he knoweth whither he hath taken them.” (3 Nephi 17:4)
- Lehi’s family was led out of Jerusalem to be preserved as a righteous branch, according to the prophecies of Joseph and Jacob: “Wherefore, Joseph truly saw our day. And he obtained a promise of the Lord, that out of the fruit of his loins the Lord God would raise up a righteous branch unto the house of Israel; not the Messiah, but a branch which was to be broken off, nevertheless, to be remembered in the covenants of the Lord that the Messiah should be made manifest unto them in the latter days, in the spirit of power, unto the bringing of them out of darkness unto light—yea, out of hidden darkness and out of captivity unto freedom” (2 Nephi 3:5).
- “The words of Jacob, before his death, for behold, he saw that a part of the remnant of the coat of Joseph was preserved and had not decayed. And he said—Even as this remnant of garment of my son hath been preserved, so shall a remnant of the seed of my son be preserved by the hand of God, and be taken unto himself, while the remainder of the seed of Joseph shall perish, even as the remnant of his garment.” (Alma 46:23)
VOTH: 1. The lost tribes of Israel will be outcast and will travel in a north-east direction, and will cross the frozen ocean to the Americas. They will not have the word of God among them. “There is a prophecy is Amos viii. 11, 12, relative to the ten tribes of Israel while in their state of banishment from the promised land, which appears exactly to accord with the account by Esdras…As an event to be accomplished in their outcast state, the prophet gives this striking descriptive prediction. Verse 11, 12; ‘Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, (or upon the tribes of Israel,) not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water; but of hearing the words of the Lord. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.’…The prediction implies that Israel in their exilement should know that they had been blessed with the word of God, but had wickedly lost it; as a man in a famine knows he has had bread, but now has it not. They shall feel something what they have lost, and shall wander…shall wander in a north-east direction as far as they can wander, from sea to sea…from the northern frozen ocean, to the southern ocean at Cape Horn.” (Ethan Smith, pg. 33)
2. The lost tribes were outcast because of their idolatry: “Amos was a prophet to the ten tribes of Israel…The symbol is thus explained; ‘Then said the Lord unto me, The end is come upon my people of Israel; I will not pass by them anymore.’ The prophet in this chapter announces that ‘they that swear by the sins of Samaria, and say, Thy God, O Dan, liveth; and, The manner of Beersheba liveth; even they shall fall.’ Here is a description of the idolatry of the ten tribes, and their utter banishment then just about to take place; from which they have never been recovered to this day.” (Ethan Smith, p. 33)
VOTH and the BOM refer to separate people’s in separate centuries, being led by different paths to a distant land for different purposes. Critics of the BOM try to overgeneralize this similarity by saying that ‘both works say the Israelites come to Americas for religious reasons,’ and ignore all other details/differences.