Mormon studies, Book of Mormon, Lehi
Most Latter-day Saints would agree that the prophet Lehi and his family left their home in Jerusalem and departed into the wilderness in the year 600 BC. This is largely due to the presence of an asterisk in 1 Nephi 2:4, present in every official edition of the Book of Mormon from 1920 to 2012, which alerts readers to a “600 BC” chronological notation at the bottom of the page. However, a number of studies over the last forty years have suggested that 600 BC cannot have been the correct date of Lehi’s departure, preferring later dates anywhere from 597 to 587 BC. But these suggestions, as well as the 600 BC notation itself, are all chronologically too late to accommodate the complicated contextual factors present in the text of First Nephi. This study will propose an earlier date for the event, within a quite narrow window of time. In what may come as a surprise to many readers, I suggest that Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem occurred sometime in November 605 BC. This dating, I argue, makes the best sense of two principal data points: (1) the birth of Jesus in late 5 BC and the death of King Herod in the early spring of 4 BC and (2) the prophecy that Jesus would be born six hundred years from the time of Lehi’s departure from Jerusalem.
Chadwick, Jeffrey R.
"Dating the Departure of Lehi from Jerusalem,"
BYU Studies Quarterly: Vol. 57
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/byusq/vol57/iss2/3