Lehi (Book of Mormon prophet)

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Lehi and his family from a late nineteenth century portrayal

According to the Book of Mormon, Lehi (/ˈlh/ LEE-hy)[1] was a prophet who lived in Jerusalem during the reign of king Zedekiah (approximately 600 BC).[2] Lehi was an Israelite of the Tribe of Manasseh, and father to Nephi, another prominent prophet in the Book of Mormon. In the first book of the Book of Mormon, First Nephi, Lehi and Nephi lead their family out of Jerusalem, and across the sea to the "promised land" (the Americas). Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley has suggested that he was a merchant and contemporary of the Seven Wise Men of Greece.[3] The prophet is the namesake of the modern-day city of Lehi, Utah.[4]

Life according to the Book of Mormon[edit]

According to the Book of Mormon, the families of Lehi, his friend Ishmael and another man named Zoram left Jerusalem some time before its destruction by the Babylonians in approximately 587 BC. Lehi's group proceeded southward down the Arabian Peninsula until they reached a location called Nahom. For some time, Lehi dwelt in a tent. 1 Nephi 2:15[5] Ishmael is reported to have died by this time, and he was buried at this location.[6]

From Nahom, the group proceeded in an eastward direction across the desert until they reached a fertile coastal region they named Bountiful,[7] where Lehi's son Nephi was instructed by the Lord to build a ship for the purpose of sailing across the ocean to the "promised land."[8] The party of men, women and children along with their animals boarded the ship and sailed until they reached the Americas.[9]

The Book of Mormon relates that during his family's journey to the Americas and before his death, Lehi gave important teachings to his children and their posterity that were recorded by Nephi on metallic plates that were later used in compiling the Book of Mormon.


Upon Lehi's death, his sons Nephi and Laman established two conflicting nations, the Nephites and the Lamanites, and as such he is considered one of the principal ancestors of the Book of Mormon and Native American peoples. According to the Book of Mormon, his known immediate family is as shown in the diagram below.


It is also believed that Lehi had daughters maybe even before Jacob and Joseph were born. Lehi's son, Nephi, mentions having sisters in his writings; their names and birth order are unknown.[10]

Possible origin of the name[edit]

The name "Lehi" (לֶחִי) also means jawbone or cheek in Hebrew, and appears in Judges 15: 15-19.[11][12]

15 And he found a new jawbone of an ass [לְחִי-חֲמוֹר], and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.[13]
16 And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.
17 And it came to pass, when he had made an end of speaking, that he cast away the jawbone out of his hand, and called that place Ramath-lehi.
18 And he was sore athirst, and called on the Lord, and said, Thou hast given this great deliverance into the hand of thy servant: and now shall I die for thirst, and fall into the hand of the uncircumcised?
19 But God clave a hollow place that was in the jaw, and there came water thereout; and when he had drunk, his spirit came again, and he revived: wherefore he called the name thereof En-hakkore, which is in Lehi unto this day.

Modern commemorations[edit]

Lehi, Mesa, and Lehi, Utah, were named after him by Latter-day Saint settlers.


  1. ^ churchofjesuschrist.org: "Book of Mormon Pronunciation Guide" (retrieved 2012-02-25), IPA-ified from «lē´hī»
  2. ^ 1 Nephi 1:4
  3. ^ (Nibley 1952)
  4. ^ Gannett, Henry (1905). The Origin of Certain Place Names in the United States. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 184.
  5. ^ See the following chapters in the Book of Mormon for this narrative: 1 Nephi 2, 1 Nephi 3, 1 Nephi 4, 1 Nephi 5, 1 Nephi 7, 1 Nephi 16
  6. ^ 1 Nephi 16:34
  7. ^ Possibly a site in the verdant Dhofar area in modern Oman.[citation needed]
  8. ^ 1 Nephi 17
  9. ^ 1 Nephi 18
  10. ^ "2 Nephi 5:6". churchofjesuschrist.org.
  11. ^ Jim Melough. "Samson and the jawbone". greenmeadows-stillwaters.com. Archived from the original on 25 May 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  12. ^ "Judges Chapter 15 שׁוֹפְטִים". mechon-mamre.org. Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  13. ^ Original Hebrew [טו וַיִּמְצָא לְחִי-חֲמוֹר, טְרִיָּה; וַיִּשְׁלַח יָדוֹ וַיִּקָּחֶהָ, וַיַּךְ-בָּהּ אֶלֶף אִישׁ.]


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]