08 July 2019

A steel sword from 7th century BC Israel

Steel in the Book of Mormon is a common target for critics. The first mention is the sword of Laban, with its blade of 'precious' steel. The common thinking for quite a while is that this is an anachronism, several centuries out of date. We have found ancient examples of Middle Eastern steel: an 11th century BC dagger from Cyprus and a 12th or 13th century BC pick from Mt. Adir in northern Galilee (click here to read about them). However, an actual steel sword dating to Lehi's time has been found.





Now residing in the Israel Museum, a sword from the Vered Jericho fortress was found in the 1980s. It's over three feet long and is described as being made of mild steel. Some listings may describe it as iron, but because steel is so close to iron (up to 99%), academic descriptions often don't distinguish between the two materials. But articles delving into the details will mention the difference. According to Popular Mechanics and the Biblical Archaeology Review, it is indeed iron hardened into a mild steel (click here to read the article). According to the museum's 1992 journal, "Metallurgical analysis of a sample taken from the blade proves that it was made of mild steel, and that the iron was deliberately hardened into steel, attesting to the technical knowledge of the blacksmith."

Shad Brooks, an Australian swords and ancient weaponry expert, explains the significance of this find on his YouTube channel, Shadiversity. He defends its description as steel and explains just how close iron and steel are, especially in ancient metallurgy. Using the Vered Jericho sword as a base, he has even reconstructed a probable design of the sword of Laban, based on Nephi's description.

The sword of Laban can now safely be removed from any list of Book of Mormon controversies. No longer do we need to try and explain it away, as it fits fully into the historical record of the time, without any hit of anachronism.

Click here to watch Shad's recreation of the sword of Laban.
Click here to watch Shad's defense of the Vered Jericho sword as steel.

11 June 2019

Pope confirms phrase from the JST

In an unexpected bit of news, Pope Francis recently approved a change to a phrase in the Lord's Prayer, found in Matthew 6:14. In this familiar scripture, Jesus teachers the pattern for praying to our Heavenly Father. The King James Bible contains the phrase, "And lead us not into temptation." Reasoning that God does not tempt mankind, but rather the devil, the pope has changed the phrase to “do not let us fall into temptation.”

This is interesting because the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, long criticized by many Christians, contains practically the same phrase, for likely the same reason. His rendering of this line reads "And suffer us not to be led into temptation." The beyond close similarity of the two phrases is interesting, since Joseph made this inspired change over 150 years ago. We wonder how and why the current pope came to this same conclusion, but we do agree with his decision.

Read here about Pope Francis' change to this and the Gloria.