(August 18, 2014)
The time frame of this book presents a problem (how is it possible that a grandchild of Lehi could be alive 179 years after leaving
Jerusalem?), but it is not an insurmountable
one. This is one of those occurrences where
if you have a testimony you can look at the problem and find a solution, but if
you lack that testimony looking at the problem seems almost overwhelming.
There are at least four resolutions to this issue. The first is that Enos is the son of Jacob in his old age. If Jacob was in his late 70s when Enos was born, and Enos lived into his 90s, then the number line up (remember that Jacob was born in the wilderness, so the number 179 is actually between 179 and 171). This is a genuine possibility, although unlikely. The second possibility is that Jacob describes Enos as his “son” in his book, but Enos was in actuality a grandson. This is consistent with the Hebrew usages of son – meaning male descendent as well as a literal son. It is possible that Enos was given the plates by his grandfather Jacob because of the experience that he had (and which was recorded in this book) made him particularly appropriate for caring for the records (remember what he was praying about). It is also possible that Enos’s father died for some reason (war? disease?), and thus Enos was adopted or the records passed to him in that way.
The third possibility is that the Enos of Enos is the son of the Enos of Jacob. It was not uncommon for fathers to name their children after their own names, and if Jacob gave the plates to Enos, who wrote nothing on them, who then gave them to his son Enos, who wrote on them (and remember that Enos talks about his father being a just man, but noticeably he does not mention him by name), then that would resolve the timeline issue. Finally, there is the possibility that a year simply meant something different to the Nephites than it means to us today. After all, the best calendar we can build from the latter times of the Nephites appears to only have 360 days – we cannot know for certain what calendaring they were using at this point.