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TOM - Would you mind clarifying the term Jewish? I understand that the meaning of this word has changed a bit through out time but my main questions revolve around Lehi and the Savior. Is there any truth to saying that Lehi was a Jew? I know that he was not a Jew by nationality seeing as how is a descendant of Manasseh...but wasn't he a "Jew" by religion because he lived the law of Moses? The Book of Mormon speaks about Lehi the same way Christ is spoken of in the New Testament in the sense that they both did things that "the Jews" didn't like...to me the way that is written makes them sound like they weren't Jews. It makes it sound like they were from completely different walks of life if you will. Any light you can shed would be great!

JOEL - "Jewish" can refer to people who practice the religion, life-styles, and traditions of Judaism but may or may not be Jewish by birth. It can be a cultural designation or can literally refer to one who is a descendant of Judah. It has been customary to use the word Jew to refer to any descendant of Jacob, even though such thinking would be incorrect. Lehi was not a blood descendant of Judah; but of Joseph; a member of the tribe of Manasseh. (Alma 10:3; 1 Ne. 5:14.)

"And it came to pass that my father, Lehi, also found upon the plates of brass a genealogy of his fathers; wherefore he knew that he was a descendant of Joseph; yea, even that Joseph who was the son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt, and who was preserved by the hand of the Lord, that he might preserve his father, Jacob, and all his household from perishing with famine. (1 Ne. 5:14.)

But because Lehi and his family came from Jerusalem and lived within the Jewish culture they might be considered Jewish, but only in the cultural sense of the word. Lehi was educated in "the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians" (1 Nephi 1:2), but he did not identify himself as a Jew. In fact Lehi made the Jews of his time quite angry when he prophesied about their destruction (1 Nephi 1:13).

Just because he was not a literal Jew doesn't mean that he would not follow the law of Moses (2 Nep 5:10) as all other Jews did. Lehi possessed the plates of brass containing the five books of Moses; he considered those books authoritative and essential to the life of his people (1 Nephi 5:10-22). He loved and obeyed that law, which he considered sacred and binding.

Jesus was a literal descendent of Judah through his mother Mary(Luke 3), and grew up in the Jewish culture of the day and strictly followed the Mosaic law. Later in life, as He began His ministry, Jesus did things the Jews didn't like because one of His main missions for coming to earth was not to support the continued living of the law of Moses but fulfilling that law and introducing His more perfect gospel and doctrines and bringing salvation through His atoning sacrifice(3 Nephi 15: 3-4). Because of this, many of the things Jesus did and said anoyed many Jews, especially the Pharasies (Matthew 23; Mark 7:123; Luke 11:3744) and Sadducees (Mark 12:1827; Acts 4:13; 23:78) who insisted on strict adherence to the Mosaic law.

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