Home The Catalog of Accusations

Was Jesus Born in Jerusalem?
by Woody Brison

Accusation: The Book of Mormon incorrectly predicts that Jesus would be born in Jerusalem:

Alma 7:10 "And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers..."

Everybody knows that he was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. This clumsy error shows that real prophets didn't write the Book of Mormon; Joseph Smith just made it up.

Answer: Alma 7:10 refers to the land of Jerusalem, not the city.

Alma made that clear, look closely at it. He's talking about their ancestral homeland, where they came from about 500 years earlier.

Alma's prophecy was entirely true; Bethlehem is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, in the land of Jerusalem.

 
Accusation: There is no "land of Jerusalem" and there never was. Jerusalem was always just the city, never the land; the land was called Israel, Palestine, Judea, Judah, Canaan, etc.

This is a different accusation. The first was that the Book of Mormon has Jesus born in the wrong place; this just accuses the book of using incorrect terminology. It's an attempt to shift the accusation around when it begins to look weak.

Answer: The Nephites consistently used the phrase "land of Jerusalem" to refer to their ancestral homeland, the area we call Israel today. Their usage might not be in style today, but they were isolated. There's nothing wrong with it.

Notice also how Alma used the word "AT". At means 'in or near'. Even if he had said 'at (the city of) Jerusalem' it still wouldn't be a problem. Here is the difference between IN and AT:

Mark 14:54) And Peter ... warmed himself AT the fire.
Matthew 24:41) Two women shall be grinding AT the mill...
In 600 BC, when the Lehites left the area, the territory held by the kings of Jerusalem was considerably reduced from the glory days of Solomon; probably to a few miles' radius.

The New Testament seems to avoid the phrase (Mark 1:5, Acts 10:39) so if Joseph Smith were a crafty forger, he might well have followed suit. But it does occur in various manuscripts from the time Nephi left the Old World, such as the DSS Pseudo-Jeremiah (4Q385) and earlier, the Amarna Letters (EA 287), all discovered long after Joseph was dead. See also Jeremiah 6:8, from that same era.

Examples of Nephites refering to their ancestral homeland:
Omni 1:6) ...[the Lord] led them out of the land of Jerusalem and kept and preserved them from falling into the hands of their enemies ...
Alma 3:11) ...those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem ...
Helaman 5:6) ...our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem ...
 
Matthew 9:10) ...Jesus sat AT meat IN the house... (there are over 40 such usages in the Book of Mormon)

Notes

1. Woody Brison is an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but this website is not affiliated with the church. It may be thought of as an additional, somewhat independent witness.

2. I want this page to be as accurate as I can make it. If you have a correction, please email me.

3. All biblical quotations are from the King James unless otherwise noted.

Copyright 2013 Woody Brison. All rights reserved.