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The Tent of Lehi

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Culture/Old World

The Tent of Lehi

It is most significant how Nephi speaks of his father's tent; it is the official center of all administration and authority. First the dogged insistence of Nephi on telling us again and again that "my father dwelt in a tent" (1 Nephi 2:15; 9:1; 10:16; 16:6). So what? we ask, but to an Oriental that statement says everything. Since time immemorial the whole population of the Near East have been either tent-dwellers or house-dwellers, the people of the bait ash-sha'r or the bait at-tin, "houses of hair or houses of clay."32 It was Harmer who first pointed out that one and the same person may well alternate between the one way of life and the other, and he cites the case of Laban in Genesis 31:, where "one is surprised to find both parties so suddenly equipped with tents for their accommodation in traveling," though they had all along been living in houses.33 Not only has it been the custom for herdsmen and traders to spend part of the year in tents and part in houses, but "persons of distinction" in the East have always enjoyed spending part of the year in tents for the pure pleasure of a complete change.34
It is clear from 1 Nephi 3:1; 4:38; 5:7; 7:5; 7:21—22; 15:1; and 16:10, that Lehi's tent is the headquarters for all activities, all discussion and decisions.[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 19, references silently removed—consult original for citations.