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Two groups of Israelites departed from the Middle East around the time of 600 BC, namely the family of Lehi in 597, according to modern chronology, and a group of Assyrian captives about the same time, who migrated into the north country. Two separate congregations of people, one small and the other undoubtedly much larger, both members of the house of Israel, left their homes for different reasons and departed into the wilderness. What they did was not something ill-conceived or incidental but enterprises well planned and carried out under the guidance of God himself.
Both migrations were part of a giant movement known as the Scattering of Israel. One by one, groups and members of the house of Israel were dispersed from the capital cities of Jerusalem and Samaria, as well as surrounding areas, and relocated to many different parts of the world.
“It appears that the house of Israel, sooner or later, will be scattered upon all the face of the earth,” the scripture says, “and also among all nations. And behold, there are many who are already lost from the knowledge of those who are at Jerusalem. Yea, the more part of all the tribes have been led away, and they are scattered to and from, upon the isles of the sea; and whither they are none of us knoweth, save that we know that they have been led away.”
Among the Israelites there was still another group which left the Middle East in the area of 600 BC. Along with Lehi’s party and those who banded together in Assyria, the people in a third congregation, again presumably small in number, left Judah’s capital during its siege and downfall in the year 586 and commenced their own voyage to a promised land. Mulek, one of the sons of Zedekiah, in some way managed to escape his captors and with his own group departed from the stricken city of Jerusalem, most likely at night, and fled into the wilderness.
It is not known how many sons Zedekiah had, but evidently Nebuchadnezzar thought he had captured all of them, and he showed no mercy to what has been referred to as the royal seed. He promptly executed all of the boys in the presence of their father.
“Then they took the king, and carried him up unto the king of Babylon to Riblah in the land of Hamath, where he gave judgment upon him. And the king of Babylon slew the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes.”
But for whatever reason and purpose, there was one son who was able to escape. As with Lehi’s group and those who disappeared into the north fro Assyria, it was not his destiny, along with the ones who followed him, to be killed or enslaved by people such as the Chaldeans. Instead he departed from Jerusalem and traveled probably toward the west until he reached the seashore, at which place he built a ship, as Nephi was doing about the same time, and set sail with his small group of fugitives for the new world.
The similarities between Mulek’s party, Lehi’s party, and the ten tribes are no coincidence. All of these people had similar characteristics and purposes and disappeared from regular society around the same time. Certainly they lived in a unique period of history, a pivotal date in which highly significant events were taking place.