I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, but when I read it my brain is always coming up with questions. Sometimes it drives me crazy. Why is there no mention of the brass plates in the Old Testament? They (and their disappearance) must have been very important in Jewish history. Also, why did Laban have them and not King Zedekiah?
Why should there be a mention of the Brass Plates in the Bible? Do you find anywhere in the Bible where the writers say what they are writing on? We know from the Book of Mormon that not only Lehi, but also Jeremiah, recorded their records on the Brass Plates. The Brass Plates contained many more scriptures than have come down to us in the Bible. These included “the five books of Moses, which gave an account of the creation of the world, and also of Adam and Eve…and also a record of the Jews from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah; And also the prophecies of the holy prophets, from the beginning, even down to the commencement of the reign of Zedekiah; and also many prophecies which have been spoken by the mouth of Jeremiah.” (1 Nephi 5:11-13) The record revealed that both Lehi and Laban were descendants of Joseph who was sold into Egypt. (1 Nephi 5:14,16) Nephi states that all things concerning the prophets of old were written on the plates. (1 Nephi 19:21) The plates also contained the prophecies of Joseph concerning the descendants of Lehi. (2 Nephi 4:1-3) Alma repeats that the brass plates contained the holy scriptures and the genealogy of their forefathers “even from the beginning” (Alma 37:3) The brass plates also contained the words of four great prophets that are not mentioned in the Hebrew scriptures of today–Zenos, Zenock, Neum and Ezias. We are told that Zenos lived after the days of Abraham and died as a martyr (Helaman 8:19). Zenos is the author of the allegory of the tame and wild olive trees that was related by Jacob. (Jacob 5) It comprises the longest chapter in the Book of Mormon. Nephi informs us in 1 Nephi 13:23 that the “record of the Jews” or the Bible contains “many of the prophecies of the holy prophets…save there are not so many” as in the Brass Plates. He also stated that “many parts which are plain and most precious” had been removed from the Bible (1 Nephi 13:26). Lehi’s genealogy was a part of the record on the Brass Plates (1 Nephi 3:3, 5:16)
It is quite probable that the record on the Brass Plates was the original record of the scriptures. It is also possible that the original scriptures were written, not in Hebrew, but in Egyptian. After all, Moses, who wrote the first five books of the Bible, was himself an Egyptian. After fleeing from Egypt at age 40, he went to Midian and spoke Arabic for the next 40 years. When he demurred when the Lord called him to lead the Children out of Israel, he said to the Lord, but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.(Exodus 4:10) Many interpret that phrase to indicate that Moses had a speech problem, but that was not the case. We read in Acts 7:22 that Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
So the Hebrew scriptures that have come down to us have in all probability been translations, perhaps book by book, of parts of the original scriptures that were written in Egyptian. There were undoubtedly numbers of records of the holy scriptures extant during the Old Testament times. Numbers of books are mentioned in the Bible that are not found in the Bible. Among them are mentioned the Book of Jasher (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18); the book of Gad the seer, (1 Chronicles 29:29); the book of Nathan the prophet (2 Chronicles 9:29); the book of Shemaiah the prophet (2 Chronicles 12:15); a writing from Elijah the prophet (2 Chronicles 21:12); the writing of Hezekiah king of Judah (Isaiah 38:9); and the book of the words of Esaias the prophet (Malachi 3:16).
Flavius Josephus, born in 35 AD, wrote a book in 93-94 AD called The Antiquities of the Jews. This book was written in Greek as a text to inform the Romans of his day of the history of the Jewish nation. He took his narrative principally from the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the Old Testament, made in Alexandria, Egypt sometime between the 3rd and 1st century BC. However, Josephus refers repeatedly to other sacred books or sacred records that he also used as sources for his narrative.
Each of the books that are in our present Bible was written as a separate document for a specific purpose, and there is no reason why any of them should have mentioned the Brass Plates by that name. They were probably not even called the Brass Plates of Laban except by the Nephites, who took them from their keeper, Laban. In addition, there were only three of the Old Testament book that were written after 600 BC– Haggai, 520 BC, Zechariah, 530 BC, and and Malachi, 397 BC.
Then you ask why did Laban have them rather than King Zedekaih. Zedekiah was a king, not a prophet, and not a very righteous king, at that.. Of course Laban was not a prophet either, but Laban’s genealogy, as was Lehi’s, was recorded on the Brass Plates. We know very little about Laban, but he could have held the plates in some official capacity. We know that he kept them in his treasury (probably because of their great value) and took them with his guard to the Sanhedrin from time to time to be read among the Elders of the Jews.