Khirbet Beit Lei
Khirbet Beit Lei is an archaeological site in the Judean lowlands, in Israel. Its name means "Ruin of the House of Lei" in Arabic.
In 1961, road construction unearthed an ancient multi-chamber burial cave in the vicinity of Lachish, and adjacent to the Green Line. Aside from eight skeletons interred within, several supplications for the salvation of Judea and Jerusalem were inscribed on the walls, as well as sketches of ships, leading scholars to believe that the chambers were reused by Israelite refugees fleeing the Chaldaean armies in the sixth century BCE, probably Levites. Ships are a common motif in ancient Near Eastern burial chambers. The reference to Jerusalem is the oldest such Hebrew language mention: [*]
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Latter-day Saint connection
Some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe the site's name refers to Lehi, a prophet in the Book of Mormon. They argue that the cave and inscriptions parallel Lehi's story of flight from Jerusalem and hiding from Laban's
servants , and that the ships fit with Lehi's sea-journey to the western hemisphere. Additionally, they claim that statements made by a local Bedouin and partly repeated by another villager indicate a tradition of the place's name referring to an ancient prophet named Lei.
Other FARMS and Latter Day Saint scholars dispute any connection due to a lack of linguistic or other evidence. Among their arguments: that the Arabic Lei and Hebrew Lehi are borne of different roots and that Nephi wouldn't have had knowledge of his shipbuilding until many years after his flight from Jerusalem. Another interviewer of the Bedouin's account found it to be only partially consistent with the version presented by advocates of a connection.
Despite the debate, the site has remained a popular destination for Mormon tourists in the Holy Land.
Sunstone Magazine Issue No: 51,July 1985: Extended disputation of a Lehi connection
New Light: The So-Called Lehi Cave: FARMS (a pro-LDS group) argues against Khirbet Beit Lei being connected to Lehi and the Book of Mormon.
Biblical Archaeology Review, Nov/Dec., 1988, p.19 : Professor Frank Moore Cross of Harvard University argues that the word "Lehi" cannot be connected with the word "Lei".