On Thursday of this week, people in my stake read the Book of Mormon’s little Book of Enos. At the end of that short work, Enos says that as he approached the end of his life, “an hundred and seventy and nine years had passed away from the time that our father Lehi left Jerusalem.” (Enos 1:25)
That actually used to bug me–it seemed implausible that nearly 200 years could pass in the space of only three generations. Any time I tried to make the math work, it just didn’t seem realistic.
But upon reading it again this week, I remembered this story from a couple of years ago: John Tyler, 10th president of the United States, who was born in 1790, has grandsons who are still alive.
Not great-great-great-grandsons, mind you. Grandsons.
That’s well over 220 years covered by only three generations, more than 40 years longer than the time mentioned in the Book of Mormon. If you figure that Lehi might have been about 40 when he “left Jerusalem,” the chronologies aren’t far off at all. Indeed, the Book of Mormon says that Enos’s father Jacob was the next-to-youngest son of a large family (1 Nephi 18:7), and that his parents were quite old at the time (1 Nephi 18:17-18). Enos may well have also been a youngest son of old age.
179 years from 1 Nephi 2 until the end of Enos is perfectly plausible.