The non-Ether sections of the Book of Mormon begin around 600 BCE, when Lehi’s family of devout Jews purportedly lived in Jerusalem.
Mormons claim the book was written on golden plates in Reformed Egyptian, though there has never been evidence of this written language. LDS apologists claim the language was not very common and, therefore, not surprising that New World examples of the script have never been unearthed.
The “caractors” offered by Joseph Smith as samples from the plates have been debunked by scholars for years – including Professor Charles Anthon.
One of the most obvious historical problems with Joseph Smith’s claim is that the Jews were allies with the Egyptians during this time. Hebrew was the sacred language, and the Lord was “Against Egypt” (Jeremiah 46:1-2). It is unlikely that this family would write in any sort of Egyptian format.
King Josiah (born 649 BCE) was killed in a battle with Egypt during the summer of 609 BCE, and Judah then paid tribute to Egypt (II Chronicles 35-36).
Some have speculated Joseph Smith patterned the character of Nephi after his own alter-ego. If this is true, then it is befitting that his brother might be named Sam, since Joseph Smith’s younger brother was named Samuel.