Lehi’s Trek to China and North America


Note: to see how this idea popped into my head and began to develop, read all the comments on the Selections from the Book of Laman post, beginning with this one.

Jerusalem to Lemuel

600 years before the coming of Jesus Christ, the prophet Lehi, who “dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days” (1 Ne. 1:4) left the land and “departed into the wilderness” (1 Ne. 2:4), coming “down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea” and “traveling in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea” (1 Ne. 2:5.) He “traveled three days in the wilderness,” pitching “his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water” (1 Ne. 2:6.) He called the valley Lemuel and the river Laman.1

Two trips back to Jerusalem

While in Lemuel, Lehi sent his four sons back to Jerusalem twice. The first time they came back with the plates of brass and the servant of Laban, whose name was Zoram. The second time they came back with Ishmael, his wife, his daughters, and his two sons, as well as the wives (Lehi’s daughters)2 and children of his two sons.

The Liahona appears

One night, after Ishmael’s family had arrived in Lemuel, the Lord commanded Lehi “that on the morrow he should take his journey into the wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:9.) The very next morning, Lehi found the Liahona upon the ground, which was “a round ball of curious workmanship; and it was of fine brass. And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither [they] should go into the wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:10.) From this point on, the group followed the direction in which the Liahona pointed.

Lemuel to Shazer

From Lemuel (called after the son of Lehi), they “traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction” (1 Ne. 16:13) and camped at a spot they called Shazer (possibly the name of a son of Ishmael.)3

Shazer to the place where Nephi’s bow broke (Camp #3)

From Shazer they “did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way” (1 Ne. 16:15) and followed “the same direction, keeping in the most fertile parts of the wilderness, which were in the borders near the Red Sea” (1 Ne. 16:14) until they stopped at the place where Nephi broke his bow. This was their third mentioned camping spot, or Camp #3. They had been traveling, up to this point, nearly a south-southeast direction.

It was at this place that the party learned the principles under which the Liahona both operated and ceased to function, which knowledge caused those who were murmuring against the Lord to “fear and tremble exceedingly” (1 Ne. 16:27.) When the camp had received food and in their joy had humbled themselves and given thanks to the Lord, they began again their journey, and this is what Nephi wrote:

Camp #3 to Camp #4 (somewhere close to the land of Jerusalem)

And it came to pass that we did again take our journey, traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning; and after we had traveled for the space of many days we did pitch our tents again, that we might tarry for the space of a time. (1 Ne. 16:33)

The words “traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning” do not mean “traveling nearly the same direction as in the beginning,” as it is typically interpreted, but they mean “traveling nearly the same path as in the beginning,” or, to be plainer, it means they retraced their steps. In other words, they first traveled nearly a south-southeast direction for the space of many days along the banks of the Red Sea, all the way down until they came to the place where Nephi broke his bow, and then they traveled nearly a north-northwest direction for the space of many days, retracing nearly the very same path that they had traveled downward, following the Red Sea up, until they came close to where they had first left the land of Jerusalem.

Ishmael’s death at Camp #4

Nephi wrote, “And it came to pass that Ishmael died” (1 Ne. 16:34.) It was here, at the camp that was close to the land of Jerusalem, that Ishmael died.

Ishmael’s burial at Nahom and the return to Jerusalem

“And it came to pass that Ishmael…was buried in the place which was called Nahom” (1 Ne. 16:34.) Ishmael was buried at an already existing place called Nahom, which was either in the land of Jerusalem or in the regions round about. If Nahom was in the land of Jerusalem, then after going to Nahom the party returned to their camp. But if Nahom was not in the land of Jerusalem, then after the party went to Nahom they also went to the land of Jerusalem and then back to their camp. Regardless of where Nahom was located, we know for a fact that the group returned to the land of Jerusalem after Ishmael’s death, because of what Nephi wrote.

Nevertheless, Nahom was likely the Ishmael family cemetery located somewhere in the land of Jerusalem. So, the entire camp (including Lehi) took Ishmael’s body back to the land of Jerusalem, to Nahom, and buried him there, and then possibly also obtained additional supplies for the next, very lengthy segment of their journey. For example, Nephi’s bow needed to be replaced, as well as the bows of his brothers, etc. After doing what they needed to do in Jerusalem, including dedicating Ishmael’s grave at Nahom, etc., which would have been the duty and privilege of Lehi to do, Lehi brought them all out of the land of Jerusalem and they came down into the wilderness to their camp.

Lehi brought the daughters of Ishmael out

Undoubtedly, Lehi revealed at this time, or by this time, the new plans, namely, that they were going nearly eastward of this point into a strange wilderness (into all the countries that were to the east, all the way to China.) Nephi then makes five statements of fact:

And it came to pass that [Statement of Fact #1] the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, [#2] because of the loss of their father, [#3] and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; [#4] and they did murmur against my father, [#5] because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem… (1 Ne. 16:35)

Notice that Nephi categorically states that “he [Lehi] had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 16:35.) Keep in mind that this is Nephi’s statement of fact, not Ishmael’s daughters’ opinion. It is not, as many believe, Nephi’s observation of these girls blaming Lehi for his sons’ actions. If the daughters of Ishmael were merely playing the blame game, assigning fault to Lehi, Nephi would have worded it in a way that would have indicated that, for example: “they did murmur against my father, because they said that he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem,” in other words, he would have worded it as if it were not a literal fact. But Nephi does not state it from the girls’ perspective, but instead he states it as a literal fact, from his own perspective.

Question: Who brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem the first time? Was it Lehi?

Answer: No, it was the sons of Lehi. Lehi was at the camp of Lemuel when Nephi and his brothers brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem. Yet, here we find Nephi stating that Lehi brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem!

Question: Then when did Lehi bring the daughters of Lehi out of the land of Jerusalem?

The obvious answer: is that Nahom was a burial place in the land of Jerusalem and that after the burial, Lehi led the party back to their camp in the wilderness, so that Nephi’s statement is a literal occurrence, Lehi literally, not figuratively, having led them out of the land.

We must perish in the wilderness with hunger

Ishmael’s daughters complained that “after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger” (1 Ne. 16:35.) There was definitely food in Jerusalem, but the act of coming back down to camp in the wilderness meant having to resume hunting food again. Up until Ishmael’s death, they had had success hunting, although at the place where Nephi broke his bow, they came close to starving.

Why were they once again concerned with hunger? There were probably two reasons, one dealing with their current situation (see the Blessed again with food section below) and one dealing with the future. Regarding the future, it may have been that Lehi had already revealed to the family that, although they were now close to Jerusalem, they were not going to return to Jerusalem but were going to travel “nearly eastward” into a strange wilderness, one that no one was familiar with. Now hunger is back in their minds, for who knows how to obtain food in unknown parts?

The desire to return again to Jerusalem

Nephi wrote that the daughters of Ishmael “were desirous to return again to Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 16:36), which indicates that they must have returned to Jerusalem once before. In other words, they were led out of Jerusalem by the sons of Lehi, arriving in Lemuel, and then they returned to Jerusalem and were led out of the land of Jerusalem by Lehi, arriving in Camp #4, and finally they expressed a desire to return again to Jerusalem.

This shows that Nahom and Camp #4 were most definitely near Jerusalem, which means they retraced their steps back up the banks of the Red Sea. Ishmael, then, must have died near Jerusalem, and then the party must have taken his body to Jerusalem (returning to Jerusalem), buried him with his people (in Nahom), and then come back down to the camp outside of Jerusalem. Nephi’s words, then, make sense when he says that Ishmael’s daughters complained against Lehi and Nephi and desired to return again to Jerusalem.

Let us slay our father, and also our brother

The camp’s close proximity to Jerusalem (and its influences) explains why Laman conspired with the others to kill his father and younger brother. They were close to Jerusalem, yet Lehi and Nephi were determined not to return again to it. As the party was no longer “lost in the wilderness” down in the southern part of the Arabian peninsula, nor at the mercy of Lehi and his Liahona to make sure they were safe, Laman and the others, finally knowing where they were and how to get to Jerusalem, could kill Lehi and Nephi and return to the land of their inheritance without problems.

If Camp #4 and Nahom were, instead, at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula, as many scholars think, Laman’s conspiracy to kill would not make any sense, for if he had succeeded, the Liahona would have ceased functioning and they would have been lost in the wilderness and unable to obtain food or find their way back to Jerusalem.

Some strange wilderness

At Camp #4, Laman complained that Nephi was “thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:38.) This is another indication that Laman and the rest of the camp were already aware of the new traveling directions, which were to be “nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1.) Going into the far east from the land of Jerusalem may have definitely been considered as some strange wilderness, or lands completely unknown to the Israelites.

Blessed again with food

Ishmael’s death and the need to bury him at Nahom, must have interrupted the normal day to day (hunting) activities, and may have had the result of them not obtaining any or sufficient food for the entire group. When they returned from Jerusalem, having buried Ishmael at Nahom, Ishmael’s daughters’ complaints that “we must perish in the wilderness with hunger” must have been because the camp was starving. All the subsequent murmuring (and subsequent conspiracy to kill) must also have exasperated the situation so that they could not obtain any food, whatsoever.

In such a situation, and being close to Jerusalem where they knew there was food, it was natural for the daughters to desire to return again to the land of Jerusalem. It also is understandable that Laman once again saw Lehi (and Nephi’s) leadership as deficient, for they were yet again in a state of starvation. Also, as they had returned to the land of Jerusalem and seen that it still had not been destroyed per Lehi’s words, this might have given Laman and the others “evidence” of the falsehood of Lehi’s prophecies, giving them justification in killing the two “false prophets.”

The situation at Camp #4 does not make any sense if it occurred at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula. If they were perishing with hunger down there, instead of close to Jerusalem, it makes no sense to desire to return again to Jerusalem. In other words, if Camp #4 and Nahom were down there, then it took “the space of many days” to get there, which means if they had decided to turn around and return again to Jerusalem, they still would have died of hunger, for it would take “the space of many days” to return to Jerusalem, much too long a trip to survive without food. The record only makes sense if Camp #4 and Nahom were locations close to Jerusalem.

At any rate, the “voice of the Lord” was with the camp and it “did chasten them exceedingly,” so that they “did repent of their sins” and “the Lord did bless [them] again with food, that [they] did not perish” (1 Ne. 16:39.)

The journey to the east begins

From this camp near the land of Jerusalem, after being blessed again with food, they “did take again [their] journey in the wilderness” and “did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1.) Nephi also stated that they “did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 17:4.)

They needed to start their journey far enough south to no longer be within the land of Jerusalem, yet also far enough north to miss running into a large body of water coming in from the Persian Gulf. This would, of necessity, place their starting location a little north of 30 degrees North Latitude, which helps to narrow down the paths they possibly could have taken. The map above has the eastern leg of their journey beginning at 30º 47’ 1″ North Latitude and gives them a straight path to the eastern coast of China and also to North America, missing every island in the ocean.

the space of many days” vs. “the space of many years”

They wandered many days in the wilderness, even forty days did they wander. (Mosiah 7:4)

To a Nephite, 40 days was “many days”.

Nephi always referred to the walk from Shazer to Camp #3 as requiring “the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:17) and the walk from Camp #3 to Camp #4 as also requiring “the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:33.) He never referred to these trips as lasting “many years.” But after they left Camp #4, they completely changed direction and then they were spoken of as traveling “for the space of many years,” not days. This indicates that the distance they traveled nearly eastward of Camp #4 was significantly farther than the combined distances they traveled between Shazer and Camp #3 and between Camp #3 and Camp #4, which is consistent with a trip to China.

Eight years of travel

Traveling “nearly eastward from that time forth,” beginning at a place close to the land of Jerusalem (Camp #4), they would have traversed the entire Asian continent, passing through Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and finally arriving at the eastern coast of China, stopping somewhere around the area of Xiangshan, Ningbo, Zhejiang, China, perhaps a little south of Bogushan Island. Using the standard 32 points of a compass, this means they were traveling either East by North4 (78.75º) or East by South (101.25º) or some other bearing even closer to East (90º) for eight years, without variation in direction, along a loxodromic line. The map above has a nearly eastward line with a bearing somewhere around 90.33º.

Eight years is 2920 days. The journey from Camp #4 to Bountiful was a little over 5000 miles, which averages to about 1.7 miles gained per day. Now, that might not sound like much distance covered, but when you consider the terrain they went through, the severe and rapidly changing weather conditions, and the fact that they couldn’t go around any obstacles, it starts to make sense. (Just take a look at the terrain of the path on the map above.)

On the other hand, eight years of travel does not make any sense for an Arabian Sea route. The eastward route that most scholars think Lehi took along the bottom of the Arabian peninsula would have taken most travelers “a matter of weeks, not years”.   To solve this apparent problem, it is assumed they spent an inordinate amount of time at one or more locations, one researcher even going so far as to suggest that the family must have been enslaved by other tribes for much of the eight years.

When you do the math for an Arabian Sea path, it just does not add up to what Nephi wrote. It is approximately 1200 miles from Jerusalem to the 19th parallel and another 800 to 1200 miles to the eastern shore of Arabia. If we add that together we get about 2400 miles. How many miles can a person walk in a single day? About 20 miles. So, traveling 20 miles a day it would take you 120 days to traverse the entire distance. Now, if it took them 8 years to do it, that would be 2920 days, of which 120 were spent walking and 2800 spent resting in camp! Now, does that sound to you like a grueling journey?

The daughters of Ishmael said, “We have wandered much in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:35.) Nephi described their wanderings in the wilderness as having “suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all” (1 Ne. 17:6.) Laman and Lemuel stated that “we have wandered in the wilderness for these many years” and that their women “suffered all things” (1 Ne. 17:20) and that “these many years we have suffered in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 17:21.) And many other descriptions such as these paint a picture of a lot of walking and suffering and very little rest, the exact opposite of what it should have been if they had been traveling to the Arabian Sea for eight years.

But if they were traveling to China, the need for 2920 days becomes apparent. Traveling to China, some days they might cover 20 miles, and other days, depending on the terrain, they might cover a whole lot less ground. Other days they would need to stop to rest, to obtain food, to wait for weather to clear, etc. The continent of Asia is so vast and varied and dangerous, the weather patterns so extreme and quick changing, that it makes perfect sense that it would take them eight years to traverse it.

Preaching and gathering converts along the way

During this eight year journey they undoubtedly preached the gospel to those with whom they came in contact and obtained converts who joined their journey to the promised land. Miracles attended them constantly, such as the miracle of the sweet meat as well as the miracle of the “light in the wilderness” (1 Ne. 17:13) that the Lord provided for them without fire. So, as they passed through these Gentile lands, word would have been spread by the inhabitants about the great magician Lehi and his “light without fire” and other miracles wrought by the party. Some would have fled the region, but others, out of curiosity would have sought the party out and perhaps have converted to the Lord.

By the time they reached Bountiful, on the eastern coasts of China, they probably had quite a number of people who had been added to their party, including Chinese converts. This might explain how the Eskimos arrived in America. It is widely believed they walked over from the Bering Strait, but perhaps their original ancestors were converts of Lehi from China and surrounding regions.

When they built the ship to cross the large waters, they entered into it “every one according to his age” (1 Ne. 18:6.) That’s kind of a strange way to enter a ship unless the party was vastly more numerous than just the families of Lehi and Ishmael. Which means that this ship was probably much larger than anyone has previously thought, requiring a special divine design to sustain the entire party upon the waters for the duration of the trip. Thus, it was not built after the manner of men.

Lehi, in the promised land, prior to his death, prophesied that “the Lord hath covenanted this land unto me, and to my children forever, and also all those who should be led out of other countries by the hand of the Lord” (2 Ne. 1:5.) This was both a future and present prophecy (“should” not “shall”), applying to the converts they had already gained from other countries, who were led by the hand of the Lord over the ocean in the boat, as well as to any future foreigners.

When this numerous company arrived in the promised land, after Lehi died, Laman conspired to kill Nephi and assume control of the group. Nephi was warned to flee out of the land and take all those who would go with him. The record indicates that they had gained converts on their journey. In other words, that it was not just the two families of Lehi and Ishmael that came over in the boat:

Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words. (2 Ne. 5:6)

Sherem, the anti-Christ, is said to have shown up on the scene in America. “There came a man among the people of Nephi, whose name was Sherem” (Jacob 7:1.)  He is never referred to as a Nephite, nor as a Lamanite. The China passage with converts model may explain why that is so. He may have been the son of one of the Gentile converts on the ship, gone to live apart from the two main groups (Lamanites and Nephites) and then, when Sherem was a man of age, he returned to the Nephite group preaching his message of lies. He had a knowledge of their language and their religion, so he must have had ties to someone that was on that ship.

Laman and Lemuel and the Liahona

In the trek eastward, there is no mention of any more murmurings from Laman and Lemuel. Even the women stopped murmuring because the Lord miraculously made them “strong, yea, even like unto the men” (1 Ne. 17:2), a necessity due to the tough terrain they were traversing. The whole party was entirely at the mercy of the Liahona. That device had to work in order for them to survive in the unknown wilderness in which they found themselves, so Nephi and Lehi were safe from the murderous intentions of Laman and Lemuel for the entire eight years of travel. Only at Bountiful, in its relative safety and as the camp settled into the beautiful surroundings and enjoyed the plentiful resources, did Laman again begin to oppose the plans of the prophets, because they did not need (nor want) to rely upon the Liahona for what they needed to survive.

In fact, at every location in which Laman and Lemuel threatened the life of one or both prophets, it was because they felt they could do without the Liahona. They tried to kill Lehi at Lemuel, which was three days’ walking distance from Jerusalem. They tried to kill Nephi on the trip down to the wilderness from Ishmael’s house. And they tried to kill both of them at Camp #4. At each of these locations, Jerusalem was within easy walking distance and they knew where they were. In other words, they did not need the Liahona to survive in those places. But at Shazer, at the place where Nephi broke his bow, and on the entire journey to China, they never attempted to kill them, because their very lives depended on the device working. Even upon the waters, in which they were in their wrath, they did not kill Nephi, only choosing to bind him. Why? Because if Nephi died, the Liahona would cease functioning and they would also die. Finally, at the promised land, with no more need for reliance upon the Liahona for survival, the way was cleared to finally kill Nephi.

Laman and Lemuel had a love/hate relationship with the Liahona. Although it kept them alive, which they loved, they hated having to rely upon it. They wanted to rely upon their own arm of flesh, and not upon the Liahona, which was a type of the word of God.

Bountiful, China

After eight years of travel, they came to the land of Bountiful and remained there “for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 17:7.) Some scholars, believing that Bountiful lies on the coast of Oman, on the Arabian peninsula, have created a list of characteristics of the area:

…the Book of Mormon goes further by specifying various characteristics of [Bountiful]:

1. Bountiful is “nearly eastward” from a place which was called Nahom (1 Nephi 17:1).

2. The text implies that the terrain and water sources from Nahom eastward permitted reasonable access from the interior deserts to the coast (1 Nephi 17:1-3).

3. Bountiful was a fertile region (1 Nephi 17:5-6).

4. It was a coastal location (1 Nephi 17:5-6).

5. Fruit and wild honey and possibly other food sources were available (1 Nephi 17:5-6; 18:6).

6. The availability of natural fruit (1 Nephi 17:5-6; 18:6) and the bountiful nature of the region suggest the availability of fresh water at this location.

7. Timber was available that could be used to construct a ship (1 Nephi 18:1).

8. A mountain was nearby (1 Nephi 17:7; 18:3).

9. Substantial cliffs, from which Nephi’s brothers might attempt to throw him into the sea, are near the ocean (1 Nephi 17:48).

10. Sources of flint (1 Nephi 17:11) and ore (1 Nephi 17:9-10) were available in the region.

11. Suitable wind and ocean currents were available to carry the vessel out into the ocean (1 Nephi 18:8-9).

(Taken from here.)

China is a perfect match for Bountiful and I am not the only one who thinks so.  The location on the eastern coast of China marked on the map at the top of this post has (or likely had 2600 years ago) everything that the scholars say Bountiful was supposed to have.

For example, here is a topographical map of China that shows that there are several mountain peaks in the vicinity. To the west of the city of Hangzhou, there is an 1873 meter peak (Lianhua Feng – Lotus Peak – 30º07’30″N 118º10’00″E). Northwest of that is an 1774 meter peak (Baimaijian). To the west of Lotus Peak is an 1474 meter peak (Lu Shan). To the south of Lotus Peak is a 2157 meter peak (Wugang Shan). And south-southeast of Lotus Peak is a 1921 meter peak (Huangmaojian). These latter two peaks are close to the beach location marked on the map at top. Nephi may have gone to one of these peaks to receive instructions regarding the construction of the ship.

There also appears to be highly elevated land (cliffs, perhaps) at the sea shore. In short, the topography of this area fits the descriptions of the topography of Bountiful. Ore, timber and flint are all in local abundance. The only thing that needs to be verified is whether wild honey and fruit grew there 2600 years ago.

The sea voyage to the promised land

Sailing “nearly eastward” from China at around 30 degrees North Latitude and keeping a straight course, Lehi’s group would have landed in North America at the narrow neck of land we know as Baja California.  The eastward trek of the map at the top has a path that leads directly to Bahia de Tortugas, Baja California Sur, Mexico (29º 38’ 42″ North Latitude and 114º 51’ 22″ West Longitude).

Answering an objection

The following is an objection based upon a purported revelation:

There’s a revelation given to Joseph Smith that explains the path Lehi and his family took as being a predominantly south/southeast route. The revelation even goes on to give the latitude at which they landed on the west coast of the South American Continent. It’s in Fred Collier’s “Unpublished Revelations” Vol 1, around section 30.

The purported revelation is quoted in the following online document:

The matter of Lehi’s landing site has been the subject of much debate, for obviously, pin-pointing the actual site where Lehi’s colony landed would tend to isolate the regions he and his family came to occupy. Knowing how important such a discovery would be, several sites have been proposed over the years, but none more controversial than one made by Frederick G. Williams who claimed Lehi landed in Chile. Unfortunately that theory was based on very shaky grounds, and thus the cause of much contention. The original theory was based on a lone statement by Williams, who, sometime between 1836 and 1845, wrote down a comment about Lehi’s party landing at 30 degrees south latitude in Chile during his association with the Prophet. It went as follows:

The course that Lehi traveled from the city of Jerusalem to the place where he and his family took ship, they traveled nearly a south, south east direction until they came to the nineteenth degree of North Latitude, then nearly east to the Sea of Arabia then sailed in a south east direction and landed on the continent of South America in Chili (sic.) thirty degrees south Latitude.[1]

(Taken from here.)

That doesn’t sound to me like a revelation given by the Prophet, but as mere speculation on the part of Williams. The same page continues:

We might be puzzled somewhat by the details contained in this statement which give it a certain air of believability, but we must remember that most of these directions were already given in the scriptures. For example, we learn of the direction Lehi and his family journeyed once they left Jerusalem in 1 Nephi 16:13, where we read they traveled in a south, southeast direction. (Continuing in that direction would have taken them to 19 degrees north latitude, another natural assumption.)

And that, I think, is the whole point. Everyone (including Williams) reads the Book of Mormon account, looks at a map, and assumes that they entered the water at the Arabian Sea. For more in depth analysis of Frederick William’s claim, please see the entire document.

A straight course

The Arabian Sea route does not work because if Lehi’s party turned eastward at a southern point on the east side of the Red Sea, and then traveled nearly eastward for eight years, they would end up zigzagging around. If they walked a straight course nearly eastward, it would not take them eight years to cross such a short distance.

Additionally, once they got to the Arabian Sea, built the ship and launched, they would not be able to travel in a straight course, but would have to navigate around India, Australia, etc., zigzagging around to get to the promised.

The Liahona was a type or shadow of the word of God, and it functioned in the same way as His word, bringing them in a straight course to the promised land. When they got the Liahona, it pointed south-southeast until they got to where Nephi broke his bow. Then it pointed in the opposite direction, towards Jerusalem. When they finally were ready to make the trip to the promised land, it pointed east, towards the promised land. Its course at this point, had to be a straight, not crooked, course or path, because it was a type of the word of God.

And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director—or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.

And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship. And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.

And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.

Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;

Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions.

And now, my son, I would that ye should understand that these things are not without a shadow; for as our fathers were slothful to give heed to this compass (now these things were temporal) they did not prosper; even so it is with things which are spiritual.

For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them a straight course to the promised land.

And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of promise. (Alma 37:38-45)

Thus we see that the Arabian Sea route cannot have been the path taken by Lehi’s party, for when the Liahona began pointing to the promised land, it pointed to them a straight course. The course from their camp near Jerusalem to the eastern coast of China was straight, as straight as any arrow. And if you continue on that path into the sea, not deviating one bit, it points a straight course to North America, landing them in current day Mexico.

Now, we know that their path on the sea was straight, for Nephi states that “we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land” (1 Ne. 18:8.) And after Laman and Lemuel’s rebellion upon the waters, and the action of the storm driving them “back upon the waters for the space of four days” (1 Ne. 18:15), when the Liahona began working again, they “sailed again towards the promised land” (1 Ne. 18:22.) So, they sailed “nearly eastward” from the eastern coast of China in a straight course towards the promised land.

The Arabian Sea path would have had the ship sailing, at times, away from the promised land, or not towards it. Therefore, it cannot be the route they took, for such a route would invalidate the statements of the Book of Mormon itself, concerning how the Liahona worked.

With this understanding in mind, statements such as these make much more sense:

But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth. (Alma 7:9)

For I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness; I perceive that ye are in the path which leads to the kingdom of God; yea, I perceive that ye are making his paths straight. I perceive that it has been made known unto you, by the testimony of his word, that he cannot walk in crooked paths; neither doth he vary from that which he hath said; neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong; therefore, his course is one eternal round. (Alma 7:19-20)

Yea, even he should go forth and cry in the wilderness: Prepare ye the way of the Lord, and make his paths straight; for there standeth one among you whom ye know not; and he is mightier than I, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose. And much spake my father concerning this thing. (1 Ne. 10:8)

And it may suffice if I only say they are preserved for a wise purpose, which purpose is known unto God; for he doth counsel in wisdom over all his works, and his paths are straight, and his course is one eternal round. (Alma 37:12)

O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name. (2 Ne. 9:41)

O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy. (2 Ne. 4:33)

The journey of Lehi’s camp to the promised land from Jerusalem was a type of our journey back to God. There was no deviation in the course, except insofar as they disobeyed the commands of God and were driven back or did not go forward, tarrying in one location because the Liahona would not work while they were slothful. Everything that was in their way—and if you look at the map above and click the terrain button, you will see that much of the land they passed through before arriving in Bountiful, China was impassable—was to be cleared by the Lord, whether by removing it, climbing over it, or simply making it disappear. At no point were they to go around obstacles in their path. The trip was designed to demonstrate the power of God to them. It was to be an impossible trip made possible by the miracles of God.

Nephi’s prayer in 2 Ne. 4 also demonstrates an undeviating course. When he pleads with the Lord to not place stumbling blocks in his way, he speaks from experience, having passed through the mightiest stumbling blocks of all, the exceedingly high mountains of Asia. He never prays to be given a path around his obstacles. The objects in his way are to go around him, not he going around them. When he pleads with the Lord to clear his way before him and not hedge his way, he is again speaking from experience, having seen the power of God make the earth “pass away,” and “cause the rough places to be made smooth, and smooth places” (1 Ne. 17:46) to be broken up. Laman and Lemuel witnessed these miracles, too, which is why he said to them that “ye also know” (1 Ne. 17:46.)

All these things happened in their eight year trek across Asia, while following an undeviating, straight course to the promised land. Jacob said “that we truly can command in the name of Jesus and the very trees obey us, or the mountains, or the waves of the sea” (Jacob 4:6.) You can bet that such gifts came in handy as they plugged onward and eastward through the Asian continent. For, again, it was never the design of God that they go around obstacles, such as mountains, but to either go over them, or through them, or to use their faith to remove them from their path, that the course of the Lord would remain straight and that God could show forth His power to them, that they might glorify His name and that the whole journey would serve as a type.

How the Liahona worked

The Liahona contained two spindles, both of which operated in a miraculous manner. One spindle pointed to true north, differing from normal compasses, which point to magnetic north. Nevertheless, the Liahona was still called a compass despite its apparent violation of the laws of physics. The other spindle pointed the way the party was to go. When they were finally on the trip to the promised land, that spindle pointed nearly eastward, to an exact spot of land, the very place they were to land their ship on the western coast of North America. No matter which direction they turned the Liahona, each spindle always pointed to those two spots: one pointing to true north and the other pointing to the landing spot on the west coast of North America.

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the pointers which were in the ball, that they did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them. And there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it. And thus we see that by small means the Lord can bring about great things. (1 Ne. 16:28-29)

Alma said, “[The Liahona] was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness” (Alma 37:39), not the direction. Lehi’s party had to do two things with the Liahona: first, they had to give “faith and diligence and heed” (1 Ne. 16: 28) to the pointers (spindles), and secondly, they had to give “faith and diligence” (1 Ne. 16:29) to the writing that appeared upon it from time to time.

How the Liahona worked

Obeying the spindles

One spindle pointed to them the course, while the other spindle (which pointed to true north) allowed them to know the direction, they were to travel. The difference between course and direction is significant. The course is the path they were expected to travel and there was just one such prescribed path. If they did not travel on that specific course, the Liahona stopped working. And they were expected to go along the path and in the direction that the spindle pointed, regardless of the obstacle that may have been in their path. If they tried to deviate to go around an obstacle, the Liahona stopped working. If they tried to go around an obstacle, so that they were now on the other side of the obstacle, but in the apparent path that the Liahona had previously pointed out (when it was working), it still did not begin working. Any deviation was a sin, because they did not give faith, diligence and heed to the pointer and the path it pointed out.

To cause the Liahona to begin working again, they had to return to the point at which it worked previously, and then resume following the spindle from that point onward, through the obstacle they had attempted to avoid. Thus, it was impossible for them to find the promised land except by following the precise path that the Liahona pointed out to them. There were no short cuts. The manner in which they got the Liahona working again was also to serve as a type, for the repentance process. When we repent, we “return” to the Lord. When they repented from their course deviation, they “returned” to the point prior to where they had deviated from the course.

Obeying the writing

In addition to following the precise course pointed out by the spindles, they also had to follow whatever other instructions were written upon the Liahona from day to day. The spindles and the writings were designed to both test and develop their faith and diligence. The writings developed faith by giving instructions in order to have miracles happen, that they would be able to find food, warmth, light, healing and have the obstacles in their way overcome. The whole thing was miraculous, through and through. In other words, none of the instructions were mundane, or of a non-miraculous nature. Whatever they were instructed to do by the writings, was, essentially, impossible to do. But they were expected to do it anyway. In this way, “they had…many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day” (Alma 37:40.)

The writing part of the Liahona is what both Nephi and Alma referred to as “small means.” The writings were similar to how Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy, who was instructed to dip himself seven times in the Jordan. The whole premise of being healed in this way is preposterous, yet the miracle occurred anyway. Such were all of the written instructions upon the Liahona. Great and marvelous and miraculous works were accomplished by the party when they had faith in the writings and were diligent in following them precisely, despite the rational mind’s natural rejection of them.

When they did not exercise faith to make the Liahona work, the spindles (both of them) no longer pointed to their two locations. (Perhaps they just spun around or dipped or joined together or did some other thing that alerted the party that the device no longer worked.) And the miraculous writings stopped appearing, “and then those marvelous works ceased” (Alma 37:41.)

Both spindles were fixed

The direction of the spindle that pointed to the promised land was always fixed. It did not point to them a series of directions to get to the promised land, such as east, then northeast, then southeast, then east again, so that they could go around obstacles in their path, but it simply pointed a straight course to the promised land, or it pointed to the exact spot at the promised land that the Lord was leading them to, as well as the course they were to travel. It did this whether over land or over sea.

The Liahona operated in a similar way for the first leg of the trip, pointing to a spot nearly south-southeast of Lemuel, somewhere down the eastern coast of the Red Sea. When they got to that spot, it pointed nearly north-northwest to a spot close to Lemuel, then it pointed to Camp #4, which was close to Jerusalem, so that the party “traveled nearly the same course as in the beginning”, or retraced nearly the same path they had already traveled. Finally, it pointed to some exact location in North America. In each of these occasions in which it pointed to different, but exact places, it was a straight course. There was no crooked wandering involved, only wandering in a straight course, because this is how it worked, after the manner of the Lord.

The voyage over sea was also straight

When Nephi stated, “and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1) everyone misinterprets him as referring only to that portion of their journey which was over land, and not to that portion which was over water. They assume that once upon the waters of the sea, the ship traveled a crooked path. But this assumption is taken only because everyone thinks they launched from the Arabian peninsula. The truth of the matter is that Nephi’s words apply to the entire journey, over land and sea, all the way to the promised land. They traveled “nearly eastward from that time forth” over both land and water.

The course of their travels.” (Nephi’s summary of 1 Nephi)

The Arabian Sea path theory is wrong is because of the nature of Nephi’s account. Although the account is an abridgment, Nephi is giving us compass directions so that we know where they went. He tells us nearly south-southeast. Then he tells us they retraced their path, nearly to Jerusalem. Then he tells us that they visited Nahom (to bury Ishmael), an already existing place in Jerusalem, as if we ought to know where that place is. Then he tells us Lehi leads the party out of Jerusalem, to their camp. Then he tells us they went from that time forth nearly eastward. Nephi tells us these directions because it is enough information for us to figure out their path, both on the land and on the sea.

The Arabian Sea path theory, though, would have Nephi give us directions on the land only, and then when it comes to the sea path, well, then he does not tell us where they went, nor where they landed in America, because they zigzagged around on the water, supposedly. So, perhaps they landed in Chile, perhaps somewhere else. It is anyone’s guess.

In other words, the Arabian Sea path theory, which is false, defeats the purpose of Nephi in showing us the path they took.

Who cares that you launched from the Arabian peninsula, Nephi? We still don’t have enough information to know where you landed in the Americas!”

Of course, such is not case. We now know both the path taken by the party over land, over sea, and also the approximate spot they landed at the promised land. And the whole thing is consistent with the scriptures, without having to wrest what they have said about how the Liahona actually worked, etc.

Footnotes

1 The average daily walking distance for humans over level land is about 20 miles a day, however a loaded camel can traverse about 25 miles a day. This means that for the three days of travel, the family may have covered anywhere from 60 to 75 miles from the northern rim of the Red Sea. Owing that they were trying to escape an assassination attempt upon Lehi, they might have been in a rush to get as far away and as quickly from Jerusalem as possible, so their walk was very possibly quite brisk, which may have allowed them to cover more ground than average for each of these three days.

At the far end of possibilities, in terms of the distance they may have been able to cover in three days, lies Wadi Tayyib al-Ism, which is at the 75 mile mark, just about the right distance for loaded camel travel and which has all of the right characteristics for being the valley of Lemuel, as well as the “only observed continually running source of water in the entire region.” The stream technically empties into the Red Sea from underground, diving “beneath a gravel bed 600 or so yards from the shoreline,” though there is geological evidence that at one time in the past the water level of the Red Sea connected to the mouth of the river, so that it was actually observed to empty into it. This may be where Lehi made his first camp.

2 Charlotte wrote:

We know Nephi had sisters because they are mentioned in 2 Nephi 5:6 (“Wherefore, it came to pass that I, Nephi, did take my family, and also Zoram and his family, and Sam, mine elder brother and his family, and Jacob and Joseph, my younger brethren, and also my sisters, and all those who would go with me. And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words.”)

1 Nephi 2:5 lists the people that traveled in the wilderness with Lehi. (“And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family, which consisted of my mother, Sariah, and my elder brothers, who were Laman, Lemuel, and Sam.”)

I think it is commonly believed that the sisters of Nephi are not listed because they are female, and that answer satisfied me when I first asked the question as a young woman. However, that explanation is no longer satisfactory. I don’t think it makes sense when you consider that Sariah is a woman and she made it onto the list.

Some time ago, before I had really gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, I decided to read it again, and that verse (1 Nephi 2:5) stuck out to me. At the time, I believed that the sisters of Nephi should have been listed, and I confess it started to kind of bother me. At the time, I felt like I had two choices: I could believe this verse was a flaw; that Nephi made a mistake when he left his sisters off the list; I could criticize the best book ever written and one of the greatest prophets this world has ever known; I could let that verse put doubt into my mind about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Or I could have faith that there is a perfectly good explanation.

I chose faith.

We always have a choice between faith and doubt.

And God blessed me for it.

There came into my mind a perfectly good explanation: the sisters of Nephi were perhaps already married to the sons of Ishmael and weren’t part of the household of Lehi anymore. I felt at peace and I went back to re-read the narrative to confirm that the idea was in harmony with the scriptures.

I found that the theory does indeed fit the scriptures, and that it actually helps to explain some curious parts of the story.

It helps explain why Ishmael’s household was willing to follow Nephi into the wilderness. I can just imagine the sisters of Nephi wanting to go with their mother and helping to convince their husbands that it was a good idea. Also, Ishmael was not just a family friend but was actually related to Lehi by marriage. Ishmael and Lehi perhaps had grandchildren in common. My husband and I were the first ones in our families to get married, and our families have always been close. Our families still have an Epiphany party together every January, and my father-in-law often has dinner with my parents, even though my husband and I live too far away to attend. There are other examples as well of how our families are close. Because of this, it is easy for me to imagine the strong connection Ishmael and Lehi might have had.

It’s one thing for a theory to make sense, but it’s something more for there to be scriptures that support the theory. Besides the sisters not being listed in 1 Nephi 2:5 but showing up in the story later, I have found a few more scriptures that help to convince me that my theory is right.

1 Nephi 7:1 mentions the need for Lehi’s sons to get married, but doesn’t say anything about his daughters needing to get married: “AND now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.”

One of the strongest verses in support of my theory is this one. When Nephi and his brothers were leading Ishmael and his household into the wilderness, some of the party rebelled against Nephi. 1 Nephi 7:6: “And it came to pass that as we journeyed in the wilderness, behold Laman and Lemuel, and two of the daughters of Ishmael, and the two sons of Ishmael and their families, did rebel against us; yea, against me, Nephi, and Sam, and their father, Ishmael, and his wife, and his three other daughters.” Notice that this verse says “the two sons of Ishmael AND THEIR FAMILIES.” This is a clue that the sons of Ishmael were already married at this point.

1 Nephi 16:7 lists several marriages that took place in the wilderness, but it doesn’t mention the sons of Ishmael getting married. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, took one of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also, my brethren took of the daughters of Ishmael to wife; and also Zoram took the eldest daughter of Ishmael to wife.”

There is no mistaking the fact that the sons of Ishmael were married at some point. Several scriptures mention their wives or their families (see, for example, 1 Nephi 7:6; 1 Nephi 16:27; 1 Nephi 18:9). I suppose there might be another theory that allows the sons of Ishmael to be married to women other than Nephi’s sisters, but there is some additional evidence that they were indeed married to Nephi’s sisters: Lehi calls the sons of Ishmael his sons (2 Nephi 1:28: “And now my son, Laman, and also Lemuel and Sam, and also my sons who are the sons of Ishmael, behold, if ye will hearken unto the voice of Nephi ye shall not perish. And if ye will hearken unto him I leave unto you a blessing, yea, even my first blessing.”), which makes the most sense if they were his sons-in-law. He does not call Zoram his son (2 Nephi 1:30: “And now, Zoram, I speak unto you: Behold, thou art the servant of Laban; nevertheless, thou hast been brought out of the land of Jerusalem, and I know that thou art a true friend unto my son, Nephi, forever.”) so I don’t think Lehi considered the sons of Ishmael to be his sons in a figurative sense.

If you believe Nephi’s sisters were married to the sons of Ishmael (no matter when they actually married them), you might notice that in 2 Nephi, when Lehi has died and the party separates into two groups, the story seems to imply that the sons of Ishmael go with Laman (2 Nephi 4:13: “And it came to pass that not many days after his death, Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael were angry with me because of the admonitions of the Lord.”) and the sisters of Nephi leave their husbands to go with Nephi (2 Nephi 5:6, quoted in full above).

All-in-all, I think the scriptures support my theory more than they support the idea that the sisters of Nephi traveled into the wilderness with Lehi from the beginning and married the sons of Ishmael later.

3 The average distance they could have traveled between Lemuel and Shazer would have been 80 miles walking and 100 miles with loaded camels. To recap: it took three days to get to the valley of Lemuel and four more days to get to Shazer. Shazer, then, was seven days’ walking distance (one week) from the land of Jerusalem, or between 140 (at 20 miles per day) and 175 (at 25 miles per day) miles away.

4 Using the Rule of Marteloio, for every 100 miles they traveled East by North (78.75º) or East by South (101.25º), it means that their position relative to East (90º) was as if they traveled 98 miles East and then traveled 20 miles either North or South. For a bearing of 91º or 89º, the Rule of Marteloio would put you 1 mile North or South for every 54.635 miles you travel East.

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49 Comments

  1. The only thing that needs to be verified is whether wild honey and fruit grew there 2600 years ago

    yes. the asian pear originated in…wait for it…asia, possibly as far as china, at least 3000 years ago. 400 years is easy time to expand its growing region via good trade routes. a true citrus is now believed to have originated somewhere in melanesia and would literally have floated across ocean currents landing on the asian continent, where most cultivated varieties are believed to have come from. the citrus would have been vital for a long sea voyage, and would have stored almost indefinitely jarred in a brine, as is not uncommon in chinese culture to do with kumquats today

  2. oh this also answers the wild honey part too

  3. I’d like to see The Book of Mormon Movie redone with this model as the path, including showing all the miracles, moving mountains, etc. (Not that I didn’t like The Book of Mormon Movie. I actually liked it a lot. But I think a passage through Asia would be a more dramatic setting for a movie.)

  4. There are a few things I would like to add to this discussion:

    I wanted to point out that Lehi would only have traveled six days per week because he would have kept the law of Moses by resting on the Sabbath. Therefore, you can recalculate your average miles per day to be somewhat higher, probably around 2 or 2.1 miles per day.

    Lehi’s party had 8 women that were all candidates for giving birth during the trek, and probably two or three times each during the 8 years. When I give birth, I need to take at least 2 weeks off from any strenuous physical labor, or else I won’t heal properly. I thought of calculating taking time off for childbirth into the number of days Lehi’s party was traveling. However, the account says the women were made strong like unto men, so that might have removed the need to take a couple of weeks off from walking after giving birth.

    The daughters of Lehi most likely did not choose their husbands. Their marriages would have been arranged by Lehi and Ishmael. Lehi might have even received a revelation commanding him to arrange to have his daughters marry the sons of Ishmael. I don’t think Ishmael was “lucky” as much as he was “chosen,” the same way Lehi was chosen. (For what it’s worth, I loved the book Beloved Bridegroom by Donna B. Nielsen. It talks all about arranged marriages and how they happened, including the fact that although the bride didn’t choose her groom, she had a chance to give her consent to the arrangement, or not. By the time I got done reading it I actually liked the idea of arranged marriages. I also learned a lot from that book about the New Testament parables relating to marriage.)

    The “revelation” given to Joseph Smith about Lehi’s trek is Part 39 (page 85) of Fred Colier’s Unpublished Revelations of the Prophets and Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which can be read on Google Books. It is made to look pretty authoritative. Robert Matthews wrote an article called ‘Notes on “Lehi’s Travels” ‘ that was published in BYU Studies. You can read it here: http://byustudies.byu.edu/showTitle.aspx?title=5011

    Here’s something I just noticed a day or two ago. Let’s look again at 1 Nephi 2:4-6. It says that Lehi “departed into the wilderness” and “came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness” and “when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.” Here’s what we need to read more carefully. Did the “three days” count begin when Lehi left Jerusalem? Or did it begin once he got down to the borders near the shore of the Red Sea? Perhaps these verses have been misunderstood all along and Lehi traveled all the way to the Red Sea before he traveled another three days.

    I think your comments on the Book of Laman post more fully developed the idea of the Lord miraculously moving mountains for the sake of Lehi’s trek. I think that idea is fascinating and convincing and faith-strengthening.

    My husband and I are among the people that believe the three wise men coming from the east could have been Nephites and/or Lamanites, in particular Nephi, Lehi, and Samuel the Lamanite. (Interestingly, there is a tradition you can see portrayed in some nativity sets that two of the wise men had light skin and one had dark skin.) At any rate, it makes sense that if people from the new world were to travel to the old world, they would take the same route as their fathers who traveled from the old world to the new world. I like how your convincing theory that Lehi traveled to the east fits in with the scriptures saying the wise men came from the east.

    An ancient text about the wise men has recently been translated into English by Brent Landau. There are some things in his dissertation and book that are especially interesting to those of us that believe the wise men were descendents of Lehi, such as: their claim that they were Christians even before the apostles were, their telling Herod that the child has worshipers in every country, and their home country being located in the extreme east of the world, at the shore of the Great Ocean. I have only read reviews and commentary about Landau’s writings, but I seem to remember reading in one of the news stories that as the wise men traveled across Asia, miracles attended them, including mountains moving out of their way.

    Have you heard of Beit Lehi? It’s an archeological site about 20 miles southwest of Jerusalem that many people believe was owned by Lehi himself. My brother-in-law got to help excavate it about a year ago (the excavation is still going on) and my 4-year-old daughter is absolutely infatuated with the idea of visiting the site in person someday. She is literally saving her pennies for a future trip to Beit Lehi. Anyway, there is some interesting stuff there, and if you become convinced that Beit Lehi was where Lehi lived, you might even want to add Beit Lehi to your Google map. When Lehi preached in Jerusalem and his life was threatened, Cleon Skousen says he probably fled to his homestead 20 miles away. While not everyone agrees Beit Lehi could have been Lehi’s home, Skousen believes it was and says Lehi probably also had a permanent home right in Jerusalem.

    Your map includes the idea that the Baja California strip wasn’t always a peninsula. I have no argument there. However, instead of the Gulf of California being non-existent, consider the idea that the Baja California strip used to be connected to central Mexico, leaving an inland sea. If that was the case, I think the narrow piece of land remaining would be a good candidate for the narrow strip of land talked about in the Book of Mormon. Just a thought for you. Someone smart has probably already hypothesized this, but I haven’t looked into it much.

    One final topic for you if you’ve never heard of it: Izapa Stela 5, a stele found in Mexico that some people think looks an awful lot like it could be depicting Lehi’s and Nephi’s vision of the tree of life.

  5. Great comments, Charlotte.

    My calculation was based on walking each and every day, which they undoubtedly did not do. I think you are correct that they would not have walked on the Sabbath. Also, although the women were strong like the men, I still think it likely that they stopped for awhile after each birth. The eight women candidates must be a minimum number, because if they had converts along for the trip, there may have been other women giving birth, as well. The scholarly papers I’ve read all assume the three-day count to Lemuel begins at the borders near the Red Sea, meaning near Aqaba. They don’t start counting from the city of Jerusalem nor north of Aqaba. Although the starting point of the three-day journey is important to finding out where the valley of Lemuel may be, the exact location of Lemuel is not needed to figure out the eastward path, because they did not leave from Lemuel. Camp #4 was not in the city of Jerusalem, nor in the land of Jerusalem, but it must have been close to the land of Jerusalem. Where is the border of the land of Jerusalem? I don’t know. Since I was a kid, I have always read the text as meaning that the three-day trip to Lemuel began its count at the border of the land (not the city) of Jerusalem, and not at the northern tip of the Red Sea, as the scholars do. I believe now that the scholars are right, namely, that they entered the wilderness and then traveled to near the Red Sea, then traveled three days down, so that the first part of the journey, from the land of Jerusalem to the Red Sea is not a part of the count. This would mean that Camp #4 would likely be located north of Aqaba, but south of wherever the borders of the land of Jerusalem were. Regarding Beit Lehi, would that be “Lehi, Netivot, Israel”? Is that the location? I never heard of Izapa Stela 5, but I’ll look it up. Does it have anything to do with Interstella 5555? ;)

  6. Wow. Excellent analysis. I’ve long believed in the China route. Although I have usually supposed they would have island hopped across the top of the Philippines, through Micronesia etc. Although this course would have them landing in South America. Thus it would have to be supported by a hemispherical model.

    I’ll be reading this post more in depth later. I love it!

  7. In reference to the boat the Lehites built:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_ship

    While this design wasn’t around until the 15th century. Perhaps God would have revealed a similar design to Nephi.

    I was just looking up the largest wooden sailing ships I could find on wikipedia. Just to get an idea of how large a sailing ship could be.

    i just had a crazy idea. If a ship had a large enough deck area could there have been a garden area build on deck? I suppose anything growing there would have to be salt tolerant. Any edible plants growing by the ocean would probably work. But then the benefits of an onboard garden would most likely be minimal compared to other uses of the same space.

  8. Now I, Nephi, did not work the timbers after the manner which was learned by men, neither did I build the ship after the manner of men; but I did build it after the manner which the Lord had shown unto me; wherefore, it was not after the manner of men. (1 Ne. 18:2)

    Some take the view that this was time specific, meaning that the timbers were not worked “after the manner which was learned by men” who lived in 600 B.C., nor was the ship built “after the manner of men” who lived in 600 B.C. The implication being, of course, that the Lord instructed Nephi in more modern timber-working and ship-building methods that would be in use by man later on.

    My own understanding of the things of the Lord is that He does not do anything after the manner of men of any time period, that He would not instruct Nephi how to build a ship after the manner of men living in the modern age, because that would still be considered as instructing Nephi on how to do a work of man. The three divisions: the works of the Father, the works of man and the works of the devil, still apply, I believe, to the building of that ship.

    All the “devices” of the Lord, such as the Liahona, which was “prepared by the hand of the Lord”, and the Urim and Thummim, worked by faith. I don’t see why the Lord would change His methods in the construction of this ship. It wouldn’t surprise me if the ship stayed afloat by faith, and not by normal floatation principles. I mean think about it, this was a ship designed by the Lord, could it really be capsized by a storm? It must have been unsinkable, yet the storm arose and we find the ship and its passengers “about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea.”

    After the ship’s construction, Laman and Lemuel “beheld that it was good, and that the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine; wherefore, they did humble themselves again before the Lord.” In other words, they must have recognized that the ship was, in and of itself, a miracle, something designed by a God, not by a man. Had they believed that the ship was designed by Nephi, a mere mortal man, seeing the ship would not have caused them to humble themselves before the Lord. So, this ship was remarkable in every possible way.

    Laman and Lemuel first fought Nephi and tried to kill him to stop the building of the ship, probably because they thought he was going to again put their lives in danger on the seas, yet after the ship is built, they enter into it. So, they must have felt it was an exceedingly safe vessel. In fact, I’d go so far as to say they must have assumed that it was God-designed, and therefore a miracle, and therefore, unsinkable. All their fear of perishing upon the waters disappears upon seeing it completed.

    Yet, later we find that the ship was almost at the point of sinking! So, how can something designed by God to float be sunk? That is an impossibility, for the “works, and the designs, and the purposes of God cannot be frustrated, neither can they come to naught” (D&C 3:1.) Nevertheless, the same principle spoken by the angel about the church, must apply to this ship:

    This is my church, and I will establish it; and nothing shall overthrow it, save it is the transgression of my people. (Mosiah 27:13)

    Also, the word of God says that God works according to the faith of the children of men and does nothing, except they have faith in Him. So, I would say that the ship floated by their faith and when Laman and Lemuel transgressed through their rebellion and threatenings to those on the ship, faith was diminished within the party and, as a result, the miraculously unsinkable ship became sinkable.

    Now, if this is true, and the ship was designed, built and floated upon non-nautical principles, but by a miracle maintained by their faith, it does no good to even look at any ship design, whether of 600 B.C. or any time since, because no one will be able to search or figure it out. It would have to be revealed anew by the power of the Holy Ghost, so that we could have the divine designs and build it anew.

  9. On the same note the Liahona. It drives me crazy that when people read “of curious workmanship” they interpret it as “ornate”. All the depictions you see of the Liahona could easily have been built by someone back then, let alone today. I believe we would find the Liahona just as strange today. We would be thinking, “How the heck did someone make that?”

    But then that begs the question, how do you design a brass ball with two spinny things inside that cannot be built by any technology known, or not yet known, to man? Could it be that any design or depiction we come up with for the Liahona is for sure the wrong one?

  10. I don’t think that modern design and manufacturing could replicate any part of the Liahona. I would imagine that even the material of the ball, “fine brass”, would be impossible to replicate. We can make brass, of that there is no doubt, but I expect that we would be unable to make brass of the fineness that was the Liahona. Everything that the Lord has made, which we can observe on and from this planet, outwardly appears simple, but any time we really observe things and begin to take them apart, we always find a mind-bogging complexity to everything. There is no reason to believe that the Liahona was any less complex than any living organism on this planet. In fact, owing that God appears to fashion only living organisms, the Liahona may, in fact, have been alive, for all we know. It may have pointed out the directions and courses it did point out to them because the Lord told it to do that, and it was merely following the commandments of its Lord.

  11. Okay very interesting. Has anyone ever heard the theory that Lehi’s sons during the trip were not from Nephi’s mother? That Lehi had been commanded to take a second wife of Ishmael’s daughters or perhaps now with the converts from Asia? This because Lehi’s wife on the voyage was about to dies in old age so how does she bear two sons. Also the anti Book of Mormon video or book which claimed DNA evidence proves the Book of Mormon false because the DNA of the Central and South American pre-Colombian peoples was shown to be from Asia. But an LDS man from Springville Utah made a video in 2007 which showed data from other studies that in fact the native Americans in the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys were from the same DNA group as people from Jerusalem.
    Now this brings up and interesting theory also that says Zarahemla was on the banks of the upper Mississippi about where the Lord commanded Joseph to establish a stake and call it Zarahemla. The narrow neck between the two seas would then be between lake Erie and lake Ontario a 22 mile distance a good one days walk for a Nephite or a Lamanite. The land northward would then be hemmed in by the great lakes. In the midwest there were many many remains of cities built of wood with thousands of logs as pickets around them for protection as described in the Book of Alma.
    I don’t have problem with them landing in Baja. But I think the Alma chapter and on into 3 Nephi happened in the Ohio Valley and the great lakes area. And of course we have Hill Cumorah being up there too. I think the big move away from the west coast was made in the time of the first King Mosiah father of Benjamin.

  12. Okay, lot of stuff here. So, the parents of Nephi were “stricken in years” (1 Nephi 18:17), meaning they were old, while “Jacob and Joseph,…being young, having need of much nourishment, were grieved because of the afflictions of their mother” (1 Nephi 18:19), not necessarily Nephi’s mother. If Lehi, then, was a polygynist, the commandment he gave to his sons about monogamy (in Jacob 3:5) applied only to them (the sons, not the father)? Could it be that this commandment only applied to the seed of Lehi, and not to the other people who were along on the journey? Which would then make the commandment against concubines make much more sense, because if concubinage is an inter-tribal function, then that would mean that there were other lineages living in America, with other tribal affiliations, and not just the Lamanites and Nephites, from which to take concubines.

    The Zarahemla revelation is found in D&C 125:3. I think OWIW was the one who proposed that that was to be called Zarahemla because it actually was Zarahemla anciently.

    Yeah, the DNA starts to make sense now. I’ve never read about the Great Lakes Book of Mormon geography. I’ll have to look into that. Sounds interesting. (I’ve never studied any of the BOM geography theories out there. This is my first time even thinking about it.)

    Thanks for these thoughts, dyc4557. Wireclub plug: Btw, you ought to get a Wireclub account. I’ve been meeting some interesting people over there and have had wonderful conversations. It would be great for you to join us there.

  13. In Jacob when speaking of plural marriage He says, “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people: otherwise, they shall hearken unto these things.”

    I’ve heard the theory of Lehi having a second wife. And Its interesting that the phrase, “raise seed unto” only appears one other time in the Book of Mormon.

    In 1st Nephi we read, “it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying, that it was not mete for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons should take daughters to wife that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.”

    That same phrase occurs three time in the Bible and all three times it refers to Levirate marriages and raising children unto a brother.

    One of the problems I had with the Lehi polygamist model was that Jacob says that Lehi commanded the people not to practice Plural Marriage. However and actual reading of the text reveals this: “And now behold, my brethren, ye know that these commandments were given to our father Lehi; wherefore, ye have known them before;”

    So the next question becomes what were the commandments given to Lehi?

    Well, it was that the Lord will command the practice of Plural Marriage in order to raise up seed unto Him. In fact it was Jacob that ended Nephite polygamy NOT Lehi.

    However I think the actual situation was much more complicated than what we usually assume when reading these things.

  14. I tried a month ago. And again just now It still says wire club not available in your country. So I need to get the private web user thing I am just such a tightwad. Henry Makow at the former save the males site invited me to write an article about my Philippines experience. Just sent it.

  15. i love the way you used the google maps…. awesome post.

  16. It is nice to see someone else making sense of the 8 year trip. I would place the landing of the Nephites a bit more southerly but all in all godd job.

  17. A friend of mine offered to jazz up the one graphic that I made for this post, which I did in Microsoft Paint, because he said it detracted from the message of the post. I will update this post when he sends the new graphic to me. Hopefully, it’ll look a lot better.

  18. I don’t know if “Lehi, Netivot, Israel” is the location of Beit Lehi, but if you want to read more you find this website interesting:

    http://beitlehifoundation.org/

    My brother-in-law helped excavate Beit Lehi a couple of years ago and the project is still going on.

    I don’t know much about Izapa Stela 5, except what I mentioned before. We have a large copy of a drawing copying it, and I have to admit that the similarities between it and Nephi’s vision of the tree of life are striking.

    I’d love to know more about Book of Mormon geography, but the more I read, the more there seems to be conflicting information that I cannot reconcile.

  19. I was reading one of the posts of The Millennial Star blog the other day and this part of it struck off a new thought:

    In his book “An Other Testament”, Joe Spencer seems to take this concept one step further. He notes that the people of Noah believed they were the promised people. Noah’s priests quoted Isaiah 52:7, asking Abinadi how he interpreted it.
    “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!” (Isa 52:7).

    For Noah’s people, they saw the promised land as the original land of Nephi, which King Mosiah I fled generations before. Zeniff restored the promise of the people (as a covenant community) living in the promised land, and so the prophecy was fulfilled, according to their reading. For Abinadi, the quote had a very different meaning. It was not fulfilled by Zeniff leading the people back to the promised land, but by prophets of all ages prophesying of Jesus Christ. Spencer goes into deeper detail than this, and shows how Abinadi (and later Alma) changed the covenant from how Nephi understood it, and it was not restored until Jesus returned.

    After reading this, the new thought popped into my head and I replied with:

    I haven’t read Joe Spencer’s book, but taking this speculation further, could the Isaiah quote have also meant to these people that they had been established in the real land of Zion, meaning the actual site that the New Jerusalem would be built, which city it had been prophesied would be built by their posterity? In which case, Noah and priests were living in the current location of Independence, Jackson County, Missouri area. Of course, I don’t see any mountains in that area looking at a map, but that doesn’t mean anything since Jacob had said that they had moved mountains (and trees and waves) with their faith, so perhaps originally there were mountains there…

    Going on that (perhaps false) assumption, my mind immediately tied together the following facts: there was a temple built by Nephi in the land of Nephi; certain parts of the population were obsessed with returning to the land of Nephi (and that temple); Zeniff was able to accomplish that feat; Noah didn’t build a new temple, but he adorned the original one that Nephi had built years previously; Ether prophesied that a New Jerusalem would be built in the land; the Savior taught the people that they would be the ones who built the future New Jerusalem; Nephi saw all these future events in vision; there was a singular temple in the land of Bountiful, called “the” temple by Mormon, when the Savior visited.

    It did not seem such a stretch to me that Nephi was led to the future site of the New Jerusalem, and that the people of Nephi were taught this by their prophet leaders. So, when the seer Mosiah left the land of Nephi, taking with him only those who were righteous, it makes sense that some might refuse to leave with him, after all, they were living at the very site of the future New Jerusalem, the very promised land. Surely Mosiah must have been out of his mind to leave! Later, the attempts to return to the land of Nephi again make sense, for this is a return to the very land of Zion which was dedicated for that future city. Zeniff’s idea was to simply occupy the site and rebuild these areas and cities, whereas his son, Noah, and his priests, had the idea of fulfilling the prophecies and building the New Jerusalem, complete with temple reconstruction and remodeling and everything else they did.

    So, the scripture the priests gave to Abinadi was, in essence, saying, “Hey, man! We are living in the land of the New Jerusalem. This scripture directly applies to us! Get off our case!”

    Much later, when the righteous were gathered together near “the” temple in the land of Bountiful, this gathering may have been at the location of the New Jerusalem site. In other words, “the” temple was Nephi’s temple. Nephi saw the future, so it may have already been prophesied among them that the Messiah would appear to them in the future at the site of the New Jerusalem, which would be another impetus to return to that land and establish themselves there.

    The Lord’s words to Joseph Smith concerning the New Jerusalem, then, were meant to fulfill the prophecies of the ancients. In other words, the Lord didn’t keep the ancients in the dark regarding where the New Jerusalem would be built, but it was known from the time of Nephi onward.

    This may be important (if true) because if there is one specific spot that can be precisely identified as a Nephite location, then maybe it can be used as a reference to figure out where all the other locations may have been…

  20. Your comments could be true if you adhered to a continental view of Book of Mormon events and not a limited geography view which most serious intellectuals do. The Book of Mormon was almost entirely within a space called Meso-America which does not include the North American continent at all. In fact the only place Nephi never visited was North America according to most serious students of the Book of Mormon. Now why was the Book of Mormon found in North America? Moroni was wandering in the desert for many years, alone, and hunted until he finally found a place where he could peaceably bury the plates et al. He would have had to have left the area he was being hunted far behind him which meant his home and the place of such great destruction and the genocidal war against the Nephites was far from North America.This accounts for the complete and utter lack of archaeological evidence of any kind of ancient battles at or near the “Hill Cumorah” in western New York where Moroni buried the plates. So keep hunting for more explanations of the promised land, but remember that the land promised to Lehi was not North America at all and the North American Indians are not the remainder of the tribes of Laman and Lemuel. That is why Joseph Smith’s prediction of great success in the Lamanite nations in regards to the church have not been fulfilled by the North American Indians to this day, but take a look at the expansion of the church in Mexico and South and Central America where the Lamanites actual did live.

  21. “New research based on Book of Mormon prophecies and Joseph Smith’s historical writings, combined with physical evidences from DNA (genetics), archaeology, anthropology, metallurgy, horticulture, climate indicators, ocean currents and voyage routes, geography, astronomy, and symbology, point to the very real possibility that the people and places of the Book of Mormon were primarily in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys of what is now the United States of America.”

    I just can’t wrap my mind around South America being the “Promised Land”

    http://www.bookofmormonevidence.org/

  22. Your comments could be true if you adhered to a continental view of Book of Mormon events and not a limited geography view which most serious intellectuals do…In fact the only place Nephi never visited was North America according to most serious students of the Book of Mormon.

    I guess that settles it. I must not be a serious intellectual, nor a serious student of the Book of Mormon.

    One of the things that you just wrote, though, has sparked another non-seriously intellectual, non-seriously studious thought. You wrote:

    That is why Joseph Smith’s prediction of great success in the Lamanite nations in regards to the church have not been fulfilled by the North American Indians to this day, but take a look at the expansion of the church in Mexico and South and Central America where the Lamanites actual did live.

    This makes me think of these obviously erroneous scriptures, since they speak of the Lamanites residing in North America:

    And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment. And now, behold, I say unto you that it is not revealed, and no man knoweth where the city Zion shall be built, but it shall be given hereafter. Behold, I say unto you that it shall be on the borders by the Lamanites… And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment. (D&C 28:8-9,14)

    And that which I have appointed unto him is that he shall go with my servants, Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites. (D&C 32:2)

    And thus you shall take your journey into the regions westward, unto the land of Missouri, unto the borders of the Lamanites. (D&C 54:8)

    I’m sure, though, that these scriptures are probably using a more nuanced meaning of “Lamanites,” or, perhaps, these were just Meso-American Lamanites who had wandered up into North America much later, or some other more reasonable, intellectual and studious meaning.

  23. liv435,

    That was a great link. I’m still making my way through it. I’ve never really researched the many Book of Mormon geography theories, and it looks like those guys have totally beat me to it. In light of that information, I suppose that my statement above about Noah residing in the region of the New Jerusalem could be answered with a, “Well, duh!” I’m always joking with my daughter about her blondeness, but I guess I just had myself a blonde moment, too.

  24. I think it was wack in 2007 Rodney Meldrum made a DVD in an effort to counter an Anti Book of Mormon DVD saying the peolpe of the Americas had none of the DNA of the people near or from the area of Jerusalem. In the minds of the Book of Mormon detractor this “new” DNA evidence proved the Book of Mormon was false. And true the people in Mexico and Central and South America do have DNA from Asia. Having lived in Mexico and now the Philippines it is undeniable that the two groups share so many genotypes in common.
    But Meldrum scoured the various published works on DNA research. And what he found was that there was indeed one rather smallgroup of haplo group X in the America’s, in the Ohio River and Upper Mississippi river valleys.
    Again strange but true I also lived for 8 on the banks of the Ohio. Within a mile of my house was an archeological site of called Angel Mounds. These pre-colombian people constructed a city whose structure and materials is typical of the many groups who lived in that area of the Ohio and Mississippi river valleys. As Meldrum researched thing hefound that there were many facets of thses groups which were in line with what is stated in the Book of Mormon and which statements would never be true of a people in central America.
    Again I was 2 years in Mexico and I can attest to the fact that the things mentioned in the book of Mormon do not exist in Mexico nor in Central America.
    Examples : Beasts which move with the seasons. This was stated as the Lamanite’s food source. This is seasonal migration being spoken of. There is no winter in anyplace south of 20 degrees latitude until you are south of the 20 degrees South line. None of the beasts migrate down there.
    Snow is mentioned repeatedly in the Book of Mormon perhaps mostly as a part of a analogy. But people who do not know snow do not use it as a literary allusion. no one in 19 degrees south Mexico has snow as a image in their personal experience living there.
    How about those fires which destroyed so many cities? Stone, cement, mortar, adobe houses don’t burn. There were many fires in the shrubbery and grasses during the dry season in Mexico while i was there. I took some great video of a huge brush fire which was right next to our subdivision. There was even many houses under construction right by the huge flames. Damage and loss of property? Zero, nada, zilch. If Zarahemla was in Central America it would have been built as cities there have been built for 2000 plus years. And for it to burn down would be a huge miracle of God since we are talking the burning of ceramic material.
    However if you are talking the Midwest US duh. there are more trees than weeds. Wood and trees grows so abundantly in is hard to comprehend unless you have seen it. I was 4 years in upstate New York, yeah just 2 hours drive from Hill Comorah area. And any piece of ground which is not mowed regularly will have trees in three uears as think as grass. The Angel Mounds site I mentioned had over 1000 logs as big as 15 foot trees around it’s entire perimeter. Just exctl as Moroni designed pickets around their cities. None of the curator nor researchers there in the Evansville, Indiana site were Mormons. They just reported what they found.
    The :ong and the short is that Meldrum’s research upset the apple cart of the CentralAmerica place as teh Book of Mormon. So Farms squashed his book deal with Deseret Book.
    Does that surprise you? Honestly do you believe that Farms and Deseret Book really seeking the truth? When there is money to be made the truth gets in the way. Likewise when there are fake prophets to be propped up truth gets in the way.
    Wake up and smell the apostasy.

  25. The only time the word “snow” is in the Book of Mormon is in 1 Nephi 11:8, and in that verse Nephi is describing the tree in his vision. Nephi was from Jerusalem, where it does snow, so he would be able to talk about snow even if he was currently living in a tropical area.

    Are there other allusions to snow in the Book of Mormon?

  26. That is the only time snow is mentioned in the Book of Mormon. However, it doesn’t seem plausible that Lehi would use the “whiteness of the driven snow” as an example to his posterity if he knew they would never see it.

  27. Only Lehi mentioned it because he was not from the New World where they never saw snow. He was from Jerusalem where the comment of white as snow was common. It is mentioned in the Bible. Read Isaiah 1:18 which is probably where Lehi got it since he did have the bronze plate with Isaiah’s writings.

  28. As I looked over that web site that liv435 linked to above, and pondered over the New Jerusalem area being the actual promised land that the Lehites were given, I wondered what kind of path would be taken if we drew a line directly from Jerusalem to the New Jerusalem, traveling in an eastward direction. I saw that that path doesn’t quite work because when you launch from China, you run smack into land again (Japan). But when I pulled back the map, it seemed to me that perhaps in the past, Japan was connected to China, so that when the Lehite party was traveling over land, they actually traveled from China to Japan, over land, and then built their ship and launched from Japan, landing finally on the west coast of the United States, in California. Anyway, I thought I’d do a quick search to see if anyone had come up with such a past for China and Japan, and I found that there was, indeed, a land bridge in that very area, thought to have existed in very ancient times. That area has a lot of seismic activity, so it wouldn’t surprise me if the land has changed a bit since Lehi’s time.

  29. Okay so the snow thing is a limited allusion what about the cities of stone or adobe burning when all the cities in the Ohio/Mississippi river valley are pure wood and fit the description of how the Nephite cities were built? Also the DNA evidence of where there were the same DNA markers as those in Jerusalem were from the native Americans in the Miss/ohio river areas.
    Also Joseph Smith said the Book of Mormon took place in that area while he was in Zion’s Camp journey. This is where it happened. Meldrum has found that the geography of the great lake area is the only place I have seen which fits the sea east and the sea west and the days march between the two. The closest place of the Atlantic and Pacific is in Central America and is 150 miles over mountainous terrain. No human can move that fast in one day. The great lakes are so large that as you stand on the shore you can not tell if it is a lake or an ocean. And please don’t mention that there are no waves. The Atlantic at times is so dead the surfers call it Lake Atlantic.
    There are a a lot of other very strong arguments in the DVD.
    But if snow helps you remain firmly convinced that FARMS is the oracle of God, good for you.

  30. Locating Nahom

    In the Wikipedia entry on Nahom, I found this:

    It has been suggested that Joseph Smith simply created the name Nahom as a variant of the Biblical names Naham (1 Chron. 4:19), Nehum (Ne. 7:7) and Nahum (Na. 1:1). It should be noted that in Young’s Literal Translation-1862 1. Chron. 4:19 Naham is spelled Nahom.[12]

    Emphasis mine. That 12th footnote links to this, which reads:

    1 Chronicles 4:19
    and sons of the wife of Hodiah sister of Nahom: Abi-Keilah the Garmite, and Eshtemoa the Maachathite.

    The Wikipedia entry of Nahom also states:

    Meaning of the name NHM
    Vowels in Hebrew are spoken but not written…The Hebrew root NHM is found repeatedly in the Bible and relates to sorrow, hunger, consoling, and mourning (Damrosch 1987, pp. 128–29).[7] Scholars consider this root appropriate when used to refer to a place of burial and the expression of mourning (Goff, Sorenson & Thorne 1991, pp. 92–9).

    That got me thinking that Naham/Nahom was just a famous cemetery in Israel. So, I did a search and found that the Mount of Olives “has been used as a Jewish cemetery for over 3,000 years and holds approximately 150,000 graves.” Some parts of the Mount of Olives Wikipedia entry that I found particularly interesting are:

    From Biblical times until the present, Jews have been buried on the Mount of Olives. The necropolis on the southern ridge, the location of the modern village of Silwan, was the burial place of Jerusalem’s most important citizens in the period of the Biblical kings.[5] There are an estimated 150,000 graves on the Mount, including tombs traditionally associated with Zechariah and Absalom. On the upper slope, the traditional Tomb of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi is situated.

    Burial and resurrection
    Many Jews have wanted to be buried on the Mount of Olives “since antiquity,” based on the Jewish tradition (from the Biblical verse Zechariah 14:4) that when the Messiah comes, the resurrection of the dead will begin there.[28]

    All this leads me to believe that the Mount of Olives is possibly the very Nahom mentioned in the Book of Mormon.

  31. I have not really read about a China journey. Very thought provoking. Out of curiosity, what about the area of Tibet the journey would take them through. Those routes if available at that time would have been very and I mean very high passes in the Himalaya. What are your thoughts regarding this region? Did they perhaps skirt the high mountains and pass south along the Tibetan Plateau into Bhutan and then to China?

    Thanks for the detail it is wonderful.

  32. No, I believe they went straight through those impassable mountains, using the miraculous power of God to get them to the other side.

  33. Perhaps Nahom is what existed on the spot of land that 400 years later would become Capernaum. After all, Capernaum (Kfar Nahum in Hebrew) means “Nahum’s village” or “city of Nahum.”

    Archaeological evidence demonstrates that the town was established in the 2nd century BC during the Hasmonean period.

  34. on the topic of nahom

    “One thing, however, that we can be sure of—I feel very confident about it—is that the name Nahom in 1 Nephi 16:34 is now securely represented in the historical geography and archaeology of south Arabia by the Arabic toponym nehem, which not only appears on antique maps of Yemen but is also preserved in inscriptions on stone altars from the Barʾan temple site near Marib. These archaeological finds date to the seventh century BC, the very century in which Lehi and Nephi were born and grew to manhood. Aston’s groundbreaking research into the region and the altars, coupled with Brown’s preparatory research and careful follow-up, have solidified the legitimacy of a major Book of Mormon—related discovery.”

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/jbms/?vol=15&num=2&id=418

  35. From that same scholarly article:

    “…we can say with absolute surety that we know where the area of ancient Nahom was.

    “Absolute surety.” Themz sum strong, skolerly werds.

  36. this reminds me of the criticisms laid on velikovsky

    “Velikovsky is neither crank nor charlatan — although, to state my opinion and to quote one of my colleagues, he is at least gloriously wrong … Velikovsky would rebuild the science of celestial mechanics to save the literal accuracy of ancient legends.”

    the maxwell institute is not willing to take the appraoch of rebuilding science to save the literal accuracy of the book of mormon. keep up the good work

  37. Looking at this Book of Mormon Geography map, makes me wonder whether the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea were created during the destruction at the death of Christ. In other words, that prior to Jesus’ death that was all land, so that Florida used to be connected to South America. The eastern coast, then, might have gone from Florida to Freeport, to Nassau and The Bahamas, to Turks and Calcos Islands, to the Dominican Republic, to Puerto Rico, to British Virgin Islands, to Anguilla, to Antigua and Barbuda, to Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and finally connecting to Venezuela of South America.

    From the Wikipedia entry on the Gulf of Mexico:

    The consensus among geologists, who have studied the geology of the Gulf of Mexico, is that prior to Late Triassic, the Gulf of Mexico did not exist. Before the Late Triassic, the area now occupied by the Gulf of Mexico consisted of dry land, which included continental crust that now underlies Yucatan, within the middle of the large supercontinent of Pangea. This land lay south of a continuous mountain range that extended from north-central Mexico, through the Marathon Uplift in West Texas and the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma, and to Alabama where it linked directly to the Appalachian Mountains. It was created by the collision of continental plates that formed Pangea.

    (Oh, and in case anybody wonders, current scientific radiometric dating doesn’t phase me.)

  38. I don’t have the reference now but I do remember the Book of Mormon containing passage that allude to the Americas being under water and that the land would one day be raised above the water line. I never could understand why that passage was interjected until maybe now. Assuming this land upheaval was possible within the last three to four Millennia it would make sense that the Americas at that time would have looked more like a group of large Islands potentially with land bridges connecting some together than the current continental look… If it were to be partially elevated during the time frame of the B.ofM. I would suspect that there would have had to been some serious volcanic/techtonic shifting upward to accomplish this but nevertheless could explain why B.ofM. geography is so hard to match our current land mass patterns. The remainder of the de submerging could have happened gradually till now or in sudden spurts too.
    For example some Internet sites say that the Amazon valley is below sea level and was most likely flooded by a sea or part of the Atlantic Ocean at one time past. Imagine what South America would look like at that time with only it’s mountain ranges poking through the water. I picture it as a large small case r shaped land mass with islands around it in various locations.
    There could have even been different configurations to the mountains also and the r could have been segmented into big islands.
    North America likewise could have had it’s low lying valleys submerged and land mass segmented into islands and land mass containing significantly more isolated bodies of water according to it’s elevation differences.
    Current theorists along the evolutionary thought claim that things like this happen~chance over millions of years; but what if it were to happen in a several thousand year period say maybe around the time of before Babel wouldn’t it allow for an explanation of geologic/geographic variences not visible to us today and why we have a hard time finding Archaeological proof of the record?
    In other words the land under water appeared [according to the B.ofM. Passage that said it would] and changed the way things looked then into a different appearance now. Next time you read the parts of the B.ofM. That talk about land masses and waters and bodies of water ie seas and oceans try to apply this paragigm to what you are reading?!?
    Imagine what the land and water would have looked like in those days.
    The Caribbean could have been elevate higher too as well as other differences…
    Fortune%;]

  39. And now I, Moroni, proceed to finish my record concerning the destruction of the people of whom I have been writing. For behold, they rejected all the words of Ether; for he truly told them of all things, from the beginning of man; and that after the waters had receded from off the face of this land it became a choice land above all other lands, a chosen land of the Lord; wherefore the Lord would have that all men should serve him who dwell upon the face thereof; and that it was the place of the New Jerusalem, which should come down out of heaven, and the holy sanctuary of the Lord. (Ether 13:1-3)

  40. Pertaining to the Gulf of Mexico region and why it is there is that it use to be where City of Enoch was located. This is for a post several previous to mine. If anyone asks I have drain~bamadge and dementia!!!

    http://www.google.com/search?client=ubuntu&channel=fs&q=gulf+of+mexico+city+of+enoch&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

    Thought I changed my password out of necessity to access but looks like it’s still using old one…

  41. So when did the last waters recede from this land? Had to be before B.ofM. visitors cuz when they came it was a chosen land???

  42. I have just found this site. Reading through this entry has my mind buzzing with ideas.

  43. Are you aware that, in a scriptural context, the word “Borders” alludes to mountains? Also, consider the people of Lehi (and the town of the same name) in Saudi Arabia. A few years ago, an American living in Saudi Arabia traveled about 75 miles down the coast of Saudi Arabia is SUVs (about 3 days travel via camel) and found a small valley with a creek running through the mountains to the Red Sea. Also there was wild wheat, date trees, fruits, etc. Additionally, there was much evidence that it has been well known for at least 3,000 years (there are several mounds there that appear to be altars of some kind).

    That said, it is unlikely that the coastal Red Sea route was taken. It was more likely that the old spice trail was taken instead. Without a good guide, newbie travelers on the spice trail would unavoidably get lost, hence the need for the Liahona.

    Of the three major routes proposed (Red Sea Coastal, Chinese and spice trail), the spice trail (IMHO) is by far the best candidate.

  44. except there is not enough trees to construct a boat there, and if you were wanted for murder carrying an escaped (kidnapped) slave and stolen artifacts you’d want to travel on well known paths where people heading to jerusalem would pass you right? and you would be in great danger of starving to death in the middle of the wilderness while on a trail that passed by several cities and had high traffic

  45. In some strange glitch in clicking a link to this article, my mom’s browser exposed a jpg image of what looks like an old chinese painting of two men with a “liahona” on the ground between them. Where did it come from? I found it in my cache as well, though I never saw the image in the article. What’s its story?

    http://ldsanarchy.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/chineese-liahona.jpg?w=276&h=300

  46. It comes from this article. You’ll have to ask Elder Chantdown about its source, though. I don’t know where it comes from.

  47. This article is 5 months old but just came to my attention:

    “Great Surprise”—Native Americans Have West Eurasian Origins by Brian Handwerk writing for National Geographic

    I haven’t heard hardly a single person mention it. All the talk has been on the following more recent article, put out by the church, which doesn’t mention the National Geographic info:

    Book of Mormon and DNA Studies

    It could be that the church article authors were not aware of the National Geographic data, since the research was first published online in the November 20, 2013 edition of the journal Nature. Perhaps the church article authors do not subscribe to either periodical.

    At any rate, here is the text of the Nature publication:

    Upper Palaeolithic Siberian genome reveals dual ancestry of Native Americans

    The origins of the First Americans remain contentious. Although Native Americans seem to be genetically most closely related to east Asians, there is no consensus with regard to which specific Old World populations they are closest to. Here we sequence the draft genome of an approximately 24,000-year-old individual (MA-1), from Mal’ta in south-central Siberia, to an average depth of 1×. To our knowledge this is the oldest anatomically modern human genome reported to date. The MA-1 mitochondrial genome belongs to haplogroup U, which has also been found at high frequency among Upper Palaeolithic and Mesolithic European hunter-gatherers, and the Y chromosome of MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and near the root of most Native American lineages. Similarly, we find autosomal evidence that MA-1 is basal to modern-day western Eurasians and genetically closely related to modern-day Native Americans, with no close affinity to east Asians. This suggests that populations related to contemporary western Eurasians had a more north-easterly distribution 24,000 years ago than commonly thought. Furthermore, we estimate that 14 to 38% of Native American ancestry may originate through gene flow from this ancient population. This is likely to have occurred after the divergence of Native American ancestors from east Asian ancestors, but before the diversification of Native American populations in the New World. Gene flow from the MA-1 lineage into Native American ancestors could explain why several crania from the First Americans have been reported as bearing morphological characteristics that do not resemble those of east Asians. Sequencing of another south-central Siberian, Afontova Gora-2 dating to approximately 17,000 years ago, revealed similar autosomal genetic signatures as MA-1, suggesting that the region was continuously occupied by humans throughout the Last Glacial Maximum. Our findings reveal that western Eurasian genetic signatures in modern-day Native Americans derive not only from post-Columbian admixture, as commonly thought, but also from a mixed ancestry of the First Americans.

    Btw, I mentioned in the OP that it was the preaching of Lehi that made converts during the 8 year trek through Asia, but maybe Nephi was the main missionary, since one of our major missionary scriptures found in the Doctrine and Covenants says the following:

    Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness. (D&C 33:8)

  48. My bad. I didn’t read the church article closely enough. It actually refers to the Nature article.

    Continuing studies provide new insights, and some challenge previous conclusions. For example, a 2013 study states that as much as one-third of Native American DNA originated anciently in Europe or West Asia and was likely introduced into the gene pool before the earliest migration to the Americas.16 This study paints a more complex picture than is suggested by the prevailing opinion that all Native American DNA is essentially East Asian.

    [Footnote] 16. Maanasa Raghavan and others, “Upper Palaeolithic Siberian Genome Reveals Dual Ancestry of Native Americans,” Nature, Nov. 20, 2013.

  49. Wanted to add, alma 37 adds that they did not travel a straight course due to their sloth in heeding the liahona, and that that contributed to their taking so long

    Also, interesting news from china

    http://thinkprogress.org/world/2014/08/07/3468637/china-own-belief-system/


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