Selections from the Book of Laman


When we lived in Jerusalem, life was good. My father, Lehi, had a large house with a lot of land, which we looked forward to inheriting, and gold and silver and many “precious things” (1 Ne. 2:4.) In fact, our property could have been classified as “exceedingly great” (1 Ne. 3:25.) There was peace in the land and prosperity and we even gained some prominence among “the elders of the Jews” (1 Ne. 4:22,27) for Father had become one of “the brethren of the church” (1 Ne. 4:26.) Lemuel and I were old enough, by that time, to learn the workings of the Jews and we were active in our religion, making sure that we always followed the brethren of the church.

But then everything came to a screeching halt when Father prayed one day and imagined seeing a great vision in which he claimed that everyone at Jerusalem was wicked and in need of repentance, including the other church elders, otherwise they would be destroyed. He claimed to have seen God and even started in again, as the false prophets who had done before him, such as Neum, Zenock and Zenos, with the false doctrine of the worship of some being, which he called the messiah, who was to come in some future day. He said that his “brethren” (1 Ne. 5:4) of the church, which was the leadership, would perish and that a remnant of the Jews would be carried captive into Babylon. In short, he completely lost his mind.

As you can expect, the blow-back from this pretended revelation and prophecy was immediate. He (and anyone following his teachings) was denounced by the elders as apostate. My brother Lemuel and I tried to reason with him, but to no avail. He continued to claim God had spoken to him.

One morning Father woke us all up and said that we had to flee into the wilderness that very day. He claimed to have received word from the Lord in a dream the previous night, that the elders of the Jews had secretly convened a council and had appointed and authorized Laban to use his military forces to seek out and assassinate him privily. (Now, Laban was one of the chief generals of the Jews.)

Lemuel and I complained about this situation continuously, but we went with him anyway because we figured that this might just be temporary insanity and when Father got some clean, pure air he would come to his senses and return to Jerusalem.

After we had traveled for the third day, complaining to him and attempting to reason with him the whole time, Father set up camp and proceeded to call us (Lemuel and me) to repentance! Us! He was the one disobeying the elders of the Jews and acting crazy and he had the nerve to call us rebellious! So, we laid our arguments before him as plainly as possible, telling him he was apostate and crazy and foolish; that there were no signs whatsoever of wickedness among the Jews or impending destruction for Jerusalem; that he contradicted church leadership and that even if he was right about the elders of the Jews sending Laban to assassinate him, it must be because he deserved it. We brought up the false prophet Zenos who was also killed for prophesying essentially the same thing that Father had prophesied. If Zenos deserved it, for preaching blasphemy, then so did Father. We told him that if the elders had pronounced a sentence of death upon him, then he needed to do the right thing and submit to their authority and face the penalty for his actions and words. And if he wasn’t willing to submit to them, that we, as followers of the church leadership, had every right to execute the penalty in their behalf, for they did not know where he was, but we did.

At this point he got really crazy and he seemed to have some kind of evil spirit come upon him which totally spooked us, so we just dropped the matter altogether and decided to stop arguing with him until he was a little more in control of himself. We were more convinced than ever that Father had totally gone off the deep end.

At first it was only Father talking crazy and Lemuel and I were the only voices of reason, besides our mother, Sariah, who held doubts about the whole matter, but did not voice them out loud to Father, though she did voice them to Lemuel and I. But then our youngest brother Nephi became infected with Father’s delusions and claimed to have also seen God. Then he preached this new religion to Sam, who ended up believing his words. Lemuel and I tried to explain to Nephi that these imagined revelations were going against the edicts of the elders of the Jews at Jerusalem and therefore were of the devil, but he would not listen.

The next morning Father said he got another dream from his false god, who commanded us to go back to Jerusalem to get the plates of brass from Laban. We protested, of course! Laban was the chief captain of 50 captains and had tens of thousands of men at his disposal. Plus, he was mighty enough to slay 50 soldiers himself, so that even if we were able to get through his 50 bodyguards/captains, dealing with Laban alone was suicide.

We explained to Father that the plates of brass needed to remain in the hands of Laban (who was an Ephraimite) in his well guarded treasury. It was the stick of Ephraim and it was the duty of the Ephraimites to keep it. We were of the tribe of Manasseh and we had no business interfering with the affairs of, nor taking that which pertained to, another tribe. Besides, Laban was the right man to keep the record, since he was appointed by the elders of the Jews because of his Ephraimitish lineage and also because of the numerous army of men that he employed. Who could better guard and protect the record than the uniquely qualified Laban? Surely, not us.

But Father would not listen. He judged Laban as wicked and the tribe of Ephraim as unworthy to keep the record and said that his false god had commanded that the state of affairs be changed and that from now on Manasseh would keep the stick of Ephraim, for it was the record of Joseph, started by him while he resided in Egypt, written in Egyptian, and containing the writings of all the prophets of the tribes of both Ephraim and Manasseh, as well as many of those of Judah. Thus, although it was called the stick of Ephraim, it pertained to both tribes. He claimed it was the prerogative of his false god to decide which of the two tribes would keep the record and that the removal of the plates of brass from Ephraim to Manasseh would be a type of what would happen in the latter-days among the Ephraimitish-assigned Gentiles, who would likewise be removed, along with their records, to the tribe of Manasseh, which would be his seed. And many such false and foolish prophecies did our father make.

In particular, Father prophesied that we would be able to obtain the plates of brass and bring them down to the wilderness, to our father. Lemuel and I saw this as an opportunity to prove that our father was wrong and thus bring him and our younger brothers to their senses, when we returned without the plates. So we agreed to go up.

We found a large cave in which to hide and luckily, the servants of Laban did not find us! At this point, I had had enough of Father’s nonsense! I began to chastise Nephi, and also Sam, for these pretended revelations and prophecies, for their state of apostasy, for putting our lives at risk, for jeopardizing our inheritance and losing our riches to Laban. We could no longer live in Jerusalem in safety, for even if we returned to our house, Laban would seek us out when he learned of it and finish the job he had started! By Nephi’s foolish suggestion, we had cut off all hope of ever being able to live a normal life among our friends and extended family in Jerusalem! At my words, Lemuel also began to scold them, but instead of receiving the just chastisement of their older brothers, these two twerps began speaking back to us and defending their position, so I thought it expedient to not spare the rod and I began to strike them with a stick I found in the cave.

Once again, the evil spirit that had come upon Father was present in the cave, but this time we could not only feel its presence, but we could see it with our own two eyes. It was a devil appearing as an angel of light and it declared that Laban would be delivered into our hands and that we were to go back up to Jerusalem. And then it vanished.

Lemuel and I were again shaken up by this malignant presence, and the dangers this evil spirit was putting us into, by pitting us against one so mighty as Laban. We continued to protest the situation but decided to follow Nephi and Sam up to the walls of Jerusalem, for we thought it best that we all should stay together. When we got to the walls, Nephi, our foolish brother, wanted to enter the city alone and we let the fool go. If he wanted to commit suicide, that was his prerogative. We told him we would wait for him that night, but if he didn’t return before morning, we would leave for Father’s camp.

We saw Laban walking towards the spot where we were hiding, his servant beside him, and we thought Nephi was dead and now so were we. We began to run away, but Laban called out to us, in the voice of Nephi! Our brother was not dead, but was only wearing the garments of Laban! And the servant of Laban was carrying the plates of brass!

After Nephi had recounted this fantastic story of how he had slain Laban and obtained the plates of brass, we just nodded acceptance of it, for we were too elated at being liberated from Laban’s future attempts at our assassination to argue with Nephi over his preposterous story of divine intervention.

Lemuel and I now found ourselves surrounded in a sea of deluded individuals. Our mother, Sariah, who previously had had well-grounded doubts about the pretended revelations of Father now was fully convinced that he was a great seer, prophet and revelator, because of the story of how Laban was slain and the record obtained. She saw the whole thing as this marvelous miracle and sign of the prophetic calling of her husband and converted to the new, apostate, family religion of the worship of this future messiah. Even Zoram, the servant of Laban, was converted, for he also could not see it as anything other than a sign from God that Ephraim and the Jews at Jerusalem had been judged by God and been found wanting. The plates of brass in the hands of Lehi, said he, and Laban’s death, was proof positive that the power of God was with Lehi. The fool would not consider the possibility that Nephi just had dumb luck.

Afterward, Father had another one of his pretended revelations, this time telling us to go back up to Jerusalem and bring Ishmael’s family down to the wilderness so that we could intermarry with them. Now, Ishmael and his family were our family friends from way back, so we had no problem with this, especially now that the danger of Laban trying to kill us was no longer an issue.

After Nephi had recounted to them about Laban and the plates, Ishmael and almost all of his family converted to the new false religion. All these fools saw the story as evidence of God’s approval. However, two of Ishmael’s daughters, the two that Lemuel and I had always liked, and also the two sons of Ishmael, did not believe all this nonsense. They were church men, like we were, and believed in following the brethren of the church as we did. The two daughters were also astute, as they were, following the elders of the Jews and their edicts with exactness.

On our journey to the wilderness, the six of us got to thinking about the situation. If we went to the wilderness, we would be surrounded by fanatics. If we returned to Jerusalem, what did we have? Lemuel and I could not return to our house, for although there was land and a house, there was nothing to support us, for Father had taken all the provisions and all our riches had been stolen by Laban. If the sons of Ishmael returned to their father’s house, they also had a house and land, but no provisions, for their father had taken everything with him. But we thought that if we went back together (the six of us), perhaps by working together we would be able to make a living and start life all over from the messes that our father’s had made of their, and our, lives. So, we concluded our council and made an announcement to everyone of our decision.

Instead of everyone giving us a blessing and wishing us luck, Nephi starts doing the same thing crazy Father had been doing, namely calling us, his older brothers, to repentance! He declared that we had rebelled against their new, false religion and that we hadn’t believed in the evil spirit that appeared to us or in any of the other false and pretended revelations and prophecies our insane father had pronounced. He, like Father, judged Jerusalem and the Jews as wicked and claimed that the imprisonment of the false prophet Jeremiah was proof that the Jews were ripening in destruction and that if we returned to Jerusalem we would perish! Nephi, like Father, fancied himself a prophet, seer and revelator. All this blasphemy and foolishness was too much for the six of us, for he went on and on in his condemnation of the leadership of the church at Jerusalem. We felt justified in shutting him up, as the Jews did with other false prophets, and we bound him with cords and left him there in the wilderness at the mercy of the real God of the heavens.

Just before we had finished our preparations to return to Jerusalem, Nephi walks up! Apparently he somehow got loose of the bands. Perhaps we hadn’t tied them sufficiently tight. Lemuel and I went to lay our hands on him and bind him down properly this time, but my future bride and her brother and their mother came forth and asked me to forgive Nephi his impertinence in speaking against his older brothers as he had done. I realized that Nephi was just a kid, although a foolish one at that, and that it was wrong of us to treat him as an adult, to face the adult consequences of his blasphemous actions. We apologized to him for how we had treated him and did our duty by praying to the Lord for forgiveness and also asking him to forgive us, which he did. But he again asked us to come down to the wilderness to Father and this time we consented, for we thought that perhaps with six people in the party who followed the brethren of the church at Jerusalem, we might be able to turn the tide of craziness and teach people the proper religion.

Commentary on Laman and Lemuel

Just as the church as a whole goes through three stages (the works of the Father, the works of men and the works of the devil), so do individual members of the church go through three stages: hot, lukewarm and cold. Laman and Lemuel were hot converts to the religion of the Jews, meaning that they experienced the works of the Father in the confirmation of the truth of the scriptures through personal revelation. This is why Nephi categorically states to them that “ye know that this is true” (1 Ne. 4:3.) They had received confirmation from the Holy Ghost that the scriptures were true and that the religion of the Jews was correct. So, they started out just as hot as Sam and Nephi did.

The problem with Laman and Lemuel was the church in which they grew up. Being the eldest, they were immersed in church culture. This, in and of itself, would not be a bad thing if the church manifested the works of the Father, but unfortunately for them, church culture in Jerusalem at that time was the third stage church, or the works of the devil. So, Laman and Lemuel became corrupted by the Jewish church, which turned their hotness into coldness. By the time their father, Lehi, had received his great vision of repentance, Laman and Lemuel had already chosen sides, and they sided with the church leadership at Jerusalem.

These two older brothers were torn between the loyalty they felt towards the elders of the Jews and the loyalty they felt towards their father and their family. The elders were saying and doing one thing while their father was saying and doing another. Ultimately, they mistakenly chose church over family and took the view that their family was apostate, damning themselves to hell.

Sam, Nephi, Jacob and Joseph were young enough to have escaped from the hellish church culture at Jerusalem, therefore, they were taught undiluted religion from their seer father, Lehi, who gave them the works of the Father, or first stage church. Because Lehi left Jerusalem, the younger brothers were not exposed to the corrupting (third stage church) influences of the Jews, as were the two older brothers.

All of the posterity of Lehi was special, producing children who, if taught the correct way would never turn from it (and conversely, if they were taught the incorrect way, would also “not depart from it” 2 Ne. 4:5), and that equally applied to Laman and Lemuel. They were special, even as special as Nephi, but Lehi got to them too late, after they had already chosen church over family. Had Laman and Lemuel been younger and not been exposed to the Jews, they would not have been corrupted by those influences and might have been seers, prophets and revelators, just like the rest of the men of the family.

Also, as Laman and Lemuel were “like unto the Jews who were at Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 2:13), the Jews at Jerusalem were also like unto Laman and Lemuel. In other words, to get an understanding of the kind of people that lived in Jerusalem at that time (the third stage church), all we need to do is look at these two men.

Finally, the opening scenes of the Book of Mormon, dealing with Laman and Lemuel, are a type of what will occur among the families of the modern church when it enters its final “works of the devil” stage. Keeping these things in mind may help us both understand the behavior of Laman and Lemuel, as well as the behavior of those future Lamans and Lemuels who will reside in the third stage church.

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48 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this out, very applicable to the here and now. How can we have the courage to follow ‘Lehi’ Are we to look for ‘one’ to lead us out or do we leave to gather out of ourselves?
    I feel such a strong impression to prepare spiritually more than physically for this change. My eyes have been opened so much lately, I FEEL it is coming quickly.

  2. Hi I am new to this blog. Is this a blog that tends to take a approach that is opposed to the LDS church? If you follow a renegade form of mormonism how does one convert if one doesn’t have the sort of ceremony associated with the LDS church?

  3. Your first question can’t really be answered one way or the other, because it depends upon the blog contributor. There have been 8 blog authors who have contributed their writings to this blog. Some of them are for the LDS church, others are against it.

    Your second question also depends upon what you mean by “renegade form of Mormonism” and also what you mean by “how can you convert”. How can you convert to…what? Or, what sort of conversion are you talking about?

  4. After reading this entry I was under the impression that the entry had to do with people forming a new style of mormonism outside the LDS church and so I was wondering how that form of mormonism would be practiced.

    I am not for or against the LDS church, I don’t know much about it. The only thing I know about it is that mormons tend to be “straight edge” and so is an aspect to the church I find admirable. But I don’t know much about the faith.

  5. This was a fitting portrait showing why Laman and Lemuel did not see themselves as inherently evil, they just had their loyalties to the institutional Church they were raised in, and were therefore unable to recognize that that “Church” had long ago lost its soul.

  6. seedofjapheth, this blog could be considered an enigma. Like LDS Anarchist said, some who write here are for the church and some are against it. You’ll find a lot of things here that are strange to the typical latter day saint.

    I come here on occasion, but I don’t believe everything that is posted here. The good thing is that I’m not required or expected to.

    One would convert to the church through accepted channels, through those authorized to perform baptism. If you want to find out about the church, it’s best to go where a basic framework is laid. It’s best to read the Book of Mormon and ask God what is true. A person who joins the church needs to continue seeking for greater truth, but that can only be found if one relies upon God, not man/woman.

    Missionaries give a good basic groundwork. As for other places, like websites, it’s best to pray and have God direct you to the places and people that teach what you need to learn. There are many people who say many things that can confuse those who don’t really know much, if anything, about the church. This site is one of them. People are free to post all sorts of strange doctrine.

    The best thing about this site is that I can post what I just said above and the anarchist bent of this site will let me say it.

  7. @Toni

    Thanks for the info. Are there any books you recommend someone read if they are interested in the church?

    Thats a very interesting picture on your blog to by the way. It looks like a baptism. Did that take place in Utah?

  8. Eva:

    Are we to look for ‘one’ to lead us out or do we leave to gather out of ourselves?

    I’ve found that there are many who wait for the one — whether it’s the One, True Prophet announcing something at a General Conference — or some outside authority, the “one mighty and strong” — to show up and save the day, performing miracles and wonders and signs.

    Such a doctrine is inspired of the devil — because it always rests in the many waiting on and following the one. I’m not saying that there will not be one or more persons arriving who will be mighty and strong and manifest miracles and perform great works — and leading people. Of course there will be. However, the waiting for such a man or men to arrive is inspired by Satan.

    The true doctrine of Christ is that every man and woman is to repent of their sins and harden not their hearts, receiving a remission of their sins, and then asking God in faith to obtain the gifts and powers of the Spirit, so as to work miracles themselves and be led by the Spirit, and not to wait for miracle workers to show up and lead them.

    Those who wait for “the one” to show up, without learning how to lead themselves, will end up being deceived, for Satan will send miracle workers with the intent to deceive such people.

    We are to obtain the gifts ourselves so that we are not deceived (see D&C 46: 8.) If you do not obtain the gifts, but merely wait for a savior to arrive, you will get a savior, but he will be sent from the devil.

  9. Re:

    Is this a blog that tends to take a approach that is opposed to the LDS church?

    It’s one thing to be critical of something — and quite another thing to be opposed to something. The latter is a game I don’t play.

    For me, because of the revelation I received from the Holy Spirit that told me I should be baptized into the LDS church [which revelation She has yet to rescind] and my understanding of the law of common consent and importance of the keys of the church — I remain an active member [though my family regularly organizes tribal gospel ordinances, like the sacrament] and believe the LDS church to be the church of God.

    There are many online who recognize the things not right in the LDS church. There are some who believe that the church went into apostasy during the time of Joseph Smith, for failing to build the Nauvoo temple in the appointed time. Others believe it became apostate after Joseph’s death. Others, after plural marriage was discontinued. Others, during the administration of this or that church president. Still others, when the blacks were given access to the priesthood. And even fairly recently, others see the temple changes of 1990 to be an indication of the LDS church being false.

    Some have left the church because of these issues, thinking its doom is sealed and all is lost. And to be clear — I think most would have to admit that the LDS church has been in a state of apostasy pretty much since its inception. Nevertheless, just as the Lord preserved the Nephites and Lamanites until they had rejected every one of His words, so the Lord will preserve the Mormon Gentile church as long as they continue to obey even one, single commandment He has given them.

    Even in times of wickedness, when the church is dead [lacking the spiritual gifts and works of the Father], it can still the Lord’s people. He never altogether rejected His people until they altogether reject Him. Even in its condemned state. The church of God has not been rejected — not during the time of Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young, or Wilford Woodruff, or Heber Grant, or Harold Lee, or Gordon Hinckley, etc. — up to and including today.

    Nor will it be rejected at any time after today, until the church altogether turns from the Lord.

    Now — if you asked mainstream LDS members about what I expressed above, then they would label me as “opposed to the church”, or “apostate”, etc.

    But if you asked some other fringe-type bloggers, they might consider my point-of-view to be “to kind” [so to speak].

  10. why do you refer to the church as a “mormon gentile” church?

  11. “Gentile” because the church of God is currently identified with the Gentiles.

    “Mormon” because it is not just the membership records of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM — but would also include all other Mormons.

  12. seedofjapheth,
    I have some books on my computer that I can send you. If you go to my profile and click on Email, under Contact, you can send me your email address, or leave it as a comment and I’ll delete it so others won’t have access to it (third party cookies have to be enabled to comment on blogger/blogspot – even I have to). If you have a different name, tell me who you are and that I said I’d send the info.

    That photo is actually not a baptism. It is simply a visit to a pond. My mother was a very awesome, humble woman. I was looking for a new photo for my blog heading and came across that one. I liked the simplicity of the photo. No one was trying to impress anyone. The woman on the left standing in the water is my mother. The young woman on the right is me years ago, when I was in my twenties.

  13. The two daughters of Ishmael who ended up becoming the wives of Laman and Lemuel were possibly instigators of a lot of the trouble that Laman and Lemuel caused, perhaps constantly inciting them to anger against Lehi and Nephi and putting doubts into their hearts about all the miracles they witnessed.

    For example, we know for a fact that when Ishmael died, these women publicly complained against Lehi and Nephi and immediately afterward Laman became angry and started a conspiracy to kill them. But Laman and Lemuel may also have been under a constant barrage of private nagging from their wives.

    The corrupt Jewish system was all about seniority, in which the elders ruled. These women, having married the two oldest men, may have been concerned about Lehi’s favoring of Nephi, and may have feared that once Ishmael and Lehi died, their husbands would not become the tribal chiefs according the the Jewish system.

    Women are very concerned about their children going hungry, so maybe Nephi’s brothers’ anger towards him at the breaking of his bow was the result of these women complaining to their husbands. Even the refusal to build the ship may have come from the wives, who did not feel safe taking a trip in a boat designed and constructed by someone (Nephi) who had received no formal training in that area. When on the boat, the making merry, dancing and rudeness may have been a result of the women wanting to party. Finally, in the promised land, with Lehi dead, the wives may have again been the influence upon their husbands that got them to attempt to kill Nephi.

    So, Nephi reported how Laman and Lemuel acted in front of him, but for all we know, they behaved as they did to please their wives, who harped on them behind closed doors to assert their right to rule and incited them to murder.

  14. I also wonder about their wives because prior to getting married Laman and Lemuel had publicly demonstrated themselves (in front of these women) as disposed to do evil, even as murderers in their hearts. The girls knew what they were getting themselves into. So, perhaps these girls were attracted to “bad boys.” And this attraction may have been because the girls themselves were bad, according to the following principle:

    For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. (D&C 88:40)

  15. I bet that Laman and Lemuel were the most handsome of the bunch. Perhaps their character flaws were overlooked because of their exceedingly good looks. I would also expect that all of Ishmael’s daughters were hot, every last one of them. There is no indication of jealousies between the brothers due to one getting the best looking wife.

  16. I always liked the description of the Ishmael daughters from 1 Nephi 17:

    And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness.

    And so great were the blessings of the Lord upon us, that while we did live upon raw meat in the wilderness, our women did give plenty of suck for their children, and were strong, yea, even like unto the men; and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.

    I like women who can give natural birth, can eat a paleo diet, nurse the children, be strong like unto the men, and refrain from nagging.

    Forget the Proverbs 31 woman — I like having a 1 Nephi 17 wife.

  17. “and they began to bear their journeyings without murmurings.”

    Can we then assume that prior to this point the women bore their journeyings with murmurings?

    Also, they traveled for eight years in the wilderness before they reached Bountiful. Surely that must have been an awful lot of walking. Women complain when they are on their feet all day (not walking) and need frequent foot massages, so the daily chore of walking for eight years, except on the occasions in which the camp needed to stop to rest and obtain food, must have been gruelling for both men and women. The miracle of having women as strong as the men may have been an absolute necessity, especially when walking while pregnant.

  18. Can we then assume that prior to this point the women bore their journeyings with murmurings?

    Yes, I think so.

    The chapter before that is where the party travels “for the space of many days” — only to have Nephi’s bow break at the point when they “did pitch [their] tents for the space of a time, that [they] might again rest [their]selves and obtain food for [their] families.

  19. Looking over these chapters again, Nephi’s statement that “we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1), followed by, in verse four, “we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness,” makes me wonder whether we’ve got the trek path wrong.

    When they were told to begin traveling (1 Ne. 16:9), after their initial three day trip from Jerusalem, they got the Liahona (1 Ne. 16:10) and traveled for “four days, nearly a south-southeast direction” (1 Ne. 16:13), stopping at Shazer. Then they “did travel for the space of many days, slaying food by the way” (1 Ne. 16:15) and “following 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.)

    After they “had traveled for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:17), they stopped at the place where Nephi broke his bow.

    Now, here is the kicker, and this is something I just now noticed today. When the camp had received food and in their joy had humbled themselves and given thanks to the Lord, they began again their journeyings, and this is what Nephi says:

    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. And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom. (1 Ne. 16:33-34)

    It struck me that “traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning” might mean “we retraced our steps.” In other words, they traveled for many days in a south-southeast direction, along the banks of the Red Sea, all the way down, then they traveled for many days nearly the same path they had traveled back up towards Jerusalem, in a north-northwest direction, following the Red Sea up, until they came close to where they first left their first camp which they had at the beginning, which was a three-day journey from Jerusalem. And this was where the place they called Nahom was, not at the bottom of the Arabian peninsula, so that Ishmael was possibly buried with his own people.

    Again they traveled for many days down the Red Sea, and then they traveled for many day up the Red Sea. Always, Nephi refers to the travel time as “many days” not many years. After they leave Nahom, they completely change direction and now they are spoken of traveling “for many years,” not days.

    If Nahom was close to Jerusalem (and its influences), this might explain why suddenly the daughters of Ishmael begin murmuring against Lehi and Nephi, and why Laman conspires with the others to kill his father and younger brother. They were close to Jerusalem, yet Lehi and Nephi were not determined to return to it. The party was no longer “lost in the wilderness” or at the mercy of Lehi and his Liahona to make sure they were safe. Laman and the others could kill Lehi and Nephi and then return to Jerusalem, for they were now close to it.

    Now, at Nahom, Laman complained that Nephi was “thinking, perhaps, that he may lead us away into some strange wilderness” (1 Ne. 16:38.) It may have been that Laman and the rest of the camp were already aware of the new traveling directions, from Nahom, which were “nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Ne. 17:1.) Going due east from Jerusalem may have definitely been considered as some strange wilderness, or lands completely unknown to the Israelites.

    If, in fact, Nahom was near Jerusalem, and if they traveled, as Nephi said, “nearly eastward from that time forth” for eight years, until they came to Bountiful, it would make much more sense about the travel time. If you go east from Jerusalem and don’t stop, you will traverse the entire Asian continent and eventually stop at the Pacific Ocean, on the eastern coast of China. Walking such a path, stopping from time to time for rest and food, and for when the weather prohibits travel, it may indeed require eight years’ travel time.

    Now, I know everyone thinks that the Arabian peninsula is the trek that Lehi took, and this is what I have been taught, as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we have been wrong on this all along…

  20. LDSA, 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 (I don’t have it in front of me).

  21. If you or anyone else has that book, could you quote that particular revelation in its entirety here? Does it say that Bountiful was on the Arabian peninsula? If not, then the above conjecture may still be accurate and Bountiful might have been on the east coast of China. For example, read this:

    …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.)

    (Item number two above assumes that Bountiful is located on the Arabian peninsula, and hence, east of the “deserts.”)

    China surely must fit this bill of being bountiful. I wonder if any of the names of the regions or cities of China, on its east coast, actually mean bountiful, plentiful, abundant? If anybody knows Chinese, here are the Chinese words for bountiful. Do any of those words correspond to any cities or regions in China?

  22. Could this be the purported revelation?

    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.)

    If that is the quote, 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 arrives at the Arabian Sea as the point they entered the water. But I have always, always, always been bothered by the 8 years of travel time. My conjecture above feels more right to me than does the standard conjecture.

  23. Interestingly enough, if the Lehites sailed from China at around 30 degrees north latitude, and sailed due east, they would have landed in North America at the narrow neck of land we know as Baja California.

  24. But they rested several times. It could be that they rested for months at a time, couldn’t it? In fact, I get the impression that they stayed in Bountiful for quite a long time, longer than anywhere else.

  25. Here are some other considerations for the new trek path I’m giving:

    If they traveled due east between the 30th and 31st parallel, that would take them through Jordan, Saudia Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Tibet and China.

    During this eight year journey they undoubtedly preached the gospel to those they came in contact with 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 Eskimoes 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 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 in their journey. In other words that it wasn’t 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)

    When they bullt the ship, 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.

    The Liahona

    Laman and Lemuel were at the mercy of Lehi and Nephi in their travels in the wilderness. Neither Laman nor Lemuel could make the Liahona work, so as long as the party was relying upon this director in order to find food, and avoid dangerous bands of robbers, as well as avoiding drought and severe and dangerous weather conditions, they had to make sure that Lehi and Nephi were safe. Killing these two prophets while they remained lost in the wilderness simply was not an option, for their very lives depended upon them making the Liahona work.

    If we take the standard view that Nahom was at the 19th parallel, far from Jerusalem, it doesn’t make sense to kill the prophets, because they would have become lost in the wilderness. But if they backtracked and came close to Jerusalem, perhaps a few days walking distance, and then Ishmael died, it makes sense that Laman and Lemuel, no longer lost, but familiar with the area, would want to kill Lehi and Nephi. These two always wanted to return to Jerusalem, so it only makes sense that they would kill the prophets when they were certain that they could return to Jerusalem, because they were within easy walking distance.

    In the trek eastward, there is no mention of any more murmurings. This is because for the eight years they were in a strange wilderness, which was completely unknown to any of them, they were once again 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 Laman and Lemuel for the entire eight years 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.

  26. Toni, they stayed in the land of Bountiful for “many days.” They stayed there after their eight years’ sojourn in the wilderness. Their time in Bountiful is not counted as part of those eight years. That’s how it reads to me.

    Also, it’s 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. So, how many miles can a person walk in a single day? 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 gruelling journey? Nephi describes their wanderings in the wilderness as having “suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all.” The daughters of Ishmael stated that “we have wandered much in the wilderness.” And many other descriptions such as these paint a picture of a lot of walking and very little rest, the exact opposite of what it should have been if they had been traveling to the Arabian Sea.

    But if they were traveling to China, it suddenly makes sense. Ishmael’s daughters complained that “after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger” (1 Ne. 16:35.) Why were they concerned with hunger? Because 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 go due east of Nahom, 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? Also, they state explicitly that “they were desirous to return again to Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 16:36), indicating that they were once again close to Jerusalem.

    Traveling to China, they might some days get 20 miles, and other days, depending on the terrain, get much less than 20 miles. Other days they would need to stop to rest, obtain food, wait for weather to clear, etc. The continent of Asia is so vast and varied and dangerous, that it makes perfect sense that it would take them 8 whole years to traverse it. The Arabian Sea path, in my mind, has never made any sense.

  27. One last thing and I’ll put this topic to rest (unless someone else has something to add.) Nephi wrote that the daughters of Ishmael “were desirous to return again to Jerusalem” (1 Ne. 16:36.) The daughters of Ishmael came down with their father from Jerusalem but supposedly never returned to Jerusalem, so how is it that they wanted to return again to Jerusalem?

    The solution to this is to place Nahom 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. The words of the daughters of Ishmael then make sense when they complain against Lehi and Nephi and desire to return again to Jerusalem.

  28. On Mormon Heretic’s blog, someone calling himself Barter Town made the following comment:

    So I can’t say I’m surprised to hear that as common a Semitic word as “NHM” would appear on a trade route in Yemen, a Semitic country. I mean, there is a settlement in Israel with the same name. If it was discovered somewhere in the New World, then I’d raise an eyebrow. But not on the Arabian peninsula.

    So, where is this settlement in Israel with the same name, I wonder? Is that the Nahom we’ve been overlooking this whole time?

  29. More thoughts on Nahom…I get the impression from the text that Nahom was merely the burial place of Ishmael’s ancestors (and of himself.) In other words, that it was the family cementary of the Ishmaelites and had always been called Nahom every since they acquired the land and started burying their dead there. So, if we could find a cemetary in or around Jerusalem that contained the remains of anyone named Ishmael plus relations, that might be a Nahom prospect.

  30. Just off-hand, looking at the topography of China’s eastern coast, around the 30th parallel, the spot that jumps off the page is the area around the modern city of Hangchow (located at 30° 16′ N / 120° 9′ E), which is known for its scenic beauty. There are mountains in the area, as well as very fertile plains, etc. My best guess, at this point, would be that Bountiful was located in the coastal regions near that city.

  31. The other thing I notice is the very rough terrain of all the countries in which the 30th parallel runs through. There is no way in hell that I would want to walk from Israel to the eastern coast of China along the 30th parallel. And there is no way anyone could have gotten 20 miles a day through much of it. It definitely would have taken eight whole years to traverse on foot.

  32. Once the party returned to the vicinity of Jerusalem and buried Ishmael at Nahom, they would have learned that Jerusalem was still not destroyed per Lehi’s prophecy which he had declared a double dose of “many days” before. This might have caused Laman, Lemuel, the two sons of Ishmael, and their wives to begin again to doubt the prophetic calling of Lehi.

    Yet another thought: 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.” 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.

  33. Where was Lemuel?

    The average daily walking distance for humans over level land is about 20 miles a day, however a camel carrying lots of stuff can traverse about 25 miles a day. Lehi left the land of Jerusalem and traveled three days and then set up camp in the valley of Lemuel. Owing that they were trying to escape an assassination attempt upon Lehi, they might have been in a rush to get as far away from Jerusalem as quickly as possible, so their walk was very possibly quite brisk, which allowed them to cover more ground than average each of these three days. Once in Lemuel, they felt quite safe. Wadi Tayyib al-Ism is about the right distance for camel travel and has all of the right characteristics for being the valley of Lemuel, so it may be that this is where Lehi made his first camp.

    Where was Shazer?

    After Lehi, Ishmael and party left the valley of Lemuel, they traveled four days in a south-southeast direction and camped at a spot they called Shazer. The average distance they could have traveled between Lemuel and Shazer would have been 80 miles. Loaded camels could have traversed 100 miles in four days.

    So, it took three days to get to Lemuel (son of Lehi) and four more days to get to Shazer (possibly a son of Ishmael). Shazer, then, was seven days’ walking distance (one week) from Jerusalem, or between 140 (at 20 miles per day) and 175 (at 25 miles per day) miles away.

    How far south would Shazer have been?

    Because the camp did not travel due south for seven straight days, but traveled south-southeast for four of the seven days, we can estimate that Shazer was less than 175 miles south of Jerusalem and perhaps even less than 140 miles south of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is at 31° 46′ North Latitude 35° 12′ East Longitude. A degree of latitude is approximately 69 miles, and a minute of latitude is approximately 1.15 miles. So, using 175 miles as our number, Shazer would have been less than 2 degrees 32 minutes south of Jerusalem, or in other words, it would have been located north of 29° 14′ North Latitude. Using 140 miles as our number, it would have been less than 2 degrees 2 minutes south of Jerusalem, meaning it would have been located north of 29° 44′ North Latitude.

    …the space of many days…

    From Shazer they traveled in a south-southeast direction “for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:17) to the place where Nephi’s bow broke. Then they retraced their steps and again traveled “for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:33.) If we take “for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:17) to be roughly the same amount of days and roughly the same distance as “for the space of many days” (1 Ne. 16:33), then since they were going along nearly the same path that they had just traveled on, just in the opposite direction, this would have returned them to the vicinity of either Shazer (7 days from Jerusalem) or Lemuel (3 days from Jerusalem.)

    Now Lemuel, being between 60 and 75 miles from Jerusalem, would have been about one degree Latitude to the south of Jerusalem, or between 30° 54′ North Latitude and 30° 46′ North Latitude. And I already covered above what the possible coordinates for Shazer could be. Nevertheless, because Nephi uses the words “traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning,” it leads the mind back to either Lemuel, (not Shazer), for Lemuel was the first, or beginning stop, or perhaps even someplace closer to Jerusalem, for Jerusalem was the true beginning.

    So, they likely stopped in the vicinity of Lemuel, meaning somewhere in the vicinity of either 30° 54′ North Latitude or 30° 46′ North Latitude, or somewhere between Lemuel and Jerusalem.

    The return to Jerusalem

    One this is certain, after stopping at this place close to Jerusalem, they actually did return to Jerusalem. The record states that they stopped and then “Ishmael died, and was buried in the place which was called Nahom.” Nahom was likely the Ishmael family cemetary located somewhere in Jerusalem. So, the entire camp (including Lehi) took Ishmael’s body back to Jerusalem, to Nahom, buried him, and probably 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 this brothers, etc.

    After doing what they needed to do in Jerusalem, including dedicating Ishmael’s grave, etc., which would have been the duty and privilege of Lehi to do, the party leaves Jerusalem and comes down into the wilderness to their camp.

    Lehi brought us out

    Undoubtedly, Lehi revealed at this time, or by this time, the new plans, namely: they were going east of this point into a strange wilderness (all the countries that lie east, all the way to China.) The daughters of Ishmael began to mourn their father’s death and murmur against Lehi. Notice what Nephi says their specific murmer was: “they did murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem.

    Who brought the daughters of Ishmael, their brothers, their mother and their father out of the land of Jerusalem the first time? Was it Lehi? No, it was the sons of Lehi. Lehi was at the camp of Lemuel when Nephi and bros. brought the daughters of Ishmael out of the land of Jerusalem. Yet, here we find the daughters complaining that Lehi brought them 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 camp into the wilderness, so that this complaint of theirs is speaking of a literal occurence, Lehi literally, not figuratively, having led them out of the land.

    Traveling east

    If they traveled due east from somewhere close to Jerusalem, they would have had to start from a little north of 30 degrees North Latitude in order not to run into any large, unpassable bodies of water and to have had a straight path to the eastern coast of China. Specifically, they would have needed to have been at least as far north as Al Basrah, Iran.

    Al Basrah, Iran, which is located at 30° 31′ N / 47° 49′ E, is sufficiently north of 30 degrees North Latitude to miss a large bay of water coming in from the Persian Gulf. So, if Lehi’s group went due east at 30° 31′ N, or at any location north of that, they would have had a direct path over land the whole way to the eastern coast of China.

  34. This topographical map of China shows that there are several mountain peaks in the vicinity of Hangzhou. To the west 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 the first peak is an 1474 meter peak (Lu Shan). To the south of the first peak is a 2157 meter peak (Wugang Shan). And south-southeast of the first peak is a 1921 meter peak (Huangmaojian). Nephi may have gone to one of these peaks (probably Lotus Peak) to receive instructions regarding the contruction of the ship.

    There also appears to be highly elevated land (cliffs, perhaps) at the sea shore southeast of Hangzhou. In short, the topography of this area fits the descriptions of the topography of Bountiful. Whether wild honey and fruit grow there, and ore and timber is available, still needs to be verified.

    Now, as I take a break from all this analyzation, to enjoy this Thanksgiving Day, I would ask those who wander in here after Thanksgiving and read all of the stuff I have written above,

    Is any of this convincing to you?

  35. A straight course

    The Arabian Sea route does not work because if Lehi’s party turned east at a southern point on the east side of the Red Sea, and then traveled east for eight years, they would end up zigging and zagging around. If they walked a straight course due east, 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., zigging and zagging 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 route 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 Jersalem 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 due east 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, I am now certain that China is where they went and that the Arabian Sea path theory is false. And now 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 take a look at some topographical maps of the lands they passed through before arriving in Bountiful, China, you’ll see that much of it was impassable mountains and other impassable terrains—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.

    When Nephi 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. 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 Asia. 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.

  36. Just to be clear on the Liahona, how it worked… It contained two spindles. One spindle pointed to magnetic north, just like our compasses do, which is why it was called a compass. 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 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 to magnetic north and the other to the landing spot on the west coast of North America.

    When they did not have faith so that the Liahona ceased to work, the spindles no longer pointed to those 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.

    The point being that 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. 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 south-southeast of Lemuel, somewhere down the eastern coast of the Red Sea. Then, when they got to that spot, it pointed north-northwest to a spot close to Jerusalem. Finally, it pointed to some exact location in North America. In each of these three 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.

    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.

    Now, another reason why the standard Arabian Sea assumption 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 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. Now, Nephi is telling 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 doesn’t tell us where they went, nor where they landed in America, because they zig-zagged 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 actually said about how the Liahona worked, etc.

  37. Your theory makes sense.

  38. I’m convinced.

    I love how there are so many scriptures to support the theory, once your eyes are opened. I felt the same way after I realized that Nephi’s sisters were probably already married to Ishmael’s sons when Lehi first led his family out of Jerusalem.

  39. Charlotte — you’ve peaked my interest — can you expound on what brought you to that understanding about Nephi’s sisters?

  40. 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. (Though, admittedly, not as many scriptures as LDSA found to support his theory he laid out in the above comments.)

    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. I also think it’s interesting that his three daughters are referred to as his three OTHER DAUGHTERS. He probably considered his daughters-in-law to be his daughters, so his real daughters were his “other daughters.”

    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 the the sisters of Nephi traveled into the wilderness with Lehi from the beginning and married the sons of Ishmael later. What do you think?

    I love non-traditional narratives that fit the scriptures better than the commonly-told version. (I was really excited when I read LDSA’s description of the course Lehi’s party took to get to Bountiful.)

  41. I tried to edit my comment, but I guess since I didn’t use a WordPress account to post my comment, I can’t edit it. Upon more careful reading I take back what I said about Ishmael’s “other daughters.” I don’t think from 1 Nephi 7:6 you can infer there are daughters-in-law involved after all.

  42. Wow, Charlotte, you really have a lot to back you up. When I read your theory, I was like, “yeah, right,” but when I read the post that explained the theory, it makes sense. So either that, or the sisters who went with him were his sisters-in-law.

    The most convincing point, to me, was that Lehi didn’t send them back to get husbands for his daughters.

  43. Charlotte, I’m glad you wrote this exposition. I’ve been working on a post about Lehi’s trek to China, trying to gather the above comments into a cohesive whole, and so when you mentioned Lehi’s daughters, I decided to include that into the essay, but without exposition (since the post wasn’t about Lehi’s daughters.) But you’ve done an admirable job expounding the reasons why they must have been married to Ishmael’s sons, so, with your permission, I’d like include it into the post as a footnote (for there will be some footnotes.) And I will edit the “other daughters” part for you.

    Just yesterday, after I read your first comment mentioning Lehi’s daughters, I expounded this idea to my own daughter, to her satisfaction. But I must say, your exposition is actually better than mine!

    The non-Jaredite part of the Book of Mormon is a record of the seed of Lehi, which was special, so Ishmael had to be brought down into the wilderness. In other words, Ishmael and his family lucked out. They were saved from the destruction of Jerusalem solely on account that Lehi’s daughters had married into that family. This was the insight of my daughter about the matter.

    Further, the rebellion in the wilderness, in which the wives of the sons of Ishmael partook, was only concerning returning to Jerusalem, but Laman and Lemuel took it further, attempting to kill their brother. When Nephi showed up unbound, “one of the sons of Ishmael” plead with Laman and Lemuel. Undoubtedly that influence originated from his wife, who, as a daughter of Lehi, did not wish to see her brother dead. The other daughter, married to the other son of Ishmael, also probably plead with her husband to talk to Laman and Lemuel, but was probably unsuccessful in softening his heart. So, although the daughters of Lehi may have had doubts in their hearts, just as their mother did initially, they were not of the same murdering spirit as their brothers Laman and Lemuel, and eventually overcame their doubts and converted to Christ.

    Yesterday, I brought up to my daughter about the fact of them leaving their husbands and going with Nephi and noted that this was yet another reason for the hatred that the Lamanites had toward the Nephites, Nephi having “stolen” the wives of the sons of Ishmael.

  44. I made a map showing a possible path of Lehi’s Trek to China.

    The starting location of the line is at 30º 47’ 1″ North Latitude and 34º 26’ 33″ East Longitude.

    The line ends in the promised land at Bahia de Tortugas, Baja California Sur, Mexico (29º 38’ 42″ North Latitude and 114º 51’ 22″ West Longitude).

    The line extends for approximately 12,085.68 miles.

    It’s a Google map, so you can also look at the terrain. The bearing is East by South, or thereabouts. (I’m not sure what the exact bearing of the line is. Greater minds than mine can use the coordinates I gave above to figure it out.)

  45. I’ve done some rough estimates (and my math may be off, so someone correct me if I’m wrong) and it appears that the eastward path on the above map is less than one degree over due east. It appears to be a bearing close to 90.33 degrees, which would make it, coincidentally, “nearly eastward.”

  46. How did you choose the ending point of Lehi’s trek?

    By the way, I like the insights your daughter added to the picture of the daughters of Lehi.

    What do you believe about the “narrow strip of wilderness” talked about in the Book of Mormon? I’m only vaguely familiar with Book of Mormon geography and I know that the bit about the narrow passage/pass/strip/neck is a difficult requirement to satisfy.

    If you’ve discussed this before, feel free to just share a link to your post about it.

  47. I just took a piece of (Google maps) string and put one end south of Jerusalem, north of the Persian Gulf (so that it didn’t pass through that body of water) and made sure it missed every island in the ocean, and it landed in Tortuga.

    In all honesty, I have never, not even once looked at the topic of Book of Mormon geography. Without knowing where they landed, it’s kind of hard to put names to places. But now, knowing the general area of the landing spot, that spot can be labelled Lehi, and then Book of Mormon geography can progress from there.

    I actually linked in my new post (see the newest one called Lehi’s Trek to China and North America) to a web site that has been promoting a Baja California setting for the Book of Mormon, as if the whole thing took place on that peninsula. Personally, I don’t subscribe to that theory, which is why on the map I drew a red line across the opening of the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California), so that anyone looking at the map knows that I don’t believe that the peninsula existed as a peninsula at the time of Lehi. I don’t believe that, at all. Anyone looking at a map of North America, can see the curvature of the western coast and how there are apparent chunks missing from it, as if the sea at some time in the past suddenly covered up the land there. The Book of Mormon even mentions that such a thing actually happened at Christ’s death and that the whole face of the land was changed. So, a peninsula-only setting is not something I am willing to seriously consider.

  48. Getting back to the topic of this post (Laman and Lemuel) and away from the off-topic excursion I made into Lehi’s journey to China…

    Laman and Lemuel were always the voice of reason. Lehi and Nephi were, according to them, always putting the camp in danger with their trips into the wilderness guided by the weird ball. They almost starved to death twice, a clear sign that the two prophets did not know what they were doing.

    In particular, Laman and Lemuel may have been thinking that they were saving the group’s lives by attempting to kill Nephi. Bountiful had everything they needed to survive, plus beautiful surroundings and a nice climate, so building a boat and launching it into the sea was, in their view, putting everyone in danger once again. The group was obviously large by then and as everyone seemed to be following Nephi’s lead, meaning both Israelites and the Gentiles converts with them, Nephi was probably constructing the boat with the help of the other members of the group and so did not really need the help of his two older brothers.

    Laman and Lemuel probably realized this, namely, that even if they withheld their labor, this would not stop the boat from being constructed, for Nephi already had all the man-power he needed to accomplish the task. But since it was a piece meal project, that required getting revelation from time to time on how to construct the next part of the ship, if Nephi should die the boat’s construction would come to a halt, for no one else seemed to be getting this revelation, except Nephi.

    It wasn’t good enough to merely let Nephi build the boat and then have the group sail on the sea, leaving Laman and Lemuel and their families behind in Bountiful. That wasn’t enough people to make a go at it alone in Bountiful, and besides, Laman and Lemuel also wanted to rule the colony, and that required that the whole group stay in Bountiful.

    So, to keep everyone on the land, where it was safe, Laman and Lemuel needed to toss Nephi off a cliff into the rocks and waters below. They could then say he slipped and fell and that was that. So, although they were murderous, their intentions were good, in their perspective, for they were saving the party from certain death on the seas. They were simply doing what Nephi did to Laban, one man perishing so that an entire nation (Lehi’s group) would not perish on the waters. Or so may have been their motivation.


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