Saturday, January 3, 2015

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part IX – All These Things Were Prepared

When the Lehi Colonty arrived at the shore after their eight years of “wading through much affliction and difficulty” in the wilderness, they saw a beautiful land filled with much fruit and wild honey and called it Bountiful. Nephi, always impressed with the hand of the Lord in their travels, wrote of this event: “and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5). 
    Nephi notes they found wild honey, no doubt tracking bees in flight back to their hives. Above this area of Khor Rori, along the seashore of the Garbeeb of Salalah, there are many caves filled with ancient honeycombs of beehives along the pockmarked crevices of the walls. Here locals have been gathering wild honey for centuries, in fact longer than anyone can remember. Honey from wild bees dates back to at least 3000 B.C., based on a stele found in the museum at Babylon.
The caves above Khor Rori that are filled with honeycombs and beehives that date back to B.C. times and still produce honey today
    These caves are less than three miles from where Nephi would have built his ship along the khor inlet called Khor Rori (Kawr Ruri).
    Lehi also found “much fruit” in this area, which is a natural producer of fruit of all kind—no doubt reflecting the language of the Jaredites about the seeds they brought with them out of Mesopotamia: “seed of the earth of every kind” (Ether 1:41), “and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind” (Ether 2:3).
    Obviously, Moroni in his abridgement, and Ether before him, wanted it understood that the Jaredites brought with them from their homeland every type of seed available to them, which would have included fruits and vegetables as well as trees, vines and shrubs. Nephi does not go into detail to tell us what types of foodstuff they found in Bountiful, other than fruit and honey; however, “all this was prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” suggests a wide variety of foodstuff that was growing naturally in the area by the time Lehi arrived.
    As has been stated earlier, honeybees have never been indigenous to southern Arabia, but were in Mesopotamia. In addition, the honey bee is still not considered indigenous in this area of Oman, considered to have been imported in ages past. Yet, even today, men harvest honey from wild bees in caves overlooking the Khor Rori inlet along the coast of Oman.
We also know that the Jaredies “lay snares and caught fowls of the air” (Ether 2:2). According to ancient records, birds were primarily caught by nets (made of plant fibers), traps and decoys. It is also recorded in the Sumerian Disputations, a series of seven debate topics, dating to after the Flood around 2100 B.C., that fowling played a more important role than fishing, and birds were caught for their meat and eggs (Karen Rhea Nemet-Nejat, Daily Life in Ancient Mesopotamia, Greenwood 1998). It might also be of interest that Mesopotamia has always been filled with birds of every kind—723 species in this tiny area, with migrating birds flying over the land in autumn and spring. The Mesopotamia wetlands of the marshes are one of the most extensive wetland systems in western Eurasia comprising a complex of interconnected, shallow, freshwater lakes, marshes and seasonally inundated floodplains following the lower courses of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, extending from Baghdad in the north to Basrah in the south. Throughout these wetlands, the emergent vegetation is dominated by reeds, reedmace, rushes and papyrus with a rich submerged flora of acquatic plants, with these reedbeds and marshes attracting large numbers of birds, both migratory and endemic. According to BirdLife International, there are a dozen important areas in the lower Mesopotamia with very large bird populations that have been migratory locations for millennia.
    Obviously, when the Jaredites set snares to catch the fowls of the air, they had a lot to choose from, with numerous varieties and species to take with them.
    As for the flocks and herds, sheep (the Sumerians had over 200 words describing different kinds of sheep), goat and pig were domesticated in early Mesopotamia, along with cattle, oxen, and camels by the time of the Jaredites, with the horse following (Virginia Schomp, Ancient Mesopotamia, Scholastic, 2004), including Onagers (wild donkeys).
Wild camel was hunted for food anciently, and later were wild bulls, boar, stags, Ibex and gazelles hunted according to the Yale Culinary (cuneiform) Tablets written not long after the Jaredites left, and the chicken (called the Persian Bird) was not introduced until this time (Lyn Green “Hunting, fishing and gathering in ancient Mesopotamia,” Encyclopedia of the Ancient World, NY, 2008).
    Huge cliffs line the sea entrance to Khor Rori, forming breakwaters that allowed ancient ships to sail out 400–450 yards into the Indian Ocean proper with protection from the surf. This was the great strength of Khor Rori as a port; the natural breakwaters provided protection from both the summer southwest monsoon and the winter northeast monsoon winds. Thus the port could be used all year for shipping and shipbuilding.
Top: Green Arrow: Khor Rori inlet that is guarded by two flanking roc kpromotories. Yellow Arrow: Inqita’a Taqah on the west side; Red Arrow: Inqita’at Mirbat (or al-Hamr al-Sharqiya) on the east side; Bottom Left: The east side promitory cliff; Bottom Right: The west side promitory cliff. Note that either, at about 60 feet in height, would be sufficient to throw Nephi off to his death in the depths of the sea (1 Nephi 17:48)
    This large inlet extends over 1.5 miles inland and has several natural places where ships could moor, making it the likely reason that Khor Rori and Taqah (2 miles to the west) were called Merbat (“the moorings”). The final closing of the harbor’s mouth, according to radio-carbon dating occurred in 1640 to 1690 A.D. (Dr. Eduard G. Rheinhardt, assistant professor, School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, in 2001).
    When the Jaredites left the Valley of Nimrod, the Lord told them that “they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). Now, a quarter of land has no specific definition, though the term four corners of the Earth is found in scripture and the four quarters of the Earth is found in historical documents and especially ancient maps. Many Theorists, from Hugh Nibley forward, have tried to claim this area or that was the quarter the Lord had in mind, but from further reading, it would appear the Lord had the Land of Promise in mind as Moroni continues the record: “And it came to pass that they did travel in the wilderness, and did build barges, in which they did cross many waters, being directed continually by the hand of the Lord. And the Lord would not suffer that they should stop beyond the sea in the wilderness” (Ether 2:6-7).
    Obviously, that land where they crossed many waters, and that land where the Sea in the Wilderness lay were not that quarter of land to which the Lord would lead them where man had never been. In fact, the Lord tells us what land he had in mind when he added, “but he would that they should come forth even unto the land of promise, which was choice above all other lands, which the Lord God had preserved for a righteous people.” (Ether 2:7). The importance of this land is further stated when the Lord “had sworn in his wrath unto the brother of Jared, that whoso should possess this land of promise, from that time henceforth and forever should serve him, the true and only God, or they should be swept off when the fulness of his wrath should come upon them” (Ether 2:8).
    Consequently, rather than trying to find some special area of land, a quarter where man had never been, on the trek of the Jaredites, why not just use the Lord’s own declaration that it was the Land of Promise—“where there never had man been” since the Flood.
    Thus, the Lord brought the Jaredites to Salalah and the inlet of Khor Rori along the Sea of Arabia where they found the Baobab trees that allowed them to make barges that took them to the Land of Promise. While at this seashore, they planted some of their seeds of fruit trees, where their bees developed hives and gathered pollen from growing in the very fertile, and left camels and other animals that were useful to Lehi when he arrived centuries later and found "much fruit and wild honey." In the Lord's economy, all things are figured out well in advance, and all things move forward under his direction and guidance. As Nephi said, "All these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish" (1 Nephi 17:5).
(See the next post, "Jaredite Direction of Travel-Part X," the last of this series, that shows why Khor Rori was where the Jaredites had to be, and why centuries later, then, Lehi arrived)


  1. Your description of the Baobab barges in "Who Really Settled Mesoamerica" is quite interesting.

    A few follow-ups:
    How long would the truck be able to grow to seal the doors shut after being uprooted?
    Are their any Baobab relatives growing in South America?

    On a related note, has there been any drift studies starting in the Indian Ocean similar to those pictured in your book showing drift courses from the west coast of South and Central America?

  2. Sorry, "... trunk be able to grow... "

  3. One of the many remarkable properties of the Baobab is that once a tree is down, it can continue to grow indefinitely. Many in a forest continue such growth after being blown down, hollowed out by nature and toppled, etc. In a future post in this series we'll show how the tree grows around objects implanted in it after it has been hollowed out.
    As for Baobab relatives in America, or the Western Hemisphere, the answer is "no." At least none are known to be growing naturally. There is a question whether the Baobab seeds would spread by nature or accident, such as drifting on oceans, etc., which seems to be in the negative as borne out by its very limited locations of long-time growth. Where it grows today seems to be where it has always grown or was deliberately transplanted by seed. Africa and Madagascar are considered to be their indigenous habitat along with this one location in Arabia. They also grow in Australia, though how they got there is a subject of some debate among scientists and experts on the tree's habitat. One such tree was actually featured in the 2008 movie "Australia," with Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman.
    There are actually several kinds of Baobab trees, some grow taller, some grow bigger around, and some are actually bulbous.
    As for drift voyages, I know of none that relate to the type Thor Heyerdahl did in 1947 from Peru to Raroia near Tahiti in Polynesia on "Kon-Tiki," however, there have been a few accidental drift voyages where rafts and small fishing craft have drifted many hundreds to in some cases thousands of miles in the Indian Ocean covering the routes we show for Nephi's ship. Alexander George Findlay wrote of this in 1876 "A Directory of the Navigation of the Indian Ocean," wrote "In the Indian Ocean we have not that abundant choice of material which has been worked into the system developed in the North Atlantic, and therefore have less confidence in the exact definitive estimate of their velocity and duration, still there is sufficient known, with accuracy, to describe the direction and probable rate of the various drifts that will be encountered in a voyage in the Indian Ocean." He also wrote: "The general drift of the currents is like that of the winds following the direction impressed upon them by their action."
    Since then, of course, there have been numerous computer drift voyages made from the numerous tracks of these accidental drift voyages. On the other hand, while computer drift voyages have been conducted along this track, I know of no actual drift voyages that covered this entire distance (though it is used for numerous sailing race routes and "quick passage" routes from the Indian Ocean to the South American coast).

  4. Thank you. I think you did mention that about the Baobab; I may have just skimmed over it, or wasn't thinking about the implications when I read.