Friday, January 2, 2015

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VIII – The Animals and Plants Left Behind – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the trees, plants and animals left behind by the Jaredites. We covered in the last post: 1) The fruit trees, plants and crops. We will continue below with the second item, the bees and honey:
    2. Bees. When Lehi arrived in this area of Salalah, they also found “wild honey” (1 Nephi 17:5). The question that seems never to be asked, is where did the Nephites get “honey in abundance” around 600 B.C. when they packed up and left Bountiful after a one or two year stay there to rest up and build Nephi’s ship? They did not bring it with them to the area—at least Nephi does not include bringing any animals, birds or bees in his narrative like the Jaredites did—and, according to his comment, evidently found honey available when they arrived at Bountiful.
    However, after the Flood, with the area of Salalah not having been actively settled until after 500 B.C., (one hundred years after Lehi left the area), the question should be asked where did the wild bees come from to have hives and honey along the southern Arabian coast a hundred years or more before it was settled. The only clue besides the Book of Ether is Nephi’s comment about “all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5). 
Wild bees in SalalahTop Lto R: Beehive on a living palm tree; Beehive in the bark of a natural tree cavity; Beehives in hollowed out palm trees; Bottom: Beehive formed along the branch of a tree. Wild bees utilize numerous areas in which they build hives
    In addition, this area of Arabia, along the southern coast, bees are not considered indigenous—that is, they had to have been brought there. So who brought the honeybees after the Flood? It is interesting that today and for centuries, honey and “wild bees” have been found in hollowed-out date-palm trunks, used historically as beehives in both Yemen and Oman, as well as in caves along the low hills of Salalah—specifically in the area of Khor Rori where wild honey has been harvested by locals for centuries.
In the caves above Khor Rori innumerable beehives have been found dating back millennia. Locals have gathered honey from these combs along the cave walls for as long as anyone can remember
    When Jared and his brother and their friends left Mesopotamia, they “did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees, and all manner of that which was upon the face of the land, seeds of every kind” (Ether 2:3).
    Historically, honey bees were indigenous to Mesopotamia, believed to have originated in Iraq or Babylonia, and were known to have been kept in Sumer before 2000 B.C. Honey was used by the Babylonians for medicine and rituals, and honey for rituals is mentioned in the time of Hammurabi, around 1500 B.C. As late as 745 B.C., there are records of hive beekeeping along the middle Euphrates, and from Egypt there is a reference in 700 B.C. “the Lord will whistle for the bee from Assyria” (Isaiah 7:18), referring to the fact that as numerous as flies were in Egypt, the bee was as numerous in Assyria (Mesopotamia), a fact also mentioned in Deuteronomy 1:44 and Psalms 118:12.
    Obviously, while bees were not indigenous to southern Arabia and along the coast, they were transported there by the Jaredites and over the ensuing centuries produced in the wild vast amounts of honey, causing Nephi to say they found much wild honey, that was prepared of the Lord that they might not perish (1 Nephi 17:5).
    Thus, when the Jaredites finally reached the “great sea which divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13) they had with them, in addition to all else, honey bees. After four years (Ether 2:14), and the building of eight barges (Ether 3:1), they prepared to leave. “And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water, and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them -- and it came to pass that when they had done all these things they got aboard of their vessels or barges, and set forth into the sea, commending themselves unto the Lord their God” (Ether 6:4).
    Obviously, they would not have been able to catch all the bees and find all the beehives that had flown along the coast and into the hills and been established as new colonies. Bees in the wild are especially prone to such behavior—during the long history of bees before man started to 'keep' them, honeybee colonies lived wild in natural cavities. Provided they were healthy and the weather was favorable, they swarmed most years as a means of reproduction. In the four to six years the Jaredites stayed along the seashore, numerous colonies would have been established. Only a few would have been taken with the Jaredites—the rest left behind.
    3. Traveling across the desert for the Jaredites, (as it did later for Lehi), required camels, which were indigenous to Mesopotamia, dating back several thousand years, certainly to the time of the Tower of Babel. In fact, throughout Mesopotamia history the camel was involved in warfare—the Arabian king Gindibu had an army of 1000 camel riders. The camel did not reach Egypt until king Cambyses introduced them from Persia (Iran) in 530-522 B.C.
Camels have been used for transporting troops as well as assault troops fighting while mounted, both anciently and even today
    Tents were made of camel hair, the milk was a staple in many Arabic countries, salty camel meat was considered a delicacy in many regions, transportation and trade were dependent upon the camel throughout the Mesopotamia and Arabian Peninsula from antiquity.
    It seems obvious that when the Jaredites left Babylon, they traveled by camel. Such animals are gregarious and well adapted to their environment in the desert. They can carry heavy cargoes, stand sand storms and large temperature differences, and can even swim when they encounter water. They can travel a hundred miles without water, resist 17 days without drinking under a scorching heat, losing one third their body weight without being affected. In fact, if they can find food, they can go up to ten months without water. No better animal exists for crossing a wilderness or desert.
    As for survival without man, camels are hardy and resilient. The thick coat maintains an insulating layer, and it also reflects sunlight and insulates them from the intense heat that radiates from hot desert sand. Their long legs keep them further from the hot ground, and their ability to fluctuate body temperature and the efficiency of their sweating allows them to preserve about five liters of water a day.
    The rest of the camel's body is adapted to the conditions in the desert: the hoof is perfect for the soft, unstable sand, and the digits are wrapped in an elastic tissue that isolates the foot from the hot ground (while impeding deepening in the sand); the thick eyebrows and eyelashes protect the eyes against sand and sun; the nostrils are moved by muscles that can close them hermetically at will and the ears are filled of hairs that impede the sand from getting in. This helps them retain expiration water and protects the animal during the sand storms. Horny layers on the chest, elbows and knees protect the camels against the scorching heat and insects.
    The camels' humps are reservoirs of fatty tissue—a full hump has 22 to 33 pounds (they do not store water as often claimed). When this fat is metabolized, it is not only a source of energy, but yields through reaction with oxygen from the air 1,111 gallons of water per 1,000 gallons of fat converted.
    After drinking, water is spread uniformly in the body and it is lost gradually, about 100 liters in 17 days. The average water content of the camel's body is low: while the Bovine cow's tissues contain 80 % water, the donkey's (another desert animal) 65 %, and the camel's just 50 %. A camel crossing a desert loses in 24 hours only 2 % of its body weight, while the donkey at least 8 %. They can withstand at least 20-25% weight loss due to sweating (most mammals can only withstand about 3-4% dehydration before cardiac failure due to the thickened blood).
    As can be seen, camels are not only well adapted for their environment, they live for fifty years and reproduce a foal every three years and up to eight in a lifetime. Obviously, any camels the Jaredites left behind would have numerous descendants iun numbers quite noticeable in the area, and such is found in the location of Salalah where thousands of such camels run wild throughout the area, along the roads, shore and in the hills.
Camels run wild throughout Salalah and the Garbeeb. They are such a hazard to traffic, they even post warning road signs. The problem of their numbers have convinced the Omani government to offer payment for collection so they can be destroyed
    It seems likely that the Jaredites arrived at this self same inlet centuries earlier in preparation for building their barges to cross that “great sea which divideth the lands.” And in so doing, spent four years while they planted, harvested, and populated the area with plants, trees, animals, and foodstuff for themselves and for the future Nephites who would also reach this spot “and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish.”
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part IX – All These Things Were Prepared,” for more on what the Jaredites left behind that provided for the Nephites when they arrived centuries later)

1 comment:

  1. Kinda ironic. The Jaredites were preparing the way for the Lehites who would replace them when they destroyed themselves.