Saturday, January 10, 2015

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part XV – A Last Look at the Jaredite Vessels and Their Connection to Scripture – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts as we compare the scriptural record with the proposal of the Jaredite barges being made from the Baobab tree of Southern Arabia.The first twelve scriptures were covered in the last two posts. Here we continue with the next scripture: 
    13. “And it came to pass that when they had prepared all manner of food, that thereby they might subsist upon the water…” (Ether 6:4)
    As has been mentioned, preparing food for a lengthy sea voyage would be considerably difficult in 2100 B.C.—especially one that would last nearly a year. There were no freezers, refrigeration, dehydration, etc., in the time of the Jaredites. Vitamins and minerals are essential for lengthy voyages. Ascorbic acid an absolute requirement to eliminate scorbutus (scorbutic or scurvy), a common disease among sailors and passengers of ships throughout history until fruits and vegetables could be stored for lengthy periods, as late as World War I in the early 20th century.
    Thus, the Baobab tree would have played an enormously important role in such a voyage, not just for the vessel itself, but for the footstuff and water needed for the voyage. Much has already been written here about this, but it might be interesting to know that when Ether says they “prepared all manner of food that they might subsist upon the water,” one has to consider how that might have been accomplished in the time of the Jaredites.
    While LDS Theorists skip right over this very real problem, critics have scoffed at the idea, showing the error of the Book of Mormon as a result. However, while man has a very limited knowledge and understanding of things, the Lord does not.
    As has been pointed out, the Baobab fruit is full of vitamins and nutrients necessary for such a voyage, and since the fruit dehydrates naturally within the shell when ripening, it can be stored for more than a year—some experiments show up to three years.
    Consequently, preparing such food would be simply in gathering the fruit over a period of time, leaving some in the shell (about the size of a coconut) and harvesting some for immediate use.
Top left: The Baobab fruit grows profusely, producing large amounts per tree; Upper Right: The fruit is in the form of a hard shell, like a coconut and can be stored in that form; Bottom LtoR: Crack open the shell to expose the naturally dehydrated fruit pulp, store in that format, which is then ready to eat or be crushed and mixed in other food or in milk or water for a nutritious beverage
    This preparation time would have been at least through one growing period, usually five months from pollination to ripened fruit. The fruit itself is augmented by the vegetable of the stem, leaves and roots, which can be eaten raw, in salads or cooked. The enduring quality of the plant is its storage capacity and is perfect to provide the fruit and vegetable nutrition required on a long voyage.
    14. “… and also food for their flocks and herds, and whatsoever beast or animal or fowl that they should carry with them…” (Ether 6:4)
    Since the Jaredites were told to “gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind” (Ether 1:41), and also “lay snares and caught fowls of the air” (Ether 2:2), they would naturally require food for the animals and fowls they took with them in the barges.
Interestingly enough, the Baobab tree is the perfect plant for animals, since in the wild their bark and pulp provide food for both wild and domesticated animals. If the bark is left alone, it will heal rapidly. In fact, Baobab bark, if undisturbed by animals, is basically smooth—animal stripping is why most Baobab trees’ bark appears so gnarly or stripped.
Top: Elephants and other animals find the (white arrow) spongy interior pulp edible, satisfying need for both food and water; Bottom Left: The middle(yellow arrow) of this Baobab bark has healed over from earlier eating—right and left are more recent attacks; Bottom Center: The normally smooth bark of the Baobab if left undisturbed by animals; Bottom Right: Even severe damage will heal if left alone. Note the tree strength of this last image still standing and growing despite the (red arrows) bark being eaten so severely all the way around it 
    15. “They did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees” (Ether 2:3).
    Bees particularly find the Baobab tree appealing because of its many crevices, holes and eaten away areas for the establishment of hives. Hunting honey in Baobab forests has been going on for centuries since bees find the excessive pollen from the flowers perfect for producing abundant honey.
Left: African natives searching for the beehive inside a Baobab tree; Center: the Baobab flower which has an excessive amount of pollen; Right: Each of these pods were once pollenated flowers 
    No better home for their swarms of bees could be found during a year long ocean voyage than the Baobab tree, with starts secured inside the vessels for growing during the trip.
    16. “…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” (Ether 6:4).
    With all things prepared and included, the Jaredites “commended themselves unto the Lord their God” and settled in for a lengthy voyage. They had light, though they would be submerged some of the time in the depths of the sea; they had food provided by the very vessel itself; they had vitamins and nutrients that would keep them healthy for the duration; they had medicine in case of need, again provided by the vessel itself; they had food for their animals, hives for their bees, and an inner bulwark arrangement where animals had their own areas.
    They had more than adequate ventilation from the air holes in the “top” and “bottom” of the tree or vessel, and they had a year-long supply of water provided by the vessel itself. It is interesting that in their native lands, when drought occurs, the Baobab tree has as much as a year or more water stored in its spongy interior bark, sufficient for the tree and to be tapped by village people around it.
Left: Natives tapping the water supply of a Baobab tree. Note the height of the man on the left extracting water compared to the man on the ground to the right, showing the water is throughout the height of the tree; Right: Because of the unusual type of growth of the Baobab, side tubes grow that could be utilized for their water storage during the voyage as well 
    17. “And it came to pass that when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish…therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters” (Ether 6:7)
    No normally built barge, boat or ship, of course, especially anything built during Jaredite times, could withstand being buried in the depths of the sea and float to the top again and remain intact and “tight like unto a dish.”
    The building of the Jaredite barges had to have been very different from anything known to man—even for almost four thousand more years. Indeed, when the Lord said, “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come.” (Ether 2:25), He was obviously referring to any attempt to build a normal vessel by the Jaredites--they simply could not have built a vessel, could not have crossed the Great Deep, could not have reached the land of promise “Save I prepare you…” Indeed the Lord did prepare the Jaredites.
    “And they did sing praises unto the Lord; yea, the brother of Jared did sing praises unto the Lord, and he did thank and praise the Lord all the day long; and when the night came, they did not cease to praise the Lord. And thus they were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water. And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water. And they did land upon the shore of the promised land” (Ether 6:9-12).


  1. It occurred to me as I read this, that the leaves and stems themselves could be preserved for some period of time by simply leaving them attached to a cut branch. The lack of sunlight would eventually be felt, but the still living branch should keep the greens green for longer than simply bundling them up.

  2. Exactly. They could also be planted in baskets of soil and grow for some time along the journey. There seems no end to the value of this tree for such a voyage. Amazing what the Lord knows that man does not.

  3. The Baobab never ceases to amaze me. This is why my business is primarily baobab based.