Thursday, August 6, 2015

It’s a Matter of Attitude – Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the location of the incense port of Moscha, known as Khor Rori, and the area where Nephi built his ship to sail to the Land of Promise. We ended that last post with the thought that iron ore has been found at the base of the Jebel Samhan (Mountain of Samhan), which exist along the point of land just to the east of Khor Rori.

The Mountains of Jebal Samhan Range where iron ore is found along the mountain base 20 miles away from Khor Rori
    As stated in the last post, according to Potter and Wellington, If the mountain to which Nephi went was Jebel Samhan, which is readily visible from Moscha (Khor Rori) being less than 20 miles to the east, then it might explain Nephi's comments about "ore to molten" (1 Nephi 17:9). Nephi asked where to go to find ore to molten into tools, and the Lord directed him to where ore could be found. If that mountain was Jebel (Jabal) Samhan, then it was close enough to where Nephi built his ship in Khor Rori to be the place where the ore was found.
    However, it should be noted that contrary to popular belief among theorists, the Khor Rori Hadrami colony, the earliest record of any settlement in the area, covers the period no earlier than 350 B.C. and no later than 300 B.C., and was a small iron-age site of stone-foundation homestead villages, stone-fenced fields, regionally-developed ceramic traditions and distinctive microliths as part of a larger lithic assemblage, which scores of archaeologists working in the area date to 150 B.C. to 200 A.D.
    The primary trade item from the region was incense, particularly frankincense (Boswellia sacra) and myrrh (Commiphora sp.), and facilitated trade through their respective regions, with safe passage through tribal territories necessitating political or military involvement and monetary considerations among these powerful Bedouin groups, such as the Kinda, and further to the north, the Nabataeans.
    In fact, the furthest east along the Arabian coast settlements have been found was that of Al-Shihr in 800 B.C., which lies in the middle of Yemen in then center of the Hadhramaut, some 600 miles to the west of Salalah and Khor Rori, the latter being one of the latest ports along the coast to be settled.
The ruins of Sumhuram in the foreground with the inlet of Khor Rori in the background and the Sea of Arabia beyond
    According to Lynne S. Newton, (A Landscape of Pilgrimage and Trade in Wadi Masila, Yemen, 2007, pp56-62) the clearly established point by these numerous archaeologists is that Sumhuranm (Khor Rori) was not settled during Lehi’s time, and obviously was not settled until at least 250 years after Lehi left that area he called Bountiful.
    So let us return to Nephi’s reaction to the Lord telling him to build a ship. There are really only two possible answers to Nephi’s reaction to the Lord’s command: 1) He already knew how to do all these crafts and it didn’t concern him to use his skills to build such a vessel; or 2) Nephi was a positive individual who trusted implicitly in the Lord and knew he could do anything the Lord commanded him to do.
    Of the two possibilities, there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest that Nephi had previous knowledge or had demonstrated abilities in crafts toward the building of anything significant at the stage in this life when they reached Bountiful. Regarding the second possibility, there is specific evidence in the scriptural record that this was his approach to all things.
Left: Lehi asking Nephi to go back to Jerusalem and get the Brass Plates; Right: Nephi bringing back the Plates to Lehi
    As Nephit writes: “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7), and also “If God had commanded me to do all things I could do them. If he should command me that I should say unto this water, be thou earth, it should be earth; and if I should say it, it would be done” (1 Nephi 17:50).
    It is understandable that people without such implicit faith would not see that someone else might possess such faith and, as so many theorists have done, figure Nephi already knew how to do such things. But his brothers obviously understood that he did not know how to do so and had never done such a thing: “And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters” (1 Nephi 17:17-18). If Nephi had developed building skills in such areas, why would his brothers not know it? They did not think he could build a ship because he had no such craft skills, and he acknowledges that when he said later, “And now, if the Lord has such great power, and has wrought so many miracles among the children of men, how is it that he cannot instruct me, that I should build a ship?” (1 Nephi 17:51).
    It was not that Nephi was a builder, or that he had developed such craft skills in the past. It was that he had such implicit faith in the Lord, that if the Lord asked him to do something, he knew without a doubt that he could do it.
    Though not the same, but along a similar line of confidence without previous skills, I am reminded of the time my wife and I moved to Cedar City after retiring. We had a certain amount of money from the sale of our home in California and wanted to build our dream home in the mountains of Cedar. Without any greater skill than building a stereo cabinet years earlier, I designed a 7400-square-foot house that my wife and I built ourselves on a ridge overlooking a high mountain valley. I don’t mean we hired people to build it—I mean we built it ourselves. We put up all the framework, we installed the cabinets, we ran the plumbing, wiring, electrical and built the soffits, ceiling, laid the tile floors, etc. We put in the sinks, bathtubs, shower stalls; we put in the appliances; we hung the windows and doors; hung the lights, did the wainscoting, laid the tile counters, granite kitchen counters, built a rock fireplace, and installed three others—in short, we built it all.
The 7400-square-foot, two-story house we built without any previous experience
    Did we have any experience? No.
    Was there any question in our minds we could build it? No.
    As it is with a lot of things in life—it was a matter of attitude.
    Nephi didn’t need to know anything about building, about the trades, or about crafts. He trusted in the Lord, and made it clear to us that was all that he needed. He obviously had great confidence in his own ability and in the Lord's direction.
    Rather than try to find things that are not in the scriptural record, and even go against the scriptural record, we all might be better served if theorists would stick to the what is written and read it the way it was written by those who were there, who lived upon the land, and who knew what it was they meant when they wrote. After all, Nephi is an inspiration to us all—showing us the kind of attitude that is required to achieve our callings, assignments, and fulfill our responsibilities. Theorizing on other matters, especially when it is self-serving, takes away from the intent of the scriptural record itself.

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