Friday, October 23, 2015

Bountiful – Lehi’s Oasis

Top: The Rub’al-Khali, the Empty Quarter and largest Sand Desert in the World; Middle and Bottom: The Wadi Dirbat, situated above Khor Rori in the Dhofar region of Oman 
   The Wadi Dirbat is a marvelous and beautiful piece of nature within easy distance of Salalah in Oman. After traveling for eight years in the wilderness, the last several across the Rub’al Khali sand desert, this land as it appeared from over the crest of the Qara Mountains as they passed over and down in entering the Salalah Plain, by contrast, was not only an oasis where they could camp and rest up, but a veritable “bounty” of land full of everything the sand desert did not have, including "fruit trees and honey."
The (yellow arrow) canyon entrance into the (white arrow) Salalah Plain (the Gerbeeb) and then a short distance to the east was (blue arrow) Khor Rori, a fresh water river that ran down from (green arrow) the Wadi Dirbat (Darbat) situated above and overlooking Khor Rori, where existed a forest of trees, fresh water lake, and a veritable paradise
    During the June to September (even later) Kareef season above Wadi Dirbat the air is foggy and vision limited within the clouds, especially in June and July, such as at Taiq Cave. But in the Wadi it is a veritable paradise, with fresh water (khor) running down falls into the inlet below flowing past Khor Rhori and into the Sea of Arabia beyond the cliffs. Forests cover the hills, several of which could have been felled by Nephi and sent into the river to flow down to the harbor for construction along the ways and means that are still etched into the banks.
    Dirbat itself is beautiful because of surprising lakes with donkeys, camels, cows, goats, plenty of birds and many different kinds of trees. There are water falls that bring the water down onto the Salalah Plain and past the ancient fort of Samhuram (built 200-300 years after Lehi left here) on the cliffs overlooking Khor Rori to the sea. However, it is a rugged beauty no photo can truly capture, where monsoon waves have crashed into the shores of the village for centuries, where Palm trees sway in the breeze, and narrow lakes between well-wooded hills that stretch for miles on either side and a wealth of timber in every direction beyond wide-spreading meadows.
Left: Khor Rhori to the bottom and Wadi Dirbat to the Top, with Salalah off to the left beyond the photo. The area between the Quara Mountains and the Sea is called the Salalah Plain (the Gerbeeb)
    There is also the natural beauty of a large natural dam of travertine blocking the wadi and trapping sediments and water behind; a rare geological feature.
A veritable wall of travertine stone that blocks the Wadi Dirbat from the Khor Rori, over which the water falls some 500 feet in a series of water falls onto the Salalah Plain below and makes its way toward the coast 8 miles away
    The natural dam of this tufa is to be seen in the cliffs over 500 feet, known as the Dahaq in the main valley, and the Murgha in the side valley to the west. These cliffs—the Murgha abyss and the Darbat abyss of Bent—represent the precipitation of upwards of 50 million tons of travertine.
When climbing up to the summit of the travertine cliffs to the Wadi Dirbat, one reaches a well-timbered flat meadow, which spreads out for about a mile or so with well-wooded hills on either side of a rapidly meandering stream. The northern end of the wide-spreading meadow is home to wild cattle, camels and other animals, along with birds of every type (Ether 2:2), including water-hens, herons and ducks. Several streams spread out from the lakes to the abyss which drops over the travertine and down onto the Plain.
Top center is the Wadi Dirbat, which flows over the Waterfalls and down to the head of the (red arrow) Khor Rori and then to the Arabia Sea (bottom center), a distance of less than eight miles. Any trees cut in the Dirbat area could easily be floated down stream to the area of Sumhuram where Nephi’s ship was likely built long before the fort there was built
    Thus, this area within a few miles has all the aspects required for Lehi’s Bountiful, the remarkable oasis Nephi claimed the Lord had prepared for them “that they might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5). It should be kept in mind that this was not an isolated spot where everything was within arm’s distance. Keep in mind that after the Lord told Nephi “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters” (1 Nephi 17:8), he immediately asked, “And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?” (1 Nephi 17:9). Obviously, Nephi was prepared to travel some distance to obtain the items necessary, from the ore to the trees (timber) to whatever else was needed.
    And it is within a short distance along this area of Khor Rori to Wadi Dirbat that everything needed was found:
1. Several types of trees (wooded forests)
2. Fresh water
3. Wild camels for beasts of burden
4. A veritable paradise, especially during the annual Khareef season (only this 20 miles of Omani 1400-mile coastline gets rain
5. Ore for making tools on the mount along the east of the Wadi Dirbat
6. Food, wild game, honey, fruit
7. Protected shelter from the ocean to build the ship and launch it into the sea
    When the Lord told Nephi “Arise, and get thee into the mountain” (1 Nephi 17:7). Above the beginning of Khor Rori, where the Wadi Dirbat cascades down over travertine rock walls in beautiful feathery waterfalls to form the fresh water Rori stream that flows to the sea, are the Qara Mountains that overlook the entire Salalah Plain, stretching across a line parallel with the coast, housing a number of peaks around 3,000 to 4,000 feet high with one peak higher than 5,000 feet.
    In the periplus (p32) one reads about this Omani coast “and of the high mountains behind where men dwell in holes,” caves cover the entire area of the mountains that are cool and refreshing after the internal heat of the entire area.
    Three well-known explorers have described this area over several years as:
    “Mountains 3,000 feet high basking above a tropical ocean, their seaward slopes velvety with waving jungle, their roofs fragrant with yellow meadows, we look down through the tangle of treetops to the stream, lined with trembling willows, a wall of tropical jungle rising sheer above us on every side” (Bertram Thomas 1928). “The deserts indeed surround it, but by a climatic quirk the monsoon rains just touch that particular corner of Arabia and the foliage was therefore lush and semi-tropical. Along the coasts were groves of coconut palms and vivid fields of sugar cane, plantations of wheat millet, indigo and cotton. The Wadi Dirbat is suddenly breathtaking fertile, with fields of cotton and chili, lavish palm trees, herds of cattle and goats grazed mildly” (James Morris Sultan in Oman, 1957). And upon entering the Salalah Plain over the Qara Mountains from the north after crossing the Empty Quarter, one sees how the monsoons cover the Qara “with mist and rainfall throughout the summer and are now dark with jungles in full leave after the monsoon, with wreathes of jasmine and giant convolvulus and roped together with lianas. Massive tamarinds grow in the valleys and on the downs great fig sycamore trees rise above the wind rippled grass like oaks in an English park” (Wilford Thesiger, Arabian Sands, 1964).
One can easily see this veritable paradise Lehi called Bountiful, which had, as Nephi said, been prepared for their use that because of its much fruit and also wild honey; "and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5).

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