Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Requirements in Building Nephi’s Ship

When the Lord told Nephi he was to build a ship so the Lord could carry Nephi’s people across the sea to the Land of Promise, there were certain requirements that would be needed fairly close at hand (1 Nephi 17:8). Naturally, when the Lord left the Liahona in front of Lehi’s tent (1 Nephi 16:10), the course from that point to the area called Bountiful would have already been decided and “programmed” into the ball or director (1 Nephi 16:26-27). 
    If a ship could not be built where Lehi was led by the Liahona, then their location could not have been Bountiful, no matter how fertile of full or ore or animals it might have been, since Nephi emphasizes that the building of the ship was the primary objective for coming to Bountiful.
    Consequently, in the area of Bountiful, Nephi would have needed:
1. An area to settle in for a year, possibly two, where food, water, and natural resources would have been available for living conditions for the entire group, including planting, game for hunting, drinking water, etc.
Since it would take at least two months to kill, clean, stretch and cure the hide just to make a bellows, we are looking at a lengthy period for staying in one place where the Lehi colony had to prepare and care for everything they needed. This is one of the reasons we talk about in these pages the economy of the Lord, i.e., the Lord brought the Jaredites into this area with their honeybees and seeds of fruit and every kind, fish and birds—that after their four year stay in this area (Ether 2:13), there would have been sufficient overage of all such things that they would have to leave much behind in animals (such as camels), plants, fruit trees, bees, honey hives, etc., for the Lord’s later purposes, which Nephi made quite clear: “And all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    What one group needed to bring to the area to carry their burdens, and from which a few would have been taken on the ocean voyage in order to stock the new world after the Flood, the next group could have used their descendants for moving of logs and other heavy material in the building of their ship.
    In looking at Khor Rori, we  find it has all these requirements, such as thousands of wild camels that run free; metal ore; animals for use in making the skin bellows, fruit trees, honey bees, wild hives, etc.
2. An area close enough to building materials, the ocean, and river or stream to build a large ocean-going vessel and launch it into that ocean.
    Ore, of course, is rock and heavy. How much ore Nephi needed for the kinds and numbers of tools he made is not known, but likely wherever the Lord led him to find that iron ore, was where Nephi would have smelted the ore and carried back the finished tools. On the other hand, judging by the number of wild camels found in the hills and mountains of this region, it might be suggested that the camels the Jaredites brought and had to leave a portion behind established a very large wild colony over time that Nephi utilized and could have packed in ore to the location where the ship was built.
There are so many camels running wild, blocking streets and infringing on human activity that Dhofar has issued orders to dispose of them from the public sector
    Khor Rori is a unique area along the coast of Oman that contains all the requirements Nephi needed, including metal ore nearby and the means of transporting ore to the building site if they chose.
Wooded timberland and stands of trees fill the area above Khor Rori known as the Wadi Dirbat (Darbat) that would easily have been moved down the khor to the builing area below by water, or hauled down by camel
3. Access to wooded areas where the right kind of trees would be available from which he could frame and build his ship in the special manner the Lord was going to teach him.
    “Above Khor Rori is a well-timbered flatland all around Wadi Dirbat, where birds fill the trees and sink holes in unprecedented numbers, and where timber would have been readily available.
4. A place that had close and direct access to the sea.
    When completed and fully laden with supplies, rigging, tons of ballast, water, and at least one anchor, Nephi’s ship could have weighed as much as 100 tons.
    Khor Rori provides a perfect protected harbor and an easy access into the ocean beyond. Later, after Lehi, the area became a well used and well known harbor for Roman shipping as well as king Solomon, etc.
5. A place large enough where launching ways were used for the ship to be built upon and then launched into the sea.
    A vessel weighing near 100 tons would only be built on “ways” (which are wooden rollers above the tide line). The ship is then lowered into the calm water using gravity (like sliding down the ways). This requires a large flat area of ground adjacent to the water and above the water line. Khor Rori has numerous such areas, and two in particular where launching ways have been found.
While this photo shows men using modern electric drills, just about everything else is ancient technique, including resting the keel on (yellow arrow) blocks to raise it up, and brace it with (white arrow) angled stakes. When ready to launch, the blocks are removed the boat lowered onto the ways and the stakes readjusted before sliding the boat down the ways into the water
6. A place protected from the wind, currents and waves, such as a bay, inlet, river branch, harbor or port.
    Nephi tells us that the family went “down into the ship” with their wives and children and all their loading and seeds, and whatsoever thing we had brought with them. (1 Nephi 18:6). This would mean that they entered the ship by some type of gangplank, which means the vessel at the time was in some type of harbor. It might also be suggested that the ship had decks and that the family members stored their provisions, personal items, and bedding below deck.
    After the family went down into the vessel, they “did put forth into the sea” (1 Nephi 18.8). They could only do this if they were already in the water, or else they would have to have pushed the ship into the sea, in which case they would climb up into the ship. And since “putting forth into the sea” implies considerable control of the vessel and also tells us that the water they were in was some type of harbor  or bay and that they were not yet in the sea.
    Having seen a 100-ton vessel being built in this way along the Omani coast, and knowing this was about the size of Nephi’s ship, one can only wonder in awe and amazement and with a renewed respect and understanding for the monumental task which Nephi undertook and accomplished with the Lord’s direct help.

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