Friday, October 2, 2015

What Did Nephi Mean “All These Things Were Prepared of the Lord”?

It is interesting how often theorists, with answers right before their eyes, skip over what they consider of little import on their search for answers. When Lehi reached what we now call the Sea of Arabia, along the southern Arabian coast in the area of the Oman/Yemen border, two extremely important things are mentioned that so seldom get much, if any, attention by those scholars who write about such things. 
Lehi crossed these Qara Mountains and dropped down some 3,000 feet to Dhofar
    The first was that Lehi, standing on the 3,000-feet high Qara Mountains and looked out over the vast ocean before him that stretched 180º from the east to the west, and visible as far as the eye could see, called the waters “Irreantum.”
    Unlike Western thinking and naming, the near Eastern mind applied meaning to names. Lehi had earlier named the River of Laman and the Valley of Lemuel where they spent some time, naming them after his two oldest sons to draw their attention to the parallels of their own lives, i.e., telling Laman “O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!” To Lemuel, he said, “O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!” (1 Nephi 2:9-10).
    When Lehi saw the great sea before him, and no doubt having seen it in a vision and perhaps the entire journey across the seas from a global standpoint, may well have understood they would travel across “many waters,” i.e., different waterways that would carry different names later in history. If not, he certainly saw that it was a vast ocean that seemed to stretch forever, thus named it “many waters.” And, indeed, it was “many waters,” stretching southward into the Sea of Arabia and then the Indian Ocean and then the Southern Ocean, and to the west into the Atlantic Ocean, and to the east into the Pacific Oceanbasically all the major oceans of the world.
    This area was quite impressive to Lehi and Nephi, having spent the past eight years in the wilderness shepherding the two families and their households through one trial and tribulation after another.
The area of (White Arrow) Salalah; Yellow Arrow: Where Lehi came over the Qara Mountains and into the coastal lands; Blue Arrow: Khor Rori, where Nephi likely built and launched his ship; Green Arrow: Wadi Dirbat in the hills above Khor Rori where several types of ship-building timbers are found, including the Babobab tree of the Jaredites
    And “we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5). “And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters.”
Looking down the valley before them toward the ocean, a vast green oasis that stretched for miles
    The further they traveled toward the sea, the greener and more plush the sights they beheld. They saw the fruit hanging from trees, bees flitting to and fro toward their wild honey in numerous hives throughout the hillsides, and obviously other man-made arrangements left by a previous people, causing Nephi to say, “and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5).
A river dropped down into the Dhofar coastal area from the Wadi Darbat and made its way to the sea, along the route and area called Khor Rori
    Finally, they reached the seashore where they pitched their tents (1 Nephi 17:6). This same area later would become one of the entrepôts of the region, with a city or fort called Sumhuram built along the fresh, sweet water (khor) that ran from Wadi Darbat above, past the ancient city to the ocean. Sumhuram was built some 300 years after Lehi left this area and became one of the excellent examples of medieval fortified settlements in the region that furthered the Frankincense trade for several hundred years.
The ancient city of Sumhuram, which thrived around the first century A.D. and was part of the great Roman trade enterprises that reached to the Persian Gulf
    At the entrance to the khor, where the fresh water river from Wadi Darbat once flowed uninterrupted to the ocean, two cliffs flank the access. They both serve to limit the wind flow and allow for safe harboring within the khor (along the river), and protect ships entering the ocean from the river as they embarked on or continued on their journeys—a perfect, protected area for the building of Nephi's ship and the sailing of it to get underway into the seasomething the inexperienced crew would have needed.
    These cliffs also would have provided the perfect place for Laman and Lemuel to throw Nephi into the depths of the sea as Nephi describes (1 Nephi 17:48). It would have also been an excellent place for Nephi to have used for molting ore for tools, since the winds along the shore atop these 90-feet high cliffs would have worked very well to blow the fire (1 Nephi 17:11)
Between the ancient city of Sumhuram and the entrance to the ocean (looking south), between the cliffs are seen (yellow arrows) the ancient ways that were used to launch a ship built there along the shore
    While critics have scoffed at what they consider a concocted story, ancient Hebrew scholar Rabbi Yoseph ben Yehuda points out that the name Irreantum fits the issue at hand very well, since “Ir” means “river,” “re” means “mouth,” “na” translates to “many” and “tehem” to water. So Irreantum then “sounds like a great name to give to the ocean while standing in a wadi where a large fresh water lagoon and a seasonal river meets the sea.
    Of course, critics suppose that any uneducated young man, completely unfamiliar with Hebrew, could have come up with such a name. This can also be said of the name “Liahona,” used earlier in the events described, since Lehi’s unusual compass contained perfectly good root words in Hebrew that apply appropriately to the purpose and use of the instrument. It should be noted that Joseph Smith’s supposed fantasy story as many scholars want to dub the Book of Mormon, contains very unusual words with actual Middle Eastern roots that an uneducated New York farm boy would be highly unlikely to have known, nor that any of his associates would have known.
    The other very important meaning behind this overall descriptive event, is that the site was well supplied with everything they needed to replenish body and spirit, as well as materials for building a ship. They called the place Bountiful. After all, not just any old place in Arabia or the Middle East would do. The area had to contain a tremendous natural food supply, and one can only ask that after the Flood, who would have wandered by this uninhabited region in Lehi’s time to have planted such fruit, and also begin sufficient bee colonies to produce such abundant honey in an area where bees have never been considered indigenous.
    In matching this information, we know three things where the Lord was involved:
1. The Jaredites were led by the Lord to a seashore where they built eight barges to take them across the Great Deep;
2. The Jaredites brought with them, among other things “deseret,” the honey bee. Not just a few, but “swarms of bees,” some of which would have been left behind—they also had “all manner of fruit” (Ether 9:17), and brought seeds of every kind (Ether 1:41; 2:3);
3. The Jaredites, Nephites and Mulekites were all brought to a point somewhere near Mesopotamia/Jerusalem where they built or obtained access to ships—and all landed in an area very close to each other.
    It seems rather obvious that Nephi’s comment: “and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5) seems like a clearly laid out plan, set in motion from the beginning,with the Jaredites preparing the coastal area with fruit and honey and, no doubt, left over camels that the Nephites would have needed to haul trees down to the coast, etc.; secondly, the Nephites left behind their building materials, ways, and excess supplies that the Mulekites would have needed. It is much like the Jaredite animals that escaped into the Land Southward from the poisonous snakes that, over time, found their way into the far reaches of the land where the Nephites landed and found "beasts of every kind."

1 comment:

  1. I had never before considered that all 3 groups left from the same site. I had just assumed that the Mulekites left before Lehi set sail. I thought that the Mulekites (led by Simeon as per the Mentinah Records) just used a ship already on the coast of Israel or Tyre/Sidon and sailed directly. It's all conjecture anyway without further light and knowledge, but it's an interesting commentary.