Usually, when we do this, which we do from time to time, we are asked by a slew of readers, “O.K., then where is the Land of Promise?”
With this in mind, we begin this new multi-part series showing the true location of the Land of Promise by matching every scriptural reference of Lehi’s Isle to this one area. Also, in locating Lehi’s landing site and his Isle of Promise, we need to recognize that Nephi, himself, told us three very important things that will lead us to the “island in the midst of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20) that Jacob described and Nephi wrote down upon the plates:
1. Where he built and launched his ship;
2. How his ship was powered and, therefore, where he went;
3. Where he landed and what he found there.
It is these first three things we will start out in finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise. In addition, Nephi also told us two other important things about where he settled permanently after separating from his brothers who sought his life:
1. Where and about how far he traveled;
2. Where he settled and what he did there.
In these five points, we can be led to the location of the Land of Promise overall, and to the area of the City of Nephi in the overall Land of Nephi that Nephi’s followers named of the area he settled.
Beyond that, we need to recognize that Mormon, in his abridgement, left us a list of descriptions, along with some additional ones from his son, Moroni, who abridged the Book of Ether of the Jaredite record. Thus, the writing of these four prophets: Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, provide us with all the information required to not only locate the Land of Promise, but also recognize how no other site, i.e., the many theories that abound among LDS scholars, can qualify as the location of Lehi’s Isle.
So let us begin with these first three points Nephi makes:
Nephi built his ship in the area of Khor Rori just to the east of Salalah in Oman
Lehi left the area of Jerusalem with his family because the Lord told him to do so since the Jews at the time sought his life (1 Nephi 2:1), and came down by the borders of the Red Sea (1 Nephi 2:5), and traveled three days in the wilderness before pitching his tent by the side of a river. Here the family spent some time while Lehi sent his sons back to Jerusalem to get the brass plates that Laban had (1 Nephi 3:4, 9), sent them again back to Jerusalem to get Ishmael and his family (1 Nephi 7:2-3), Nephi made plates to record his record (1 Nephi 9:3-5), Lehi found the Liahona (1 Nephi 16:10), the families traveled in a south-southeast direction along the Red Sea (1 Nephi 16:13), and later turned almost eastward (1 Nephi 17:1), finally after eight years in the wilderness (1 Nephi 17:4), arriving in Bountiful along the seashore of Irreantum (1 Nephi 17:5).
This area is just about universally agreed upon by all who write about it as the area of Salalah along the south Arabian coast of the Sea of Arabia. While the exact spot is one of two places that have been presented: Khor Rori to the east of Salalah in Oman, and Khor Karfot, to the west of Salalah in Yemen, it is along this coast that Nephi built his ship and the families set forth into the sea (1 Nephi 18:6, 8). It is important to know that this is the site of their launching their ship, since its movement from here is critical to understand in order to learn of where they landed in the Western Hemisphere.
Nephi makes it clear that his ship was “driven forth before the wind,” which is a very specific and meaningful nautical term
There has been little written by all theorists as to the path Lehi took from the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula--when they do write about it, they make it seem like Nephi's ship could have gone just about anywhere. At best, they just state a direction without any support data to show that their view would be possible. However, in all cases (other than a southeast direction), the directions these theorists have chosen are inaccurate and we have written much about the reasons why in terms of winds and currents. The point is, that Nephi tells us that his ship was “driven forth before the wind toward the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8) and that he crossed the deep ocean.
As can be seen, despite many theorists’ views to the contrary, the monsoon winds blow inland from July to December, and out to sea from January to June, with the strongest currents in July and August inland and January February out to sea. Note: they do not blow eastward at any time until you get below Australia in the Southern Ocean
As the ship neared the southern limit of the Sea of Arabia, or the northern beginning of the Indian Ocean, it began to be moved toward the southeast by the Indian Ocean gyre to where it picked up the Southern Ocean’s West Wind Drift and Prevailing Westerlies.
There is an interesting phenomena along this path of the Southern Ocean, for when it reaches the South American shelf, the northern part of the current is driven north along the west coast of South America in what is called the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current, yet the winds and currents die down around 30º South Latitude where the winds shoot upward and the Tropic of Capricorn (also referred to as the Southern Tropic), or the southern doldrums, where winds and currents die allow ships to set in at a very unique area called the Bay of Coquimbo.
Lehi’s path across the Southern Ocean, the fastest and shortest path around the globe
Looking down from this NASA satellite image of Coquimbo Bay, a ship moving up the Humboldt Current from the south (yellow arrow), is driven shoreward by the natural upwelling of the Humboldt and once past Point Tortuga, the bay presents a tranquil sea and easy movement into the bay (Coquimbo means “calm waters”