Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Not After the Manner of Men – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding where Nephi’s ship was constructed, built and launched. 
   East of Salalah is the natural inlet called Khor Rori. In Lehi’s time, the natural gum resin of Frankincense oil (olibanum, meaning gum of frankincense, with the "franc" meaning noble or pure) from the Boswellia sacra trees in the dry, rocky soil of the mountains surrounding the inlet was harvested. The name, derived from the Old French "franc encens," which means "pure or high quality incense," was an aromatic resinous dried sap anciently used in incense and perfumes. However, long before Lehi and the discovery of Arabian frankincense trees, the incense was grown in Somalia and North Africa and traded on the Arabian Peninsula.
The Frankincense Tree being harvested. First, the tree at 8 to 10 years of age, is selected that is ready for harvesting, called "tapping" (done three times a year), then slices in the bark are made with a blade, called "striping," then the tree begins to seep (called "tears") the sap or resin, which bleeds out, bubbles and solidifies into the harvested crystals

The incense was lit in religious ceremonies, used during meditation or aromatherapy or simply burned for pleasure. One by one, the individual crystals, when lit, began to smolder and a light smoke rose filling the air with a pleasant odor--a mix of slightly charred pine with a hint of lemon in a heady aroma of Frankincense. It could also be used as an insect repellent and an air freshener.
    Frankincense has been popular as an incense for thousands of years and was used in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. It's mentioned in the Bible as levona (lebonah) and was one of the ingredients in the perfume of the sanctuary (Exodus 30:34), and was one of the three gifts of the wise men to the baby Jesus (Matthew 2:11), along with myrrh (to which it was often associated) and gold. Pure, uncontaminated frankincense is edible and can be chewed like gum, although it has a stickier texture than modern chewing gum. An oil can be extracted from the resin, and the oil and the Boswellia plant are said to have many health benefits, a sort of panacea or cure all for what ails one. 
    At the time of Lehi, this gum resin was shipped by camel caravan over the famed Frankincense Trail, and afterward, the inlet became a harbor where ships from all over set in to obtain the resin for trade in foreign ports, including from far off Greece and Rome. To protect the growing industry of harvesting the frankincense, a fort was built sometimes around 100 B.C., not far from where Nephi’s ship would have been constructed, called Sumhuram.
Sumhuram Fort, built on a slight rise, overlooking the entire inlet of Khor Rori. Built around the last century B.C. is safe-guarded the Khor and port from those who would attack the Frankincense business at Sumhuram and the area

In Periplus Marais Erythrael (translated and edited by Lionel Casson, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1989, p170), a handbook for merchants trading between ancient Roman Egypt and southern Arabia and India, dating to between 30 A.D. and 230 A.D., but believed to date to the middle of the first century A.D. because of the sequence of the Nabataen kings, where the port of Khor Rori is referred to as the Moscha Limen of classical geographical texts. The port lies 25 miles east of Salalah on a hilltop on the eastern bank of a sweet-water outlet, called a khor. About 1300 feet from the open sea, it dominates the khor which opens to the sea and anciently served as a natural harbor. The remains of the fortress are located on a rocky spur running east-west, forming part of a wider defensive system, details of which are still evident. The walls have dressed stone faces with rubble cores. The most heavily fortified part is on the north, where the entrance is located, itself a massive structure with three successive gates on the steep entry path, and is flanked by the remains of towers. The port was refounded at the end of the 1st century by LL'ad Yalutas (evidenced by an inscription still in situ) to control the trade in Dhofar incense. It was the hub of the trading settlements on this coast at that time. The process of disintegration began in the 5th century A.D.
    As for the harbor of Khor Rori itself, Frank Lineman, an engineer from the Maritime Academy and the Coast Guard, U.S. Navy, and chief engineer in the Merchant Marines, and an expert on where to make safe landfall along coasts, calls the Oman inlet as having "deep calm waters" and "a protective harbor" necessary to construct, launch, and outfit a large ship.
The calm, placid waters of Khor Rori, the inlet where Nephi would have built his ship just east of Salalah along the Salalah Plain

Linehan has stated, "Nephi would have needed this type of calm waters and protective harbor in the building of his ship at Bountiful." 
    Naturally, this area of Khor Rori is the perfect inlet and location for the building of Nephi’s ship, downstream from the wadi Darbat, an area full of various trees that could have been felled and floated downriver. There are various areas along the inland waterway for the building, fitting, handling of cargo and supplies to take aboard for the long voyage
The tranquil Khor Rori behind a pair of headlands that flank the mouth of the estuary—a wonderfully peaceful spot, so quiet you can actually hear the splashes of fish in the water

Three hundred years after Lehi left the area, the fort of Sumhuram (the Moscha of classical geographical texts) was built by LL'ad Yalut, king of the Hadhramawt, to control the trade in Dhofar incense (An alternate theory is that it was built by a local ruler, a king named Samharam in the 3rd century B.C.) Initially, Indian seamen who had brought cotton cloth, corn and oil in exchange for incense found themselves still far from home and decided to overwinter there, waiting for the favorable monsoon winds to take them home. It became a favorite stop-over on the route home and eventually was turned into a port. Soon it became the hub of the trading settlement on this coast during the 1st and 2nd centuries B.C. Its close links with the powerful Shabwa state in Yemen made this small fortified town very rich. The process of disintegration began in the first half of the 3rd century A.D., when the site was reclaimed by the sea and by natural vegetation.
The ruins of Sumhuram, the fort that later guarded the beginning of the Frankincense Trail and the port into which ships sailed from all over the region beginning around the third century B.C.

The entire area between the Qara Mountains and the ocean (Sea of Arabia, the northern extension of the Indian Ocean) is a unique area, for coming off the largest Sand Desert in the world following eight years (1Nephi 17:4) crossing through the wilderness, Lehi and his party would have been confronted with one of the most amazing sights one might ever find—the Garbeeb, or flat plain, a strip of area along the base of the mountains on the sprawling Iteen Plain, they were in view of a nearby large springs in a forest of shady trees that sits at the foot of the surrounding mountains.
Beyond was the massive ocean Lehi called Irreantum, and Nephi wrote: “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. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters. And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:5-6).
Such a sight as this plain provides during Khareef Season, the Monsoon turns a normal landscape into the most beautiful of scenery

Anciently called Merbat,which means the “Moorings," the area of the Khor Rori inlet and an adjacent area named Taqah, two miles to the West, are the likely place where ships could moor, and for numerous years after the time of Lehi, well into the Roman period, this area was a favorite mooring area. According to radio-carbon dating and Marine Archaeologist and micropaleontologist, Professor Eduard G. Rheinhardt, School of Geography and Geology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, the final closing of the harbor’s mouth of Khor Rori occurred between 1640 to 1690 A.D.
(See the next post, “Not After the Manner of Men – Part III” for more information about the building of Nephi’s ship and where it was constructed)


  1. I have never understood why theorist who looked at the scripture:

    “Now I, Nephi,
    did not work the timbers
    after the manner which was learned by men,
    neither did I build the ship
    after the manner of men;
    but I did build it after the manner
    which the Lord had shown unto me;
    it was not after the manner of men”
    (1 Nephi 18:2).

    He took up some valuable plate space to repeat himself and seemingly drills it into our heads that he did not build a ship after the manner of men. Yet.. how many of these theorist then compare Nephi's ship to the Phoenicians?.. and the attributes of their ships? Has anyone taken a ship that is similar to what the Phoenicians had and run the route from Khor Rori to South America via the route you have shown to be a very simple route? Something tells me.. no.. no one has tried it.

  2. No one has tried it because no one but the Jaredites, Nephites, Mulikites were guided by God to build a ship and go there. The winds and current flow there to South America and so I think you or I give a sea worthy craft could do it.