Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The Journey to Bountiful and the Building of Nephi’s Ship – Part VI

Continued from the previous post regarding the journey to the land of Bountiful and the building of Nephi’s ship. This sixth article in the series covers the arrival of the party at Bountiful and the building of the ship in the area of Khor Rori and how the area meets the scriptural references.
After crossing the Rub’ al-Khali sand desert and the pebbly rock desert and climbed the mountain pass, their view of the green verdure of the Salalah Plain and the wide expanse of the ocean must have been startling

What a sight this coastal strip must have been to this beleaguered party that had spent the last eight years wandering in the wilderness and trekking across the barren Empty Quarter desert. No wonder Lehi called the area Bountiful because of its rich green vegetation and the plentiful honey and fruit growing there. To make certain this area of this fertile Salalah Plain was the area Nephi describes in the scriptural record, we need to go over the descriptions listed:
1. Next to the sea (1 Nephi 17:5-6), allowing for eventual launching a ship and sailing out into the Sea of Arabia (1 Nephi 18:8);
• Salalah is a narrow bay, 1 to 5 mile strip between the mountain and the sea, that runs about 30 miles east to west and has a sweet water khor, or river, extending to the mountains, providing a lake and several lagoons where a ship could be built and in modern times, where local ships are built.
2. Presence of wild honey (1 Nephi 17:5);
• Salalah is filled with caves that have honeycombs dating back to BC time. Honey has been known at Khor Rori since Lehi’s time.
3. Presence of fruit trees,vines and bushes (1 Nephi 17:5-6);
• According to pomologist Professor Gamaleldin Abdel Hay Hamid, the fertile soil and climate along the Salalah Plain “is considered one of its kind in the whole Arabian Peninsula.” Today fruit trees occupy 58% of the total planted agricultural area, providing a wide range of crops of many varieties of exotic tropical and subtropical fruits due to the unique climatic conditions, such as Papaya, bananas, lime, guava, pomegranate, fig, custard apple, grapes, avocado, sapota (like a pear), bread fruit, egg fruit, jack fruit, passion fruit, star fruit, pitahaya, pineapple and star apple—it is considered the region’s “fruit basket.”
    It also might be noted, since there seems a lot of emphasis has been placed on the fruit Lehi found growing in his Bountiful when he arrived, that in general the people of the middle East, and especially in Arabia, have a far greater fondness for fruits than they do for vegetables. Melons, pomegranates, and the jujube are particularly favored, and also mangoes. Figs, grapes, bananas, prickly pears, and other fruits are also important, and citron and Java almond flourish in the oases.
4. Fresh water for drinking, watering animals, crops and plants;
• While not mentioned in the scriptural record, this would be a vital, life-saving requirement for any settlement, temporary or long term. Salalah has an abundance of fresh, “sweet” water.
5. Fertile ground for growing crops needed to sustain them for two years while they built the ship;
Lehi would have planted crops at Bountiful, at least grains for a rounded diet during the time they were there

• Lehi would have needed more than honey and fruit to sustain life of his extensive party over a period long enough to build a deep ocean ship—possibly as long as two years.
6. Inlet from the sea to an inner harbor for practice maneuvering and later launching the ship (1 Nephi 18:8).
• It seems likely that once the ship was completed and launched, the inexperienced members of Lehi’s party would have needed to learn how to handle the vessel—Khor Rori has several lengths of river flow to experiment along.
7. Nearby Mount where Nephi went to pray (1 Nephi 17:7; 18:3);
• First of all, Nephi uses the term “mountain” in 17:7, but “mount” in 18:3, and in 1828, “mountain” mean “a large mass of earth and rock, rising above the common level of the earth and adjacent land of no definite altitude,” and though “mountain” is used for “the largest eminences on the globe, sometimes the word is used for a large hill.” The term “mount” meant “a hillock, hill, mountain, or any elevation of earth, indefinite in height”, Thus, we need to be cautious when interpreting this “mountain” and “mount” in too definitive of a term, since we do not know which was meant.
Nephi was told to get up into the mountain; evidently this was close by the seashore where they were camped. This view is from the mountain along the shore overlooking the coast of Salalah where Lehi had camped
 • Along the shore of Salalah, near Khor Rori, is such a mount where Nephi could have communed with the Lord, received his instruction and knowledge, and gone to easily and quickly, yet be isolated from the settlement. Possibly no better environment could be found than on this mount with the lush green “garden-like appearance” of the beautiful lush verdure to the north, and the majestic endless appearing ocean to the south, for Nephi to come in tune with the Lord that he could be taught
8. Nearby ore that could be smelted to make iron or steel tools (1 Nephi 17:9);
• Iron ore would have been needed, and anciently some iron ore was literally just lying about and could simply be picked up; however, since Nephi asked the Lord where to go to find ore, it is likely in the “many days” he had been in this area, had not seen any visible iron ore field or deposits. Of course, smelting rock ore, to melt and refine the iron metal, requires a knowledge of building a furnace or bloomery capable of withstanding the necessary high temperatures, and could be made of earth, clay or stone, with clay pipes at the bottom for the inlet of air from a bellows, or from natural means (draught from high winds). It is likely, as we have pointed out, that Nephi had some previous experience in such matters working on his father’s farm outside Jerusalem for many years, hence his lack of concern over making the tools.
    He mentions making a bellows “to blow the fire” (increase the heat level), and building a fire (1 Nephi 17:11), to place within the pit or chimney bloomery. This is not a high-tech process, but one of somewhat simple knowledge and ability, requiring first to make the charcoal through “Pyrolysis” by slow burning hardwood in a low oxygen area to remove impurities, moisture, and gasses, leaving pure carbon, called char, that are black lumps often referred to as lump coal—making up about 25% of the original weight of the wood, but packing far more potential energy per ounce than raw wood. Then, when heating (smelting) the rock over this charcoal fire under continual feeding of oxygen from natural draught or bellows, the iron within the ore is melted to liquid, leaving a glob of liquid in the bottom of the furnace, in which a hole is unplugged and the liquid metal runs out into a mold previously dug into the sand or dirt pit beneath, leaving a product today called “pig iron.”
Reheating the shaped pig iron after smelting, the iron can be molded into the shape desire

To mold the metal, the shaped pig iron is then heated until it gets soft, at which time it can be pounded with probably a wet wooden mallet into the approximation of the shape desired. Thus, when Nephi said, “I did make tools of the ore which I did molten out of the rock” (1 Nephi 17:16), literally means that “I did melt the metal out of the rock, and molded tools from the melted metal.”
9. Animals to make skins for the bellows (1 Nephi 17:11);
A simple bellows. Nephi’s bellows might have been more crude, but the concept of a bellows is simple enough to construct and could be operated by another, or even by a single person while smelting the iron out of rock

• While Nephi could have killed and skinned a domestic animal, such as a goat, such as those they must have had with them—those in the desert, goat and sheep, known collectively as ghanam, are kept in small numbers rather than in large herds. However, it is far more likely he would have killed a wild animal since knowing he would be staying there at least long enough to construct a ship, the domestic animals that provided milk to the children would be needed.
    Wild animals in Salalah at the time of Lehi were the desert cliff fox, mountain gazelle, Nubian ibex, honey badger, red fox and the caracal (lynx), anyone of which would have been suitable for skinning and using the pelt for the bellows.
(See the next post, “The Journey to Bountiful and the Building of Nephi’s Ship – Part VII,” for the rest of these comparisons between Salalah and the scriptural record)

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