Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Jaredites Journey to the Sea

“The Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands. And as they came to the sea they pitched their tents; and they called the name of the place Moriancumer; and they dwelt in tents, and dwelt in tents upon the seashore for the space of four years” (Ether 2:13).
    After reaching the “great sea” the Jaredites settled down and rested from their long, arduous journey. The days stretched into months, and months into years, as the families grew in size, planted and harvested crops, and tended their flocks.
    According to the record, they had flocks, both male and female of every kind (Ether 1:41), which would have reproduced in large numbers over the four years spent in their temporary village along the coast. Nor would they have been able to take all of the animals on the barges with them to the land of promise, consequently, leaving many behind.
    They took with them on their barges their flocks and herds and whatsoever beast, or animal or fowl that they should carry with them (Ether 6:4, emphasis added). Note the use of the word “should,” suggesting that others in number would be left behind.
The moon-shaped Salalah Plain starting at the foot of the Qara Mountains and running to the sea

Assuming the Jaredites reached the southern shores of the Arabian Peninsula (see Who Really Settled Mesoamerica), today we find that the Qara Jabal is a range where natural vegetation is made up of a diverse range of fruit trees and a mélange of shrubs and plants that are part of a unique natural heritage unseen anywhere else on the Arabian peninsula. Here, Mediterranean fruit is part of the exotic mix of flora because of the splendid temperate weather of the jabals (mountains) during summer.
    The traditional market called Nizwa souq is arguably Oman’s best souq (šūqā) or “street, market,” and offers travelers a unique travel experience and a good sense of how locals go about their daily lives at the ancient market.
    Here, Mediterranean fruit is part of the exotic mix of flora because of the splendid temperate weather of the jabals during summer. The area of Salalah is lush and green during the Khareef monsoon season—very fertile and a varied verdure of plants, trees, grass and shrubs—the area is hot during the day and cold at night, much like Mesopotamia. Thus, anything the Jaredites planted here were common plants that came from their original home in Mesopotamia, though they are unusul in this area along the shore of the Sea of Arabia.
    Obviously, during the four years they spent here, they would have had to feed themselves from their own labors, thus some of the “seeds of every kind” gathered in Mesopotamia (Ether 2:3) would have been planted in the lush verdure of the Salalah area, especially during the Khareef monsoon season. It should be noted that Salalah, despite lying close to the Arabian desert, enjoys a tropical climate through most of the year. Temperatures are fairly mild in the summer reaching about 85º, but in winter can fall to between 40º and 22º. The town is subjected to the southwest monsoons. This period (late June to early September) is known as the khareef season which turns the area into a veritable paradise.
When Jared and his brother, and their friends left Mesopotamia, they had with them animals of every kind, honey bees, and seeds of every kind

Obviously, the seeds that were gathered in their homeland and brought on their journey (Ether 1:41), would have out of necessity grown well along the Omani coast in a climate much like Mesopotamia. These crops would have expanded over the years and produced more and more seeds to be stored for the ocean voyage toward the end of their stay at the area they called Moriancumer (Ether 2:13).
    The plants from these seeds along the seashore, were plants that would have been left behind when they boarded their barges and set off into the great deep with the seeds gathered from these plants.
    After four years here, the Lord visited the brother of Jared and “chastened him because he remembered not to call upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:14). He was told to build barges and after about a year or two of doing so, the Jaredites set off for the land that was promised to them, leaving behind unneeded plants and animals, including bees, that had multiplied in large numbers during the five years or so at the seashore.
    In addition, this area of Salalah is a natural place for agriculture. In fact, the growing capabilities of Salalah have long been neglected in past decades, but in recent years according to the Association of Agricultural Research Institutions in the Near East, the Omani government has set up such centers that envision “Salalah becoming another California” (“The Arabian Peninsula’s Future California?” Oman: A Meed Special Report, MEED, London, 1976, p15). Also, with cattle and vegetable growth considerable in the last few years, limited only by the available water sources (“Agriculture and Fisheries Account for 70 per cent of Oman’s Non- Oil Exports,” Times of Oman, 3 April 1994, p 2; “63 per cent Self-Sufficiency in Vegetables Achieved,” Times of Oman, 2 January 1995, p2).
Salalah during Khareef season when everything is green and plants grow in abundance all across the Plain

During the khareef period each year, the etire area of Salalah is green, and numerous crops are grown along the coast, many of which match those grown in Mesopotamia.
    In fact, the only place along the entire Omani coast that has fertile soil for agriculture today is the Salalah plain, which has been farmed for centuries, and has the only cultivated fruit orchards in the coastal area, such as figs, dates and tamarinds. The southern part of the country is mostly grown with coconut palms, banana, papayas, and other tropical fruit trees, and in the Jabal, are walnuts and pomegranates, and numerous Mediterranean fruits, such as pears, black grapes, red berries, apricots plums, fig, wild olives and even almonds.
    Recently apple trees have been introduced into the Salalah region, and farmers grow garlic, lemons, corn, wheat, beans, barley and other grains, coconuts, and papayas because of the moisture from the monsoon, enabling agriculture in the otherwise dry environment of the area (NASA, JPL Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM)—NASA Planetary Photo Journal Collection).
    Obviously, then the area of Salalah has always been perfect for planting and harvesting crops. While Salalah’s temperatures are similar to Mesopotamia, the east coast of China, as Nibley suggests for a Jaredite crossing, is not. The area of Qingdao in China has mild summers, but winter snow and temperatures around freezing, winter lasting from October to March—which is pretty much the climate along the China coastal area where any Pacific crossing could have been effected, with extensive rainfall in Wenzhou during the summer months, and only reaching the mid-eighties in the four summer months—obviously, despite Nibley’s belief that the Jaredites traveled there for their voyage across the great deep, all that area would not have produced crops from seeds grown in Mesopotamia.
    Today, Shalalah is seen as capable of growing largely varied crops, as it was, no doubt, during the time the Jaredites first settled the area before leaving on their ocean voyage.
    As for the size of the colony that settled along the coast for those four to five years, the Jaredite numbers, based on the propensity of their having large families—as an example, Jared had 12 children, the Brother of Jared had 22 children (Ether 6:20), one of Jared’s sons, Orihah, had 31 children (Ether 7:2)—the numbers can be estimated. If each of the 24 families (Jared, his brother, and their 22 friends, and all their wives). Two or three children might have been born to each of the twenty-four families, bringing the entire population to over two hundred or more, requiring more and more crops to be planted and harvested. By the time the colony boarded the barges, there would have been extensive crops growing along the coast and left to the birds and animals which would have distributed seeds in droppings over a much larger area.
    After four years rest and a year or two building the barges, the Jaredites located their animals, seeds, and provisions, obviously leaving the residue behind.

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