Monday, March 9, 2020

The Value of Jaredite Animals Left Behind – Part I

We are told that the Jaredites spent four years recouping from their long journey from Mesopotamia. While at the seashore where they lived for four years, they would have had little to live on, since the recent Flood had killed every plant, bird and animal on the Earth—which included the seashore where the Jaredites settled.
The area of Salalah along the seashore, showing the fertility of the land surrounded by an open desert—the largest sand desert in the world

Yet, 1500 years later, it was a veritable paradise, one which Lehi called Bountiful. So where did all the plants and animals come from that Nephi records being there?
    Obviously, the Lord knowing the area would have to be restocked with plants, trees, fruit, honey and fish, he expressly told the brother of Jared that such would have to be brought with them on their journey to the sea. Most readers consider that these things were for the New World, or Land of Promise, since it would be a vast land devoid of flora and fauna.
    While that is true, there is the additional purpose of restocking the Salalah area where the Jaredites settled for four years that provided the later visitors to the area—both the Nephites and later the Mulekites. As Nephite tells us: “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 called the place Bountiful because of its much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:5,6, emphasis added).
    Of this, the Lord told the brother of Jared: “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind” (Ether 1:41, emphasis added). The Jaredites planted their seed of every kind along the seashore where they settled, not knowing or believing, perhaps, that they would be led elsewhere. Which of course, they were, after four years (Ether 2:13-14) when the Lord visited the brother of Jared and commanded them to prepare barges to travel across the great deep to the land prepared for them (Ether 2:16). Once on this new land, “they went forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth” (Ether 6:13), that is, they planted more of the seeds brought from their homeland in Mesopotamia, and those gleaned from their plants at the seashore during those four years.
Hybrid crops have excellent stands, good uniformity, and very good leaf color—The dark green color is in contrast with pale green or yellow color leaves which result from low sunlight and saturated soils

Today, we have GMOs, or genetically modified seed from plant hybridization or cross-breeding, which are more versatile and will cross-pollinate, making their germination over wider climatic conditions. However, anciently, there were no such thing. Seeds had to grow in climatic conditions in which they originated from their parent plant. We call these natural seeds “heirloom” seeds, which means they are seeds that have been passed down through many generations (in the U.S. this nomenclature has referred to seeds that have resulted from the 1700s and 1800s). Each generation saved seed, selecting them for the best traits. As such “saved” seeds were passed down through the generations, they became heirlooms.
    Such seeds are open-pollinated seeds, which means the flowers are fertilized by bees, moths, birds, bats, and even the wind or rain, and are seeds that have resulted from natural pollination of the parent plant. The seed that forms produces the same plant the following year. Some open-pollinated plants are self-pollinators, which means the structure of the flower allows fertilization before it opens.
    These self-pollinated seeds are those that are self-pollinated, or pollinated by another representative of the same variety, the resulting seeds will produce plants roughly identical to their parents. They are seeds that will "breed true". That is, when the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate, or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety, the resulting seeds will produce plants roughly identical to their parents, and will grow out true every year. They are genetically diverse, so there can be a lot of variation in the plants and fruits.
The hybridization of Mediterranean tetraploid durum wheat, showing examples of spikes and grain

Since agriculture began about thousands of years ago, people have been choosing the qualities they like in a plant, such as fruit size, flavor, growth habit, heat and cold tolerance, and uniformity, saved the seed, and continually grew it out year after year. This, of course, can only be accomplished with open-pollinated seeds.
    Those who lived from their own agriculture saved certain seed for thousands of years to improve the crop. Hybridization came about to further improve food crops, and the result of two plants with specific characteristics being deliberately crossed to produce a new third variety. If one saves the seed of a hybrid, and grow it out, the result will be one of the parents, not the plant that produced the seed. Thus, seed can be grown and regrown and still maintain its original status. This, of course, means that such seed requires identical climate conditions that produced the original plants.
    A major benefit of such seed and the specific practice of saving the best seed that will "breed true." When the plants of an open-pollinated variety self-pollinate, or are pollinated by another representative of the same variety, the resulting seeds will produce plants roughly identical to their parents. A major benefit of saving their own seed is that the plants will be acclimated to their local growing conditions, and will be more hardy than from seed grown elsewhere.
    Seed can also be developed to last longer, and such seed can last more than five years, and their use over and over again for many generations. In fact, such seeds have greater productivity and reliability, and can be planted season after season with many today having been grown for generations within the same families. These specific varieties of plants are those which have been cultivated and saved for at least the past fifty years, and are preferred by many growers for their productivity and reliability.
    Thus, in the wild, such seed produces year after year the plant that originated it.
Consequently, for seeds planted by the Jaredites in their four-year seashore settlement, their continued existence by the time Lehi arrived is not unusual or surprising.

    In fact, the area of Salalah is a very fertile crescent stretching between the Qara Mountains and the Coast of Arabia, about 100 miles wide and about 30 miles inland. In relation to the animals that exist in this area, it is nothing like the rest of the entire Arabian Peninsula.
Wild camels saturate the entire area of the Salalah Plain, contained within this plain because of the mountains surrounding it, suggesting the animals were brought there across hundreds of miles of open desert

There are numerous kinds of animals, including herds of camels that roam free in the hills and valleys, which may suggest the Jaredites had the use of camels on their long trek through the Arabian desert.
    While we do not know what might have existed in 2100 BC in southern Arabia in flora and fauna, it might be assumed that only 220 years or so after the Flood, that much of the land would have been devoid of either, though today the mountains around Salalah are dotted with caves full of bees that yield wonderful honey. It should be noted that the Jareditres carried “with them Deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honeybee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees” (Ether 2:3). It should also be noted that these self-same honey bees would have been non-existent after the Flood except where Noah placed them—in Mesopotamia, the home of the Jaredites.
    According to Oman News Agency: The Directorate General of Agriculture and Livestock in the Governorate of Dhofar today organized a training workshop on “Fundamentals of Honey Breeding Bees,” in collaboration with the Royal Court Affairs and the Directorate General of Agriculture and Livestock in the Al Dakhiliyah region. Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Abdulqadir al Ghassani, Director General for Administrative and Financial Affairs at the office of the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar presided over the opening ceremony.
    Thus, the Lord used the Jaredite travels to bring flora and fauna to the area as well as leave much behind to be carried with winds and rain, tides and storms, to other nearby lands over the following centuries. One thing is certain, however, and that is the area of Salalah in the southwestern part of Oman, is a veritable garden during the Khareef (monsoon) season, is full of a wide variety of animals, and a paradise for bird watchers with thousands of fowl varieties living in the area and stopping over on their migration flights.
(See the next post, “The Value of Jaredite Animals Left Behind – Part II,” for more information regarding the animals and plants the Jaredites left behind when the boarded their barges and moved off into the great deep)

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