Friday, November 20, 2020

The Mulekites and Jaredites Did Not Sail West to the Americas – Part I

 On occasion we receive a series of questions from a reader that causes our answers to be long enough to negate answering in short sentences. The following questions appeared as a result to one of our articles about sailing around Africa, and the reader’s belief The Mulekites and Jaredites sailed westward out of the Mediterranean Sea.

• Comment: “They sailed west from the Mediterranean Sea and straight across the Atlantic to America.”

Many theorists and members believe that the Americas were reached by the Mulekites and Jaredites, and later by Lehi  sailing west from the Mediterranean Sea. To substantiate this, theorists claim they, particularly the Mulekites, were brought by the Phoenicians--who had operated successfully in the Mediterranean, establishing a number of colonies along the northern coast of Africa, the most famous being Carthage an 814 BC colony of Tyre, situated on a hilly promontory overlooking the Mediterranean, on the eastern side of the Lake of Tunis in what is now Tunisia.

Phoenicians also conducted exploration of West Africa. The first circumnavigation of the African continent was made by Phoenician sailors, in a questionable expedition supposedly commissioned by Egyptian pharaoh Necho II, in 600 BC and took three years. A report of this expedition is provided by Herodotus, who wrote that they sailed south, rounded the Cape heading west, made their way north to the Mediterranean and then returned home. He states of this journey that they paused each year to sow and harvest grain.

Professor Alan B. Lloyd of the University of Swansea in Wales, was Chairman of the Egypt Exploration Society from 1994 until 2007 and an authority on the writings of the historian Herodotus with an extensive publication record, claims "It is extremely unlikely that an Egyptian king would, or could, have acted as Necho is depicted as doing" and that the story might have been triggered by the failure of Sataspes attempt to circumnavigate Africa under Xerxes the Great (Alan B. Lloyd, Herodotus, Book II, Brill Publishing, Leiden, South Holland, 1977).

The Angola-Benguela Front, a permanent feature of the coastal currents about 155 miles off the West coast of southern Africa, and up to 620 miles in places


It might be of interest to note that Sataspes, a Persian navigator and cavalry commander was tasked to circumnavigate Africa. He took an Egyptian ship and crew, sailed through the Pillars of Hercules, and proceeded south for many months. Eventually he believed his ship just stopped sailing and he turned around and sailed home, reaching Egypt without successfully completing his task. He claimed that he was forced to return because his ship stopped and would not sail any further. Xerxes did not accept this excuse, and had him put to death; however, experts today suggest that Sataspes could have simply encountered the Benguela Current, which prevented him from sailing any farther—this current is the broad, northward flowing ocean current that forms the eastern portion of the South Atlantic Ocean Gyre, whose current extends from roughly Cape Point in the south, to the position of the Angola-Benguela front, which is a permanent feature at the sea surface and is maintained throughout the year in a narrow band of latitudes between 14º and 16°S. It is farthest north in winter and farthest south in the summer.

In the north it is driven by the prevailing south easterly trade winds. This Angola-Benguela frontal zone is actually the convergence region between the south-flowing Angola Current and the north-flowing cold water of the Benguela upwelling system, which prevented him from sailing any further.

It is interesting that at the time Lehi left Jerusalem, the Phoenicians could barely sail around Africa, if indeed they did, having to stop three times to plant and harvest grain in a limited trip and always in sight of land. They would also have encountered this frontal zone, preventing them from progressing northward along the west coast. On the other hand, Lehi sailed eastward around Australia, picking up the Southern Ocean, a distance many times further with no known stops on the way.

• Comment: “This is a much harder way to sail to the Americas, than going west.”

Response; That is like saying, it is much harder to go south or north from Salt Lake City to get to Denver than going east. The only trouble with that is the roads do not go from Salt Lake eastward to Denver, they either go north into Wyoming then over to Laramie and then south down to Denver; or they go south to Green River then pick up Interstate 70 eastward to Denver. In the period before wagons and then cars, you could still not travel directly toward Denver from Salt Lake City, since there are mountains, cliffs, canyons, etc., in between, forcing you to go where the terrain allowed.

Direction of Wind and Ocean Currents that determined direction of the Ship in 600 BC


The problem is, we need to understand that in sailing “driven forth before the wind,” one had to sail in 600 BC where the winds and ocean currents took them. There were and are no currents or winds leaving the south coast of Oman (around Salalah) that go east, since the winds come off the pacific Ocean from the east and head west through Indonesia into the Indian Ocean—preventing sailing the wind to the west. Going south to the Southern Ocean with the winds and currents, then picking up the West Wind Drift (the Antarctic Circumpolar Current which moves only from west to the east all around the world) and the Prevailing Westerlies (a very strong wind that blows from west to east through the Southern Ocean, to reach the south western Hemisphere.

• Comment: “The Lord took the Jaredites west, but the Nephites he took east? To get to the same place? I Don’t think so” Kai M.

Response: The Lord never took the Jaredites west. There is no suggestion in all of the scriptural record of any direction either Lehi or the Jaredites traveled Westward across the Great Deep or oceans. In fact, the word “West” does not appear ion the entire Book of Ether. East is mentioned only twice, and that is in relation to travel within the Land of Promise. So any suggestion as to direction of travel has to do with the opportunity to travel in a direction based on the overland terrain, and the ocean winds and currents.

Regarding these winds driving the Jaredite barges, the Lord warned the Brother of Jared: “And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:25, emphasis added).

In addition, these winds blew toward the Promised Land, as stated by the “Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5, emphasis added); and also, the “wind did never cease to blow towards the promised land while they were upon the waters; and thus they were driven forth before the wind” (Ether 6:8, emphasis added).

The Atlantic Ocean is just over three feet higher than the Mediterranean due to the Med evaporating faster than it can be refilled from rivers. There is a constant stream of water from west to east, flowing into the Mediterranean, as the Atlantic tries to top up the inner sea. Navigators also have to cope with the tidal streams that flow west to east and the wind blows west to east, a wind that is known as the Poniente, or east to west, the Levant. Just west of Gibraltar is Tarifa, reputed to be the windiest place in Europe with a direction out of the Mediterranean, blowing either south or north.

Course out of the Mediterranean Sea either north or south into the Atlantic. Note the incoming current blocking westward movement


For centuries ships sailed in those directions. In fact, the first successful steam-powered vessels were built for use on canals and rivers in the early 1800s. On early steamships, the steam engine turned paddle-wheels that moved the ship along, but by the 1850s most ships were using propellers (first fitted to a steamship in 1839), instead. This was the time when ships could sail against and cross winds.

As for passing through the Pillars of Hercules in 600 BC, ships were not allowed through into the Atlantic since Carthage traded dyed cloth with Cornwall in Britain and with Gaul in what is today France, for tin which they then traded the tin in the eastern Mediterranean. They devoutly fought and to keep those ocean trade routes from other Mediterranean traders. In the western Levant, the coast and lands were controlled by the Babylonians who at the time were laying siege to Jerusalem and specifically wanted to wreak havoc on Zedekiah’s male lineage and killing all that they found.

(See the next post, “The Jaredites Did Not Sail West to the Americas – Part II,” partly because the seas and shipping were controlled by the Carthaginians, and partly because Nebuchadnezzar controlled Palestine).


  1. Last week I read an Internet article by someone who believes the Phoenicians and North Africans arrived, at separate times, in South America long before the Conquistadors. Interesting article.

  2. After re-reading my previous comment I see that I left out some information.
    The person who believes Phoenicians/North Africans came to South America believes these people came at about the time Lehi and party arrived, possibly earlier. The author highlights the stone workmanship, mummies, and metallurgy in Peru.

    Another historian puts out different theories of who came to South America before Lehi's time and after. He also mentioned the Book of Mormon people and says it is something to consider, and he is not LDS. By mentioning the Book of Mormon he was attacked by many people, of course. The usual.... Con artist Joseph Smith knew people believed Native American people were possibly Israelites and used this to make up the gold plates to scam people to start his cult..etc.

  3. Del, I actually do not find your articles conclusive. I definitely believe the three migrations were from Arabia in the path you present. But God can work in people and get them to do things that they in general would not do. And teach them things that in general is not known. So I do not find it impossible to believe that some Phoenicians could have sailed to the Americas around 600 BC. Columbus did it, so it is possible. But again, I do believe the far most likely path would be from Arabia through the Southern Ocean.