Thursday, April 12, 2012

Divine Forethought—“All these things were prepared of the Lord”

In 2344 B.C., Noah stepped aboard his Ark, shut and sealed the door, and waited for the rains to flood the earth. When the flood waters came, the entire earth was covered with water, 15 cubits above the tallest mountains (Genesis 7:20). “And, behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all flesh, wherein is the breath of life, from under heaven; and every thing that is in the earth shall die” (Genesis 6:17). In fact, everything did die (7:21-23).

Noah and his family left the Ark in 2343 B.C., settling in or around Mespotamia. There, for the next two hundred years, man settled and spread out. But humanity seemed to occupy the area of Mesopotamia now known as Iraq and eastern Syria. Here the tower of Babel was built, the city of Babyon established and the empire of Nimrod launched. This enterprise lasted for some time before the Lord intervened. At that time, during the confounding of tongues and the dispersal of those working in Babylon, the Jaredites left, after gathering “together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families” (Ether 1:41).

When the Jaredites reached the “great sea which divideth the lands” they settled down and “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), they had with them animals of every kind, including birds, bees, and fish. They were in “that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). Thus, the animals, birds, bees, and fish they brought would have been the first in that area, certainly since the Flood about two hundred years earlier.

They spent four years at this seashore site, during which time their animals, birds, bees, and fish would have multiplied into very large numbers. Obviously, after four years, when they entered the barges they built, there would not have been room for every animal, bird, bee or fish brought with them. And just as obviously, much of these would have been left behind.

Also, some of the “seed of the earth of every kind” they brought with them would have been planted and harvested during the four years at this area they called Moriancumer, in order to live while they rested up, then later built the eight barges. And just as obviously, these plants would have included fruit trees, since they had such later (Ether 17:9), and some of these would have been left behind when they boarded the barges.

There are numerous varieties of wild fruit, including wild apples, rose hips, bananas, berries, etc. Upper Left: Wild Green Fruit tree; Upper Right: Wild Crabapple tree; Lower Left: Assortment of Wild Berries; Lower Right: Wild Pomegranate

Before there was refrigerated rail and truck transport, practically every farm and small community had fruit orchards; however, fresh fruit could not be easily transported over distances. Most of these small to medium sized orchards are long since gone—victims of industrialization, improved shipping techniques, and huge scale commercial farming. Today, these old orchards of long ago cultivated trees, can be found growing wild and still producing fruit. These include Apples and Pears, which are the most common, but also cherries, peaches, and plums as well.

There are also numerous fruits that have always grown wild—such as papaw (paw paw) which is often hidden under a canopy of trees in the wild, supposedly first discovered by Hernando DeSoto in 1504. Others are shown here in the above and following pictures. Many more types of wild fruit grow in certain areas completely unattended, unwatered, and uncultivated—occuring naturally in nature.

Left: Wild Grape Tree; Center: Wild Persimmon Tree; Right: Wild Jack Fruit

1500 years after the Jaredites, when the Lehi Colony reached the shore of the sea they called Irreantum, they found a land so filled with bounty, they called it Bountiful. In fact, the Lehi Colony “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” (1 Nephi 17:5).

Now, someone planted those fruit trees after the Flood and brought bees to the area on the other side of the Rub’ al Khali, or Empty Quarter, one of the largest sand deserts in the world, encompassing one third of the Arabian Peninsula, covering some 250,000 square miles. Obviously, once planted and left on their own, these plants became wild, some surviving and some not. Fruit trees and plants, that is wild fruit, survives and reproduces in real nature—the wild. This wild, natural fruit is stronger than cultivated fruit. This wild fruit is pollinated by natural means, native insects, wind, birds, etc., and the plants bloom and fruit according to natural conditions and seasons. Some of these fruits are biennial—heavy crop one year light crop the next, and grows acording to natural seasonal cycle. This idea of a permculture, which is a natural biological ecosystem consisting of all the living organisms or biotic components in a particular area and the nonliving or abiotic component with which the organisms interact, such as air, mineral soil, water and sunlight, is being investigated today as a means to increase world food production.

Consequently, when Nephi wrote that the land Bountiful had been prepared with much fruit, the only explanation is that someone planted it. And since this area of the southern Arabian coast had not yet been occupied when the Lehi Colony arrived (the first settlements are believed to have begun in 400 B.C.), Nephi’s comment that it “all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5) seems quite clear. It was the Lord that led someone to this area and had them plant trees, bring honey bees (not natural to southern Arabia, but in 600 B.C., plentiful in the area of Khor Rori.) “And we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit and honey” (1 Nephi 17:6).

Today, the Salalah coastal plain is the only place in Arabia where a wide variety of fruit trees grow. It is the only place in southern Arabia where wild honey bees are found in great quantities and wild honey can be harvested from the many caves where the bees built their hives. In 600 B.C., these fruit trees had to have been wild fruit trees as indicated above, needing no tending, but subsisting on the seasonal weather which, in Salalah, has the monsoons which water this coastal region continually.

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