Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VII – The Animals and Plants Left Behind

In Moroni’s abridgement of the Ether record, we are not told much about the four years the Jaredites spent after arriving at the Great Sea that separated the land. All that is said is the Lord called Ether to repentance after four years because he had not called “upon the name of the Lord” (Ether 2:13). 
    Whether or not the Jaredites thought this seashore was the Land of Promise we are not told, but if they did, it is certainly understandable, for no nicer land could be found anywhere from Mesopotamia to the sea, across the 2500 miles they had traveled. The fact that the Brother of Jared ceased his praying for the Lord's help and guidance suggests that he thought they had reached their final destination.
The Garbeeb along the shore of Salalah, stretching several miles in a cup-shaped Plain with the coastal shore to the south and the mountains to the north
    Along this pristine, beautiful Plain running laterally to the coast they remained for four years. Finally, the Lord became impatient with the Brother of Jared and called him into the mountains for a three-hour chastising interview (Ether 2:14-15).
    This coastal plain seems the obvious location for building the Jaredite barges, with the Baobab Wood Forest a short distance away, plenty of fresh sweet water in the khor of this protected harbor, and the lush, green mountains above.
    The fresh water inlet at Khor Rori also seems like the obvious location for access of both ships and barges from a construction point to launching into the sea. The hills above this plain are green year round, even when the plain is dry and brown along this area.
Hills above Khor Rori. Note the water inlet (red arrow) of the khor, a deep creek that flows across the Garbeeb and into the hills, dropping from the hanging valley above and the Dirbat Wadi
    Between the sea and the mountains and above the khor is the Wadi Dirbat, which is a wide valley, larger than other wadis in the area, and has both a lake and a stream, the latter providing sweet water that runs down off the hills that eventually mix with seawater in the mouth of Khor Rori. 
The Dirbat Valley above Khor Rori with the wadi full during khareef and flowing year round into the khor below
    There are some who have suggested that the Nephites later were led to another area than this Khor Rori, to a place some 60 miles to the west along the coast, however, in the economy of the Lord, it is most likely that the Jaredites were led to the same place Lehi would arrive some 1500 years later. There are several reasons for this:
    1. During the four years the Lord allowed the Jaredites to leisurely spend along the seashore they would have planted some “of the seeds of the earth of every kind” (Ether 1:41) they brought with them, which would have grown into plants and crops, trees and fruit, for their sustenance. Some of these trees and crops would have survived after they left, since many domesticated plants can grow in the wild.
    2. The Jaredites “did carry with them swarms of bees” (Ether 2:3), and during those years the bees would have multiplied through the laying of eggs and hatching, as well as “swarming,” the latter where the hive splits into two parts where some fifty-percent or more of the old hive leave with the queen bee and start a new hive. These bees, brought from Mesopotamia, would have been mature bees to begin with and such swarming would have no doubt taken place during the years along the seashore. Some of these would have reproduced within the many caves, savannahs, valleys and mountains along the shore and inland in the area of present day Salalah, and would have remained behind when the Jaredites packed their barges and left.
Each year in wild beehives after numerous queen bees are hatched, several will swarm, that is leave the hive and create a new one, choosing any suitable location, including trees, caves, cliffsides, crevices or holes in rock or tree trunks 
    3. Trees and plants had time over four or five years to mature, drop seeds, and produce numerous trees and plants that produced fruit that, left in the wild, would have continued to grow. Many once domesticated plants, left on their own, have survived for centuries, producing all types of fruit and wild nuts, as well as vines of numerous varieties of berries. In addition, there are those trees and plants that naturally grow wild and need no care.
    4. The multiplying of animals during the four years at the seashore and the year or so building the barges and preparing to leave for the Land of Promise would have resulted in far more animals than could be transported to the new land, necessitating leaving numerous ones behind.
    It is interesting that centuries later, when Lehi reached this shore, he called the sea Irreantum, and the land “Bountiful.” As Nephi wrote: “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” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    Obviously, Nephi understood this when he said, they had been prepared of the Lord that they might not perish. Who would have prepared them? The area of Khor Rori and Salalah, contrary to some writer’s opinions, have been shown through both history and archaeology not to have been occupied prior to 500 B.C. at the very earliest, and more likely 400 to 300 B.C. based on actual findings at the site (Juris Zarins, The Land of Incense, Sultanate of Oman: Sultan Qaboos University Publications, Al Nahda Printing Press, 2001, pp 64, 76, 154).
    Thus, the only people we know were there with animals, bees, and seeds of every kind, after the Flood were the Jaredites. So let’s take a look at these all-important descriptive things that needed to have been left behind by the Jaredites for the survival of the Lehi Colony when they arrived.
    1. Plants and Crops. When Lehi arrived, they found “much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:5). There are many crops and trees that grow naturally and wild in this area of Salalah that has a climate that fosters such growth.
Fruits of Salalah: Top LtoR: Zizipuhus Jujube; Cucumis Melon; Perrottet Cordia; and Papaya; Bottom LtoR: Bananas; Lufah; Dates; Tree Grapes; and Jack Fruit
    It is also interesting that just a few miles in any land direction is one of the world’s largest and driest deserts where trees and edible plants do not grow, and few living things exist. Yet, in this small strip of land along the Gerbeeb is a veritable paradise where fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. In fact, Salalah is not only known for its exported crops and fruits, but fruit stands can be found along almost any street today.
Everywhere you go in the Salalah area along the Gerbeeb are fruit stands selling a wide variety of fruits both that have grown in the wild and cultivated on modern plantations
    The most obvious fruit to be found anywhere in the region would be palm trees with their date fruit. Date Palm trees are one of the Middle East’s most ancient fruit trees—remains have been found from 4,000 B.C. Date palms love the heat and grow well in desert oases.  There is a proverb that the ‘date tree has it’s head in the fire [sun] and it’s feet [roots] in water’.  The palm tree or palm branches are mentioned 45 times in the Bible. In Mesopotamia, the trunk was used for fences, rafts and boats, and fuel.  The long six to ten feet leaves were woven into mats, baskets, and roof thatch and were one of the four “kinds” used at the festival of Succoth (Leviticus 23:40). 
    The branches were also “waved” to acknowledge and greet important people, such as Jesus (John 12:12–13). The date palm was used as a decorative motif in Solomon’s Temple, in Synagogue decoration, and on coins (as an emblem of victory). The Romans used the date palm as a symbol of the captured province of Judah after their victory over the Jews in A.D. 70.
Psalm 92:12–14 states: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.  They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green.”
    By the time Lehi arrived at Bountiful, all in his party would have been familiar with the date palm and its fruit, especially since it grows on the trees in such abundance.
Dates are believed to have originated around Iraq (ancient Babylonia and Mesopotamia), and have been cultivated there for thousands of years, are wind pollinated and can exist in the wild without cultivation for millennia
(See the next post, “Jaredite Direction of Travel – Part VIII – The Animals and Plants Left Behind – Part II,” for more on what the Jaredites left behind that provided for the Nephites when they arrived centuries later)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, nice post!

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