Journey Toward the Promised Land | Come Follow Me Week #5 | 1 Nephi 16 - 22

This is an excerpt from Discovering Lehi. You may also enjoy 600 BC: The Departure of Lehi - A Landmark of Time.

Critics of The Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith have yet to answer the fact that he revealed truths to the world which were unknown in 1830. A prime example is the location of a place called Bountiful described in 1 Nephi 17:7, a place where Nephi and his brothers could have built the ship to cross the ocean to America, a fertile valley, abounding in vegetation, adjacent to a great desert, but on the sea coast and located East of “Nahom.” 

Johann Burkhart’s Writings 

The geography of Saudia Arabia was mostly still shrouded in mystery in 1830. The first serious visitor in modern times was Johann Burkhart who managed to write and publish in England his 1812 – 1813 adventures of discovery in Africa and southern and northern Arabia. However he never reached southeastern Arabia, nor did he describe any place he visited where there existed flowers, fruits, honeybees, streams or a forest large enough to provide timber for building a ship. In fact, his descriptions of the places he saw in the peninsula would lend one to believe that only sand and desolate wasteland, controlled by warring Bedouin tribes, existed. 

Burkhart embraced Islam just to survive. Distrust and hatred of Christians since the time of the abortive crusades in the 11th to 13th centuries had made the area off-limits except to the bravest travelers. 


Besides his interesting work on such things as the appropriateness to Arab culture of Book of Mormon names and poetic expressions, Doctor Hugh Nibley made important suggestions about the route: that Lehi was obviously familiar with desert travel and therefore knew the main caravan routes; and that he most likely followed one of those down the Wadi al-Araba to the Red Sea at al-Aqaba, then along the eastern Red Sea coast to the town of “NAH’M (Nahom),” later found to be on the fifteenth parallel of north latitude, where Lehi would have had to make the turn east, as reported in 1 Nephi 17:1, to reach the fertile Qara mountains on the seacoast. 

The Land Bountiful

The trail, actually a line of ancient hand-dug water wells which necessity dictated they must follow, turned “nearly eastward” near the 15th parallel, North latitude and terminated in a well-watered, verdant “Shangri-la” of gardens, palm trees, fruits, flowers, honeybees and animal life on the shores of the Arabian Sea over 700 miles away at Dhufar, Oman (Bountiful). From the shore, countless Arab sailors before and after Lehi had braved the hazards of the ocean in boats and ship, planks tied together with coconut fibers. The stately jumaise (sycamore-fig) tree grew in abundance only in this area of Arabia and no other. May of the sailors had reached India and in later centuries even China. 

Inland twenty miles from the fertile coastal area of Dhufar, the well-protected, almost secret groves of bush-sized frankincense trees grew, the reason for the trail’s existence. The tiny spot, unknown to the western world in 1830, is the only place on the Arabian peninsula that, because it receives the rain of the annual monsoons blowing across the Indian Ocean, where they release their latent fertility, could be properly called Bountiful.

This is an excerpt from Discovering Lehi. You may also enjoy 600 BC: The Departure of Lehi - A Landmark of Time.