Source:Echoes:Ch5:23:Old world Bountiful

Table of Contents

S. Kent Brown: Lehi's desert journey: Old World Bountiful

S. Kent Brown:

There is only one area along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula that matches botanically Nephi's description of Bountiful as a place of abundant fruit, wild honey,[1] and timbers (see 1 Nephi 17:5–6; 1 Nephi 18:1–2, 1 Nephi 18:6). It is the Dhofar region of southern Oman. The summer monsoon rains turn the area into a green garden. In addition, one finds small deposits of iron ore there from which Nephi could have made his tools for building the ship that would carry the party to the New World. There is no way that Joseph Smith could have known these facts.

Although one must view attempts to tie Bountiful to a specific locale in Dhofar with deep caution, Latter-day Saint writers have rightly pointed to this area as the probable general region where the party of Lehi and Sariah emerged from the desert.[2] It is almost as if one can hear party members singing in Nephi's narrative when he writes of their escape from the harsh desert into an area teeming with fruit: "We did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and . . . we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore" (1 Nephi 17:5–6).[3] At long last, the group had escaped the grasp of the living death of desert famine.[4]

Notes

  1. Brown notes "That domesticated honey—different from wild honey—was available along the south coast of Arabia is recorded by Strabo, quoting Eratosthenes (ca. 275–194 BC) (cited in Groom, Frankincense and Myrrh, 64). But it is impossible that Joseph Smith could have known this."
  2. Brown: "Hugh Nibley was the first to point to Dhofar, "a paradise in the Qara Mountains on the southern coast of Arabia" (Lehi in the Desert, 109–12; the quotation is from p. 109). The Hiltons sought to narrow the locale of Bountiful to the area of the city of Salalah (In Search of Lehi's Trail, 40–41, 105–16), while the Astons argue for Wadi Sayq, almost fifty miles west of Salalah (In the Footsteps of Lehi, 43ff.). Paul Hedengren points to southeastern Oman, without being more specific (The Land of Lehi [Provo, Utah: Bradford and Wilson, 1995], 10–15). Potter and Wellington argue for Khor Rori (Discovering the Lehi-Nephi Trail, 209–12, 225–54). "
  3. Brown: "Bertram Thomas similarly relates his deep relief and joy at seeing the greenery and the sea at Dhofar after a trip through the desert of only a few weeks (Arabia Felix, 48–49)."
  4. S. Kent Brown, "New Light from Arabia on Lehi's Trail," in Echoes and Evidences of the Book of Mormon, edited by Donald W. Parry, Daniel C. Peterson, and John W. Welch, (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 2002), Chapter 5, references silently removed—consult original for citations.