Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The River of Filthy Water in Lehi's Dream, and Perhaps in His Personal Experience

In Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8, he saw a river of water flowing by the great and spacious building, and saw that many drowned in it as they left the straight and narrow path and wandered into forbidden paths. Nephi later sees a version of this dream in 1 Nephi 11 and 12, where he shares a detail in 1 Nephi 12:16 that he did not record in 1 Nephi 8:  "And the angel spake unto me, saying: Behold the fountain of filthy water which thy father saw; yea, even the river of which he spake; and the depths thereof are the depths of hell."

This vision with a deadly river of filthy water occurred while Lehi and his family dwelt in the Valley of Lemuel (1 Nephi 9:1), a place with a river of pure water that Lehi named the River Laman, a miraculous place for which a fabulous candidate has been discovered in Wadi Tayyib al-Ism, a site first discovered by George Potter and buttressed as a candidate with further exploration of Warren Aston, as I discussed in a recent post.

Now Warren Aston has kindly pointed out that the Google Maps page for user-provided content on that location shows an interesting video recently posted in Dec. 2019 showing what can happen to the small stream/river that flows continually in the great Valley of Lemuel candidate after there has been rain elsewhere. If that link doesn't show a video, try this. At the moment, I don't see a way to display the video directly here, but it's impressive. A terrifying flood of filthy water clearly rich in dirt and sand is sweeping through the peaceful wadi and carrying everything in its path straight into the Red Sea. Lehi, who may have spent many months if not years in this incredible and habitable place that is still uninhabited to this day as it was in his, may have experienced first hand just how deadly a river of filthy water can be.

Here's a thumbnail of one frame of the video:

Portion of a video recording a Dec 2019 flood at Wadi Tayyib al-Ism,
a solid candidate for the Valley of Lemuel in the Book of Mormon.

Here's a view from a few seconds later, pretty much the same:

Another screen shot.


Many thanks to Warren Aston for sharing this interesting find.



52 comments:

Anonymous said...

Flash floods like this are common in arid regions all over the world.

— OK

Randy Robin said...

As they say, " A picture (or, better yet, a video!) is worth a thousand words." Thanks for sharing!

Jeff Lindsay said...

Yes, flash floods in arid regions happen in many arid regions, Utah included. The interesting thing is the location, an impressive valley with a continually flowing river of water (long said by our critics to be ridiculous and impossible) in just the right place to align with the Valley of Lemuel. That's the cool thing. The fact that it's in a place that can also turn into a dangerous river of "filthy water" just adds a little color to Lehi's dream that he shared with his family in this location.

Anonymous said...

Also incredible that Joseph Smith Sr would actually sell this very same story along with blessings to passersby. And that there was a canal and several rivers nearby where the Smiths lived. Really makes you think, eh?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon, is your point that Joseph got the idea for the River Laman, a seemingly impossible continually flowing river/stream in the Arabian Peninsula in just the right location (3 days travel by camel south from the northern tip of the Golf of Aqaba), by looking at the Erie Canal or local rivers? Can you flesh out that theory a little more because from my vantage point, it seems to completely miss the point of what the River of Laman is and how significant Wadi Tayyib al-Ism is. You realize that Arabia is not upstate New York and that the presence of rivers or canals in New York gives no guidance about the geography of Arabia, right? Or am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

I would encourage everyone to look at google maps and see this “river” in for themselves. Appears pretty dry to me.
Wadi Tayyib Al Ism
49753, Saudi Arabia
https://goo.gl/maps/AurVHKUytdBZsuXZ7

Anonymous said...

Also, according to google maps, this wadi is 452 km from Jerusalem, which is 280 miles. That’s 93 miles per day—quite a clip, especially with no roads.

Anonymous said...

seems about right for camel travel, thanks for confirming the distance:

"These camels can travel 80 to 120 miles per day carrying a rider."

http://www.allsinai.info/sites/fauna/camel.htm

Steve

Anonymous said...

A camel train carrying tents, supplies, etc. would more likely travel closer to foot speed, at least according to Wikipedia: https ://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camel_train

— OK

Anonymous said...

Steve,

You forgot to include the info just before your quote. Your quote in context is:

“The name ‘Dromedary’ is properly reserved for the Arabian racing camel such as those used in the various military camel corps. These camels can travel 80 to 120 miles per day carrying a rider.”

Note they mention in that article as well that “Arabian baggage camels are heavier build and capable of carrying a 200 kg load up to 40 miles per day.”

Also note that when Lehi “had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water.” They were carrying baggage in addition to riders. They’d be going much slower than “racing camels” that were “carrying a [lone] rider.”

Anonymous said...

Note also that there were multiple tents—and these aren’t lightweight backpacking tents. When Nephi and his brothers return for the plates: “And I, Nephi, and my brethren took our journey in the wilderness, with our tents, to go up to the land of Jerusalem.”

JoePeaceman said...

Great post Jeff.
Ok, the travel wasn’t necessarily 3 days from Jerusalem, but 3 days in the wilderness after they were near the Red Sea. Then, interestingly, they pitched their tents. Remember they were on the run from critics 😊.
“... departed into the wilderness … And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness...when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent”

So, gonna have to side with Jeff again, sorry, keep hoping I can agree with you so i can appear to be open minded but I don’t wanna sacrifice integrity. Maybe you could try opening up to new ideas 😊

Anonymous said...

Joe, I said nothing about the distance traveled by Lehi. Why are you addressing your argument to me?

—OK

JoePeaceman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JoePeaceman said...

I see, so you were simply commenting on speed so we’d all know they could have walked for 3 days in the area and arrived at the valley and river as the BofM indicates. 😊😊👍🏼So I CAN agree with you! Yay.

Also, Jeff makes an excellent point about the filthy river. As we’ve discussed, the Lord tends to work through the culture and minds of humans. If I remember correctly, JS Sr. had a tree of life dream with a rope etc. helping guide. The symbols were at home in 19th C America. Nephi and Lehi’s dream with: iron rod, chasm, desert waste, cultivated field, white virgin tree, etc. was at home in the ancient Middle East.
Interestingly, the Mayan Tree of Life is far more like Lehi’s than JS Sr.’s. Thus adding to the evidence for cultural contacts.

JoePeaceman said...

Oh, did I forget to mention the river...😂.
In Nephi’s dream there is a pure river and also a filthy raging river, as Jeff noted. Most of darkness arise (perhaps from a raging storm) and the river is raging, sweeping death down to the underworld. I don’t think Joseph Sr. had this combo, but, of course, you guessed it....the Maya do.

Anonymous said...

Joe please do us all a favor and explain the ending of your 8:05 comment. What are you implying?

Anonymous said...

Joe,

If you reread the verses carefully, you’ll note that the cumulative journey in the wilderness was stated to be 3 days. We’re told Lehi then pitched his tent in a valley.

Anonymous said...

“the river is raging”

This detail brought to you by Joe Peaceman (a detail not found in the BoM).

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Joe. Go on about the Mayans. I'd like to hear what you have to say and then compare it to what your church now says in the essays on their website that the members don't seem to care about. Have you read them?

Anonymous said...

Only an idiot would fall for Jeff's manipulative follow up questions. Way to talk down to people, Brother Lindsay. Have you noticed it's getting harder for you to control the conversation with this tactic? Most just move right on and keep shoveling on the evidence against your claims without even bothering to entertain your lame attempts at manipulation. We can see through it.
Lots of cultures have tree of life stories. Look it up.
Joseph Smith, Sr. told the exact story of this vision around the dinner table long before Joseph Jr put it in a book. Look it up.
It's obvious where all of this really came from: Joseph (AND OTHERS) imaginations and collective anecdotes and sources. The only other excuse (it's ALL a convenient miracle!) is less and less believable the more you examine the actual details recorded and available at the time.
Go ahead and ask some ad-hominem, disingenuous follow up questions now, Jeff. I'll get back to you on them as soon as I can.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Ad hominem? You said that Joseph got the idea for the River Laman from the Erie Canal or local rivers. I didn't say anything offensive about your background, heritage, politics, or whatever -- you're being totally anonymous here, so I'm only responding to the merits of your arguments, not to whoever or whatever you are. To point out that your argument is weak is not an ad hominem attack, even if it makes you feel bad. Ad hominem attacks are about calling people names rather than confronting the merits of an argument. But I'm only criticizing the lack of merit in your suggestion that Joseph got the River Laman from the Erie Canal. It's a ridiculous notion -- but I did not say you are a bad person, a ridiculous person, a Climate Denier, a pagan, or anything else.

Please note that the evidence that makes the candidate for the River Laman so interesting isn't that it's just a generic river that everyone has seen, but a river in a specific place that our critics for decades have said doesn't have rivers and thus could not exist -- but there it is. It's small, but has been verified to flow all year round and has fruit and other plants growing in its valley. It's 3 days south of the beginning of the Gulf of Aqaba. The way this place was found was by following the directions of 1 Nephi 2, which George Potter and others interpreted to mean three days after they began traveling in the wilderness near the Red Sea, not three days from Jerusalem.

1 Nephi 2:5,6 tell us that after Lehi left Jerusalem to travel in the wilderness, he then "came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness with his family... And it came to pass that when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent in a valley by the side of a river of water."

There is ambiguity here in his meaning (is he counting the travel in the wilderness in vs. 6 relative to the immediately mentioned travel in the wilderness near the Red Sea, or back to the earlier departure from Jerusalem into the wilderness? Taking it as a three-day count from the encounter with the Red Sea mentioned just before his three day reference, as Potter did, and using conventional camel speed with full days, then we have a roughly 75-mile journey distance to reach the Valley of Lemuel from the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba, which works out quite well. I suppose it would be even easier (requiring a slower pace) if the three day count began when they began traveling in the borders/mountains "nearer" the Red Sea. In any case, three days from Jerusalem would be too far. Potter's plausible reading of Nephi's record allows Lehi to reach the River of Laman.

Yes, there were probably more than one tent and tents aren't light. There was also food and supplies. But a pack of camels can carry burdens and people on journeys into the wilderness without any impossible-to-overcome problems, and the seemingly impossible river can actually be reached without having to scale cliffs or anything else except roll down the right wadi as a detour on a plausible and not unusually difficult trip. And it meets multiple criteria from the text for this miraculous, still uninhabited place. The river is small and you may not see it from Google Maps -- it was long thought that no such stream existed in northwestern Arabia. But the field work has been done with ample video and photographic footage, including some shots Aston adds in the publication I cite in this post. It's there.

By the way, Potter observed that Lehi's travel near the "borders" might refer to the mountainous region around the Red Sea, given that the Hebrew cognate for "border" in Arabic means "mountain". A possibility. The River Laman is certainly near the borders and mountains of the Red Sea in any case with its massive 1000-foot granite cliffs rising steeply from near sea level.

Anonymous said...

Verse 2–commanded to depart into the wilderness

Verse 4–he departed into the wilderness (repeated twice)

Verse 5–he’s in the wilderness (already departed twice in verse 4), then we have a repetitive description of where he traveled (much like the repetition of his departure): borders near the shore of the Red Sea, which is the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea, and he traveled in the wilderness with his family. All of this occurred after he departed into the wilderness in verse 4.

Verse 6–he pitches his tent after “he had traveled three days in the wilderness.”

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK, the Wikipedia article refers to some long distance treks with camels across Mongolia noting that the pace was typically from 10 to 25 miles per day. But it then notes that with fresher camels and smaller loads (as in loads distributed across more camels), greater distances may be possible. Lehi's was likely using fresh camels upon leaving Jerusalem. We don't know how loads were distributed, but even the long-distance Mongolian pace includes up to 25 miles per day, which is the figure Potter used in determining where the limits must be for a plausible Valley of Laman. But based on freshness of the camels and the possible urgency of Lehi's escape from his personal enemies from Jerusalem, it's likely that they were going relatively fast initially. 25 miles per day ought to count as plausible for a camel-powered escape.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Right, Anon @8:19, as mentioned, it's ambiguous, with two or three ways one can interpret the distance of the three-day's of travel in the wilderness (the most recently mentioned wilderness near the Red Sea, beginning with the Red Sea encounter, which works, or the slightly later journeying in wilderness in the border "nearer the Red Sea," or the general journey into the wilderness starting at Jeruslam). But a plausible reading of the 1 Nephi 2:6 of three days travel after the encounter with the Red Sea gives us a range of about 75 miles from the beginning of the Gulf of Aqaba to find the River Laman, and the incredible candidate for the very place predicted by the Book of Mormon is actually there. Doesn't that count for something? At least a lucky guess for Joseph? Or evidence at least that he had a really amazing secret map to guide his development of the Lehi's Trail project?

Really, if Joseph were just making things up based on the Erie Canal and other things in his environment, there would be no need for learned critics in 2020 to quibble about how to count the three days of travel before Lehi's encounter with an amazing and only recently discovered candidate for a place that nicely matches the Book of Mormon's description. A river in Arabia? No such thing. Fruit trees, grain, pure water flowing continually into the Red Sea? Absurd. And uninhabited, when it, like Bountiful, boasts a supply of the most previous resource in the region, water? Unthinkable. And yet there it is, still uninhabited, just as Khor Kharfot at Wadi Sayq is uninhabited to this day, in spite of its ample fresh water, fruit, trees, etc. If Joseph were making it up, there would be no candidates to quibble over. End of story. No need to nitpick about alternate readings to downplay the story -- it would only become more ridiculous as we learned more about Arabia, not more surprisingly impressive in multiple ways.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, we agree on the camel question. My disagreement was with Steve’s claim of 80-120 miles per day.

As for the rest of your argument: much of what you do here on Mormanity is to seek out a constellation of conditions under which the Book of Mormon might plausibly be seen as a literal history.

Hence you say, in essence, that if the three day journey begins at the sea coast rather than Jerusalem, and if “borders” means “mountains,” and if “river” refers to a tiny streamlet, and if “emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea” means “sank into the ground before reaching the Red Sea,” etc. — if all these things obtain, then we have a bulls-eye.

If, if, if if if if. Sure, the whole thing appears ludicrous on its face. But if a whole bunch of things happen to be true, then the book could be true. We see this all the time in LDS apologetics. If “horse” means “tapir,” if “east” and “west” mean “northeast” and “southwest,” etc. Always this attempt to torture the plain meaning of the words into conformity with the apologetical argument du jour.*

This sort of thing might or might not be good apologetics — it seems to me more likely to discredit the faith than otherwise— but it’s not scholarship. It’s straining to justify a foregone conclusion.

—OK

*FWIW, this procedure would be helped mightily if we had the text in the original language, or even if we knew what that original language was, but alas we do not. Or maybe I should say that many apologetic claims are enabled by the absence of an original, without which we can’t fully test them. Such a pity the plates were not left here on earth. But oh, how convenient!

Anonymous said...

Jeff,

As you likely know, traditionally, anything outside of the holy city of Jerusalem is considered wilderness, both figuratively and literally. Have you ever noticed that for most of your theories to work, we are required to make an extraordinary (but plausible!) reading of the text? Why is that? Are things just so hard to understand? Meanings are so difficult to convey?

As for guessing correctly, for Joseph, it was a pretty safe assumption that within three days journey there should be some tributary entering the enormous body of water of the Red sea--even in a desert. If there isn’t, then it just takes an apologist to make a “plausible reading” for it to work.

Which leads us to the thought that I’m not sure what your definition of river is? The trickle seen in pictures available on Google Maps would hardly be considered a river, even by someone in the desert. There is no water visible from the satellite pictures. Lehi makes a wish that Lemueul’s righteousness would be as that river spilling into the Red Sea. The trickle seen in the pictures would make the comparison a paltry one.

Anonymous said...

Just noticed OKs response. As per usual, he made my argument, only much more eloquently.

Anonymous said...

You’re assuming camels—a detail never mentioned in the entire account of Lehi’s exodus.

Anonymous said...

Jeff's big list of ifs.

Jay Wanless Southwick said...

Hundreds of photos posted to Google Maps by tourists of Wadi Tayyib al-Ism seem to show water flowing continuously into the Red Sea. The volume of water flow varies. This video shows that sometimes it is A LOT OF WATER.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Wadi+Tayyib+Al+Ism/@28.5598732,34.8021448,3a,75y,90t/data=!3m8!1e5!3m6!1sAF1QipNHTMhFXuTo5dmytLBlzECT6Fi85RW_XRt24809!2e10!3e10!6shttps:%2F%2Flh5.googleusercontent.com%2Fp%2FAF1QipNHTMhFXuTo5dmytLBlzECT6Fi85RW_XRt24809%3Dw203-h369-k-no!7i352!8i640!4m5!3m4!1s0x15ab3c3b5169300b:0xbb03a6a9811d6f60!8m2!3d28.5598732!4d34.8021448?hl=en

Anonymous said...

Anon @2:14 has effectively nailed this coffin shut once and for all. Unless the apologists are demanding ground they'd NEVER give another. Case closed. Next idea, Jeff?

And Jay, you should look up basic information on the life of river systems. There's no self-respecting scientist who would dare claim we can learn a darn thing about a river's course hundreds of years ago merely from the satellite imagery of today. Just look at how the Mississippi has changed course over the last 150 years. You'd NEVER know it to look at it from space. Go ahead and try to prove me wrong. It'll be a waste of your time. Especially since the complete lack of camels to begin with effectively shuts this whole dumb argument right down.

And Jeff, regarding your insufferable wall of responses: I skipped those. Not worth my time for your nonsense, what with all the camels you're straining at.

Anonymous said...

Actually, supposed "apologist" give up massive ground all the time. That is exactly why they are so bent on finding obscure items to demand ground back.

Anyone that insists the Lamanites are not the principal ancestors of the Native Americans, is a "critic". That makes everyone a critic.

Anonymous said...

Jeff has long declared dearly held LDS beliefs as errant, making Jeff a massive critic. China declared they will change, but at their own pace, not overnight the way the soviet union collapsed. For some, the change movement of MLK was not fast enough and they favored the more radical calls of Malcolm X. Jeff is a critic that attacks those that favor a more immediate acceptance of truth, calling them "critics" with a derisive tone. It is just more the un-Christlike hate he struggles with.

Anonymous said...

Have yet to see one with the sea and water flowing into it. Not saying it doesn’t happen but it seems uncommon. Based on the pictures, it appears the water sinks back into the ground before it gets too far.

Anonymous said...

Dromedary is the type of camel found on the Arabian peninsula and in Somalia. It is not a camel reserved for racing. The camel has 4 speeds; walk, jog, fast run, and canter. The most common speed for this camel is jog which it can do at a speed of 5 - 7.5 mph. This speed falls within the range of the distance from Jerusalem to the proposed river / valley site:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dromedary

Steve

Anonymous said...

Obstinacy seems to be a common trait of the North American blog poster named Steve.

Even a 10 hour day at 7.5mph would still leave you well short of the per day requirement.

We’ve already established that, if camels were used (it’s merely an assumption as the BoM makes no mention of them), they had to have carried loads as well as riders (tents, supplies, etc—details that were mentioned in the BoM). The speeds you are referring to are camels carrying riders only. Below are more realistic figures based on loads being carried, not just people. Note the source references your preferred dromedary and its ability to carry a load:

“Short bursts of 65 km (40 miles) per hour are possible, but camels are excellent plodders. Bactrian camels can carry more than 200 kg (about 440 pounds) for 50 km (31 miles) in a day, while the more lightly built dromedaries can carry up to 100 kg (about 220 pounds) for 60 km (about 37 miles) if they are worked in the coolness of night.”

https://www.britannica.com/animal/camel

Jeff Lindsay said...

OK writes, "Hence you say, in essence, that if the three day journey begins at the sea coast rather than Jerusalem, and if “borders” means “mountains,” and if “river” refers to a tiny streamlet, and if “emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea” means “sank into the ground before reaching the Red Sea,” etc. — if all these things obtain, then we have a bulls-eye. If, if, if if if if."

Sigh. OK, I know you are compelled to object to all things LDS, but I hope you'll step back and reconsider what you are saying, You are missing some very basic things. In fact, OK, your argument is seriously quite iffy.

A Semitic relationship between "borders" and "mountains" is not needed for the River Laman to be significant evidence for authenticity of the text. It's an interesting side issue that, IF correct, adds some further granularity to the text. But our more vague concept of "borders" works as well.

"If a river could mean a stream" is not an if, but a certainty. A common Hebrew word for "river" also means "stream": Strong's H5104, nahar. Even for English speakers, one should be able to imagine that in a dessert nation where water is rare, what we North Americans might call a stream can do just fine as a river. Even Utah's River Jordan is a mere stream in states where moisture is more plentiful.

The flowing into the fountain of the Red Sea for a stream descending into the earth adjacent to the Red Sea is not needed for the argument either, but is a subtlety that may add further granularity and interest. Given that the area is likely dryer than it was in the past and that the water now is already being partially diverted, it's likely that the stream was stronger in the past and could have gone further. Whether directly flowing into the Red Sea or disappearing into its shore or adjacent terrain, it's clear it flows into the Red Sea/ fountain of the Red Sea. There's no problem. No if's, and's or but's.

Jeff Lindsay said...

There is one "if" and that involves interpreting what Nephi means regarding the three day's journey. Describing the distance as three days from the mention of the Red Sea encounter is reasonable. If so (yes, an if!), then there is an absolutely amazing recent find that not only fits the physical description of the Valley Lemuel and River Laman, but also can be found by following Nephi's directions and making the only reasonable assumption that travel by camels is intended (surely they aren't carrying their tends by hand!). That's got to be interesting, even if there's an if, wouldn't you say?

Anonymous said...

Jeff writes, subtly misquoting me, "If a river could mean a stream" is not an if, but a certainty. A common Hebrew word for "river" also means "stream": Strong's H5104, nahar. Even for English speakers, one should be able to imagine that in a dessert nation where water is rare, what we North Americans might call a stream can do just fine as a river. Even Utah's River Jordan is a mere stream in states where moisture is more plentiful.*

Anyone who looks at my original reply above will see that this is not about whether "river" can mean "stream," it's about whether it can mean "a tiny streamlet," a trickle of water that the photos suggest can typically be hopped across without wetting one's feet.

I hate to keep harping on the convenient absence of any original-language Book of Mormon text, but Jeff's argument about the Hebrew nahar would be more convincing if we knew the book was actually written in Hebrew, rather than the "language of [Nephi's] father, which consists of the learning of the Jews and the language of the Egyptians," whatever the heck that is.

Also, everyone should remember that, in situations where this sort of semantic argument works against BoM authenticity, Jeff would be perfectly willing to say it doesn't matter. The rules of LDS apologetics would allow him to say the spirit was instructing Joseph to use an English term that, while inappropriate to an ancient context, would make more sense to his 19th-century American readers, who lived "where moisture is more plentiful." Loose translation is always on call for those cases where tight translation fails, and vice versa. LDS apologists have a keen understanding of the advantages of a flexible methodology.

--- OK

Anonymous said...

making the only reasonable assumption that travel by camels is intended (surely they aren't carrying their tends by hand!).“

The only reasonable assumption? There was another common load bearing animal available that gets even worse mileage than the camel:

21 And Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab.
22 And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him.
23 And the ass saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and the ass turned aside out of the way, and went into the field: and Balaam smote the ass, to turn her into the way.
24 But the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.
25 And when the ass saw the angel of the Lord, she thrust herself unto the wall, and crushed Balaam’s foot against the wall: and he smote her again.

Seems there’s another plausible reading in play. . .

Jeff Lindsay said...

Thanks, that's a good reminder that there are other pack animals that theoretically could have been considered. Donkeys were certainly used for some journeys and some work in the ancient Near East. However, for long-distance travel through the dessert, the camel seems to be the necessary or at least wisest choice (camels can travel much further on less water than donkeys, and can carry heavy loads and move fast). Arguably still the only plausible choice for survival along such a long trail through the desert, but certainly not the "only plausible choice" for a generic trip outside of Jerusalem.

Joe said...


Hi friends, didn’t intend to carry on here but was just reading about the visions, etc. Lehi had in the Valley of Lemuel and I showed the kiddos the video that Jeff linked, and wow! So cool to see the filthy river, helped bring the vision to life.

...last I checked it seemed anonymouses were trying to change subjects, and asking for explanations they can find themselves :), no offense…then the “if” thing, etc. And, while I have so much going on, I decided my anonymous friends need another chance at repentance :).
We all have our if’s. The question is which are more plausible? And what are the roots?
Jeff has, again, soundly demonstrated plausibility.

Critics have insisted the BofM isn’t true, and that they determine this by evidence, yet, as near as I can tell, all of their evidence is rooted in the assumption that Jesus doesn’t do anything today, or at least, would not speak to a 19C farm-boy with the common name Joseph who used the Urim and Thummim, etc.

It seems to me that the “if” of of the faithful tends to be associated with an implied logical sentence such as “there is evidence that horses existed, or feasibly existed in the Americas during BofM times (several sources including Canadian Geographic, Horse Talk, etc.) however, “IF” that were to be proven false (technically impossible but still...there’s an ‘if critics are finally right about an assumption’’), THEN the BofM horse could logically have been another animal.” (And, much to the chagrin (evidenced by the mocking) of critics, Mike Ash has given evidence that tapirs were plausibly referred to as “horses” by immigrants).

Or, for another example: critics claim that the BofM was influenced by a tree of life dream that Joseph Senior had when JS Jun. was 5ish, and which Lucy Smith recorded about 15 years after the BofM was translated. Scholars point out that it’s more likely that the BofM influenced Lucy’s memory of Joseph Sr.’s dream BUT, even ‘IF’ it didn’t, the Lord could have easily given JS Sr. a dream similar to Lehi’s and, it’s interesting to note, that JS Sr.’s dream lacks the crucial Middle Eastern (and Native American) details which are provided in the BofM account. Once again, where did Joseph get the details?


As critics know (but still won’t acknowledge and only update their websites as a last resort to appear somewhat credible to adoring fans whom really don’t care), there are scores of these repentant anachronistic “IF’s” turned supportive (and, perhaps hundreds, if we count Hebrew and Mayan names; Laban’s steel; the ‘compass’; barley; elephants; Sidon and the precision of Middle Eastern and Mesoamerican geography (ups, downs, climate, locale, etc.); windows; glass; Nahom; Bountiful; DNA; East and West as Mesoamericans would mark them; etc. etc. etc. and on to: the River Laman…)

Joe said...

One of many false claims against the BofM (this one dating back to Joseph Smith’s day), is that the River Laman and Valley of Lemuel are anachronistic.

As Jeff has (again) kindly explained “Please note that the evidence that makes the candidate for the River Laman so interesting isn't that it's just a generic river that everyone has seen, but a river in a specific place that our critics for decades have said doesn't have rivers and thus could not exist -- but there it is. It's small, but has been verified to flow all year round... It's 3 days south of the beginning of the Gulf of Aqaba. The way this place was found was by following the directions of 1 Nephi 2...”


And, as our friend “OK” points out “...that if the three day journey begins at the sea coast rather than Jerusalem, and if “borders” means “mountains,” and if “river” refers to a tiny streamlet, and if “emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea” means “sank into the ground before reaching the Red Sea,” etc. — if all these things obtain, then we have a bulls-eye.


Jeff, again, kindly pointed out that the evidence doesn’t depend on ‘mountains” being borders etc. but those things are interesting evidence supporting the BofM and clarifies: “There is one "if" and that involves interpreting what Nephi means regarding the three day's journey."

OK insists on river size, so I'll leave that in, even though Jeff has reminded that the evidence indicates the area was wetter in Lehi’s day): “..not about whether "river" can mean "stream," it's about whether it can mean "a tiny streamlet," a trickle of water...”

Joe said...


IFs:

1- “...that if the three day journey begins at the sea coast rather than Jerusalem” Google maps places the valley and “river” within 29 hours walking distance from Eilat, which any honest and reasonable person could see fits with 5“And he came down by the borders near the shore of the Red Sea; and he traveled in the wilderness in the borders which are nearer the Red Sea; and he did travel in the wilderness...when he had traveled three days in the wilderness, he pitched his tent”in a valley by the side of a river of water….” This works if they entered from the west, it’s a few more hours to enter from the east, but it could easily be done in 3 days and an eastern entrance explains another detail, that Lehi could have pitched his tent by the river and then walked the 5K down and “saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain…”



2- “...if “borders” means “mountains,”-I don’t see how this relates, other than, as Jeff pointed out, an interesting detail. The BofM seems to associate border with seashore, the ideal starting spot even IF they entered from the valley of Lemuel from the east.

3- “ if “river” refers to a tiny streamlet,” the so called “tiny streamlet” of today is referred to as “The small river of Tayeb Al-Ism.” And, even IF it wasn't, Jeff has shown that water flow varies, and there has been much more water flow in the past. A web search supports this.

Also interesting that the river “head” is a spring, it swells with rainwater and is larger during wet years and wet seasons. I didn’t look into if the head (where it springs from the earth) is in the valley or near enough that it could affect Lehi’s dream. It would be especially cool IF his family were camped by it while Lehi had his vision. This would add additional BofM support, but isn’t necessary. : )


4- “ if “emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea” means “sank into the ground before reaching the Red Sea,” etc. — Jeff has shown that water flow varies, and there has been much more water flow in the past. But, even IF he didn’t, scholars have shown that the “fountain” of the Red Sea could have been referring to something underground, as in “the fountains of the great deep were broken up.” Also, it’s interesting that Nibley suggested Yamm might have been the word used for the fountain of the sea. Nephi sees MariYamm as a representation of the waters of life. Also, I may have mentioned that, IF the river was exactly as today, it doesn't always made it to the sea without discontinuity, thus, when Lehi "saw" this, he encouraged Laman to likewise continually flow into the sea.

...either way, IF or no IF, all of these ultimately "obtain" : ).

if all these things obtain, then we have a bulls-eye. So, I’ll add that to the list but, to be fair, it’s actually a bunch of ‘bulls-eyes.’



Critics IF’s: ; ), yes, Joseph got to translating the small plates and he was looking in his hat, and IF he needed more research, and IF he knew about Niebuhr and IF he quickly hobbled 400 miles (or 40 in critic’s “amazing feats of JS), and IF he or Oliver etc. checked it out without writing their names on the cover like others, and if Oliver or Emma or Martin etc. etc. didn’t notice him missing and still mortgaged, and IF Niebuhr actually mentioned the Valley and River along with Bountiful, the turn, etc. and Nahem, and IF JS switched up the spelling so they wouldn’t seem to miraculous, and IF on the way back he stumbled on a hill and town that would be named Alma someday, and IF he had a prophetic premonition that this would be known to be a male name someday, and IF, upon arrival at home, he read his Bible and decided the iron rod was the word that separates, and IF he knew that the Mayan language would someday be translated and they would have symbolism of the tree of life, and IF he then realized the BofM should take place in Mesoamerica but would continue to believe in the hemispheric model, and IF IF IF IF : ).....

Joe said...

Some notes:

On maps it seems to be about 32 hours walking if they entered the valley from the east (partially via the current 55) 29 for west. Either is probable in 3 days.

The ability to enter the “proposed” Valley of Lemuel from the east is another interesting detail that Joseph couldn't know but may be implied in the text.

It’s likely that Lehi knew where he was going, and had at least a vague idea that there was water in the valley of Lemuel.

IF Lehi entered from the east and pitched his tents near the “head” of the river, this explains how he didn’t know the river ran into the Red Sea until he hiked down and “saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain…”

IF Lehi entered from the west, then it’s likely that he had seen the river before and it was notable that it was running into the Red Sea. His instruction to Laman in this case would be to act like this specific river, running continuously into the Red Sea (vs discontinuously)

The statement that the river continuously ran into the sea was an exclamation, not a timely evaluation. This could change much depending on time of year, etc.

...and the valley was in the borders near the mouth thereof. 9 And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!” (the primordial sea?)...11 Now this he spake because of the stiffneckedness of Laman and Lemuel; for behold they did murmur in many things against their father, because he was a visionary man, and had led them out of the land of Jerusalem…” (same old today murmers).


The BOfM also tells us that they had pitched their tents in the “valley by the side of a river of water” and after “8...he called the name of the river, Laman…” and 9…when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river…”
This implies that flowing all the way into the Red Sea was, originally, either unexpected or unknown.
This is likely due to two things:
a- they had been there before and the “nahar” didn’t make it to the sea back then.
B-they entered the valley from the East.
Web says “It is also possible to get close to the eastern entrance of the wadi by car ...” So, they could have entered from either side.
As Jeff has explained the evidence indicates that the river was bigger in the past.
It’s absurdly unlikely that JS gleaned BofM details from a canal or etc. in his area.

A quick search confirms that today:
“The small river of Tayeb Al-Ism

“ ….a small stream of crystal clear water than runs through the gravel all year long. ...oases surrounded] by the vertiginous sides of the canyon...the temperature inside the canyon is always more pleasant...the evaporation...”

“...an impressive stream ravine has cut through this massive granite geologic block to find its way to the sea...by the late 1980s, most of the springs in the central and eastern...ceased to flow as a result of extensive withdrawals of groundwater mainly for agricultural purposes…springs are perennial....only 26% of the discharge in 2011. In 2016, the natural pool was completely dry...the spring stream had discontinuous flow for a distance about 620 m.”
Natural springs in northwest Saudi Arabia
Mohammed Abdullah Alsaleh

And “...for the period 1979–2009. The wet (November to April) and dry (June to September) season…Rainfall has decreased significantly in Saudi Arabia…”


The valley is there, no question.
The dual nature of the river matching the BofM is verified by the videos and photos and the BofM states that the river has a “head,” that the waters of life are there near or with the filthy river (in which people drown, etc.). There is a waste, then a field with at least one tree (this is how the area is, the rivers and springs are diverted to cultivate palms etc.).

Jeff Lindsay said...

Joe, thanks for some interesting observations, including the mention of the "ups" and "downs." Those who have been around Jerusalem know that there are a lot of ups and downs, with Jerusalem being a relatively high spot. Interestingly, Nephi uses "up" and "down" with geographic precision over and over. When they go "up" to Jerusalem and then "down" to the wilderness, it's always accurate. Perhaps that means Joseph's Technicolor Dream Map was a topographic map? And with enough detail to show the River Laman, not discovered until recently, and the place Nahom/Nehhem, and Bountiful nearly due east of Nehhem/Nahom? Would love to see that map!

Jeff Lindsay said...

On the "up" and "down" issue, see "Why Does Nephi Always Go Down to the Wilderness and Up to Jerusalem?" at Book of Mormon Central.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Jeff, everyone should indeed see "Why Does Nephi Always Go Down to the Wilderness and Up to Jerusalem?" at Book of Mormon Central.

Jeffrey R. Chadwick says all we need to know: "[I]n the idiom of Nephi one always went  up to come to the Jerusalem region, and one always went down  when exiting the Jerusalem region.This is also the Hebrew idiom employed in the Bible, where persons in both the Old and New Testaments typically are said to go down to leave Jerusalem ... and go up  to come to Jerusalem" (my emphasis).

Joseph is simply imitating the language of the KJV. There's no need to make it any more complicated than that.

-- OK

Anonymous said...

As usual Joe, incoherent ramblings.

Joe said...

😵
It's also awesome that, while imitating the KJV, Joseph was able to inadvertently describe unknown details of Mesoamerica with its: ups, downs, passes, necks, directions, cities, religion, etc.
It's amazing what one can do with the Bible, especially when Joseph seemed to believe in the hemispheric model at that point.

Anonymous said...

“Joseph was able to inadvertently describe unknown details of Mesoamerica with its: ups, downs, passes, necks, directions, cities, religion, etc.”

He was so good at it that most “experts” in BoM geology can’t agree on where it was.