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TitlePart 8: "Towards the Promised Land"
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsWarren P. Aston
Book TitleLehi and Sariah in Arabia: The Old World Setting of the Book of Mormon
PublisherXlibris Publishing
CityBloomington, IN
KeywordsArabia; Bountiful (Old World); Nephi's Ship; Shipbuilding; Transoceanic Voyage
Nephi’s account does not reveal at what point Lehi and Sariah learned that their family would eventually embark on an ocean voyage. In the urgency to leave their homeland the family surely had little opportunity to ponder their ultimate destination. If they had, a natural assumption would have been that their removal from Jerusalem was to a nearby place within their own sphere, such as Egypt, and that perhaps their exile was only to be temporary. An ocean voyage may not have occurred to them until sometime after their arrival at Bountiful. Had the Lord’s object been to simply remove them to the Americas, it would surely have been easier for them to depart from a Mediterranean seaport across the Atlantic, rather than undertake years of desert journeying across the Arabian peninsula, followed by a substantially longer ocean journey.
In our present text, the “land of promise” is first revealed to Nephi by the Lord while encamped in the Valley of Lemuel (2:19-20); we are left uncertain whether the prophet Lehi already knew. The two trips of Nephi and his brothers back to Jerusalem make it seem certain, however, that the full magnitude of the journey did not begin to unfold earlier than the Valley of Lemuel, when most of their desert crossing still lay ahead of them. At some point they also came to realize that their promised land lay across the seas; but even after they had set sail in Nephi’s ship they likely had only a faint conception of the distances involved.