Possible locations for the Valley of Lemuel

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Possible locations for the Valley of Lemuel

Question: Is there a viable real-world candidate in the Old World for the Valley of Lemuel described in the Book of Mormon?

Several candidates for the "Valley of Lemuel" have been found

The valley of Lemuel requires several characteristics. In 1995, Potter and colleagues found a hitherto unrecognized wadi [1] which has parallels to the requirements of the Book of Mormon text, including a river of water which is "continually running," which they interpret as requiring a year-round water flow. Although Saudi and US geological surveys have concluded that Saudi Arabia "may...be without any perennial rivers or streams," visits to the area in April, May, July, August, November, December, and January have all found flowing water in the candidate valley which Potter's team identified.

Figure 3: George Potter photo of cove of hypothetical Valley of Lemuel
Figure 4: George Potter photo of "continuously running" river in hypothetical Valley of Lemuel.

The authors have described the area, with further photographs, in a book. [2]

While their candidates for the Valley of Lemuel and the River Laman seem truly impressive, other LDS authors have disputed this location for the Valley of Lemuel, suggesting that it is too far from the shores of the Red Sea and that the path required to reach it is implausible. They have offered an alternative based on a different reading of the text's requirements. Chadwick proposes that Bir Marsha, a place easily accessed from the coast of the Red Sea and not far from Potter's candidate, may be more suitable for the Valley of Lemuel, though there may be several other good choices. As for the River Laman, Chadwick believes that it only need have been a wadi flowing with water at the time of Lehi's sermon to his sons, and that it need not flow year round. Lehi said that it ran continuously to the Red Sea, not that it flowed continuously throughout the year, and this can be fulfilled by a path for a wadi that goes into the Red Sea, regardless of how often the path has flowing water. [3]

George Potter, "A New Candidate in Arabia for the 'Valley of Lemuel'"

George Potter,  Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, (1999)
The grandeur of the valley is difficult to describe in words or even portray in photographs. It is a narrow gorge cut through a massive granite mountain. It consists of three sections: the upper valley (or the Waters of Moses), the canyon of granite, and the lower canyon. The upper valley constitutes an oasis that lies at the south end of a twelve-mile long wadi—known locally as Wadi Tayyib al-Ism— that leads down from the north (see map). The upper valley sits like a pleasant jewel, spread out over approximately one square mile with several hundred palm trees and 12 wells that local residents call the Waters of Moses.

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  1. George Potter, "A New Candidate in Arabia for the 'Valley of Lemuel'," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999). [54–63] link
  2. George Potter and Richard Wellington, Lehi in the Wilderness: 81 New Documented Evidences That the Book of Mormon Is a True History (Springville, Utah: Cedar Fort, 2003).ISBN 1555176410 off-site
  3. Jeffrey R. Chadwick, "The Wrong Place for Lehi's Trail and the Valley of Lemuel (Review of: Lehi in the Wilderness)," FARMS Review 17/2 (2005): 197–215. off-site