Source:Echoes:Ch5:13:First camp to Nahom - duration of trip

Lehi's desert journey: First camp to Nahom: Length of Trip

Lehi's desert journey: First camp to Nahom: Length of Trip

Because it was from Nahom that the party "did travel nearly eastward," two questions arise. How far had the group come, and how long had the trip taken to this point? If our conclusion about the general location of Nahom is correct (see next section), Lehi's extended family traveled altogether approximately 1,400 miles to reach this area. The first 250 or so miles brought them to the first camp, their valley of Lemuel. The remaining 1,150 or so miles lay between the first camp and Nahom. There remained approximately 700 miles to traverse to their Bountiful, where they would build their ship (see 8?lang=eng#5, 8 1 Nephi 17:5, 8). The total length of their land journey would be at least 2,100 miles from Jerusalem.58

The time spent to reach Nahom from the first camp concerns us here. The answer is quite simple. Indicators in the narrative tell us that the trip from the first camp to Nahom took less than a year (see section below). As a comparison, we know of other groups—chiefly caravanners—who traveled between south Arabia and destinations either on the northeast coast of the Red Sea or on the southeast coast of the Mediterranean, the reverse of the party's journey. Such groups required only months to traverse those long distances. For example, it took six months for a Roman military force of ten thousand to venture down the west side of Arabia in 25–24 BC. The soldiers started from a small port called Luece Come (most probably modern Aynunah),59 crossed the mountains, and finally reached a city called Marsiaba (perhaps ancient Marib). Then, because the army had lost many soldiers due to unhealthful water and food, they retreated hastily, taking only two months to travel between 1,000 and 1,100 miles one way.60 If the starting point for the Roman army was Luece Come, which lies not far from the Straits of Tiran, and if the army reached the area of Marib in the south, then the Romans' trek almost matches that of the party of Lehi and Sariah from the first camp both in terms of distance and in terms of the general route that they followed.61

Clues in Nephi's narrative indicate that Lehi's party likewise took no longer than a year to reach Nahom, evidently not far from where the Roman army would later stop. How do we know that? The answer comes from Nephi's placement of details in his narrative. We start with observations about the marriages that took place in the camp before everyone departed (see 1 Nephi 16:7). While we cannot be entirely certain how long after the marriages the party left the camp, we would expect that one or more of the new brides became pregnant within the first months of marriage. Thus, they may have been pregnant when they set out from the camp. So we should expect a report of childbirths. And we find it. What may be significant is that Nephi noted the first births of children only as he finished his record of later events at Nahom, not before (see {{s|1|Nephi|17|1). We naturally conclude that the women gave birth to their first children at Nahom and that the journey from the camp to Nahom took a year or less, the length of the new brides' pregnancies. This length of time more or less matches the time required for the later Roman expedition, though it is longer because of the possible pregnancies of some of the brides in Lehi's party. Thus, the Book of Mormon narrative approximates what we know from an ancient account of soldiers traveling in Arabia.[1]


  1. 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.