Source:Echoes:Ch5:1:Journey Jerusalem to first camp

Routes from Jerusalem to First Camp

Routes from Jerusalem to First Camp

The mild surprise in the early part of the narrative is that anyone fleeing Jerusalem or its environs would head for Arabia, camping near the Red Sea. Almost all flights into exile that are recorded in the Bible show people going southwest to Egypt, not southeast into Arabia.1 To be sure, hundreds of years later Jews would flee the Roman siege of Jerusalem by traveling into Arabia (AD 68–70). But unless a reader knew the unfamiliar names of Arabian cities and peoples noted in the Bible, there are few hints of meaningful connections in that direction as early as the seventh century BC, when Lehi and Sariah were on the move.2 Now there is a growing body of evidence, made available long after Joseph Smith's day, for extensive contacts between Arabia and Jerusalem in antiquity, most commercial and military.3

Lehi, Sariah, and their four sons could have followed a number of routes from Jerusalem to the Red Sea. None of them would have run north and south along the shoreline of the Dead Sea, except along the western shoreline from the Ein Gedi oasis southward. On both the east and west sides of the Dead Sea the terrain slopes steeply from cliffs to water's edge and would not have allowed them to pass. The challenges of negotiating such terrain would have escalated, of course, for pack animals.[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.