Source:Echoes:Ch5:22:Nahom to Bountiful - enemies

Lehi's desert journey: Journey from Nahom to Bountiful: Enemies

Lehi's desert journey: Journey from Nahom to Bountiful: Enemies

In almost identical language, both Amaron and Alma write of God's preserving Lehi's party from "the hands of their enemies" (Omni 1:6; Alma 9:10). Who were these enemies? According to the fuller part of Nephi's narrative, it was not anyone whom party members met between the first camp and Nahom. The most attractive possibility is that the group met such people on the leg of the journey between Nahom and the seacoast, even though Nephi himself does not mention enemies.98 (Nephi's abbreviated account of crossing south Arabia from Nahom consists of only four verses, 1 Nephi 17:1–4.) Such a view strengthens the impression that the toughest and longest period of the trip came between Nahom and the sea. Another piece that fits into this part of the trip is Nephi's note that party members had not made "much fire, as [they] journeyed," an evident attempt to avoid drawing the attention of marauding raiders (1 Nephi 17:12).99 As a final addition to the portrait, Alma seems to tie a recollection of ancestors who were "strong in battle" to Lehi's party, whom God "delivered . . . out of the land of Jerusalem" (Alma 9:22). If so, then we are to think that the party struggled against more than the harsh realities of the desert as they forged on toward the seacoast. That is, one of their biggest challenges may have come in dealing with tribesmen whom they met. This impression, too, matches what we know of tribal troubles in this part of Arabia.100

Such a scene of desperate difficulties consisting of disease, famine, and enemies—difficulties that find expression chiefly in sources other than Nephi's narrative—resonates with the situations that one would certainly encounter in south Arabia.101 What is the likelihood that Joseph Smith knew such details of life there? The answer is zero.[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.