Source:Echoes:Ch5:4:Lehi's route east and south

Lehi's desert journey: The Route East, Then South

Lehi's desert journey: The Route East, Then South

Two other trails would have led the family to the east, taking them down into the Jordan Valley a few miles south of Jericho. From either trail the party would then have ascended into the highlands of Moab, where they would have turned south and followed either the King's Highway or a road that ran farther east through Edomite territory toward the Red Sea. Of the two routes, the first departed from the east side of Jerusalem and skirted southward around the Mount of Olives, then turned eastward and followed the trade route that connected with the northwest shore of the Dead Sea through Wadi Mukallik (Nahal Og). This trail was known in antiquity as the "Route of Salt" because caravans carried salt extracted from the Dead Sea from its northwest shore up to Jerusalem.8 The family could have broken off from following this trail at any point after descending into the Jordan Valley and then aimed for the mountains of Moab, perhaps reaching the King's Highway near Mount Nebo.

The second or more northerly route would also have taken the family from the east side of Jerusalem, but on an eastward track up over the Mount of Olives near the modern village of At-Tur and eventually down through Wadi Kelt. This path, too, carried trade and travelers between the Jordan Valley and Jerusalem. The family would have exited Wadi Kelt just south of Jericho. From there it was an easy trek across the Jordan Valley to the base of the mountains of Moab.

What does all this mean? The fact that the Book of Mormon narrative follows the family of Lehi and Sariah from Jerusalem to the tip of the Red Sea and beyond, seeing them set up camp in northwest Arabia (see 1 Nephi 2:4–6), fits what is now known about commercial travel in the late seventh and early sixth centuries BC. In addition, though the direction of travel—generally southeast—is unexpected because most known flights of people seeking refuge from Jerusalem went into Egypt, not Arabia, the Lord was leading Lehi and Sariah to a promised land in the New World, not into exile.[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.