Source:Nibley:CW06:Ch6:3:Nephi's authentic Arabian desert language and imagery

Nephi's authentic Arabian desert language and imagery

Parent page: Book of Mormon/Anthropology/Culture/Old World

Nephi's authentic Arabian desert language and imagery

Shortly after landing in America, Nephi himself took his tents and all who would follow him and continued his wanderings in the new land as in the old (2 Nephi 5:5). The great man in his old age still speaks the language of the desert: "I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road" (2 Nephi 4:32—33) is the purest Bedouin talk for "May I stick to the wady and not get off the clearly marked mainline that everyone follows!" One hears the echo of innumerable old desert inscriptions in his prayer: "O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy" (2 Nephi 4:33). The immemorial desert custom which required a sheikh to place the edge of his robe (kuffah) over the back of anyone seeking his protection is clearly recalled in Nephi's cry: "O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness!" (2 Nephi 4:33).[1]


  1. Hugh W. Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon, 3rd edition, (Vol. 6 of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley), edited by John W. Welch, (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Company ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1988), Chapter 6, references silently removed—consult original for citations.