In this episode, we’ll talk about Lehi’s path out of Jerusalem. George Potter and others believe he followed the Frankincense Trail.
There is a campsite that dates back to the Iron Age. In that area the Iron Age is mid first millennium B.C. That’s been documented by archaeologists from the United States.
The campsite—they call it an encampment in that valley dates back to the same time as Lehi. This is amazing. I think, “Was that Lehi’s camp? Maybe. Is that the altar that they made and gave thanks to the Lord? Was it the altar on top of the hill? Was it the altar that Moses made? Who knows.” But it’s a really fascinating place. It’s a beautiful canyon and it meets all of the attributes that are described in the Book of Mormon.
The Frankincense trade was the OPEC of its time. It was the source of great wealth. Frankincense was worth more than its weight in gold during Lehi’s time. The communities made lots of money by supporting this trade. So when you think about a caravan back then, a caravan got frankincense and took it up to the Mediterranean, and sold it in Rome, Greece, Cairo, Damascus, Babylonia, at these times. These caravans were not made up of 100 camels. They were 3000-4000 camels at a time. They were huge like an army moving back and forth. This way they could protect themselves as well.
George has lived in the Middle East for 26 years. In this episode, he gives insights into Arab and Bedouin culture, and what it was probably like for Lehi to have traveled with his family.
When we travel, we have to avoid meeting Arabs or Bedouins, because if they meet you, the law of the desert says they have to host you for 3 days in their tents. They have to feed you. It’s called the Bond of Salt. What did they want in return? They want news. What’s happening in the world out there? Tell us about Jerusalem. Are the Egyptians still giving the Babylonians a bad time? What’s going on here? Is Ezekiel still the king?
So, it was a two-way thing. That’s the way people survive in the desert. They help each other. It’s required by their culture. It still exists today. If a Bedouin sees you he wants to feed you. He wants you to stay with him, tell him all about where you are from, all this sort of thing. Certainly, Lehi could have said, “Look. I’ll teach your kids how to read. I’ll teach them how to speak Egyptian. I’ll teach them how to speak Hebrew, whatever they were speaking at the time. He would have been a scholar. Very few people at that time knew how to read or write, maybe one out of 10,000 if you’re lucky could read or write at that period of time. So, the emir would have said, “Please be in home. While you are here, could you please teach son hot to be a merchant? Could you teach him how to read a foreign language, teach him how to read and write?”
So it would have been no problem for him to have been able to have paid his way, worked his way down.
I think you will learn a lot about the culture of Middle Eastern peoples! (Don’t forget to listen to our previous episode connecting Nephi to Mount Sinai!)
Check out our conversation…..