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From the Desert to the Land Bountiful

In our next episode, we’ll continue along the Frankincense Trail and get to the Land Bountiful.  George Potter has some interesting insights into why Laman and Lemuel might have rebelled, and we will discuss Nephi’s broken bow.  George has some interesting insights.

George:  There is a guy named Nigel Groom who is the expert on the Frankincense Trail.  He is a British scholar.  He has written two books on the Frankincense Trail.[1]  He has also written a book called A Dictionary of Arabic Topography and Place Names.[2]  This is the only dictionary that exists like this.  You can go right there to mujahareen and see it translates to the “most fertile pieces.”  It’s his own writing:  “most fertile parts.”  Pieces and parts are synonyms.  Again, a Book of Mormon place name, right along the Frankincense Trail.  There are villages that were through the most fertile part of the trail.  So Nephi describes they went through the most fertile parts, then they went through the more fertile parts.  Finally they travelled, he said for a space of many days, and then they had to stop and look for food.  In other words, it ain’t fertile at all.  They had to go hunting in the mountains.

GT:  This is where Nephi broke his bow, right?

George:  It’s where Nephi broke his bow.  It just so happens that the area there where bow-wood grows in Arabia is a very small area, about 150 miles long.  Atum is the name of the wood, and again it would have been right along the trail where Nephi would have been.  So, we document all of this in our films and our books.[3]  This is amazing, and it’s up in the mountains.  Up in the mountains is where all of the game is.  They are not down in the desert, they are up in the mountains.  So Nephi would have made his bow out of atum would, which is a type of olive.  He would have then gone up to the mountains to get his game.  So, it is all in context.

From there they travel and they get to a very desperate part of the trail.  This is where there is open rebellion.  Laman and Lemuel are contemplating killing Nephi and Lehi.  They want to go back. Ishmael dies.  They call the place Nahom.

We’ll also talk about the Land Bountiful, a land flowing with honey.  Why is that significant? Check out our conversation!  Don’t forget to check out our previous discussion about the Frankincense trail!

Fruit and honey were welcome sights after going through a desert wilderness

 

[1] Nigel Groom has written Frankincense and Myrrh: A Study of the Arabian Incense Trade, see https://amzn.to/2HLl9tt, and Sheba Revealed: A Posting to Bayhan in the Yemen, see https://amzn.to/2EYhLs6 .

[2] The entire name is A Dictionary of Arabic Topography and Place Names: A Transliterated Arabic-English Dictionary With an Arabic Glossary of Topographical Words and Place Names.  See https://amzn.to/2HMw6us

[3] See http://www.nephiproject.com/Our_films.htm

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Walking in Lehi’s Footsteps on Frankincense Trail

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!)

George Potter tried to trace Lehi’s footsteps out of Jerusalem.

Check out our conversation…..

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Found! The Real Mount Sinai!

Christians and Jews have long searched for the real Mount Sinai.  But is it the location discovered by Helena, the mother of Constantine in the 4th century AD?  Most people think it is not.  George Potter, an LDS researcher has done a lot of research in the Middle East and thinks he may have stumbled upon the real Mount Sinai.

George:  If you open up your Bible maps from the English version of the King James, published by the LDS Church, go to the maps in the back.  You clearly see that Midian was not located in the Sinai Peninsula.  Jethro[1] lived in Arabia.  Even today on maps in Arabia you see the town of Ugabe, which is translated as Jethro in English.

Jethro lived in Arabia when Moses fled Egypt, he went to Jethro’s, and that was in Arabia.  He was tending his sheep on the back side of the wilderness, it says.  So, in other words, he was probably on the back side of the inter-side of the mountains that run through Midian.  That’s where he was herding Jethro’s sheep at the time, and that’s where we believe Mount Sinai is found.  For him to have been in Jethro’s town, Midian, which is still there, the ruins of Midian, to have been in the Sinai Peninsula, he would have been a very lost shepherd, believe me.

When you get over there to where Mount St. Catherine’s is, anyway there is no evidence whatsoever that place was ever Mount Sinai.  There is no fodder for sheep.  There are no artifacts that have been left there.  The only reason that was ever claimed to be Mount Sinai was that I guess Constantine’s mother went down there with some kind of a guru at the time and they said this must be Mount Sinai.  But there is no evidence archaeologically that was ever Mount Sinai.

We are travelling down this wadi and they said here is where we ended our fourth expedition looking for Mount Sinai.  We’re going beyond this.  We didn’t go more than a mile until we actually came to the artifacts that were described as being from this candidate for Mount Sinai.  The first one is a natural feature.  It is maybe kind of a circular type of little plateau.  The circumference is probably 200 feet.  On top of this feature, there is a sacrificial—it is not an altar, but it is a place where they would have sacrificed animals.  It is a heathen—it is the same kind of feature you would find at Petra: the Nabateans.  It’s a basin.  It is a little kind of canal where the blood would flow into the rocks.

So, that is on top of the little natural feature, but all around it are petroglyphs of calves, Egyptian-type calves.  So that has become known as the Golden Calf Altar there.  If you continue down the wadi, there is a mountain in the west and maybe 50-100 yards from that mountain, you will find eleven different piles of stones with holes in them that you would have put maybe a banner in, a flagpole or something.  They separate the main area of the wadi, the valley, where people would have camped.  Then you have these eleven different pole markers.  They stretch maybe a mile and a half down.  Those we believe are the border markers that Moses was told to separate the people from Mount Sinai so they didn’t accidentally wander on to the mountain.

GT:  Ok.

George: So, they are the border markers.  They are still there.  Then if you can get through the antiquity fence, you will find that there is what they call the Altar of Moses, which is kind of an L-shaped feature.  It is maybe 100 feet long.

We will also talk about its ties to the Book of Mormon.

George:  To give your followers a little bit of a background as to how we came across what is believed to be the Valley of Lemuel.  If you look at any church publication now about the Book of Mormon and Lehi’s trail, they are following the photographs of us, or they are making pictures of what we believe to be the Valley of Lemuel.

But how did we find that?  It takes us back to Mount Sinai.  When I got there, I found out there had been a group of four different LDS parties who pre-dated me, had gone looking for Mount Sinai.  You’ve got to understand that there is a mountain range that runs down the entire length of Arabia, the western side of Arabia.  There are tens of thousands of mountains there.  How do you find Mount Sinai when there are all these mountains?  It is like the Rocky Mountain range or the Sierra Nevada.  I mean which one is Mount Sinai?  It seems kind of crazy.

I was there.  I had a four-wheel drive and two of the members of the group who had gone out four times before looking for Mount Sinai and never found it, encouraged me to come with us, but bring your four-wheel drive and let’s go look for Mount Sinai.  I bluntly told them, “Look.  You guys are crazy.  The instructions you have are almost impossible to follow.  I’ll give you one day to find Mount Sinai in the area you think it is.”

If you would like updates on George’s work, subscribe to his free newsletter at https://www.nephiproject.com.  Check out our conversation…..

George Potter thinks he has found the real Mount Sinai!

[1] Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law.