The Book of Mormon paints a vivid picture of the trials and triumphs Lehi and his family experienced after they left their home in Jerusalem and journeyed through the wilderness. As you read, you feel that you can understand and relate to their experiences. While we can’t trace their exact route, we can still get a sense of the general areas where Lehi and his family traveled and, by doing so, gain an even greater appreciation for what they went through. Recent research gives us a clearer picture of some of these areas and the conditions Lehi’s group would have encountered. 1
Map by Mountain High Maps
After Lehi’s family left Jerusalem, they stopped in a place they called the “valley of Lemuel” (1 Nephi 2:14), which was a three-day trip from the northeast tip of the Red Sea (see 1 Nephi 2:5–6). The valley was “by the side of a river of water,” which Lehi named Laman and which was “continually running” (1 Nephi 2:6, 9). Lehi called the valley of Lemuel “firm and steadfast, and immovable” (1 Nephi 2:10).
Lehi’s family continued their journey, “traveling nearly the same course as in the beginning” for “many days” (1 Nephi 16:33). Then Ishmael died and “was buried in the place which was called Nahom” (v. 34). The place pictured here lies in the general area where the group traveled and for many years has had variations of the name Nahom associated with it.
After leaving Nahom, Lehi’s family traveled “nearly eastward from that time forth. And [they] did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness” (1 Nephi 17:1).
Following an eastward course, Lehi’s group would have reached the southeastern shore of the Arabian peninsula. Some locations along that coastline are shown here. Since they had just traversed a barren wasteland, it’s no wonder they would call such a place Bountiful, “because of its much fruit and also wild honey” (1 Nephi 17:5).
Photograph of fig tree by Richard L. W. Cleave
The Witness of the Book of Mormon
“The power of the Holy Ghost … must ever be the chief source of evidence for the truth of the Book of Mormon. All other evidence is secondary to this. … No arrangement of evidence, however skilfully ordered; no argument, however adroitly made, can ever take its place. … [However,] secondary evidences in support of truth, like secondary causes in natural phenomena, may be of firstrate importance, and mighty factors in the achievement of God’s purposes.”
Elder B. H. Roberts (1857–1933) of the Seventy, New Witnesses for God, 3 vols. (1909), 2:vii–viii.
Left: illustration by Joseph Brickey; inset: map by Jerry Thompson; photographs by Justin Andrews, Warren Aston, S. Kent Brown, Kim Hatch, David Lisonbee, and George Potter, except as noted
Left: Photograph of replica of plates by Welden C. Andersen; illustration of boat by Joseph Brickey; insets: photograph of bees by Irochka © Fotolia; detail of Nephi’s Vision, by Clark Kelley Price
Information in this article came from the following sources published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship (see www.maxwellinstitute.byu.edu):
• S. Kent Brown and Peter Johnson, eds., Journey of Faith: From Jerusalem to the Promised Land (2006).
• Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 15, no. 2 (2006).
• Journey of Faith (DVD, 2005).
• George D. Potter, “A New Candidate in Arabia for the ‘Valley of Lemuel,’ ” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 8, no. 1 (1999), 54–63.