Lehi's Landing & Journey to Land of Inheritence

prepared by Don R. Hender


    The logic of Lehi's Journeys in the Promised Land begin with a statement that a prophet attributes to Joseph Smith, to whom he is related. Then from that landing sight, Lehi's party will eventually take their journey into the forested wilderness and on to where Nephi does find the ores necessary for him to begin to make his metal plates record. Some will consider that where Lehi landed was where the Land of First Inheritence was located. They fail to consider the necessity of matching the land described in the Book of Mormon to match with Lehi's stated landing site. When one considers the reality of that fit, it seems but simple applied geography. And when one begins to further apply other later Book of Mormon accounts of lands and travel, it further becomes a matter of fitting them in together will what is and what has been so devised concerning the land and travel in both previous and furture matters as well.

Now when one undertakes to 'line' a map with a course of travel, it is only but a logical matter of needing to at least define two points on the 'map'. The first being that point of departure and the other the point of arrival. In between those two points lays the course of the journey. With that said we need to begin by identifying the first point, that is the point of Lehi's departure in the new promised land of Lehi's beginnings of his journeys in the Land of Promise.

Site of Lehi's Landing

    "...Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien,..."
    ~ Joseph Smith, TPJS, p.267 & Times and Seasons

    " !! See This Second Confirmation !! "

There is no intent to argue any other point of Lehi's landing that this which is stated by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Those that prefer their own otherwise determined landing points, let them argue that elsewhere than here. As for me, I will start where it has been historically published and stated that such landing point of Lehi was. And that is where I must use in the 'mapping' of the journeys recorded in the Book of Mormon to have 'centered' around. I've given the Prophets' statement and I've also included a further outside published record of a historically objective source in further support of that site as linked to above to another page that lists it. What more need I do to present a starting point for Lehi's journeys in the promised land?

The point of departure of Lehi's journeys then becomes a site just 'a little south of the Isthmus of Darien.' I have represented an approximation of that landing point on a modern mapping of the land. That the present state of the land is not expected to be exactly as it was in the time and day of Lehi is to be expected as Lehi's landing occured prior to the great land changing events as recorded in the Book of Mormon that happened at the time of the death of Jesus Christ.

There are two relative Book of Mormon scriptures that immediately relate to Lehi's journeys. The first is found in the same chapter that records Nephi's small plates' record of their land and such as the events that happened thereafter. Then, due to the manner in which Orson Pratt divided the 1830 Original Edition of the Book of Mormon into chapters and verses, the secont reference is today in the next chapter after that. In the 1830 Original Edition those two references are in the same chapter and there in that first edition, they better seem to directly relate to each other better by being in the same chapter.

    "And it came to pass that after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land.
    "And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance.
    "And it came to pass that we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men. And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper."

    ~ Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 18:23-25

These three verses have been listed as they together give a perspective of the type of highly abridged record Nephi's small plate record is in terms of it recording events. The last leg of their Pacific Ocean crossing is summed up just half of the first verse. In that same verse Nephi covers them establishing their very first base camp. In the second verse Nephi records the occurance of an entire growing season from processes of planting to the events of their following abundant havest. Then in the third verse Nephi takes up the topic of their journeying in the wilderness. Now 'journeying' as recorded in the Book of Mormon has always meant braking camp and traveling a distance over time to their next destination. Consistant with that idea, Nephi states that it was 'as we journeyed' that the next stated happenings did occur. He does not state that while we were camped out but as we journeyed. Some propose that the Book of Mormon 'Land of First Inheritence' spoken of later is located at the same place as Lehi's landing. The fail to consider the 'jourying in the wilderness, in the forest where the animals were found, and in that land where all manners of ores were found to have been in that same place of initial encampment. In this case, it is further opposed by the further Book of Mormon reported relationship of the land that the whole nation of Zarahemal was to the north of the whole nation of Nephi, and it was on the west coast of the nation of Nephi were the land of first inheritence was according to the Book of Mormon record. That will be discussed further in later journeys covered in this series.

The next reference to be listed come immediately following this previous reference. In the original Book of Mormon there is no chapter division here and without Orson Pratt's awkward atificial chapter division here, these next verses would immediately be next without any chapter break in the recorded record. And thus there would be some direct relationship implied between the matter of these two references.

    "AND it came to pass that the Lord commanded me, wherefore I did make plates of ore that I might engraven upon them the record of my people. And upon the plates which I made I did engraven the record of my father, and also our journeyings in the wilderness, and the prophecies of my father; and also many of mine own prophecies have I engraven upon them.
    "And I knew not at the time when I made them that I should be commanded of the Lord to make these plates; wherefore, the record of my father, and the genealogy of his fathers, and the more part of all our proceedings in the wilderness are engraven upon those first plates of which I have spoken; wherefore, the things which transpired before I made these plates are, of a truth, more particularly made mention upon the first plates."

    ~ Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 19:1-2

Now I don't know why Orson Pratt divided this the way he did. I do know they were not so divided in the original text. And it seem in all reality that where the previous verse left of with them finding all manner of ores, is exactly where this next verse picks up with Nephi making plates out of that ore for his record which the Lord has now commanded him to make. That is the record of the Large Plates of Nephi. Some pretend that the Book of Mormon does not record Lehi's journeys in the land of promise away from that site of first encampment. But what Nephi has stated immediately next account directly for that here in his small plate record.

What Nephi states is that he did record a greater detailed record of their journyings in the wilderness on his then large plate record, that the more part of their proceedings in the wilderness are engraven upon those first plates. " ... wherefore, the things which transpired before I made these [small plates] are, of a truth, more particularly made mention upon the first plates."

The Destination of Lehi's Journeyings

So now we do have what we ought to be able to decern as being that Lehi did indeed travel away from that landing site where during that first season they did but pause to first grow the needed supply of food in order to be able to further their journey in the new land. Then they journyed finding animals in the 'forests', plural, and then they came to were they did find a land containing all manner of ores with which Nephi could make plates. And that is where the Lord did command Nephi to make plates and begin his first large plate record. And that land is where the Land of Fist Inheritence is. And it is there on the west coast of the national land of Nephi as the Book of Mormon records, which we will list here but will also further discuss again later in this series.

    "Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore."
    ~ Book of Mormon | Alma 22:28

By the time that Lehi arrived at this destination, I would have to image that Lehi was well spent. But we do now have a site of departure and a destination to travel to. And they both appropriately begin and end with Lehi envolved. It is that Lehi did journey in the Land of Promise from the site of his landing to the site that wold be stated to be 'the land of our father's first inheritence. That land of Lehi's first inheritence was on the west coast of the promised land further south of the land of Zarahemla, west of the land of Nephi. And thus we now have a course to line out upon the map between the landing site a little south of the Isthmus of Darien down further south to the land of first inheritence on the west coast of the land of Nephi.

The Course of the Journey

In considering the course form Lehi's landing site to the land of first inheritence, a very rough generic map is here first supplied just to identify to the eye that there is a distance of journey to be considered here. I has been so spoken but visualization seems to say much more than just words alone.

That the narrow Isthmus of Darien is the same as the narrow neck of land to be later further discussed is logically set out here. This would mean that Lehi and his party would have had to journey from Lehi's landing just a little south of the Isthmus of Darien further south all the way through that national land of what would be Zarahemla to then be able to arrive upon the west coast of the national land of what would be Nephi. And there are other matters of the land's make up that must also be considered in determining the likely course of Lehi's Journey.

In considering a modern map of this land today, this would take Lehi down through the land of Colombia, most likely through Ecuador and into the northern west coast of Peru. And we know that Lehi did 'journey' in the wilderness, in the forests and to that land where all manner of ores were to be found as there are in Peru today, because the Book of Mormon states that he did. It does not state that he sailed on down but that he journeyed through the wilderness, forests and were there was all manners of ores. So the only thing left to do is look a what map we have today, and that is a topical map of the north South Amerian land of Colombia and its neighboring lands south.

A very rough map is presented at the right for visualization. The land of Colombia has three mountain ranges named the western or occidental cordilleras, the central cordilleras and the eastern or oriental cordilleras. The western valley contains the Cauca River and the larger long valley from south to north contains the Magadalena River. The west coast regions of Colombia historically consisted of nothing more than mangrove swamp lands, which were extremely difficult to travel through. Therefore it is considered that Lehi was guided by the Liahona into the interior's first western valley of the Cauca river and journeyed south 'up' that river valley to where the three cordillera branches join the single Andea range that continues south through Ecuador and into Peru.

Though covered in following series, considering the interrelated nature of the land that must be consistent with that contained in the Book of Mormon, a few matters are listed here. With this topical layout, the Magadalena river valley is that in which the people of Mulek would be located as the people of Zarahemla. Not that Lehi would have taken that route, but if Mulek's party had already been in that valley they would have been kept from knowing of Lehi's progress through the parallel valley of the Cauca river and visa versa. Also this will be the suggested route of the 'lost explores of Lemhi' as well and why they missed finding Zarahemla and continued on up into the land of Desolation.

What has been of interest to me is that in one conference address Elder Maxwell spoke of Laman and Lemuel coming to the Second land of Bountiful. The first land of Bountiful would have been in the land of Jerusalem where Nephi built his ship. They only second land of Bountiful identified by the book of Mormon is that land immediately south of the land of Desolation and that is where Lehi is said to have landed by the Prophet Joseph Smith.

    "Upon arriving at both lands of Bountiful, did Laman and Lemuel really think that such good navigating was mere happenstance? Perhaps Nephi had merely "guessed right" (see Hel. 16:16). Their ingratitude for the Liahona raises the question: What did Laman and Lemuel really think of that remarkable instrument? Was it just a convenient gadget or merely standard equipment on every ship?"
    ~ Neal Maxwell, October 2, 1999, 10AM Session Conference Report


ver. 9 January 2016