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
"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
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
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