Have the Valley of Lemuel and the River Laman Been Found? (Knowhy #286)


After travelling three days along the coast
of the Red Sea, Nephi mentioned that his family stopped in a valley with a “continually
running” river. But, rivers are rare in northwest Arabia,
and, until recently, no perennial rivers had been found in the region. In 1995, a pair of LDS explorers, George Potter
and Craig Thorsted, got lost while looking for a site known to locals as the “Waters of Moses.” Misdirected by a guide, they headed north
along the shoreline of the Gulf of Aqaba until “a magnificent narrow canyon,” which “ended
in a palm-lined cove, broke up the rocky, sandy terrain. They had found Wadi Tayyib al-Ism, a narrow
valley 74 miles south of Aqaba. Remarkably, estimates for daily travel in
the Arabian deserts of antiquity range between 15–25 miles per day. This valley, with its river, falls just within
the plausible distance of a three-day journey. It is impossible to be certain if Wadi Tayyib
al-Ism is the Valley of Lemuel. But the existence of this wadi demonstrates that a river-valley like the one described in First Nephi chapter two, exists, and that it is within the distance
of a three day-journey from the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Discoveries like this, that shed light on
the realities of Lehi and his family’s journey, can also help readers better appreciate their struggle and the relief that came with the presence of that rare water. No wonder Lehi stopped, “built an altar
of stones…and gave thanks unto the Lord”. And now you know why.

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