In The Cavity of a Rock

In The Cavity of a Rock
Father Lehi

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Curious Case of the Lihyanites

Temple of Dedan of the Lihyanite Kingdom in al-Ula
Saudi Arabia
Like most people who have heard of the Lihyanites I was first turned on to this mysterious group through the DVD's by George Potter and Richard Wellington.  I first became interested in this group after viewing their DVD titled, "Discovering Lehi's Trail" which can be purchased through their website www.nephiproject.com.  In this DVD it speculates an interesting insight.  It is based on the fact that it took eight years for Lehi's group to travel through the wilderness of what is nowadays Saudi Arabia.  This is not a migration that should take eight years.  Bedouins of the area are able to do it in months.  This makes one wonder why it took so long?  There have been a few speculative theories given in the past.  I have previously posted about one of these theories given by S. Kent Brown in an article entitled, "A Case for Lehi's Bondage in Arabia" where he offered the idea that  six of the eight years in the wilderness would have been spent between (from Nahom to Bountiful) either farming, being employed or possibly in slavery.  These types of things were very common when attempting to cross certain territories as a caravan in the wilderness.  This is because permission would be required from local tribal leaders.  Permission had to be given even to George Potter and the Nephi Project crew in their DVD when searching for certain parts of Lehi's trail.

Sandstone statue of Lihyanite King found
at Temple of Dedan
  Now there are interesting word phrases and scriptural insights that lead Dr. Brown to these conclusions.  In the same sense scriptural insights opened the doors for the speculation ideas given by Dr. Brown, certain scriptural insights also lead to the idea of the Lihyanites as a group of converts that were brought to the gospel of repentance through the teachings of Lehi and his caravan.  Although the Book of Mormon does not go into detail on any teaching opportunities Lehi and his friends and family would have had a while traveling, there is a scripture in D&C 33:8 which says, "Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness."  This scripture seems to be advising its readers to open their mouths in preaching the gospel just as Nephi of old did while he journeyed in the wilderness.

So the question at hand is did Nephi and his family preach while in the wilderness?  I would assume so.  This is because Lehi was willing to preach in Jerusalem even when his life was on the line, so it is safe to assume that he would preach in the wilderness when he faced no threat due to his teaching.  It is in this context that George Potter and Richard Wellington pose the idea of a group of converts in the wilderness who became known as the Lihyanites.  Now there is not much currently known about this group of Lihyanites other than they were located in an ancient North Arabian kingdom in northwestern Arabia in the area known as Dedan or modern al-Ula which means "to exalt".  They would have previously been known as Dedanites before the conversion.  The Dedanites date from 6th to 4th century BC, which is right when Lehi and family would have been in the area sharing their gospel of repentance. 

font/cistern at Lihyanite Temple in al-Ula Saudi Arabia
According to Wikipedia the Arab genealogies consider the Ban Lihyan to be descended from the Adnanite Arabs from Ishmael.  The descendents of Lihyan founded the Arab kingdom of Lihyan, and presently live in the desert between Mecca and Jeddah.  the Qur'an states that they were descendants of the people of Thamud, a righteous people who believed in the one true God.  Potter's Nephi Project has discovered a sanctuary and two temple ruin sites that belong to the Lihyanites people.  One of which includes what appears to be a baptismal font that the Israeli Antiquities Department referred to as a cistern.  This cistern font ironically has the same dimensions as Solomon's font in the temple in Jerusalem.  The sanctuary was apparently a place for making sacrifices to the Lihyanite god known as "Dhu-Ghaibit" which means "he who possesses knowledge of the future" which is similar to Nephi's teachings of a Lord that knoweth all things (1 Nephi 9:6, 2 Nephi9:20).

So although there are interesting correlations between the location, name, timing and practices of the Lihyanites and the possibility of being taught by Lehi and Nephi we have to keep in mind that this is a speculative theory that will have to await more research and insights.  George and Richard (and the Hilton family) have set the standard for further Book of Mormon studies in this area.  Since having watched the DVD's I have also ordered another DVD from them known as, "The People of Lehi".  Any future insights obtained through this DVD and other research will merit another blog post.
 

2 comments:

  1. I just wanted to share another interesting insight given in George Potters article on "Lihyanites In The Oasis of Al-Ula (The More Fertile Parts) of Nephi's Trail" where George says,

    "In antiquity Dedan and its surrounding villages were called Qura Arabiyyah. Allegedly, there are inscriptions on a large stone near Medina which indicates that Jeremiah sent two people to visit the people Qura Arabiyyah.
    Were these two messengers Lehi and Nephi? At this time, we simply don't know the answer to that question, but there is ample evidence that drives our research at al-Ula.

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  2. This was fantastic! Thank you for posting this information.
    There is still so much to investigate and learn.

    JRSG

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