|Old City al-Ula Saudi Arabia|
When Lehi and his family (this included Ishmael and his family as well as Zoram) started their journey into the wilderness, heading south from Jerusalem they shortly found themselves in Northern Arabia at the head of the Frankincense Trail around the 6th century BC. This area is known as al-Ula or Dedan which was the capital city of the Lihyanite Empire. It is theorized that Lehi and his family spent time in this area preaching the gospel during their wandering. We know that they did preach the gospel according to D&C 33:7-8. So the idea is that descendants of some of the converts of Lehi and Nephi named the empire in honor of these great leaders and teachers. It was common to name tribes or communities after local heroes or traditional elite figures so this theory does fit a historical setting. Potter notes that Dedan was part of the Frankincense Trail that was known and used from the time of Ramesses II (2nd Millennium B.C.) to Mohammed (6th Century B.C.) It is precisely in the Dedan area that would have been considered the more "fertile parts" which is the course Lehi and his family traveled.
Potter points out that the name Lihy was also carried through the Lihyanite kings quoting Dr. Al-Anary who wrote, "Lihyanite inscriptions were found along the trade routes in Tayma and Al-Fau (approximately 1,000 miles). In Tayma, a black obelisk mentions, "Fadju, shahro bin Malik Lihyan", son of the king of Lihyan" ('an' makes a word plural in Arabic). Pliny, who died in 19 A.D. referred to the Gulf of Aqabah as the "Gulf of Laeanitie."
|Lihyanite Inscription that includes the name 'Sam'|