1 Nephi 16:34-35 — LeGrand Baker — “Ishmael died”

1 Nephi 16:34-35 — LeGrand Baker — “Ishmael died”

34. And it came to pass that Ishmael died, and was buried in the place that was called Nahom.
35. And it came to pass that the daughters of Ishmael did mourn exceedingly, because of the loss of their father, and because of their afflictions in the wilderness; and they did murmur against my father, because he had brought them out of the land of Jerusalem, saying: Our father is dead; yea, and we have wandered much in the wilderness, and we have suffered much affliction, hunger, thirst, and fatigue; and after all these sufferings we must perish in the wilderness with hunger.

Nahom is the only city mentioned by Nephi as he traveled from Jerusalem to Bountiful. The southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula, where Nahom is located, was a hub of the ancient frankincense trails. Nahom still has the ancient name (written anciently NHM), but now the spelling is Nahm. It also has a very large and very ancient cemetery where the desert people brought their dead to bury them. It is significant that Nephi reported that Ishmael was buried at Nahom, but he does not say that he died there. If one looks at a map of the Arabian peninsula as a boot with the toe pointing toward the east, Nahom is located near the Red Sea at the indent that would be the top of the heel of the boot. If one draws a line from there almost due east (just as Nephi says), one will end the line very near the place that was likely Nephi’s Bountiful.

The location of Nahom was first proposed by Ross T. Christensen, a BYU professor of archaeology, in a letter published in the Ensign in August, 1978.{1} Prof. Christensen had discovered, on a 1763 map, a place called “Nehhm” about twenty-five miles northeast of the Yemen capital Sana’a. Some years later, Warren P. Aston read the Ensign article and determined to investigate.{2} About that same time, the Hiltons, who had lived in the Near East for many years, visited the city and reported their findings.{3} Since then, several LDS scholars have pursued the question of Nahom and the trail followed by Lehi and his party.{4}

When Brown and his associates visited the burial sites, they reported:

We were fascinated at the way these mummies were wrapped in leather with their knees pulled up in a kind of prenatal position. Long slabs of rock were formed into a coffin for the body, and then the mound of rock was built over it. They were not small mounds, and there were thousands of them.{5}
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FOOTNOTES

{1} Ross T. Christensen, “The Place Called Nahom,” Ensign (August 1978): 73.

{2} The product of their work was: Warren P. Aston and Michaela Knoth Aston, In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi’s Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994).

{3} Lynn M. Hilton and Hope A. Hilton, Discovering Lehi (Springville, Utah, Cedar Fort, 1996).

{4} For additional insights on the location and importance of Nahom, see: Warren P. Aston and Michaela Knoth Aston, “The Place Which Was Called Nahom,” In the Footsteps of Lehi: New Evidence for Lehi’s Journey across Arabia to Bountiful (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994), 5, 19.
See also:
Eugene England, “Through the Arabian Desert to a Bountiful Land: Could Joseph Smith Have Known the Way?” in Noel B. Reynolds, ed., Book of Mormon Authorship: New Light on Ancient Origins (Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1982), 148 – 154.
Mark J. Johnson, “The Exodus of Lehi Revisited.” FARMS Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, vol. 3, no. 2 (Fall 1994), 123-26.
Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976), 92.
“Book of Mormon Near Eastern Background” in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols.,(New York: Macmillan, 1992), 187-90).
Hugh Nibley, Lehi in the Desert/The World of the Jaredites/There Were Jaredites, edited by John W. Welch with Darrell L. Matthews and Stephen R. Callister (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book and FARMS, 1988), 76.
Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon–Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988-1990 (Provo: FARMS, 219.
Daniel C. Peterson, “Shall We Not Go On in So Great a Cause?” in Susan Easton Black, ed., Expressions of Faith: Testimonies of Latter-day Saint Scholars (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book and FARMS, 1996), 127-37.
John L. Sorenson and Melvin J. Thorne, eds., Rediscovering the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Deseret Book and FARMS, 1991), 92).
Sidney B. Sperry, Book of Mormon Compendium (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968), 124.
John W. Welch, “Lehi’s Trail and Nahom Revisited,” in John W. Welch, ed., Reexploring the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City and Provo: Deseret Book Co., Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1992),47-49.
S. Kent Brown and Peter Johnson, Journey of Faith, from Jerusalem to the Promised Land (Provo, Utah, The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, BYU, 2006), 19.

{5} S. Kent Brown and Peter Johnson, Journey of Faith, from Jerusalem to the Promised Land (Provo, Utah, The Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, BYU, 2006), 119.
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