1 Nephi 17:11 — LeGrand Baker – “a bellows wherewith to blow the fire”

1 Nephi 17:11 

11 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did make a bellows wherewith to blow the fire, of the skins of beasts; and after I had made a bellows, that I might have wherewith to blow the fire, I did smite two stones together that I might make fire.

The Hiltons gave us an interesting insight about the bellows Nephi might have made to smelt the iron ore. They wrote,

The idea for a bellows was certainly not Nephi’s own invention. His contemporary, Jeremiah, mentions bellows in his own writings (Jer. 6:29).

We were excited when we discovered an old skin bellows in a blacksmith’s shop in Oman. It is very probable Nephi used a similar one. It is called keer in Arabic. The bellows was hanging, blackened and neglected, on the wall of the shop. The blacksmith told us that this bellows had been used by his father, his father’s father, and so on back for many generations (an estimated six hundred years). We had never seen a bellows like this before; it did not work in accordion fashion, pressed together like a European bellows, but was worked on the ground by a pump-like motion. The neck of the tanned goatskin was tied around a wooden coupling tube that fit into an iron pipe which would, naturally, have been placed under the fire. This reminded us of a clay pipe, dated 1,000 B.C., that we had seen in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, a device that had also been used to carry air from a bellows to the fire. The four legs of the skin of this bellows of Oman had been folded back and tied off carefully. The entire back end of the goat skin was open, the skin fastened to two parallel sticks so that it looked like a woman’s large knitting bag that can snap shut. The blacksmith showed us how to grasp these two sticks in one hand, holding them open while he pulled the skin up, drawing in air, then closing them as he pushed the skin bag down, forcing the air out the neck pipe. We were impressed that it worked well, and we wondered how such bellows differed, if any, from Nephi’s.{1}


{1} Lynn M. Hilton and Hope A. Hilton, Discovering Lehi (Springville, Ut., Cedar Fort, Incorporated, 1969), 159.

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