There are 10 thoughts on “Nephi’s “Bountiful”: Contrasting Both Candidates”.

  1. A Misleading Picture of Khor Kharfot

    I support Warren Aston’s continued efforts to develop Khor Kharfot as a candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful. However, Warren Aston does a disservice to students of the Book of Mormon by declaring over and over again that Khor Kharfot is a more qualified candidate for Nephi’s harbor than Khor Rori. Students of the Book of Mormon can judge for themselves. As for Aston’s 12 requirements being met at Khor Kharfot, his arguments were discredited by BYU Professor Wm. Revell Phillips who surveyed the inlet. (Phillips, Wm. Revell, “Mughsayl, Another Candidate for the Land Bountiful,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, (Provo: Brigham Young University, 2007), 55-57.)
    Phillips’ concerns about Khor Kharfot remain to this day and cannot be brushed aside by Aston attempt to paint a favorable picture of Khor Kharfot.

    Aston’s primary evidence for Khor Kharfot being Bountiful is his personal interpretation of 1 Nephi 17. Aston presents a private interpretation of what Bountiful must have looked like, and to no one’s surprise Aston concludes that his vision looks just like Khor Kharfot. His argument is a self created tautology. In reality, no one knows what Bountiful looked like in the 6th century BC. Nephi’s account only implies that Lehi camped near the shoreline, that Bountiful had a place where Nephi built and launched a ship, much fruit, wild honey, a source of ore, and a mountain where Nephi prayed. While these features all existed at Khor Rori in antiquity, Kharfot lacked one essential attribute, a place suitable for building and launching a ship. Kharfot also lacks a reasonable explanation as to how Nephi acquired the raw materials to build a ship or how he learned how to build and sail it.

    Here are some misleading claims Aston employs to create a favorable picture Kharfot as Bountiful:

    1.Nephi called the land Bountiful because of its “wild fruit.” The Book of Mormon states only that Bountiful had “much fruit.” Much fruit would better describe the abundance of cultivate and wild fruits at Khor Rori/Wadi Darbati rather than the scare wild at Kharfot.(Potter, George D. “Khor Rori: “A Maritime Resources Based Candidate for Nephi’s Harbor,”, Interpreter Foundation Journal, May 27, 2022, 264-265).
    2.Aston asserts that Bountiful had a “distinctive mountain” adjacent to Lehi’s camp. The Book of Mormon and does not indicate where the mountain was located. There are numerous mountains at Khor Rori that Nephi could have easily walked to in order to pray.
    3.That Bountiful was in an unpopulated area. The Book of Mormon does not specify whether Bountiful was or was not populated. Nephi’s account seems to imply the opposite.(Potter 269-273) Even if Bountiful was a wilderness, Khor Kharfot was not an isolated place in Lehi’s time. Philips pointed out that at Khor Kharfot, Lehi’s family would have been in contact with local inhabitants (Phillips, 56).

    Aston’s picture of what Bountiful looked like is supposition, not scholarship. Another image Aston tries to portray is the idea that Khor Kharfot once had a protected harbor where Nephi could have built and launched a ship. Khor Kharfot is a beach, not a natural harbor, and there is no scientific evidence that it was ever anything but a beach. Since the earliest records, shipyards have always been built above the calm waters of a harbor. To try to offset this critical weaknesses of Khor Kharfot, Aston provides a conceptual painting of what Kharfot would have looked like without its beach (Figure 7). While the image is of a small inlet, no one knowledgeable of shipbuilding and the monsoon weather conditions would believe it ever a protected harbor. Further, note in Figures 3 & 4, the breaking surf; even his citation for Figure 3, points out that during storms waves break over the beach forming a second pond, meaning that the area above the beach is exposed to winds, waves, and high tides. Even if the beach did not exist at Khor Kharfot, the wadi would not form a harbor since the wadi behind the beach increases in altitude and is not below sea level. In contrast, since antiquity Khor Rori’s harbor and breakwaters served as an ideal harbor for mooring, building and launching ships.

  2. I support Warren Aston’s continued efforts to develop Khor Kharfot as a candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful. However, Warren Aston does a disservice to students of the Book of Mormon by declaring over and over again that Khor Kharfot is a more qualified candidate for Nephi’s harbor than Khor Rori. Students of the Book of Mormon can judge for themselves. As for Aston’s 12 requirements being met at Khor Kharfot, his arguments were discredited by BYU Professor Wm. Revell Phillips who surveyed the inlet.[ Phillips, Wm. Revell, “Mughsayl, Another Candidate for the Land Bountiful,” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, (Provo: Brigham Young University, 2007), 55-57.] Phillips’ concerns about Khor Kharfot remain to this day and cannot be brushed aside by Aston attempt to paint a favorable picture of Khor Kharfot.

    Aston’s primary evidence for Khor Kharfot being Bountiful is his personal interpretation of 1 Nephi 17. Aston presents a private interpretation of what Bountiful must have looked like, and to no one’s surprise Aston concludes that his vision looks just like Khor Kharfot. His argument is a self created tautology. In reality, no one knows what Bountiful looked like in the 6th century BC. Nephi’s account only implies that Lehi camped near the shoreline, that Bountiful had a place where Nephi built and launched a ship, much fruit, wild honey, a source of ore, and a mountain where Nephi prayed. While these features all existed at Khor Rori in antiquity, Kharfot lacked one essential attribute, a place suitable for building and launching a ship. Kharfot also lacks a reasonable explanation as to how Nephi acquired the raw materials to build a ship or how he learned how to build and sail it.

    Here are some misleading claims Aston employs to create a favorable picture Kharfot as Bountiful:

    1.Nephi called the land Bountiful because of its “wild fruit.” The Book of Mormon states only that Bountiful had “much fruit.” Much fruit would better describe the abundance of cultivate and wild fruits at Khor Rori/Wadi Darbati rather than the scare wild at Kharfot.[ Potter, George D. “Khor Rori: “A Maritime Resources Based Candidate for Nephi’s Harbor,”, Interpreter Foundation Journal, May 27, 2022, 264-265).]
    2.Aston asserts that Bountiful had a “distinctive mountain” adjacent to Lehi’s camp. The Book of Mormon and does not indicate where the mountain was located. There are numerous mountains at Khor Rori that Nephi could have easily walked to in order to pray.
    3.That Bountiful was in an unpopulated area. The Book of Mormon does not specify whether Bountiful was or was not populated. Nephi’s account seems to imply the opposite.[ Potter, 269-273,] Even if Bountiful was a wilderness, Khor Kharfot was not an isolated place in Lehi’s time. Philips pointed out that at Khor Kharfot, Lehi’s family would have been in contact with local inhabitants.[ Phillips, 56.]

    Aston’s picture of what Bountiful looked like is supposition, not scholarship. Another image Aston tries to portray is the idea that Khor Kharfot once had a protected harbor where Nephi could have built and launched a ship. Khor Kharfot is a beach, not a natural harbor, and there is no scientific evidence that it was ever anything but a beach. Since the earliest records, shipyards have always been built above the calm waters of a harbor. To try to offset this critical weaknesses of Khor Kharfot, Aston provides a conceptual painting of what Kharfot would have looked like without its beach (Figure 7). While the image is of a small inlet, no one knowledgeable of shipbuilding and the monsoon weather conditions would believe it ever a protected harbor. Further, note in Figures 3 & 4, the breaking surf; even his citation for Figure 3, points out that during storms waves break over the beach forming a second pond, meaning that the area above the beach is exposed to winds, waves, and high tides. Even if the beach did not exist at Khor Kharfot, the wadi would not form a harbor since the wadi behind the beach increases in altitude and is not below sea level. In contrast, since antiquity Khor Rori’s harbor and breakwaters served as an ideal harbor for mooring, building and launching ships.

  3. Warren,

    I see from your article that there is some dispute about the capability of the lagoon at Kharfot being open to the sea or not. The lagoon at Kharfot would be classified as a “choked lagoon” as opposed to a “restricted lagoon” or a “leaky system” lagoon. Basically, the formation at Kharfot of the lagoon is that the strong coastal wave action in conjunction with available sediment produces littoral drift, which builds the barrier that separates lagoon and ocean. In non-arid climates these choked lagoons are filled by runoff during the rainy season and the channel reopens. In an arid climate like Kharfot, there is a cycle of opening as the closed off lagoons can turn into salt flats for periods up to ten years. Occasional heavy rains and flood runoff can refill the lagoon basin, percolate through the barricade entrance, and eventually weaken and break through the barrier. As freshwater input dwindles, salt water will intrude and evaporation will greatly exceed combined runoff and rainfall. As the channel is blocked off by littoral drift, the lagoon will again turn into a salt flat.
    The opening of the Kharfot lagoons are primarily controlled by rainfall cycles. In this area of Oman, based on data collected from 1897 to 1994 the rainfall cycle averages around 18 years. Looking at GoogleEarth, in 1985 it was blocked. The next picture in 2004 it is blocked. In 2011 it was partially open, and in 2013 it was closed again. So it appears to generally follow the pattern (although there is no info from 1985 to 2004).

    Jerry Grover, Civil Engineer and Geologist

  4. Good article, you may have the better location proposal. One thing, you stated “However, some agricultural pursuits during the years of their stay at Bountiful are certain.”
    There are indications that the party was not located in Bountiful very long. Here is an extract of my upcoming book on BOM chronology that discusses the issue:
    “In Enos 1:25 Enos indicates that he began to be old, and that 179 years had passed since the departure of Lehi from Jerusalem. Enos received the plates from his father Jacob (Jacob 7:27) and was of sufficient age to be capable of understanding his father’s instructions regarding the plates, and to have been instructed in the language of his father (Enos 1:1). Jacob was the younger brother of Nephi1 and was born during the eight years (1 Nephi 17:4) that the Lehites sojourned in the wilderness in the Old World (2 Nephi 2:1) and was the “first-born” of the last two children born in the wilderness. A younger brother, Joseph, was also born in the wilderness (1 Nephi 18:7).
    The chronological issue arises when one assumes that the latest that Jacob could be born in the wilderness is around 2 years before the end of their sojourn, since Joseph was also born in the wilderness, which would be year 6, meaning that the combined father and son generation (Jacob and Enos) was at least 173 years. If one assumes that that age 12 is the youngest Enos could have been to be trained in the language by Jacob, and thus even if Jacob sired Enos at the very late age of 80 and trained him into his 90’s, that would leave Enos at the age where he “began to be old” at the age of 93. If Jacob and Joseph were twins, then it would have been age 91.
    It does seem likely that Jacob and Joseph were twins, as when on the boat to the promised land, both were still nursing to some extent (1 Nephi 18:19). From a Biblical typology perspective, Jacob being a twin is consistent with the Biblical type of Jacob and Esau, as well as the Biblical type of the mother Sariah corresponding with Abraham’s wife Sarai/Sarah, who bore Isaac at an advanced age. Sariah is also mentioned at the time of the boat incident as being “stricken in years” (Nephi 18:17). Based on these facts, a potential birth year for Jacob in the wilderness is indicated that it was at the very end of the eight-year sojourn in the wilderness. Sariah was still nursing after being on the boat for “the space of many days” (1 Nephi 18:9).
    The issue of Sariah’s age at Jacob’s birth must then be considered. Her four oldest sons were of marriageable age at the time of departure as each took a wife soon after arriving at Lehi’s camp (1 Nephi 16:7). Looking at the youngest reasonably possible age for Sariah at Jacob’s birth, assuming a one year separation in age of the four oldest brothers, Laman (the oldest) was likely 22 years old at departure and assuming Sariah’s age at Laman’s birth was 16, then her age at departure would have been 38, with her age at the arrival in Bountiful then 46, thus it is still possible for her to give birth to Jacob given the normal time that a woman can bear a child. That does seem a bit young to be classified as “stricken in years.” In modern times, the oldest verifiable natural birth for a woman is 59 years old, so Sariah may have been older than 46, but it all is not inconsistent with Jacob and Joseph being twins.
    With regards to the possibility of a set of twins being still young enough to be nursing on the boat the length of stay in Bountiful must not have been long. It is not overtly clear from the text whether the stay at Bountiful is included in the eight-year period of the sojourn in the wilderness although the text implies that the arrival there was after the eight-year wilderness sojourn (1 Nephi 17:4-5). Although the text indicates that Nephi was in the land Bountiful “many days” before starting to construct a ship (1 Nephi 17:7) it does not appear that they remained in Bountiful for even a growing season as Bountiful was characterized with the name Bountiful because of its “much fruit and wild honey” (1 Nephi 17:5) and the specific provisions that they took with them into the ship were not grown crops, it was “much fruit,” “meat from the wilderness,” and “honey in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:6). Nephi noted at the end of the wilderness sojourn that they lived upon meat in the wilderness (1 Nephi 17:2), so it appears they may even have taken meat with them that was obtained prior to them arriving in Bountiful. There is no mention of agricultural crops and the seeds that they planted when they reached the New World were from the “land of Jerusalem” (1 Nephi 18:24 is indicative that they did not plant and and regenerate new seed stock in Bountiful).
    If one considers that a year is an uncorrected lunar year, then the apparent Enos anomaly is resolvable, as the effective equivalent solar years to lunar years (171) of the generation is 166, which would have Enos at age 86 instead of age 93.

    • Jerry,

      I think there are too many assumptions in your chronology to make any determination as to how long the Lehites sojourned in Bountiful. Your assumption that Jacob and Joseph were still nursing is plausible from the text, but my grandfather nursed until he was four years old so that doesn’t narrow their ages enough to get any refinement on their stay in Bountiful. Your suggestion that they were twins is also plausible. However, Enos could have been 99 when he began to be old and that pushes everything back. As Warren has provided evidence that there were no others at Bountiful, their time in Bountiful would have been included in the eight years in the wilderness. Noah Webster defined wilderness as an area uninhabited by human beings.

      If we could estimate how long it would take six or seven men to harvest timber, shape it and build an ocean-going vessel, with primitive tools, that would give us a better idea of how long they were in Bountiful.

      • Theodore,

        There were two points I was trying to make. First, the text does not support that they did any sort of settled agriculture (planting seeds). This is also supported by a shorter chronology. It may be a bit longer as you say if they nursed for a longer time (say it was 4 years). The second point is that there are some parameters in the text that does set boundaries on the length of stay at Bountiful. If the interpretation of the text is that the stay at Bountiful is within the 8 years in the wilderness, than they probably couldn’t have been there much longer than 4 years given all the other things that happened on their travel to Bountiful. If the standard interpretation of the text is accepted, that the stay in Bountiful is not part of the 8 years in the wilderness, the Bountiful stay is limited by the birth of the twins in the wilderness, than the nursing parameter of a maximum of 4 years. If they weren’t twins than the stay at Bountiful would have only been 3 years maximum.
        As you say the time to build a ship would be another parameter which I haven’t seen anyone write about. Also the indication of the 99 years as “began to be old” is problematic because that phrase is used elsewhere in the BOM (Nephi in his late 70’s, early 80’s). The terms used in the BOM from youngest to oldest are “began to be old,” “old age,” “good old age”, and “exceedingly old”. So the standard textual interpretation would be that 99 years old would not fit in the “began to be old” but would probably be in the “exceedingly old” category. Anyway, this analysis is only tangential to the point of the article, except the analysis does indicate that the potential for production agriculture is not a necessary parameter when evaluating any potential Bountiful site.

    • It has been estimated that it took experienced Vikings about 24,000 man-hours to build their ocean-going ships. Nephi’s ship would need to have been about the same size to carry all of them and their tents and provisions. Assuming that there were seven of them working on it for 10 hours per day that would be 343 days. As they would not work on the Sabbath that would add another 50 days for total of 393 days or about thirteen months. They had been there for many days before Nephi started building the ship so they were probably in Bountiful about 18 months.

      • So using your info on the construction of the boat, the chronological items that had to happen in Bountiful were (1) after the “space of many days” Nephi was told to go to the mountain, (2) he gathered ore and made bellows and then tools, (3) he then built a ship. If we use your thirteen months to build a ship, then it would seem that the stay in Bountiful fits within a 2 to 4 year window.

  5. This article alone justifies the existence of The Interpreter. Magnificently argued and carefully researched. What a gift to all of us who love the Book of Mormon. Thanks to all of you!

  6. Warren,

    Thorough, fair, and well-presented, and I agree with your analysis and conclusions.

    A minor point that you made, “the fruit mentioned was not cultivated but grew wild,” is also implied by the fact that Nephi made no mention of planting seeds in Bountiful but emphasized they did so when they landed in the Promised Land:

    “And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem.” (1 Nephi 18:24)

    Notice that they planted ALL the seeds they brought from Jerusalem into the soil of the Promised Land.

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