Place in Arabian desert


Nahom, occupying a location on Lehi1’s journey through the Arabian peninsula, holds significance as the burial site of Ishmael. This episode of the journey was fraught with struggle and dissent, constituting a nadir in the wilderness sojourn. Following Ishmael’s death, his daughters experienced an intense period of mourning and lamentation, which sparked dissent against Lehi (1 Nephi 16:34–36). This dissent, stoked by Laman1, led Lemuel and Ishmael’s sons to rebel against Lehi and Nephi1 (1 Nephi 16:37–38). The rebellion was quelled only after divine intervention led them to repentance (1 Nephi 16:39).

The name Nahom has potential links to the Hebrew terms n¯aham, denoting “groan” or n¯ah•am, indicating a state of sorrow or self-consolation. It has been proposed that Nahom could be identified with the present-day Nihm in Yemen. This conjecture arises from the existence of ancient altars dating back to the seventh century B.C., inscribed with dedications by a man named Bicathar of the Nihm tribe. Considerable weight is lent to the connection between these places by the phonetic resemblance of Nahom and Nihm—both sharing the consonants NHM—and the long-standing residence of the Nihm tribe near Wadi Jawf.

The journey from Nahom took a predominantly eastward direction (1 Nephi 17:1), reaching eventually to a place they named Bountiful, so called for its plentiful fruit and wild honey (1 Nephi 17:1–5). Bountiful is believed to correspond with the Dhofar region on the southern coast of Oman, the only area along the Arabian seashore which matches Nephi’s depiction of an area rich with fruit, honey, and timber (1 Nephi 17:5; 18:1), capable of sustaining both human and animal life.

Of the eight years spent in the wilderness (1 Nephi 17:4), the longest leg of the journey was from the first camp to Nahom, a distance of around 1,150 miles. That distance could feasibly have been traversed within a year or less, suggesting that the majority of the eight-year sojourn was likely spent between Nahom and Bountiful. Characteristically terse in his account of the journey, Nephi preserved hints of the experience while omitting specifics, such as the location of the mountain crossing he alludes to. For instance, reference to the successful hunting suggests ample cover (1 Nephi 16:14 –15), while other details are noted only after key points of arrival, such as the births of the first children following the arrival at Nahom (1 Nephi 17:1).


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