How did Joseph Smith get so much right about the Arabian Peninsula?

This question is borrowed from Jeff Lindsay’s page that asks “How did Joseph know so much about the Arabian Peninsula, including specific names and places that were not known in his day?

To quote from Jeff’s website:

Related questions:

  • Was it just blind luck that the rare place name Nahom in the Book of Mormon, identified as the place where Ishmael was buried, turns out to correspond to an ancient burial site right where the Book of Mormon says it is?
  • How could Joseph Smith so accurately and plausibly describe the nature and location of the place Bountiful in the Arabian Peninsula – when critics for years have been denying the possibility of such a place being anywhere in the region?
  • How does one account for the recent discovery of a plausible candidate for the River Laman, continuously flowing into the Red Sea as the Book of Mormon indicates, in spite of the repeated claims of critics that no such river exists?

Background:
The book of First Nephi in the Book of Mormon describes a journey through the Arabian Peninsula in much detail, sometimes giving specific directions like “south south-east,” and describing specific places such as the Valley of Lemuel with its continually flowing River of Laman, a burial place called Nahom, and a fertile and inhabitable spot called Bountiful due east of Nahom, where Lehi’s group lived for a period of time and were able to construct boats and sail to the New World. Incredibly, these details are not only plausible based on modern knowledge, but specific candidates for these locations exist, as I show on my page on Book of Mormon Evidences (including photos). In fact, the candidate for Nahom is confirmed as an ancient burial place in just the right location (Nehhem) and is associated with an ancient tribal name with the same consonants (NHM), based on a recent find of an ancient altar from that tribe dating to around the time of Lehi, with an ideal candidate for Bountiful nearly due east of Nahom on the coast of Oman. And in spite of much mocking by anti-Mormons about the non-existence of rivers, a continually flowing stream has been found in an impressive valley in just the right place to be the valley and river spoken of by Nephi. These places and the NHM name could not possibly have been known to Joseph Smith. They remain unknown to most college graduate in our day, and unknown to almost all anti-Mormons, based on their remarkable silence on these impressive “bulls eyes” in the Book of Mormon. But I’ll ask the question again: is there any way that such precise confirmation of First Nephi could have occurred if the unschooled farm boy Joseph Smith were just making up a wild story about a mythical adventure in a remote land? How can you explain away plausible and accurate directions that bypass the empty quarter and would allow an actual ancient journey, a description of a valley and river that anti-Mormons have alleged cannot possibly exist, the existence of an excellent candidate for Bountiful (also was said to not exist anywhere in the Arabian Peninsula), and a direct hit in identifying an ancient burial site and its rare name? Say what you will about other issues, but is there any way that First Nephi could have been written by anyone in North America in 1830, or is it more plausible that the accurate description of an ancient journey in the Middle East was written by someone who actually made the journey?

So there you go. Now who has some good answers?

  • Darrell

    Whenever I talk about these "evidences" of the divine nature of the calling of Joseph Smith and the restoration, about the only valid argument against it is "Well, the Devil must have told him. It couldn't be God". That's why we're always counseled against basing our testimony on this type of evidence. As members of the Church, we must learn to rely on the answers we've received through prayer and the Holy Ghost. No matter how convincing the discoveries are, they will always fail to convince the dedicated antagonist.

  • dontwannasay

    I believe that many religions were created by Satan. He is very clever. I believe that "Moroni" was actually a demon disguised as an angel in order to divert people from the Bible. I also believe Islam was inspired by a demon disguised as an angel. If you are so sure that the Bible and the Book of Mormon are both correct why do they contradict so much? It is all about where you put your faith in the bible or Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon has many many contradictions with the bible.

    • Joshua Steimle

      Do they really contradict each other, or do your interpretations of them contradict each other?

  • dontwannasay

    Satan also mixes facts with lies. Satan probably knew where the Peninsula was and told Joseph smith. The real question is how can you know wether it is god or satan speaking to you. so there ya go

    • Joshua Steimle

      Do you believe that God would make it impossible to tell whether you are communicating with Him or Satan? Or would He provide a way to know that something is of God?

  • Elaine

    Upon my studying of the Bible and the Book of Mormon lately, I have found no contradictions at all in them. In fact, there are times that I go to the Book of Mormon to clarify something that I have seen in the Bible, as well as the other way around. There is nothing that contradicts in the two texts. The Book of Mormon only verifies what is in the Bible. It is, as it states, "Another testament of Christ."

  • Jay

    A giant flying spaghetti monster told him.

  • Cliff

    I appreciate the willingness to be eloquent and thoughtful. But unfortunately, I am still not seeing how your claims are substantiated. Are these claims of evidence in the Arabian peninsula independently verified? Where are the citations? The peer reviews? As soon as an LDS source can provide evidence that is not simply affirmed by other LDS sources,

    And you are factually incorrect in many assertions above. NHM was a common construct. It is not a leap to guess about

    Remember that the burden of proof is always on Mormonism. It is the religion claiming that 2,000 years of the church was corrupted, and it fails to provide non-LDS source evidence. It is the church that asserts the Bible was corrupted in the middle ages, and then fails to provide any evidence to back up this claim other than "a feeling," and even when confronted with contradictory evidence, gleefully ignores it. It is the church that hides its own history from its members regarding the hateful and comical things the early prophets said about blood atonement and men on the moon, and then when someone points out such things by quoting LDS prophets directly, it suddenly changes its mind. It is the church whose founding prophet lied, repeatedly and with vigor, all the way to his death, about polygamy. It is the church that claims it is unified far beyond any other Christian church, but has hundreds of splinter groups who, ironically, live closer to the teachings of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young than the mainstream LDS church. It also fails to own its own prophesied temple lot in Independence, MO. More irony: an LDS splinter group owns the spot. This from the most unified church on earth.

    If you can factually rebuff these contentions, with non-LDS sources, and not pander to testimony or emotion, please do so. If there is one single piece of authentic Book of Mormon evidence that directly correlates to the Book, much like how the temple in Jerusalem from the time of Christ is still partially visible, then please point it out here. One single piece.

    It is not anti-Mormon to ask for facts. It is not anti-Mormon to say, "The facts as you present them are wrong." I don't hate Mormons. I love them and will always have them as friends. But I have found that repeatedly they get offended even by raising such issues. I have never been around a group of people in my life who suffer from such a martyr syndrome. And let's not pretend the persecution faced by the LDS church remotely compares to the ongoing, daily slaughter and torture of Christians around the world in hostile countries. Subscribe to The Voice of the Martyrs.