Would we expect Lehi’s poetic couplet to match several features of desert poetry used by the ancient Bedouin of Arabia?
In 1 Nephi 2:9-10 we read:
And when my father saw that the waters of the river emptied into the fountain of the Red Sea, he spake unto Laman, saying: O that thou mightest be like unto this river, continually running into the fountain of all righteousness!
And he also spake unto Lemuel: O that thou mightest be like unto this valley, firm and steadfast, and immovable in keeping the commandments of the Lord!
Hugh Nibley comments how this couplet is remarkably similar to ancient Arabian desert poetry which includes the following features:
- They are … songs inspired by the sight of water gushing from a spring or running down a valley.
- They are addressed to one or (usually) two traveling companions.
- They praise the beauty and excellence of the scene, calling it to the attention of the hearer as an object lesson.
- The hearer is urged to be like the thing he beholds.
- The poems are recited extempore or on the spot and with great feeling.
- They are very short, each couplet being a complete poem in itself.
- One verse must be followed by its “brother,” making a perfectly matched pair.
What are the odds that Lehi’s couplet would so closely resemble poetry used by the ancient Bedouin of Arabia?
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