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Wouldn’t Joseph Smith have said the mountains were strong rather than the valley?

In 1 Nephi 2:10 we read of Lehi speaking to his son Lemuel:

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!

If Joseph Smith had written the Book of Mormon, wouldn’t he have said the mountains were steadfast and immovable rather than the valley? Hugh Nibley rightly asks:

who ever heard of a steadfast Valley?

…It is not the mountain of refuge to which they flee, but the valley of refuge. The great depressions that run for hundreds of miles across the Arabian peninsula pass for the most part through plains devoid of mountains. It is in these ancient riverbeds alone that water, vegetation and animal life are to be found when all else is desolation. They alone offer men and animals escape from their enemies and deliverance from death by hunger and thirst. The qualities of firmness and steadfastness, of reliable protection, refreshment and sure refuge when all else fails, which other nations attribute naturally to mountains, the Arabs attribute to valleys.

– Hugh Nibley – Nibley, Lehi in the Desert, 92

Why does this passage sound like it’s written by someone from Arabia rather than America?


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