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Why would Joseph Smith think Lehi would name places which likely already had a name?

When Lehi and his family are traveling through Arabia, they give names to the places they stay. For example in 1 Nephi 16:13:

And it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days, nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again; and we did call the name of the place Shazer.

Wouldn’t Joseph Smith have thought that all the places they travel through already have names? While it may seem odd to Book of Mormon readers, the practice of naming places on travels is consistent with the cultural practices of Bedouin travelers.

Evidence Central remarks:

Once considered strange and a cause for skepticism to nineteenth century readers, Lehi’s practice of naming localities and topographical features where they camped and traveled is consistent with what we now know about the customs of those who have dwelt in the desert. Like many other elements in Nephi’s account, the attestation of similar naming practices among Bedouin peoples of the region where Lehi would have traveled adds another golden thread to the authenticity of the Book of Mormon.

Evidence Central – Book of Mormon Evidence: Desert Naming Practices


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