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What experience would Joseph Smith have had of desert travelers eating meat raw?

The Book of Mormon claims that Lehi and his family did not have to cook their meat before eating it. In 1 Nephi 17:12 we read:

For the Lord had not hitherto suffered that we should make much fire, as we journeyed in the wilderness; for he said: I will make thy food become sweet, that ye cook it not;

Michael R. Ash comments:

Early critics found this strange because little was known about ancient Arabia when they made this charge. According the Near Eastern archaeologist Dr. Jeffery Chadwick, the Lehites probably didn’t make much fire because of the lack of firewood and kindling and because they probably travelled in the cool of the night and rested during the day when no fires for visibility were needed. Dr. Hugh Nibley wrote that many desert travelers ate goat and sheep kidney raw –with a bit of salt. Others ate entire slices of flesh raw, or scorched it quickly over a small fire. In either Nibley or Chadwick’s scenario, the actions of the Lehites and their eating of “raw meat” are consistent with what we now know about ancient Arabian travelers.

Michael R. Ash – Faith and Reason 31: Raw Meat in the Book of Mormon

Wouldn’t it have been strange for Joseph Smith to include this in the storyline? How would he know about the cooking habits of desert travelers?


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