"The Jaredites &  Rub al Khali (The Empty Quarter)" by George Potter


The text of the book of Ether implies that from the Valley of Nimrod the Jaredites were led directly into a wilderness or desert (Ether 2:5).  The Tower of Babel is believed to have been within the city walls of ancient Babylonia[i] (near today's Baghdad).  The Valley of Nimrod was north of Babel, probably near the ruins of Nineveh, which was settled by Nimrod the hunter[ii] (Ether 2:1).  The ruins of Nineveh are approximately 250-300 miles north of the ruins Baghdad.  From the valley of Nimrod "the Lord commanded that they should go forth into the wilderness." The Book of Mormon does not state which direction-north, south, east, or west-that the Jaredites took from Nimrod to reach the wilderness. However, linguist Hugh Nibley explains "...what is meant by 'wilderness.'  That word has in the Book of Mormon the same connotation as in the Bible and usually refers to desert country...in the Bible 'wilderness' almost always means desert."[iii] The great desert proximate to ancient Nineveh is Arabia to the south, a land which has, since antiquity, been known as both a geographic and political wilderness[iv].


The Book of Mormon states specifically that "the Lord commanded the Jaredites that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been" (Ether 2:5). This clue is meaningless to most westerners, but for anyone living in the Near East, where the Jaredites started their saga, it is a clear reference to southern Arabia.  To an Arab, crossing the quarter where no man has ever been is as descriptive as telling an American that the Utah Pioneers crossed the Rocky Mountains.  Arab mythology holds that God created the world-two quarters where people lived, one quarter was the sea, and one quarter was the desert where no man ever lived.  To this day, the great sand desert of southern Arabia is called Rub al Khali, or Empty Quarter.  Being larger than the state of Utah, the Empty Quarter of Arabia is the largest sand desert in the world, and there is still no archaeological evidence that man has ever dwelt therein.[v]

When filming our DVD Into the Desert with George Potter, Richard Wellington and I drove most of what we believe was the Jaredite trail to Khor Rori. Those of you who have seen our DVD Discovering Lehi's Trail also know that Lehi traveled around the western and southern borders of the Empty Quarter and visited ancient cities like Marib.  To appreciate the wonders and danger of travelling in the Empty Quarter we have provided the following link to a beautiful film shoot of the Empty Quarter by The National Geographic.

 [i] http://newadvent.org/cathen/15005b.htm                                                                                             

[ii] LDS Bible Dictionary, "Nimrod"

 [iii] Hugh Nibley, Collective Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol. 6, 135.

 [iv] George Potter and Richard Wellington, "Discovering the Lehi/Nephi Trail" 2000, unpublished.

 [v] With the discovery of oil in Saudi Arabia, permanent camps (at great cost) have been established in the        Empty Quarter.