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JOSH - In the scriptures it says that it took 8 years for Lehi and His family to travel from Nahom to Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:4).
According to the map that is a distance of only about 500 miles which is equivalent to Kansas City to Indianapolis.
Why did it take them so long for such a short distance and did they not have the Compass during those 8 years to help them get there?
JOEL - That's 500 miles as the crow flies which would be a straight line. They no doubt had hills and valleys they had to go over or around. They needed to collect food; maybe they stopped for a while to grow some crops for food; women were having babies; people getting sick or injured.
Verse 1 of Nephi 17 says:
"And we did travel and wade through much affliction in the wilderness; and our women did bear children in the wilderness."
That's why it took so long. Sometimes we assume that everything that happened is recorded in the scriptures, when that is just not a practical assumption. No doubt that most of the things that happened to them during their travels are not recorded in the scriptures.
Also we don't have to assume that it was 8 years from Nahom to Bountiful.
"And we did sojourn for the space of many years, yea, even eight years in the wilderness.
And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful" (Verses 4-5)
The scriptures could be interpreted as saying that Nephi meant the whole trip in the wilderness from Jerusalem to Bountiful took 8 years, which is a distance of about 2300 miles.
Here's the reason why the Liahona did not always help them, and therefore why it took a long time:
"And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day.
Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;
Therefore, they tarried in the wilderness, or did not travel a direct course, and were afflicted with hunger and thirst, because of their transgressions. (Alma 37: 40-42)
Of course, the scriptures don't say how long they tarried. Remember because of their lack of faith and disobedience the Israelites wandered around in the wilderness for 40 years before they were allowed to arrive at their promised land (Joshua 5:6)
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