The words Lehi uses to describe his vision of the Tree of Life are beautiful and poetic. What must this dream have looked like to Lehi? Some unique geographic features found in the area where Lehi and his family lived might help us know.
To understand the force of this image, it is logical and compelling to compare the things seen in the dream with geographical realities found in Arabia, where Lehi and his family were traveling when he had his dream.
Hugh Nibley was among the first to make these comparisons in his groundbreaking 1950 Improvement Era series “Lehi in the Desert.” He compared the gulf of Lehi’s dream to the wadis—deep canyons and narrow valleys—found in the Arabian mountains:
All who have traveled in the desert know the feeling of utter helplessness and frustration at finding one’s way suddenly cut off by one of those appalling canyons with perpendicular sides—nothing could be more abrupt, more absolute, more baffling to one’s plans, and so will it be with the wicked in a day of reckoning.