Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part VI


Continuing with our discussion of the land setup that Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27, including the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness along with the East and West Wildernesses., as well as several cities and their distances from one another.
    The interesting thing of this next part is that almost no sooner had Mormon reached the Land Southward with his father than a war broke out between the Nephites and Lamanites. And this war began at the Waters of Sidon” (Mormon 1:10).
This phrase “waters” is used several times:
1. “throwing the bodies of the Lamanites who had been slain into the waters of Sidon, that thereby his people might have room to cross and contend with the Lamanites and the Amlicites on the west side of the river Sidon” (Alma 2:34). Since both “waters” and “river” are used to address Sidon, it is possible that “waters” was used to avoid the repetition of the word “river.” Otherwise, it would appear the same exact water is being described, for the bodies were blocking the progress of the Nephites crossing the river, which may have been a bridge, for if it was the water itself they were in, the bodies would alredy have been in the river and being pulled downstream.
2. “And now as many of the Lamanites and the Amlicites who had been slain upon the bank of the river Sidon were cast into the waters of Sidon; and behold their bones are in the depths of the sea, and they are many” (Mormon 3:3). Being only six verses apart and within an extended description of a battle, is obviously the same event as described above.
3. “and many were baptized in the waters of Sidon and were joined to the church of God” (Mormon 4:4). This following period is a time of peach following the war mentioned in the two examples above. While one can be baptized in a river (Christ was baptized in the River Jordan), it is easier to find a side pool of water from the river to do so; however, either way this is evidently discussing the River Sidon, even if not directly in the flowing stream.
4. “And they were pursued by Lehi and his men; and they were driven by Lehi into the waters of Sidon, and they crossed the waters of Sidon. And Lehi retained his armies upon the bank of the river Sidon that they should not cross” (Mormon 43:40). Again, there is a multiple use of the name or term, therefore, possibly just a break from repetition, on the other hand, it is also possible that there was a body of water, a lake or large pond, etc., adjacent to the river where the fleeing Lamanites crossed, but earlier (verse 35), it says they were crossing the River Sidon. And following (verse 50), it says “And they began to stand against the Lamanites with power; and in that selfsame hour that they cried unto the Lord for their freedom, the Lamanites began to flee before them; and they fled even to the waters of Sidon,” though in the next (verse 51) the label “River Sidon” is again used. So evidently, Mormon is using the terms to mean the same thing.  
    It is interesting that this is one of only two times when the term “waters of Sidon” is used without the word “River” also used in connection with it. Did Mormon mean anything by that? We simply do not know.
In Hebrew, the word for “stream,” or “river,” is “nahar,” (נָהָר), which can also be used for “canal,” “current,” and “flood.” On the other hand, the Hebrew word for “waters” is “mayim” (מָ֫יִם), which can also be used for “pool,” ‘watering,” “waterless,” and “flood.” Since (מוֺ) is singular “water,” (נָהָר) is plural “waters.” This is not to be confused with “the water of a spring or well,” thus, these two words are not interchangeable and mean something different: nahar=river, mayim=waters, yam=sea, etc. Thus, the word “waters” in this sense, as the Waters of Sidon, mean a large body of water and is usually connected to such things as the Flood, where these waters were divided. River,on the other hand, typically refers to a cut channel where a river flows, though it could be strong in the winter, but just a wadi (dry desert) in the summer and its connection to flood has more to do with a “flash flood” or summer torrent than a flood of water over a large area.
    Thus, “nahar” means a "river" continuous and full, a perennial stream, as the Jordan, the Euphrates (Genesis 2:10); 15:18); Deuteronomy 1:7; Psalms 66:6; Ezekiel 10:15).
    This leads to the curious question, why is the Sidon River sometimes referred to as the River Sidon, and sometimes as the Waters of Sideon—the two words do not belong together
If some of the river flowed off into a side area, a settling pond or even a small lake, the river could be called the River of Sidon and the side waters called the Waters of Sidon 

    The only way that they would is if the River Sidon, at least in places, was connected to large bodies of water that flowed over or filled large expanses of land like a good sized lake or inland sea.
    The point is, there is so much in the scriptural record we cannot determine simply from reading it since we have no idea all of the facts involved. In fact, using “waters” and “river” in the same sentence or serie3s of sentences involving one river, the “Sidon,” does not make a lit of sense unless one has access to the original writing—and in this case it was not in Hebrew at all, but in Reformed Egyptian, so this is simply an issue (non-issue) that cannot be solved.
    It should, however, point out to all of us that when we arrogantly start making this and that fact as though there is no alternative in cases where words and not specific, such as in the River Sidon and the Waters of Sidon, we are simply wasting our time. And to approach any part of the scriptural record with a mind already made up as most Theorists do, is both unscholarly and impractical for it eliminates learning.
    We also might want to point out at this time that the Sea East ran all the way up the East coast of the Land Northward, for Helaman, talking about Nephites moving into the Land Northward around 46 B.C., describes how they filled up the land from the Sea East to the Sea West and the Sea North to the Sea South, suggesting not only Jacob’s island mentioned 500 years earlier, but also mirroring Mormon’s comments about the land being nearly surrounded by water except for a narrow neck of land between the Land Southward and the Land Northward. While Theorists who reject Jacob’s very clear statement they were on an island in the midst of the sea, all of this works together to pain a clear picture and completely verify Jacob’s statement and Nephi’s writing down of that statement. The problem is, when one has his mind made up, he rarely wants to be bothered with the truth if it disagrees with his stated position. The result is several people with divergent theorist that are incompatible with one another when Mormon made his one position quite clear. As an example:
John L. Sorenson’s map of his Land of Promise with current and ancient labels added according to his locations (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book,1985, Map 5 Page 37) 

1. Mesoamericanist Theoriests cling to their position that Mormon used a different compass than everyone else uses, claiming his outline of a north-south Land of Promise was really skewed nearly 90º off so that their Land of Promise is oriented east-west. The fact that intelligent men and women, some with letters after their names, and most with very strong feelings, willing to write article after article saying, in effect, that Joseph Smith’s translationis wrong and the Spirit either did not know of the error in directions or let it pass is both untenable and certainly irrational and obviously unscholarly!
2. Great Lakes Theorists cling to the belief that there is only one Hill Cumorah and it is in New York, and the Land of Promise is isolated to just North America and more specifically to the United States despite the fact that several President sof the Church and many General Authorties are on record in General and regional Conferences saying that all of the Western Hemisphere, both North and South America, is the Land of Promise. This despite their map violates several of the specific outlines of land locations that Mormon left us, and the manyh other inconsistencies with the descriptions of the Land of Promise. This also holds true for the Heartland and other Eastern U.S. Theorists.
    What is most disturbing in all of this is the disservice we have done to these ancient prophets, especially to Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Moroni, in coming ujp with untenable theories and claiming it is what the scriptural record says. If there are two theories that make no sensible connectiions to the scriptujrla record, to Mormon’s various descriptions, etc., is is the Mesoamerican and Great Lakes (Heartland) theories. One has to play foot-loose-and-fancy-free with the scriptures in order to do that. Imagine, Mormon, knowing he would be writing to a future reader, using compass directions that were unique to him and the Spirit not thinking it mattered enough to correct Joseph Smith’s translations of those directions.
Consider that Mormon tells us over and over again that the directions in the scriptural record of the Land of Promise are located north and south; meanwhile, Sorenson comes along with his rationale to try and convince us that Mormon is wrong and uses an entirely different cardinal direction system and that only he, Sorenson, knows about it and therefore changes the entire Land of Promise from north to south to a different map that is east to west. You choose whom you believe—Mormon or Sorenson 

    And consider all the BYU and other intelligent people who so doggedly support and promote that belief—a north-south Land of Promise that so mysteriously changes to east-west, because the word for west is also the word for hinder and because of all of this, in the Land of Promise, a people who were oriented to things of the East being those of God, did not know where East was and promotes it even to this day as South in the Mesoamerican Theory.
    Personally, I think Mormon would turn over in his grave if he was aware of that!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part V


Continuing with our discussion of the land setup that Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27, including the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness along with the East and West Wildernesses.
    So in effect, Mormon is both describing this south wilderness and naming it for us. Its name, of course, is the South Wilderness, like East Sea, North Sea, West Sea and South Sea. Its description is a narrow strip of wilderness that ran from sea to sea, dividing the Lamanite and Nephite lands.
    Once we understand the nature of the Nephites and their naming places, much like the Hebrews before them, of whom they are descended, it becomes less confusing to know what this or that action or name means and why it is so labeled.
Today, because of the duplicity of lands in the region, it can be confusing why the West Bank in Jerusalem is really to the East of Jerusalem, but that is merely because one may not understand that the West Bank is the west bank of the Jordan River, even though the Jordan River is to the east of Jerusalem (in fact, it included 371,000 Israelite settlers on the West Bank and another 212,000 Jewish Israelis in East Jerusalem). Therefore, placing the West Bank in the east of the land of Jerusalem. 
    It stems from a translation of the Arabic term ad-Diffah I-Garbiyyah, given to the territory west of the Jordan River that fell, in 1948, under occupation and administration by Jordan, which claimed subsequently to have annexed it in 1950. This annexation (International Law of Occupation, Oxford University Press, 2012, p204) was recognized only by Britain, Iraq and Pakistan. The term was chosen to differentiate the “west bank” of the River Jordan from the “east bank” of this river.
Another problem is the consider that Nephihah was build further inland for Amalikiah did not want to attack it, but keep his army down by the seashore. As Mormon states it: “But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it” (Alma 51:25). On the other hand, this city could have been much closer to the coast than some theorists place it, but up on a mountain top, cliff face, etc., making its attack by the Lamanites an unsure bet, so they kept their troops down by the seashore, meaning at a lower elevation.
One of the type of mountain top fortresses found throughout Peru and the Andes 

    We have to be careful how we read scripture and not just place our own meaning on words, phrases and ideas merely because it sounds right to us. Moroni ran into this type of problem when angry with the Nephite government for not sending fresh supplies and troops to help him keep the peace in the east, especially after Nephihah and other cities fell to the Lamanites—but he had misjudged the situation not knowing the chief governor, Pahoran, had been exiled from Zarahemla and wicked men sat on the judgement seats  in his place (Alma 60:1. 61:4).
    We can add to this placement of Nephihah that later, when Nephites were driven out of various eastern coastal cities of Morianton, Lehi, and Moroni, they made their way to Nephihah for safety (Alma 59:5).
    Evidently these four cities were fairly close together since Helaman’s strategy was to lure the entrenched Lamanits within these cities out into the open to do battle, and he marched his men past the cities hoping to draw the enemy out where the Nephites would have a chance to defeat them.
    It just could be that Nephihah was a strong fortress so positioned to make an attack of it a very difficult; however, this is just what the Lamanites did as they gathered an army so numerous the people of Nephihah could not withstand them (Alma 59:8) and fled and came over and joined the army of Moroni.
    We also find that the city Manti was nearby, for those driven out by the Lamanites fled to Nephihah, as did the coastal cities of Lehi, Morianton and Moroni (Moroni being just north of the narrow strip of wilderness along the east coast seashore), evidently placing Nephihah between these two areas, and probably closer to the coast than some might think. In fact, it is likely that Nephiah was geographically close enough to the sea to be included in these three cities that occupied the former East Wilderness. As suggested, it may have occupied a cliff or mountain top, been separated from the coastal side by a canyon,  making the cities of Morianton and Lehi easier to attack since they were evidently in the lowlands along the coastal beaches. 
    Evidently on the one side of Nephihah was a large plain area, flat ground, or open region for we are told that Moroni and Pahoran with their army pitched their tents on the Plains of Nephihah (Alma 62:18). Further north, of course, were the cities of Omner, Gid, and Mulek, which all occupied areas along the seashore, for that was where Amalikiah attacked (Alma 51:25-26). However, these three cities were evidently not as close to Nephihah as was the southern cities, for when Omner, Gid and Mulek were attacked, their people did not flee to Nephihah as did the southern cities. On the other hand, it might not have been distance at all, merely that the Lamanites would have been between these cities and Nephihah, having come from the south and attacking from that quarter. Still, when Moroni recaptured the Lamanite-held city of Gid, he did not take his prisoners to Nephihah but instead marched them to ther city of Bountiful (Alma 55:26), yet that might have been, again, that there were Lamanites to the south, or that the particular passes and mountain roads were easier to reach Bountiful from that point than Nephihah.
    This is why it is so difficult to determine distances, since there is simply no criteria that can singularly be applied. For those who want to limit the distances, such as Mesoamerican Theorists, they cite those factors that support their ideas, as do those who want a larger Land of Promise, such as the Heartland Theorists. The facts are, we simply do not know. And citing statistics that can so easily be countered by another set of statistics is not helpful
It is difficult to attack uphill, especially steep hills, against a fortress, no matter how large your numbers since the entrenched force inside the fortress has all the advantages 

    Much later, during the destruction that befell the Land of Promise during the crucifixion, the city of Moroni, which was located along the coast of the Sea East close to the narrow strip of wilderness, sank into the depths of the sea and the inhabitants thereof were drowned” (3 Nephi 8:9); however, what destruction, if any, that might have befell the cities of Lehi, Morianton and Nephihah, we are not told, so whatever the configuration of the city of Moroni, situated on a cliff overlooking the coast, or along the shoreline  of a beach, that ground disappeared beneath it and Moroni sank into the depths of the sea. As for the other nearby cities, Morianton, Lehi and Nephihah are not mentioned again in the scriptural record, nor for that matter, is Manti.
    It is interesting that while Mormon is abridging the record from Helaman through 4 Nephi, which covers all of the events listed here, he begins his own book or story (Mormon) by telling us of Ammaron’s hidden records, and Mormon being brought into the Land of Zarahemla from the Land Northward by his father (Mormon 1:6). Evidently, in his travels southward, Mormon was so impressed with the number of buildings and unending occupation of the land by the Nephnites, that he remembered it and wrote about it some 60 years later (Mormon 1:7).
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part VI,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part IV


Continuing with our discussion of the land setup that Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27, including the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness along with the East and West Wildernesses.
Most ancient people and especially the Hebrews and later Nephites, gave location/directional names to physical places under a rather simple, but consistent manner, as illustrated above

    To repeat the stance of how wildernesses were labeled or named in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, in the area of Zarahemla, the city was the center of the land, it being the home of the overall national government of the Nephite Nation. Thus, moving outward from the city of Zarahemla, west would have been along the Sea West coastal strip, of which the city was a part for that is where Mulek landed and settled. North would be toward the Wilderness of Hermonts, south would have been the narrow strip of wilderness that ran from the West Sea to the East Sea in a more or less straight course.
    East then would have been toward the borders of the Land of Zarahemla, the Land of Gideon, and eventually the east coast and Sea East. However, Mormon had a tendency to use the Land of Zarahemla in more than one manner:
1. Land of Zarahemla as an area surrounding the City of Zarahemla, with an eastern border along the border of the Land of Gideon and, evidently, the River Sidon; a southern border along the narrow strip of wilderness, and a northern border along an unnamed land (Helaman 4:5);
2. As an overall Land of Zarahemla, making up much of the Land Southward, such as the Land Bountiful, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Nephi;
3. All of the Land Southward in Nephite hands, such as in the description that the land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water except for a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32).
Evidently, almost all Nephite cities were named after the first who settled there, and the same name was given to the land immediately around the city (Alma 8:7)

    Consequently, once in a while one has to be careful how he is interpreting the Land of Zarahemla since it represents more than one meaning. However, at no time do we find the Land of Zarahemla being used meaning only the city of Zarahemla. Thus, in the distances described for the 21 days distance between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, we do not know where in the Land of Zarahemla that Alma reached when Mormon wrote: “And after they had been in the wilderness twelve days they arrived in the land of Zarahemla” for if this was just the border of the Land of Zarahemla and not the City of Zarahemla, it makes a big difference in the distances many theorists use to determine their size of the Land of Promise.
    Another example is in Mormon’s statement when: “And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days”? Since we do not know this, we need to be careful what part of the land, 1) just around the city, 2) the overall Land of Zarahemla to its borders, 3) The major portion of the Land Southward in Nephite hands other than the Land of Bountiful, or 4) the entire Land Southward in Nephite hands, including the Land of Bountiful and all other Nephite lands in the south” (Mosiah 1:1). Exactly what part of the land did he mean?
    Or another example is “And after being many days in the wilderness they arrived in the land of Zarahemla, and joined Mosiah's people, and became his subjects” (Mosiah 22:13)? Did he mean that Ammon and king Limhi did not reach Zarahemla until they got to the city itself? Or did they enter the land and then a day or more later reached the city?
    While it did not seem to matter to Mormon this fine point of accuracy, it has been used by numerous Theorists to determine time frames and distances and the size of the overall Land of Promise. But that is likely not very accurate since we do not know exactly what Zarahemla is being referred to unless the term “City” applies first. When “Land” applies first, it would appear we are talking about arriving somewhere at or just beyond the border into the land.
    In any event, we need to understand that when Mormon describes a South Wilderness it is in the south of the Land of Zarahemla—not elsewhere. Consequently, when he says there was a narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Zarahemla dn the Land of Nephi, then we have to understand that this narrow strip was in the area of the south in the Land of Zarahemla—nor would there be two wildernesses in the south so named, and since the narrow strip is not given a name, it stands to reason that this narrow strip of wilderness was the South Wilderness, it being a narrow strip that ran from sea to sea.
The narrow strip of wilderness or the South Wilderness was the dividing line between the two enemies—Nephites and Lamanites, and was the single most important geographical location in the Land of Promise since it was the dividing line that separated peace and war for the Nephite Nation

    We also need to keep in mind why this narrow strip was being introduced. This was not a discussion about wilderness areas in the Land of Promise. It was about the land that the Lamanite king controlled through which he sent a proclamation. And that land was south of a narrow strip of wilderness which divided the land of Zarahemla from the Lamanite lands the king controlled—those lands went from sea to sea, or as Mormon put it: “in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness.
    So everything to the north of that dividing narrow strip of wilderness was not part of the land that belonged to the Lamanites that the king controlled—only that land southward of that narrow strip of wilderness. Thus we can say that in this case, the narrow strip of wilderness is like a border or a line dividing the two major lands (Lamanites and Nephites).
    Earlier, Mormon had introduced the South Wilderness, as being very high in elevation and connecting the Land of Manti and the River Sidon (Alma 16:6-7), which he also comments upon when talking about the Narrow Strip of Wilderness (Alma 22:27). It is important to keep in mind that in Alma 22, Mormon breaks from his abridgement to introduce his own dialogue to help his future reader relate to these areas he has and is mentioning. He does this by starting out describing the Lamanite king’s land, then branches out to show that the Lamanites and Nephites were basically divided along a narrow strip of wilderness in the south (that is, south of the Land of Zarahemla, which, being a Nephite, is his land of focus).
And with that focus, Mormon then branches out to show where the Nephites were, the lands they controlled, that the Lamanites had infringed upon those holdings along the seashore or coasts for a short distance, but that the Nephites, “in their wisdom” had contained the Lamanites to the south. And in so doing, he describes this north-south land, beginning as he did with the Lamanite king’s lands in the south (south of the narrow strip of wilderness) and then moving northward, with the Land of Zarahemla and then the Land of Bountiful and then goes into a discussion on the Land Northward, and how that far land was separated by the Land of the Nephites by a narrow neck of land—even going into the detail of that narrow neck was the distance across that a normal man, a Nephite (not a woodsman like a Lamanite) could cross during a day-and-a-half journey. A journey, not a long-distance race, or any other unusual method of travel. Depending on the terrain, this distance would probably be somewhere between about 25 or 30 miles to upwards of 40 and maybe even 45 miles at best, since a journey is usually considered a leisurely pace, and a day-and-a-half typically would equate to 18 hours of walking (12 hour for one day, 6 hours for the half-day).
    So as Mormon returns to his abridgement, we return to the labeling of areas. Unlike modern man, because of the increasing number of places, objects, locations, etc., that need labeling, the ancients did not need many names for places. In fact, they often named something temporarily, with any individual (usually a leader of a group) naming a place they happened upon (such as Lehi naming the Valley of Lemuel and the River of Laban in areas where others, with other names for the areas obviously had traveled). However, in some cases, something was so significant, so large,such as a very big river, lake, or inland sea, requires a single name, such as the directional seas in Israel did anciently, but over time have evolved to be the Sea of Galilee, the Mediterranean, and the Dead Sea.
As an example, the Dead Sea, which lies to the east of Jerusalem, was once, and probably originally, called the Eastern Sea, for there was also a Western Sea (the Mediterranean). It was also called the Sea of Zoar, the Salt Sea, and the Sea of Arava and today the Dead Sea because it has no outlet everything that reaches it dies in it.
    The Mediterranean Sea, once called the West or Western Sea (Hinder Sea, meaning behind or West), derives its present name from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning “amid the Earth” or “between land” like Mesopotamia is so named meaning “between the rivers.” The Carthaginians called it the “Syrian Sea,” and later Romans called it Mare Rostrum (Latin for “our sea”), but in the Bible and primarily it was known as the “Great Sea,” or simply “The Sea.” In more modern times it was the Mediterranean Sea from the Latin mediterraneus meaning “inland”or “in the middle of land” (from medius, middle and terra land. Today, to the Arab world, it is the White Sea, meaning Middle Sea.
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part V,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part III


Continuing with our discussion of the land setup that Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27, including the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness along with the East and West Wildernesses.
    As discussed in our last post, the majority of storylines of the wars and battles in Alma forward have to do with the Sea East and the eastern seashore. This is obvious once one looks at the placement of the cities that were built in the East Wilderness by Moroni after driving the Lamanites out of that wilderness (and the West Wildnerness) and back into their own lands to the south (Alma 50:7).
The Lamanites lived in tents in then East and West Wildernesses 

    Up until Capt. Moroni’s time, the Lamanites had infringed upon the Nephit lands north of the narrow strip of wilderness, occupying both the West and East Wildernesses where they curved “round about” up into the north along both seashores (Alma 22:27). After Moroni drove the Lamanites out of the East and West Wildernesses and back into their own lands to the south, Moroni had Nephites from the Land of Zarahemla move into the wildernesses and build cities, particularly in the East Wilderness, where they first built the city of Moroni (Alma 50:13), then several other cities, including Nephihah, Lehi, Morianton (Alma 50:14-15).
Moroni had the Nephites build cities in the area that was once the East Wilderness 

    With these cities in place, plus other cities built in the north, as well as having the city of Nephi in the south but also in the east, it simply made sense for most of the Lamanite attacks to center upon those cities that were closest to them and undoubtedly the easiest to reach and probably the least defended compared to the cities of Zarahemla and Bountiful.
With the concentration of Nephite cities along the east coast, the Lamanite kings decided to attack these strongholds, believing some of them would be weaker and allow them victories 

When the Lamanite armies came down to attack Zarahemla, they did so by entringthe Land of Zarahemla from the east, giving the Nephites plenty of time to send out an army to meet them

    Later, when Coriantumr attacked Zarahemla surprising its defenders, he came from a different direction. Prior to that, such attacks had been from the east, through the land of Zarahemla, but Coriantumr went west in the Land of Nephi, attacking from the coastal corridor along the Sea West in an unexpected move that caught the entire Zarahemla garrison by surprise.
Coriantumr, being a Nephite defector knowing where all the garrisons were located and the resort or outposts, knew the best way to attack Zarahemla undetected and his surprise attack was totally successful, so much so, he thought he could cut his way up the center of the land to Bountiful 

    Regarding more about the Sea East, we need to be careful when placing seas or wilderness areas which are named by cardinal compass points, i.e., South Wilderness, Sea East, etc., and need to keep in mind that those names were given under both Hebrew and Nephite habit of naming something in a direction from the relationship of the center of the land which was occupied. Not the “center of the land,” but the “center of the land then occupied.” The idea that an East Wilderness would have been so named when it was located northward of a South Wilderness makes little sense, and would have been more likely, if that was the placement, to have been called a North Wilderness—which none are in the Land of Promise—in fact, the only evident north wilderness is the Wilderness of Hermounts which was in the north and west region north of  Zarahemla and possibly in the unnamed land between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Bountiful (Helaman 4:5, 3 Nephi 3:25).
    We also have to keep in mind that information in the scriptural record often clarifies any possible confusion if we are not looking at a passage with our minds already made up. As an example, with the East Wilderness, Mormon tells us this is not somewhere in an isolated area in the center or northern part of the land, but along the narrow strip of wilderness for three reasons:
1. His discussion leading up to the mentioning of the East Wilderness has to do with the narrow strip of wilderness—this was the key issue at the time since it was the landmark he singled out that separated the Land of Nephi and the Lamanites from the Land of Zarahemla and the Nephites (Alma 22:27). If it was a separate wilderness, as some think, then its placement within the discussion of the important narrow strip of wilderness would have been out of order;
2. When Moroni was successful in driving the Lamanites out of the East Wilderness, he drove them directly into their own lands in the south (Alma 50:7), i.e., to the south of the narrow strip of wilderness (the Lamanite Lands or Land of Nephi, which Mormon had been discussing)—for as Mormon says, “they went forth and drove all the Lamanites who were in the east into their own lands, which were south of the land of Zarahemla," for they were already in the Land of Zarahemla, that is, the East Wilderness was in the Land of Zarahemla, thus they were north of their own lands (Alma 50:9), so south of there was the narrow strip of wilderness and then the Land of Nephi, the Lamanite lands (Alma 22:27). 
When Moroni drove the Lamanites out of the East and West Wildernesses, he drove them directly into their own lands, meaning they were alreadyh within the narrow strip of wilderness

Had there been a portion of the Land of Zarahemla (not in the East Wilderness between the East Wilderness and the narrow strip of wilderness (South Wilderness), then his comment about “into their own lands: skips an important part of that event,i.e., driving them first into the Land of Zarahemla and then into the Land of Nephi;
3. The East Wilderness stretched to the east seashore (Alma 50:9), thus the idle Lamanites who lived in tents in the East Wilderness were living in the overall Land of Zarahemla, called the East Wilderness at the time. This means the Lamanites living there were north of the narrow strip of wilderness that went from sea to sea (Alma 22:27) and when driven south into their own lands, would have been driven straight into their lands.
Thus we suggest with confidence that the narrow strip of wilderness was also called the South Wilderness, since Mormon would not have given us two wildernesses in the same south area, and the East and West Wildernesses were,, in fact, connected to that South Wilderness as they curved “round about” up the east and west coastal seashores (Alma 22;27). We also suggest with confidence that the East and West Wildernesses were mere extensions of that narrow strip of wilderness (also called the South Wilderness) that ran “round about” up the coasts until Moroni drove the Lamanites out and the Nephites built there.
    Perhaps to prove this point, it should be noted that the East Wilderness and the West Wilderness are not mentioned again in the scriptural record after Moroni drove out the Lamanites and the Nephites built in those areas—thus there was no separate East Wilderness. Though it was mentioned seven times before Moroni ended its existence.
    Along this same line, the Sea East, which is mentioned 24 times in the scriptural record is never mentioned again after the destruction that occurs during the crucifixion, in which it appears the overall continent of South America rose sufficiently to from completely out of water except for the Amazon Basin which is still very close to sea level. It seems significant that both of these locations, the Sea East, and the East Wilderness show us, the wilderness through an act of driving the Lamanites out and Moroni having the Nephites build cities within it to eliminate the wilderness, and the other an event caused by the numerous uplifting of mountains “whose height is great” that occurred during the crucifixion (Helaman 14:23) and in both cases, locations that were heavily mentioned before, are never mentioned afterward. This should suggest to the most cautious among us that these events did take place as we have discussed and in the location we have noted.
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part IV,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part II


Continuing with our being asked recently about the Sea East and the East Wilderness with our response ending up being long enough for a full article and not simply a comment answer. Previously, we discussed the land setup that Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27, including the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wildeness along with the East and West Wildernesses.
 Mormon describes this land layout in Alma ch 22
    In addition, Mormon tells us that Capt. Moroni placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies” (Alma 50:10). This south area “in the borders of their possessions” is the exact same area Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27 along the area of the narrow strip of wilderness, which was the southern border of the Land of Zarahemla.
" Moroni also fortified the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon--the Nephites possessing all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountifujl, according to their pleasure" (Alma 50:11)

    And at this time Moroni “cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites. Thus we see:
1. the narrow strip of wilderness which ran across the land from sea to sea and curved up (“round about”) along the seashore on the Sea East and the Sea West, encompasses both the wilderness on the east and the wilderness on the west;
2. These are the same wildernesses where the Lamanites lived in tents “the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents and they were spread through the wilderness on the est in the Land of Nephi, yea, and also oon the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore…” (Alma 22:28), and also “And also there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore, whither the Nephites had driven them” (Alma 22:29);
3. Now this is the south wilderness, identified to us as the narrow strip of wilderness that curved upward along both seashores (“round about”). Of this wilderness, Mormon tells us: “And thus the Nephites were nearly surrounded by the Lamanites; nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon…”
This South Wilderness IS the narrow strip of wilderness, both are in the south and there would only be one named South Wilderness. If there were two, south wildernesses the other would have a name, not an adjective for a label
    Again, this wilderness is the narrow strip of wilderness separating the Land of Zarahemla from the Land of Nephi, in which we showed earlier that Mormon placed the beginning or the “head” meaning “source” of the River Sidon.
4. Continuing with Mormon “…from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29). Thus, the wildernesses involved are those shown in the maps above (not to scale) which Mormon tells us crossed between the land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi and curved up (“round about”) on both the east and west seashores and then ran northward for distances that caused these wildernesses to nearly surround the Nephites (see maps above).
5. Again Mormon writes: “nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29). Thus, even though the Lamanites were all across the land from sea to sea in the south, and occupied the east and west wildernesses where they curved upward from this south, or narrow strip of wilderness.  
    Now, from the point northward (beyond these two wilderness extensions), the Nephites   controlled everything from sea to sea going northward until they reached the land of Bountiful—at that time in their existence, was as far northward as the Land of Promise extended as far as the Nephites knew.
[One of the problem in following Mormon is that readers today, who have already read past Mormon’s Alma, forget that they are dealing in time frames. Mormon, who writes in about 380 A.D. keeps his dialogue abridgement consistent with the time frame in which he is writing and in 90 to 77 B.C. (Alma 22), Mormon is comparing matters with how they were among the Nephites in that period—not 380 A.D.]
    Continuing with Mormon: “And thus he cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon—the Nephites possessing all the land northward, yea, even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful, according to their pleasure” (Alma 50:11).
 This is the area which included the East Wilderness (not to scale) in which Moronidrove out the idle Lamanites living in tents and brought in Nephites from the Land of Zarahemla to build cities—those cities were mostly built in the southern area and northward along the coast 

    Now after preparing the line in the south (along the narrow strip of wilderness in the Land of Zarahemla), Moroni, who did prepare strongholds against the coming of their enemies (Alma 50:6), turned toward the now vacant East Wilderness after driving out the Lamanites (Alma 50:7), and causing that Nephite families in the Land of Zarahemla and the land round about should go forth into the east wilderness, even to the borders by the seashore, and possess the land. This land was just north of the Lamanite lands (Alma 50:7) and in which Moroni had the Nephites build a city which they called Moroni (Alma 50:13).
    Consequently, we see that the Land of Promise at this time had a definitive line or boundary between the Land of Nephi to the South and the Land of Zarahemla to the North, between which was the narrow strip of wilderness (South Wilderness). The East Wilderness was pretty much occupied from this time forward, though assuredly not all of it, as well as the land along the west seashore north of this wilderness line. We should also keep in mind, from this time forward, we know a great deal more about the Sea East and the land along the eastern seashore since that is where the Nephites built several cities after Moroni drove the Lamanites out of the East Wilderness. Also, partly because the City of Nephi was in the east near the Sea East, it was up this eastern corridor that the Lamanites continually attacked, all the way to within a short distance of the city of Bountiful.
We know less about the Sea West and western seashore corridor at this time forward since, no doubt, the Nephites did not occupy that area as much, probably because it was mostly desert. The one major exception to this is the area of Zarahemla in which not only the City of Zarahemla, but all the adjacent cities and settlements connected to the governmental capital of the Nephite Nation.
    South of this area of Zarahemla, the line separating the Land of Zaraahemla from the Land of Nephi (the line or border or narrow strip of wilderness) was mostly unoccupied (South Wilderness) and it was later that Coriantumr arrived in Zarahemla coming up this mostly vacated coastal route with his surprise attack on the City of Zarahemla, and from which he launched his further northward penetration up the center of the land toward Bountiful before he was eventually stopped.
    Thus, it is along the Sea East and eastern seashore that the majority of the final events of the Book of Mormon takes place, from Morianton’s battle with the people of the city of Lehi over a boundary dispute and his flight northward toward Bountiful and the narrow neck and narrow passage beyond the city of Bountiful, and Moroni sending Teancum northward to cut off Morianton and his people, to Amalikiah, the Nephite defector, then in charge of the Lamanite armies, fighting his way up this corridor and capturing several Nephite cities before he was finally driven out by Moroni’s stratagem.  
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part III,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part I


We were asked recently about the Sea East and in the response, it ended up being long enough for a full article and not simply a comment answer.
   Comment: “I understand the city of Nephihah was not along the east coast but inland, yet it was evidently built around the time of the city of Moroni which was one of those cities built by those Nephites that Capt. Moroni caused to move into the East Wilderness to occupy the land from which he had driven out the Lamanites who had lived in tents in that east wilderness” Charles G.M.
Lamanites leaving the East Wilderness and heading south back into their own lands which Land of Nephi bordered this east wilderness along the south
    Response: There is considerable controversy among various theorists about the Sea East and the East Wilderness in this region. Some place the wilderness so far inland it would actually be in the middle of the land of Zarahemla and from there make the leap to Lake Junin, north of the City of Zarahemla, to be the source of the River Sidon; however, that would place the Sidon north of where Mormon places it in Alma 22:28, and flowing south through the Land of Zarahemla against Mormon’s description.
    From previous side discussions, I know that some of our readers feel this is where Sidon is and its “head” or source, and not in the narrow strip of wilderness where Mormon apparently placed it.
    The problem with that is it would place the East wilderness north of the narrow strip of wilderness and due north of this south wilderness and create two separate wilderness areas of which Mormon does not specifically speak. On the other hand, when we look at the wilderness in Alma 22 and what is being discussed at this point, we see a different picture of an East Wilderness which Mormon addresses early on in his overall description of the lands. In following his outline of Alma 22, we find a different and more accurate picture of the layout of the land.
    First of all, when we start placing seas or wildernesses, which are named by cardinal compass points, (South Wilderness, East Sea,etc.) we have to keep in mind those names were given under both Hebrew and Nephite habit of naming something a direction in relationship to its actual direction from the land overall. As an example, they would not name a wilderness in the middle of their land an east or west wilderness since it is not to the east or west of the land overall, but in the center. Ancients did not name places like that, and neither did the Hebrews.
Under the ancients’ way of labeling directions for places, “East” meant the furthest east of something, there were no large extensions of that land between two “East” places 
    If we then include a “South Wilderness” as mentioned in Alma 16:6, it would appear that we have both a “South Wilderness” and a “Narrow Strip of Wilderness’ in the south, between the Land of Zarahemla” and the “Land of Nephi” (Alma 22:27), which would give us a land layout that looked like this:
Such a layout and naming use of cardinal points would not have made any sense to the ancients—Therefore, there would not be under this system a South Wilderness south of an East Wilderness, when at some points along the south wilderness (or line) the East Wilderness would actually be to the West 
    Thus, when looking at the use of North, East, South and West, in the Book of Mormon, we need to understand the Hebrew and the ancients’ way of both thinking and speaking as they used labels to indicate areas, much like we use names.
    Many years ago when I was working for a large office as an architect, designing office buildings for a major corporation, I was asked if I could explain to their corporate officers how the unusual addressing system in Salt Lake City worked.
For those outside Utah, the unusual Mormon way of using addresses is quite simple, there is a center place in a town or community or city, usually with the intersections of Main and Temple (or Center), i.e., 100 East/West and 100 North/South. The area is then laid out in blocks of 100 each labels, i.e., 100 N., 200 N., 300 N., etc. So you combine two addresses, either north and east, or north and west, or south and west, or south and east, i.e., 2453 N., 1300 W, which means 24 blocks to the north and 13 blocks to the west, with the actual address of 2453 on the house (which would be about in the middle of the block).
    The point is, to those outside of Utah or other Mormon street name locals, you might have an address of 2453 N. Marigold Ave., but unless you know where Marigold Ave., is located, you have no idea what part of the city the house or building is in. With the LDS numbering area, you know it is in the one of four quadrants, and since all numbers are sequential, you can generally find the address without any assistance.
    In this way, the ancients gave numbering and directional names to locations and they were not confusing or out of order, but very chronological and orderly in sequence. To place an East Wilderness that is not obviously in the East would make no sense, and to call two separated areas of wilderness in the south a “South Wilderness” would not have been how their system worked. To us today, who use names and directions rather randomly, we might not think that way, but the Hebrews did and the Nephites would have as well, placed direction names at the edges or near the far edges of the land in which they were discussing--or at least the place being the furthese in that direction.    
    Thus, when Mormon gives us an understanding of this Narrow Strip of Wilderness, he makes it clear that the Lamanite king’s land, the Land of Nephi, “was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west -- and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27).
The narrow strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea, and at the seashore, “round about on the borders” or curving to run along the seashore. Thus at the moment, the curving extensions of the wilderness in both the east and west curved upward along the seashore encompassing the Nephites in a partial enclosure or, as Mormon stated it: “nearly surrounded by the Lamanites” (Alma 22:29)--It should be noted that under the Hebrew (or Nephite) system, there would not be two East Wildernesses any more than two east seas--if there were two East Wildernesses, then one of them would have a name, such as the West Wilderness and the Wilderness of Hermonts, or the Sea North and the Waters of Ripliancom
    Now the term “round about,” pronounced “rounda bout,” in 1828 is defined as “round” meaning cylindrical; circular; spherical or globular; and “about” means in a circular course, to wind in a circle, circularly about.” In other words, not a straight line, i.e, a course that curves, bends, or moves about. So “round about on the borders of the seashore” means a line running its course across the land and curving up (or down) along the seashore. Today, the meaning of “round about” is basically the same: “not following a short direct route, circuitous, indirect, meandering, serpentine.”
    Continuing with the rest of Mormon’s description: “was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west—and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27).
   So the narrow strip of wilderness was on the north by the Land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti—that is, the strip of wilderness ran through the borders of Manti (i.e., from east to west) by the head of the river Sidon. That is, the narrow strip running from the West Sea to the East Sea ran through the east and west borders of Manti, which was situated in the hills or mountains to the south of the Land of Zarahemla and at a higher elevation than Zarahemla, along by, or within, the narrow strip of wilderness. In addition, within this narrow strip of wilderness, or very close to it (“by”) was the beginning, the “head” or source of the River Sidon, high up in the hills or mountains, than ran down past Manti into the valley or Land of Zarahemla.
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part II,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)

Friday, August 19, 2016

Why Do We Have Scriptures? Part II

Continuing with the recently published book by Jonathan Neville that caught my attention entitled Moroni’s America: the North American setting for the Book of Mormon, published in December 2015. The previous post introduced one of Neville’s maps regarding the placement of the various lands in the Land of Promise and comparing them with the descriptions of Mormon in Alma 22:27-33.
Our Simple Map of the Area
4. The Land of Nephi and the Lamanites were hemmed in on the south of the Nephites (see his map in the previoius post or the last map below).
    Map Result: Partially. While the Land of Nephi is to the south in Neville’s map, they are not hemmed in by the sea on either side and could circumvent the Nephite land holdings by sweeping far to the west and then north or far to the east and then north.
5. The Land of Nephi ran from the Sea West to the Sea East.
    Map Result: Inaccurate. There is no Sea West or Sea East on the map that runs along the west or east borders of the land of Nephi in Neville’s map.
6. Lamanites were scattered on the west in the Land of Nephi and on the west and in the Land of Zarahemla on the west in the borders by the seashore.
    Map Result: Inaccurate. There is no Sea West to the west of the land of Zarahemla, and there is no Sea West to the west of the Land of Nephi.
7. The place of their Father’s First Inheritance was located in the west in the Land of Nephi and thus bordering along by the seashore. 
    Map Result: The Mississippi River cannot be a Sea West, and while they can draw it wide, at no time geologically was the river known to have been wide enough to be considered a “sea.” It did change course from time to time, but never was it deep enough (or it would not have changed course) for a deep sea vessel to pass. In addition, historically, because of the natural shallowness of the Mississippi and the several series of rapids that have always existed, no ocean-going vessel could have sailed up the Mississippi to the confluence of the Ohio River. Third, calling a place along a river its head is not the same as the actual head of a river. Fourth, naming half of a river the Mississippi and the other half the Sidon is not scholarly or accurate when this river as known to the Indians long before modern times as always having the same basic name.
8. There were many Lamanites in the east by the seashore. 
    Map Result: Inaccurate. There is no Sea East in the area of the Lamanites on Neville’s map (see last post or below). Secondly, the border around his Sea East is north of the hill Cumorah, and according to several scriptural references, the Lamanites were always to the south of the Nephites, yet Neville has run the Land of Nephi and the Lamanites all the waya up to Lake Ontario.
9a. The Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon… 
    Map Result: The head of the River Sidon on Neville’s map is far into the Land of Nephi in its overall design, with part of the land of Nephi running to the south of the land of Bountiful and to the east along Bountiful’s full border, all contrary to the descriptions Mormon left us.
9b. …from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful… 
    Map Result: The head of the Sidon River was in the narrow strip of wilderness, yet in Neville’s map, it is many miles to the west, and Manti is nowhere near the Sidon River, which is far to the south of Manti in his map.
9c. Bountiful was to the north of the Nephite lands of Zarahemla.
Map Result: Neville has the Nephite laneds to the south and east of the Land of Bountiful where the scriptures never placed them. Also he does not have the Land of Bountiful to the North of the land of Zarahemla where Mormon places it.
10. Bountiful bordered upon the Land of Desolation, which was to the north. 
    Map Result: Partially. While the Land of Desolation is to the north of the Land of Bountiful, there is not one single “narrow neck of land” between them that fits the narrowing confinement of a land or isthmus between two major land masses.
11. The Land of Desolation was so far northward that it came into the land of the Jaredites. 
    Map Result: Partially. Neville’s Land of Desolation is to the north of part of the land of Promise, but not to the north of the Land of Zarahemla. Also, his Land of Desolation is to the west of Cumorah, contrary to Mormon’s descriptions.
12. The land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful.
    Map Result: Partially. Those two lands are north and south of one another on Neville’s map where he placed them; however, neither are to the north of the Land of Zarahemla contrary to Mormon’s descriptions.
13. The land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi were nearly surrounded by water, except for a small neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward.
    Map Result: Inaccurate. No portion of that Land of Zarahemla or the land of Nephi are surrounded by water.
14. The small neck of land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward was the distance of a day-and-a-half journey for a Nephite.
    Map Result: A small neck of land is identified by Neville, but it and its location does not fulfill the requirement of Mormon’s description since a river does not alter the movement of an army or bottle it up or keep it from advancing in the land he has chosen. Nor does it show a land within it nearly surrounded by water. Small rivers that are crossable do not meet Mormon’s criteria.
    So again, the question is asked, “Why do we have scriptures if someone is going to so blatantly ignore them in trying to tell us the description of the land that only the scriptures can enlighten us upon. Oliver Cowdery cannot help us understand where the Land of Promise was located since the Church has never identified a location other than the Western Hemsiphere of North and South America, and for all intents and purposes does not know the answer to that. In addition, several of Cowdery’s contemporaries, including Orson Pratt, who clarified and elaborated on the fact that North and South America was the land of promise for remnant of Joseph (David J.Whittaker, www.lds.org/ensign/1984) as well as early prophets.
As an example, “in 1844, the Prophet Joseph Smith declared that “the whole of America is Zion itself from north to south” (TPJS, 362); Elder Joseph Fielding Smith linked an Old Testament prophecy to the Americas when he suggested that Isaiah’s declaration of “Woe to the land shadowing with wings” (Isaiah 18:1) would be better translated, “Hail to the land in the shape of wings” (Signs, 51); and President Spencer W. Kimball tied all these thoughts together as he reminded the Saints in Brazil and Argentina that “Zion was all of North and South America, like the wide, spreading wings of a great eagle, the one being North and the other South America” (Conference Report, April 1975), pp3-9). 
    This shows the difficulty a Theorist has when they decide a place the Land of Promise and try to fit in certain scriptural locations, such as Neville did with the Hill Cumorah, the Land of Nephi, Land of Zarahemla, and Land of Bountiful, as well as the head of the River Sidon, etc., getting them all out of position according to Mormon’s descriptions.