Thursday, April 26, 2018

Another Critique Regarding Joseph’s Translation

In answer to a critique on one of our articles regarding Joseph Smith’s translation of names he did not know about, one reader’s critique of him not naming the animals stems from the method in which Joseph translated. Following is his series of comments and our responses:

Comment: “The assumption that those two oddly named animals were the Alpaca and the Llama make some very liberal assumptions. First, you assumes that Joseph Smith saw in vision the words he was translating. This doesn't seem to be the case. In most instances we learn that he saw words.” Riingram 23
    Response: First of all, there seem to be different terminologies used by different scribes and people, and at different times by Joseph Smith himself, some of these terms were “interpreters,” “Spectacles,” "Urim and Thummim," and "Seer Stone." Those who saw the interpreters described them as a clear pair of stones bound together with a metal rim. The Book of Mormon referred to this instrument, together with its breastplate, as a device “kept and preserved by the hand of the Lord” and “handed down from generation to generation, for the purpose of interpreting languages.”
Left: Hebrew High Priest wearing a Urim and Thummim within the breastplate; Top Center: The gold breastplate of judgment hung from chains of pure gold and in the breastplate was the Urim and Thummim; Bottom Center: Artist depiction of the Urim and Thummim Joseph Smith had; Top Right: Artist Depiction of Joseph wearing Urim and Thummim; Bottom Right: Joseph Smith’s “seer stone” 

Latter-day Saints often understand the term “Urim and Thummim” (which translates as “Lights and Perfections”; and mentioned in Exodus 28:30; Leviticus 8:8; Deuteronomy 33:8; Ezra 2:63; Nehemiah 7:65) to refer exclusively to the interpreters; however, Joseph Smith and others, seem to have understood the term more as a descriptive category of instruments for obtaining divine revelations and less as the name of a specific instrument, though in the early days of the Church, Joseph Smith seems to have used the terms “interpreters” and “spectacles” interchangeably.
    Nancy Towle, an itinerant Methodist preacher, recounted Joseph Smith telling her about “a pair of ‘interpreters,’ (as he called them,) that resembled spectacles, by looking into which, he could read a writing engraven upon the plates, though to himself, in a tongue unknown.”
Joseph placed the seer stone into a hat and peered into it to block out the light so the writing on the stone was unimpeded—something like our watching TV in a dark room today
  
Secondly, some accounts indicate that Joseph studied the characters on the plates. Most of the accounts speak of Joseph’s use of the Urim and Thummim (either the interpreters or the seer stone), and many accounts refer to his use of a single stone. According to these accounts, Joseph placed either the interpreters or the seer stone in a hat, pressed his face into the hat to block out extraneous light, and read aloud the English words that appeared on the instrument.
Third, the scribes and others who were involved in writing down or observing the translation left numerous accounts that give insight into the process. The initial scribe,  Martin Harris, said that he sat across the table from Joseph Smith and wrote down the words Joseph dictated. Harris later related that as Joseph used the seer stone to translate, sentences appeared. Joseph read those sentences aloud, and after penning the words, Harris would say, “Written.” An associate who interviewed Harris recorded him saying that Joseph “possessed a seer stone, by which he was enabled to translate as well as from the Urim and Thummim, and for convenience he then used the seer stone.”
    A later person and principle scribe, Oliver Cowdery, testified under oath in 1831 that Joseph Smith “found with the plates, from which he translated his book, two transparent stones, resembling glass, set in silver bows. That by looking through these, he was able to read in English, the reformed Egyptian characters, which were engraved on the plates.
    According to witnesses of the translation, when Joseph looked into the instruments, the words of scripture appeared in English. The other instrument, which Joseph Smith discovered in the ground years before he retrieved the gold plates, was a small oval stone, or “seer stone.” As a young man during the 1820s, Joseph Smith, like others in his day, used a seer stone to look for lost objects and buried treasure. As Joseph grew to understand his prophetic calling, he learned that he could use this stone for the higher purpose of translating scripture.
    Apparently for convenience, Joseph often translated with the single seer stone rather than the two stones bound together to form the interpreters. These two instruments—the interpreters and the seer stone—were apparently interchangeable and worked in much the same way such that, in the course of time, Joseph Smith and his associates often used the term “Urim and Thummim” to refer to the single stone as well as the interpreters.
Joseph’s wife Emma reports Joseph translating when looking into a hat at the seer stone 

Joseph’s wife Emma explained that she “frequently wrote day after day” at a small table in their house in Harmony, Pennsylvania. She described Joseph “sitting with his face buried in his hat, with the stone in it, and dictating hour after hour with nothing between us.” According to Emma, the plates “often lay on the table without any attempt at concealment, wrapped in a small linen table cloth. When acting as his scribe, [Joseph] would dictate to me for hour after hour; and when returning after meals, or after interruptions, he would at once begin where he had left off, without either seeing the manuscript or having any portion of it read to him.”
    Comment: There are various Nephite words in the Book of Mormon that Joseph Smith didn't need to translate. To assume he saw them in vision and couldn't figure what to call them is a stretch.” 
    Response: What most people simply do not understand about translation, or man understanding inspiration or revelation at all, is the simple fact that the Spirit cannot prompt a person to know something that is not within their knowledge or understanding. It is like trying to explain to a child the meaning of atomic energy. Without a background or familiarity with a concept, the concept falls short of interpretation. Take as an example the Lord providing guidance or prophecy to ancient prophets about futuristic events that included things like tanks, rockets, helicopters, etc. Those prophets wrote about what they saw, but used language familiar to them since they had no words or knowledge to use the words we would know today.’
    When interpreting the writings of Moroni about the two animals, Cureloms and Cumoms, Joseph, a farmer by trade and upbringing, from a long line of farmers, living in a farming community at a time when farming and husbandry was a way of life, did not know what type of animals to which Moroni referred. Therefore, he could not interpret the Nephite or Jaredite words Moroni had written, and had to use those words instead of a name know to us today. The same is true with Mormon’s words for two grains: neas and sheum; or his use of a decorative metal, ziff. Because he had evidently never heard of or knew nothing about these items, the Spirit’s prompting couldnot register in his mind with anything other than the Jaredite or Nephite words, which is what he dictated to the scribe.
    It would not have mattered if he saw them in a vision or not, if he had never seen the animals before, knew nothing about them, heard of them, etc., then he would be without English equivalent words to list them.
    As an example, what if you were translating something from another language into English and came across the word “Sparklemuffin,” would you know how to translate that? Or “Chilesaurus diegosuarezi”? Assuming you had never heard of these animals before, what would you call them? The first is a peacock spider that walks on his hind legs, and the second is a plant-eating, turkey-sized cousin to a Tyrannosaurus rex. 
    Comment: “Another assumption is that he says the Cureloms and Cumoms are basically labor animals. That is not detailed. They could have been useful to man in the form of food. There are mountain sheep for example that are unique to North America. Their horns could have been used in the practice of Law of Moses, while the meat could be used for food.” 
    Response: Most any animal is useful to man in one way or another; however, Moroni makes it clear that the Cureloms and Cumoms were more useful than the horse and the ass, therefore, drawing a parallel to two animals well known to us and their value well understood. He also tells us they were more useful than “cattle, oxen, cows, sheep, swine, goats and many other kinds of animals, which were useful for food.” In addition, he tells us that these two animals were on a par in usefulness to man as an elephant. This eliminates the use of horns for the Law or Moses, or some other singular or simple concept, or only useful for food as this reader claims.
    Now, as to labor animals, in Moroni telling us that the Curelom and Cumom were more useful than horses and asses, separate from the “food” animals he listed, he is referring to these two animals’ “beast of burden” or “labor” value, as he is when telling us that the two animals were as valuable as the elephant, another labor/burden animal. Consequently, this individual’s comments are again misleading and inaccurate.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Another Attempt to Sell Us a Route Around Africa

Sometimes theorists just won’t give it a rest. Heartland and Great Lakes theorists, who desperately try to claim Lehi sailed around Africa and up the Atlantic to North America simply miss the point of “sailing around Africa,” somehow thinking it would have been a Sunday stroll in the park.
    As one critic recently wrote: "You are embarrassing yourself. Lehi rounded the horn of Africa and went right up the Atlantic to North America (would take about 90 days or so)l..You landlubbers are clueless related sailing as one who sails and runs a sailing school I can tell you your route in this video is simply crazy. Nephi said they sailed to the promised land in many days which means under a year and there is not way to sail across the Indian ocean, southern Pacific in under a year...Sorry your theory does not hold water. And no Lehi did not land in South America."
Black Circles: Horn of Africa is not the same as the Cape of Africa; Red Line: This reader's proposed course for Lehi around the African Cape

Response: First of all, as even a "landlubber" would know, the Horn of Africa is in the northeast off the Gulf of Aden across from Yemen, and in which Djibouti and Somalia are located, which is 4,368 miles north of the Cape of Africa, where the ships on this reader's course would have to round into the Atlantic. Secondly, let us spell out, in response, who should be aware of this being so knowledgeable about sailing and running a sailing school as you claim, that sailing around Africa was no simple matter in the days of Lehi, and actually not even today. Cape Agulhas (Cape of Needles) is a rocky headland at the eastern end of the western Cape in South Africa, starts the rounding of Africa form the Indian Ocean.
The Cape of Africa, made ujp of several capes and points all of which fall into the area called the "Graveyard of Ships"

This route covers four basic areas: Cape Agulhas, which is the eastern boundary current of the southwest Indian Ocean, with Cape of Good Hope (Cape Town), the southern tip of the Cape Peninsula, and the western boundary (where a ship coming from the west around Africa begins its first turn more eastward than southward), with Quoin Point and Danger Point (at Birkenhead) in between. Cape Hangklip (at Pringle Bay) is across False Bay from the Cape of Good Hope along the Cape Peninsula, but not really a way point on this journey.
    The sources of the Agulhas Current are the East Madagascar Current (25 Sv), the Mozambique Current (5 Sv) and a recirculated part of the south-west Indian subgyre south of Madagascar, and flows down the east coast of Africa from 27°S to 40°S. It is narrow, swift and strong—let me repeat that: it is narrow, swift and strong. It is considered to be the largest western boundary current in the world ocean, with an estimated net transport of 100 Sverdrups (Sv, millions m3/s), as western boundary currents at comparable latitudes transport less, such as the Brazil Current (16.2 Sv), Gulf Stream, (34 Sv) and the Kuroshio (42 Sv).
    Now the net transport of this current, estimated as 100 Sv., is directed by the topography as it follows the continental shelf from Maputo to the tip of the Agulhas Bank (155 miles south of Cape Agulhas). At this point, the momentum of the current overcomes the vorticity balance holding the current to the topography and the current leaves the shelf, reaching a maximum transport near the Agulhas Bank of  between 95-136 Sv. The core of the current is defined as where the surface velocities reaches (39 in/s), which gives the core an average width of 21 miles. The mean peak speed is 54 in/s), but the current can reach 96 in/s).
    This is important because the swiftness of this current effects the ocean surrounding the western entrance around Africa and entrance into the Atlantic! Of course to modern sailing ships of today, this is nowhere as critical as it would have been to Nephi’s ship, which was a square-rigger (fixed sails) that was “driven forth before the wind.” Nor would this be as important to modern, well-trained and experienced seamen as it would have been to Lehi’s party of inexperienced “landlubbers.”
    His crew, after all, did not have the benefit of a sailing school and anyone on board who knew anything at all about ships, sails, or sailing!
    Now, as this Agulhas Current flows south along the African east coast, it tends to bulge inshore frequently, a deviation from the current's normal path known as Agulhas Current meanders. These bulges are occasionally followed by a much larger offshore bulge, known as Natal pulses, these latter moving along the coast at 12 miles per day, with the pules bulging up to 75 miles from the current's mean position. That is, while the current passes here at 21 miles offshore, the meanders reach 76 miles offshore, broadening from 55 miles in width to 78 miles, inducing a strong inshore counter-current—this causes large-scale cyclonic meanders known as Natal pulses that form along the continental shelf on the South African east-coast (i.e. the eastern Agulhas Bank off Natal).
    As these pulses move along the coast on the Agulhas Bank, they pinch off Agulhas rings from the current, such a ring shedding causes cyclonic vorticity belts around the Loop Current causing vortex ring instability resulting in cyclones and counter-clockwise anticyclones.
White Circle: Area referred to initially as the Cape of Storms; this area where the Agulhas Current retroflects or turns back upon itself is a turbulent area of eddies, counter-currents, colliding current and severe storms

Now, when this warm, swift Agulhas current reaches the so-called “division line” between the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, it collides with the cold Benguela Current flowing up the west coast of Africa, which does not, by the way, originate from Antarctic waters in the South Atlantic Ocean as one would suppose, but from upwelling of water from the cold depths of the Atlantic Ocean against the west coast of the continent. The two currents do not "meet" anywhere along the south coast of Africa, however, the Agulhas Current retroflects, i.e., turns back upon itself due to sheer interaction with the Antarctic Circumpolar Current or “West Wind Drift.” Thus, the Agulhas becomes the Auglhas Return Current, rejoining the Indian Ocean Gyre, which automatically turns back upon itself and back into the Indian Ocean any drift voyage, or antiquitos sailing vessel “driven forth before the wind.”
    This coming together of these currents off the southern coast of Africa, causing enormous filament of cold, upwelled water which extends hundreds of mile from shore in a mesoscale field of eddies and coherent vortices and cascades of other structures such as filaments, squirts and spirals of three-dimensional structures that reach own into the pycnocline. We mention all of this to suggest the uneven and tumultuous character of this ocean as it rounds the Cape of Africa.
    This turbulent ocean was called by early Portuguese explorer Bartholomew Dias as the Cabo das Tormentas, or Cape of Storms, and as we have mentioned several times in our articles, resulted in the infamous “Graveyard of Ships” along the western Cape, found here from early efforts trying to round this headland or cape in either direction. In fact, this western coastal area of South Africa is quite dangerous and has claimed thousands of vessels over the centuries. The most famous wrecks include the Grosvenor, the Arniston, the Waratah, the Birkenhead, the Sacramento, The SS Thomas T Tucker and the Oceanos. It is estimated that more than 2500 shipwrecks have occurred along the South African coast since 1500, all from a diverse range of cultures and countries and include ships of Portuguese explorers, Dutch, English and French East India Companies, the British Royal Many and more. Some of the ships that sailed our treacherous seas simply disappeared without a trace. The eastern coastal area of this Cape is referred to as “The Wild Coast,” and is well known for its numerous shipwrecks where treacherous seas and heavy rain have taken their toll of shipping. Even in modern times, ship’s engines have failed on numerous occasions because they could not compete against the windy seas, eventually running aground. In fact, there are many shipwreck dive sites along this coast, including one at Smitswinkel Bay on the Southern Peninsula in Cape Town. This is one of South Africa's deepest dive sites and contains a wealth of shipwreck discoveries. Other shipwreck dive sites located along the Cape Peninsula includes the Maori wreck, the Oakburn, the Boss, the Katzmaru, the Kyna’s coast, and lots more.
Da Gama’s pioneered a route that swung wide out into the Atlantic, almost to the coast of Brazil, where he picked up the counter-clockwise current of the South Atlantic Gyre and swung around to land at St. Helen’s Bay. From there he became a coastal vessel, landing at seven towns along the southern and eastern coast of Africa before crossing to India

Vasco de Gama is credited with sailing around the Cape in 1497 from west to east in the ship São Gabriel and its sister ship, the São Rafael, captained by da Gama’s younger brother, Paulo. The only reason he was able to accomplish this fete, was from the advice of Bartholomew Dias, who had not achieved that result, and suggested that it would be better if da Gama swung wide out into the Atlantic and picked up the prevailing winds to the Southern Ocean and around Africa.
    On his initial voyage to the Cape area of Africa, da Gama left Lisbon on July 8, 1497, and arrived at St. Helen’s Bay on the tip of Africa on November 4, 1497—spending four days shy of four months just to reach the Cape. And he sailed with the currents, picking up the Westerlies out in the Atlantic that Bartholomew Dias told him about. On December 16, he reached the Great Fish River, where Dias turned back—an overall trip of five months and eight days just to reach the Indian Ocean. On his return trip from India, sailing east to west around the Cape, it took him three months just to cross the Indian Ocean and an entire year before reaching Portugal—with only 54 of his 170-man crew surviving the trip. In 600 B.C., under the Egyptian king Wehimbre Nekao (Necho II), Phoencian seaman sailed around Africa, from east to west, it took three years. In both these cases, the ships were manned by very experienced sailors, not novices like were aboard Nephi’s ship.
    So much for this critics 90-day trip around Africa for Lehi and up the Atlantic to North America. Thus, the idea of a short trip for Lehi to reach the Land of Promise around Africa is considerably under-estimated, and as faulty as is this entire argument.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Finding Point Nemo – Where Nephi’s Ship Sailed

From time to time we receive rather definitive comment from critics who take exception to something we have written. In this case, it was about the Southern Ocean route Lehi took to sail across the Pacific Ocean. 
   He states: “If they sailed across the Pacific low down like you said they would have (1) froze and if they sailed higher they would have sailed across the (2) Pacific Desert/Point Nemo. Both 1. or 2. is very difficult. Why people making videos to try and push this path across the S. Pacific so it fits their S. America theories is beyond me, makes no sense at all. Again non-sailors, landlubbers trying to discuss what they have no clue about. One day Mormons will wise up and align with what makes sense and is in line with what would have really happened” Miles M.
So let’s discuss his earlier points, namely, the so-called Pacific Desert and the interesting area referred to as Point Nemo. First of all, the middle of the South Pacific Ocean—a remote point equidistance from three different coastlines—has been given the name of Point Nemo, which is located at 48°52.6′ south, 123°23.6′ west—in the center of the South Pacific Gyre—and is the farthest place from land in the ocean. This area, officially known to space agencies as the "South Pacific Ocean Uninhabited Area" and to earth science as the "oceanic pole of inaccessibility." It is an uninhabited area that stretches 1850 miles from north to south, by about 3100 miles from west to east. It is essentially one massive, oceanic desert that one oceanographer has described as “the deadest spot in the ocean.”
    Point Nemo, named after author Jules Verne's famous seafaring anti-hero in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, named Captain Nemo, which is Latin for "no-one," is a fitting name since the area is so rarely visited, located 1,670 miles equidistant from the coasts of three far-flung islands:
To the north is Ducie Island, a non-inhabited, C-shaped strip of land with a diameter stretching less than two miles, a barren and incredibly remote atoll belonging to the Pitcairn Island chain. To the northeast is the rocky Easter Island of Mota Nui; and Maher Island (near the larger Siple Island off the coast of Marie Byrd Land, Antarctica) in the south, so small and remote it wasn’t even discovered until the 1940s. Point Nemo, as the most distant point from the coastline, it has a maximum degree of continentality (difference in marine and continental climates), and being in the center of the Gyre, has limited wind flow. Few fish live deep within its waters, with temperatures that hover between 35º and 39º F., these depths are home to sponges, sea stars, squid, octopi, whales, and viperfish.
    Of course there is no point or island or any land of any kind in this area and is merely a geographic construct, not a physical phenomenon. As such, it is of interest mostly to explorers and adventurers, and provides no obstruction in any way to a ship that might chance through the area—such as Nephi’s ship shortly after 600 B.C.
The MIR space station flying over the area of Point Nemo, making these astronauts closer to the sea at this point than natives on any island

In fact, Point Nemo is so far from land, the nearest humans are often astronauts. The International Space Station orbits the Earth at a maximum of 258 miles, a mere fraction of the 1670 miles distance land is from the point. It is so remote, that the Russian, European and Japanese space agencies have long used it as a dumping ground of “space junk” reentry, because it is the point on the planet with the fewest human inhabitants and the quietest shipping routes.
    The oceanic Gyre, a massive rotating ocean current that is bound on the east and west by the continents of South America and Australia, on the north by the equator, and on the south by the strong Antarctic Circumpolar Current or Southern Ocean. Apart from the occasional round-the-world yacht race, there are hardly any visitors since it is far off the normal commercial shipping lanes.
    The waters within the gyre are stable, with a surface temperature of 42º F. at Point Nemo according to NASA satellite data, which blocks colder, nutrient-rich water from entering; nor does the light wind carry much organic matter.
The tranquil area of Point Nemo and the so-called Pacific Desert. Hardly an area of difficult sailing

As a result, there is little to feed anything. With no material falling from above as "marine snow," the seafloor is also lifeless. Oceanographer Steven D'Hondt describes this area as "the least biologically active region of the world ocean." After graduating from Stanford and obtaining his doctorate in Geological and Geophysical Sciences at Princeton, D’Hondt joined the US. Geological Survey in California studying ocean history and has spent a lot of time observing the area of Point Nemo, of which he says, “On a calm day, the sea surface in the heart of the South Pacific Gyre is simply beautiful—clear cornflower blue, with a violet tone—because it contains so little particulate matter and so little living material."
    The point is near the southern end of the East Pacific Rise, a submarine line of volcanic activity that stretches up to the Gulf of California. It marks the boundary of the Pacific and Nazca tectonic plates, which are gradually moving apart. Magma wells up in the gap between the plates, creating hydrothermal vents that blast out hot water and minerals.
Remains of the Nimbus weather satellite fuel capsule launched in 1964 rests on the floor of the Pacific Ocean around Point Nemo

It is interesting to note that in this remote stretch of the Pacific Ocean southeast of New Zealand, the broken remains of space stations and robotic freighters litter the ocean floor, two-and-a-half miles below the waves. It is referred to as the "Spacecraft Cemetery," because hundreds of decommissioned satellites, space stations, and other spacecraft have been deposited there upon re-entering the atmosphere to lessen the risk of hitting any inhabited locations since this is an area where there are no islands and shipping traffic is relatively light. It’s an ideal place for spacecraft to plunge back to Earth and die, far from any humans that might be injured by falling debris.
    The point is, there is nothing about the physical makeup of this so-called Pacific Desert or Point Nemo that would have inhibited Lehi from sailing there, though he was probably some miles south of that point in the Southern Ocean. Also, the Southern Ocean, as we have reported time and again, is made up of two competing currents, from the north is the warm water moving down from the equator, and from the south is the cold water moving up from the Arctic. If Lehi would have sailed along the northern edge of the Southern Ocean where the temperature is around 50º F. (the same temperature as off the Oregon and Washington, Massachusetts and Main coasts as well as most off the British Isles and Norway), and as much as 62.5º F., compared to along the southern edge, where it is 28º F. Consequently, where Lehi sailed would have been sufficiently warm for them to have managed without freezing—after all, where Columbus sailed in the Atlantic, the water temperature is 55º to 59º F., and where the Vikings sailed to eventually settle in New Foundland, North America, ranges from 41º down to 32º F., according to the Atlantic Ocean temperature guide and the Global Sea Temperature charts of the World Sea Temperature.
Left: A 32-foot, 9.5-foot beam (wide), 4.5-ton ketch with 1-6 man crew that has sailed the Southern Ocean; Right: By comparison, Columbus' square-rigged 64-foot, 18-foot beam (wide), 108-ton "Santa Maria" with 40-man crew, which was Columbus' largest ship
 
Not to lessen the severity of sailing in the Southern Ocean, it should be noted that even single manned boats make that voyage. In fact, in one person-one boat races, two are held in the Southern Ocean, 1) The Around Alone race (formerly the BOC Challenge), and 2) the non-stop Vendée Globe race. In addition, cargo ships make their regular way across the Southern Ocean—tankers, bulk cargo or container ships bound both ways round the Horn of Tierra del Fuego (South America), which is located at 57º south latitude. Lehi would have been sailing between 40º and 49º south latitude in what is called the “Roaring Forties.”
    Further south, winds can develop very quickly, rising from thirty-five to seventy knots in three hours or so, particularly dangerous seas for small boats. Yet, thirty-to-sixty-foot long, two-masted ketch, or yawls sail the Southern Ocean with single man or multiple person crews. Even two-man twenty-five-footers have made the voyage.
    In the early days of sail, square-rigged ships sailed the Southern Ocean and passed Cape Horn, a high rocky island just off the tip of Tierra del Fuego in South America, with varying degrees of difficulty. Ships would sometimes spend weeks trying to round it from east to west, against the prevailing wind, seas, and current. Bligh's Bounty struggled to round the Horn for twenty-nine days before giving up and running off to the east, eventually reaching the South Pacific by way of the Indian Ocean and through the narrow straits off southeast Asia. Bligh's crew, with cruel and unconscious hypocrisy, never forgave him either for the hardships and terrors of that month or for turning tail at the end of it. On the other hand, while sailing west to east, with the prevailing winds, was usually readily successful, in Two Years Before the Mast, Richard Henry Dana describes his ship's ordeal in the winter of 1836. Trying to round the Horn from west to east with a cargo of California hides, it took them two weeks in head winds, uncharacteristic calms, and easterly gales. They were often blocked by ice fields, though they finally made it through. On the other hand, Lehi's course would have taken him north along the Humboldt Current a hundred miles or more short of the dangers and difficulties of the Horn and the Drake Passage.
    In the days of the clippers, sharply raked stem and counter stemmed schooner or brigantine ships with square rigging, the Southern Ocean cut off weeks of travel as they brought their highly-priced cargoes of spices, silk and tea from China to New York or London ports. They ran with sails up night and day, carrying extra canvas such as skysails and moonrakers on the masts and studding sails on booms extending out from the hull or yards. They could reach a remarkable 16 knots (18.6 mph) when most ships were lucky to make 10 or 11 knots. They were built for speed and the uninterrupted Southern Ocean with its high winds and strong currents was ideal for their sailing capabilities and requirements.
    It is not that we try to push “this path across the S. Pacific so it fits their S. America theories,” but that is the path that has been used for centuries by ships looking for a shorter and faster course from the Old World to the New, from the Eastern Hemisphere to the Western Hemisphere. For someone who claims to know about ships and sea lanes, one can only wonder why this reader fails to know about this remarkable path across the southern Pacific Ocean that cut down time and distance to a mere fraction of those ships that sailed across the oceans around the equator or in the lower latitudes. One might also wonder why he would even mention Point Nemo since it has no bearing on sailing ships capabilities to sail the area.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part IV

Continuing with the previous post on how we can understand Hebrew words and their meaning in order to better understand what Mormon is writing, specifically as it relates to the many directions and his usage of compass directions to describe the Land of Promise, as well as the Point of View of the writer or the subject of the writing.
    When trying to understand the writing of the ancients, such as Mormon, Nephi, et al., modern man simply cannot seem to come to grips with their point of view, but insists on putting his own thinking into the matter that is so out of alignment with that of the ancients.
Left: The ancient Hebrews directional system contained eight compass points; Right: Our compass system today contains 32 directions. It is not just that they did not have these divisions, they did not think in terms of such minute directions

As an example, when it comes to directions, we think in far more divisions of a cardinal point than they did. Their view of their world in the sense of directions was very limited. They had limited need for anything more than the four cardinal directions, north-east-south-west, while we today use far more because we have a far greater geographical setting in our world than did the ancients.
    Thus, when Mormon describes an East Sea or an East Wilderness, we need to understand that it was in the east and not somewhere else. The same is true with the South Wilderness or a West Wilderness. Consequently, we need to place an East Wilderness and a South Wilderness within their proper north, east, south, and west orientation to the Point of View of the writer, which is the Land of Zarahemla.
Left: Correct usage of east and west wildernesses; Right: Incorrect. When someone places both the East and South Wilderness in the East, it is simply not something the Hebrews or Nephites would have ever done and never did do

Even if we were more accurate to directions and labeled the east wilderness above as the north wilderness and the south wilderness above as the east wilderness, it would not fit Hebrew thinking.
The problem is, and always is, that the Hebrews/Jews/Nephites did not think the way we think today. First of all, they would never put a north or south anything in the east—the East was a pure direction. It was their entire being, their entire religion base, the way they drew maps, and thought of their universe. Nor would they have doubled up on two directions in a single direction, like the Mesoamericanists’ seas above or the Venice Priddis’ map.
    It simply would never happen—it simply is not within the Hebrew/Jewish/Nephite mindset to think that way. East of Zarahemla would be an East Wilderness, not a South Wilderness. In fact, everything to the East of Zarahemla (or even Bountiful and Nephi) would be East in Hebrew directional thinking—never anything else.
After the Lamanites were driven out of the “east wilderness” Moroni caused that the Nephites possess the land and build cities in the “east wilderness”

If a theorist places something there, then they are wrong. And if they are going to follow the overall comments of Mormon, the Nephites drove the Lamanites “out of the east wilderness” and shortly after, Mormon states: “when Moroni had driven all the Lamanites out of the east wilderness, which was north of the lands of their own possessions, he caused that the inhabitants who were in the land of Zarahemla and in the land round about should go forth into the east wilderness, even to the borders by the seashore, and possess the land” (Alma 50:9). Mormon then goes on to write: “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).
Isn’t it interesting that Mormon does not mention anything about a “south wilderness” where these cities were built and from which Moroni drove out the Lamanites, yet that is exactly where some claim the South Wilderness was located.
    Also, in the Nephites building a city where the Lamanites had been driven out named “Moroni,” which was near the Land of Nephi, how would the Nephites drive the Lamanites out of the East Wilderness that was unattached to the Land of Nephi, with a “south wilderness” in between. Or build cities along the eastern seacoast just north of the narrow strip of land and the Land of Nephi without a mention of a south wilderness there?
    Of course, that is not the main point here. The point is and needs to be the basis of anything regarding directions, is the fact, and irrefutable fact, and not one of someone’s interpretation, the Hebrews and Jews, therefore the Nephites who were from that stock, and spoke and wrote Hebrew, would simply not have placed names to wildernesses as some have done. It would have violated their entire thinking process and their entire vision of the world around them.
    Consider someone living in Los Angeles claiming the Pacific Ocean was to their east. They woud simply laugh at you. Or someone in Salt Lake City claiming the Great Salt Lake was to the southwest, or that St. George was located in northern Utah, or Toole was located in southeast Utah. Claiming that any of these were correct, would simply be rejected by any Utahn, and most anyone else with any knowledge of the state. It would be like someone returning from a visit to Jerusalem and saying that the Muslim Quarter was in the southwestern quadrant of the city, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount was beyond the New Gate into the Christian Quarter, or that the Cathedral of St. James was in the Jewish Quarter. Unless you had been there, lived there, or studied the city, you might accept those comments—but they would be completely incorrect, as any resident of Jerusalem would readily know.
    What if someone wrote a book about Jerusalem and listed Zion’s Gate as being in the Armenian Quarter, Tanner’s Gate being in the Christian Quarter, Lion’s Gate being in the Muslim Quarter, and the Dung Gate being in the Jewish Quarter? Or stated that Jesus went to the Pool of Siloam in the Upper City, walked along the wall of the Lower City? Would you know if those geographical statements were correct or incorrect? Actually six of those eight statements are geographically wrong. But how would you know that without study? Yet, people pick up a book written by someone, read their theory about the Great Lakes, the Heartland, or eastern U.S. and accept what they say without knowing how inaccurate they are. Some get so interested, they parrot the comments and the beliefs without ever coming to a knowledge of their inaccuracy.
    When it comes to the directions in the scriptural record, it is imperative to understand that in the ancient world, names did not carry much weight in meaning to a lone traveler or to an individual trying to find his way around an unknown city. However, directional names were readily apparent. You can call something the “water gate,” but calling it the “southeast gate,” means far more. Just like the “Road to the East Sea,” meant far more to someone than “Hezekiah’s Road,” and would be far more likely to know where it was located. The same is true of calling it Nehemiah’s Wall or the “north wall.”
    The point is, ancient directions are not something to playh around with and make all sorts of absurd claims that might make sense to a modern thinker, but would have been simply unusable and, therefore, not accurate, to the ancient world and ancient-thinking people. Directions were critical to survival, or at least in understanding the world around them. The ancients built elaborate structures and systems in order to simply know what any modern child can learn by looking at a calendar or acquiring a rudimentary understanding of planting cycles.
    Therefore, when Mormon used directions, he was not only thinking in terms of the way things were called and understood anciently, but he was also providing us with a better understanding of the directions of the Land of Promise and the location of lands and areas within it.
    There is simply no question that before the Hebrews and many other ancient peoples came into a more modern and mobile world, their vision of their land and the world around them was very limited and direction-driven. Everything about their language, their words, the scriptural meaning, the work of uncounted rabbis continually studying the ancient language and to understand it and its deeper meanings, all support the understanding of singular directional placement and naming. It simply cannot be violated because of modern ideas and modern interpretation of ancient writings.
    For this or that theorist to make such ridiculous claims about directions that runs contrary to that understanding and the Hebrew mindset about directions and his ancient understanding of his world is so without merit, that it is not only confusing to modern man, but downright fallacious and unworthily misleading.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part III

Continuing with the previous post on how we can understand Hebrew words and their meaning in order to better understand what Mormon is writing, specifically as it relates to the many directions and his usage of compass directions to describe the Land of Promise, as well as the Point of View of the writer or the subject of the writing.
    So, the diagram from the previous post, let’s go over this again: The South Wilderness, or more accurately, the “Wilderness of the south” (or “Wilderness to the south”)
We should also keep in mind that this wilderness to the south or South Wilderness was not named “the narrow strip of wilderness,” that is an explanation or description of the south wilderness—note that Mormon, in his insert, says: “which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added).
    The article “a” to introduce a noun is different from the article “the.” “a” refers to any subject, in this case to any wilderness; while “the” refers to a specific subject, in this case to a specific “wilderness.” Consequently, “a narrow strip” is an adjectival phrase, the kind of wilderness (narrow strip), while “the narrow strip” introduces a noun (this particular wilderness).
    Since in Mormon’s insert, he does not mention any “wilderness” by direction other than “west” or “east” regarding the separation of land between the Nephites and Lamanites, the article “a” is not name-specific at this point. However, we already learned of the “south wilderness” within the Nephite-Lamanite lands earlier when the Lord told Alma: “Behold, the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti” (Alma 16:6). Thus, the south wilderness and the narrow strip of wilderness are in the same location regarding the land of Manti and its border “way up” in that south wilderness, which we learn is a “narrow strip” that divides the Nephite controlled lands from the Lamanite controlled lands in Alma 22:27.
    To verify this, we only need to consider the Hebrew way of thinking and direction, and since the West Wilderness and East Wilderness would not be in the south in the Hebrew mindset, nor would a wilderness south of the south wilderness match a Hebrew mindset, we find that the narrow strip was in the south, dividing the northern land (Zarahemla) from the southern land (Nephi), and thus would be refered to as the “south wilderness.” And certainly the term “south wilderness” would not be applied to a wilderness in the center part of the land, like up around Lake Junin where some place the head of the River Sidon. If there was a wilderness there and it was singled out with a reference, it would have been a “central” or “center” wilderness, not a “south” wilderness.
    It is also important to keep in mind that when Mormon is writing this, it would be somewhere around 350 A.D., when Mormon and the Nephites are in the Land Northward after agreeing to a treaty with the Lamanites that gave them all the Land Southward and the Nephites all the Land Northward (Mormon 2:29)—he is right by that narrow neck and narrow passage and that south wilderness of the Jaredites that he mentions in Alma 22:31, which is referring to the Old Jaredite Lands, the Land of Desolation, and the wilderness in the south of the Land Northward where the area south of the narrow neck was referred to as the “south wilderness” by the Jaredites, “which was filled with all manner of wild animals of every kind which had come from the land northward for food,” and in which the Jaredites “did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants” (Ether 10:21).
    We also need to keep in mind that the “south wilderness” within the Nephite lands (Land Southward) is only mentioned in Alma, and it is only mentioned in two circumstances, 1) in the information the Lord told Alma to tell Moroni (Alma 16:6-7), and 2) in Mormon’s insert (Alma 22:27). The first is of the South Wilderness is from the viewpoint of the story line in the area of the city of Ammonihah, the wilderness and the borders of the land (Alma 16:2). At that time, the south wilderness is mentioned as being “in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti” (Alma 16:6), meaning that they were in the flatlands or lower valleys than the mountains within the “narrow strip of wilderness” or south wilderness where the headwaters of the Sidon river were located, and they were considerably north of that area (away up), and that Manti was above the flat lands they were on, but not as high up as the head of the river Sidon, which was at an higher elevation than Manti.
    To illustrate it in the Hebrew mindset:
The Point of View of the Writing or subject is no longer the Land of Zarahemla, but here shifts to the area of Ammonihah

Thus, the Lamanites, who had been on the flat lands of the story line (Ammonihah—Alma 49:1), were going to march south and then up (way up) beyond the borders of Manti into the higher elevations of the Sidon river head…
…and Moroni needed to march south and up from the west side of the river and cross over to the east side.
    The reason “south wilderness” is only mentioned these two times and in Alma, is because the story line is not involved with that strip of wilderness between Zarahemla and Nephi, but is involved to the north of there, especially along the eastern seaboard, which it might be noted that “East Wilderness” is not mentioned, nor is “South Wilderness” along that seaboard (though that is where some place both of these wildernesses) during all the wars and battles from then city of Moroni northward to the city of Mulek along that eastern seaboard.
     Consequently, we need to always keep in mind the Hebrew mindset of directions, not only in these wildernesses, but also in such misleading and erroneous ideas as Mesomaerican theorists who try to sell their idea of naming four seas:
Two maps showing different ways some Mesoamerican theorists try to place four seas where there are only, at most, three seas

Either way you look at it, they use two seas in the area of one direction—they make the Pacific Ocean both the “West Sea” and the “South Sea” or they make it the “North Sea” and the “West Sea.” Both are huge and obvious violations of the Hebrew direction and naming mindset. Simply put, the Hebrews/Jews/Nephites would never have done that, never have thought that way, and never would have even considered such a possibility.
    To them east was east, and each of the other directions were singular in nature, no matter how far or how wide. They considered Babylon to the east, though it was actually northeast, and to get there required a trip north for most of the trip; and Egypt was south, even though actually it is west by southwest, or basically west with the majority of the trip to Egypt going west.
    In the middle east they simply did not split hairs into multiple directions other than the four cardinal points, and sometimes into the 4 ordinal points (8 points of the compass: north, east, south, west; and northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast—they did not have wordage or concepts for east by southeast; or west by northwest, so did not use what we consider the 8 and 16 winds of the compass, to come to 32 compass points). As an example, they would use “north” or under some circumstances, “northeast.” They would not use “north, northeast, north-northeast, or northeast by north,” or “north, north-northeast, northeast, east-northeast,” as we do.
(See the next post, “Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part II,” regarding how we can understand Hebrew words and their meaning in order to better understand what Mormon is writing, specifically as it relates to the many directions and his usage of compass directions to describe the Land of Promise, as well as the Point of View of the writer or the subject of the writing)

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part II

Continuing with the previous post on how we can understand Hebrew words and their meaning in order to better understand what Mormon is writing, specifically as it relates to the many directions and his usage of compass directions to describe the Land of Promise.
    It is not difficult to find errors by theorists when they start claiming a word means something in Hebrew, when in reality it is not as they claim. Take the word “north.” John L. Sorenson likes to claim it is from the word “semol” (semovl) שְׂמֹאול which actually is translated as “left,” and out of 54 uses in the Old Testament it is translated as “north” only three times (and then as relating to “on the left” or “on the left hand”) while being translated as “left” 51 times.
    However, the word “tsaphonצָפוֹן means “north.” It is used 153 times in the Old Testament and is translated as north in each case, and has nothing to do with left.
    In addition, in the Book of Mormon, we see subjects like the East Sea; the West Wilderness; the Land Northward, the Land South, which are not names, like the Mediterranean Sea; the Judean Desert; the Land of Goshen (Gesem/Kesem), or Land of Canaan. Instead they are location names—like Southern California; the West Bank; Mesoamerica (Middle America); Norway (Way of the North).
    There are also Book of Mormon places that are not true names: Wilderness of Hermounts (meaning place of wild beasts); Bountiful (meaning place of plenty); Anti-Nephi-Lehies (means combining Nephi and Lehi). There are other words in Hebrew that non-Hebrew-speaking people think are names, but are descriptions, such as the word torah (תּוֹרָה, which means “Law.” While most people think of the Torah as the name of the first five books of the Bible, which is correctly called the Pentateuch, the Torah is simply “the Law.”
    It is also important to know that in Hebrew, it is not “Nephi’s Land,” or even “East Wilderness,” but it is the “land of Nephi,” and the “wilderness to the East.” In some cases, Joseph Smith made the transition from Hebrew (Reformed Egyptian glyph) to English, as in “East Wilderness” but sometimes he didn’t, and kept the Hebrew grammar, such as “land of Nephi.” Some linguists and scholars point this out from time to time, but for some reason, don’t carry the idea over to when they start using Hebrew translations that agree with their narrative even though as to the understanding of the word, it is in error.
    We also need to keep in mind when translating or interpreting Hebrew words, especially directional ones, that to the Hebrew/Jew/Nephite, there is only one direction of east, one of south, one of west and one of north. It is also critical to know and understand the “point of view” or the direction of view of the speaker or writer. In illustration, their land is looked at in this way:
To know what is “north, east, south or west,” in Mormon’s descriptions, we have to know where he is and from what point he is writing or describing

Whenever one is interpreting a direction in the Book of Mormon (or any Hebrew work), one must consider where the speaker or writer is located. As an example, in 1 Nephi 18:23 through 2 Nephi 5:5, Nephi is writing from the location of their first landing site. From 2 Nephi 2:8 through Omni 1:12, Nephi, Jacob, and the other writers are located in the City and area around Nephi. From Omni 1:14 through most of Alma, the writers are in the city and Land of Zarahemla, etc. That point of view is different than the point of view when Mormon is writing from Mormon 3:1, where the story line is completely in the Land Northward.
    Now, having establish the Point of View of the writer, we move on to the direction he sees the world from that point. He does not see it as we do, north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, northwest, etc. And, if needed, north, north by northwest, northwest by west, etc. The Hebrew sees the four directions only (though, he can give us an ordinal point, such as south southeast as Nephite does in 1 Nephi 16:13, if he feels the need for a specific line—and even then often uses “which was west and north away from the borders of the land” (Alma 2:36, emphasis added), showing that his main way of thinking is within the four cardinal points.
    Therefore, our job in understanding and interpreting, a passage of direction., is to not only realize this, but when a direction is given, we need to place that location in our mind based on the Hebrew’s point of view and direction viewpoint of the writer. As an example, take Alma 22:27:
    “Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west”

“and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore
And Alma 22:28: “also there were many Lamanites on the east by the seashore”
nevertheless the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land“
So from this we find that there is a wilderness to the west of a portion of the Land of Zarahemla, and that was occupied by idle Lamanites living in tents, all the way from the Land of Zarahemla to the Land of First Inheritance along the western seashore. Now that is quite clear. However, when it comes to the head of the River Sidon, the South Wilderness and the narrow strip of wilderness, people start fudging the meaning in order to place these areas in the direction and location that agrees with their pre-determined ideas and model.
As an example, some think that the head of the river Sidon was in a location to the north of the city of Zarahemla in a mountainous wilderness that they label the “South Wilderness.”
How some erroneously see the narrow strip of wilderness and the east and south wildernesses 

However, this is not what Mormon said, and not the locations that the Hebrew mindset would have considered. As an example, the Hebrew directional-mindset would not allow for:
1. Both an “east” and “south” wilderness in one direction—in this case, “east.”
2. Both a “south” wilderness and then another wilderness south of that (narrow strip of wilderness).
3. A “south” wilderness to the “east” of the point of view location of the writer, i.e., the Land of Zarahemla.
    So what exactly does Mormon say about this land makeup in Alma 22:27-33? The following nine points cover Alma 22:27, with italicized words taken directly from the scriptural record:
1. The “borders” of the Lamanite lands or Land of Nephi stretched “from the east sea to the west sea
2. Land of Nephi was “divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness
3. Narrow strip of wilderness “ran from the sea east even to the sea west” 
4. Narrow strip of wilderness ran “round about on the borders of the seashore
5. “The borders” of the narrow strip of “wilderness which ran on the north by the land of Zarahemla
6. Narrow strip of wilderness ran “through the borders of Manti
7. Narrow strip of wilderness ran “by the head of the river Sidon
8. Narrow strip of wilderness “running from the east towards the west
9. “Thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” by the narrow strip of wilderness.
How Mormon describes the narrow strip of wilderness and the east and south wildernesses 

(See the next post, “Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part II,” regarding how we can understand Hebrew words and their meaning in order to better understand what Mormon is writing, specifically as it relates to the many directions and his usage of compass directions to describe the Land of Promise, as well as the Point of View of the writer or the subject of the writing)

Friday, April 20, 2018

Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part I

There seem to be a lot of difficulty among many who write about the Land of Promise in understanding Nephite directions found in the Book of Mormon as listed by Mormon throughout the scriptural record. While there shouldn’t be any difficulty at all, since Mormon uses north, east, south and west along with northward and southward, yet theorists labor over the information as they attempt to justify their own beliefs and models of the location of the Land of Promise and its various lands and locations.
The simple fact is, that there are certain steps that are required in following Nephite directions, and when understood and used, eliminates the problems so many have. It begins with an understanding of the Hebrew mindset regarding directions as viewed in the Middle East and how that varies considerably from those of the western viewpoint. If one is going to correctly understand Mormon’s directions, one needs to understand the Hebrew way of seeing directions and that means understanding how the Hebrews saw their world.
    Despite John L. Sorenson’s lengthy and energetic attempt to try and convince his readers and followers that there was such a thing as “Mormon North”—meaning when Mormon wrote directions he had different directions than we use today—and that north actually meant east, etc., we should discount out of hand such fallacious attempts at self-serving duplicity, if for no other reason than the Spirit seeing to the translation by Joseph Smith knew what Mormon’s writings meant and would never have given Joseph Smith the wrong information since the record was to be read in our day by English-speaking, English-thinking, and western-oriented minds.
    North, after all, means north!
    However, the fact is, the Hebrews did not think the way Sorenson claims in his book An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, any more than they think that way today. This becomes quite plain when we understood the ancient Hebrew mindset.
    First of all, we need to keep in mind that there are certain things about the Hebrews that have not changed for thousands of years, such as:
1. There was and is only one God.
2. The Torah (first five books of Moses) was the Law (Pentateuch).
3. The Tanakh (all 24 books) was the central reference of their religion (Judaism), and all answers to all problems could be found there.
4. Israel/Israelites were the center of the world and all things evolved around them.
5. They were different and separate from all other peoples.
6. East was the predominant part of their world; and was the basis of their viewpoint, their orientation, their religion, and their way of life. Everything evolved around the “east” (this was also true of the Arabs and some other Semitic peoples)
In fact, no other direction had a specific location-meaning as did the East. In addition, the East was not a direction (like we think of in the West and in modern times), but a location, a place, even a circumstance or philosophy, such as:
1) the place where God dwelt, the place where God was from, the place where one went to meet God;
2) the area from which evil came; the “east wind” that brought destruction; the enemy—Arabia, Mesopotamia, Babylon resided there; the sea in the east that gave no life (Dead Sea);
3) that which lay before one, from the past to the present (from “aforetime” to “the fore”—their history to their future).
7. Other directions were merely references to east—that which was before them:
    North was to the left
    South was to the right
    West was behind them
In time of course, each of these other three directions took on meanings of their own, but they began as appendages of the “front” or what was ahead.
8. Cities, villages, settlements, were named after the first man who settled there. This is seen in the Nephite world: City of Nephi, City of Zarahemla, City of Gideon” (Alma 8:7). In addition, the land around that city (the distance varied) was also given the name of the city or founder: Land of Nephi, Land of Zarahemla, Land of Gideon, Valley of Gideon.
    In a work written by John L. Sorenson entitled “Book of Mormon Peoples” in which he erroneously claimed that “the people of the Nephites” was “a label given all those governed by a Nephite ruler,” showing that he and many other modern linguists, historians, scholars, etc., misunderstand the Hebrew language. While we frequently read “Nephites” in the Book of Mormon and “Jews” in the Bible, these are not the way the Hebrews/Jews spoke or wrote. The correct nomenclature of wordage in Hebrew grammar was “the people of the Nephites,” or “the people of the Jews” (more accurately and correctly, the latter would be “the people of Judah”).
    In addition, Joseph Smith sometimes used Hebrew grammar, as seen in “the people of Nephi” (Hebrew) and not “Nephi’s people” or simply “Nephites” (English). Sometimes he translated using English grammar, such as: “West Wilderness” instead of “the wilderness to the west,” or the “Sea East” and not “the sea in the East.”
Ancient Hebrew did not use language as we find in English, or as it is used today. As an example, “the people of the Nephites,” would be like saying “the people of the Americas.” Instead, we use “Americans,” or “Russians,” for “the people of Russia.” The scriptural record is often translated with English grammar using “Nephites” (Alma 2:17; Helaman 1:15; 3 Nephi 2:8); but not always, as in “the people of Nephi “(Alma 27:27; Helaman 1:12; 3 Nephi 2:17), or “the people of the Nephites” (Alma 2:12; Helaman 1:1; 3 Nephi 5:1). Also we find “dissenters of the Nephites” (3 Nephi 1:28) instead of “Nephite dissenters.” It is also interesting that the English grammar “north countries” was used in Mormon 2:3, instead of the Hebrew “countries of the north—the only time such reference is used.”
    The Hebrew language is very specific, not like English, or even modern languages in general. Ancient Hebrew had very little leeway, since words, when used in a context, had only one meaning (though the context could differ, thus changing the meaning).
9. Places, other than cities, villages, settlements, and land nomenclature, did not have names. Areas were normally designated
1) By location: “northern parts” (Alma 22:29) or “north parts of the land” (Helaman 1:23), and “north country” (Helaman 4:7);
2) By subject “isles of the sea” Nephi 29;7); “four parts of the earth” (2 Nephi 10:8); and “borders of the seashore” (Alma 50:15).
10. On occasion areas were named, but only by reference to something nearby (city, land), a person, or a circumstance. “Land of many waters,” “Land of First Inheritance,” “Land of Desolation,” “Land of their inheritance,” “Land of their fathers,” etc.
    It might be of interest to know that though the Hebrews knew the Dead Sea was a “dead sea,” they called it the “East Sea” (Sea to the East), and not the Dead Sea until modern times and modern map makers. So when someone says Sea East or East Sea in a Hebrew setting, an ancient Hebrew-speaking person would translate that in his mind to “Sea of the East” or “Sea to the East.”
    It is something like being an English-speaking person that automatically knows without being a linguist or English Major, that when someone says: “The car oil needs,” it is not correct and no one with a smidgen of English speaking background would say that, any more than they would say “Sell the car I did,” or “Gets gallon miles 17 it will.”
    Consequently, an English-speaking person would automatically know that such translations of English would be incorrect and automatically translate it in their mind to “The car needs oil,” and “I sold the car,” and “The car gets 17 miles to the gallon.” However, the problem is, if we are not a Hebrew-speaking person, or one who has studied ancient Hebrew, we would not know if a claimed interpretation were right or wrong.
    As a result, people accept someone’s interpretation or translation of Hebrew without knowing it is wrong because of the source from which it comes (college professor, writer, scholar, etc.) Unfortunately, many writers and Land of Promise theorists use a meaning of a Hebrew word to support their narrative or belief, but that interpretation is either out-and-out wrong, or a minor use of the word. It is like in English someone might say the meaning of “gun” is an instrument that holds a glue or caulking tube in construction, which is true, but it is a very minor use of the word “gun,” which is, of course, a weapon that shoots bullets.
(See the next post, “Understanding Hebrew Directions – Part II,” regarding how we can understand Hebrew words and their meaning in order to better understand what Mormon is writing, specifically as it relates to the many directions and his usage of compass directions to describe the Land of Promise)