Monday, February 15, 2010

Location of the City and Land of Nephi

Sacsayhuaman to the north and Tiahuanaco to the south, with Lake Titicaca and the city of Cuzco in between, was probably the area settled by Nephi and “those who would go with him” (2 Nephi 5:6) when he fled from his brothers shortly after Lehi died. This land, they called “the Land of Nephi” (2 Nephi 5:8) was the specific area where Nephi taught his people to build buildings” (2 Nephi 5:15), and in which cities, fortifications and a temple “rivaling Solomon’s” was built (2 Nephi 5:16). Later, all the land south of Zarahemla was referred to as the Land of Nephi, though originally the area of first landing, which the Lamanites referred to as “the land of their inheritance,” would not have had that name to the Lamanites.

Eventually, this southern portion of the Land Southward, was divided between the lands of Nephi and Zarahemla, where a narrow strip of wilderness ran from the east sea to the west sea, and called the Land South or the Land of Lehi, and the Land North or the Land of Mulek (Helaman 6:10).

The misunderstanding of this latter division and name (Land South and Land North) has caused Mesoamerican Theorists to believe that the Mulekites first settled in the Land Northward, that is the land beyond Desolation, above the narrow neck of land which divided the Land Northward from the Land Southward. This misunderstanding has also led to the belief that the Olmec of southeastern Mexico were the Jaredites. However, more accurate reading of the scritpures indicating where Mulek landed and where the Land Northward was located, shows the fallacy of this idea.

Amaleki, an eye witness to the first encounter of the Mulekites by Mosiah, states specifically that they had first landed in the area of Zarahemla (in the Land Southward) "where Mosiah found them," and had lived there ever since (Omni 1:15-16). Also, the concept of two lands (north and south) was not really known to the Nephites, who had never ventured northward beyond the Land of Bountiful. Thus, describing the Land North and the Land South, this division had to do with the Land Southward and nothing to do with the yet undiscovered Land Northward.


  1. Thank you for clarifying that. I have always had difficulty with other writers who claimed the Land North and the Land Northward were the same place, since the dates in the BOM do not specify it that way.

  2. Jennifer: Very perceptive of you to recognize this very simple, but most important, fact. Too bad the numerous Mesoamerican Theorists out there do not have your insight. As you no doubt have noticed, the Nephites were never in the Land Northward before about 60 B.C., and would have had no idea about it other than what they knew from the plates of Ether, which would not have used the word Land Northward in their day. This was a term not introduced until Mormon's recording, in the 4th century A.D., after studying the records and, of course, knowing about both lands. So when the Nephites talked about the Land of Promise prior to about 60 B.C., any land they knew, and were interested in, was the Land Southward, which, as we've said, had two divisions, the Land North and the Land South.

  3. I find it remarkable that those people who write and talk about Central America do not seem to really know what the Book of Mormon really says. All they want to talk about is where a particular city was located--but not very much about how geography really relates to the scriptural information.