Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lost in the Wilderness

“Now king Limhi had sent, previous to the coming of Ammon, a small number of men to search for the land of Zarahemla; but they could not find it, and they were lost in the wilderness” (Mosiah 21:25)

Some scholars, such as John L. Sorenson, claim the 43-man expedition Limhi sent to find Zarahemla, when passing through the narrow neck of land into the Land Northward after becoming lost in the wilderness, could have seen the ocean on either side of their passage had this neck of land been very narrow, thus justifying his 144-mile wide narrow neck in Mesoamerica. Other scholars have suggested the problem with these Nephites becoming lost at all, while others want to know why didn’t they simply climb to higher ground to find out where they were.

As this picture shows, had the expedition been moving through a valley such as this between very high mountains on either side, which is the case throughout most of Peru and Ecuador, it is understandable that 1) they might have become lost, since following such a course would take them where the valley went, not necessarily where they intended to go, 2) with high mountains on either side, one cannot see beyond the valley to either side to see whether they were passing through a narrow neck of land or not, and 3) these mountains on ether side are not easily scaled.

The fact that numerous narrow valleys such as this one are found throughout the Land of Promise in the Andean area, allows us to make perfect sense out of simple scriptural language, such as “they were lost in the wildnerness” and that they ended up far to the north of the city of Lehi-Nephi, from which they came, since movement through valleys, especially elongated valleys such as this one, can take one many miles out of the way before the end of the valley is reached and a new course decided upon

Part of the problem in understanding scripture and the Book of Mormon geography, is in interpreting circumstances based upon our current life style and conditions. However, in Book of Mormon times, there were no street signs, maps, aerial photography, etc., to help people understand where they were going and what the land they passed through really looking like beyond their line of sight, which, as this picture shows, could have been very limited.


  1. Great graphic. I hadn't thought of the Land of Promise in this manner, but you are right. Walking along any riverbed or through any canyon like you have shown here makes it clear why a person could not see much beyond his path, and how easily it would have been to get lost.

  2. Robert: And how easily it would have been to miss any topographical image of importance beyond their line of sight, like being in a narrow neck or that water was close to either side.