Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Baja Theory—Does the River Sidon Flow North or South?

General term for “headwaters” in numerous dictionaries: “the source of waters of a river,” “The source or headwaters of a river or stream is the place from which the water in the river or stream originates,” “Headwaters are the source of a river or stream, the literal waters which feed the river,” “the literal source of water for the stream,” “The water from which a river rises; a source,” “the source of a stream —usually used in the plural” “the headstreams and the beginning of a large stream or river.” In Earth Sciences and Physical Geography, the definition of headwaters is “the tributary streams of a river in the area in which it rises; headstreams.” In history, we find: “the first exploration of the Missouri River from its mouth to its headwaters was made by Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the early 1800s.”

Synonyms for “headwaters” are “head,” “headstream,” and “source.”

Alma’s description reads: “And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were 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, 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)

“By the head of the river Sidon.”

The word “head” in the 1828 “American Dictionary of the English Language,” the language spoken in New England at the time Joseph Smith was translating the plates, is defined as: “the principal source of a stream,” ”The part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea,” “To have its source, as a river “headspring—fountain, source, origin.” It should be noted, that the word “headwaters” is not mentioned in the 1828 dictionary, suggesting it was not a term in common use as it is today. Thus, the words “head of the river Sidon” meant the same as “headwaters of the river Sidon” in Joseph’s day. It might also be noted that the word “headstream” is not mentioned in Webster’s 1828 dictionary, but “headspring” is, and defined as “Fountain, source, origin.”

As an example, in Webster’s 1828 definition of “head,” he uses the explanation: “head of the River Nile.” In the case of the Nile River, the “head” changed in ancient times. Formerly Lake Tanganyika drained northwards along the African Rift Valley into the Albert Nile, making the Nile about 900 miles longer, until blocked by the bulk of the Virunga Volcanoes. Thus, Lake Tanganyika drained northwards into the Nile until the Virunga Volcanoes blocked its course in Rwanda, and the Nile was much longer at that time, with its furthest headwaters in northern Zambia. Yet, at any one time, the “head of the Nile” was understood as one location.

One way to think about headwaters is to imagine walking along the banks of a river or stream until it vanishes. This furthest point along the river could be considered the headwaters. Some people consider the headwaters to be the furthest conceivable point from which water could flow in a watershed, whether or not the headwaters are bearing water, and as a result, the headwaters of a river may move around. Others consider the headwaters to be the furthest point that supplies water throughout the year, making the location of the headwaters a stable, static place.

In addition, many rivers have an assortment of tributaries, small branches that come together to form the river. As a result, their headwaters may be very diverse and widely dispersed, with some people calling the small streams that come together to make a river “headstreams.” Looking at a river on a map, people often find that the river looks like a tree, with a thick trunk and many forking branches with even smaller tributaries sprawled out across a drainage basin.

However, none of this changes the scriptural record of “head” in the singular “of the river Sidon.”

Yet, ever wanting to cloud the issue to make room for a different model’s situation, Rosenvall, like all theorists who choose their own ideas over that of the scriptures, wants to make the river Sidon flow southward.

(See the next post, The Baja Theory—Does the River Sidon Flow North or South? Part II,” to see how Rosenvall sees the river Sidon differently than the scriptural record)

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