Friday, January 28, 2011

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

This post continues with information on the River Sidon to show that the scriptural record does not describe a south flowing river Sidon as the Baja Theory demands. And as pointed out in the last post, there can be no doubt that the Lamanites, in their Land of Nephi, coming down toward the Land of Zarahemla, were in the south wilderness—that narrow strip of wilderness separating their land from the Land of Zarahemla—where just as obviously the head of the river Sidon was located (Alma 16:6). However, Rosenvall claims that the head of the river Sidon is not its headwaters. He writes on his website:

“The Book of Mormon does not mention that the river Sidon has headwaters; it states in several places that it has a head, “the head of the river Sidon.” In our discussion of the features of the river Sidon, we explain the difference between a “head” of a river as its source and the “headwaters” of a river as a source.”

Rosenvall uses the contemporary Oxford American Dictionary for his definitions, but as has been pointed out in numerous posts here, a current dictionary of current words and meanings has no value in understanding the words Joseph Smith knew and used in 1829. Consequently, the only dictionary of any value is the 1828 “American Dictionary of the English Language” by Noah Webster.

Even so, the modern terminology of “head” and “headwaters” seem quite clear. From the 14th century onward, the term “head” meant the “source of a river or stream” and sometimes used in the form “fountainhead” which means the “fountain or spring that is the head of a stream.” The contemporary definition of “head of a river” in all dictionaries used today, is defined as “the source or headwaters of a river or stream is the place from which the water in the river or stream originates.” The United States Geological Survey (USGS) states that a river's "length may be considered to be the distance from the mouth to the most distant headwater source (irrespective of stream name), or from the mouth to the headwaters of the stream commonly identified as the source stream."

Thus, the “head of a river” or the “headwaters of a river” is defined as the furthest point from the mouth, no matter what branch of the main river is considered. The Army Corps of Engineers establishes the point where headwaters begin as that point on the stream where a flow of five cubic feet per second is equaled or exceeded 50% of the time. The Oxford dictionary defines it as “Headwaters are the source of a river or stream, the literal waters which feed the river” and “a tributary stream of a river close to or forming part of its source: these paths follow rivers right up into their headwaters.”

As stated in an earlier post, the 1828 definition known to Joseph Smith was: “the principal source of a stream” and “the part most remote from the mouth or opening into the sea.”

In addition, Rosenvall makes a point that the word “headwaters” does not appear in the Book of Mormon. The reason for this might be that in 1828, according to the best known American dictionary of the day, the word “headwaters” does not even appear, suggesting that the word was not in use at that time. However, as stated above, the word “head” of a stream or river, was in use since the 14th century.

Thus we might conclude that the word “head of the river Sidon” was the correct word for Joseph Smith to use in his language in 1829, and not “headwaters.”

While Rosenvall likes to make some claims that the head of a river is different form the headwaters of a river, the point is that both (even if you want to claim them different) were in the south wilderness. There is never a mention of the Sidon River to the north of Zarahemla, nor beyond the borders to the north in the Wilderness of Hermounts, the location he claims for the headwaters of the Sidon River. Therefore, no play on words is going to change the scriptural record that shows the river Sidon commencing, beginning, having its source, within the narrow strip of wilderness separating the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, and with the city of Zarahemla to the north of this wilderness, is there any question that the river flowed north?

Obviously, there can be no question that water flows downhill, or that rivers and streams flow downhill. The source of all rivers and streams is at a higher elevation than where one might stand anywhere along the river. If a river reaches an area that runs higher than the fall of the river, a pond or lake is created until the water rises to the height of the flow, then spills over in another downward direction. In a simple explanation, “Water can not flow up hill. It can flow over a rock if it is going fast enough, but it cannot go up hill. It needs to go down hill. It all has to do with the weight of gravitation on the water.” For water to flow uphill, one would need a pump that forces water out of it in an upward motion, or through a process called capillary action with the use of a device called a hydraulic ram—but still, once free of the pump, the water flows back downward. Obviously, then, a river will always flow downhill unless it has enough force and momentum to cause it to flow over something, such as a rock, slide, or other object, and momentarily flow upward. This, however, is not possible over any type of distance. Therefore, it is safe to say that water always flows downhill.

Now, with the river Sidon in the south wilderness, which ran from the east sea to the west sea and separated the Land of Nephi (to the south) from the Land of Zarahemla (to the north), as Mormon states (Alma 22:27), and we know that the river Sidon flows through the Land of Zarahemla, which is to the north, it stands to reason then that the river Sidon flowed northward.

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