Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Jaredites and their Land – Part II

In the last post, the Jaredites as a people were covered, describing who they were and what they were like. It was discussed that some 8 to 10 million people died in the final Jaredite battles—a very conservative figure. This is taken from the fact that Ether wrote of two million men dead in Coriantumr’s army, plus their wives and children. Since it seems that the Jaredites had more than one wife (Ether 14:2), that could be as much as 6 to 7 million or more just of Coriantumr’s people (Ether 15:2). Also, since both armies had somewhat equal numbers (Ether 15:20-23), and there were similar losses on both sides (Ether 14:31), it would seem that very possibly the numbers of all dead could exceed 12 to 15 million. Therefore, one can imagine the extent of the dead and the bones left all over the land the Nephites found (Mosiah 8:8).

Now, as for the land of the Jaredites, there is little to tell us where cities and lands were exactly located. However, there is a little to describe some places. First of all, we can see that they landed just north of the narrow neck of land, for their land of first inheritance was located near to the Land of Desolation (Ether 7:6), and was higher in elevation than the surrounding areas (Ether 7:5; 14:11). This land was called Moron by them and was where the king dwelt (Ether 7:6), thus a city would have been located within this land

Somewhere near, or within, the Land of Moron was a hill they called Ephraim where ore was located from which could be made swords of steel (Ether 7:9). And to the east of the Land of Moron, was the hill of Shim, and beyond that, the Land of Many Waters, and beyond these waters to the east was the east seashore and an area called Ablom (Ether 9:3). Also near the East Sea was the Valley of Shurr and the hill Comnor (Ether 14:26-27), and near that was the Valley of Shurr and near there the Land of Corihor and the Valley of Corihor. All of these were to the east of the Land of Moron and on a line, or near to the east seashore.

Now, not far from there was the Waters of Ripliancum (Ether 15:8), and to the south of these waters was the area the Jaredites called Ogath (Ether 15:10), which was near the hill Ramah, which the Nephites called Cumorah (Ether 15:10-11). Also, the wilderness of Akish (Ether 14:3) was near a seashore (Ether 14:12-14), but it is not stated whether this was the East Sea or the West Sea. However, near Akish were the plains of Agosh (Ether 14:15), and near that were the plains of Heshlon (Ether 13:29), which was near the Valley of Gilgal (Ether 13:27). In addition, there was the land of Nehor (Ether 7:4) and a city of Nehor (Ether 7:9), somewhere near the hill called Ephraim (Ether 7:9).

The Land Northward was covered with people (Ether 7:11) and all part of the kingdom of Moron, but not long afterward the land was divided into two kingdoms, that of Shule and that of Cohor (Ether 7:20), which tended to battle one another over the years. But mostly, the kingdom of the Jaredites was settled in the area of the Land of Moron, though they built cities and spread across the land (Ether 10:5,12). They built a large city near the narrow neck (Ether 10:20), but never moved into the Land Southward.

From the above it is easy to see, that while the record lists several places and names, it is almost impossible to try and decide where any of these cities, lands, valleys, or places actually were. The only city we can place with some certainty is that of the one built near the narrow neck of land in the Land of Desolation. This is probably the city the Nephites later called the City of Desolation (Mormon 4:2), which was near the Nephite city Teancum, which was by the seashore (Mormon 4:3).

All of this is stated to show that when Mesoamerican theorists begin claiming the ruins found in Central America represent certain cities, lands, waters, and rivers, one should recognize that such is quite suspect. Placing any such location within the Book of Mormon requires far more information than the record provides. Only by locating specific structures and finding their existence in a location that makes sense from the record, can we even begin to suggest the location of a specific city or place.

The record simply provides so few clues that to spend time and effort on locating cities, lands, waters or rivers is a waste of time. Yet, for some reason, that is usually the first question a novice wants to ask when a location is mentioned: “Where is (this or that) city?” Unless one has a crystal ball or the Liahona, one is left to either make wild and unsubstantiated guesses, or to refrain from such efforts all together.

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