Thursday, March 3, 2011

Narrow Neck of Land and the Fallacy of Mesoamerica’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec

One would think that a narrow neck of land means just that such as the example shown here—however, not to Mesoamerican theorists who have a very different take on directions, seas, and their “isthmus”

Beginning with Hugh Nibley and later with John L. Sorenson, an interpretation of how the ancient Hebrews understood cardinal directions has been outlined as one standing in Jerusalem and facing east, with east before him, west behind him, and north on the left hand and south on the right hand. Thus, according to them, the term for east was really front or before, and the term for west was behind or hinder. To support this theory, Sorenson quotes from Zechariah who wrote: “And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out form Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be” (14:8).

This has also led to the interpretation that the “former sea” was the Dead Sea, sometimes called the east sea or eastern sea, and thus, the word sea does not always relate to an ocean. In this roundabout manner, Mesoamerican and Great Lakes theorists claim that the term west sea and east sea and north sea and south sea does not specifically mean seas as one might interpret, but could mean lakes or other bodies of water.

Thus, Sorenson and others claim that the Hebrew word “qudem” means “front, that which is before, aforetime, ancient time, from of old, earliest time, beginning, east or eastward, to or toward the East. However, “qudem” (phonetically spelled “keh-dem” and pronounced “keh’dara) is used 87 times in the Bible, with 50 of these uses interpreted “east,” “eastward,” “east side,” “east part,” etc., and 29 times refers to “ancient,” “days of old,” or “ancient time,” etc. Consequently, 79 of 87 uses refer to the word “east” and “ancient” while 8 uses have no reference to any of the claimed meanings.

In none of the 87 uses does the word mean, stand for, or can be interpreted as “before,” “in front of,” “that which is before,” “aforementioned,” or “beginning” as these linguists claim. In fact, the statement in Zechariah, according to the highly credited Clark’s Bible Commentary, is a metaphor and can easily be understood when not trying to bend meaning to fit a preconceived idea.

Zechariah is describing the second coming of Christ and says in earlier verses, “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh” and then goes on to describe the fall of Jerusalem in that day and “the Lord shall go forth and fight against those nations,“ and “he shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east” and that the mount will “cleave in the midst thereof” or split in two “on the east and on the west” and that a great valley should appear in the middle as “half of the mountain shall remove to the north and half of it toward the south.” He then goes on to describe there will be neither light nor darkness in that day until “at evening time it shall be light,”

Now comes the important verse: “And it shall be in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea; in summer and in winter shall it be.”

The metaphor Clark describes has reference to former and hinder. The word former here is used to refer to the former kingdoms in the former lands of the east, including what was Persia and now that part of the east which includes Turkey and China—the sea reference is to the “Persian Sea,” the name formerly used for what is now the Persian Gulf—which is literally a sea since it connects to the Arabian Sea. The word hinder in this phrase is also a metaphor referring to the Mediterranean Sea, which represents the western lands and nations, including Europe.

The purpose of Zechariah’s writings is to show that when Christ comes, His gospel will go forward into the east and into the west, to the eastern nations and the western nations, and all these great nations shall become the kingdoms of Christ. The overall meaning, of course, is that the gospel will be carried to the east and to the west, and that the two seas are designated as the Jews and the Gentiles, the latter being brought into the fold and all will be saved in Christ,” And the Lord shall be king over all the earth, and in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one.” (Zechariah 14:9), and that there shall be one land and “men shall dwell in it and there shall be no more utter destruction” (Zechariah 14:10-11).

As can be seen, the metaphor of seas in this case is to nations of the earth, divided by Jew and Gentile, and the directions (east and west) refers to the division of the earth, and the words hinder and former have reference to the earlier and later kingdoms.

Why Mesoamerican and Great Lakes theorist try to use this passage to prove that a sea is not a sea is beyond imagination, and certainly disingenuous.

(See the next post, “Narrow Neck of Land and the Fallacy of Mesoamerica’s Isthmus of Tehuantepec - Part II,” to continue the understanding of the Hebrew words used)

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