Saturday, April 23, 2011

Understanding Mormon’s Map – Part III

Having gone through Alma’s description of the Land of Promise in the previous two posts, and developed a map completely consistent with his words without any changes, insertions or proposals. Thus, this is the map that Mormon left us:

Now the placement of the narrow neck of land could be either to the west or to the east or in the middle. Mormon does not provide enough information for us to know this. However, he does say that Hagoth built ships that were launched into the West Sea and from this, some inferences could be determined.

1. Obviously, Hagoth would have had to have a shipyard where he could build several ships (we know of at least four—one went north while another was built, returned and went north again, and one went where no one knew, and another sailed north with Corianton (Alma 63:5,7-8,10). Since 5,400 men, plus women and children went north (Alma 63:4), plus numerous others (Alma 63:9) and some ten years later, there were still many people going into the land northward (Helaman 3:3), it seems likely that Hagoth, or the shipyards, produced many more ships.

2. Such a shipyard would not be along a seashore or coast, but typically in some type of inlet, bay, or cove. Undoubtedly, this would have been of some size for both a shipyard where construction took place, a loading dock where the ships could be loaded with people and provisions, and an area where more than one ship could be docked or safely anchored off shore.

3. This inlet, cove, or bay would have to be sufficiently protected to provide room for testing a ship at both anchor and limited movement. It should be kept in mind that an unprotected bay, especially along the Pacific Ocean east coast, is subject to extreme weather, tsunamis, etc., that can wreck even very large ships today

4. This inlet, cove, or bay would have to open into the West Sea where a ship could be launched within and sail directly into the sea beyond. And from this point, be able to sail toward the north.

Thus, it might seem that the narrow neck of land would be toward the east of the two land masses, providing some type of opening from the sea on the West, such as a large bay, something like the San Francisco bay where a narrower opening opens into a wider bay, where Hagoth’s shipyards would be located.

Lastly, in Mormon’s map, the Land of Promise must be so configured as to allow a people to keep an enemy to the south. As he wrote: “And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward” (Alma 22:33). This feature of the Land of Promise is considerably important, for “the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about. Now this was wisdom in the Nephites -- as the Lamanites were an enemy to them, they would not suffer their afflictions on every hand, and also that they might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires.”

This suggests a narrow landmass for the Land of Promise, at least north of the Land of Nephi, where an enemy could not circumvent any defense and get around it. This fact alone eliminates all consideration of Mesoamerica and of the Great Lakes.

(See the next post, “Understanding Mormon’s Map – Part IV,” for the last feature of the Land of Promise that shows how far afield theorists often go in trying to understand Mormon’s writing)

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