Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Seas Bordering the Narrow Neck of Land

It is redundant to continually describe the Land of Promise here since it has been adequately stated in previous posts, and also is described with simple clarity in the scriptural record, and in the book “Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.” However, I continually receive comments and questions regarding other Land of Promise models, which seem to have been designed to cloud the very simple language of Nephi and Mormon, especially the latter who injected so many points of geographical clarification into the record.

So one more time, with each statement verified by at least one of the references:

The Land of Promise obviously had two major land surfaces, the Land Southward (Helaman 5:16), including the Land of Nephi (Alma 2:24), Land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:13), and the Land of Bountiful (Alma 22:32)—with numerous other smaller lands and their cities—and the Land Northward (Alma 22:33), including the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:31), the Land of Many Waters (Mormon 6:4), and the Land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:2).

Now the land Southward had a sea nearly surrounding it. “On the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32). Thus, between these two major land surfaces was a small (Alma 22:32), narrow (Alma 63:5) neck of land (Alma 22:32). Within this neck ran a passage (Alma 50:34; Mormon 2:29) or pass (Alma 52:9) that gave a means of access between the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29) and the Land Northward (Alma 50:34).

Now this narrow neck of land with its pass or passage, was bordered on the east and on the west with water, for “they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34). Thus there was a West Sea on the west of the narrow neck and an East Sea on the east of the narrow neck.

This West Sea is also referred to as the “sea that divides the land” in the following statement: “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20). This West Sea to the west of the narrow neck is also the place Hagoth had his shipyard “on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation…by the narrow neck” (Alma 63:5) and built his ships for they were launched “into the West Sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward“ (Alma 63:5).

Now the Land Northward had a West Sea, North Sea and East Sea (Helaman 3:8), and the Land Southward had a West Sea, East Sea, and South Sea (Helaman 3:8). This North Sea was likely called Ripliancum (Ether 15:8), though there is no specific supportive evidence of this, other than the fact that the entire Land of Promise was an island as Jacob said: “For the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20), and since Ripliancum means “by interpretation, is large, or to exceed all” (Ether 15:8), what could be larger or exceed a North Sea connected to an East Sea, West Sea and South Sea around the Land of Promise island?

Thus the narrow neck of land, with its narrow passage or pass that ran between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, was narrow enough that a Nephite, or common man, could walk across it in a day and a half (Alma 22:32).

Based on these simple descriptions in the Book of Mormon there is no need to make it complex by trying to invent lakes and rivers and calling them “seas,” and using interpretations of the ancient Hebrew language, which is a very questionable approach, since the Book of Mormon was originally written in Reformed Egyptian (Mormon 9:32) and not Hebrew (Mormon 9:33), or trying to show that an ancient lake bed was once the “south sea” which did not connect to anything else. Jacob made it clear—they sailed across a very large ocean and while upon that ocean, then landed on an island (2 Nephi 10:20), but simple understanding meant that the entire Land of Promise was an island in the middle of the ocean.

By the way, the word “ocean” in Noah Webster’s “1828 American Dictionary of the English Language,” the language known to Joseph Smith, was derived in part from the Welch word meaning “great deep.” And in ancient Hebrew taken from the word for “greatness of extent.” In 1828, the word ocean was understood to mean “the sea or great sea.” Quoting Webster: “It is customary to speak of the ocean as if divided into three party’s, the Atlantic ocean, the Pacific ocean, and the Indian ocean, but the ocean is one mass or body, partially separated by the continents of Europe, Asia and Africa on the one side, and by America on the other.” Webster also noted in his definition “the ancients understood the ocean to encompass the earth.”

Thus, “sea” as used by Joseph Smith in his translation, was known to be the ocean—that which covers more than three-fifths of the world’s surface. Obviously, then, the narrow neck of land separated the two land masses that made up the island of the Land of Promise, with the “sea” on all sides.

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