Saturday, June 29, 2013

Answering More Comments from the Website Part III

Here are some more comments that we’ve received on this website blog. They are all from readers who champion the Costa Rica model, using the Isthmus of Rivas as the narrow neck of land.
Comment #1: “Another unexplained issue in Nephite history is their determined zeal in keeping their enemies from gaining a foothold in the land northward. Why was this so important if the Lamanites bordered them on the south, and the Gadiantons infiltrated their mountains?” Brayton.
The Land of Bountiful was narrow in its northern boundary where the Narrow Neck of Land was located. This area was more easily defended, especially with a narrow Pass or passageway into the Land of Desolation in the Land Northward
Response: Mormon comments on this: “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. Therefore 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” (Alma 22:33-34)
So, logically, the Nephites didn't want to have to defend against their enemies on two fronts. They also wanted to maintain the only access to the north country in case they should need to retreat there some day, which of course, they did and claimed all that land northward in the treaty enacted in 350 A.D. (Mormon 2:29).
Comment #2: “It appears that archaeology has revealed another possible reason why the narrow neck was so critical. According to the “Isthmus of Rivas Theory,” which has the narrow neck of land along this isthmus, has been the corridor and trade route between lower Central America and Mesoamaerica throughout history. Those who controlled it had a distinct trade advantage. It is possible that the Nephites derived substantial income from their control of this critical resource. An historical example of this is shown in about 700 AD when the Nicaro, an Aztec affiliated tribe from Mexico, had to leave their homeland and fled to Nicaragua. They drove out the Chorotega people, who where occupying the Isthmus of Rivas, and took possession of this valuable real estate. They were still there when the Spanish arrived. It is claimed they derived great power and revenue from their control of the isthmus” Carley T.
The Isthmus of Rivas is a narrow land running 110 miles long and about 10 to 15 miles across near its narrowest point; however, while that could be defended, the movement around the east side of Lake Nicaragua could not be defended since, at its narrowest point, is about 70 miles across
Response: Some theories, like unwanted colds, seem to hang on despite all effort to eradicate them. The Isthmus of Rivas is one of those without any real support in the scriptures. In this case, the value of the narrow neck, which was not a settled area, but a pathway from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, was listed by Mormon for its strategic importance. After all, it was the only thing that kept the Nephites from being annihilated earlier than they were, and is shown by Mormon, who lived through this war that eventually saw the Nephites driven into the north country for good. As an example, it is hard to claim that Morianton wanted to gain the Land Northward for trade purposes when we are told he wanted to flee there to escape retribution from Moroni and his army (Alma 50:25). When Teancum intercepted Morianton’s flight, Morianton’s people fought as a result of Morianton’s flattering words (Alma 50:34)—hardly fodder for a tale of merchant control. In addition, Moroni ordered Teancum to hold the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9), hardly a rational act simply to maintain merchandizing rights. 
Comment #3: “Others have suggested that the people of the Atlantic watershed of Costa Rica were of Nephite origin,” Bernice.  
Response: The Atlantic Watershed culture was from 1 A.D. to 500 A.D., in the eastern area of Costa Rica. It is very likely that the people who settled in and built parts of Central America, Mesoamerica, and southern Mexico were Nephites—those who went north in Hagoth’s ships around 50 B.C., but they were not the Nephites of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise after that point.
Comment #4: “You have referred repeatedly to an area in the land northward you call “the land of many waters,” yet in Ether, it appears that there is no such separate land, but that the many waters are in what is called “the land of Cumorah. Am I missing something?” Laney O.
Response: Actually, you raise an excellent point. The land in question, which is to the north of the Land of Desolation, is called by Mormon “The Land of Cumorah,” which is “by a hill which is called Cumorah” (Mormon 6:2). Both the land and hill Cumorah “was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). I suppose one could make a case for it either way, but I think because of the scriptural references I would lean toward the many waters being in the Land of Cumorah. On the other hand, to be inclusive, on an old map I ran across sent to a friend of mine by a missionary serving in Ecuador some years ago, there was an area showing many lakes, rivers, and river and water sources in an area to the southwest of Quito, labeled on this map as “The Land of Many Waters.” This area is also referenced as a land that “was covered with large bodies of water” (Alma 50:29), and Limhi’s expedition “traveled in a land among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8). Thus, it could be said that the Land of Cumorah, not only held the hill Cumorah, but also an area with the land where many waters, rivers and fountains (water sources) were located. For the sake of this blog, I have often referred to the Land of Many Waters as a separate area to separate it in a discussion of the Land of Cumorah and what took place there—typically, I use the Land of Many Waters to refer to a land far to the north in the Land Northward, such as in the case of discussing Morianton’s plan to go into that land (Alma 50:29). But very perceptive of you to spot this out and bring it up.
Comment #5: “The Nephite stronghold on the borders of Zarahemla, Bountiful and Desolation for the Nephite war with the Gadianton Robbers would have been at or near the modern city of La Cruz, in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. This location is at the headwaters of the Sapoa River at the northern end of a long plateau that borders the Pacific coast” Hughes.
The Battle with the Robbers took place “in the center of the land” not near the seacoast; in addition, it took place in the Land Southward, from Bountiful southward to the southern end of the Land of Zarahemla—not in the Land Northward as claimed in the Isthmus of Rivas Theory
Response: Gidgiddoni, the Captain of all the Nephite armies at the time said, “therefore we will prepare ourselves in the center of our lands” (3 Nephi 3:21), which should preclude being by a coast since the term “center” means: “a point equally distant from the extremities, the middle point or place,” and “to be placed in the middle.” Since this gathering place was as far north as the “line between the land Bountiful and the land Desolation” (3 Nephi 3:23) and as far south as the Land of Zarahemla (3 Nephi 3:23), it should be recognized that from north to south, this area was not the middle of the land, but the northern half of the Land Southward. The term center, therefore, must have meant from east to west and, therefore, not by the edge of the land (coast).

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