Sunday, August 25, 2013

More Comments and Questions from Readers -- Part I

Sometimes we are inundated with comments and questions regarding the Book of Mormon Land of Promise and the meaning of various ideas expressed within the scriptural record. Following are some more of these emails recently received:
Comment #1: “According to Richard Wellington and George D. Potter in their book “Lehi in the Wilderness,” they expand the phrase "into the wilderness" in 1 Nephi 2:2 to "into the Way of the Wilderness," implying that the family took a specific trail of that name, that is, a trail called “Into the Wilderness.” Have you heard of this idea, and if so, what do you think?” Ernestine.
Response: First of all, the Bible tells us that such a trail did exist in ancient times (Exodus 13:18; Deuteronomy 2:8; Joshua 8:15; Judges 20:42; and 2 Samuel 2:24; 15:23). On the other hand, this trail is not mentioned after Samuel, or after the time of David. The problem is, this trail was near Jerusalem, not one on the other side of the Dead Sea. Bible atlases do confirm that there was something called "The Way of the Wilderness of Moab" and "The Way of the Wilderness of Edom" before and during the Israelite conquest of Canaan but that after that period the trail called "The Way of the Wilderness" went from Bethel to Jericho, well east and north of the Dead Sea and Jerusalem, and obviously not a trail the Lehi colony would have taken.
Nephi’s comment in the second verse of the second chapter states: “And it came to pass that the Lord commanded my father, even in a dream, that he should take his family and depart into the wilderness,” which is no different than numerous other comments which tell us the same thing about traveling through the wilderness (1 Nephi 2:4–6; 3:4, 9, 14–15, 27; 5:22; 7:1–3, 5–6; 8:2; 16:9–12, 14, 35; 17:1–4, 44), where the term is used as a general reference to the type of land the colony traveled through. Obviously, Nephi’s writing does not relate to a trail, for the term wilderness appears prominently in his description of every part of the journey from Jerusalem to Bountiful. Nor can it be suggested that Nephi's use of wilderness in 1 Nephi 2:2 differs from the way he uses the term elsewhere. In fact, there is no expression more common in the East than “into the wilderness.”
Comment #2: “What makes you think the Sea South mentioned in Helaman 3:8 is not as Peter Covino says, to the south of the Land Northward, instead of south of the Land of Nephi?” Quinn R.
Response: In Helaman, Mormon seems to be inserting this information (see Helaman 3:17). This insertion describes the growth of the entire Land of Promise after telling us of the movement into the Land Northward of “an exceedingly great many” who “went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3). After describing the land northward where these people went, the insertion starts with “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8). So let’s look at this statement in detail:
“they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward…”
Here he tells us he is talking about the entire Land of Promise…
“…and did spread…”
The Nephites did spread in the entire Land of Promise, in the Land Southward and the Land Northward…
“…insomuch that they…”
The Nephites in all the Land of Promise…
“…began to cover the face of the whole earth…”
The term “whole earth” is not used to isolate a portion of a land, but the entire area, i.e., in this case, the entire area of the Land of Promise. The “whole earth” is basically an idiom applying to all the land the Nephites occupied…
“…from the sea south…”
This parallels the earlier description of the “from the land southward”…
“…to the sea north…”
Again, paralleling his earlier description of “to the land northward”…
“…from the sea west to the sea east.”
At this point, Mormon changes his emphasis from the Nephites in the entire Land of Promise, and specifically refers to the land northward…
“And the people who were in the land northward did dwell in tents and in houses of cement.”
Mormon talks about scarce timber and shipping cement northward (verses 10 and 11, then parenthetically adds about Lamanites who also went into the land northward (verse 12), then switches again to talk about the Nephites in the overall Land of Promise and the many records they kept  (verses 13-16), before returning to Helaman’s record in verse 17.
It is clear from this that the four seas were as we have herein stated numerous times, and that the Sea South is obviously south of the Land of Nephi. The only mention of sea between the Land Northward and the Land Southward is found in Ether “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20)-- (an example of a sea dividing the land is shown above)
Peter Covino talks about his H38 virus, etc., and tries to show where everyone is wrong but him by their not having his model for their own. However, his statement about the Sea South to the south of the Land Northward is not supported by Helaman 3:8. I wonder why he never quotes 2 Nephi 10:20 where Jacob says they were on an island—perhaps it is because his model does not support an island.
Comment #3: “You claim that the East Sea disappeared and the Andes Mountains came up in the place of the sea; however, the city of Moroni, which was on the east coast, was sunk and all the people drowned. It seems your model doesn’t fit the scripture” Eduard W.
Response: First of all, when the Andes rose “whose height is great” as Samuel the Lamanite prophesied (Helaman 14:23), the east sea was pushed back to the east as the land to the east of the Andes rose from the subduction of the South American tectonic plate beneath the Nazca Plate. Secondly, an interesting thing happened to the city of Tiwanaku and the adjoining area called Puma Punku, now found to the south of Lake Titicaca, which is suggested was once at sea level because of the various ocean level markings on surrounding hills, the fact that it had a dock that could handle a hundred ships, and that it was considered a port city by archaeologists. The interesting thing is that the city is covered with residue showing that it was once under water.
So violent was this sinking and rising action that solid rock walls, docks, and all other stone buildings were tumbled around like matchsticks
Now, when the Andes mountains came up, a great suction was caused to the East Sea which rushed to fill the void of a temporarily sinking land mass, then retreated back eastward to its present location as the Atlantic Ocean, as the land moved upward, buckling the subterranean rock mass (Helaman 14:21), causing it to rise over the eastern encroaching land mass and moving upward into mountains “whose height is great.” This action flooded the city now called Tiwanaku, and would have drowned its inhabitants, before pushing upward in the rise of the mountains.

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