Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The East Coast of the Land of Promise

The Mesoamerican model of the Land of Promise, showing their east seashore around the Yucatan from the Land of Nephi around and up to the Mexican coast 
    In the scriptural record, much activity takes place along the east coast and seashore of the Land of Promise. Mormon describes a lot of movement up and down that coast, especially in the time of Captain Moroni and his defense of the Nephite Nation. Moroni and his Nephite army drove the Lamanites out of the eastern wilderness, then caused that the people in the Land of Zarahemla occupy the east wilderness even to the seashore and possess the land (Alma 50:9). They then began to build cities, beginning with the city of Moroni in the south along the East Sea (Alma 50:13), and then the city of Nephihah and others.
    Later, between the city of Morianton and the city of Lehi, both of which bordered on the seashore (Alma 50:25), a contention arose, and the people of Morianton, fearing Moroni and his army, fled northward along the coast, heading toward the Land Northward (Alma 50:29). Moroni sent Teancum to cut off Morianton’s race to Bountiful and the narrow neck of land with its narrow pass that led into the Land Northward (Alma 50:34).
    It is interesting to look at the map of Mesoamerica (below) and consider that these cities were built along the eastern coast, when that coast in Mesoamerica runs along the elongated Yucatan Peninsula. Such an extended distance around the Yucatan from the bottom arrow, where the Land of Nephi would have been that stretched to their East Sea (Alma 22:32; 50:8). Thus, in this Mesoamerican model, their East Sea ran around the entire Yucatan Peninsula and upward along the coast to the top arrow.
Between the two white arrows is the Mesoamericanists’ eastern seashore. Its irregular shape because of the Yucatan is inconsistent with the descriptions found in the scriptural record. The yellow arrow shows their narrow neck area, thus movement from the Land of Nephi to the narrow neck along the east sea (bottom white arrow to yellow arrow) is a long distance, which hardly meets the scriptural record of swift movement between the two locations
    The fighting that took place along this eastern seashore when defector Amalickiah led the Lamanites down and attacked along eastern Nephite coast (Alma 51:22) was swift and bold, gaining one city after another while Moroni was engaged trying to put down rebellions among the king-men (Alma 51:21). At this time the Lamanites attacked and conquered cities along the coast all the way north to  (Al—this would not have been possible along the Yucatan coast.
    As the following year began, the entire east coast from Moroni on the south to Mulek on the north, was under Lamanite control. Amalickiah had just tried unsuccessfully to invade the land Bountiful beyond Mulek, and Teancum had just killed the Lamanite leader (Alma 52:1). At this time, “the Lamanites were determined to maintain those cities which they had taken, and those parts of the land which they had obtained possession of; and also seeing the enormity of their number, Teancum thought it was not expedient that he should attempt to attack them in their forts” (Alma 52:5), which were the cities along the eastern sea coast. On a straight line, as the scriptural record suggests the east coast to be, the distance in Mesoamerica would be 400 miles. However, around the Peninsula, you add about 900 miles, making that coast 1300 miles instead of 400.
    A 1300-mile line would be hard to maintain by the invading Lamanite force—that is the distance from Salt Lake City across five states to about Indianapolis, Indiana, which is a considerable distance to stretch out a defensive line of an occupying army holding some six or seven enemy cities under their control. However, on a basic straight line of 400 miles, that is the distance from SLC to Denver, Colorado, the task would be much more likely. Consequently, the east coast of Mesoamerica simply cannot fit into the Land of Promise described in the scriptural record.
    One could imagine that the cities of Ammonihah, Aaron, Nephihah, and Moroni were essentially in a straight line, although the distance from one city to another is never given nor implied. It could have been quite close, or it could have been quite some distance. We simply do not know. And after 71 B.C., the scriptural record does not mention the city of Aaron again. Was it too far inland to be captured by the Lamanites? Or was it not along the line of the coast they were traveling? It would appear that after the Lamanites had captured the city of Moroni along the east coast just inside the Land of Zarahemla, they bypassed Nephihah on their way to the city of Lehi. It should be kept in mind that the Lamanite attacks were swift and direct—lands not along the coastal corridor were bypassed, such as Nephihah, and possibly Aaron. Either knowing this or realizing this, the refugees from the city of Moroni made their way to safety within the walls of Nephihah (Alma 51:24).
    While we do no know how far these cities on the eastern seaboard were apart, again, the rapidity with which the Lamanite armies conquered the eastern seashore cities also suggests that the distance between the land of Lehi was not very far from the land of Moroni. Obviously, with the Lamanites traveling quickly all the way north to the city of Mulek (Alma 51:26) should tell us that this route would have been rather direct and the cities spaced from the area of the narrow strip of wilderness between the lands of Zarahemla and Nephi, all the way northward to the land of Bountiful would have been basically direct. The Mesoamerica problem lies in the fact that their eastern coastline is not direct between these two points or even close to being direct—but 900 miles of extra coastline out and around the Yucatan Peninsula---thus, Mesoamerica simply does not qualify for any type of match with the Land of Promise on the issue of the eastern coastline.
The distance from the city of Moroni, around the Peninsula of Yucatan, to the city of Mulek is about 1300 miles, far too long for the switness of the attack of the Lamanites on these eastern seaboard cities
    The problem when a Book of Mormon Land of Promise model does not fit the scriptural account, most theorists try to alter or change either the scripture itself, or its meaning, or to add ideas not included in the account. But the fact of the matter is, as always, that the scriptural record is a simple statement of fact and information, meant for the typical person to understand. It does not require academics or specially trained people to understand and explain it to the rest of us. Mesoamerica, from its simplest design, does not match the simple statements in Mormon’s description of the land.

No comments:

Post a Comment