Wednesday, December 4, 2013

An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise – Part VI

Continuing with the comments in a website article one of our readers sent in entitled: “Other Peoples in the Promised Land,” from the “Book of Mormon Resources” website, posted on Friday, April 6, 2012:     
    Comment: “3 Nephi 5:20 - Mormon announces to his future readers that he is a pure descendant of Lehi, implying that others in his environment were of mixed ancestry.”
Response: This statement is disingenuous—Mormon is simply telling us that he was not a Mulekite or a Zoramite, but of the linage of Lehi, and in Mormon 1:5 he informs us further that his lineage was directly through Nephi. He obviously felt that after nearly 1000 years, it was still important to differentiate tribal lineage and that he was not descended from Sam, Jacob, or Joseph. He does not imply or leave room for any implication he was referring to other people in the land other than those mentioned. The term “pure descendant” tells us that his lineage was through the original prophet (Lehi) and not through Ishmael (or other Lamanite defections to the Nephite Nation), Mulek, or Zoram. To the Nephites, like in Israel long before, tribal affiliation was very important among the 12 tribes. In fact, a few years ago I was talking to two Jewish men who had just flown over on business from Israel. One introduced himself as a Benjamanite and the other of Judah. When I told them I was of Ephraim, they acknowledged that without any surprise or further discussion--it was simply a way of communicating who we were. And based upon a few passages, it seems evident that the Nephites talked among themselves of being from Nephi, Jacob, Joseph, or Zoram (Jacob 1:13; Mormon 1:8), so it would not be uncommon for Mormon to introduced himself to the future reader by mentioning his direct Nephite genealogy.
    Comment: “3 Nephi 7:2-4, 14 - During the anarchy and the formation of numerous tribal associations before Christ’s coming to America - it would be interesting to know if the tribes that developed were based on prior ethnicity.” 
    Response: The only ethnicity we know about the Lamanites (surviving tribal associations) is that they were either Lamanites, Lemuelites, or Ishmaelites—on the other hand, perhaps the two sons of Ishmael were known by their own names and as separate tribes among the Lamanites, but this is not known. Defector groups such as Amalekites, Amulonites, etc., might also have been known separately, and were sometimes identified as such by Mormon.
However, it would appear that these associations were by smaller family groups in which a person would feel protected and safe, at least that seems to be what happened among the Nephites just prior to the arrival of the Savior in the Land of Promise (3 Nephi 7:2).
    Comment: “4 Nephi 1:10, 23 (also Mormon 1:7) - The Nephites “multiplied exceedingly fast” - could this have been augmented by many converts from other nearby peoples as well as those who were already Nephites?”
    Response: In those two generations (4 Nephi 1:22) following the Savior’s advent on the Land of Promise, there was peace and tranquility among the Nephites, which ended after about 200 years (4 Nephi 1:24-25) and there were no ites among them, i.e., no Lamanitees or separate group designations of any kind (4 Nephi 1:17), and there were no contentions in the land, no murders, wars, killings, etc., of any kind (4 Nephi 1:15-16), and a very blessed people (4 Nephi 1: 18). All of this lasted for 200 years (4 Nephi 1:22). It was a time for renewal and building (4 Nephi 1:8), and for miracles (4 Nephi 1:13). During this time there was peaceful growth and development and, like in any similar age, people increased their families, people married (4 Nephi 1:11), and the population increased. Also, it should be kept in mind that these three verse citings were all made by Mormon after the fact, and he would have known if any other groups were involved, which he does not name. Also, with the lack of wars, fear, and poverty, and when people prosper (4 Nephi 1:18), they are more inclined to have more children, and the population grows.
    Comment: “Mormon 4:17 - “... greatness of number....” - Again, question of natural increase or conscription of other indigenous or other non-Nephite peoples.”
    Response: This period of time is toward the end of 1000 years in the Land of Promise. Both Nephites and Lamanites would be very numerous. In addition, this period follows the time of 200 years of peace and prosperity (mentioned above) where the population increased exceedingly. Why would numbers not be great among both the Nephites and the Lamanites?
    Comment: “Ether 7:11 - “...for the people had become exceeding numerous.” The time period appears to be between 75 and 150 years after arrival in the new world. Jared’s and Mahonri’s descendants, along with the other 22 people or couples’ descendants, probably wouldn’t amount to more than 1000 people.  It is difficult to say what “exceeding numerous” means, of course, but if they had assimilated thousands of locals (Olmecs) then there could easily have been a numerous people under the heading of Jaredites.”
Response: This is merely idle speculation. All you have to do is a little arithmetic to realize how large of numbers the Jaredites were dealing with. First of all, the 24 Jaredite couples already had children before they arrived in the promised land (Ether 6:16). Also, between Jared, his brother, and one of their sons, there were 65 children. That makes 32 couples in the first “generation” of three couples. Add to that 21 other couples with an average of those three (the only ones listed), and you have an average of 22 children per couple, that would be 462 children in the second generation, or 231 couples, with 22 children each that is 2,541 children in the third generation (about 100 years or less), then take 1270 new couples with 22 kids each and you have 27,951 in 4 generations, about 125 years. In a fifth generation (150 years), you would have about 307,000 people. No doubt, of course, not every family had 22 children, but you get the idea that we are talking about a couple of hundred thousand people, and that would seem an exceedingly great number from an original 24 couples.
    Comment: “Ether 7:23 - Prophets were sent by the Lord among them.  Were these prophets literal descendants of the original Jaredite colony who came across the ocean, or were they raised up from indigenous peoples?”
Response: What would lead to someone asking such as question? The Lord always raises up prophets from among the people with whom he is dealing. Samuel the Lamanite was a descendant of Lehi, Lehi was of the Jewish community at Jerusalem, they were both prophets raised up to go among the people and call them to repentance. We have absolutely no suggestion in all of the scriptural record that any prophet did not come from among the people. And those of the Jaredites would be no different. Ether was a Jaredite.
    Comment: “Ether 10:1-4 - Apparently the famine that came destroyed most of the Jaredites, but in a short time during Shez's reign “the people began again to spread over all the face of the land.”  Again, this is very general but it could be accounted for by combining with indigenous people.” 
    Response: It could also be accounted for by people who had large families (as the Jaredites are shown to have had) and who multiplied quickly, or that the terminology used meant that the people spread over the land, not congregating in just cities. However, to introduce another people who are not recorded, mentioned in any way, suggested or even implied, is not only pure speculation, it does nothing to help us understand the scriptural record. After all, we can start making up situations and scenarios at will in order to have the Land of Promise comply with our opinion of its location, etc.
    Comment: “Ether 10:21 - Within 200 - 300 years after Shez’s reign, “the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants.”  Whether this could have been accomplished by direct descendants of the Jaredite colony alone is questionable, but it could easily have been done by assimilating indigenous (Olmec) peoples.” 
    Response: In the example used above of multiplying families, in 150 years 24 Jaredite couples could have had 307,000 descendants. In 200 years (2 more generations) or in 300 years (another 3 or 4 generations), we would be talking about millions, since there seems to be no inclination of the Jaredites not to have numerous children, even in their old age, and also living to old ages ((Ether 7:3,7,26; 9:14,24; 10:4,14,16; 11:4).
    This only shows that the website publishing these various scenarios have Mesoamerica in mind (mentioning of the Olmec in the Land of Promise), and therefore the author feels free to introduce other people in the Land of Promise besides those listed by Mormon--which is not scholarly or professional, but pure speculation without any basis in fact, scriptural verse, or understanding.

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