Thursday, December 26, 2013

So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part I

Just as a reminder—in locating the Land of Promise, a few factors cannot be—but often are—ignored. And that is the list of descriptions left us by Mormon about the Land of Promise and what it looked like, what was within it, and evidences of its existence. The list actually is quite long, with many items completely ignored by those who promote one model or another.    
    That critical list of descriptions is found only in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon. While modern-day comments and descriptions may be helpful, the fact remains that the scriptural record is not only by far the most important basis, but in fact, the only one since it was written by prophets who lived upon the land their entire lives (except for Nephi and Jacob who spent most of their lives on the land), and was translated by a prophet whose translation was verified by the Spirit.
    We concluded a previous post with the statement: “As has been said by others, this list of criteria is not a cafeteria list—you can’t pick and choose. However, all Mesoamericanists and Great Lakes/Heartland, Central and North American theorists do this. They ignore those scriptural references that disagree with their points of view. So we continue to publish what those scriptural references are and show where they are not used and do not support these numerous and erroneous views of those who place the Land of Promise in areas not supported by Mormon's many descriptions and many other the scriptural references.”
    Thus, to find the location of the Land of Promise, we have to find an area that now and/or during the time of the Jaredites/Nephites, matched the entire list of descriptions found in the Book of Mormon. And we have to do it without changing the meaning, twisting the words around, inserting words that are not in the scriptural record, or deleting words or ideas that do not agree with one’s personal point of view, or claiming that these erstwhile prophets did not know what they were writing about, such as not knowing directions or what their land was like, or how it was laid out from north to south, or whether or not they meant sea when they said sea, etc.
    As an example, Samuel the Lamanite foretold that the land would be changed at the time of the crucifixion of the Lord, saying “And behold, there shall be great tempests, and there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great” (Helaman 14:23). Thus, our Land of Promise must have mountains that are so high or unusual that Samuel singled them out with the term “whose height is great.”
The Andes is the highest mountain range outside Asia, the longest continental mountain range in the world at about 4,300 miles in length and 430 miles wide, with its highest point at 22,841 feet, and containing the world’s highest volcanoes. It has over 50 separate volcanoes above 19,685 feet, and 25 mountain peaks over 20,000 feet. No other area in all the Western Hemisphere can boast of so many mountains “whose height is great”
    Another example is Moroni’s statement found in Ether when he said, “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19). Thus, we must find a location where two animals that were unknown to Joseph Smith in New England America in 1829, but were present in the Land of Promise and of great importance to its inhabitants.
    In fact, these two unknown animals were so important to the inhabitants of the Land of Promise that Moroni likened them to elephants in their value, and placed them of more importance than the horse or donkey. The only animals in the Western Hemisphere anciently and now that can qualify for this description are the Llama and Alpaca, the former being a pack-carrying beast-of-burden animal and the latter being a fiber-producing animal, with a very fine, soft fleece coat of lustrous and silky natural fiber that has been used for making knitted and woven clothing and fabric for thousands of years. Both provide food, and the larger llama can be ridden, though more often used to carry heavy packs.

There are five species in the camelid family: camel, guanaco, vicuna, llama and alpaca, the latter two shown above. The guanaco and vicuna are the wild ancestors of the llama and alpaca, with all four species indigenous only to Andean South America. There really is no other animal anywhere in the world that is so beneficial to man in the many ways these two have served Andean man for 5000 years
    Still another scriptural description of the Land of Promise are the two grains that were unknown to the farmer Joseph Smith in 1829. These grains, mentioned as having similar value to corn, wheat and barley were called neas and sheum by the Nephites and were grown in and around the city of Nephi and, no doubt, elsewhere. They are described with grains and separate from fruits: “we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land” (Mosiah 9:9).
    Nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere are found two grains that are on an equal footing with corn, wheat and barley in their value and production as quinoa and kiwicha, which were indigenous to, and found only in, the Andean area of South America. Both of these grains are considered superfood seed, the latter long known for its healing properties in the Andes, and the former was most important to the diet of pre-Columbian Andean civilizations.
    Both these grains are high in nutritional value, today called superfoods, with the multipurpose quinoa very high in protein content, containing all nine essential amino acids, with high levels of unsaturated fats, rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and phosphorus, and has low levels of carbohydrates. The benefits of quinoa far outdo any other grain available.
Quinoa and Kiwicha fields stretch across the Andean hillsides and mountains of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia. Not truly a grain, though called one, these seeds can be eaten whole, ground, mixed, and made into just about any breakfast, lunch or dinner dish
    Yet another description Mormon left us was “And there were some who died with fevers, which at some seasons of the year were very frequent in the land -- but not so much so with fevers, because of the excellent qualities of the many plants and roots which God had prepared to remove the cause of diseases, to which men were subject by the nature of the climate” (Alma 46:40). Fevers causing death, specifically malaria, has been a scourge on ancient civilizations from the beginning of time.
    We live on a malarious planet and today malaria is endemic to 106 countries, threatening half the world’s population. It is figured that this year malaria will strike half a billion people, and at least a million will die—and that is with the knowledge of mosquitoes, malaria controlling drugs and techniques known today. In the time of the Nephites, malaria was known simply as a fever that killed—the word malaria being coined much later in time from an Italian word mal’aria meaning “bad air.”
    However, fevers date back to about 40 centuries ago. These killer fevers were well documented by the Chinese and Greeks, and even the father of medicine, Hippocrates. Not until the 17th century A.D. was quinine discovered, found in the medicinal bark of the Chinchona tree, which was indigenous only to the Peruvian Andes. There, the bark had been used for thousands of years by Andean civilizations for not only combatting the fever of malaria, but a host of other diseases and maladies.
    Nowhere else on the planet was found the cinchona tree, its medicinal bark, and quinine—the only cure for malaria fevers—until the 19th century when the Dutch stole starts from the Andes and planted the cinchona tree in what is now Indonesia. Only in this Andean area of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia did quinine exist anciently, a root and plant that fought both fevers and other “diseases to which men were subject by the nature of the climate.”
Cinchona pubescens or Quina is a genus of about 8 species in the family Rubiaceae, native to the tropical Andes forests of western South America. The bark of this genus is the source of a variety of alkaloids, the most familiar of which is quinine, an anti-fever agent especially useful in treating malaria, and are known as medicinal plants
    Obviously, any true Land of Promise must match all of the descriptions listed in the Book of Mormon—it is not a pick and choose arrangement in selecting those that agree with your point of view. Any model must match all of the descriptions of the scriptural record to be considered the Jaredite/Nephite Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part II,” for more of these descriptions as listed in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon)

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