Friday, December 27, 2013

So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part II

Continuing from the last post, with listing actual descriptions of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon and how any Land of Promise model must match all of those listed by Mormon, Nephi and others.    
    Another important criteria is Jacob’s description of the land upon which the Nephites lived. This would have been between 559 and 545 B.C., more than 30 years after landing, probably about 20 to 25 years after Nephi founded the City of Nephi, and after the temple was built, after Nephi had appointed Jacob and his younger brother as priests over the people, and the city populated with at least three generations of Nephites.
    At this time, Jacob, who obviously well understood the land upon which he lived, reminds his people that “we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). He also went on to tell them, “wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21).
    These words were spoken by Jacob and written down by Nephi on the plates he made. These two men, who had traveled some in the Land of Promise, either by their own observation or from a vision, knew they were upon an island—that the Land of Promise was an island. Therefore, at the time of the Nephites, at least up until the earthquakes (3 Nephi 8:3) and terrible destruction in the Land Southward, but even greater destruction in the Land Northward (3 Nephi 8:11-12), and the “face of the whole earth became deformed" (3 Nephi 8:17). Consequently, any Land of Promise model must be of an area that is either now an island, or was an island during the time of the Nephites.
By definition, an island is surrounded by water. Jacob says that “we are upon an isle of the sea,” which is an island in the sea, or surrounded by the sea
    In addition, the scriptural record clearly states that there were four seas around the Land of Promise, each given a name depicting the cardinal directions: Sea North, Sea East, Sea South, Sea West, suggesting that these seas were located in the four directions of the land, north, east, south, and west. Around 46 B.C. we find that the Nephites: “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).A form of parallelism in writing, Mormon describes "from the land southward to the land northward," and "from the sea south to the sea north," suggesting a relationship, i.e., the land southward and the sea south--both being in the south of the Land of Promise; the land northward and the sea north--both being in the north of the Land of Promise, or, as we would say today to describe America--"from sea to shining sea," meaning the entire land.
    We are also told by Mormon that the Land Southward, which was the land he was describing at the time, was basically surrounded by water: “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32). So the Land Southward was surrounded by water except for the small neck of land that connected the Land Southward to the Land Northward. We are also told that this narrow neck, which could be crossed in a day and a half, and the narrow pass or passage within it, had water on both sides (Alma 50:34).
    When combining these facts with that of Jacob’s statement (2 Nephi 10:20) mentioned above, it becomes quite clear that the Land of Promise was an island in the middle of the sea, completely surrounded by the ocean.
An example of the Land of Promise, according to Jacob, was an island in the middle of the sea; and according to Mormon/Helaman, it had four seas around it. Either also mentioned a sea that divided the land, which is shown above (right). This, then, was the layout of the Land of Promise during the time of the Nephites
    Thus, it must follow that any Land of Promise model must be in a place that was not only an island during Nephite times, but configured in two, distinct and separate land masses, connected by a narrow neck, and surrounded by the sea.
     Still another description is a land where seeds from Jerusalem of every kind would grow. Jerusalem is a Mediterranean Climate, and as such, seeds originally grown there would require a very similar climate in which to grow elsewhere. As Nephi tells us: “we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24).
    In 600 B.C., seeds did not just grow anywhere—they were obtained from parent plants grown in a climatic area with the intent of replanting the seeds in that same climatic area. To plant such seeds successfully elsewhere, especially where they would grow “exceedingly” and provide an “abundant” crop, they would have to be planted in a climate conducive to that of Jerusalem—that is, in a similar Mediterranean Climate, which is made up of a particular soil, soil type, temperature, precipitation and plants.
    It is interesting that there are only five such climates outside the Mediterranean—the Western Cape of South Africa, Southwest Australia, South Australia, California, and Central Chili. More specifically, there are only two such climates in the Western Hemisphere—Southern California and Chile, along the 30º South Latitude; and only one place in the entire Western Hemisphere that has a complete climatic match to that of Jerusalem, including a matching soil, soil type, temperature, precipitation and plants.
Top: The six areas in the world where a Mediterranean Climate exists; Bottom: The two areas in the Western Hemisphere where Lehi’s initial seeds had to be planted
    Thus, to match this criteria, Lehi’s landing site would have to be either in Southern California or Central Chile. No other areas match the very clear description of seeds from Jerusalem being planted in the Land of Promise. By way of comparison, the climates of Mesoamerica, Heartland and New York State in the U.S., southern Baja California, Malaysa proposals simply do not meet this most important criteria.
    As an example of its importance, when the Pilgrims planted their seeds brought from Southampton, England, or Leiden, Holland, they would barely grow in the climate of Plymouth, Massachusetts; nor would they have done better in their intended destination of northern Virginia. Facing famine and eventual starvation, the Pilgrim colony was saved only by locals (attributed to the Indian Squanto) who taught them to fertilize their plants with fish buried beneath the seeds, and to plant corn, beans and squash together in a technique called the Three Sisters—a method of advanced agriculture known to the Iroquois, but unknown in Europe as late as 1600 A.D. (in this method, the bean vines climb up the corn stalks as a trellis, the squash and pumpkin plants cover the soil as living green mulch as well as to choke out weeds, and the nitrogen fixer of the beans fertilizes the corn as it grows).
Top left: Planting Squash, corn and beans; Top Right: An Iroquois Garden of these three plants growing together called the Three Sisters; Bottom: The lattice arrangement of a Three Sisters garden in its initial stages
    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, but must match all of the descriptions listed.
(See the next post, “So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part III,” for more of these descriptions as listed in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon.

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