Saturday, December 28, 2013

So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts, listing actual descriptions of the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon and how any Land of Promise model should match all of those listed in that writing. We have earlier covered 1) Mountains, “whose height is great”; 2) Two unknown animals; 3) Two unknown grains; 4) Plants that cure fever; 5) Land of promise as an island; 6) The four seas surrounding the Land of Promise; and 7) the Climate where Lehi’s seeds grew that he brought to the Land of Promise.    
    Another important criteria are the roads the disciple Nephi tells us about when he said: “there were many highways cast up, and many roads made, which led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place” (3 Nephi 6:8). Samuel the Lamanite confirmed that there were many highways in the Land of Promise (Helaman 14:24). These highways were made of some type of solid material, like stone or a form of pavement, since Nephi also tells us that during the terrible destruction that “changed the face of the earth,” these highways were “broken up” (3 Nephi 8:13).
Top: Stone highways found in Andean Peru, still travelable after more than two thousand years; Bottom Left: This stepped, stone highway stretches for miles, obviously not intended for wheeled vehicles; Bottom Right: This ancient road was “cast up” across a series of  mountainous valley ravines with an irrigation channel in the middle;
Bottom: Stepped roads and bridges meant only for foot traffic
    The highway system in Andean Peru is both remarkable and unequaled anywhere in the Western Hemisphere, and according to the conquistadors who first saw these roads, claimed they rivaled the highly acclaimed roads of the ancient Romans. This highway system ran 3,700 miles, from Chile to Ecuador, with an intertwining and interconnected network of 24,000 miles of roads and highways. Truly, this road system “led from city to city, and from land to land, and from place to place.”
Called Qhapaq Ñan by the Inca (Great Inca Road or Route of the Inca), who later used these well-built Nephite roads to help them conquer from Ecuador to Chile. They never could have been built by the Inca, whose existence is figured to be about 100 years in which most of that time was taken up by fighting wars. Without these roads already in place, the Inca never could have conquered most of their eventual territory
    Another important criteria, is Nephi’s brief, but extremely important comment on how his ship was propelled from Bountiful to the Land of Promise. He tells us: “after we had all gone down into the ship, and had taken with us our provisions and things which had been commanded us, we did put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8). Not long out to sea, Nephi adds, “And after we had been driven forth before the wind for the space of many days” (1 Nephi 18:9). This is when his brothers and the sons of Ishmael bound Nephi and the Liahona stopped working.
This statement, which many try to compare with that found in Ether, is talking about the wind driving the ship, where a careful reading of Ether shows the wind was driving the waters, which moved the barges: “the Lord God caused that there should be a furious wind blow upon the face of the waters, towards the promised land; and thus they were tossed upon the waves of the sea before the wind” (Ether 6:5; read all verses 5-11).
    In these two statements, Nephi informs us that his ship was propelled by the wind, and that wind blew his ship toward the promised land from the shore of the Arabian Peninsula where he built and launched his ship all the way to the Land of Promise. And the winds and currents that move from Arabia to the Western Hemisphere are:
1) Southward across the Arabian Sea and then the Indian Ocean, to 2) the West Wind Drift and Prevailaing Westerlies, which cross the Southern Ocean and the very southern edge of the Pacific Ocean, and a) the lower portion through the Drake Passage (south of Cape Horn) and into the Atlantic, or b) the upward portion forced upward along the western coast of South America within the Humboldt (Peruvian) Current.  
    Though Mesoamericanists want to send Lehi through Indonesia and island-hopping across the Pacific, the winds and currents simply do not blow nor move in that direction, as any Atlas will show. And while Heartland and New England modelists want to take Lehi around the tip of Africa and diagonally across the Atlantic to America, the winds and currents around the Cape of Good Hope, originally called the Cabo Tormentoso “Cape of Storms,” blow in conflicting directions there.
Left: Red area is the Agulhas Current, flowing southward. On the opposite side of Africa is the Benguela Current, flowing in the opposite direction. These two currents meet at the southern tip (right) and cause unending storms, current conflict, and wind turmoil. This area was called the Cape of Shipwrecks by sailors for centuries
    In fact, this passage from east to west around Africa is so severe in trying to sail from east to west through the Agulhas Current, the attempt drove Vasco da Gama’s second attempt to round the cape backward for three days. It wasn’t until the mid-1500’s that the Portuguese learned to round the tip of Africa by staying well out to sea, a maneuver that worked sailing west to east and into the Indian Ocean, but was not possible because of the currents when sailing east to west.
    Another important description, and often overlooked, is the statement made by Nephi: “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). It should be noted that though the term “both” is used, three different metals follow. Few people bother to spend a moment to try and understand what Nephi wrote and Joseph Smith translated; however, in understanding this phrase, one can understand exactly what Nephi found “as they journeyed in the wilderness of the Land of Promise."
    Obviously, the word “both” means “two,” as in “both a dog and a cat.” One would not say “both a dog and a cat and a rabbit.” But Nephi and Joseph Smith were not using improper grammar as some suppose. To understand this statement, we merely need to recognize that two of those items can categorically be placed as one—that is, the precious metals of gold and silver, which is one item, the non-precious metal “copper.” This is also seen in “the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam” (2 Nephi 9:21). Again, men and women are adults (one category) and children are not (another category).
Top Left: Ore rock containing 3.95 ppm gold, 5 ppm silver, and 1% copper; Top Right: High grade silver, containing gold and copper; Bottom Left: Both gold, silver, and copper in a single ore sample; Bottom Right: Both gold, silver, and copper bubbled in a single ore
    So why did Nephi make such a statement? Obviously,  because the Nephites found “all manner of ore,” including that which contained gold, silver and copper in a single ore. We need only keep in mind that ore often contains more than one metal, especially the ore of copper, which can contain gold, and it can contain gold and silver. Thus, we see that Nephi is telling us that he found abundant deposits of gold, silver and copper ore—a single ore containing all three metals.
    Now, copper is not found in gold and silver ore deposits everywhere—none, as a matter of fact in the Great Lakes region, and while tumbaga (a manufactured alloy of gold and copper) was found in Central America, it was not found in the ground in that manner. So the use of tumbaga does not qualify for the manner in which Nephi describes the ore he found. These three metals in a single ore are not found in Mesoamerica, though some are located in northern Mexico. However, the three metals in single ore are found throughout Chile and Peru in Andean South America.
    Obviously, then, 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, beginning with these first 11 covered in these three posts, as well as the ones to follow in the next posts.
(See the next post, “So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part IV,” for more of these descriptions as listed in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon)

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