Friday, December 6, 2013

Was this Lehi's Route Across the Pacific? – Part II

Continuing with L. Swayne Samuelson’s article, entitled Lehi in the Pacific, Powerful New Evidence for the Book of Mormon, which has to do with Lehi’s journey across the Pacific and involves his island hopping journey. Unfortunately, there is absolutely nothing in in the scriptural record to suggest any such connection. In response, we are reprinting the article under separate Comments with our Responses.    
    Comment: “Following the coast eastward to the next island, we again find Lehi's steps, since the name of the island is Timor, which is obviously the Hebrew word 'timmorah', meaning "palm tree," for the numerous palm trees Lehi found there.”
Response: And just how did a name given it in 600 B.C. by an itinerate colony sailing past the island survive until today? Who was there to hear the name, record it, and pass it on to someone else? Would anyone on the island who heard the name in Hebrew know what it meant? Why on earth would they retain a name in a language they could not understand? In addition, why would Lehi be sailing in this direction? If he entered into the Malacca Strait, he would have turned north to pass along the north coast of Malaysia toward the Sulu Sea, which were the trade routes of the day. As for the name, in Hebrew Timor means slender or tall; however, in Malay, timur (the spelling of its earliest known name) means “east,” and is applicable since the island is the furthest east along the Sumatra-Java island chain, in Maritime Southeast Asia.
    Comment: “From Timor the party followed the southern coast of Papua (New Guinea), the name of which is probably from the Hebrew words 'po' meaning "there, on the other side" and 'puach' meaning to "blow, bring into a snare." It is likely that crossing the Arafura Sea they had trouble with stormy winds and may have been stranded "there”. At the eastern tip of Papua is a place called "Samarai," again probably indicating the exact spot where the Lehites made landfall, the name being a combination of Sam (Lehi's son) and Hebrew 'ar' ("city").
Response: Papua, now in part known as Papua New Guinea, has had several names over the centuries, with Papua from papo, meaning to unite, and ua, meaning negation, which combined means not united, or a territory that geographically is far away (and thus not united). Literally, it is far away and not connected to the rest of the greater Indonesia islands. On the other hand, as names in this part of the world often do, it has other claims for its origin, such as deriving from the Malay word Papua or pua-pua, meaning “frizzly-haired,” referring to the highly curly hair of the inhabitants of these areas. In Biak, the phrase sup I papaw means “the land below,” that is, the land below the sunset, referring to the islands west of the Bird’s Head, as far as Halmahera. Papua came to be associated with Halmahera, which was known to the Portuguese by this name during the era of their colonization in this part of the world.
Comment: We next find traces of the Lehites in the Solomon Islands. Historians have traditionally assumed that the name was given by a Spanish explorer who later discovered the islands. But it is just as likely that the Spaniard learned the name from the natives, who remembered it from Lehi's visit, when he named the islands after the great king of Israel.”
    Response: Isn’t it interesting that not a single use of the name of Solomon is used anywhere in the Book of Mormon, as a name, a location, city, land, or anything.
    As for the islands, in 1568, Alvaro de Mendaña y Neira, a Spanish navigator, and nephew of Lope Garcia de Castro, viceroy of Peru, led two voyages of discovery into the Pacific in 1567 and 1595, in search of Terra Australis (south land), a hypothetical continent which appeared on European maps in the 15th thru 18th centuries (its existence was based on the hypothesis that continents in the Northern Hemisphere should be balanced by land in the south).
On his first voyage, he discovered the Solomon Islands, giving them that name because he supposed that King Solomon had obtained the gold in these islands with which he had adorned the temple at Jerusalem. In fact, this belief spurred the fitting out of a second, and far more costly expedition, to bring people to colonize the islands in hope of finding this wealth. This second expedition discovered numerous other islands, including the Marquesas Islands, which Alvaro de Mendaña named in honor of the wife of García de Mendoza, Marquis of Cañete, who was at the time Viceroy of Peru. The explorer James Cook, nearly 200 years later in 1774, gave the name of Nukahiva to this group, that being the native name of the largest island of the archipelago. The manuscript containing the notes of his two voyages is in the National Library in Paris. (See Pedro Guérico de Victoria under the title of "Derrotero de Mendaña de Neyra"; Mendaña de Neyra in Bulletin de la Société de Géographie, Paris, 1898; Discovery of the Solomon Islands in Scottish Geographical Magazine, Edinburgh, 1902; and Discovery of the Solomon Islands in Publications of the Hakluyt Society, London, 1901).
    Comment: The next stop for the Lehites was clearly Fiji. They were probably forced to land there because of storms at sea, since the name of Fiji's largest city and present capital is "Suva" which is clearly the Hebrew word 'suphah' meaning "storm, whirlwind." [And] The tiny island of Niuafo'ou, between Fiji and Samoa, was probably named after Nephi. The similarity is obvious.”
    Response: Fiji was given its name erroneously by Captain James Cook; however, the natives called their islands Viti (a local name still used today), thus a Fijian called himself Kaivit, meaning “from Viti.” Fiji at one time was referred to as he Cannibal Isles. On the other hand, Niuas, means rich in coconuts, Niuafo'ou means “coconut.” With its three isolated islands, can be called “new coconut,” or “many new coconuts,” and has other names such as Niafu, Niu-Afu (Niua Fo’ou), Niau’fou, and modern names like Good Hope Island and Tin Can Island. The islands have a history of songs and poetry about the “frigid-coconut” (Niu-momoko) mountain, and the many coconuts that grow there. The local names of volcanic cones are: Faa-Motu, Lahi, Motu Molimoli, Hikutemotu, Motu, Vai Fo. None of these names have anything to do with Hebrew, or Lehi’s voyage, and are akin to the name Niuafo’ou. If one can get Nephi out of that word, fine. But how did the other, similar sounding words, come about? One might wonder what Niuatoputapu could be interpreted as from the Book of Mormon.
Comment: “Moving eastward to Samoa, the Lehi group left a lasting influence here. First, in the name of the island group - again honoring Lehi's son Sam - with the rest of the name probably from Hebrew 'ohel' meaning "tent, tabernacle." Thus it is likely that here was a temporary resting place called "Sam's tents." More significant is the strong favorable reception which the Gospel has received here, ever since LDS missionaries first visited the islands, obviously because of the Samoans' dim recollections of the teachings of the great prophet from Jerusalem while among their ancestors. The name of the Samoan town of Apia is probably from Hebrew 'aph' ("also") and 'jehu' ("Jehovah"), thus having the meaning "also [here] is Jehovah!"
Response: Samoa got its name from the Tui Manu’a family title of Moa, and means literally, “the people of Moa.” The thirty-fifth king of Manu'a and Samoa, Tui-Manu'a (left), was living in 1870, the previous king Tui-Manu'a being killed in battle in 1820. During this dynasty the Moa ruled a confederacy of far-flung islands which included Fiji, Tonga, the Marquesas, the Cook Islands, and smaller western Pacific chiefdoms and outliers. The fortieth king in this line died in 1909, though some claim the line contained 59 or 60 generations. In fact, throughout all of Polynesia the common word for the Pacific Ocean is Moana (Moa-Na), which can mean “Belonging to the Moa,” or “Offerings to the Moa,” or even “Behold the Moa.” All of which are phrases of honor to the Moa family. For those who have never served in Samoa, you might not know that the correct pronunciation is Sa-Moa. Obviously, the name of Samoa has nothing to do with Nephi’s brother Sam. Also, in Hebrew, Ånåp means “shady,” and West Semitic Ânåphå means “a type of owl,” and in Latin, Apia means “bees,” but the name Apia means “devout woman,” in Greek, Apia means a “bull,” and in Egyptian “father,” and in Scythæ means “the Earth.” Apia, in the Hawaiian language (considered part of Polynesia) means “God is my father.” 
    None of this shows any evidence of Lehi's passing and is stretching the incredulous to suggest such.
(See the next post, “Was this Lehi's Route Across the Pacific? – Part III,” for more on this article by L. Swayne Samuelson and our responses)

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