Saturday, December 7, 2013

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

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 based mostly on the scriptural record.
Comment: “Leaving Samoa the Lehites stopped at Bora Bora in the Society Islands, the first large island of the group (the largest is Tahiti). This was obviously a stop primarily for replenishing their supply of drinking water (we can surmise that God had revealed to them the vast distance of ocean remaining in which no islands would be easily found), since the name consists of two Hebrew words which sound almost identical in Hebrew, 'bor' (beth, resh) meaning "clean, pure" and 'bor' (beth, vav, resh) meaning "well, cistern". Thus this island, too, has a Hebrew name, meaning "pure well [of water]"!
    Response: Wrong again. James Cook recorded the island’s name as bola bola, which meant “first born.” However, Polynesians were unable to pronounced either “b” or “l” correctly, so pora pora might have been more accurate, and “first born” because this was the first island created after Ra’iatea. The original name of the island was Vava’u.
    Comment: “From Tahiti to America is largely empty ocean, and Lehi's group obviously could not leave such obvious traces there as in the more western islands. It would be mere speculation to assume that the island Morane several hundred miles SSE of Tahiti was a stopping place, the name being adopted by the Lehites, to appear at the end of their history as "Moroni."
    Response: The small atoll of Morane, which is part of the Tuamotu Archipelago in French Polynesia, is now, and always has been, uninhabited. Nathaniel Cary, in 1832, first discovered the atoll island and named it “Barstow’s Island,” after his ship Gideon Barstow, but on some maps it appears as “Cadmus.” Its closest neighbor is Maria Est (Maria East), also known as Hull Island though it was originally named Nororotu, is about 100 miles away—and before its discovery was also uninhabited. One might ask, when Nephi’s ship passed this way, how would they have known the name of the Island to create the name of Moroni, since nobody lived there and the nearest island was about 100 miles distant, and if they did name it, who was there to remember the name since, again, it was and has always been, uninhabited.
    Comment: “One could also speculate that Peru's name is from the root of the Hebrew word 'perudoth' ("seeds") and reflects the joy of the group when landing there to find abundant usable plants. The name of Lima may be an echo of the name of Lemuel, a Hebrew name meaning "belonging to God."
Response: While I agree that Peru was part of the Land of Promise, there is no way that a weather sailing ship in 600 B.C.,  “driven forth before the wind,” could have reached Peru coming across the Pacific as is here described by L. Swayne Samuelson. In addition, when the Lehi colony landed in South America, there is no indication they found “edible plants,” but planted their seeds brought from Jerusalem, from which they reaped an exceeding harvest and were blessed in abundance (1 Nephi 18:24). It might also be noted that, according to Raúl Porras Barrenechea, (El nombre del Perú. Lima, 1968), the name Peru is derived by Birú, the name of a local ruler who lived near the Bay of San Miguel, Panama, in the early 16th century. When the Spanish explorers arrived there in 1522, it was at the southernmost part of the New World so far known to Europeans, and when Francisco Pizarro explored the regions farther south, they came to be designated Birú or Peru. Piru has been the common Quecha name of the country for centuries.
    The following is also from with L. Swayne Samuelson’s article, entitled Lehi in the Pacific, Powerful New Evidence for the Book of Mormon, but is about “the Route of Mulekites,” not the Nephites.
    Comment: Using the same methodology that showed us Lehi's path across the Pacific, we can also trace Mulek's route! From Arabia the Mulekites probably followed approximately the same route as Lehi, to the western point of Sumatra. At that point the Mulekites obviously took the more northerly route along the northern coast, since that passage is known as the Strait of Malacca, with the town of Malacca on its northern shore (probably a landing place of the Mulekites).
    Response: The idea that Mulek and those that helped him escape Jerusalem basically followed Lehi’s route is certainly likely. However, the idea that they traveled through Indonesia and across the Pacific as is being stated here simply would not have been possible for a sailing vessel in Lehi’s day.
Winds and currents would have been against any 600 B.C. sailing vessel trying to move eastward from the Arabian Sea through to Indonesia and then through those islands and into the Pacific as Samuelson and some others claim. Nephi made it clear his vessel was “driven forth before the wind” and it is likely the Mulekites were also driven before the winds—which blew in the opposite direction from Samuelsonl’s direction of travel
    However, in regard to analyzing Samuelson’s writings, the Strait of Malacca, as the area called Malacca, is from the Malay word Melaka, a kind of rattan palm that grows in the region, though some have translated Melaka from a Tamil word mallakka, which means “upside down,” or “on one’s back,” a literal understanding of the founding of the area by Paramesware, a Srivijayan prince of Palembang who fled Sumatra following a Majapahit attack in 1377. Either way, the word Malacca as a name for a country, area of straits was not known at the time Mulek would have sailed there.
    Comment: “We can also assume that the Mulekites made a landing on Celebes Island, since its name is the Hebrew word 'keleb' meaning "dog" - perhaps because of the dogs found there. Or could it be that the Mulekites named the island after the star Kolob, near where God lives?”
    Response: First of all, the word Kolob is not mentioned in the Bible, a work the Mulekites would have had through to the writings of Jeremiah. The word Kolob comes from the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price and would not have been known to Mulek and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in 600 B.C. The Hebrew word blk in Hebrew is Keleb (keh’leb) and means dog, and is used 31 times in that manner from Exodus down to Jeremiah, but the word also has derogatory definitions, meaning “contempt,” ”debasement,” “of pagan sacrifice,” and figuratively “of male cut prostitute.” That might be a weird name for Mulek to give an island.
Besides, it was originally called Celebes by Portuguese sailors (left) in 1512, believed to be from Os Celebres, meaning “the famous ones,” a name given by navigators to the dangerous capes of the island’s northeast coast, with the name applying only to that area since the Portuguese thought the island was an archipelago.
    Comment: “We can assume that the Mulekites turned north from Celebes into the Molucca Sea - the name similarities are astonishing! - and headed across the ocean, probably landing on the island of Mokil and naming it (later corrupted from the original "Mulek" by a very common and well-known phonetic transformation process).”
    Response: The name was given to the area by Arab traders in the 14th century who called it Jazirat al-Muluk, meaning “the land of many kings,” and was inhabited by Bandanese people of the Banda Islands (Kapulauan Banda), which are part of the Maluku province. Until the mid-19th century, these islands were the world’s only source of nutmeg, cloves and mace spices, which were used as flavorings, medicines, and preserving agents that were highly valued in European markets. The Bandanese traders sold these spices at exorbitant prices, and would not divulge the exact location of their source and no European was able to deduce their location. These were called the Spice Islands during the Age of Discovery, and the earliest archaeological dating has been determined to 200 B.C. If that is true, these islands were uninhabited during the time of Lehi’s or Mulek's passing and would not have had anyone there to know of any name, let alone retain it.
    Once again, we see where fervent desires to find connections to the Book of Mormon are both misguided and of no value. Lehi's passage could not have been along this route, anyway, because of the winds and currents that flowed in the opposite direction (east to west). As has been stated many times in these pages, Nephi's ship sailed forth before the wind and was reliant upon winds and sea currents to take them eastward and the only such currents that exist in the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean flow basically southward into the West Wind Drift and the Prevailing Westerlies that move quickly across the shortest distance between Arabia and the Western Hemisphere.
(See the next post, “Was this Lehi's Route Across the Pacific? – Part IV,” for the last of the L. Swayne Samuelson’s article and our responses)

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