Sunday, December 8, 2013

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

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 and Mulek’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 for either trip. In response, we are reprinting the article under separate Comments with our Responses.    
    Comment: “It is possible that they made a landing on Tarawa, since that is the Hebrew word 'teruah' meaning "joyful noise" or "trumpet sound." They then continued on to present-day Hawaii, where they again left their mark in place names. "Hawaii" is clearly a shortening of "Je-howah". "Oahu" is another version of the same name of God. And - the crowning piece of evidence: the island Molokai is obviously named after Zedekiah's son Mulek!”
Response: The first question seems obvious, why would Mulek, crossing the Pacific, go so far north to land in Hawaii? Next, we come to Tarawa (Tara°wa), an archipelago of many islets within what is now called the Gilbert Islands (pronounced Kiribati [kirr-i-bas] in the native tongue), a mass of 32 atolls and one raised island dispersed over 1.3 million square miles of ocean. This entire area was originally called Tungaru by the indigenous natives. In really ancient legend, the land of Tarawa was called karawa and the ocean marawa, and the sky, when it was lifted up by the god Nareau, was called tarawa. As for Hawaii, the indigenous people there called it “Sawaiki,” meaning “homeland,” but known in Polynesian areas as Javaiki, Havai’i or ‘Avaiki, which was misspelled in English as Hawaiki. It originally came from the native word for homeland—Owhyhee, and was unoccupied before 300 A.D. (long after when Mulek would have passed by, so again who would have known of any name given it by this group?) Other Polynesian languages associate the word with the underworld and death, which in truth, is the same thing there as saying “homeland,” since throughout Polynesia it is believed that their ancestry traces back to Hawaii.
    As for Oahu (O’ahu), a legend in Hawaii claims that the name O’ahu was given the island by Hawai’iloa, a Polynesian navigator credited with discovery of the Hawaiian islands, naming it after a son. While old Hawaiians believe this event is consistent with old historical tales and legends, non-Hawaiians generally feel it is a recently added history. However, the island was not occupied prior to 300 A.D. and possibly 500 A.D., making any naming claimed for the Mulekites meaningless for there would have been no one there to know about it.
    Comment: “The two highest mountains in the Hawaiian Islands are Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, believed by the natives to be the dwelling place of the gods. Clearly, the names are from Hebrew 'maon' meaning "dwelling place, habitation." "Loa" is obviously a corruption and shortening of the Hebrew word for "god, gods", 'eloi, elohim' so that Mauna Loa literally means in Hebrew "dwelling place of the gods"! Since Mauna Kea is an active volcano, its name is from the Hebrew word 'kehah' meaning "darkness, smoking." Mauna Kea thus is Hebrew for "smoking dwelling place [of the gods]"!
The Hawaiian Islands stick up out of the Pacific like mountain peaks—which they are—in the middle of nowhere. They are prominent and obvious—no wonder the indigenous natives called them manoa (mountain)
Response: Mauna in the original Hawaiian language meant mountain, loa can mean either “great” or “long,” Mauna Loa means “Great Mountain,” Mauna Kea, means “White Mountain,” and the word mana means “power,” with mana loa meaning “Great Power.” Since Hawaii is a series of five volcano mountain tops, it stands to reason that the original natives of the island referred to them with superlative phrases. While Samuelson may know what Hebrew words mean, he is in error trying to relate Hebrew into the meanings of other languages arbitrarily. Hawaiian is a language ('Ölelo Hawai'i) from ancient times, and was means of transmitting orally from generation to generation the culture and traditions of the people of Hawai`i. American missionaries arrived in 1820 and soon formulated a written Hawaiian language (which had only been oral up to that point) based on the sounds they heard. Hawaiians quickly adopted written literacy following the introduction of printed Bibles, grammars and other textbooks. Hawaiian was the primary language of all islanders until the late 19th century. Cook believed the language to be similar to Tahitian and Maori, however, the reduplication ('ele'ele, wikiwiki) and the abundance of vowels seemed gave it a “baby-talk” sound. When Cook arrived, it was estimated there were 500,000 Hawaiian speakers, but today there are only 1000 native speakers, though another 8000 can understand it. But once again, Hawaii was not occupied or settled prior to 300 A.D., which eliminates Samuelson's entire scenario.
    Comment: “(Conclusion) The Hebrew origin of so many names in southeast Asia and across the Pacific can have only one explanation: that Hebrew-speaking peoples were at one time there and gave names to the places they visited. History knows no such visits except the peoples described in the Book of Mormon!”
    Response: This is another case of a Theorist creating his own ideas, passing them off as factual, then using them to make wide-sweeping claims that are not supported by real facts, knowledge and information on the subject. The words Samuelson claims were Hebrew have been shown to have been deeply buried within the local language, with specific meanings that are supported by other similar words with comparable meanings not consistent with the Hebrew word meaning. And again, a fact that cannot be ignored, is that many of these areas were not inhabited in the period of Mulek, and any naming of them by a passing ship would not have been known later to those who did occupy the areas.
    Comment: “Especially striking, in comparing these two routes, is how clear each one is, in its own way. No "Lehi" names are found on Mulek's route, and no "Mulek" names are found on Lehi's route. Thus, each one confirms the other. And each route places its travelers precisely where the record says they landed: Lehi in the "land southward" and Mulek in the "land northward" (Helaman 6:10).”
Response: First of all, the scriptural record does not say Land Northward and Land Southward regarding where Lehi and Mulek landed. The verse states clearing that: “for the Lord did bring Mulek into the land north, and Lehi into the land south” (Helaman 6:10), which is not the same as the Land Northward and the Land Southward. Secondly, while Samuelson tries to sell his idea of Hebrew words scattered across the South Pacific, the reality is that those words sometimes existed before Lehi would have passed, and in other instances, no land was occupied in the area at the time Lehi passed and for centuries afterward and no name would have survived.
    Comment: No skeptic, of course, will be convinced. The real power of the Book of Mormon to convince is through the spirit, not through maps and placenames. (See Moroni 10:4)”
    Response: One cannot argue with Samuelson’s desire to try and show the Book of Mormon to be the accurate work that it is; however, to try and foster a name sequence that is not supportable by the local origination of those words is neither helpful nor beneficial to the scriptural record. Polynesian words, if they have any basis in Hebrew, cannot be shown by a passing ship in 600 B.C., 2600 years ago, and in many cases hundreds of years before the island in question was occupied. It is not being skeptical that causes one to reject Samuelson’s views, it is simply knowing the origin of the words he chooses to attribute to Hebrew that can more readily and accurately be attributed to an origin within the language of that area, dating back to its beginning occupation and language.
(See the next post, “Was this Lehi's Route Across the Pacific? – Part V,” for our final responses to L. Swayne Samuelson’s article Lehi in the Pacific, Powerful New Evidence for the Book of Mormon)

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