Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Looking at Mormon’s Internal Map – Part I

In the last two posts, we have responded to an article written by Don R. Hender, Logic of the Aftermath of Cumora, taken from his website on which he has written numerous articles. At the request of a reader, we are answering some more of these articles, beginning with Mormon’s Internal Map Defined. 
    Article: “It has been presumed by readers of the Book of Mormon, which has become a misconception of 'traditional stance', that the site of Lehi's First Landing and the Land of First Inheritance are both at the same general location. That is a presumption based outside of what the book states. Yet the traditional presumption persists. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that substantiates that conclusion that the site of their 'first planting' where they reaped in abundance is where they stayed and settled.”
When the Nephite Colony arrived at the Land of Promise, both Lehi and Sariah would have been quite old, and knowing he was near dying (2 Nephi 3:25), Lehi blessed all his household (2 Nephi 4:12) and died. It is doubtful the colony would have moved further inland than necessary
    Response: Nephi tells us that “After we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23). This should show that: 1) They sailed for some time, 2) reached their destination, 3) left the ship and set foot on the land, and 4) pitched their tents. Or, in other words, they settled where they landed, which makes a great deal of sense, since leaving their ship at this point probably would not have been the smart thing to do, not knowing what further use of it they might have. The important point here is the very next thing they did is “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” (1 Nephi 18:24). Before the record was separated into verses, the planting followed directly without separation their landing and pitching tents. Later, when Nephi separates from his older brothers, we find that those he took with him did not include his parents, thus we might conclude that they had died before that time (2 Nephi 5:6), again suggesting that they would have been too old once landing to have been on the move inland.
They landed and went forth on the land and pitched their tents and then cleared, tilled, and planted the seed they brought from Jerusalem
    In addition, we find Mormon, in Alma, making this even clearer that the land of first inheritance was by the west seashore: “Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28).
    For Hender to say, “There is nothing in the Book of Mormon that substantiates that conclusion that the site of their 'first planting' where they reaped in abundance is where they stayed and settled,” is a rather remarkable presumption on his part, since once a new colony in a new land makes the effort to clear an area, till and cultivate the ground, plant, water, weed, care for while waiting for the harvest, they would have been there for at least six months, which would have been a considerable investment in time, effort, and resources. The question to ask at this point is “would Nephi have moved after that time, with Lehi and Sariah as old as they were?” After all, once the exceedingly great harvest came in, they were blessed with abundance—again, why would they move from such an area? Certainly, if the Liahona had told them to go elsewhere, Nephi would have recorded it, since he recorded the most simple involvement of the compass or director, such as showing him where to go to obtain food with his bow (1 Nephi 16:30).
    Article: “In point of fact in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon where there is no division between chapters 18 and 19 as we have today, the verse which in condensed abridged form clearly speaks of Lehi's next 'journeyings' in the land of promise (1 Nephi 18:25) is immediately followed by the next paragraph in the same chapter explaining that Nephi did engrave upon his large plates further concerning these 'journeyings', there being more particularly given. This rather hints that Lehi's party did not settle at the site of their first landing, but rather then took their journey into the land of promise's wilderness finding all manner of animals and ores of every kind as they journeyed. And these details are upon the large  plates.”
Response: We cannot speculate on what might have been written on the Large Plates. The record we have of the Book of Mormon is from the small plates made by Nephi and are both condensed from his large plates, and were written after the fact. That is, Nephi is reminiscing in some of his writings. As an example, at this point in his writing, he is thinking back on the events that have already occurred, and states that 1) They landed, 2) pitched tents, 3) tilled and planted, and 4) had an abundant harvest—that period alone is at least a six month period. And during that time, no doubt they were doing many things, one of which was exploring this new land and “seeing what was over the next hill.” That is, “as they journeyed in the wilderness,” they discovered “beasts in the forests of every kind…and all manner of wild animals.” In addition, they “did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25). So in a handful of sentences, Nephi brings us up-to-date with what happened after they reached the Land of Promise. So if we eliminate the verse separation, and the chapter separation, Nephi goes on to tell us that the Lord had him make additional plates (1 Nephi 19:1) and then he abridged onto them what he had already written on the large plates (1 Nephi 13:2-4). He also then follows with what should be written on the plates, and then goeson to talk about the coming of Christ (1 Nephi 19:8) and the many things about the Savior that would take place and that he would do. All of this shows that these events are not separated by some additional mysterious journey, which Hender wants to claim took place so he can locate the area of First Inheritance elsewhere. But the fact of the matter is, there simply is no comment about moving anywhere—the word journey is not defined as a permanent move. After all, a journey of discovery is simply a tour or travel from a point of origin to another point and can just as easily be back to the original point.
    Article: “And at the end of that next journey in the land of promise wilderness did Lehi's party then finally arrive at the land of first inheritance on the east of what would become known as the land of Nephi.”
    Response: Mormon makes it quite clear that the area of the First Inheritance was along the west seashore. In his overall description of the entire Land of Promise, he wrote: “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). Obviously, Hender is way off base placing this area of First Inheritance “on the east of what would become known as the land of Nephi.” Mormon tells us just the opposite.
    Article: “Another careless presumption outside the Book of Mormon is that Lehi's descendants did ever journey northward. The only thing which fuels this assumption is the notion of a coast of Chili landing, which is not a part of the internal information of the book either.”
    Response: First of all, Mesoamerica, Heartland, Upstate New York/Great Lakes, etc., etc., etc., are all “not part of the internal information of the book” either, which proves nothing. Secondly, as for the coast of Chili landing “fueling the assumption” of  “that Lehi’s descendants did ever journey northward,” is a careless statement. Whether Lehi’s descendants journey northward or not is found in the scriptural record, not some place claimed to be Lehi’s landing site. That the two could be identical depends upon the location of first landing claimed. However, let’s deal with the scriptural record and not try to fit it into a pre-determined location. Third, and briefly, Mormon tells us that Lehi landed in the area later called the Land of Nephi (Mormon 22:28), and that a narrow strip of wilderness lay between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27), and that Mosiah, when leaving the city of Nephi traveled into the Land of Zarahemla (Omni 1:13). Obviously, then, if a narrow strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea between these two lands, it places Zarahemla to the north of Nephi—so obviously, rather than being “another careless presumption,” the fact of the matter is that Lehi’s descendants did travel north!
    Article: “Remember Lehi's first journey was some 200 miles from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel, his second journey was across Saudi Abrabia...”
    Response: No. His second journey was down along the Red Sea, from the Valley of Lemuel to Nahom, a journey of about 500 miles. (For the record, the first journey from Jerusalem to the Valley of Lemuel has been stated as 180 miles, not 200, and this 180 mile journey was undertaken five times before the so-called second journey). Now, at this area of Nahom, they traveled nearly eastward across Saudi Arabia, actually across the Rub’ al Khali, called the Empty Quarter, to Bountiful and the shores of Irreantum, a journey of about 900 miles.
(See the next post, “Looking at Mormon’s Internal Map –  Part II,” for more on the articles on his website and the errors he uses to support his model and views)

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