Thursday, January 16, 2014

Looking at Mormon’s Internal Map – Part III

In the last two posts, we have responded to a reader's questions about an article on Don R. Hender’s website entitled “Mormon’s Internal Map.” This post is a continuation of the errors Hender uses to explain his views and model and how they are not consistent with the scriptures.    
    Article: “Now many Book of Mormon geography seekers will have gone through these verses of Alma 22 a number of times and determined they have gleaned all they can from them. On the other hand, every time I read through these verses, new insights come to mind about the geography of the Book of Mormon, as I will have learned more from other sections of the Book of Mormon, which I can now relate back to these verses. And it changes how the verses read and what information is in them as they are reviewed in connection with and in consequence of the other references, not to mention the 2,000 year time fact and massive land destructions.”
Response: While it is true that other verses elsewhere often shed greater light on the general map outline Mormon wrote in Alma 22, nothing changes how the verses are read, or their meaning; what changes is a person’s understanding of what Mormon wrote. However, Mormon wrote only about a one thousand year period, including both sides of the massive destruction outlined in 3 Nephi. It was Moroni's son, after Mormon's death, who wrote about the first 1500 years or so of the Jaredite history.
    Article: It will be assumed that the width of this narrow strip at its narrowest measure was comparable to the width of the 'narrow neck' of land mentioned later. Therefore, a day and a half journey for a Nephite might give a point of reference to the width of this narrow strip of land at this juncture.”
    Response: One of the many mistakes people make when trying to determine distances and size of the Land of Promise is their tendency to think a descriptive word means the same thing when used in different situations. As an example, when crossing some 10,000 miles of ocean, Nephi said, “after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23-emphasis mine). Compare that to a trip from the area of first landing to where Nephi settled and built the city of Nephi where they “did journey in the wilderness for the space of many days” (2 Nephi 5:7-emphasis mine). The difference in distance between these two incidents of using the same statement of time passing would be at least 9000 miles.
    We can also look at the statement: “that not many days after his death” (2 Nephi 4:13-emphasis mine), which is not any more descriptive than “we did travel for the space of many days” (1 Nephi 16:15) or “in the land of Bountiful for the space of many days” (1 Nephi 17:7). The point is, terms like narrow, small, many days, etc., are not specific in and of themselves unless they have other qualifying statements, such as the width of the narrow neck of land being what a Nephi could journey across in a day and a half. Therefore, one cannot assume the term narrow for the neck of land is the same distance as the narrow strip of wilderness.
This is an example of the Land of Promise. Yellow Arrow shows the width of the narrow neck of land from east to west; White Arrows show the narrow strip of wilderness from north to south (green arrows show the length of the narrow strip from sea to sea)
    In addition, “narrow” in the case of the “narrow neck” has reference to its distance between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla (a north-south direction) as shown above, while the “narrow neck” of land is a reference to the distance from east-west in reference to the sea surrounding the land (Alma 22:32). They cannot therefore be compared to the same directional distance.
    Article: “This narrow strip of land 'ran' from the sea east even to the sea west…The first reported variance is that it was 'round about' on the borders of the seashore. This seems to mean that along the seashore, the Lamanites began to intrude beyond the line between the east and west on into what would have otherwise been Nephite lands had a straight east to west line been maintained.”
    Response: We cannot think of these areas as governed by political borders as we understand them today. The Lamanites were never restricted to staying in the Land of Nephi except that the land to the north (Land of Zarahemla) was guarded and protected by Nephite armies. The narrow strip of wilderness obviously rose in height from the valley of Zarahemla to the highlands of Nephi. How high (elevation) and how long (miles) and how wide (distance) this wilderness strip was we are not told. But it was an obvious geographical or topographical place.
Yellow Arrows show the narrow strip of wilderness where it curves upward along the east and west seashores (Alma 22:28); this narrow strip of wilderness “ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore” (Alma 22:27)
    Yet, even so, the Lamanites had moved along the seashore on both the east and west coasts as this narrow strip curved along in those directions and lived their in tents until Moroni forced them out and back into their own lands. Obviously, the Nephites felt those sea coasts were their lands, and just as obviously, the Lamanites did not since they moved into them.
    Article: “In addition, the Lamanites had also began to become located in the wilderness area on northward by the land of Zarahemla. This begins on the borders of Manti located by the headwaters of Sidon on its west side (running from the east towards the west).”
    Response: There is no mention in the scriptural record of any Lamanites settled to the north of the Land of Zarahemla. This is a misunderstanding of Mormon’s statement: “…and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla,” which is describing that the narrow strip of wilderness ran east and west aross the land from sea to sea, but along each seacoast, it curved upward (round about) along the seacoast for a ways, thus encompassing some of the Nephites who were southward in the Land of Zarahemla. However, the Nephites controlled “all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness” (Alma 22:29)until they came to Bountiful in the far north of the Land Southward.
    Article: “It will be recalled that during an earlier war with invading Lamanite forces, these Lamanites were driven into the Wilderness which was west and north of the city of Zarahemla which was called the Wilderness of Hermounts. Unlike the Lamanites, the Nephites had not spread out from sea to sea in their land. Much of their early settlement had been in the large Sidon river valley, and they had not moved on out to secure their coast lines at this juncture in time.”
    Response: First of all, we do not know how far this round about wilderness ran, nor how far northward along the sea coasts the Lamanites had settled. It could have been a mile, or ten miles, or whatever. Perhaps one of the reasons the Nephites had not settled in those areas was because the Lamanites were already there—after all, they did not settle these areas until after Moroni drove the Lamanites out.
    However, when it comes to the wilderness called Hermounts, those Lamanites who escaped westward and northward from the Sidon River crossing in 87 B.C., at the conclusion of the battle with the Nephites were running for their lives (Alma 2:36). The Nephites continued after them, hewing them down with the sword and other weapons as they fled. 
When the Lamanites fled into the wilderness of Hermounts, they ran into wild beasts that infested the area
    The wilderness of Hermounts itself was infested by wild and ravenous beasts (Alma 2:37), and when the Lamanite survivors, many wounded, reached this wilderness, they “were devoured by those beasts and also the vultures of the air; and their bones have been found, and have been heaped up on the earth” (Alma 2:38). There is no mention of any settlement of occupation of this wilderness to the north or any other place to the north!
    Article: Now why would the Nephites have allowed the Lamanites to have come and dwelt in 'their' lands north of the 'narrow strip of wilderness?' First Zarahemla was in the center or heart of the land.”
    Response: We do not know where within the Land of Zarahemla, that the city of Zarahemla was located. We are never told that, nor are we given any clues as to its position. However, the Lamanites were never settled in any area of the Land of Zarahemla except in the wilderness that curved upward (round about) from the narrow strip along the seashore. The only Lamanites in the wilderness of Hermounts to the north of the city of Zarahemla were devoured by wild beasts.
(See the next post, “Looking at Mormon’s Internal Map – Part IV,” for more on the articles on his website and the errors he uses to support his model and views)

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