Friday, January 17, 2014

Looking at Mormon’s Internal Map – Part IV

In the last three posts, we have responded to an article one of our readers inquired about 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.    
    Article: “And the earliest expansions of the Mulekites and the Nephites had been along the Sidon River in a north-south manner within the confines of the Sidon River valley.”
    Response: Again, we do not know that. Since there is so much happening throughout the scriptural record in the east of the Land of Zarahemla, and along the seashore, we might even conclude that the city of Zarahemla was nearer the West Sea. However, the scriptural record does not say this or even imply it, so we simply do not know.
    Article: “And thus they were not preoccupied with moving in an east-west orientation to the sea, as none of their rivers provided them that occasion.”
Response: Again, we do not know that. Nor are any other rivers ever mentioned in the scriptural record. We do not know if there were other rivers, but if there were, and reason suggests there must have been, we do not know in which direction they ran. We only know that the Sidon River had its headwaters in the narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi, and ran northward, through the Land of Zarahemla and to the sea.
    Article: “A side comment is warranted here. Colonizers and settlers usually do follow river courses in their settlements. They need the constant supply of fresh water.”
    Response: To be accurate, colonizers normally settle along the mouth of a river where it empties into the ocean. There is hardly a single such river mouth in the world that was not colonized by early settlers, usually on both sides, like where the Rio de La Plata empties into the Atlantic with Buenos Aires on one side and Montevideo on the other. However, there are many rivers in the world where no settlements were located. After all, New Orleans was settled before Baton Rouge, Natchez, and Vicksburg. San Francisco was settled before Sacramento, New York before Albany, Charleson before upriver cities, etc. People also settled around Lakes (Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, Buffalo, Toronto, etc.), and even water holes and wells, such as Hassi Messaoud (Algeria), Grove (Oklahoma), and numerous cities in Arabia and he Middle East, etc., and others where water wells were dug, and some where there is no water at all, like Death Valley. Bountiful in the Arabian sea coast where Lehi settled and Nephi built his ship was at the mouth of a river emptying into the Arabian Sea (Irreantum). The point is one cannot say that Nephite cities and villages were mainly built along rivers when no rivers but one is mentioned, and that river seems to have had few settlements around it since the crossings and battles that take place there never mention any settlement, villages or cities.
    Article: “This fact suggests that while the river Sidon of the Land of Zarahemla ran in a north south manner from its headwaters near Manti, the river or rivers of the land of Nephi might be looked to run east-west.”
    Response: This is pure speculation. Any rivers in the Land of Nephi could have run north to south since they were in a highland valley (Mosiah 7:5-6). At the same time, the river Sidon did not run from the north to the south, but from the south to the north. Besides in mountainous areas (the Land of Promise had mountains “whose height was great”) rivers run down from the mountains in whatever path they take. If they do not reach an outlet to the sea, they fill up highland depressions or lower valleys and create lakes.
    Article: At this time, some of the Lamanites had development life-style patterns of dwelling in cities.”
    Response: One of the things about living in cities is the need for food—and that means planting and harvesting. We really do not have many clear images of the Lamanites and how they lived, but it is interesting that around 170 B.C. or so, those Lamanites occupying the City of Nephi were very willing to move out and allow Zeniff and his people to settle in the city of Nephi and Shilom.
It might be concluded that the only reason was in making the acquiring of food easier for them: “pay tribute to the king of the Lamanites, to the amount of one half of our corn, and our barley, and even all our grain of every kind” (Mosiah 7:22), and “Now they were a lazy and an idolatrous people; therefore they were desirous to bring us into bondage, that they might glut themselves with the labors of our hands; yea, that they might feast themselves upon the flocks of our fields” (Mosiah 9:12) and stealing “the corn of their fields” (Mosiah 9:14).
    Article: “The land of their fathers' first inheritance was on the western seashore of the Land of Nephi. This is where many a Book of Mormon geographer will make an unsupported assumptive jump. They tie Lehi's Landing site with the site of the fathers' land of first inheritance. No where in the Book of Mormon does it support this conclusion.”
    Response: Oh, but it does! Mormon makes it quite clear. Speaking of where the Lamanites were, Mormon writes: “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-emphasis mine). Before one starts to make statements of location, etc., one might want to read the scriptural record to see how Mormon described it.
    Article: “In fact a careful reading of the text associated with Lehi's Landing Site in the last verses of 1 Nephi 18 will suggest just the opposite. After Lehi plants and harvest for a growing season in verse 24 of that chapter, verse 25 of Nephi's 'abridged' small plate record states that they 'journeyed' in the wilderness. Now a journey to me is from one place to another, not just exploring the neighborhood.”
    Response: It really doesn’t matter how Hender, or any of the rest of us, sees or interprets something—what matters is the actual meaning of the words Joseph Smith used to represent the meaning of the Reformed Egyptian characters on the plates. And the English word “journey” as known and used in 1829 New England, where Joseph Smith grew up, is: “the travel of a day,” “travel by land to any distance and for any time,” “passage from one place to another,” “travel from place to place,” or “to pass from home to a distance.” Certainly, Nephi and others, after settling down went to explore this new land to which they had been directed, and in doing so, they traveled from their tents (home) to a distance, and during the travel of a day, they found wild and domestic animals, which they could use, and they found all types of ore, including gold and silver and copper (1 Nephi 18:25). It would be only natural for them to do so, to travel inland from the coast where they settled and pitched their tents, to see what was about them. If nothing else, they would have been prompted to see the lay of the land around them for such things as food (meat), building materials, and protection--as any new colony in a new land would do.
    Article: What is important here is to note the location of the 'Land of First Inheritance' and that the more 'idle' part of the Lamanites dwelt in tents and lived along the western regions of the land of Zaramhela and of the Land of Nephi.”
We do not know what kind of tents the Lamanites lived in along then seashore. They may have been nothing more elaborate than some animal skins stretched over a line somewhat like a lean-to or a modern pup tent, or they may have been more like one of these shown above
    Response: However, there are two things in what Mormon wrote about this: 1) He described where the Lamanites were living there along the seashore, and 2) Telling us that some of them were living in the place where Lehi had first landed. This is not rocket science, but clearly understood writing of Mormon in his description.
    Article: “The Mulekite and Nephite settlers who followed the river's course had left the wilderness' direct north-south line through Hermounts between Zarahemla and Bountiful and followed the valley 'round about' going northeast from Zarahemla before, near the seashores, turning back northwest to make their way to Bountiful. This is the 'round about' course described as underlined which is confusing without this assumption clarifying it.”
    Response: First of all, Hermounts is not involved in this description, and is not part of the land the Lamanites ever controlled or occupied. Secondly, there is no need for any assumptions to be made. Mormon says the wilderness ran from sea to sea and round about along the both coasts, which nearly surrounded the Nephites in that lower part of the Land of Zarahemla. The image below shows this.
 “A narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore… and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27)
(See the next post, “Were There Two Landing Sites for the Mulekites> Part I,” for more of Hender’s views on the Land of Promise from his articles on his website)

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