Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Comments and Questions from Readers Part I

Here are some additional comments or questions (some not on geography or the Land of Promise) that have been sent in by readers of this website:
     Comment #1: ”The fact that King Limhi’s group of men traveling to Zarahemla ended up in the Land Northward and found the remnants of bones and rust-covered swords, tells me that the Jaredite final battle took place maybe 50 to a maximum of 100 years before Limhi’s time” Samuel.
    Response: It is interesting how uninformed people are about bone and metal deterioration. You might be interested in a recent (1996) find by a pair of Italian archaeologists investigating near Siwa in Egypt. They uncovered hundreds of bleached bones, Bronze age weapons, arrowheads, jewelry, water pots and other artifacts dating to the 6th century B.C., right around the time Herodutus told us that the Persian king Cambyses II lost himself an army of 50,000 trying to destroy an oracle denying his right to rule a conquered Egypt.
Bleached bones found by the Italian archaeologists as reported bhy Alfredo Castiglioni, director of the Eastern Desert Reasearch Center in Varese that appeared in "Discovery News." These bones date to 525 B.C., over 2500 years old, laying on the ground
The rusted, and cankered remains of a 2500 year old sword once used by a soldier in the Persian army of 525 B.C., and the “hilt thereof had perished” as Limhi’s people reported
    There is no reason to believe that the Jaredite bones and swords, etc., were not visible in the condition reported two, three, or four hundred years before Limhi’s people found them. As has been reported here in these posts in the past, bones and swords have been found around the world that were 1000 years and more old that have been found and are now located in museums.
    Comment #2: The most important feature in the Land of Promise was probably the location of a strip of wilderness which ran all the way from the East Sea to the West Sea, that is, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. At about 100 BC, this strip separated the Nephites and Mulekites on the north from the Lamanites on the south. It was important strategically for the Nephites to close off their south border to keep the Lamanites from overrunning their land. Captain Moroni had seven cities fortified along this strip for that purpose. It is fortunate for us that the strip had strategic military importance to the Nephites because that likely caused this important clue to be included in the record. What was the nature of the "wilderness"? Does that only refer to uninhabited jungle areas? One clue is that Moroni only had to fortify cities at certain locations on the strip in order to secure it, so it must have been difficult to cross at other places” LeGrand W.
    Response: It is uncertain if this strip was an important strategic area for the Nephites, and we certainly can’t say it ran from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean from any scriptural reference. And we don’t know if this narrow strip closed off the Nephite south border, and there is no way we can call this wilderness a jungle, any more than the wilderness around Jerusalem is a jungle (1 Nephi 2:2,4,27) or the wilderness across the Empty Quarter desert could be called a jungle (1 Nephi 17:1) or the wilderness along the Red Sea could be called a jungle (1 Nephi 2:5-6,9).
    For those who have never been in the jungle, they might find it very difficult to drive flocks and herds of animals, with women and children, through a jungle where Ammon took the people of Limhi (Alma 27:14); it also would have been difficult in a jungle for all the thousands of the children of Israel to look up and see Moses holding up the serpent (Numbers 21:8-9,11; Alma 33:19; Helaman 8:14); it is also extremely difficult to march an army through a jungle in the fashion Moroni marched his army with their tents into the wilderness (46:31-32).
All these areas are designated “wilderness areas” by their various state or federal governments. Not a jungle, mountain or desert among them
    The point of all this is that a “wilderness” is not particularly a jungle, and certainly not a jungle in the verses under discussion here. In fact, the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines a wilderness as “an unoccupied tract of land.” In fact, an area not occupied by permanent dwellings, cities, or development of any kind, is called a wilderness. That was not only true in 1828, but also today in dictionaries. Despite Hugh Nibley and John L. Sorenson both claiming a wilderness was a mountainous area, or others claiming it was a jungle. A wilderness can be any type of topography, including a desert, forest, plain, and a mountainous area or a jungle. Any place that has not been developed and where people are not living in a permanent fashion.
    In addition, as we have stated elsewhere, perhaps no other expression to the Jews was more familiar than the expression “into the wilderness,” when talking about going on a journey.
    As for the other comment, about building seven cities across this narrow strip of wilderness that separated the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla, is entirely unfounded. After Moroni had driven out of the east wilderness and the west wilderness the Lamanites who lived there in tents, and forcing them back into the Land of Nephi, he caused that the inhabitants who were in the land of Zarahemla and in the land round about should go forth into the east wilderness, even to the borders by the seashore, and possess the land” (Alma 50:9). There they built cities, along the east seashore, including the city of Moroni (Alms 50:13), the city of Nephihah (Alma 50:14), and the city of Lehi (Alma 50:15). The city of Aaron was also along this east seashore (Alma 50:14).
    In addition, Moroni “placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies” (Alma 50:10), but these were not cities, merely fortifications, which might have been forts or resorts, nor do we know how many there were, or if they were strung clear across the narrow strip area. But certainly, nothing suggests that part of this narrow strip was inaccessible for the Lamanites to cross.
    What Moroni accomplished by all this was that he “cut off all the strongholds of the Lamanites in the east wilderness, yea, and also on the west, fortifying the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi, from the west sea, running by the head of the river Sidon -- the Nephites possessing all the land northward” (Alma 50:11), meaning all the Land of Zarahemla, including those areas in the east and west wildernesses that the Lamanites had previously occupied. In addition, the description is that not only in the Land of Zarahemla, but “even all the land which was northward of the land Bountiful, according to their pleasure.”
    The thing about all these opinions being stated on the internet, in books, writings, journals and papers, about the Book of Mormon, we need to be careful we are not trying to force the scriptural record into an agreement with our predetermined beliefs, ideas or models, as so many theorists do. We need to accept the written words as they are written and not try to make them say, mean, or appear as something else.
    Comment #3: “My idea of the Land of Promise would not include Mosiah shoveling snow off the temple walkway. Nephi’s description in 1 Nephi 18:23-25, does not sound like a snow and ice climate around the Great Lakes” Jalon.
Salt Lake City in winter. Snow, ice and freezing temperatures everywhere
    Response: I certainly agree that the Book of Mormon Land of Promise was not in the Great Lakes. However, the climate of a land of promise does not seem to be the main issue to the Lord. The Utah Rockies is hardly a tropical paradise, nor is Missouri where Adam-ondi-Ahman is located. We don't know if Mosiah or others shoveled snow, but the Saints have often been led to areas where snow is prevalent.

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