Friday, January 3, 2014

So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part IX

Continuing from the last eight posts, listing actual descriptions in the Book of Mormon and how any Land of Promise model should match all of those listed in that scriptural record.     
    Earlier posts in this series have covered 1) Mountains, “whose height is great”; 2) Two unknown animals; 3) Two unknown grains; 4) Plants that cure fever; 5) Land of promise as an island; 6) The four seas surrounding the Land of Promise; 7) the Climate where Lehi’s seeds grew that he brought to the Land of Promise from Jerusalem; 8) Roads and Highways; 9) Driven before the wind; 10) Lehi’s Course to the Land of Promise; 11) Both Gold and Silver and Copper; 12) Hagoth’s ships went northward; 13) Forts, fortifications and resorts; 14) Fortified wall; 15) Narrow neck of land; and 16) Defendable narrow pass or passage, 17) the sea that divides the land, 8) All manner of buildings, 19) Great temple tower, 20) Directions of the Land of Promise, and 21) All manner of ore.
    Another scriptural description is that of the Land Northward having an area far to the north called the “Land of Many Waters.” Mormon describes this area as “containing many waters, lakes and fountains” (Mormon 6:4). Many have merely interpreted this statement as being a place full of lakes and rivers, such as the Great Lakes.
    However, the Great Lakes area is an overall water shed or drainage basin—one of the largest in the world—but is not a source of water. That is, it is not a provider of water, but a recipient of water from numerous rivers and drainage waters around it as the bottom map (below) shows. In fact, the lakes themselves contain about 5,500 cubic miles of water, covering a total area of 94,000 square miles, and are the largest system of fresh, surface water on Earth, containing roughly 21 percent of the world supply and 84 percent of North America's supply. These lakes are home to over 33 million people, and only the polar ice caps contain more fresh water. 
Top: The Great Lakes, which are many waters; Bottom: The Great Lakes Water Shed or Draining Basin. Note that each lake, rather than being a source of water, is in fact fed by numerous rivers and waterways within its water shed. There are no fountains here
    There is obviously no question that this is a land of many waters—several thousands of small inland lakes. Interestingly, though, the outflow from these great lakes is very small, less than 1 percent a year, in comparison with the total volume of water, which is just the opposite of what Mormon tells us.
    Or, stated differently, this is not a land of fountains!
    We need to keep in mind that Mormon described his land of many waters as having fountains, which in Joseph Smith’s time meant “a spring or source of water; the source or head of a stream; the source or origin, genesis or wellspring (a bountiful source of water).”
A spring is a source of water issuing from the earth, a fountainhead, or wellhead—a place where a spring comes out of the ground from groundwater at, or below, the local water table, below which the subsurface material is saturated with water
    Such springs, or fountains, are a water resource formed when the side of a hill, a valley bottom or other excavation intersects a flowing body of groundwater. It is the result of an aquifer being filled to the point that the water overflows onto the land surface, and range in size from intermittent seeps, which flow only after much rain, to huge pools flowing hundreds of millions of gallons daily.
    These “fountains” may be formed in any sort of rock or soil when geologic or hydrologic forces cut into the underground layers where water is in movement (blue arrows above), which, in turn, discharges back onto the surface at the spring vent. The original source of this water, typically rains, can be many miles away, but the vent is where the “fountain” exists, which discharges the water, and forms pools, lakes and rivers—which Mormon called “many waters.”
    Thus, any Land of Promise must have a “land of many waters,” within the northern extremity of its northern region (Land Northward), that contains such fountains, which are the origin of the “many waters” within the area. While many claim an area of "many waters" for their model, none show the “fountains” Mormon describes except for the area in northern Ecuador, which has been written about many times in this blog over the past three years.
    Still another description of the Land of Promise is the crop growth described. Nephi begins by telling us after landing in the promised land, “we did 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. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24), then adds sometime later, after separating from his brothers and founding the land of and city of Nephi, states: “we did prosper exceedingly; for we did sow seed, and we did reap again in abundance” (2 Nephi 5:11).
    More than 350 years later, Zeniff leaves Zarahemla and returns with a large group of Nephites to the City of Nephi to resettle the land. After arriving, he states: “we began to till the ground, yea, even with all manner of seeds, with seeds of corn, and of wheat, and of barley, and with neas, and with sheum, and with seeds of all manner of fruits; and we did begin to multiply and prosper in the land” (Mosiah 9:9). The Jaredites brought “the seed of the earth of every kind” (Ether 1:41; 2:3) from Mesopotamia, and built tools in the promised land to plow and sow and to reap and hoe and thrash (Ether 10:25).
    Obviously, the Land of Promise was an area where “seeds of every kind” would grow exceedingly and produce abundant crops. This is not the case in Mesoamerica where wheat and barley simply do not grow and, in fact, are not found among the top 28 food plants grown in Mesoamerica, nor are those other seeds brought from the land of Jerusalem found.
The Andean area of South America is rich in grain production, including vast amounts of wheat and barley as compared to Mesoamerica
    In fact, it is claimed that: “One of the greatest challenges in Mesoamerica for farmers is the lack of usable land, and the poor condition of the soil. Several different methods have been used to combat these problems. The two main ways to combat poor soil quality, or lack of nutrients in the soil, are to leave fields fallow for a period and to use slash-and-burn techniques. However, in the jungle environment, no matter how careful a farmer is, nutrients are often hard to retain.”
    As an example, today all of Mesoamerica (including that part of southern Mexico considered part of Mesoamerica) have but 480 hectares of planted wheat, compared to the Andean area with 5446 hectares. Mesoameria produce 2000 tons of wheat annually, with Andean area producing nearly six times as much at 11,461 tons. As for barley, all of Mexico and Guatemala produces 338,500 tons; with the Andean area producing about ten times as much at 3,370,796 tons. The soils of Mesoamerica are simply not conducive for wheat and barley while the soils of the Mediterranean Climate of Lehi's landing sight in Chile produce abundant crops and even today feed much of the western U.S. with their imports (see the earlier post in this series).
    Obviously, then, any true Land of Promise must match all of the descriptions listed in the Book of Mormon—it is not a pick and choose arrangement in selecting those that agree with your point of view, but must match all of the descriptions, beginning with these first 23 covered in these nine posts.
(See the next post, “So Where is the Land of Promise? – Part IX,” for more of these descriptions as listed in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon)

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