Saturday, January 25, 2014

Was the Land Northward Skewed? Part II

Continuing from the last post regarding the articles of Don R. Hender’s website that one of our readers sent us:  
    Article: “Another point is the particular term or phase 'round about'…In relation to the City of Zarahemla and the immediate land of that city and the Land of Bountiful, the Nephites would travel 'round about' the wilderness. This wilderness's name was Hermounts which was both west and north of Zarahemla the locally regional land about the city Zarahemla proper.”
Response: “Round about” is used 40 times in Alma, and 84 times in the entire scriptural record overall, and only 4 of those have to do with travel—two about Alma traveling around to teach the people (Alma 30:32) and (Mosiah 27:32), the other 2 were about the armies traveling about in the east (Alma 43:22, 24). In all, there is not a single incident mentioned of traveling round about to avoid a wilderness, nor about the wilderness of Hermounts, nor the Nephites doing so in any way—the term “round about” in the record has to do with such things as “casting eyes/looking,” “regions/countries/lands/vineyards,” “camped/pitching tents,” “guards/people/children/spies/siege,” and “fortifications/armies.”
There is no indication that anyone had to travel around a wilderness from Zarahemla to Bountiful, since “wilderness” simply means an unoccupied area. Consequently, where wilderness is mentioned, people could travel through such areas, except perhaps for Hermounts because of the wild beasts, though Hermounts is never mentioned again, though the wild beasts were mentioned in their mangling of the bodies (Alma 16:10) of the destroyed city of Ammonihah (Alma 8:6), which was located in the land of Ammonihah that bordered along the west wilderness north of Melek (Alma 8:5-6).
    Article: It places the 'Isthmus of the Narrow Neck' to the west of the River Sidon's passage to the sea.”
    Response: First of all, there is no mention of the word “isthmus” or phrase “Isthmus of the narrow neck” in the entire scriptural record, and should not be used in describing the Land of Promise. Secondly, we do not know, and the record does not state, where the river Sidon was in relation to the narrow neck except to the south. Nor do we know where the river Sidon reached the sea, nor even what sea it emptied into from the scriptural records. It would appear from the battles described between the city of Bountiful and the city of Mulek that the river Sidon did not reach that far north.
    Article: “Thus it has already shown a tendency to skew the land Northward to the west a bit from the traveled routes from the land southward.”
    Response: Since we have no idea where the traveled routes were other than through the narrow pass or passage into the Land Northward, nor where that exactly was—east or west or central, it is not possible to make such statements. We also do not know that the land was skewed, let along in which direction.
    Article: “Further evidence of this skewing is found elsewhere, but it can already be implied from Mormon brief, precise, compacted, and abridged description here in Alma 22.”
    Response: In reading Alma 22:27-34, you find the words “north (3 times),” “northward (5 times),” “northern” (1 times); the words “south (2 times),” “southward” (2 times); the word “east” (7 times), and the word “west” (9 times). Stated differently, the direct terms north, south, east and west are used a total of 21 times and “toward the north/south, only 7 times. And since “northern” means “situated in the north,” we can add that to the north/south for a total of 22 times vs. 7 times for a more general term. This hardly suggests that the land was skewed, thus it cannot be said that “it can already be implied from Mormon brief, precise, compacted, and abridged description here in Alma 22 as implied.
In Alma 22:27-34, Mormon describes 1) The Land of Nephi bordering on the sea east and sea west; obviously laying between the two seas; 2) Land of Nephni was divided from the Land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east to the sea west; 3) To the north of the wildnerness was the Land of Zarahemla; 4) To the north was the Land of Bountiful; 5) To the north of Bountiful was the Land of Desolation; 6) To the north was the land where the Jaredite bones were found; 7) A small neck of land lay between the Desolation and Bountiful, 8) the land to the north of the narrow neck was called the Land Northward. This is, without a doubt, a land that runs north and south, completely eliminating Mesoamerica and the eastern heartland and Great Lakes areas according to model maps used to show locations of these lands.
    Article: And it came to pass that the king sent a proclamation throughout all the land, amongst all his people who were in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west…”
    Response: This is Mormon’s description of the Land of Nephi (see map above).
    Article: “…and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west…”
    Response: This is a description of the land or “narrow strip of wilderness” that separated the Land of Nephi from the Land of Zarahemla (see map above).
    Article: “…and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided.”
    Response: Divided by the “narrow strip of wilderness,” with the Land of Nephi to the south and the Land of Zarahemla to the north (see map above).
    Article: “Therefore the Lamanites could have no more possessions only in the land of Nephi, and the wilderness round about. Now this was wisdom in the Nephites -- as the Lamanites were an enemy to them, they would not suffer their afflictions on every hand, and also that they might have a country whither they might flee, according to their desires.” The Nephites where prepared and ready to 'flee' for their lives if ever the conflict with the Lamanites ever grew to an unmanageable degree.”
Response: Mormon, writing around 370 A.D., about 400+ years after this time frame in Alma, well understood the importance of this Land Northward, since it became the dividing line between the Nephites and Lamanties in his day 350 A.D. (Mormon 2:28), in fact through an agreement he himself made with the Lamanite king. Thus, he includes this later knowledge at this point in his insertion. However, that does not mean the Nephites themselves at the time knew that would be a need. In fact, Captain Moroni later talks about the conern of having to fight a two-front war, one in the south with the Lamanites and on in the north with Morianton or other defectors (Alma 50:32).
(See the next post, “Was the Land Northward Skewed? Part II,” for more of Hender’s views on the Land of Promise from his articles on his website)

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