Saturday, January 18, 2014

Were There Two Landing Sites for Mulekites? Part I

In the last several posts, we have responded to one of our readers asking us to evaluate several articles on Don R. Hender’s website about the Book of Mormon. This post is a continuation of the errors found in Hender’s explanation of the scriptural record:    
    In Alma 22, Hender spends some time discussing the meaning of the word “it” as used several times (which we will cover later), then goes on to add:
    Article: In verse 30 it states that Bountiful, at least the northern border side definition of Bountiful, is where the people of Zarahemla 'first landed'.
Response: The scriptural record says nothing of the kind. Mormon’s insertion states: “And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla, it being the place of their first landing” (Alma 22:30). 
Now we have covered this many times before in our posts, but for the sake of this article, we will state again that the insertion of “which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla,” is a parenthetical clause, and is not necessary to the meaning of the sentence, and was included by Mormon to make sure his reader understood that the bones were those of the Jaredites (a term not used in the record) who were discovered by Limhi’s 43-man expedition (people of Zarahemla), then he goes on to tell us that where they were found was the area of the Jaredites first landing. His meaning has nothing to do with the Mulekites (people of Zarahemla) other than the fact that it was they (43-man expedition) that first found the Jaredite remains. 
    Thus, this statement could read: “And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it [Desolation] being so far northward that it [Desolation] came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed, of whose bones we have spoken, (which was discovered by the people of Zarahemla,) it [place of the bones] being the place of their [people of the bones] first landing.” All one has to do is keep in mind the purpose of Mormon’s insertion of this paragraph. He is describing the land, and that at the far north of the land is the area where the Jaredites were destroyed, and then goes on to add that this land where their bones were found is the land where they first landed after crossing the great deep in their barges (that is, they did not land or occupy the Land Southward as the record shows).
    Article: “Now lets us ask the question, 'if' there was a '1st' landing does not that imply at least a '2nd' landing and it certainly does not preclude other 'landings' as well.”
Response: There were three landings in the Land of Promise: 1) Jaredites, 2) Lehi, and 3) Mulekites (not counting the later Spanish and European Gentiles Nephi saw in his vision). However, the term first landing relating to any one of these, refers to the place of their initial contact with the land, or where they landed after crossing the sea to the promised land. The Jaredites (first) landed in the Land Northward and remained there throughout their 1500+ year history (Ether 10:21); Lehi (first) landed in the Land Southward, along the west sea southward along the coast of the Land of Nephi (Alma 22:28); and the Mulekites (first) landed near the city of Zarahemla where Mosiah discovered them (Omni 1:16). No other landings are mentioned or implied.
    Article: “Who in their right mind would abandon ship just to settle in a land covered in bones? So what does that all imply? Might not that imply that from this '1st landing site' the party of Mulek may not have traveled by land 'up and into' the land south, but they very well could have sailed up and into it that land via what they would name the Sidon River.”
    Response: Mulek and his party landed in the Land Southward, where Mosiah much later found their descendants. The Jaredites landed in the land northward and they are the ones that “came from there up into the south wilderness” (Alma 22:31). Obviously, the Jaredite barges landed along the seashore and the occupants moved up in elevation to the area they called Moron, which was south of where they landed. As for Mulek, upon leaving Jerusalem, “they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16), which tells us: 1) Mulek’s party journeyed in the wilderness after leaving Jerusalem, 2) the Lord led them across the sea to the Land of Promise, 3) they landed and settled in the area of the city of Zarahemla (where Mosiah discovered them), and 4) they dwelt in that location ever since landing. Thus, the Jaredites landed in the Land Northward, and the Mulekites landed in the Land Southward where the city of Zarahemla was later located.
    Article: Was not the river Sidon a navigable river?”
    Response: There is no indication that the river Sidon was deep enough for a ship that crossed the deep ocean to sail upon, nor do we know if it was deep enough for more than a canoe or small craft, nor is there any indication that any shipping ever took place on it in the scriptural record. While it may have been navigable, we simply do not know, and to consider it to be so is purely speculation on Hender’s part.
History is replete with sailing ships that tried to navigate waters unknown to them, rivers that were too narrow or too shallow, coastlines that had treacherous wind and sea currents. Sailing ships “driven forth before the wind” were never capable of navigating rivers until the age of tacking, which was well into A.D. times. Even huge cruise ships find it difficult to navigate in shallow waters today
    Article: “The Amazon is and the Magdalena is at least a majority or sizable length of its course. For the people of Mulek to be found in the 'heart of the land' in the city of Zarahemla rather than upon a coastal area, could they not have 'navigated' their way to the site of their colonial landing up and into the land south from Bountiful?”
    Response: We do not know that Zarahemla was in the “heart of the land.” Moroni writes in his angry letter to the governor, Pahoran, that Zarahemla was “in the heart of our country” (Alma 60:19), but that might not mean physically located, as much as protectively located, for he adds, “and ye are surrounded by security.” He then goes on to criticize Pahoran for not providing food and soldiers for his army. His message at this point is that Pahoran and the Nephite government in the capital city of Zarahemla might feel completely safe and secure because they were protected by other cities and garrisons between themselves and the places where the Lamanites generally attacked (along the borders of the land). This is born out when the defector Coriantumr leads a Lamanite army 11 years later into the center of the Land of Zarahemla: “For behold, Moronihah had supposed that the Lamanites durst not come into the center of the land, but that they would attack the cities round about in the borders as they had hitherto done; therefore Moronihah had caused that their strong armies should maintain those parts round about by the borders” (Helaman 1:26). This shows that Coriantumr, instead of coming into the Land of Zarahemla along its eastern or western borders as had always been done, entered the land in the center (Helaman 1:27), then fought his way to Zarahemla.
    Obviously, this attack was through the center of the narrow strip of wilderness where the Nephite defenses were weakest. Coriantumr then made a bee-line with his Lamanite army to the city of Zarahemla, which could have been to the east or west or straight ahead of him—we are not told—and attacked it with great success. And “when Coriantumr saw that he was in possession of the city of Zarahemla…he did not tarry, but he did march forth with a large army, even towards the city of Bountiful; for it was his determination to go forth and cut his way through with the sword, that he might obtain the north parts of the land” (Helaman 1:22-23). Coriantumr made good headway as he progressed northward until Moronihah from one coastal area and Lehi from the other caught up to Coriantumr’s march “before they came to the land of Bountiful” (Helaman 1:29).
    The point of all this is to show that while Coriantumr, a Nephite defector who knew how the Nephite armies were placed, entered in the center of the land, well between Moronihah and Lehi’s two armies. After taking the city of Zarahemla, he continued up the interior of the land, “and marching through the most capital parts of the land,” headed for Bountiful. Where the city of Zarahemla was actually located is not specified here, nor either do we know the exact location of the city of Bountiful from these events.
(See the next post, “Were There Two Landing Sites for the Mulekites? Part II,” for more of Hender’s views on the Land of Promise from his articles on his website)

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