Sunday, February 9, 2014

Where Was the Second Bountiful? Part I

The second Bountiful mentioned in the scriptural record is the one that Mormon tells us was south of the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:31), and just south of the narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32). The first Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5), of course, was where Nephi built his ship (1 Nephi 17:9; 18:1) and from which the Lehi colony set sail into the sea they called Irreantum (1 Nephi 18:8). 
    Dan R. Hender, on his website article “From Bountiful to Bountiful” claims: “When they reached the Promised Land, they arrived at the ‘second’ land of Bountiful of which Brother Maxwell spoke in his conference report. It too was a ‘Bountiful’ land, but nowhere in the Book of Mormon as we have it today, is that landing site directly called Bountiful.”
Despite Elder Maxwell making such a comment in his conference talk, which was entitled “Lessons from Laman and Lemuel,” regarding the fact he reported that “Laman and Lemuel became rebels instead of leaders, resentful instead of righteous—all because of their failure to understand either the character or the purposes of God,” the Lehi Colony never landed at or settled in the Land of Bountiful. It may be that Elder Maxwell was loosely using the term "Bountiful to Bountiful" to describe both lands (Old World Bountiful and New World Land of Promise), but the fact is, the Lehi Colony landed in the south of the Land of Promise, in an area along the west sea, indicated as the land of First Inheritance by Mormon (Mormon 22:28). That Hender would use a loose reference in a conference address by Elder Maxwell, in a talk that was not about Lehi’s landing, or his location, but generally regarding the Land of Promise overall, seems a little strange, but Hender has come up with several odd ideas that have been discussed earlier in these posts.
    The point is, the second Bountiful, the city and land mentioned in the north of the Land Southward, near the narrow neck, was not known to the Nephites at any time prior to about 200 B.C. In fact, until Mosiah I departed from the city and area of Nephi with all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:6). Lehi could not have landed there, for this northern Bountiful was located at the far north of the Land Southward, and Lehi landed in the far south of the Land Southward.
    When Hender goes on to say, “It [Bountiful] was likely always known to the Nephites as the land Bountiful, the land of their landing in the Promised Land, but why, in the record of the Book of Mormon, wasn’t it so called earlier?” he ignores the entire scriptural record regarding this northern area. The first mention of this name in the Land of Promise appears in Mormon’s insertion of the lands in Alma in which he states, about 400 years after the time period, that a land was to the far north “which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29). That is, Alma well knew that about 400 years after the time frame of his insertion, that the Nephites called this land Bountiful. The first time the name is used in the scriptural record other than Mormon’s insertion is in Alma 27:22.
We are not told when the city and land of Bountiful was first settled. We only know when it was first mentioned. However, it would not have been built prior to the time when Mosiah fled from the city of Nephi and went north across the narrow strip of wilderness and down into the land of Zarahemla where he discovered the Mulekites. Nor do we know if any Mulekites had ever been north from Zarahemla, since Amaleki tells us the Mulekites, or people of Zarahemla, had always dwelt where Mosiah discovered them (Omni 1:16).
    Hender adds, “Not until the Nephites returned again to the original site of their landing does the pages of the Book of Mormon record the name of that part of the land as being Bountiful and as being part of the Land of Zarahemla.” 
    There is absolutely nothing in the scriptural record to lead one to such a conclusion. What Hender is suggesting is that after Lehi landed, and in the old age of he and his wife, traveled hundreds of miles to the south for no apparent reason, then the Nephites eventually traveled back north later on to this location where Hender claims they first landed. He claims this though there is not a single word, suggestion or indication that such ever happened. Yet, despite this glaring fact that there is no indication in the scriptural record that Lehi landed elsewhere than Mormon’s placement, he adds:
    “So where did Lehi land in the New World? Lehi landed in the Land Bountiful, a little south of the Narrow Neck of Land. It was near enough that the domestic animals of the Jaredites had wandered there for the want of food. It is near the same site from whence Hagoth much later, in Alma 63:5, would again set his ships to sail into the great ocean of Irreantum or the Sea West from whence Lehi’s colony had arrived.”
Mormon tells us, of course, that the land of their first inheritance in the Land of Promise was located along the west sea south: “and 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). It is a sad fact that Land of Promise Theorists read the scriptural record, then promptly discard it in favor of their own pet beliefs, rather then pursue the simple statements that would otherwise lead them to the truth for which they search and about which they write. In addition, one of the ways Theorists try to solidify their beliefs is to couch their erroneous statements inside accurate ones. As an example, the Jaredite animals did go through the narrow neck and into the Land Southward (Ether 9:32). However, the fact of the matter is simply that while Hagoth launched his ships from that area and the Jaredite animals were driven into that area (from which they spread throughout the Land Southward over time), there is no indication that Lehi landed anywhere near there.
    Hender adds: “And just where is this landing and departure site located in terms of modern topology? From the Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith we find "...Lehi went down by the Red Sea to the great Southern Ocean, and crossed over to this land, and landed a little south of the Isthmus of Darien,..." (Joseph Smith, TPJS p. 267).”
The book Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, was written by his great-nephew, Joseph Fielding Smith, and was a collection of gospel principles discussed by the prophet. It was not a book about geography. On page 267, the reference given regards under the heading “Facts Are Stubborn Things—Greatness of the Jaredites and Nephites” and begins with “From an extract from “Stephen’s Incidents of Travel in Central America,” it will be seen that the proof of the Nephites and Lamanites dwelling on this continent, according to the account in the book of Mormon, is developing itself in a more satisfactory way than the most sanguine believer in that revelation could have anticipated (p 266), and goes on to say: Surely “facts are stubborn things. It will be as it ever has been, the world will prove Joseph Smith a true prophet by circumstantial evidence, in experiments as they did Moses and Elijah. Now read Stephen’s story:” Page 267 goes on to quote a paragraph of Stephens work about a manuscript of Don Juan Torres regarding a chronicle that fell into the hands of Father Francis Vasques stating that the Totecas being descended from the house of Israel. The part about landing a little south of Darien was taken from Stephens book, which was given to the Prophet in 1842. It cannot be overemphasized that Joseph Smith made no direct quote on this to the Church in general, made no official statement on this, and never stated in any official, prophetic, or presidential manner regarding this, though he did write briefly about it in his journal and in the History of the Church. The article itself was taken from something written in Times & Seasons.
(See the next post,Where Was the Second Bountiful? Part II,” for more on Dan R. Hender’s website article about Lehi landing in Bountiful)

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