Monday, February 10, 2014

Where Was the Second Bountiful? Part II

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). However, despite Mormon telling us they landed along the West Sea, south in the Land of Nephi (Alma 18:28), Dan R. Hender claims they landed in Bountiful. Continuing with his website article below: 
   Hender: “The Isthmus of Darien is associated with the Panama Canal. Darien itself is the most southern county or province of the nation of Panama today. According to the Prophet Joseph Smith, Lehi landed a little south of the narrow neck of land we know today as the Isthmus of Darien.”
The Isthmus of Panama, often called the Isthmus of Darien. To the far right and a little off the map is the Darien Gap, a lengthy swampland beyond the high mountains in southeastern Panama
    As mentioned in the previous post, this comment was made after Joseph Smith was given John Lloyd Stephens’ book Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan, published in two volumes in 1841, written while on appointment from President Martin Van Buren as Ambassador to Central America in 1839. Joseph Smith obtained the book in 1842, and when he read its contents, he immediately associated it with the Jaredites and Nephites, and talked about the connection to these Central American ruins, and figured Lehi would have landed just south of those ruins after seeing Stephens’ book. It should also be pointed out that Joseph Smith was interested in geography, made numerous and varied comments about locations of the Book of Mormon, including Lehi landing at the 30º South Latitude according to Frederick G. Williams, his scribe (1832) and 2nd counselor in the First Presidency (1833-1837) under Joseph Smith—as a scribe and counselor to Joseph Smith, Williams, who died in 1842, became a close friend to the prophet who named one of his children after Williams.
    Hender: “In the Book of Mormon Hagoth set sail from this general area in an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, launching it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward. (Alma 63:5) The Nephites seemed to know and understand that this was the Land Bountiful, which Lehi had landed in.”
    There can be no correlation between these two ideas. To Hagoth building his ships it would not have mattered to him where Lehi landed—what would have mattered was the abundance of wood (trees) and other supplies, and a bay or inlet or very wide river mouth, where his ships at anchor would be protected from the ocean currents, winds and storms. In addition, it is really weird that anyone would claim “The Nephites seemed to know and understand that this was the Land Bountiful, which Lehi had landed in” since not one mention of this is made anywhere in the entire record by any writer, even though subjects like the Liahona are mentioned several times, the brass plates, importance of preserving language, father Lehi, Nephi robbing the Lamanites of their right to rule, etc.
    Hender: “Thus it is not ironic that Hagoth sails from the same area, but likely to be a planned launching from the same general site that Lehi had landed some 550 years prior.”
If Hagoth had sailed from this area as Hender claims, he would have taken his course either southward (yellow arrow) or westward (white arrow) rather than northward as the scriptural record tells us (Alma 63:6). From here, Hagoth would have to travel about 400 miles west before being able to turn west by northwest, and never actually be able to turn true “northward” until reaching Guadalajara, Mexico, 1800 miles away from his launch site                                                              This is nothing short of fiction writing. What on earth could prompt Nephi to land hundreds of miles away from where they would settle? Lehi and Sariah would have been old, the two boys born in the wilderness were in need of much nourishment (1 Nephi 18:19), Nephi himself says that when they landed they went onto the land and pitched their tents (1 Nephi 18:23), and tilled the ground and planted their seeds brought from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24). And Mormon tells us that area of first landing, their “Land of First Inheritance,” was “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). The next thing we know, Lehi and then Nephi are preaching to the rest of the family and Lehi blesses his overall family before dying. One would think that if they traveled to another location there would have been some indication, course, location, or reason mentioned. But the scriptural record is silent: it mentions sailing and landing on the land of promise, going ashore and pitching their tents, then planting their seeds of every kind and then harvesting an abundant crop--which would have taken upwards of a year--and and finally that they discovered animals and then ore of every kind, after which the Lord tells Nephi to make new plates (1 Nephi 19:1).
In addition, it is not stated anywhere that Hagoth sailed in any of his ships. Nor would it be considered that he built his shipyard in any remarkable area or in connection with any unusual events, current or from the past. We only learn that he “he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5), and then that he built more ships there (Alma 63:7).
    Earlier it was stated that Hender tries to make us believe that when it says that “We did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind” (1 Nephi 18:25), that this meant the Lehi colony was traveling from one place to another, such as south to a new settlement. His argument was that journeying meant traveling in one permanent direction, not just around and back again. However, we find that Alma “departed from thence and took his journey over into the land of Melek, on the west of the river Sidon, on the west by the borders of the wilderness” (Alma 8:3), and when he finished his work in Melek he traveled to Ammonihah (Alma 8:6), and afterward, took his journey toward the city of Aaron (Alma 8:13) and later Alma was journeying in the land of Gideon (Alma 17:1). In addition, Amulek also told of his journey around when the spirit told him to return to his house (Alma 10:7), Ammon and Lamoni journeyed toward Middoni (Alma 20:28), and Aaron journeyed to Jerusalem (Alma 21:1). All of these and many others show that journeying around from place to place and returning to a home base was the case and numerous instances. Hender simply cannot claim one case among several same uses meant something different than the other cases.
    Hender also claims that: “Lehi landed a little south of the narrow neck of land we know today as the Isthmus of Darien.”
South of the Isthmus of Darien is the connection between Panama and Colombia, an area called the Región del Darién or Tapón del Darién (Darién Gap), which is a large swath of undeveloped swampland and forest measuring 100 miles long and about 31 miles wide. The Pan-American highway, which is a system of roads measuring about 33,000 miles long crosses through the entirety of North, Central, and South America, with the sole exception of the Darién Gap. Even today there is no road built through this area because of the extreme difficulty of the area and the high cost to build in it though decades of effort by several countries have attempted it. On the Panamanian side the area is dominated by mountainous rainforest, as high as 6,000 feet in elevation, and on the Colombian side of this area is the Atrato River delta, a flat marshland at least 50 miles wide most of which is swampland. The entire area is filled with alligators, boa constrictors, and jaguars. Now this is the area that Hender would have an aged Lehi and Sariah, with two very young children (Jacob and Joseph), plus the entire colony with at least seven families, and at least five (Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi and Zoram) with very young children, cross after landing a little south of the Isthmus itself. An area that was never crossed until modern times in two especially outfitted Land Rover SUVs in 1959-1960.
The 1959-1960 Trans-Darien expedition of the Land Rover crossing from Colombia into Panama through the Darien Gap. This was so difficult the vehicle had to be winched up stepped areas, pontooned across deep waterways, etc. There is no way the Lehi colony could have gone south through here after landing near the Isthmus of Darien

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