Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Understanding the Narrow Neck in the Land of Promise

When we look at the Isthmus of Tehuantepec as the narrow neck of land, as Mesoamerican Theorists propose, or at the Isthmus of Panama as the narrow neck of land, as other theorists propose, or in fact, any proposed narrow neck of land, we need to consider several things which are critical for any theory or anyone claiming a land area, to fully understand.
1. Mormon said the neck was “small” (Alma 22:32), which should suggest an area neither very long nor very wide;
2. Mormon also called the neck “narrow” (Alma 63:5), which should suggest an area that is a narrow land mass compared to the land masses of the land on either side.
   This, then should suggest a narrow strip of land between two much larger land masses, with that narrow strip of land not very long, perhaps close to being as long as it is wide, or thereabouts, that is considerably narrower than the land mass on either side so that in Nephite times, without aerial photography and satellites photos, they could tell this narrow area was indeed a neck that indented significantly to be seen from the ground or a hill.
   This should also suggest then, that a Nephite could position himself somewhere in this area and see with the naked eye that the land narrowed to the point where a  neck could be seen between the two larger land masses. The naked eye, of course, limits the distance one could be from this narrowing to, in fact, see that it was actually a narrow neck. Over the years this understanding has led to many people thinking in terms of an upright hourglass shape for this narrow neck.
3. Mormon also tells us that this narrow neck is the only land connection between the Land Southward and the Land Northward; that is, “the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32).
Left: A representative or example of an island as Jacob describes (2 Nephi 10:20), showing two major land masses with a small or narrow neck of land in between as Mormon describes; Right: The term “nearly surrounded by water” is shown where the southern land area (Land Southward) is nearly surrounded by water as Mormon describes (Alma 22:32) within the yellow circle
    This tells us that the entire Land Southward was surrounded by water except for a small neck of land connecting it to the Land Northward (as shown in right image above). Obviously understanding this, Ether wrote: “And they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20). This, then tells us, that in the Land of Promise, the southern area, the Land Southward, is separated by water from the northern area, the Land Northward, except for this small neck of land.
Again, on this representative island, there are not only all four seas represented as described in the scriptural record, but also Ether’s “sea that divides the land” is shown, which really is the indentation (bay or inlet) of the West Sea as shown above
4. Mormon verifies this information by telling us that this narrow neck ran from the Land Southward and “led into the land northward” (Alma 63:5). He also tells us that when he made a treaty with the Lamanites and Robbers to divide the lands in 350 A.D., this narrow neck and passage divided the lands, that is, “the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward…and we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2:29)
Left: Before the truce; Right: After the truce. From this point on, the Nephites were restricted to the Land Northward, and within about 35 years, were annihilated at the Battle of Cumorah
5. Through this only land access between the two lands ran a narrow pass or passage. This pass “led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34), and “led into the land northward” (Alma 52:9) as well as “led into the land southward” (Mormon 2:29; 3:5).
Thus, the narrow neck ran between the lands, north and south, with its width flanked by the East Sea and the West Sea, with a narrow pass running through this narrow neck from the land on the south to the land on the north (see the books Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica and Inaccuracies of Mesoamerican and Other Theorists for more explanation and proof of this matter). Once again, this narrow neck was the only land connection between the Land Southward and the Land Northward (Alma 22:32), and within this small or narrow neck was a pass, called a narrow pass (Alma 50:34; 52:9) and narrow passage (Mormon 2:29).
5. Mormon’s several descriptions of the Land of Promise need to be accepted at face value and understood to be included in his abridgement so that future readers (us) could better understand how the Land of Promise was laid out and more or less looked geographically. Therefore, Mormon’s writings are not some puzzle to be put together by any reader, for the inclusion of his statements was meant to be self-explanatory, otherwise he had no reason to tell us the layout of the Land of Promise.
    It was  not a test of our insight; nor was it just a clue to a result that would lead us down a difficult path. It was plain and simple. The land was laid out north to south—the Land of Lehi was in the far south, the Land of Zarahemla was in the middle, and the Land of Bountiful was in the north, all three major lands making up the Land Southward. If, as Mesoamericanists claim, these lands were actually laid out east to west, then Mormon, the Spirit and Joseph Smith all lied to us. Personally, I choose to accept Mormon’s descriptions, the Spirit’s verification, and Joseph Smith’s translation over John L. Sorenson and all the other Mesoamericanists who want to cloud the issue with complex and unnecessary explanations to show why Mormon was wrong and they are right.
As an example, when talking about a king sending out a proclamation to his people, Mormon had no business inserting a description of that land unless he was trying to help us visualize all the land the king controlled; and, Mormon had no business inserting where the Nephites were located unless he also wanted us to know, as he states, that the Nephites had contained the Lamanites to the south and that the Lamanites had no more opportunity to move northward (Alma 22:34). Also, Mormon had no business inserting where the narrow neck of land was located, or where the Jaredite lands were located, when talking about the Lamanite king in the Land of Nephi at the opposite end of the Land of Promise unless he wanted us, once again, to understand the layout of the entire Land of Promise.
    Obviously, then, his words should convey this overall design to us without difficulty, nor should we need to look for little clues for it to mean something other than what it obviously means.
    Now, someone might disagree with this (#4) point, but it seems the only possible reasonable answer to why Mormon inserted a 568-word, clearly-stated explanation of the layout of the Land of Promise, which had no direct bearing on the story he was abridging of Ammon and his brethren converting the Lamanites and the king’s proclamation.
    Given this explanation, then, it seems prudent for every reader, if they intend to visualize this overall description of the land, to keep in mind that Mormon knew he was inserting this for a future reader, and that he was not making it complicated or using examples out of the ordinary, for if he was, what would be the purpose? Simply put, Mormon was trying to show his future readers, in the simplest and briefest of language, the layout of the Land of Promise in simple, clear, and easily understood words.
    So why, one might ask, do Theorists, like those in Mesoamerica, those in the Heartland, Panama, Baja, etc., try to twist and rearrange Mormon’s simple explanation to fit a layout that is contrary to what he wrote? Why do these Theorists believe that Mormon’s simple words require pages of explanation to support a different understanding? Can one really believe that Mormon knew directions nearly 90º off of those we know today and neither the Lord, the Spirit, nor a future prophet’s translation would not be able to correct that problem?
With its east-west land layout, Mesoamerica has a Land Westward (not northward) and a Land Eastward (not southward), a huge bulge along the east sea never mentioned in the scriptural record, a North Sea (not east sea) and a South Sea (not west sea) and numerous other problems in directions that Mormon stated quite clearly, but Sorenson and other Theorists have convoluted into mass confusion taking pages upon pages of writing to try and explain
     Can anyone really believe if it wasn’t for a BYU professor to explain it to us that Mormon and the Nephites didn’t know their cardinal directions, we would never know that Mesoamerica, with its east-west directions, was really the Land of Promise? Does anyone really think that Mesoamerica, with its east-west directions was really what Mormon was writing about when he wrote so much about north-south directions for the layout of the land? Is there really any acceptable rationale that makes Mesoamerica’s east-west land layout match Mormon’s so clearly stated north-south land layout? Does any of this even sound remotely reasonable?
    How could it?
    One also might wonder how many people bother to read the very last thing that Moroni wrote—it appeared on the last leaf of the plates on the left side (HC 1:71), and states, in part, “Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation…to come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof.” 
It seems in reading that, one might get the idea that what was written on the pages of this scriptural record was written by both commandment and by the spirit, and its interpretation by Joseph Smith was through the gift and power of God. So in understanding that, why would anyone think they needed to clarify the spirit? Why would anyone think they needed to write pages upon pages of explanation as to what different directions, words and phrases really
meant because God’s word was so much in error?
    The idea makes reason stare!

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