Monday, April 7, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part VIII

Here are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses. 
    Comment #1: Why do you think the group that went in search of Zarahemla from the city of Lehi-Nephi had so much trouble finding it and, in fact, evidently traveled far to the north of it before returning?
    Response: Those of the expedition going on this search were three generations removed from those who had left the city of Zarahemla in the past to reclaim their ancestral home in the Land of Nephi. There would have been no one alive in the city of Lehi-Nephi (originally the city of Nephi) who had come with the Zeniff group of original emigrants. All that they evidently knew about the city of Zarahemla was that it lay somewhere to the north.
Top: Traveling through a canyon like this, it would be impossible to know what was on either side beyond the mountains, thus, even in a region not many miles wide, finding something not along your direct path would be very difficult; Bottom: This is especially true if you were traveling through a narrow pass
    If, in fact, the city was actually to the northwest and the expedition took off heading more-or-less due north, they would have bypassed their destination by many miles (which, by the way, makes a case for the city of Zarahemla not to be in the center of the land as many have supposed). If we use the Peruvian Andes as the location, it has several north-south cordilleras or minor ranges between the eastern area of Cuzco/Sacsayhuaman, and the western area of Pachacamac, thus they could have climbed several hill or mountain tops and still not seen the city.
    At that point in time, these Nephites did not know there was a narrow neck to the north and when they came to this narrow pass through it, would not have even known they were in a narrow neck, which is probably why it was not mentioned in the account, or in all of Mosiah and not even in Alma, except for Mormon’s insertion of the land description.
    It is also possible that since Pachacamac lies along the coast of the West Sea, that the expedition members knew from hand-me-down comments about Zarahemla that it was near the sea, and as they went north, they thought of the East Sea, which the city of Nephi was closer to, and stayed to the east of the land as they headed north.
    Of course this is all speculation—we don’t know any of this, but it does make sense.
Comment #2: “You say that Nephi’s ship during the storm they encountered was turned around and headed back in the direction they had come—how do you know it was turned around. After all, it simply could have been pushed backward” Tobin B.
Top: In the middle of the ocean, without landmarks, especially in a storm, you cannot tell if you are going forward, backward, or sideways—all you are interested in is staying upright; Bottom Left: This storm track off the east coast of Madagascar, which is about where Nephi’s ship would have been, creates a circular path, swinging any vessel dependent upon the wind, around in a circle, directing it back in the opposite direction; Bottom Right: Storm track areas in the Indian Ocean. Note the bottom gray area around Madagascar
    Response: If it had merely been pushed backward, those on board would not have known this for there were no physical landmarks in the middle of the Indian Ocean to judge any lack of forward progress. But in turning the ship around, they would have been aware of this very noticeable event. Besides, the currents in this part of the sea are circular, circulating around the low-pressure area of 1003 millibars where these storms originate. It might also be of interest to know that the ship would have been launched in the summer months when the currents flow outward from the Arabian Peninsula, which is the exact timing for the storms to have hit that area of the Indian Ocean, which do so between December and March.
    It might also be of interest to know that these cyclones are today being picked up and tracked by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA’s Aqua satellite, which shows that these cyclones’ strongest convection squeezes through the 420-mile-width between Madagascar and eastward to the island of La Reunion as its thunderstorms wrap around  the center of circulation—this is the exact path Nephi’s ship would have taken within the currents leading outward from the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula and into the Indian Ocean.
    Comment #4: “Why does the Book of Mormon mention Bellows (1 Nephi 17:11), Brass (2 Nephi 5:15), Breast Plates & Copper (Mosiah 8:10), Iron (Jarom 1:8), Gold and Silver currency (Alma 11), Silver (Jarom 1:8), and Steel Swords (Ether 7:9)? No evidence indicates that these items existed during Book of Mormon times. Tom Ferguson: "Metallurgy does not appear in the region until about the 9th century A.D." Fleming M.
A 2,000 year old mine has been recently discovered high in the mountains in Peru, which provides proof that an ancient people in the Andes mined hematite iron ore many, many centuries before the Inca Empire
    Response: Ferguson is referring to metallurgy in Mesoamerica, and he is correct, though some claim it was as early as 600 A.D., but that is still a long cry from the 2000 B.C. period of the Jaredites, and 600 B.C. period of the Nephites. However, the Land of Promise was not located in Mesoamerica despite so many people from BYU, FARMS and other groups claiming it was—the lack of metallurgy until at least 200 years after the demise of the Nephites should suggest to even the most avid Mesoamericanist that they have the wrong area and model.
    On the other hand, metallurgy in the Andean area of South America dates far into B.C. times, with ancient mines having been found in Chile and Peru. See the book Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica, for details about textiles in B.C. times in South America. Also, a team of U.S. archaeologists discovered an ancient 2000-year-old mine in southern Peru where ancient iron ore was mined (National Geographic, February 11, 2008), showing that “iron ores were important to ancient Andean civilizations.”
    Comment #5: “You suggested in an article that Lehi would have been some 10 years older than Sariah by Jewish marriage customs; however, I was reading in Nephi that both Lehi and Sariah showed the effects of age simultaneously (1 Nephi 18:17), which suggests to me that they were nearly the same age” Gerrit B.
Response: First, let’s deal with the scripture: “Now my father, Lehi, had said many things unto them, and also unto the sons of Ishmael; but, behold, they did breathe out much threatenings against anyone that should speak for me; and my parents being stricken in years, and having suffered much grief because of their children, they were brought down, yea, even upon their sick-beds” (1 Nephi 18:17). Let’s just say that Lehi was 70 and Sariah was 60—in the Middle East at this time, they would both have been considered old. Also, Sariah had recently given birth (1 Nephi 18:19); Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael had Nephi tied up in the ship; the storms were threatening their destruction; these same men were threatening to kill them; and the conditions of the ship in the storm “they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave” (1 Nephi 18:18).
    It would seem under such circumstances that their various ages were such that they were showing the effects of those ages. There is no reason to believe here that they were both about the same age—just both old enough to be adversely affected by the threatening circumstances of the time. One of the problems with being young is not to understand older people—but we all get old and sooner or later we come to realize what comments about “advanced years” mean.

1 comment:

  1. There is the possibility that the mother of Jacob and Joseph was not Sariah, but a plural wife of Lehi. There were colonies of Jews along the frankincense trail, and it is not unthinkable that a few from these colonies joined in with Lehi and his group. At least to me!