Thursday, April 10, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part XI

Following are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses.  
    Comment #1: “You claim that the Lehi party was not among other people where Nephi built his ship. But I agree with John L. Sorenson who claimed they did, and that it was inevitable they did because Nephi said that "neither did I build the ship after the manner of men" (1 Nephi 18:2), which suggests to me that he had knowledge of other ships, which almost certainly would have existed on that Arabian coast and just as certainly examined by him” Alastair P.
    Response: There seems to be a huge void in this type of thinking. While Nephi might have seen ships sailing up and down the Red Sea as they ventured down the east coast toward the area of Nahom, which by the way took a few years (they were 8 years in the wilderness overall). But seeing a ship does not mean you understand how it was built, or how the timbers were worked. Even if there were ships that Nephi got aboard to investigate, which is not likely, this still would not have been self-explanatory.
One of the techniques along the area Nephi traveled was the use of an adze to strip away the would to form squared beams, which dates back thousands of years. Nephi might have seen men building their vessels in coastal villages they passed by on their journey along the Red Sea
    The problem is, people ignore the Lord’s involvement in endeavors such as this. The Lord told Nephi: “Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee” (1 Nephi 17:8). Obviously, when the Lord showed Nephi how to build the vessel, it became apparent that it was not after the manner of men; also, Nephi may well have been told by the Lord that his instruction would be different than ships built by men of his day—he may even have told him why. “And we did work timbers of curious workmanship. And the Lord did show me from time to time after what manner I should work the timbers of the ship” (1 Nephi 18:1). What the Lord told him, we don’t know, but it must have been significant: “And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:3).
    As for Sorenson, in all his writings I have read, he seems to want to write as though the Book of Mormon was some text written by scribes and not once have I seen him refer to the Lord in those works. As for Nephi, he continually tells us how the Lord was involved constantly in his life. Lastly, there is no mention of any other people along the coast where Nephi built his ship, or that anyone else was involved in the building, or that he had seen ships there, or investigated them. What he tells us is the Lord showed him how to build and that is what we know.
    Comment #2: “In the case of Sariah, two things seem to limit the number and spread of her children: 1) the oldest four sons were all of marriageable age at the time of the family's departure from Jerusalem, which means that the eldest, Laman, could not plausibly be less than twenty-two or twenty-three; yet, (2) Jacob and Joseph were born "in the wilderness," and the probable timing would make Joseph approximately twenty-four to twenty-eight years younger than Laman. For one woman to have had such a long birth career is sufficiently unlikely that maybe Sariah was not the sole mother of all Lehi's mentioned children” Atwater G.
Response: This is very close to John L. Sorenson’s claim, and is both an interesting and somewhat disingenuous statement. Women’s child-bearing spans have been known to extend much longer. As an example, my mother-in-law had 7 children over a 26 year period, the oldest born in 1934, the youngest in 1960. While that was not usual, it was not a Guinness World Record or anything. Besides, based upon the numbers of children and sizes of families anciently, it would not be unusual to find longer “birth careers” than would be expected today.
    Comment #3: “I disagree with your conclusions that Nephi and Lehi were not metalsmiths. It appears there is compelling evidence of that, despite your objections” Gibby T.
    Response: You would agree, then, with Samuel E. Shepley ("Old World Metal Workers," a paper given at an Annual Symposium, Society for Early Historic Archaeology, Provo, Utah, 22 October 1983); however, once again, it would be highly unlikely that a man who had inherited or purchased land and was considered very wealthy (1 Nephi 3:25) would have been a metalworker, for the men in that role tended to be of lower social status and were usually landless. In addition, if Lehi was a metalsmith, why would Nephi not have had his father make the tools out of ore as he was doing other work in regard to his ship (1 Nephi 17:9), or at least make the bellows while Nephi went hunting for the ore? (1 Nephi 17:11). In addition, Nephi might well have seen metalsmiths who stopped by his father’s home to make or repair tools and become familiar with the required steps and equipment. In addition, there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest Nephi knew metalsmithing before the Lord showed him how to do things.
    Comment #4: “How do you think the Lehi family lived immediately upon reaching the land of promise, and what would they have eaten?” Lamont T.
Lehi’s tents would probably have looked much like the Beduoin tents of today. They had several “rooms” and generally made of goat hair. They were simple, yet elegant, and well-suited for the locales of their use
    Response: Tents were one of the things Nephi tells us they took with them when they left Jerusalem (1 Nephi 2:4), and when the colony reached Bountiful where Nephi built his ship, they lived in tents (1 Nephi 17:6); and when they reached the Land of Promise, they pitched their tents (1 Nephi 18:23). These tents were large, made of goat hair, and contained several rooms that were separated by hanging rugs or blankets. Their beds were probably mattresses made of wool or goat’s hair laid on the ground, with blankets made of goat’s hair or even wool, which was common for the time.
    At this first location, they tilled the ground and planted the seeds they brought from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24), which probably would have included, beside grains such as wheat and barley, beans, cucumbers, garlic, leeks, onions, and lentils. They would have been very familiar with farming since most people in Israel living outside city walls lived by farming, and their lives were governed by the planting and harvesting cycles.
    Obviously, until the crops were harvested, they probably fished and hunted, eating meat from the wild animals in the area that Nephi and his brothers would have killed as they did traveling along the Red Sea. Until they became permanently settled, it is likely they made stools to sit on and ate their meals on mats laid on the floor. Later, after Nephi separated, they would have built stone houses, probably large enough to have a central courtyard, and maybe even an upper story, like the houses they knew before leaving Jerusalem. There they would have built chairs, tables, and proper beds as well.
    Comment #6: “In your book you keep saying the Land of Promise was elongated, that is much longer north to south, than east to west. How did you arrive at that conclusion?” Katrina M.
    Response: There are numerous scriptural passages and events that tell us that, but perhaps the following will suffice: Description of north and south and involvement in the north and south totals 254 scriptural references in the Book of Mormon, those regarding east and west number only 132; if we eliminate the cardinal positions and use the references relating to the direction of movement, it is 181 references north to south, and only 44 east to west. It would appear from this that there was much more land north to south, than east to west.

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