Sunday, April 13, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part XIV

Here are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses. 
     Comment #1: If servants were free after 6 years, as you say-then any servants who left with Lehi were free before they arrived in Bountiful.” Wonder Boy
Response: First of all, I am not the one saying this—it was the law of Israel (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12), and preached by Jeremiah (left) in Lehi’s day when he said, “At the end of seven years let ye go every man his brother an Hebrew, which hath been sold unto thee; and when he hath served thee six years, thou shalt let him go free from thee: but your fathers hearkened not unto me, neither inclined their ear” (Jeremiah 34:14), suggesting that many in Israel were not obeying the law and Jeremiah was unpopular for bringing it to their attention.
    That was, of course, a legal factor; however, servants tended to spend their lives intertwined with those they served. As an example, Moses clearly taught that a servant (slave) was to be set free after six years, but “if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free” (Exodus 21:5), then the servant “shall serve him for ever” (Exodus 21:6).
    Life in Israel was not like today, where people could fend for themselves. Jobs were difficult to come by, and being within and part of a family, no matter at what level, was a highly prized thing among the culture. Servants usually served as a family, adding to their own family as the years passed, and those relationships became part of the overall family, especially when connected to a large, wealthy family, such as Lehi. In addition, the family head felt a great responsibility toward those of his (extended) family, and it is unlikely he would have uprooted his family and left without taking those in that extended family with him if they wanted to go
    Comment #2: “I am glad you discussed what war meant in 1830 in your article on ‘An Attempt to Put Other People in the Land of Promise Part I.’ I did not know that and it now makes more sense. When you think of war parties among the Native Americans.. they were usually relatively small. An example would be in the movie "Dances with Wolves". They were very small as a group and yet had wars.” Mr. Nirom
Response: Actually, one man can go to war--even books have been written and movies have been made of such. The first battle of Lexington involved only 77 Americans; and on the American frontier, as you suggest, the Indians had "war parties," often around a dozen men. The term has always been used loosely when not involved in a formal declaration of war between nations. In the Book of Mormon, especially in the beginning, as indicated in the article, these would have been small skirmishes, even angry arguments.
    Comment #3: Hi. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog post.”  Aman
    Response: Thank you. We aim to inform.
    Comment #4: “I’m having trouble with something that was in a previous post. "the reason that the seer stone was so important was because once the English words appeared in the stone, they refused to disappear until the scribe had written the words down correctly — including the spelling of the words!" Yet, the recorded information is not spelt correctly: "it would appear in Brite Roman Letters then he would tell the writer and he would write it[.] then that would go away the next sentence would Come and so on But if it was not Spelt rite it would not go away till it was rite[,] so we see it was marvelous. thus was the hol [whole] translated." Then in another post you wrote, "Because of several typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors, the next publication (1837) edition had over a thousand corrections made by Joseph Smith with the help of Oliver Cowdery, most were grammatical changes," and in another post you talked about the reason why there were so many editions of the BoM you said that there were on.” Ben
    Response: Perhaps you need to better understand two things: 1) Joseph Smith and his scribe(s) lived in a time when there was no standard spelling of words. Most people spelled by phonetics—which looks like the writing of very uneducated people by today’s standards; and 2) The purpose of the Spirit’s involvement was to see that the Book of Mormon was translated correctly—including the spelling of any particular word by the day’s standards involved. We sometimes get into difficult territory when we try to judge the past by todays’ standards.
When Noah Webster put American English into print for the first time in 1828, in his “An American Dictionary of the English Language,” Americans tended to pronounce and spell many words based on those of England, which were based on Samuel Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” (1755). As an example, English: “honour,” American “honor.” Colour instead of color; neighbour instead of neighbor; theatre instead of theater, centre instead of center; meager instead of meager; practise instead of practice; licence instead of license; connexion insead of connection; realise instead of realize; paralyse instead of paralyze; analogue instead of analog; anaemia instead of anemia; equalling instead of equaling; singeing instead of singing, etc.
    By being spelled correctly, it was meant that the correct word was used, including its correct spelling, so there could be no confusion over what the word was supposed to be. Keep in mind, that in Hebrew, where no vowels were used during Old Testament times, words were not at all clear and could be interpreted differently by different scholars. As an example, your “spelt rite” quote above is clearly understandable, and correctly spelled in 1829, though it is inaccurate today. These are the type of changes in the Book of Mormon that were made—not that the word was inaccurate, meaning unclear, or the spelling wrong for the period—but that it is not correct with a more correct spelling era or age. However, in Hebrew, the two words would be “splt rt,” which is not clear or understandable, and could be interpreted “split root,” or “spoilt rat,” etc.
    The interpretation sequence was Joseph seeing the word(s) in the darkened top hat, reading them out loud, the scribe writing them down, and reading them back. If this was not correct, then the Spirit would not remove the word(as) from the seer stone and replace them with more words.
    One of the more important things we can do when trying to understand the past is to recognize it was guided by rules and practices often very different from our own. We err in trying to insert modern ideas into the past—especially the ancient past.
    Comment #5: “I read the book "Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica" and liked it. I do not remember it mentioning any specific hill in Ecuador as being most likely the Hill Cumorah. Priddis says it is the Cerro Imbabura, which is in that area. I wonder if Del agrees with this choice or has a different or no choice.” George W.
The Cerro Imbabura, which means Imbabura Mountain, and called Taita Imbabura by native Ecuadorians, meaning Father Imbabura, the father of all mysteries
    Response: The Imbabura is a volcano overlooking San Pablo Lake, with an elevation of 15,191 feet, within the mountain range of the Andes in northern Ecuador, about 37 miles north and east of Quito. Imbabua is a highland Quechua word, describing a people, a language, and later a province. The mountain itself is very prominent, and there are six small lakes in the area, the San Pablo, Mojanda, Cuicocha, Ibarra, Puruhanta, and Marcos, and all are within 17 miles of the mountain. There are also three rivers within 20 miles, the Cascade, Mira and Chota. Indeed there are a few waters around, but not likely considered an area of “many waters.” Nor are there fountains, i.e., where waters originate, in the area. In addition, Imbabura is completely surrounded by tall mountains that would have made marching into the area quite difficult, though not impossible.
Left: White arrow is Cerro Imbabura, and yellow arrow is Laguna Velasco Ibarra; Right: A closer view of Laguna Velasco, an extremely large area of water with numerous tributary rivers, and numerous fountains, i.e., points of water origination
     Personally, while I do not believe most areas mentioned in the scriptural record are sufficiently described to place on any model map, I prefer the area of Laguna Velasco Ibarra in the Velasco Valley of the province of Guayas, to the southwest of Quito for the "Land of Many Waters." There is far more water here, with many contiguous lakes, numerous rivers, and fountains to the west in the mountains. There are numerous hills or mountains to the west and east, with the waters toward the north of a large, extended lowland that provides easy access from both the south and north. Once passing through this area, one cannot help but sense this being a Land of Many Waters, and it was listed as such on old Spanish maps of the area—something the Imbabura area lacks.
The twin peaks of the Illinizas, a pair of volcanic mountains located south of Quito and visible from the area of "Many Waters." They are a most noticeable landmark that can be seen from a great distance and used as a location to the Lamanite army which had never before been in the area
    A distinct landmark To the east are the Illinizas, the double peak mountains with their prominence jutting nearly 6,000 feet above the ground (17,218 feet elevation), a very noticeable area that would be a simple landmark to people (Lamanites) who had never before been in the area. There are also the Quilotoa, Chimborazo, Pichicha and Cayamba peaks that rise to great heights within view of this overall area. However, I do not believe there is sufficient information and description in the scriptural record to pinpoint any hill or mountain as Cumorah.

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