Friday, April 18, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part XIX

Here are more comments, questions and criticisms that have been sent in from readers of our blog, along with our responses.  
   Comment #1: “Hi, Del. I have been reading your posts for sometime and wondering if you could share anymore about Chan Chan. I noticed at least one article that mentions it as being in the Nephite territory and its massive walls were a great example of the fortifications needed to protect the Nephites from invasion, but do you have any ideas or care to speculate what city it may have been? It is said to be the largest pre-Colombian ruins in all of South America. I would love to hear your perspective” Val S.
There are numerous ancient ruins in this area. This is Caral, considered the major complex of allthese ruins around Trujillo. Note in the top photo, lower left, the size of people. The ruins are massive
Chan Chan is a unique structure in this area. Note the extremely tall, highly decorated walls. In the bottom photo, not another complex in the background as it rises far above the surrounding area
    Response: Chan Chan is an ancient pyramid complex built near Caral in the Trujilo Valley along a desert strip about 20 to 100 miles wide that runs between the Pacific Ocean and the western slopes of the Andes, and criss-crossed by short rivers which start in the rainier mountains and provide a series of green and fertile areas. The city includes ten walled cuidadelas (citadels) surrounded by 50 to 60-foot high walls, spanning a distance of about 12 square miles—by comparison medieval London covered only 1.12 square miles, and the Old City of Jerusalem, 100 A.D., was 0.35 square mile.
It is interesting that its tallest walls surrounding these fortresses are on the south and west sides of the city, which would have been facing toward the movement northward of the Lamanite armies—the only entrance to the citadels is from the north. These walls are adobe brick covered with a smooth surface into which intricate designs are carved, such as crabs, turtles, nets for catching sea monsters, birds, fish and small mammals. Such carvings at times have been depicted as talisman meant to protect from, or frighten away, an enemy. If you have not seen it, it is worth the trip; however, keep in mind that tour guides there ignore the fortress and defensive properties of this site and try to convince tourists of its peaceful and social history.
Its location would place it along the coast somewhere between the city of Zarahemla and the city of Bountiful. The area with these massive cities grouped together might suggest the northern Capitol of Bountiful, but it is too far south, and seems to be located in the area that is referred to by Mormon as the unnamed land that borders Bountiful (Helaman 4:5; 3; Nephi 3:23). Unfortunately, not much is recorded in the scriptural record of this west coast area north of Zarahemla, and no name is given to this land that lay between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Bountiful.
Comment #2: I think there is a lot to the idea that Sherem was an early Mulekite contact” Mike J.
    Response: The following is abridged and reprinted from a series of articles on Sherem that appeared here in these posts in May of 2010. “As stated in our last post (“Another Look at Numbers,” May 8, 2010), by the time Jacob begins his record, it was 55 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (Jacob 1:7), Nephi was about 80 and there were four Nephite tribes: Nephites, Jacobites, Josephites, and Zoramites, along with three Lamanite tribes: Lamanites, Lemuelites and Ishmaelites (Jacob 1:13). Altogether, there would have been over 200 Nephites and maybe as many as 250 or more Lamanites.
    “When Nephi dies (Jacob 1:12), he is replaced by a king, who, in turn, is replaced by the second king, during which time the people began to be hard-hearted and indulged in wicked practices, such as desiring many wives and concubines (Jacob 1:15), and hunted gold and silver and were lifted up in pride (Jacob 1:16). Consequently, in the second generation after Nephi, during the reign of the second king, there would have been between 400 and 500 Nephites (four generations from Lehi—Jacob was actually by age, a second generation from Lehi).
    “At this time, the Nephites were about the size of a large Ward in the U.S. in our day. Are there members in your Ward (or small community area that you don’t know? Or want to avoid? Or not get into a lengthy discussion with?
    “Many claim that Sherem was not a Nephite for “he came among them” and because “he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people” (Jacob 7:4), and that “he sought much opportunity that he might come unto” Jacob (Jacob 7:3). Yet, none of this suggests he was not a Nephite. As an example: 1) "came among them," might mean nothing more than Sherem at that time decided to go among the Nephites and try to pervert their belief in God (which he did with many); 2) "had a perfect knowledge of the language," merely means that he could present his perverted message with convincing clarity; 3) "much opportunity to see Jacob," he tried unsuccessfully to get an audience with the king. Obviously, in a community of some 400 to 500 people, with some of these Nephites living in outlying areas or separate villages, “coming among “ Jacob’s people would not denote a non-Nephite, nor would having “a perfect knowledge” of the language of the people mean anything other than he spoke fluently, and with “much flattery” and with “much power of speech.” He was, in fact, a con man whose soul purpose was to “lead away much of the people that they pervert the right way of God and keep not the law of Moses” (Jacob 7:7).
    “When I was growing up, living in the same house and community for many years, there was a man who lived in the middle of the block, his house set back off the street much further than the others, with an imposing fence around it. None of my friends nor I knew anything about him, had never seen him, yet we all thought him strange and one to be avoided, which we did with extreme care.
    “When I was in the mission field in the bible belt of Oklahoma, there were people who constantly wanted to have an argument and confrontation with LDS people who chanced their way. They were a very contentious and belligerent sort, who were quick to judge and dismiss all evidence for other beliefs but did not hold their own standards to their beliefs. They took great delight in belligerently shouting other ideas down. After a while, there were some you simply avoided and made sure you did not cross their path.
Perhaps when Sherem “came among them,” Jacob was not interested in debating religion with him and was not willing to meet with him and his apostate ideas; however, after Sherem had an impact on several Nephites’ beliefs, Jacob agreed to meet with him
    “If I had been Jacob, I can see where I would have avoided Sherem as much as possible. It is not strange for such a happening, at least not to me. Finally, though, when you are the leader, you have to take the bull by the horns and stand up to the satanic attacks one levels at you and testify of the truth. This Jacob finally did (Jacob 7:8). It is always amazing that from such normal happenings, the so-called learned can find fodder to support their outlandish ideas that run contrary to the scriptural record.
    If Sherem was a Mulekite, there is absolutely no evidence to suggest such. Just because he was a heretic, and guided by Satan, does not mean he was not a Nephite. The scriptural record is full of Nephites who defected over to the enemy, and who sought to destroy the Nephite nation.
    Comment #3: “Ammoron himself claims to be a descendant of Zoram: Alma 54:23-24 'I am Ammoron, and a descendant of Zoram, whom your fathers pressed and brought out of Jerusalem. And behold now, I am a bold Lamanite; behold, this war hath been waged to avenge their wrongs, and to maintain and to obtain their rights to the government; and I close my epistle to Moroni.' How can you say he was a Nephite?” Mike J.
Response: We have what appears at first glance an interesting conflict of information when Ammoron refers to himself as a descendant of Zoram, who Nephi led out of the city of Jerusalem and ended up joining the Lehi colony in their journey to the Land of Promise. So let us examine the overall information. First of all, Ammoron’s brother was Amalickiah (Alma 52:3), who was a Nephite by birth (Alma 49:25) both of whom were Nephite defectors who joined the Lamanites and both became king over the Lamanites (Alma 48:2; 52:3). Now, if Amalickiah was a Nephite by birth, then his brother, Ammoran, would also be a Nephite by birth. Thus both men were Nephites, not Zoramites. It should be kept in mind here that while Sam’s posterity were joined with Nephi’s (2 Nephi 4:11), and not ever mentioned separately afterward, as also were the Mulekites at the time of king Mosiah (Mosiah 25:13), Zoram’s posterity were always mentioned separately when a breakdown of the Nephites was given (Jacob 1:13; 4 Nephi 1:36; Mormon 1:8).
    Now, since I always take the scriptural record as being 100% accurate, then we are faced with looking elsewhere for an answer. And that lies in the assumption that Ammoron was lying when he wrote to Moroni in an attempt to create and justify a cause for his attacks. Ammoron refers to himself as both a Zoramite and a Lamanite, when in reality he was a Nephite defector. Moroni, angry at Ammoron for his lying, knew very well “that Ammoron had a perfect knowledge of his fraud” and Moroni also knew that “Ammoron knew that it was not a just cause that had caused him to wage a war against the people of Nephi” (Alma 55:1). Keep in mind that Ammoron and his brother, Amalickiah, were both liars from the beginning (Alma 47:30, 35; 48:7; 55:1).

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