Sunday, September 7, 2014

In Search of the Sidon River – Part IV

There are few geographic locations in the Land of Promise mentioned as often as the Sidon River, and few that elicit such controversial opinions. The most grievous is that claiming the Mississippi River was the river Sidon, as championed by Rod L. Meldrum. 
    So having shown Meldrum’s overall picture of the Land of Promise and the “head” of the Mississippi to be in error in the past three posts, let’s take a look at the Mississippi overall in connection with the scriptural record.
    Meldrum’s river Sidon (Mississippi River) from head (source) to mouth is 2340 miles long. However, he claims a confluence changes the head from Minnesota to Cairo, Illinois, where the Missouri enters the Mississippi.
    Response: Cairo to the Gulf is 650 miles. But Meldrum has recently changed his confluence to St. Louis, making it 810 miles. Either way, the distance is far too long. Since the river Sidon flows from the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27) into the Land of Zarahemla, with no mention of it north of the Land of Zarahemla, one must consider that the river would not have ran more than two or three hundred miles at the very most, or the distance of the Land of Zarahemla.
    To understand confluence, we need to realize that where one river flows into another river such as the Missouri, Illinois, and Ohio rivers all flow into the Mississippi, the one river loses its name and identity and the other maintains is name and identity. Therefore, where the Ohio flows into the Mississippi at Cairo, the Ohio river ends and is not mentioned again downstream, and is from that point on, part of the Mississippi River, even though the Ohio, at that conjunction or confluence, was the larger river at over a mile wide.
Where the Ohio (right) flows into the Mississippi River (left). This confluence ends the Ohio River, and does not change the name of the Mississippi River or where its head is located, which is in Minnesota
    The same is true where the Missouri flows into the Mississippi River at St. Louis, Missouri, or where the River flows into the much larger Mississippi River at Grafton, Illinois. In each case, the Mississippi River continues and the other rivers lose their name and identity. Thus, it cannot be said that the “head” of any river is where it flows into another river in a confluence.
Where the Missouri River (left) flows into the Mississippi River (right). This confluence ends the Missouri River, and does not change the name of the Mississippi River or where its head is located, which is in Minnesota
    Take a more local confluence of the Green River, a very long stream forming in the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains in Bridger Teton National Forest of Sublette County, Wyoming. It winds its way south into Utah, turning east into Colorado and finally back south down into Utah where it terminates at the confluence of the Colorado River.
The Green River (flowing from the right) terminates at the confluence with the Colorado River (bottom) in Canyonlands National Park in San Juan County
    Or the confluence of the Salmon River, which originates in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains and flows 425 miles through some of the most remote land in the contiguous U.S. until it flows into and is absorbed by the Snake River in  Hells Canyon. The Snake begins as a high mountain stream in Yellowstone National Park before it turns west and follows the ancient scar of the Yellowstone super volanco through southern Idaho. Just before it reaches Oregon, the river makes an abrupt turn north, into Hells Canyon, the deepest river canyon in the nation, six-hundred miles from its alpine headwaters, where it meets the Salmon.
Confluence of the Salmon and the Snake, which ends the Salmon as the Snake continues on, without its “head” in Yellowstone being changed
    There simply is no question that when a river empties into another river, the one ceases to exist and its waters simply become part of the larger river’s flow. The Green shown above, or the mighty Ohio, or the large Missouri—each terminate at their confluence with the other (Mississippi) river. It is the principal by which rivers are named and flow and are understood by man. Meldrum might think he can change that, but he is on the wrong side of this discussion.
    Thus, his insistence in this is both foolhardy and inaccurate and cannot be supported by any concept of river hydrology.
    Meldrum points out that the Mississippi River was a barrier for animals (before dams, locks or levies.), and that the river was so wide that the animals could not see the other side, therefore they would not cross.
    Response: There is no mention in the scriptural record of the river Sidon either being a barrier, or impassable. In fact, it seems just the opposite, at least in some areas: “as they were crossing the river Sidon, the Lamanites and the Amlicites, being as numerous almost, as it were, as the sands of the sea, came upon them to destroy them” (Alma 2:27); “when they [Nephites] had all crossed the river Sidon that the Lamanites and the Amlicites began to flee before them, notwithstanding they were so numerous that they could not be numbered” (Alma 2:35); "the Lamanites will cross the river Sidon in the south wilderness, away up beyond the borders of the land of Manti” (Alma 16:6); “Zoram and his sons crossed over the river Sidon, with their armies, and marched away beyond the borders of Manti into the south wilderness, which was on the east side of the river Sidon” (Alma 16:7); “the Lamanites had passed the hill Riplah, and came into the valley, and began to cross the river Sidon” (Alma 43:35); “they were driven by Lehi into the waters of Sidon, and they crossed the waters of Sidon” (Alma 43:40), and numerous other verses. Obviously, Meldrum’s comparison falls far short with this woefully inadequate example on his part. 
    Meldrum, in choosing the Mississippi misunderstands a scriptural reference about banks along the river Sidon, since the Mississippi River has no slopes or inclination banks, especially in Missouri where his Sidon activity takes place.
    Response: While today, “a stream bank or river bank is the terrain alongside the bed of a river, creek, or stream. The slopes bordering a river,” in Joseph Smith’s time, the word “river bank” meant “Any steep acclivity [slope or inclination of earth], whether rising from a river, a lake, or the sea, or forming the side of a ravine,” or “a particular steep acclivity on the side of a lake, river or the sea, is called a bank.”
Top: An acclivity or inclined river where thousands of men could fight on top of the upper bank (bottom) and there dead bodies tossed into the river
The banks of the Mississippi for its entire length, except where man has cleared for building, is choked with trees and forests and not likely a place where thousands of men could fight a battle
    The point is, not only does the Mississippi River run in the wrong direction, there is not much about the Mississippi River that lends itself to the descriptions given us by Mormon of the many activities and wars that were conducted and fought along its banks. Meldrum can try to rewrite the scriptural record to satisfy his model, but there is simply too much for him to over come in choosing the Mississippi as his river Sidon.
    The fact alone that Meldrum has four major rivers that flow into the Mississippi, and not a single word in the scriptural record to support such a huge river system, with the Ohio even larger than the Mississippi where they join, being more than a mile wide. There is 1) the Missouri River, the longest river in North America, with its headwaters in the Rocky Mountains of western Montana, and runs 2341 miles where it flows into the Mississippi near St. Louis, Missouri; the 2) Arkansas River at 1469 miles long, the second largest tributary in the Mississippi that runs from its headwaters near Leadville, Colorado, to the Mississippi; the 3) Ohio River, with its headwaters near Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, where it flows 981 miles into the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois, and is the largest tributary, by volume, of the Mississippi River; and 4) the Illinois River, a principal tributary of the Mississippi River, running from near Joliet in northern Illinois to the Mississippi River.
    To sum it up, there are 96 tributaries that flow into the Mississippi River directly, plus each of the major tributaries have their own tributaries, In fact, the Mississippi River drainage basin is one of the larges in the world. It seems downright neglectful of Mormon not to mention at least one of these major tributaries if the Mississippi River was indeed the river Sidon.

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