Thursday, September 11, 2014

In Search of the Sidon River – Part VIII

There are few geographic locations in the Land of Promise mentioned as often as the Sidon River, and few that elicit such controversial opinions. However, perhaps the most humorous claim is that of the Mesoamericanists who fight among themselves over which of two rivers is the Sidon. 
The two candidates for Mesoamericanists’ river Sidon (red and blue arrows). Both flow north (green arrow) through Mexico or Guatemala and into the Gulf of Mexico
    These two rivers are the Grijalva (Mezcalapa-Grijalva) and the Usumacinta, both flow in the same general direction of north as the scriptural record suggests, and empty into the Gulf of Mexico, which is to the north of their model. The problem is, and where the humor arises, is when we remember that the Gulf of Mexico is the Mesoamericanists’ Sea East, and with their change of the “Nephite North,” their Grijalva and Usumacinta both run toward the east, not north!
Top: Grijalva River, formerly known as the Tabasco River, flows for 370 miles through southeastern Mexico; Bottom: Usumacinta River with headwaters in southeastern Mexico that flows 621 miles northward through northwestern Guatemala
    Joseph L. Allen, Blake J. Allen, and Ted Dee Stoddard, claim that “we are three of the proponents whose analyses lead to the conclusion that the Grijalva River, which runs through the central depression of Chiapas, Mexico, is the river Sidon of the Book of Mormon. We invite all Book of Mormon readers to evaluate this article’s evidence and either accept it at face value or prepare valid rebuttals” on their website “The Waters of Sidon”: The Grijalva River or the Usumacinta River?
    They further state: “We conclude unequivocally that the Grijalva River is the river Sidon.” Since unequivocal means “to leave no doubt,” it would seem that these three Mesoamericanists are well convinced. However, the Grijalva River, by their own map design and changes in Nephite directions, runs eastward and empties into the Sea East in their Land of Promise map, when Mormon tells us the river Sidon runs from the south narrow strip of wilderness northward past the land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27; 2:15).
Overlaid on their map (Fig 2) are the arrows pointing out their area of the (red arrow) Grijalva River headwaters, which they label “river Sidon,” and the (yellow arrow) mouth of the Grijalva River where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico
    Thus, Mormon’s river Sidon, which runs from its “head” or source in the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27) to the south of Zarahemla, past Zarahemla to the north (Alma 2:15), or northward and see absolutely no problem with their map which forces the Grijalva (their river Sidon) to run eastward to empty into their Sea East.
Again, their map of Mesoamerica (Fig 6), showing the division between Bountiful (to the east instead of the south) and Desolation (to the west instead of the north) as Mormon describes them (Alma 22:29-30). Also note their West Sea to the south. The Blue Arrow shows the flow northward of the Grijalva River, which is to the east in their model, and the Yellow Arrow is the mouth where it empties into the Gulf of Mexico (their Sea East)
    Another ironic point on the above map, which should be obvious to anyone, is that Bountiful is north of Zarahemla (but eastward on their map direction), but both are the same distance from the narrow neck, which is far from Mormon’s description:
    1. The Land of Nephi was separated by a narrow strip of wilderness from the Land of Zarahemla “which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla.” That is, the Land of Nephi was to the south of this narrow strip of wilderness which ran from the sea east to the sea west (Alma 22:27), and the Land of Zarahemla was to the north;
    2. The Land of Bountiful was to the north of the Land of Zarahemla. That is, it was “on the north, even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29);
    3. “And it [Bountiful] bordered upon the land [to the north] which they called Desolation” (Alma 22:30).
    Thus, Zarahemla is north of the Land of Nephi and Bountiful is north of the Land of Zarahemla. Elsewhere Mormon tells us that there is an unnamed land between Zarahemla and Bountiful: “And the land which was appointed was the land of Zarahemla, and the land which was between the land Zarahemla and the land Bountiful (3 Nephi 3:23). All of this, then, was north of the Land of Zarahemla; however, it is not shown this way on Allen’s map.
Using their own map, Fig 6 (and adding our arrows for pointing out locations), the White Arrows show the location of the narrow neck of land/Isthmus of Tehuantepec; Blue Arrow shows their Land of Desolation; Yellow Arrow shows their location for Bountiful and the Red Arrow shows their location for Zarahemla. Note that Zarahemla and Bountiful are basically the same distance from the narrow neck of land, and using their Desolation Line (black line), Zarahemla is actually closer to Desolation than is Bountiful, contrary to Mormon’s description
    Going further, we find Allen’s location for the narrow strip of wilderness to also be in error. It seems that once they start playing with Mormon’s north-south directions, that they feel they can then use whatever direction they want to support their claim.
Using their own map, Fig 5, we find that their narrow strip of wilderness (running between the green and red arrows) showing the “head’ of the river Sidon (yellow arrow), which wilderness Mormon tells us runs east and west (Alma 22:27), but runs north and south in their model. Blue arrow points to Allen's City of Nephi
    To make sure that we are all on the same page here, the Allens and Stoddard write as the criteria of study: “The only defensible way to determine the New World setting for the Book of Mormon is to use the Book of Mormon itself in identifying relevant criteria that are generic in nature and that can be tested in connection with any proposed New World setting. An examination of the Book of Mormon for the purpose of determining such criteria that can apply anywhere yields the following critical criteria:
    On their Point 5 of matching criteria: “The geographic configuration of the area must resemble an hourglass as a reflection of two land masses and a narrow neck of land (an isthmus) dividing the two. The hourglass must be on its side in a horizontal position to justify the Nephite cardinal directions of “northward” and “southward” associated with the two land masses” (underline mine, italics theirs).
    By their own criteria, then, their hourglass directions must apply to all criteria, no matter where. Well, how then do they justify the north of the land masses being to the west, and east being to the north in their map above, yet, claim the north-running river, which is east-running in their model, to be the river Sidon? And how do they justify, the “east and west running” narrow strip of wilderness to match their strip of wilderness that, by these same criteria, runs north and south, not east and west?
    To carry this variance of directions a little further, in looking at a composite map using their Fig 2 map, they have placed the Land of Many Waters to the east of the narrow neck of land and in the land Southward, far to the east of the Olmec lands they claim were the Jaredites. Again, playing footloose with Mormon’s directions, the Allen’s located lands in areas at odds with the scriptural record. Mormon’s writing, places the Land of Many Waters in the land of Cumorah (Mormon 6:4), which Mormon tells us was “so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed” (Alma 22:30; Mosiah 8:8). But Allen’s map is different:
Green Arrow: Points west into the Land Northward; Blue Arrow: Points east into the Land Southward; White Arrow shows their locaton of the Olmec/Jaredites; Red Arrow: the
Narrow Neck of Land/Isthmus of Tehuantepec; Yellow Arrow: Land of Many Waters.
    It is also interesting that they write: “For the past few decades, scholars who have attempted to locate the river Sidon in Mesoamerica are about evenly divided in choosing either the Grijalva River or the Usumacinta River as the river Sidon, but our observations are that many scholars use subjective analyses, illogical reasoning, or a lack of adequate criteria in choosing between the Grijalva or the Usumacinta as the river Sidon” (emphasis mine). It just seems that their illogical approach to the directions of their model is beyond their grasp. How on earth can you skew Mormon’s directions 90º on the shape of the land, but use regular cardinal directions inside the land? You either have to do one or the other! Which river you claim is a mute point—both run in the wrong direction and cannot be the river Sidon.


  1. Yeah, I'm pretty sick of the mesoamericanists. They've set back the cause of BOM decades. Their utterly confusing and inconsistent reasons and "evidences" are the equivalent of a CIA disinformation campaign. Not only that, but they rule the roost. It's getting harder and harder for me to associate with them.