Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part III – Walls of Stone

This continues from the last post regarding the many descriptions Mormon wrote about the land he knew so well and lived in all his life that are vital for us to consider when claiming a current location of that land. 
    As an example, Nephi tells us that Moroni built “walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8). Mormon then adds, “And in their weakest fortifications he did place the greater number of men; and thus he did fortify and strengthen the land which was possessed by the Nephites” (Alma 48:9), to make sure we knew he was talking about military and defensive fortifications. Mormon then tells us that Moroni “was preparing to support their liberty, their lands, their wives, and their children, and their peace, and that they might live unto the Lord their God, and that they might maintain that which was called by their enemies the cause of Christians” (Alma 48:10).
    There is no question that Moroni understood the importance of high walls as seen when he cast up dirt to shield his men, “which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them” (Alma 49:2, 4). Obviously, their stone walls would have been high enough to accomplish the same objective. Nor were their stone walls merely piled rocks on top of one another as is found in the Great Lakes and Eastern U.S. area as some Theorists claim, for they do not provide much, if any real defense against a charging horde of soldiers.
When stones are merely stacked upon one another as these found in the Great Lakes and Eastern U.S., they can only be so tall like these medium sized rocks (brown arrow), before they topple. Even with larger rocks the height is very limited (white arrow), which is about 40” in the photo. If you are firing a rifle from behind such a height, you can achieve some defense, but a charging army before the age of gunpowder could easily scale such heights as though they were hardly there
    Nor were these stone walls a short-use objective, for the Lamanites were continually attacking the Nephites over several generations spanning hundreds of years. Naturally, Moroni understood his objective, for he knew the importance of stopping the Lamanites from gaining any advantage. As seen when the Lamanites tried to attack Ammonihah, for “the leaders of the Lamanites had supposed, because of the greatness of their numbers, yea, they supposed that they should be privileged to come upon them as they had hitherto done; yea, and they had also prepared themselves with shields, and with breastplates; and they had also prepared themselves with garments of skins, yea, very thick garments to cover their nakedness” (Alma 49:6-8), like Moroni had prepared his army previously (Alma 43:19-20).
    So when Mormon tells us: “And being thus prepared they supposed that they should easily overpower and subject their brethren to the yoke of bondage, or slay and massacre them according to their pleasure. But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been known among the children of Lehi. Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni” (Alma 49:7-8), we should recognize the type of thinking, preparation, and building Moroni would have done when he erected “walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).
The walls claimed by some Theorists to be Nephite in the Great Lakes and eastern U.S. area are far from the type Moroni had the Nephites build. In fact, with time, they provide no defense whatever. Note the crumbled rocks that have fallen (blue arrow), and the type of construction you have when stacking stones (yellow arrow), or the instability of stacked stones (red arrow), and how over time the wall (blue arrow) is non existent. Note that in all cases stacked stones provide little if any defense against charging forces before guns were invented
    To better understand these walls, we need to know more about Nephi and what he knew about Jerusalem before leaving with his father into the wilderness. First of all, Nephi well understood Jerusalem. He wrote: “I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews…I, of myself, have dwelt at Jerusalem, wherefore I know concerning the regions round about” (2 Nephi 25:5-6). Before Jerusalem was built, a city named Jebos was located there, and it had fortified walls—remains of this wall are located above Hezekiah’s Tunnel and can be seen today. King David extended these walls, which were located on a low hill, outside the walls of today’s Old City area. Solomon after building the first temple, extended the city walls even further in order to protect the temple. During this time the city walls extended toward the northwest part of the city, the area where today the Jewish Quarter is located.
Top: The current wall was built on top of Solomon’s wall of dressed stone (red arrow); Bottom: The remains of the 2700 year old Hezekiah’s Broad Wall, which was uncovered in the excavations after the six-day war in 1970—its width of 23 feet is shown between the yellow arrows
    Almost 400 years before Lehi, Solomon built his wall around Jerusalem, and 100 years before Lehi, Hezekiah’s “Broad Wall” was built over the Central Valley and up onto the Western Hill to enclose homes in the part of the city that expanded when the Assyrians invaded Israel to the north. Many people from the northern kingdom of Israel fled their country and moved into Judah and Jerusalem in order to escape the Assyrian invasion and Hezekiah protected them with this wall that was 23-feet wide, 27-feet high, and 213-feet long.
Left: Another wall (yellow arrow) built in the 8th century B.C. that ran along the eastern flank enclosing the Gihon Spring. At least 16-feet tall, it enclosed the old Canaanite city of Jerusalem, including two towers built to protect the water supply; Right: Jerusalem during Solomon’s time with several city walls encircling it—all of these existed in Lehi’s time and would have been known to Nephi
    Naturally, then, when Nephi lived at Jerusalem in Lehi’s house outside of the city, he would have been familiar with these walls, how they were built, their size, importance and purpose. When he taught his people “to build buildings, and to work in all manner of wood, and of iron, and of copper, and of brass, and of steel, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious ores, which were in great abundance” (2 Nephi 5:15), one might consider this teaching that carried down through the construction trades of the Nephites for centuries.
    In fact, when Nephi says, “And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine” (2 Nephi 5:16, emphasis mine), it could only mean he built that temple out of stone, since not only was Solomon’s temple built of stone, along with his own palace and city buildings, but that he sent away to Lebanon to acquire builders who knew how to build out of stone, suggesting that only a stone temple would be sufficient for the Lord. When Nephi says he built a temple like Solomon’s we might understand that it was built of stone.
    It is also understood that he passed this ability and knowledge onto his people. “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did cause my people to be industrious, and to labor with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:17).
This is the Jerusalem Nephi would have known. Note the height of the wall surrounding the temple grounds (yellow arrow). The outer wall is 27-feet high (red arrow). Note the numerous houses to the left of the city (white arrow) where people (farmers and landowners) lived “at” Jerusalem but not “in” Jerusalem at this time. Later the walls would be extended to include many, if not most of these properties
    Naturally, it is understandable that the Nephites built out of stone. Moroni says he built fortifications out of stone “all round about the land” (Alma 48:8).
    Consequently, if you are going to look for an area that is the Land of Promise location, then it should contain evidence of stone buildings, temples, palaces, and other such constructed buildings. Stone, after all, lasts a very long time and only in Andean Peru and Mesoamerica do we have such edifices that match the building capability described by Nephi and Mormon.
(See the next post for another of these Land of Promise factors described by Mormon that should help us in understanding where the Land of Promise was located)

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