Thursday, October 23, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part IV – Forts and Resorts

Continuing 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. And while we were on the subject of building with stone in the last post, let us take a further look at that with the subject of the forts and resorts Mormon tells us that Moroni built. 
    As an example, Mormon writes that Amalickiah, after obtaining leadership of the Lamanites, “did appoint chief captains of the Zoramites, they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort, and the weakest parts of their cities” (Alma 48:5), and Mormon also wrote regarding Moroni that he had “kept his men round about, as if making preparations for war; yea, and truly he was preparing to defend himself against them, by casting up walls round about and preparing places of resort” (Alma 52:6).
Ancient stone walls in Andean Peru built well into B.C. times still stand today and are part of the numerous ruins of the Nephite period
    The casual reader, and even some Theorists, tend to read these two statements and pay them little mind—certainly they do not understand them fully. As an example, if any time is spent on the word “resorts,” it tends to be with the understanding of today’s two meanings of the word: 1) “a place that is a popular destination for vacations or recreation, or which is frequented for a particular purpose, or 2) “the action of turning to and adopting a strategy or course of action, especially a disagreeable or undesirable one, so as to resolve a difficult situation.”
    Neither, of course, lends any meaning to the phrases in the scriptural record. However, if we turn to the meaning of the word Joseph Smith would have known, as found in Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, we find the meaning of resort as “other means of defense.” While that is not completely clear, we have the exact meaning from Mormon himself, when he said Moroni was “erecting small forts, or places of resort” (Alma 48:8).
    Thus we find that a “resort” as Mormon used it was a “small fort,” typically understood as an “outpost” or an area away from the main camp or fort—usually “at a distance from the main body of an army.” Such places are used for early warning systems where soldiers on guard can warn of an advancing threat or army approaching. Such warnings are seen in the scriptural record (Alma 49:1; 50:5). In fact, King Noah, much earlier than Moroni, and living inside Lamanite territory, built watch towers so he could be warned of approaching Lamanite forces (Mosiah 11:12; 19:6). Even Alma had some type of warning system when he was “apprised of the coming of the king’s army” (Mosiah 18:34).
    These resorts were different than forts Moroni built. Where forts were large and housed many men and much equipment, resorts were very small, with the purpose of providing surveillance of a valley, canyon, river, or military movement points. Moroni built these forts of security and fortified others (Alma 49:13)
Peruvian Andes are full of isolated outposts built up on the mountain sides or peaks that overlook valleys and canyons that lead to ancient cities—the perfect places for observation and early warning
    When Mormon wrote: “they being the most acquainted with the strength of the Nephites, and their places of resort,” suggests that the Zoramite defectors Amalikiah put in charge of the Lamanite army understood where these warning outposts were so they could avoid going in areas where a Nephite warning could be raised regarding their approach.
    It also appears that all the Nephite cities in the Land of Zarahemla, and probably elsewhere, were fortified as defensive posts against Lamanite attacks (Alma 50:10; 51:27; 52:2, 17; 53:7; 55:27), some of which were eventually captured by the Lamanites. Such fortifications would have been quite strong and difficult to defeat, for when the Lamanites dide overwhelm a city (Alma 51:25-26), they were secure inside those fortitified areas against the Nephites who attempted to recapture them (Alma 51:27).
    Where cities were not as strongly fortified, Moroni placed a greater number of men (Alma 48:9), thus he fortitified and strengthened all the land that was held by the Nephites. And most, if not all, Nephite cities were walled (Mosiah 7:10; 9:8; 22:6; Alma 50:5; 53:5; 55:20; 62:20-22; Helaman 1:21; 13:4; 14:11; 16:1), many of which were made of stone (Alma 48:8).
    Forts are mentioned in the record where battles and fighting took place (Alma 49:19; 51:27) and fortifications erected (Alma 50:10), as well as fortified cities (Alma 55:26) especially in those parts of the land which were most exposed to the Lamanites (Alma 62:42)
    Based on the overwhelming indication that nearly every Nephite city was walled, and those walls could be stood upon (Helaman 13:4; 14:11; 16:1-2, 7), these were not wooden stockade or polled palisade type wooden walls, but something sturdy and substantial where a man could climb upon and stand while delivering a lengthy address to the people below.
Samuel the Lamanite standing upon the city stone wall and preaching to the Nephites. He would not have been able to stand upon a stockade or wooden wall like the ones shown as suggested by some Theorists
    Nor are these a singular wall, but written in the plural of a single city suggests walled all around (Alma 62:23; Helaman 1:21). The terms wall and walls are also used to describe those that contained the prisons (Helaman 5:27). Now these walls trembled, as if about to tumble to the earth (Helaman 5:31), which is not describing a wooden fence, but a stone wall, for “it came to pass that the earth shook again, and the walls trembled” (Helaman 5:32). Wooden stockade walls or polled fences do not tremble or tumble, as in “and the walls did tremble again, and the earth shook as if it were about to divide asunder” (Helaman 5:33), and certainly if they were of wood, the fire that encircled them about would have caught hold, but “neither did it take hold upon the walls of the prison” (Helaman 5:44). We find that prison walls shook mightily and were rent in twain so that they fell to the earth (Alma 14:27). One could hardly write this regarding a wooden fence—this is all applicable to stone walls.
Ancient prisons were all made with stone walls, some cut right out of existing stone and others erected  of stone
    In addition, stone walls were erected to keep the Lamanite forces from gaining a foothold in the north, as shown when Moroni was “building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land,” some of these walls would have been defensive positions stretching across the land to stop Lamanite advancement. We see this in some of Moroni’s work when he “fortified the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the land of Zarahemla and the land of Nephi” (Alma 50:11), and also when his son, Moronihah did “fortify against the Lamanites, from the west sea, even unto the east; it being a day's journey for a Nephite, on the line which they had fortified and stationed their armies to defend their north country” (Alma 4:7).
    Thus, it would seem likely that the Nephites built their fortifications out of stone—not only cities and walls, but their forts and fortifications. Naturally, some outer defense strongholds were made of wood (Alma 50:2), especially those of a temporary nature, but even in the description these are outer fortifications meant to keep an enemy from approaching “the walls of the city” (Alma 50:5). And these were “also building 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).
This small, stone-walled outpost “resort” was built on the side of a mountain, difficult to reach, hard to be surprised, and sturdy against attack, with a view of the valley below and the approach to a major city area
    Certainly any early warning outpost would have been built of stone to defend its small garrison against any approaching force. To think that these resorts, or small forts, would have been made of wood is simply to ignore the reality of warfare.
    Thus, any effort to locate the Land of Promise today would have to include the remnants or ruins of stone fortifications, walls and outposts in whatever area one might think the Land of Promise was located. To ignore this important fact is to ignore all that Mormon wrote about the walls and stonework he describes.
(See the next post for another of these Land of Promise factors described by Mormon that should help on to understand where the Land of Promise was located)


  1. Del.. I love that your teachings are sinking in with me. Today when I started reading this post.. I saw the word resort. I immediately opened up the 1828 Dictionary to see what the word meant back then. Then I looked up the word in today's dictionary. I was going to comment about it but decided before I did.. I would continue to read your post. And wouldn't you know it.. here you go and cover the difference between today's definition and that which Joseph would have understood it to mean.

    It sure does add clarity to what is being read when you seek for the correct understanding of what is really meant by what is written. Thanks again!

  2. Thank you for your comment. I think the scriptural record becomes more alive when you know and understand the words Joseph used and their meaning at the time he used them. I find it also much more interesting and exciting to understand the events that took place and how they would have unfolded in that time based on the descriptions given. I have never enjoyed reading the BOM like a novel. To me it is a very intensive and understandable teaching text, but one has to do more than just read words--it is why, I think, we have been told for a very long time to ponder the scriptures, study them, learn them, etc.

  3. Here are another few words that had me rethinking many things:

    POLYG'AMY, noun [Gr. many, and marriage.] A plurality of wives or husbands at the same time; or the having of such plurality. When a man has more wives than one, or a woman more husbands than one, at the same time, the offender is punishable for polygamy Such is the fact in christian countries. But polygamy is allowed in some countries, as in Turkey.


    VIR'GIN, noun nearly vur'gin. [Latin virgo.]

    1. A woman who has had no carnal knowledge of man.

    2. A woman not a mother.

  4. Two things:

    1) There is no reason why timber palisades cannot "tremble" or have some depth with a platform at the top for standing. The Book of Mormon indicates both stone and timber fortifications. Consider Alma 48:1, Alma 50:2 and 53:1

    8 Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.
    2 And upon the top of these ridges of earth he caused that there should be timbers, yea, works of timbers built up to the height of a man, round about the cities.
    3 And he caused that upon those works of timbers there should be a frame of pickets built upon the timbers round about; and they were strong and high.

    2) Suggest looking to the OED archaic English rather than to an 1828 Dictionary for Book of Mormon word definitions. Royal Skousen (author of The Book of Mormon, The Earliest Text) has pretty clearly established that the Book of Mormon is written in Early Modern English, similar to the KJV Bible, and definitely not Joseph Smith 1820's English.