Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part IX – The Sea That Divides the Land

Continuing from the last post regarding the many descriptions Mormon, Ether and others wrote about the land they knew so well, and lived in all their lives, that are vital for us to consider when claiming a current location of that land. 
    As an example, Ether tells us that the Jaredites “built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20).
    So what land was divided?
Top: An example of the two land masses of Mormon’s Land of Promise description; Bottom: Where the Narrow Neck, Desolation, Land of Many Waters and the Narrow Neck would be located in the example
    Mormon describes two specific land masses in the Land of Promise. One he referred to as the "Land Northward" (Alma 22:31; Mormon 2:29), which contained a land called "Desolation" (Alma 22:30) and also the "Land of Cumorah," which was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains (Mormon 6:4). The other or second land mass Mormon called the "Land Southward" (Alma 22:32; Mormon 2:29), where "Bountiful" was located in the far north.
    Between these two lands Mormon tells us was a small (Alma 22:32) or narrow (Alma 63:5) neck of land—it being the only land keeping the entire Land Southward from being surrounded by water (Alma 22:32). Thus, this narrow neck was the only land between the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and within it was a narrow pass or passage, which ran between the Land Northward (Alma 52:9) and the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29; 3:5), and ran by the sea that was on the east and on the west (Alma 50:34).
    Now this narrow neck of land was by the sea that divided the land (Ether 10:20).
    In addition, there were seas to the north and south, and to the east and west (Helaman 3:8) of the entire Land of Promise, from the Land Southward to the Land Northward (Helaman 3:8), and these seas surrounded the entire Land of Promise since Jacob tells us, and Nephi confirms it, that their land was an island (2 Nephi 10:20)
    So what sea divided the land?
    Since we are dealing here with an island that has two major land masses, one to the north and one to the south, with a narrow neck of land in between, and the sea that divided the land was by this narrow neck of land, the only option is that this land’s division was some type of bay, gulf or inlet where the sea separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward.
    In 1828, the word “divide” meant to “part or separate,”  or “separate into two parts,” and has the same meaning today. Thus, the Land of Promise was separated into two parts, the Land Northward and the Land Southward, connected by a small neck of land (Alma 22:32).
    Consequently, Lehi’s Land of Promise was not only an island, but one with two major land masses divided by a large waterway that ran on either side of the narrow neck that connected the land masses.
An example of Mormon’s descriptions, with (top) two land masses connected by a narrow neck of land with (bottom) a sea that divides the land
    If we take Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Ether at their word, then we have to recognize a shape of the Land of Promise somewhat similar to that above. The problem is, that most Theorists champion an area (Mesoamerica, which is an isthmus; Baja, which is a peninsula; the U.S. Heartland, which is an extensive plain with no seas or mountains; or the Great Lakes, which is a land of lakes and rivers, but no seas or mountains)—none of which are or were two land masses separated by a small neck of land—and does not match the prophets’ descriptions.
    This, then, leaves one with the problem of either Mormon and the others did not know what they were writing, or Joseph Smith did not know what he was translating, or the Spirit was willing to let the scriptural record be fraught with errors. Or, one can recognize and accept the fact that the prophets knew what they were writing about, Joseph Smith knew what he was translating, and the Spirit verified the accuracy of the translation.
    You choose.
    Thus, we can read Nephi, Jacob, Mormon and Ether and accept their writing the way it was written, Joseph Smith’s accurate translation, and the Spirit’s verification of the correctness of the scriptural record. In doing so, we have a Land of Promise that looks somewhat like the example island above.
    These are, in fact, the only two choices available.
    What is not a choice are dissertations like that of John L. Sorenson in trying to convince us that the Nephites did not mean our north, south, east and west, as Mormon wrote it, but that they had a compass system nearly 90º off from ours, allowing an east-west Mesoamerica to replace the north-south Land of Promise; neither is it a choice to follow Wayne May and Rod Meldrum’s inland (Heartland) location by claiming Lehi sailed up the Mississippi River, or the choice of Phyllis Carol Olive (and others) who claim Lehi sailed up the St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes, when every water-resource scientist of flood extent and river depth knowledge know those waterways (and all eastern US. inland waterways) were blocked by shoaling, shallow water, impassable rapids, etc., so that a vessel could not sail inland any distance until after the U.S. Corps of Engineers dredged and opened them up to ship travel in the 18th and 19th centuries.
    Even today hopper dredge wheelers are maintained by the corps of Engineers and operated 24/7 to keep these normally shallow waterways that have been dredged and deepened at acceptable depths for ship traffic, with annual dredging schedules calculated for fiscal years well in advance. These specialty ships are built to provide maintenance dredging, and research and development to maintain knowledge of the latest dredging principles, technology, and design along the U.S. inland water system.
Water, silt and sand is pumped from the bottom of the Mississippi River and discharged from an outlet in the bow of the hopper dredge Wheeler
    In fact, from 1824 through 1936, the country was primarily involved in “single-purpose navigation projects” of dredging, clearing, removing jetties, digging canals, and building locks and dams—one of these was the Lachine Canal around Montreal to bypass the impassable Lachine Rapids and connecting the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario in 1825, the channel between Quebec and Montreal in 1851, and the dredging and locks built along the St. Lawrence Seaway, which allows ships to travel from the Atlantic all the way to Lake Ontario, a route impossible before this work was commenced. In fact, seven canals had to be dug to complete this seaway: Lachine, Soulanges, Cornwall, Willaimsburg, Farran Point, Rapide Plat and Galop Canals. In 1936, this single-purpose switched to multi-purpose projects, including continued dredging as well as building new waterways, canals, and inter-waterway links.
    When one looks on a map for a route, neither rapids or shallows, nor the difference in elevation, which ultimately requires locks, are evident. However, when trying to sail up a river or along an inland waterway, rapids, shoals, shallows and elevation are all extremely important.
    As an example, the nine mile-long Cedar Rapids on the St. Lawrence has the fastest current in the river (nearly 30 mph), with the first mile filled with treacherous reefs, whitecaps and whirlpools. Not until 1843 did the first ship (the specially rapids-designed steamboat Ontario) successfully descended the rapids, though the precision required was the result of many years of experience; however, no other ship attempted the dangerous descent for 15 more years. In addition, the Lachine Canal, which was built to overcome the first obstruction to navigation on the St. Lawrence route, is nine miles long and has five locks with a total rise in locks of 46 feet in elevation. These rapids have never been descended by any ship, even those specifically designed for that purpose, and many were lost before the canal was dug.
Top Left: The steamboat Ontario attempting to make a descent over the Cedar Rapids; Top Right: A boat trying to pass over the Lachine Rapids near Montreal, which had to turn back; Bottom Left: The Point Cascades along the St. Lawrence; Bottom Right: The Cornwall Rapids. All of these obstacles to navigation had to be overcome for ship travel to extend from Montreal to Lake Ontario. By the mid 1800s, special ships were built (“Rapids Runners”) to pass over the rapids—few were successful
    Nor was the experience on the Mississippi River much different. Passage northward beyond New Orleans was impossible for any kind of ship other than a flat-bottomed paddle wheelers, and those could not get beyond Baton Rouge until the river was dredged in the 1800s (see other posts on this issue).
    The point of all this is, theorists, for one reason or another, latch onto a specific area that they feel is the Land of Promise and from that point on, only look for verification of that location through the scriptural record, science, or historical means—usually using whatever source agrees and supports their viewpoint and rejecting or ignoring all others. When the scriptural record does not agree or support their view, they spend considerable effort in trying to show why the scriptural record is wrong and they are correct.
    However, to find the correct location for the Land of Promise, one must use the scriptural descriptions as they were written and translated without trying to alter them or change their meaning. These past several posts have attempted to show how and why that needs to be done.
(See the next post for another of these Land of Promise factors described by Book of Mormon prophets that should help us to understand where the Land of Promise was located)

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