Sunday, October 26, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part VII – The Lord Has Made the Sea Our Path

Continuing from the last post with the many descriptions written about the Land of Promise by those who lived out their lives there and knew it so well, and specifically Nephi’s descriptions of their setting sail in the ship he built. 
    In the last post, we discussed the Lord telling Lehi when to embark on their ocean voyage and the winds and currents of the Irreantum Sea into which they launched the ship Nephi built, and the cause of the storm that turned his ship back the way it had come (1 Nephi 18:14).
    Now, after Nephi was loosened and the Liahona working again, he says of the uneventful rest of the voyage: “I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land…and after we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:22-23).
Of that voyage, which Jacob experienced, though very young at the time, he knew it was free from further incident, for regarding it later he merely wrote, “The Lord has made the sea our path” (2 Nephi 10:20). At this point, more than thirty years after the voyage (2 Nephi 5:28), Jacob drops a bombshell that few Theorists even consider, fewer still acknowledge, and even fewer will comment upon. Jacob said, “For the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20, emphasis mine).
    An isle of the sea
    That same sea across which the Lord made their path. Upon that sea they crossed they landed upon an isle.
    An “isle” meant in 1828 in the area in which Joseph Smith grew up—and who translated the Reformed Egyptian of the scriptural record into English by the Spirit of the Lord for our understanding—is defined as “an island surrounded by water in the bosom of the ocean.” That pretty much eliminates almost all models of the Land of Promise location cherished by the Theorists of our day.
    An island in the middle of the ocean.
    And upon that island, Lehi landed on the west coast .
    The West Coast!
     Mormon describes this landing area:  “on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). Area of “first inheritance” means the land where the colony first settled upon landing, which became that of the Lamanite inheritance, since Nephi soon after uprooted those who would follow him and traveled “for many days” to another location, which then became the land of first inheritance of the Nephites (Mosiah 9:1), which was the land and City of Nephi, which Nephi settled (2 Nephi 5:8).
This means, of course, that when Nephi’s ship was driven southward away from the Arabian coast (see last post) by the monsoon winds and currents, they could not have sailed westward around the cape of Africa for that would cause a landing on the “east seashore” of the Americas.
    So it seems without question that if one is going to find a location for the Land of Promise, it must meet these four requirements mentioned in the scriptural record and discussed in these last posts: 1) it must be a location that is reached by a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” from the Arabian Peninsula to the Western Hemisphere, 2) it must be an island, at least in B.C. times, 3) the island must be in the middle of the ocean over which Nephi’s ship traveled, and 4) they must have landed on the west shore of that island.
    Now since “The Lord has made the sea our path” (2 Nephi 10:20), this uneventful continuation of the voyage was across the oceans, following a course that the Lord had provided—a course where the winds blew toward the promised land and the sea currents moved toward the promised land, for when they “put forth into the sea and were driven forth before the wind towards the promised land,” those winds and currents took them in that direction (1 Nephi 17:8, 9). And when Nephi regained control of the ship and the storm passed, he “sailed again towards the promised land,” suggesting that these currents and winds continued in that direction (1 Nephi 17:22).
    So all we have to do is find where winds and currents off the southern Arabian coast that blow and move toward the Western Hemisphere. In the last post we discussed the southeast monsoon winds blowing off the mainland out to sea in a southwest direction. This means that any sailing ship dependent upon the wind would have left the Arabian coast and headed out into the Sea of Arabia in a southwesterly direction.
    So where did the winds blow and current flow from there? Since the Lord generally works under natural means well known to him, the architect and builder of all things, we only need to look at the world he built, the winds that drive the weather and cause the currents to flow to see where the winds and currents would have taken Nephi’s ship toward the Great Whirl and then beyond, out into the Indian Ocean Gyre.
    No other options are possible for a sailing ship leaving the Arabian coast. It would not have gone east, for the monsoon winds would have blown it southwestward. In addition, to the east the monsoon winds continued to blow off the mainland toward the southwest.
The monsoon winds blow six months inland (top left) and six months out to sea (top right). The full image (bottom) shows that it is not only across the southern Arabian coast, but also across India, the Bay of Bengal to the east of that and also even throughout Indonesia (far right). Sailing ships dependent upon the wind for propulsion would be driven in to land by these monsoons, or out to sea in a southerly direction—not to the east. Only early coastal trading vessels sailed along the coast to the east, not blue water deep sea ships that were driven by and dependent upon the wind
    According to Science Magazine, these monsoons off the Asian continent and India subcontinent are one of the Earth’s largest weather patterns—and creates the most wind and current intensity found anywhere. As an example, in some parts of India, there will be up to 40 feet of rain in less than four months, with an occasional drenching of a single town of three feet in a single day, bringing extreme floods and much death and destruction up to 1000 people a year and millions of acres of damaged cropland. This is because the Indian Ocean is bounded on the north by the largest land mass on the planet, and the effects of differential heating (the land absorbs more heat from the Sun than the surrounding ocean) causes this extreme differential.
    In fact, to the east, these monsoon winds not only blow off the all of the Asia mainland, but also through Indonesia, keeping any ship dependent upon the wind from moving eastward in that direction. And even if that doesn’t discourage Mesoamericanists from claiming Lehi sailed east, even beyond Indonesia, consider the case of Álvaro de Saavedra Cerón who, on October 31, 1527, was directed by his cousin, Hernando Cortez, under order of King Charles V, to set sail with three ships and 120 men across the Pacific from Zacatula, Mexico, to the Indonesian Islands, with the intent of uniting the American continent with the islands and open up a trade route between them. It was Spain’s fourth voyage to the area of the Moluccas and New Guinea (then named the Isla de Oro), but the first from the American west coast.
Saavedra could not return to Mexico from the Philippines after being sent there by Cortes because of the opposition of the winds in the Pacific. He not only was killed trying, but his ship had to sail on to the west and across the Atlantic to return to Mexico
     However, when Saavedra tried to make the return trip in 1529, leaving the Maluku archipelago in Indonesia for Mexico, he was unable to do so. He quickly learned that the winds and currents that easily brought him across the Pacific to Indonesia from Mexico were now working against him and he could make no headway. Three attempts failed, and Saavedra lost two of his ships and was himself killed trying to force his way into the winds and currents on a fourth attempt. The remaining ship returned to Spain by traveling in the opposite direction, with the winds and currents, going westward with the winds through Indonesia and across the Indian Ocean and across the Atlantic Ocean to Spain.
(See the next post for the continuation of this part of the series “The Lord Has Made the Sea Our Path-Pt II,” for the rest of this post regarding the course of Nephi’s ship being determined by the winds and sea currents)

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