Thursday, November 13, 2014

More Comments from Readers – Part VII

We continue to have comments, questions and criticisms being sent in from readers of our blog. Here are a few more with our responses. 
   Comment #1: “In a discussion about Nephi, recently, a friend quoted Nephi as saying he was exceedingly young when they first left Jerusalem. I’ve read where you claim he was 20-25 at the time, so how do I answer my friend?” Grover K.
Response: The quote is “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me” (1 Nephi 2:16-emphasis mine). Shortly after leaving Jerusalem, and while encamped in the Valley of Lemuel (1 Nephi 2:14) Nephi desires to know from the Lord the mysteries of God which his father, Lehi, knew and expounded upon. At this time, Nephi being the youngest in the family, and wanting to know what his father, a prophet of God, knew, was acknowledging his youthful state of mind and understanding of such knowledge. When he approached the Lord on this issue, he indeed felt “exceeding young.” Jeremiah had the same feeling when the Lord called him to be “a prophet unto the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5), Jermiah’s reaction was to say, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak; for I am a child” (Jeremiah 1:6). It is only natural to think of oneself as a child or exceeding young when coming before the Lord. While such men as Jeremiah and Nephi felt that way, it should be noted that in actual years, Nephi was old enough to call himself a man: “And now I, Nephi, being a man large in stature, and also having received much strength of the Lord, therefore I did seize upon the servant of Laban, and held him, that he should not flee” (1 Nephi 4:31-emphasis mine). One might wonder at a teenager or boy who could have held a man in check who was trying to escape. At this time, Nephi added, “And I spake unto him, even with an oath, that he need not fear; that he should be a free man like unto us if he would go down in the wilderness with us” (1 Nephi 4:33-emphais mine).
Oaths among the Jews were an important matter, like an honest man with integrity standing by his word. A man, such as Zoram, would not have accepted or believed an oath from a boy or even teenager. It was a man whose very nature was at the core of any oath and once given by Nephi, Zoram relaxed and accepted his word. A boy or teenager, whose very age depicted fluctuation, change, and lacking in knowledge and understanding, would not have had such an effect on Zoram.
    Comment #2: “I ran across a hand drawn map of the Land of Promise that is somewhat like an hour glass drawn by Josh Beckett in which he has the Land of Bountiful occupying the entire narrow neck of land, with a narrow pass to the south and the Land of Desolation to the north. Have you seen it, and if so, what do you think of it?” Quillan A.
    Response: In 1962 when this map and additional information was developed, Josh Beckett was 16 years old making his first journey outside the U.S. with his Uncle William Healey, an archaeologist, on a trip to Central America. They spent ten days touring some ruins with Beckett taking notes.
This was all turned into a picture-type scrapbook called The Nephiteologist—My Journey in the Lands of the Book of Mormon, by Timothy Robinson in 2006. There are nice pics and drawings in the book, but the map mentioned looks more like something drawn by a youth, with a minimal of information placed on it. The major issue with the map is the placement of a narrow neck running east to west, and a north south narrow neck of land containing the Land of Bountiful, which is contrary to the scriptural record. However, the major problem with this work, like with all of the Mesoamericanists, is found in the one statement in the book after referring to Orson Pratt’s own map of all North and South America to be the Land Northward and the Land Southward, “The distances are far too great, it makes much more sense to look at Southern Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula, and Guatemala and Honduras. This is, in part, because that is where all the ruins are!” This shows the mentality of Mesoamericanists who start with the location of the ruins, then try to find Book of Mormon matches in the land.
    Comment #7: “The desolation of the Jaredites began in the Southwest and climaxed in New York State. It is witnessed archaeologically by a widespread “cremation” burial culture, and archaeologists have found evidence of large-scale “bundle burials.” Surely it was a gruesome scene that the first Nephites to re-inhabit the desolate land northward were required to witness and clean up.” Mariam T.
Response: In talking about Nephites, who lived the Law of Moses (2 Nephi 5:10), to cremate anyone would be out of the question, as also would be bundle-burial for anyone since the Jewish law (Halachah) is unequivocal about burial. In addition, cremated remains are not interred in a Jewish cemetery, and the traditional laws of mourning are not observed after the passing of an individual whose body was cremated. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that this requires the burial of the body in its entirety, not after it has been diminished through cremation or in any other manner.
    Comment #8: “It is significant that LDS scripture nowhere identifies "the waters of the great deep", "the great waters" or "the many waters" that Book of Mormon peoples voyaged across, with the neighboring seas west and east of the lands of Zarahemla and Nephi. (1 Nephi 17:5, 17; 2 Nephi 4:20; Omni 1:16). Some argue that broad oceanic reference frames define the west and east seas of the Book of Mormon. But this line of reasoning conflicts, with the clearly local description of "the sea on the west and on the east" of a land based location "by the narrow pass…" (Alma 50:34). It can only be concluded, based on LDS scripture, that the American land of "first inheritance" extended to and included a place by the shore of a sea that situated west with respect to the land of Nephi. There is absolutely no indication in scripture that this "west sea" was salt water or ocean. To allege that the north, south, east, and west seas bordering various Book of Mormon lands are all oceanic bodies is to make extrapolations beyond what the scripture says (Helaman 3:8).  The logic that sea must mean ocean, fails in the case of many biblical verses that refer to a "sea" or "the sea" (Numbers 34:11; Joel 2:20). Even "the great sea" (the Mediterranean (Numbers 34:6) bordering the biblical Promise Land, is really an inland body of water” Broxton A.
The World's Seas (also called Oceans) are all connected with only the Caspian Sea in the eastern hemisphere actually a true inland sea--that is, disconnected from the world's oceans
    Response: I suppose this could be taken apart comment by comment, but let me just mention two points: 1) The scriptures certainly do identify the sea over which Lehi sailed. It was the Irreantum Sea (1 Nephi 17:5), which interpreted means “many waters,” which we know had reference to the Arabian Sea since that was the destination of the Lehi Colony tracing the scriptural directions. This Irreantum Sea, of course, opened into the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean and both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans—truly a sea of “many waters”; and 2) the Mediterranean is not an inland sea, but a portion of the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by land except for its opening into the Atlantic—only man has given it a separate name, but it is the same water. The Black Sea, because of the narrowness of the Bosphorus straits, is called an inland sea, but much like the Sea of Marmara, is connected by the narrow Dardanelles (Hellespont), because of narrow straits—to the Aegean Sea, which is a portion of the Mediterranean Sea, which is a portion of the Atlantic Ocean. In all reality, one could sail from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean and then all the way to the Black Sea through the waterways and Turkish Straits that existed long before man. Only the Caspian and the Salton Sea in California could be truly classified as inland seas (surrounded by land and made up of different water than that of the ocean). It should also be kept in mind that at the time of Lehi, the Jews only knew of the Mediterranean, Sea of Galilee, the Dead Sea, and the Red Sea, and probably the Persian Gulf, and knew that the Mediterranean (“The Great Sea”) opened to the ocean beyond. Their word for sea and lake was the same (yam), as in Sea or Lake of Galilee, so we cannot claim they separated those two meanings.
The Black Sea coast at Batumi, Georgia—it is connected through the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean
    On the other hand, the entire comment boils down to one simple statement by Jacob: “For the Lord has made the sea our path and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). During Joseph Smith’s time, an “isle” or “island” meant “a track of land surrounded by water in the midst of the ocean.” Jacob tells us the Lord made the sea their path—this sea was the Irreantum Sea by scriptural comment and over that sea they sailed and were led to an island in the midst of that sea. The reverse of your comment is actually true—nowhere in the scriptural record is that concept changed to eliminate that sea voyage and finding an island in that sea of “many waters."

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