Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Mormon’s Abridgement Part XVI – We Did Find Upon the Land of Promise – Part IV

Continued from the previous post, which covered the second of four critical descriptions by Nephi outlining the four specific areas that he wrote about finding in the specific area of their first landing (1 Nephi 18:24-25)—not elsewhere in the Land of Promise, but specifically adjacent to their immediately landing site.
    The first two of these—suitable landing site, Mediterranean Climate—were covered in the past two posts. The third point is covered in this post.
    3. A forest large enough to where both wild and domestic type animals were found;
    While Theorists debate the types of animals found in this forest, for the moment we want to center on the its specific location. In the scriptural record, Nephi spends some time on telling us about their eight-year wilderness trek, then the time spent on building a ship and finally their adventure on the first leg of the voyage when Laman, Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael attempt a mutiny, only to be cowered by the storms that threatened to sink their ship (1 Nephi 18:20).
    Finally, almost as an after-thought, Nephi includes the last leg of their voyage as an uneventful trip, finally landing on the promised land “after many days” voyage (1 Nephi 18:23). At this point in the record, Nephi introduces us to the four things that immediately followed, including coming ashore and pitching their tents, tilling the ground and planting the seeds they brought from Jerusalem (1 Nephi 18:24), then finding both domestic and wild animals in a nearby forest, and finally journeying about their new surroundings and locating numerous ores, including gold, silver and copper (1 Nephi 18:25).
A forest that begins just off the coast next to Lehi’s landing site and runs inland for several miles, including thick forested trees and different vegetation and topography would be required to meet Nephi’s description for the location of both wild and domestic type animals in the same general area
    The important thing, and what most Theorists fail to consider or recognize, is that all these events took place in the area near where they landed. This is borne out by the fact that in this area Lehi made camp and remained until he died (2 Nephi 4:12)--which was likely a short time judging from the lack of events mentioned. It was here, after landing, that Nephi was told to make plates of ore to engrave the record of his people (1 Nephi 19:1). Now, Nephi wrote upon these small plates an abridgement of what he had already written in greater detail on larger plates (1 Nephi 19:2, 4).
    It was son after, when Lehi died, that Laman and Lemuel and the sons of Ishmael began to seriously threaten Nephi (2 Nephi 4:13), and those hostilities increased (2 Nephi 5:2) and led to outright threatenings of death (2 Nephi 5:4) until finally the Lord told Nephi to leave and take all those who would go with him (2 Nephi 5:5), which he did, taking what appears to be nearly half of the colony with him (2 Nephi 5:6).
    In the record we find that the colony upon leaving the ship and going onto the land, pitched their tents—a phrase in Hebrew that means to make your dwelling, that is, when you “pitch your tent,” you “make your dwelling.” The word is taken from ‘ohel, which means “tent,” but also means “home” or “dwelling.” The word for tent in Arabic is beit, with the same meaning. Thus, when Nephi’s ship landed, they went forth (forward) upon the land and pitched their tents, or established their dwelling place or house or home there.
As has been mentioned earlier, this would have been very close to their landing place because of the age and health of Lehi and Sariah, and this is where the colony lived until Nephi was warned to leave. This pitching of tents, then, has the meaning that this would be their home, the place where they would dwell. While westerners would think in terms of building a stockade and wood huts, the nomad (Arab, or non-city dwelling Hebrew) would think in terms of pitching their tent—but it would have the same meaning. That is, when Nephi’s ship reached this bay and they disembarked, they immediately went ashore and found a suitable place to pitch their tents—settle in and make their home. It cannot be construed to mean that they traveled some distance before doing so.
    Pitching the type of tents they would have had would have taken some time. It was a laborious, time-consuming job. That is why when they traveled along the Red Sea, they did not pitch their tents every time they stopped. As an example, after the marriages, etc., along the river Laman and in the valley of Lemuel, Nephi says “we did take our tents and depart into the wilderness, and it came to pass that we traveled for the space of four days nearly a south-southeast direction, and we did pitch our tents again” (1 Nephi 16:13); consequently, they slept each night, but did not pitch their tents for four days. Again this is additionally borne out after they left Shazer and “had traveled for the space of many days, we did pitch our tents for the space of a time, that we might again rest ourselves and obtain food for our families” (1 Nephi 16:17).
    This is the typical Bedouin form of travel. You go into the wilderness, sleeping along the way, wake up each morning and travel again, and continue until you reach a certain point, such as an oasis where there is water, and need a lengthy rest for both man and animal, then you take the time to pitch tents where you plan to remain for at least a few days, if not much longer.
Hebrew or Bedouin tents. Top: large tent of three rooms, probably like the one Lehi and Sariah would have had, which would have included Jacob, Joseph, and Nephi’s two sisters living in while in the desert before reaching Bountiful; Bottom: Two samples of small tents, no doubt like the ones the sons had (1 Nephi 3:9), for Lehi had his own tent (1 Nephi 4:38)
    The traditional Bedouin tent was woven from goats' hair. When it rained the weave contracted and did not let the water in. In the heat of the summer the outside of the tent would feel very hot to the touch while the inside remained blissfully cool. In the winter when it is cold outside with a small fire inside, the reverse is true, and the tent stayed warm and cozy.
    Structurally, the tent and permanent stone dwellings of the Hebrews were alike. Both rectangular in shape and consisted of two sections (at least three among wealthy families). One section was the women's domain, kitchen, and storeroom. The other section was almost exclusively the domain of men and visitors—where hospitality was extended to guests, clients, and kinsmen alike. A third section was the sleeping quarters. Sometimes the Bedouin home included another section, where sick or very young children (or even small animals) were given care.
    Thus, when Nephi says they went forth (forward) upon the land and pitched their tents, they planned to stay there for a time, since the act of pitching these type tents was a time-consuming endeavor. They were so bulky and heavy that it took three donkeys or camels to carry a single tent.
Three camels laden down with a single Bedouin tent
    The point of all of this is to show that travel in the Land of Promise, once landed, would have been out of the question without some type of transportation, and in all of Nephi’s writings about the preparation, voyage and landing, there is no mention of bringing animals. It would have been almost impossible to carry their equipment necessary for their survival from the ship any distance at all without the use of camels or donkeys, which are not mentioned in the scriptural record other than what was later found after landing. Therefore, Nephi’s words make a lot of sense that they went forth on the land—went forward onto the land from the ship—and pitched their tents.
    Thus, near them should be not only the area for tilling and planting, but also a large forest in which wild and domestic-type animals were found. In the landing area of Chile, adjacent to Coquimbo Bay, La Serena and Elqui Valley (see last post) is one of the largest rain forests in all of South America. This is unusual since trees are generally considered to be excluded from semiarid regions by insufficient rainfall and their presence typically constrained by lack of insufficient annual precipitation. But in Chile, rainforest patches dominated by large evergreen trees are unexpectedly found on coastal mountaintops of 1500 to 2000 feet around 30º south latitude. And these are surrounded by xerophytic vegetation matrix that receives only limited rainfall. Such forests survive because of fog-water inputs prevalent along the Chilean coast. Despite their improbable location, they bear a striking floristic similarity to Valdivian temperate rainforests found over 700 miles to the south.
The diversity of the rainforest just south of La Serena and Coquimbo Bay, within a day’s journey, covering a wide variety of flora
    Not very far south of Coquimbo Bay is the beginning of Fray Jorge National Forest, encompassing this very large rain forest, one of several such patches of forest around La Serena. These forests depend entirely on the condensation of the coastal fog called camanchaca. In an area comprising 24,609 acres in the coastal area at altitudes from sea level to 2188 feet, there are cinnamon trees, terabinth shrubs, tepa trees and a wide variety of ferns that flourish some 700 to 800 miles away from where they normally grow.
    This constant coastal fog and unusual climate has fostered these forests for millennia and provide a unique combination of both a Mediterranean Climate in La Serena, and adjacent to the south a very different forest climate (Marine Climate) where the unique combination of these two climes provide an area where both agriculture and jungle-forest exist side-by-side.
This forest not only contains xerophytic vegetation, brambles, bushes, scrub trees and open slopes, along with the animals in that habitat…
It also contains trees of great height and dense jungle-like vegetation, trees, and undergrowth, and the animals that have that habitat
    As a result, we can see that any landing site chosen for Lehi needs to have 1) a suitable landing site for a 600 B.C. sailing ship, and a place to dwell nearby suitable for a new colony of about 50 people or more, including ample fresh water; 2) a place to plant seeds from Jerusalem, a Mediterranean Climate, that would grow exceedingly and provide an abundant crop; and 3) have a large enough forest close by where both wild and domestic animals could have lived.
(See the next post, “Mormon’s Abridgement Part  XVII – We Did Find Upon the Land of Promise – Part V,” to find the fourth of these four areas Nephi describes to be adjacent to their landing site, and crucial for any Land of Promise location to have—not just in the entire land, but specifically adjacent to the landing site, which is where Nephi placed them)

1 comment:

  1. Another fascinating and insightful post. Understanding "pitching their tents", what their tents were like, the type of area they lived in, etc brings the Book of Mormon to life and helps me better connect with Lehi and his family and their teachings. Thank you for your work Del.