Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A Critique of the Jaredite Route Southeast, Then South--Part I

Some time ago we received an extensive criticism of our suggested southeast and south route for the Jaredites toward the Great Sea. It came in response to a brief series of articles in this blog and, in part, was critical of the lack of citations. 
    Since we have been publishing a series of articles (over 20) regarding the Jaredites here, it seemed logical to answer this lengthy criticism now, consequently, we submit the following critique, along with our responses:
The Jaredite route from their homeland to the promised land that Bret T has critiqued
    Bret T: “Where are you getting your information? You have provided no citations of anything either in the scriptures or in scientific publications as justification for this route, and that worries me greatly, especially considering the numerous gaping holes in it.”
    Response: While space does not always allow for lengthy articles, let alone all the citations involved, we try to condense them into a series of articles from time to time, including a few sources; however, our published books have hundreds, even thousands of citations covering just about every point we discuss in our blog. At the same time, while we are often suggesting points of view not supported by the scientific community, nor other Theorists regarding the Land of Promise, our overall point may not have a citation, but the information supporting it often does.
    Bret T: “There is no evidence in the Book of Ether of traveling in any particular direction arriving in the valley of Nimrod.”
    Response: Moroni abridged the Ether record and condensed this direction to: “And when thou hast done this thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward” (Ether 1:42). So we need to find a valley that is northward and down from the Jaredite homeland. 
The flat plain of Mesopotamia rises slightly from the Persian Sea toward the northwest to the Mediterranean and Turkey
    The problem is, the topography of Mesopotamia is flat and rising from the Persian Gulf northward to the area of ancient Nineveh (modern Mosul) in northern Iraq, as any geographical writing, map, etc., will tell you. According to the CIA World Factbook (August 23, 2014), the Gulf at this point is at sea level (0 elevation) and Mosul/Nineveh, is at 719-feet elevation (at airport). About halfway in between is Lake Tharthar, a natural depression that was 10 feet below sea level prior to its being filled by diverting the Tigris River (see previous articles on this). Just to the south of this is Falluja at 154 feet elevation, which makes the Tharthar Valley depression 164 feet deeper (equivalent to a 16 story building) than the surrounding and rising elevation—the only such depression and anciently known valley existing along the Mesopotamia area northward from Babylon or the area of the Jaredites.
    Bret T: “In fact, I would say that the phrase "Where never there had been man" in Ether 2:5 negates any notion that they followed the Tigris river downstream, as that area was populated.
    Response: Actually, all of Mesopotamia was inhabited at this time, 225 years after Noah’s Ark landed somewhere to the north and  a little east of this area. In addition, the area around the Black and Caspian Seas was also occupied at this time. The sons and grandsons of Noah settled basically in each direction moving away from the Ark. In two hundred years, a fairly large population would have existed all over the western Asian region (see future article in this series).
The expansion of Noah’s family. In addition, Japheth’s descendants circled around the top of the Black Sea and settled within the Black and Caspian Seas region
    In addition, the term you quote has nothing to do with the immediate area, but of an eventual destination. “The Lord commanded them that they should go forth into the wilderness, yea, into that quarter where there never had man been. And it came to pass that the Lord did go before them, and did talk with them as he stood in a cloud, and gave directions whither they should travel” (Ether 2:5). Note that the Jaredites did travel in the wilderness (Ether 2:6), and several years later, after their four year hiatus at the seashore, Jared says, “for these many years we have been in the wilderness” (Ether 3:3)—but they had not yet reached the promised land!
    After all, the destination, “that quarter where there never had been man” was the land the Lord promised to the Jaredites, and later to Lehi. It was the Land of Promise, and even after several years, the Jaredites had not yet reached that quarter.
    Bret T: “It seems that you're making a lot of blind conjectures here and shouldn't be publishing it as fact, especially since you make it fit so nicely with Lehi's journey, a correlation for which there is no Book of Mormon evidence. More likely they continued in another direction entirely before arriving at an ocean.”
    Response: Perhaps the reason it "fits so nicely" is because it is what the scriptural record is telling us. As an example, when Lehi reached the area along the Arabian seashore he called Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5), they found much fruit and wild honey, Nephi said, “These things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish” (1 Nephi 17:5). This area of Salalah, the inlet of Khor Rori, which matches these two (and other) scriptural references, was not occupied until at least one hundred years after Lehi left, and perhaps as much as four hundred years, according to archaeologist findings. One might wonder, then, where the bees came from, which were never indigenous to southern Arabia, and where the fruit came from—the only scriptural reference to this is found in the Jaredites who traveled with “swarms of bees,” and “seed of every kind” (Ether 2:3), the latter producing fruit of every kind (Ether 9:5).
    Bret T: “It's especially insulting when you consider that unlike Nephi's sailing ship, the Jaredites' barges relied on wind and ocean currents to propel them to the Promised land…”
    Response: Nephi’s sailing ship relied on wind and ocean currents, and he specifically states that they were “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9). Wind, of course, drives ocean currents (see NOAA Ocean Service Education, US Department of Commerce; the Climate System, Earth’s Environmental systems series, Columbia University E&ES; Ocean Circulations Body, Climate Education, North Carolina State Univdersity; etc.)
    Bret T: “…and the currents from your supposed point of entry into the ocean would have led them to the tip of India, then along the equator to east Africa, then north back to where they started.”
The trade winds (green arrows) that blow out into the Arabian Sea from India and Arabia six months of the year are picked up by the southern counterclockwise sweep (blue arrows) of the Indian Ocean Gyre which in turn sends a drift vessel into the West Wind Drift and the Prevailing Westerlies (purple section) of the Southern Ocean. Numerous drift voyages have verified this route (red line) as do British and U.S. naval logs of mariners who sailed these waters over the centuries
    Response: Better go back and study ocean currents. What has been written in our books and on this blog on this subject are well researched and supported by every ocean current and wind direction study ever conducted in the Indian Ocean (see NOAA’s National Ocean Service Education-Indian Ocean).
    Bret T: “With no way to navigate, such as Nephi had in the form of the Liahona, the Jaredite barges would never have made it out of the Indian Ocean this way.”
    Response: You seem to be reacting to an emotional view; however, the facts are quite the opposite. First of all, the Liahona did not steer Nephi’s ship—he did, obviously with some type of rudder, though a sailing ship “driven forth before the wind” is not capable of steering just anywhere—only where the currents will take them. Besides, the brother of Jared asked “in them there is no light; whither shall we steer?” (Ether 2:19) We do not know whether they could steer the barges or not,  but the comment suggests some type of arrangement.
    Bret T: “One more inaccuracy is that your proposed route avoids mountainous areas, though clearly the Jaredites traveled through mountainous areas because we are told in Ether 12:30 that the brother of Jared commanded a mountain to be removed.”
    Response: You are assuming that he had a mountain move during this travel and before reaching the promised land. There is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest this. In fact, the placement of this in the record (chapter 12) during Ether’s lifetime, suggests that it likely took place in the promised land (Land Northward), otherwise, it would probably have been included in the narrative of the actual travel (chapter 2). However, it is not scholarly to speculate on something and then use that speculation to claim something is erroneous you don’t agree with. During the brother of Jared’s early lifetime, the narrative shows how he increased in growth from the repenting of his evil ( Ether 2:15) to the point he actually saw the Lord because of his great faith (Ether 3:4)—it seems only likely Moroni would have included it in this development if the faith needed to move a mountain would have taken place during this growth period. Far more likely it took place in his later life, of which we know nothing (he lands 6:12 and he is near death in 6:19—in that seven verses, we know nothing of his many years of later life other than that he was a spiritual giant and obviously accomplished and did many miraculous things over that stretch of some 50 or more years).
(See the next post, “A Critique of the Jaredite Route Southeast, Then South – Part II,” for more of Bret T’s critique of this Jaredite route and his questionable claims)

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