Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A Critique of the Jaredite Route Southeast, Then South – Part II

Continuing with Bret T’s acrimonious critique of our suggested route for the Jaredites from the Valley of Nimrod southeast toward the Persian Sea, then south along the coast and finally across the desert and into Salalah and the Great Sea. 
    Bret T: “So it is far more likely that the Jaredites continued northward from the valley of Nimrod through the Caucasus mountains, or through any of the other mountainous regions nearby, than that they stayed in the Tigris valley.”
    Response: First of all, to reach the Caucasus from Mesopotamia, they would have had to cross the Zargos and Alborz mountain ranges—an impassable barrier that was not achieved until thousands of years later. We have written so much about the impossibility of men, women, children, babies, animals of every kind, swarms of bees and barrels of fish negotiating the 4,000-mile trip from Mesopotamia to the seacoast of China that nothing more needs to be added. Secondly, there would be no need to have crossed the Caucasus, which are north between the Black Sea and the Caspian unless they were there to start with as Nibley claims, since it would have been out of the way to reach the Asian Steppes. Third, there is no Tigris Valley. Mesopotamia, which means between the rivers, was expanded long ago so the term mean everything between the desert and the Mountains along the Mesopotamian Plain. The Tigris is not in a valley, but along with the Euphrates are on a plain, or plateau so to speak, with valleys far to the north around the Euphrates in the area of Syria and the mountains at the extreme northern edge of the Fertile Crescent.” The only valley so named is that of Tharthar, now a man-filled lake.
The Mesopotamia Plain is comprised of two regions: 1) Lower Mesopotamia (includes Baghdad, Babylon, and the Mesopotamia Marshes; 2) Upper Mesopotamia, called al-Jazira (“the Island”), the northern plateau which includes Mosul, Nineveh, and Deir ez-Zur
    Bret T: “Just to be clear, I'm not doubting the scriptural record. I'm questioning your methods of 'conveniently' filling in the holes in the story with things for which there is no scriptural or scientific evidence.”
    Response: Interesting. You publish a definitive route into the Kur-Araz Lowlands of Azerbaijan (Aserbaidschan) along the Caspian Sea and call that the area of the Valley of Nimrod, or where the Lord met the Jaredites.
Red Arrow: Kur-Araz Lowlands, surrounded by tall mountains and the Caspian Sea, far to the north and east of Mesopotamia across nearly impassable mountains for the Jaredites
    However, these lowlands are about 600 miles northeast of Baghdad, and lies on the north side of the northern Iranian highlands. Averaging 12 miles per day over flatland with children, babies and all types of animals, etc., it would have taken the Jaredites fifty days to have reached this area; However, it would have taken three or four times as long over the Zargos Mountains, and then the Elburz Mountains, and then the 10,000-feet high Talysh Mountains along the Iranian-Azerbaijan border (or to the west the numerous ridges of the 13,400-feet Lower Caucasus Mountains running out of Armenia), if they could have made that trip at all.
Shinar was Nimrod’s kingdom. The area shown as the Ark landing is speculative, but close to where just about everyone has placed it. The travel line shows Noah’s movement down from the mountain and Nimrod’s eventual entrance from the east—the east side of the Tigris—into Mesopotamia. There could be no reason why Kur-Araz on the other side of these major mountains to the north would be named the Valley of Nimrod for it is not an area attributed to Nimrod or anyone else in the scriptural record
    At such a distance from Babylon (and even further from Sumer), there is simply no justification in naming this area the Valley of Nimrod. Keep in mind that Nimrod was the second son of Cush, who was the second son of Ham who was the son of Noah, making Nimrod Noah’s great grandson. Nimrod’s kingdom began in Shinar, a region encompassing Babel (Babylon), Erech (Uruk), Accad (Akkad) and Calneh (Genesis 10:10), and that Shinar enclosed the plain that became the site of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:2), and is considered a general synonym for Babylonia.
    The book of Jubilees (Lesser Genesis or Leptogenesis), an ancient Jewish religious work of 50 chapters, considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church as well as Bete Israel (some fragments were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls), states that the Tower of Babel was built with bitumen from the sea of Shinar, leading some to think Babel was originally located in Eridu (4 miles west of Ur in the area once flooded by the Persian Sea), where there are ruins of a massive, ancient ziggurat worked with bitumen.
    The point is that this area is so far from Kur-Araz Lowlands, and has absolutely no association in any way with Nimrod or the Tower, Shinar or Mesopotamia, that one can only wonder what might have led you to claim this was the Valley of Nimrod. In reality, it is not designated as a valley at all, but as a Lowland, Depression or Basin and is an extensive opening between the Major and Minor Caucasus and the Talysh Mountains surrounding it on all sides other than the east, which is the Caspian Sea—mountains that range between 13,900 and 14,763  feet.
    Bret T: “I feel that this is a good candidate for "the valley which was northward," and as such would have been the starting point of the Jaredite odyssey.  It may have derived its name from having been a favorite hunting area for king Nimrod, the great hunter.”
Response: Talk about making things up. Why would Nimrod have, at any time, been hunting in an area 600 miles from his area of birth and life in Shinar, which was his kingdom, and where he made a name for himself and gained his followers? After all, kings went hunting anciently to drive out the wild beasts threatening his people--something that would have no purpose or meaning so far north over these mountains. Nor could this be a “starting point,” since they started around the Tower in Mesopotamia, 600 miles to the south beyond tall, nearly impassable mountains that deterred travel of population and settlement anciently for thousands of years.
    Bret T: “As a result of this low elevation, this valley would be "down" from any point in Mesopotamia.”
    Response: Not so. Mesopotamia’s highest level, in the far north around Mosul, averages 748-feet in elevation. The Lowlands of Kur-Araz varies drastically in height. According to the State Committee of Land and Cartography of Azerbaijan Republic (2014), the Kur-Araz Lowland, reaches an elevation of 86 feet 11 inches below sea level at the shore of the Caspian; however, immediately moves upward to hypsometric levels of 1312-feet to 1640-feet, and then to 2624 feet to 3280 feet within the Middle and Lower Araz lowlands. To be exact, Quantitative Area Distribution, according to their hypsometric levels is: 18% of the area is located below sea level, 24% has hypsometric marks ranging from 0 to 656-feet, 15.5% is between 656-feet to 1640-feet (making more than half higher than the highest point in Mesopotamia), another 15.5% ranges from 1640-feet to 3280-feet, 19.5% is 3280-feet to 6561-feet, 6.5% is 6561-feet to 9842-feet, and 1% is over 9842-feet high. Stated differently, 58% of the lowlands range from 656-feet to 9842-feet, which means once again that most of this area is far higher in elevation than Mesopotamia.
    Bret T: “Where is this northward valley named Nimrod?  If the site of Babel were located, as is generally assumed, in the Tigrus-Euphates valley, the valley of Nimrod would lay somewhere to the north of present day Iraq or Iran.”
    Response: The scriptural record does not say “north,” but “northward”—“thou shalt go at the head of them down into the valley which is northward” (Ether 1:42). Northward is a term used continually in the scriptural record, both by Moroni and Mormon.
Left: Along the Mesopotamia Plain, the term north has always applied to the movement up the Plain (arrow) from the Persian Sea to the area of Nineveh (Mosul) in Upper Mesopotamia; Right: Showing the area that would be northward from Babylon
(See the next post, “A Critique of the Jaredite Route Southeast, Then South – Part III,” for more of Bret T’s inaccurate critique of this Jaredite route and his questionable claims)

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