Thursday, January 22, 2015

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

Continuing with Bret T’s 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. The earlier critique comments and our responses were covered in the previous two posts. 
    Bret T: “There is simply not enough evidence to publish a definitive route, and the one you are proposing is unsound.”
    Response: Interesting. The route in question is neither unsound nor unjustified when comparing it to the scriptural record—after all, that is the main criteria—that any route or issue abut the Book of Mormon, whether Jaredites, Nephites, or location, etc., must match the scriptural record. That is the point, is it not?
    And in this case, the route south fits far better than any other, especially a route east.
With the Valley of Nimrod in the Kur-Ara Lowlands as you suggest, only three routes from there to the east would be possible: 1) North across the 13,400-feet Lower Caucasus Mountains, around the Caspian Sea and east into the Steppes; 2) Build barges to cross the Caspian; 3) Take the coastal area around the southern Caspian, then up into the Steppes—of course, neither of these three include the 600-mile route from Mesopotamia to Kur-Ara over snow-capped mountains all the way
    An unsound route would be taking women, children, babies, swarms of bees, barrels of fish, and flocks of animals of every kind over 13,000-feet high, snow-capped mountain peaks, across a 1000-mile desert, the hottest in Asia, and along a 4,000 mile journey described as the most difficult trek that can be envisioned.
Reason alone would suggest the course shown in blue; the topography of the land would definitely lead one to choose the shorter route; the ocean currents and winds would only allow the route to the Arabian Sea
    Which seems the most likely for the Jaredites with women, children, babies, animals, etc., a 4,000-mile trip or a 1400-mile trip? Which would be more likely, crossing one 600-mile of desert, or three deserts covering more than 2500 miles? Which would women, children, babies, animals, etc., likely be led, across basically flat ground for 1400 miles, or over three different snow-capped mountain ranges, covering hundreds of miles, with passes at 8,000 to 11,000 feet in height? Which would be more bearable for the Jaredites, a single temperature, or one that varies as much as 100-degrees in a single day, from far below freezing to as high as 122º?
    Which would you consider the more “sound” route?
    An additional point is, why would the Lord not use the same starting point to take three different groups, Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites—all coming from the same basic area and all going to the same basic area—along the same basic route? Better than any Theorist, he knew exactly where the winds would take drift voyages from one place to the other, and the distance from Mesopotamia to the sea of Arabia is less than 1500 miles, and less than half of that is through a desert, compared to 4,000 miles with half of that through deserts and snow-capped mountains in the worst of temperatures.
One of the many mountain ranges the Jaredites would have had to climb over on their way off the Steppes and down into China After a 3,000 mile trek; how disheartening would that have been?
    Also, at Kur-Araz, the Jaredites would have had to be very close to the see where the land is below sea level as you point out to go "down". Is there any indication in the scriptural record that they are by a Sea in the Valley of Nimrod? Is there any indication they went over several mountain ranges? When one starts picking and choosing places and routes, it is imperative that those locations have some agreement and support from the scriptural record--one of which is an area where barges would be needed to cross "many waters." Kur-Araz simply lacks this comparison. Not even the Caspian Sea would qualify for "many waters," since it is a single body of water.
    In addition, the scriptural record says after they left the Valley of Nimrod, “that they did travel in the wilderness” (Ether 2:6) before they came to “many waters” requiring them to build barges. This would not have been the case from Kur-Araz, where they immediately would have had to build barges upon leaving the Valley of Nimrod to cross the Caspian Sea (Nibley’s claim) or go over the Lower Caspian mountains and not encounter any water until they reached the Aral Sea, and then there would have been no reason to cross that lake since going around it would be far simpler—in fact, there are no waters all along the Steppes that would require building barges to cross, and there never were glaciers along the Steppes and none in this part of Asia for nearly 3,000 miles to the north, in the northern extremes of the Atlai Mountains of Mongolia—an  area not part of the suggested eastern route.
    The scriptural record says that after they had traveled in the wilderness, and after they built barges and crossed many waters, they came to a “sea in the wilderness,” which the Lord commanded them not to stop at, but continue on (Ether 2:7). While this fits with the route we have outlined, it does not fit with any route from Kur-Araz toward the east.
Lake Balkhash (Balqash) in Kazakhstan, is 45 miles wide at its widest, but narrows quickly to between 11 and 5 miles along its 350 mile length. Though some think this might be the Sea in the Wilderness, it is not along any route that would have been taken eastward
    Bret T: “Despite the evidences of human population in the area of Bountiful, there is no indication that this population and the Jaredite civilization were the same, and to claim so is speculation bordering on fabrication.”
    Response: We are not just talking about an area being populated previously, though this area remained unpopulated and unsettled until long after Lehi visited Bountiful and left for the Land of Promise. The point of comparison is in the scriptural record regarding who could have left the honey and fruit “the Lord prepared for them” when Lehi arrived. Putting two and two together in the scriptures is not foreign to the meaning of “pondering” when reading the record. Numerous instructions have been given by the Brethren to members about pondering the scriptures rather than just reading them. We should be “thinking about” or “puzzling over” and “contemplate” what we read. When events lead to obvious conclusions it is not speculating and certainly not fabricating, which by the way, means “falsify or fake.”
    It is not much of a stretch to see that had the Jaredites reached Salalah (a much shorter and easier and far more direct route to the ocean than going across the Steppes), the honey bees they carried and the fruit seeds they brought, would have ended up leaving their sign later. While there is no record of anything like this on the China seacoast, it has been very obvious along the southern Arabian seacoast. The fact that the ocean currents of both places eliminates the one (China seacoast) as a choice for the Jaredite barges only lends to the obvious connection of the other (Arabian seacoast).
    Actually, when summing up the total comparisons, to claim the evidence presented does not indicate a population comparison between these three groups in light of the matching scriptural record to show these comparisons, seems more likely to be the one in error.
    Bret T: “A number of things favor an eastern course. For one thing, there is the great length of the journey: "for this many years we have been in the wilderness" (Ether 3:3), such a situation calls for vast expanses to wander in.”
    Response: It is hard to imagine anything favoring an eastern course; however, the idea that wandering for many years requires a 4000-mile journey is inconsistent with other events. As an example, Lehi spent some eight years in the wilderness wandering about 700 miles across the Empty Quarter (Rub’ al-Khali desert). Based on that, we are looking at about 45 years in comparison for the Jaredite trek, and Lehi did not climb snow-capped mountains on his journey. Besides, four of those years the brother of Jared mentioned were spent at the seashore (Ether 2:13).
(See the next post, “A Critique of the Jaredite Route Southeast, Then South – Part IV,” for the last of Bret T’s critique of this Jaredite route and his questionable claims)

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