Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Nibley, the Steppes, and the Baobab Tree – Part II

Continuing from the previous post, and continuing overall with this lengthy series regarding the Jaredite Barges, it seems important to show the value of not only the tree used for the barges, but all its qualities that not only match the several incongruous comments about the Jaredite vessels, but all the criticisms that have been levied against the wordage describing them.
While the barges, or boats, Nibley envisioned and those of various Theorists who have written about the Jaredite crossing provide much fodder for critics of the Jaredite record, the Baobab tree used as the barges previously described in this series answers all the critics comments yet written. (See the book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica, specifically Chapters 7 and 8, and Appendices IV through XI, and the answer to critical comments about the design in Appendix XV, ”A Scholar’s Critical View of the Jaredite Barges.”)
    One of the biggest critical comments is about having food for the people and the animals for nearly a year in these barges. Yet, as described in these posts, the tree itself is a remarkable answer to the various questions of this type. As an example, the young leaves, fruit, pods and seeds all provide fodder for animals of all types, who also chew the bark and fibrous wood for sap. The swarms of bees, often another point of contention in having bees flying around inside the barges with people and animals, yet the tree in nature is a source of very fine quality honey. Wild bees manage to perforate the soft wood and lodge their honey in the holes, and hollowed out spaces are used for beekeeping in the wild.
    Another interesting point is that though the trees are resistant to fire, the long-fibered wood, once stripped, is suitable for firewood. The shell and seeds are also used for fuel, which potters use to smooth earthen ware. While the Jaredites did “not go by the light of fire” (Ether 2:23), the scriptural record does not preclude the use of this stripped wood fibers of the tree for coals to heat simmering foods and for warmth.
Also interesting is that these fibers are excellent for not only making cordage, ropes and mats, but also snares and fishing lines as well as fiber cloth for clothing. And since the Jaredites “did sing praises unto the Lord” continually (Ether 6:9), they may have had musical instruments of some type, and these fibers are used to make musical instrument strings. They also are used to make tethers, something necessary for handling flocks and herds of every kind throughout a year’s voyage, and also make bed springs and bow strings.
    Another valuable asset on such a voyage is that the ash from the shell, bark and seed, which is rich in potash, is used to make soap, and the pulp extract can be used as a hair wash. In addition, the bark is boiled to extract a substance poisonous to ants and the fruit pulp burns with an acrid, irritating smoke that can be used to deter insects troublesome to livestock.
    Though we have mentioned the medicinal value of the leaves, again, its hyposensitive and antihistamine properties are used to treat kidney and bladder diseases, asthma, general fatigue, diarrhea, insect bites, and worm. Leaf and flower infusions are valued for respiratory problems, digestive disorders and eye inflammation. The seed paste is used for curing tooth and gum disease, and gum from the bark is used for cleaning sores, as well as an expectorant and a diaphoretic. The bark is also used to combat high fevers, lassitude or listlessness, body pains, treat colds, fever and influenza. Seeds are used to cure gastric, kidney and joint diseases.
    The point being that for a group of people traveling in separate barges, cooped up against the elements for nearly a year, one might expect several maladies among men, women, children and babies—needing remedies otherwise not available at sea for a year. The properties of this tree would be ideal for any such voyage, providing everything one might need.
The one exception to all this might be in the lack of Vitamin D from sunlight, which is not really a vitamin at all, but a steroid hormone designed to be obtained primarily through sun exposure, not diet. Thus, for a year, the Jaredites would have been restricted from any exposure to the Sun. On the other hand, one solution to this might have been from the light originated from the stones the Lord touched. While this is merely speculation, at the same time, we do not know the properties of those stones and the light the Lord caused to emanate from them.
    In any event, when we read that the Jaredites “were driven forth; and no monster of the sea could break them, neither whale that could mar them; and they did have light continually, whether it was above the water or under the water” (Ether 6:10, emphasis mine), it seems obvious that the Jaredite barges were not built like boats of any type that man could build.
Consider that they “were many times buried in the depths of the sea, because of the mountain waves which broke upon them, and also the great and terrible tempests which were caused by the fierceness of the wind…when they were buried in the deep there was no water that could hurt them, their vessels being tight like unto a dish…therefore when they were encompassed about by many waters they did cry unto the Lord, and he did bring them forth again upon the top of the waters” (Ether 6:6-7, emphasis mine). All of this points out that the Jaredites had a very unique type of vessel, unknown in its day and for thousands of years thereafter—not until the first “submarine” was built by Cornbelius Jacobszoon Drebbel in 1620, was a vessel built to go beneath the sea.
Left: Bourne’s 1578 design; Right: Drebbel’s 1620 actual submarine 
    However, the Englishman William Bourne developed the first workable design as early as 1578 of a completely enclosed wooden vessel sheathed in waterproofed leather and submerged by using hand operated wooden screw thread plungers.
    It is difficult to justify the types of barges or boats that artists and Theorists claim the Jaredites built when we read: “For behold, ye shall be as a whale in the midst of the sea; for the mountain waves shall dash upon you. Nevertheless, I will bring you up again out of the depths of the sea; for the winds have gone forth out of my mouth, and also the rains and the floods have I sent forth. And behold, I prepare you against these things; for ye cannot cross this great deep save I prepare you against the waves of the sea, and the winds which have gone forth, and the floods which shall come” (Ether 2:24-25).
    Obviously, the Lord prepared them in a manner unknown to man, using one of his many creations that has gone almost unknown to modern man for centuries. No doubt there are readers who feel we belabor this point, but since there is so much disinformation about the Jaredite barges written and published today, which has caused so much unwarranted criticism of the scriptural record covering this event, we have spent sufficient time and wordage to make the point that all things in the scriptural record are easily understood if we choose to look beyond the apparent obvious and into the unique and awesome workings of the Lord.
    He knew the Jaredites could not cross the great deep unless he prepared them against the difficulties they would encounter. How he did it has baffled member and critic for decades—but the answer seems obviously simple. This series on the Jaredite barges and their crossing the ocean was meant to show how simple a matter it was for the Lord who knows all things, and why it was baffling to man who knows so little.

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