Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Responses and Answers to Jaredites Posts—Part I

Practically before the ink was dry, several comments have been received regarding the most recent series we have posted on the Jaredites. It seems appropriate to answer them now, following the final installment on that series posted yesterday.
    Comment #1: “I am not sure of the purpose you covered all the deaths registered in the pioneer movement to Sale Lake City. What was your point?”  Kimberley Q.
Thousands died on the long journey crossing the plains from the east to Salt Lake Valley 
    Response: As was stated in the post you mention, it is interesting that not a single death is listed in the Jaredite trek across the wilderness and the Great Sea, a land distance of about 1650 miles (4000 miles if using Nibley’s route eastward). Also, not a single death other than Ishmael (which was probably from age) in the trek of the Lehi colony covering some 1900 miles. Yet, there were hundreds and thousands of deaths recorded in the pioneer journey across the plains from Far West to Salt Lake Valley, a distance of abut 1063 miles. The article and comparison was meant to show that if the Jaredites went over three high mountain ranges, through snow and ice in the passes, and where temperatures fluctuated more than 100º in a single day, covering 4000 miles from Mesopotamia to the coast of China, one might expect some mention of deaths occurring. The distance, hardships and suffering that must have occurred in such a journey for men, women, children and babies, is curiously silent—on the other hand, there is considerable mention of such hardships and deaths along the way of similar family movement of the pioneers to Utah covering one-fourth the distance, and except for two handcart companies, relatively simple travel by comparison. In the Ether account, we also learn that all eight barges reached their destination, which might suggest that the remark was meant to show that no one was lost on this sea voyage.
    Comment #2: “It seems like a rather lazy solution on the Lord’s part, as was his answer to the light problem. If you’re just going to give the Jaredites magically glowing stones, and then magically blow them toward America, why even bother with the two holes for air? Why not magically provide them with air, too? Better yet, why not spare them the hassle of building barges in the first place? Simply teleport them to America. That shouldn’t be too hard for a god to do.” Carlos S.
The powers of God are far beyond even the wildest dreams of man. He is not limited to what he can do—only by what he chooses to do 
    Comment: Nothing is beyond the power of God. Look at his creations throughout the universe. However, God tends to work through the natural laws he established. He also operates with the development and growth of his children in mind. After all, he has said that “this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). The way he typically does this is to allow (and assist) man to overcome the challenges and difficulties of life; and he does that through his natural laws. Man does not grow and develop where God does all the work—we grow and develop by learning how to accomplish those challenges set before us. It was Satan, you might recall, whose plan it was to save man from himself by forcing man to live in accordance with his will—God’s plan, which Christ carried out, was for man to earn his salvation by doing all within his power to do, then asking for help when he could not do it on his own. The story of the brother of Jared makes this quite clear.
    Comment #3: “There are dozens of anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, but dashable windows and transparent glass are my personal favorites. Glass itself isn’t anything new. It naturally occurs from volcanic eruptions, lightning strikes, etc. But transparent window glass was a Roman invention circa 100 AD. It strains credulity to believe that the Jaredites beat the Romans to this technology by nearly three millenia.” Brighton W.
    Response: Historians place the invention of glass, used for beads and vases, in Mesopotamia around 3500 B.C. Clay tablets of ritual instructions for glass-making written on clay tablets in a cuneiform script in Mesopotamia are dated to about 1300 B.C., and these instructions were copied and recopied over the centuries, with one group of clay tablets found in the library of King Assurbanipal (668-627 B.C.) detailing glass-making, which are currently housed in the British Museum (Glass and Glassmaking in Ancient Mesopotamia by Leo Oppenheim, 1988). Glass pots were developed in Egypt in 1500 B.C. Between 900 and 400 B.C., glass-making was at its peak in Mesopotamia. Glass blowing tubes (how window glass was made) was invented in Syria around 27 B.C., from which the Romans used the process a hundred years later to make glass windows. Thus the technology was actually invented in Mesopotamia, but only in the last century B.C.
    However, as we stated in one of our recent posts on this subject, there is nothing in the scriptural record to suggest the Jaredites had or that the Lord was describing glass windows. Only saying that windows would be dashed (see earlier post for meaning of the word “dashed”) by the violence of the waves. When one begins to criticize something, it is always wise to learn what it is you criticize before making statements that are inaccurate and non-existent. No glass is mentioned or implied in the scriptural record relating to the Jaredites or their barges. 
    Comment #4: “You are in error about the word kotetsu meaning “Sphynx.” Kotetso means “iron.” Ami K.
The Japanese ironclad Kotetsu, a ship with a storied career and many names     
     Response: Sorry for the misunderstanding. The term “Sphynx” was in parenthesis, which after the name of a ship, usually means its building name or number, if under construction, or its ceremonial or operational name (hull identity), as when launched or “christened,” or its previous name if it is an older vessel and has been resold, renamed or re-christened. The Japanese Kotetsu was built by Lucien Arman in Bordeaux, France, and originally named Sphynx as a ploy to get around the French law of not building or supplying ships to a belligerent nation—in this case, the Sphynx was built with the intention of supplying it to the Confederate Navy during the U.S. Civil War, which name was eventually to be CSS Stonewall. Lucient Arman was a personal friend of Napoleon III who was intending to aid the Confederate cause by building two iron-clad rams capable of breaking the Union blockade. To avoid    suspicion regarding the law, the ships’ guns were manufactured separately in England and the French ships were named Cheops and Sphynx to encourage rumors that they were intended for the Egyptian navy.
    Prior to delivery, however, a shipyard clerk walked into the U.S. Minister's office in Paris and produced documents which revealed that L'Arman had fraudulently obtained authorization to arm the ships and was in contact with Confederate agents. The French government blocked the sale under pressure from the United States, but L'Arman was able to sell the ships illegally to Denmark and Prussia, which were then fighting on opposite sides of the Second Schleswig War. Cheops was sold to Prussia as Prinz Adalbert, while Sphynx was sold to Denmark under the name Stærkodder. Consequently, in this particular case, the “Kotetsu” was actually given several names, though never sailing under any of them. To finish the tale, the Sphynx never made it to Denmark, was claimed by the Confederacy, sailed to Nassau, then on to Havanna, reaching there after the Civil War had ended. The Captain (Page) turned the ship over to the Spanish Captain General of Cuba, who then turned the ship over to the United States. It was eventually sold to Japanese government of the Tokugawa shogunate, but when the shogunate war ended, the ship was finally delivered to the Meiji government in 1869 where she received her name Kotetsu. 
   As for “iron,” the word “tetsu” means iron, as does kurogane, while “suchiru” and “hagane” mean “steel.” Kotetsu basically means “ironclad."

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