Thursday, May 14, 2015

What is in a Scriptural Description? Land of Many Waters

Some people must think that the Scriptures are a bunch of suggestions or guidelines and not exact, or exactly what the original writers meant, since they feel free to make drastic changes in the meaning of the words written. As an example, Mormon tells us that the Nephites had been driven out of the Land Southward by the Lamanties.
And in the three hundred and fiftieth year we made a treaty with the Lamanites and the robbers of Gadianton, in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea, even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the land southward” (Mormon 2:28-29).
    Thus, in 350 A.D., after thirty years of warfare in which the Nephites had been driven into the Land Northward by the constant Lamanite attacks, the Nephites lost the entire Land Southward, from the narrow neck of land south, which would have included the lands of Bountiful and Zarahemla, which after the treaty, the Lamanites now controlled.
    Earlier in the record, Mormon takes a moment to insert a description of this land, each in relation to the other, to give us, his future reader, an understanding of where these lands were located within the overall Land of Promise. Starting with the Land of Nephi, which the Lamanite king controlled, Mormon stated: “which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness, which ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla, through the borders of Manti, by the head of the river Sidon, running from the east towards the west -- and thus were the Lamanites and the Nephites divided” (Alma 22:27).
Thus, a narrow strip of wilderness ran from sea to sea with the Land of Nephi to the south, which the Lamanite king controlled, and the Land of Zarahemla to the north, which the Nephites controlled
    Mormon continues: “the Nephites had taken possession of all the northern parts of the land bordering on the wilderness, at the head of the river Sidon, from the east to the west, round about on the wilderness side; on the north even until they came to the land which they called Bountiful” (Alma 22:29).
    So we have the Land of Nephi in the far south, the narrow strip of wilderness to the north of that; the Land of Zarahemla to the north of the narrow strip, and the Nephite controlled lands all the way northward to the Land of Bountiful.
All three lands Mormon describes are basically north of one another, from Nephi in the south to Bountiful in the north
    Next, Mormon tells us that this land of Bountiful “bordered upon the land which they called Desolation, it being so far northward that it came into the land which had been peopled and been destroyed” (Alma 22:30). These people who had been destroyed were the Jaredites and the Jaredite nation, which occupied the Land Northward and never settled in the Land Southward, preserving it for a hunting ground (Ether 10:21).
    Now this is the same Land Northward in which Limhi’s 43-man expedition to find Zarahemla ended up in “having discovered a land which was covered with bones of men, and of beasts, and was also covered with buildings of every kind, having discovered a land which had been people with a people who were as numerous as the hosts of Israel” (Mosiah 8:8). This land was “among many waters” (Mosiah 8:8), which is the name Mormon gave this area in his description of the final Nephite battle, in which he said, “we did march forth to the land of Cumorah, and we did pitch our tents around about the hill Cumorah; and it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains; and here we had hope to gain advantage over the Lamanites” (Mormon 6:4).
    Thus, Mormon tells us that “the land on the northward was called Desolation, and the land on the southward was called Bountiful” (Alma 22:31); that these lands were separated by a small or narrow neck of land (Mormon 22:32; 63:5), that could be crossed in a day and a half (22:32); and the entire land southward was nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck (Alma 22:32).
    From all of this, we plainly see that Mormon described a land that had two distinct parts or land masses, the Land Northward and the Land Southward, which was divided by a narrow neck of land, and that it was nearly surrounded by water. In addition, Mormon tells us that the Land of Many Waters was in the Land Northward, that the Hill Cumorah was in the Land Northward, and that both were in this land that was north of Bountiful.
    Now, when we look at Phyllis Carol Olive (The Lost Lands of the Book of Mormon, p 208) and her general map of the Land of Promise, we see several glaring discrepancies between her placement of these areas and the description Mormon gives us.
Olive identifies the Finger Lakes in New York as the (white arrow) Land of Many Waters and the Hill Cumorah in her model
    However, contrary to Mormon’s placement of this being to the north of the Land of Desolation, Olive has it to the East of the Land of Desolation…
And, despite Mormon telling us Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters are to the North of Bountiful, Olive places them to the East…
In fact, Olive does not even place Cumorah and the Land of Many Waters in the Land Northward at all, but far to the southeast in the Land Southward…
And even to the east of the East Sea, though nothing at all anywhere in scripture suggests anything at any time existed to the east of the East Sea.
It seems really strange that a serious writer in trying to define the scriptural record and compare its meaning to their own understanding of the location of the Land of Promise would so ignore the very scriptural record they are using as a basis of their writing. So what is in a scriptural description? Evidently, to Olive, not much at all. In one little map, there are five glaring major errors in placement of these lands to each other, even to the creating of an extended land to the east of the East Sea.
There are of course many other glaring errors in the map and her placement of locations, which we will show in the next several posts. But for now, it seems that there should be more connection between what someone writes and designs and the very scriptural record from which they draw their information.
(See the next post on comparing the scriptural description of ”Rivers and Fountains”)

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