Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What is in a Scriptural Description? The West Sea – Part II

Continuing from the last post with the very clear description Mormon gives us of the domain of the Lamanite king, and the location and size of both the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, and where Lehi landed.
The place where Lehi landed is called the Land of First Inheritance, meaning the first inherited land or occupation area of Lehi and his family. Mormon tells us this is on the seashore of the West Sea in the Land of Nephi toward the south (Alma 22:28) as described in the last post 
    Despite that very clear picture, Phyllis Carol Olive has decided that in her model, Lehi landed on the east coast of Lake Erie (her West Sea) in the Great Lakes region of the United States. She does this, despite the fact that Lake Erie was a land-locked lake, with no opening to any ocean or sea over which Nephi’ss hip could have traveled. But before getting into that, let’s restate the obvious from Mormon’s writing.
Top: As shown in the last post, this is Phyllis Carol Olive’s map with a white arrow showing the West Sea where she claims Lehi landed along the lower cost; Bottom: A larger map of the Great Lakes placing her landing site (yellow) for Lehi 
    While there are several problems with Olive’s placement, let’s take the obvious one—that of these lakes being land-locked. That is, while there is a waterway from the Atlantic to Lake Ontario, and another from Ontario to Lake Erie, they are not in reality as they appear on a map.
As it appears from any map today, movement from the Atlantic Ocean into the Gulf of St. Lawrence to the St. Lawrence River and down to Lake Ontario, Lake Erie, Lake Huron, etc., is a likely route 
    However, a flat map does not show the elevation of the land under view. As an example, in the diagram below, the St. Lawrence River, from the Atlantic Ocean to Montreal, rises (green arrow on map below) 20 feet in 850 miles; from Montreal to Lake Ontario, the river rises  (blue arrow) 226 feet in 18 miles through 7 locks; from Lake Ontario to (yellow arrow) Lake Erie, the water rises (red arrow) 344 feet in 26 miles through 8 locks.
The elevations and distances of the 15 locks needed to get shipping today from the St. Lawrence River to Lake Ontario and then to Lake Erie, an increase in water level of 570 feet from (white arrow) the level of the Atlantic Ocean to Lake Erie, Olive’s West Sea 
    Stated differently, in 600 B.C., for Nephi’s ship to have traveled from the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence River into Lake Erie, as Olive suggests, the ship would have had to sail upward 570 feet, equivalent to a 57-story building to get from the Atlantic to Lake Erie. In order for powerful, engine-driven freighter today, it takes 15 locks on the river in order to achieve that difference in elevation, and eight days to make such a trip—an impossible voyage for a wind-driven vessel in Lehi’s time, requiring sailing up vertical waterfalls hundreds of feet in height.
    In order for the ocean to have been at the height of Lake Erie for a straight in sailing route, the entire eastern U.S., from Illinois to the east coast and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, would have been under water.
    In fact, according to the New York Power Authority, who controls the water level of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario, before 1950, when the Moses-Saudners Power Dam was built, which straddles the border between the U.S. and Canada. As part of the larger St. Lawrence Seaway project, the dam’s 32-turbine-generators maintain a water level that allows ships to pass through into Lake Ontario through a series of locks downstream, “Stretches of low water and rapids prevented that from happening previously.”
The locks along the St. Lawrence that moves shipping from the river up into Lake Ontario where water levels increase as much as 344 feet in height (equivalent to a 34-story building). Before the locks were built, the St. Lawrence was a continual flow of huge waterfalls over which no kind of ships could pass 
    Now, if that is not enough to deter anyone from even thinking that Lehi sailed into Lake Erie as Olive suggests in order to make landfall as Mormon describes on the southern west coast of the Sea West (her Lake Erie), it should be noted, as we have reported in this blog many times in the past, that the St. Lawrence river was impassable from around Montreal further upriver toward Lake Ontario.
A series of rapids in several locations along the St. Lawrence River around Montreal (Lachine Rapids) and further beyond toward Lake Ontario inhibited travel on the St Lawrence to the Great Lakes for millennium until modern man dug around the channels, creating their own river flows in the 19th century
    The point being that getting from the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean to Lake Ontario or Lake Erie prior to the 18th and 19th centuries was impossible because of the shallow waters, rapids, and numerous falls that blocked even getting to the Great Lakes, then the difference in water levels, requiring locks to move ships up the 570-feet difference in water levels should convince anyone that Lehi never took a ship into the Great Lakes, and that the Nephites had no way of reaching that area which Olive and other Great Lakes theorists suggest.
    Once again, we draw your attention to Mormon’s descriptions of the Land of Promise, and specifically to Jacob and his sermon to the Nephites during a two-day conference in the City of Nephi after Nephi and those who would go with him settled there (2 Nephi 5:5-7). On the second day of this conference, Jacob begins by saying “And now I, Jacob, speak unto you again, my beloved brethren, concerning this righteous branch of which I have spoken” and goes on to explain their location, “And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    To make sure we understand this, let’s take a look at these four statements:
1. “…we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance
    They were driven out of the land of Jerusalem where Lehi, their father (grandfather, great-grandfather) had a home, property and much wealth (1 Nephi 2:4).
2. “…but we have been led to a better land
    The Lord guided them across the sea by way of the Liahona to the land he promised to Lehi and his posterity (1 Nephi 2:20).
3. “…for the Lord has made the sea our path”
    They boarded the ship Nephi built and set out into the sea (1 Nephi 18:8), and the Lord guided them across the sea Lehi called Irreantum (1 Nephi 17:5), from the area of Bountiful (along the southern coast of the Arabian Peninsula) to the land of promise.
4. “…and we are upon an isle of the sea”
    They landed on an island in the midst of that sea (1 Nephi 18:22-23).
    Once they landed, they “went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents, and we did call it the promised land…and we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds…and they did grow exceedingly” (1 Nephi 18:23-24).
    Thus, they did not sail up the St. Lawrence to Lake Erie, nor did they walk overland for hundreds of miles to get there. Olive can place the Nephites wherever she she wants, but if any theory is to capture the essence of the scriptural record, then it has to agree with the writing of that record. Olive’s map, location, and alignment of her Land of Promise falls short in every case and comparison.

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