Sunday, June 21, 2015

Are These Just Coincidences? – Part III

Continuing from the last two posts on how coincidental it is that all these scriptural references match Andean South America, and in many cases, match only Andean South America, if that land is not the Land of Promise. It is also interesting that very few of these scriptural references and descriptions match anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere. In this post on coincidences we will show Lehi’s landing site and conclude with the unusual coincidences surrounding this landing site along then West Sea, toward the south in the Land of Nephi (Alma 22:28), and Nephi’s detailed description of what he found there. 
   This coincidence involves the specific items Nephi mentions finding in the immediate area of their landing. Based on the scriptural record, after Nephi took back over the control of his ship, he writes:
1. “After they had loosed me, behold, I took the compass, and it did work whither I desired it. And it came to pass that I prayed unto the Lord; and after I had prayed the winds did cease, and the storm did cease, and there was a great calm. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, did guide the ship, that we sailed again towards the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:21-22);
2. “After we had sailed for the space of many days we did arrive at the promised land; and we went forth upon the land, and did pitch our tents; and we did call it the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:23);
La Serena, Chile, stretches from the Bay of Coquimbo, inland to the Elqui Valley, where crops grow year round in abundance because of the unique (Mediterranean) climate 
3. “And it came to pass that we did begin to till the earth, and we began to plant seeds; yea, we did put all our seeds into the earth, which we had brought from the land of Jerusalem. And it came to pass that they did grow exceedingly; wherefore, we were blessed in abundance” (1 Nephi 18:24);
4. “And we did find upon the land of promise, as we journeyed in the wilderness, that there were beasts in the forests of every kind, both the cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals, which were for the use of men” (1 Nephi 18:25);
5. “And we did find all manner of ore, both of gold, and of silver, and of copper” (1 Nephi 18:25).
Thus we find, that in the immediate location of their landing site, they:
1. Pitched their tents and settled down;
2. Tilled the ground, planted seeds brought from Jerusalem;
3. The seeds grew exceedingly and produced an abundant crop because of the matching climate;
4. Adjacent to their settlement was a large forest;
5. Within the forest they found “beasts of every kind,” including both domesticated animals (cow, ox, ass, horse, and goat), as well as “the wild goat, and all manner of wild animals”;
6. These animals were for the use of man, thus it is assumed they helped in the development of the settlement, plowing the ground, skins for clothing, meat to eat, etc.;
7. In their wandering about their new settlement lands, they found ore of every kind, including gold, silver and copper.
    The gold would have been visible in alluvial deposits (sand and gravel in stream beds) that had over time disintegrated from lode veins by water flow so that it was visible to naked eye as Nephi and others traveled about their settlement area. Very likely along the Elqui River, or one of its many side streams.
The Elqui River: Top: Yellow Arrows point to a split as the river forks in two, one of several places where this occurs, as it flows downward from then inland mountains; Left: The river flowing through the eastern end of La Serena; Right: The river as it flows through La Serena and nears the bay
    They would have also needed fresh water, such as a river flowing through the area, which also could have been diverted for irrigation of their crops. Keeping in mind that their numbers would have been somewhere around 80 people, one can imagine the amount of food, crops, clothing, drinking water, and other such necessities would have been required. In the beginning there would not have been a lot of time for exploring, and one of the first things Nephi did, after the discoveries mentioned above, was to make plates of gold (1 Nephi 19:1), both the large plates and those that contained the condensed version, which we now have as the Book of Mormon.
    So let us take a look at the landing site of Nephi’s ship along the coast of Chile, 30º South Latitude, at an area called Coquimbo Bay, and see what we find:
1. Bay of Coquimbo (meaning “calm waters”) is a perfect place to out of the winds and currents blowing up the coast along the Humboldt Current. The bay is seven miles long and three miles in depth from ocean to land, providing well-sheltered anchorage year round, and is a much frequented port along the Chilean coast. The water is 21 feet deep 800 yards from shore and shallows to 10 feet 200 years from shore.
Approaching Coquimbo Bay from the south within the Humboldt Current, the winds and currents die down around Point Tortuga where a vessel could steer into the “calm waters” of the bay
    In approaching the bay from the south with the winds and currents, both of which sink to a calm in the late afternoon passing Pajaros Rock along the tip of Pelicanos Head on Coquimbo Peninsula, and a vessel is subject to the prevailing swell and current moving in toward the bay if they steer in that direction (otherwise, the vessel is slowly moved along and eventually wept northward on the Humboldt Current and eventually pushed back out to sea and into the South Pacific Gyre by the bulge of Peru to the north).
    At this point, the Liahona would come in handy, since the approach to the bay is between two rock formations, one visible, the other sunken, with safe passage to the eastward of the inlets with more than 25 feet depth. Here the winds are moderate and southerly, or chiefly offshore, during the greatest part of the year, and are interrupted for short intervals only in winter by strong breezes from the northwest.
    Once steering toward land past this point, the ship is briskly brought toward the southern end of the bay where the water shoals gradually toward the beach, which is low and sandy.
    The area of settlement would have been on the northeast side of the bay, six or seven miles to the north of what is now Coquimbo. While it never rains in the summer months, there are three heavy showers, lasting from 16 to 36 hours each in the winter months, turning the arid region into a green verdure and colorful flowers.
    On the north side of La Serena runs the Rio Elqui, a river that runs in parallel branches that connects in La Serena and empties into the bay. Beyond that the beach runs for about four miles to the northern headland of the bay, Poroto Point, a low and rocky jut of land that builds to the north into Treatinos Point, the northern extreme of Coquimbo Bay. At this point the land lifts in ridges, which gradualy become higher as they recede from the coast to Cobre Mountain, at 1598 feet in height, with Mount Soldado at 3,900 feet beyond that.
Around the Bay of Coquimbo where Lehi landed: Yellow Arrow: Coquimbo; Blue Arrow: Poroto Point; Red Arrow: La Serena; White Arrow: Elqui River flowing toward the bay
    Copper mines at Higuera packed their copper ore by mule to Coquimbo for centuries, and on the south along the peninsula or curvature of the bay is Guayacan, where copper-smelting works are even today in operation.
(See the next post, “Are These Just Coincidences? – Part IV,” for some additional coincidences between the scriptural record and the Land of Promise in Andean South America where Lehi would have landed)

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