Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Who Were the Mulekites? Part III

Continuing from the last two posts about the Mulekites, and how Mulek escaped from Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians and made his way to the Land of Promise. As stated in the last post, it is most likely, because of the Babylonians controlling the entire Mediterranean, the Phoenicians, and the land round about, that the only route open to Mulek would have been the same route Lehi had taken a short time earlier.
Red Hatched Lines: The area controlled by Babylon from 605 B.C. onward. Yellow Area shows the heavily guarded Babylonian Frontier, which was the route from Egypt northward into Damascus, Syria and the northern Hitite country, which had been Babylon’s enemies and previous antagonists, whom they defeated. This region was heavily guarded—making any penetration from Jerusalem to the seashore to take a Phoenician ship out of the question. The Red Arrow: shows Babylon’s control of all Phoenician waters; Blue Arrow shows the only open area out of Jerusalem and that was to the southeast—a direction Babylon had no interest in because it was nothing but desert 
    Despite this very clear understanding of the Babylonians and their control of the Mediterranean coast from what is now Turkey to Egypt, as well as their dedication to bring every member of the Israelite Royal Family into captivity for their emperor, John L. Sorenson wrote: “The premier sailors of that era were the Phoenicians, who frequented Egyptian ports and were familiar with the waters of the entire Mediterranean. Since they possessed the finest seafaring vessels and the widest knowledge of sailing conditions, it is reasonable for us to suppose that one or more of their vessels became the means by which Mulek and those with him were “brought…across the great waters” (The Mulekites, p9).
    In addition, the Mesoamericanist Robert A. Pate wrote: “Also, it is very apparent from the diversity of their appearance that the people found in the Americas have multiple and diverse genetic origins. We know that Lehi’s family absorbed others: those Zoram, the servant of Laban; the Mulekites, and possibly some Phoenician sailors who may have brought the Mulekites and the Jaredites [to the land of promise]” (Mapping the Book of Mormon, A Comprehensive Geography of Nephite America, Cornerstone Publishing, SLC, 2002, p 18). Of course, the fact that the Babylonians jealously guarded their empire, the Mediterranean coast, and their vassals, of which the Phoenicians were at the time the Mulekites left Jerusalem is of no import to Pate, neither is the fact that the Phoenicians did not come on the scene until about 1550 B.C., six hundred years after the Jaredites came to the promised land—via barges they made, not by the hand of Phoenician sailors!
    Getting back to the Mulekites, we can see that the travels and planting along the way by the earlier Nephites would have certainly benefitted the Mulekites who followed, which gives meaning to the comment that the Mulekites were “led by the hand of the Lord” (Omni 1:16). This, by the way, is the same method of travel, leaving help along the way for the next group to pass that way, that the early Pioneers did coming across the plains from Far West to Salt Lake Valley, of which we read about mostly in the journals of those Saints, like that of my own great grandfather, Porter DowDell, who was assigned by Brigham Young to lead the second group of Saints into Salt Lake.
At certain points along the trail, Brigham Young had the pioneers plant seeds and get them started so those who followed would have a crop to harvest and eat along the way 
    We might even look beyond these two groups to the Jaredites before them, who would have been led to the same shore where they spent four years, no doubt planting trees and growing crops for their sustenance during that time and while building their barges, of which the later Nephites wrote: “And we did come to the land which we called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey; and all these things were prepared of the Lord that we might not perish. And we beheld the sea, which we called Irreantum, which, being interpreted, is many waters. And it came to pass that we did pitch our tents by the seashore; and notwithstanding we had suffered many afflictions and much difficulty, yea, even so much that we cannot write them all, we were exceedingly rejoiced when we came to the seashore; and we called the place Bountiful, because of its much fruit” (1 Nephi 17:5-6).
     If not planted by the Jaredites, then who? The area was uninhabited after the Flood until a couple of centuries after Lehi left there—and after the Flood, crops would not have been growing there that was not replanted by man.
    But such is the workings of the Lord, for he knows all things from the beginning and plans for them to be in place when and where he needs them.
    Of course, Amaleki tells us that the Mulekites landed along the coast and dwelt there from that time onward, which was where Mosiah found them. Since the Land of Zarahemla did not stretch to the Sea East, that means Zarahemla was off the Sea West, which was the seashore the Mulekites would have landed—not possible if they left via the Mediterranean or crossed the Atlantic as so many theorists want to claim. As Amaleki put it, “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16). Of course, to get around this problem, Michael M. Hobby, himself a champion of Central America, writes: “Even Amaleki himself seems not to have comprehended the full significance of their (Mulekite) role” (Angular Chronology-The Precolumbian Dating of Ancient America, Zarahemla Foundation, Coto Laurel, Puerto Rico, 1994, p 11).
    Naturally, Hobby living and writing more than 2000 years later considers himself to know more than a prophet who was an eye-witness to the events which he writes about.  Amaleki was born in the days of Mosiah (Omni 1:23) and lived into the days of king Benjamin.  His brother went with Zeniff back to reclaim the land of Nephi (Omni 1:30), and he was present when Zarahemla was first encountered, when the Mulekites rejoiced at learning of the brass plates, when the man Zarahemla learned to speak the Nephite language and gave his genealogy, when the stone of Coriantumr was translated by Mosiah, and when the history of the Mulekites was learned.  It seems rather clear from Omni 1:12-30 that Amaleki had a good working knowledge of the Mulekites and their history.
    On the other hand, Richard F. Hauck, seems to want to add other people into the Mulekite mix, when he wrote: “A segment of the Nephites abandoned the land of Nephi probably during the third century B.C. and settled at Zarahemla who included descendants of the migratory party accompanied by Mulek.  (Deciphering the Geography of the book of Mormon, Deseret Book, SLC, 1988, p 21). The scriptural record, of course, does not say that “the people of Zarahemla included descendants of the migratory party accompanied by Mulek.” The scriptures make it clear that all the perople of Zarahemla came from Jerusalem.  As Amaleki wrote: "Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah, king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon" (Omni 1:15). The scriptures do not suggest, hint, or intimate that there were other people among the people of Zarahemla than those who came out of Jerusalem, which seems reasonable to suggest would have been those of the Palace Guard and their families to whom king Zedekiah would have trusted the last of his line!
    Another interesting, but erroneous idea about the Mulekites is one put forth by Hobby when he wrote: “The fact that the city (Zarahemla) was initialy taken by force of arms is also masked in the record, though obvious upon reflection” (ibid, p 9). There is no reflection warranted that would change the wordage found in the scriptural record:
"And they discovered a people, who were called the people of Zarahemla."  And how did these Mulekites react to the Nephite presence?  "Now there was great rejoicing among the people of Zarahemla; and also Zarahemla did rejoince exceedingly." Why did they rejoice? "Because the Lord had sent the people of Mosiah with the plates of brass which contained the record of the Jews" (Omni 1:14.) And what was the result of this rejoicing? "The people of Zarahemla, and of Mosiah, did unite together, and Mosiah was appointed to be their king" (Omni 1:19.) Why did they unite together? "Because the kingdom had been conferred upon none but those who were descendants of Nephi" (Mosiah 25:13). And what was the result of becoming Nephite? "And I will bless thee, and whomsoever shall be called they seed, henceforth and forever" (Alma 3:17).
    There is no scriptural reference, hint, or suggestion that Mosiah and the Nephites took Zarahemla by force of arms. In fact, the Mulekites vastly outnumbered the Nephites (Mosiah 25:2), and were experienced in warfare (Omni 1:17).
    The problem is when trying to piece together the scriptural record as seen through the eyes of many theorists, is that they take you far afield from the truth and cloud the issues until it is difficult to wade through their imaginative ideas and locate the truth.
(See the next post, “Who Were the Mulekites? Part IV,” for the continuation of this regarding Mulek, the youngest son of Zedekiah, and how he came to be in the Land of Promise and found the city of Zarahemla, and who were his descendants and those of his people)

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