Saturday, July 18, 2015

Land of Many Waters and Fountains – Part I

The one single feature in the Land  Northward—the old Jaredite lands—that should be easily identifiable is the Land of Many Waters, stated by Mormon as: “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). 
    Specifically, Mormon gives us three descriptive terms to identify this area:
1) There are many waters—not just one large body of water, suggesting interconnected or separate lakes;
2) There were rivers—fast moving bodies of water flowing from lake to lake and separately;
3) There were fountains—the sources of the many waters.

A river fed by underground aquifers shooting water upward, creating mists over the headwaters--what are referred to as "fountains"
    It is interesting that Mormon uses the term “fountains” in his description since that is a term seldom applied to lakes, ponds, or other standing water. After all, a “fountain” is the “primary source” of water. Lakes and rivers (or ponds or marshes) are generally not a primary source and would rarely be described as such.
    Specifically, a “lake” is defined as “A large and extensive collection of water contained in a cavity or hollow of the earth. It differs from a pond in size, the latter being a collection of small extent; but sometimes a collection of water is called a pond or a lake indifferently. North America contains some of the largest lakes on the globe, particularly the lakes Ontario, Erie, Huron, Michigan and Superior.” These are usually fed and drained by rivers and streams, and localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake. Lakes lie on land and are not part of the ocean, and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are also larger and deeper than ponds, though there are no official or scientific definitions. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams, which are usually flowing, however most lakes are fed and drained by rivers and streams. It may be said, that rivers and streams are relatively fast moving; marshes and swamps contain relatively large quantities of grasses, trees or shrubs; and ponds are relatively small in comparison to lakes. Geologically defined, lakes are temporary bodies of water.
    Thus, in identifying this land of many waters, we would need to find now, or in the past, an area where water is sourced, i.e., where the source of a great deal of water is found emanating from the ground.
Yellow Arrows point to underwater springs forced upward by pressure from the aquifer, creating fountains that feed the lake
    Isaiah speaks of this in a future sense when he wrote: “I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:18). In another writing: “And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive, that we lose not all the beasts” (1 Kings 18:5).
    Obviously, fountains convey the source of a water supply, in this case, the fountains Mormon mentions fed the lakes and rivers, very likely in high ground in the mountains where the fountains cascaded down in types of waterfalls and rivers from deep aquifers
Examples of mountain aquifers, which is an underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials like gravel, sand or silt, from which groundwater is forced to the surface over a large area, creating numerous rivers, lakes and springs
    Springs form the headwaters of many rivers, created by rainfall, snow and other precipitation. These springs are forced to the surface at various points where the aquifer is deeply filled and underground pressures build up. This results in anything from underwater springs (shown in image with yellow arrows above) to geyser like springs, water seeping out of vertical land rises, or out of the rocks forming streams and rivers.
Top Left: Vertical geyser like springs; Top Right: Water seeping from the hillsides; Middle Right: Water seeping up from then rocks; Bottom: Seeping water flowing down the hillside that eventually forms streams and rivers
    The term fountain is seldom used today to describe such a formation of rivers or streams, however in Old Testament times, the term was typically used (as shown above) to draw attention to the source of the water being described (water very much being a life-giving source at the time and critically important to survival--as opposed to being found in every corner  market today), which is what Mormon was doing when he described the land of Cumorah where he was planning the last stand of the Nephite army.
    It should also be of note where this land of many waters was located. Of course, we know it was found in the Land Northward, but numerous theorists have felt obligated to ignore how far north from the narrow neck of land it was found. Sorenson and others place it jut beyond the narrow neck along the east coast, only a short distance beyond the small neck itself.
Sorenson’s Mesoamerica model. Red Arrow: He lists as “Distant Lands of Water,” which has no such listing in the entire scriptural record, but mudt refer to the "many waters area"; Yellow Arrow: Land of Cumorah, where the hill Cumorah was located and where the Land of Many Waters was located in scripture (Mormon 6:4); White Arrow: The Narrow Neck of Land, a line moving upward (north) across the Isthmus to just below the yellow arrow’s left point—Cumorah being only a distance of only 60 miles from the Isthmus
    The problem lies in Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists not reading the scriptural record and accepting Mormon’s descriptions as he wrote them. As an example, we find about 46 B.C., during Helaman's time, the Nephites and some Lamanites (Helaman 3:12), during an infrequent time of peace between them (following a 19-year war) immigrated into this land.  "...and they went forth unto the land northward to inherit the land.  And they did travel to an exceeding great distance, insomuch that they came to a land of large bodies of water and many rivers" (Helaman 3:3-4).
    This is the same area that is described in Mosiah 8:8), and by Mormon himself when he said, “it was in a land of many waters, rivers, and fountains” (Mormon 6:4).
    Helaman described this area, which Mormon abridged, as “they did travel to an exceeding great distance, insomuch that they came to a land of large bodies of water and many rivers” (Helaman 3:4).
    Yet, Sorenson, as he so often does, ignores the scriptural record and places the hill Cumorah and the Land of Cumorah very close to the narrow neck of land and about 475 miles from the land of many waters because in Mesoamerica,that is where they are located--just another reason Mesoamerica does not fit the scriptural record of the Land of Promise no matter how much Sorenson and others try to make it fit.
    Because of sloppy scholarly work such as this, Sorenson and other Mesoamericanists feel free to place in their Land of Promise model the lands and places, that Mormon so meticulously describes, wherever they seem to want. The hill Cumorah and land of Cumorah, which was in the Land of of Many Waters (Mormon 6:4) was an “exceeding great distance” (Helaman 3:4)
(See the next post, “Land of Many Waters and Fountains – Part II,” to see exactly where these waters were located and still exist, which fit completely Mormon’s descriptions of the area)


  1. I was curious how the Noah Webster 1828 dictionary defined "fountain" and was surprised to see it was not found. However "fountainless" was and included the definition without spring. Also "fountain-tree" defined a tree that was the source of water. Lastly "spring" included the word "fountain" in its definition. So clearly the word "fountain" existed but for some reason is omitted in at least the on line version of the 1828 dictionary.