Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Why Are they Unknown?

Joseph Smith, when translating the abridged record of Ether, came across the following sentence:    
    "And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and xxxxxxx and yyyyyyy; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and xxxxxx and yyyyyyy” (Ether 9:19). Why did Joseph Smith not fill in the names of these two animals? They were not some minor animal of the time, for they were as important unto man as the elephant. It is also not that Joseph would not have know much about animals—he was a farmer, around 24 years of age at the time of translation, having worked on his father’s farms. His father, Joseph Smith, Sr., was married at the age of 25 in 1796, where he settled on one of the family farms in Tunbridge. Born in 1771, Joseph Sr. was 25 when he married Lucy Mack, was over six feet tall and powerfully built, as had been his father, Asael.
Five generations of Smith’s lived in Topsfield, a small township about 20 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. Five generations, beginning with Joseph’s third-great-grandfather, Robert, who had emigrated from England in 1638, while still in his teens. Robert’s son, Samuel, was listed as a “gentleman,” and apparently held a public office. He and his wife, Rebecca Curtis, had nine children, with one of their sons, Samuel, Jr., a distinguished community leader and a promoter of the American War of Independence. Samuel, Jr., married Priscilla Gould, one of Topsfield Massachusetts’ founders, and their son, Aesel, born in 1744, was Joseph Smith’s grandfather.
Joseph Smith was born in a farm house (left) in Sharon, Vermont, in 1805. The farm house has been replaced in this photo and the granite memorial to the right erected to commemorate the area
    Aesel married Mary Duty of Rowley, Massachusetts, but later moved back to Topsfield and worked for five years to liquidate the debts his father had been unable to pay before his death. They remained in Topsfield until 1791, when Asael, Mary, and their eleven children moved briefly to Ipswich, Massachusetts, and then on to Tunbridge, Vermont, in quest of inexspensive, virgin land. There Asael held public office and served the community in almost every elective office.
    Joseph’s father, Joseph Sr., and Lucy Mack lived on a family farm in Tunbridge, but later moved to Randolph in 1802 where they opened a mercantile establishment. He sold his farm to pay off a debt, then moved to Sharon, Vermont, where he farmed in the summer and taught school in the winter. During Joseph Jr’s early years, his parents moved frequently, looking for fertile soil for farming or some other way to earn a livelihood.
    Joseph Jr. was tall and athletic, and when they moved to Norwich, the family began to farm on the property of Esquire Murdock. With several crop failures, and killing frosts, numerous people left Vermont, including the Smiths, and settled on available lands in New York, Pennsylvania and Ohio, that were said to be “well-timbered, well-watered, easily accessible and undeniably fertile—all to be had on long-term payments for only two or three dollars an acre.”
    Joseph Smith, Sr., after settling his accounts, moved his family to Palmyra, New York. At Palmyra, Joseph again took up farming and Joseph Jr. once again worked on the family farm (left) in Palmyra, New York, adjacent to the Sacred Grove.
As a result, we see that during the vast majority of Joseph’s young life, he lived on a farm and worked as a farmer. This would have placed him in direct contact with plants, grains, herbs, and fruits, as well as all the animals known in his day that would have been helpful to man, such as beasts of burden like riding, draught or draft horses, donkeys, mules, oxen, bulls, bullocks, and other animals needed for farming, planting, harvesting, hauling, transportation, etc.    Thus we come back to the question of why did Joseph Smith, in translating the Ether record, not know what animals were being described that were so necessary and beneficial to the Jaredites. Not only would he have known about the farm animals mentioned above, but also animals used for food that were raised for such (cows, steers, goats, sheep, and pigs), but also hunted, such as deer, moose, elk, fowl, etc. It is also unlikely he would have known or heard about such animals as water buffalo, carabaos, tamaraw (dwarf buffalo), yak, or other animals of the Eastern Hemisphere, though it is likely he would have heard of the western buffalo (bison) and probably the camel.
Joseph was living in the frame home on this farm when he received the plates from the Angel Moroni in 1827
    So in the translation process, Joseph came across these two names listed in Ether 9:19 and ran through his repertoire of animals he knew or had heard about, but the Spirit did not acknowledge any of them—so he had to use the names that appeared in the original record.
    So what possible animal could that have been written about in the Ether record that could be described as more useful to man than the horse or donkey (ass)?
    It is interesting in the list of such helpful animals, along with the elephant, is the camel. And a type of camelid (camelidae) that is also listed that is very helpful to man are the two animals: Llama and Alpaca, domestic descendants of the wild vicuña and guanaco.
    So when Joseph came to cureloms and cumoms, he did not know to insert Llama and Alpaca, two names that were unknown in the United States in 1830, and little known anywhere in the world outside of Andean South America, and certainly not by the names the Jaredites and Nephites would have known them.
To early man, the llama and alpaca in Andean South America were to them what the horse, donkey, and cattle were to the people of North America
    So how would the Jaredites have known about these two animals? The answer is quite simple, since they would lived in agrarian times and themselves would have been herdsmen for the Lord to tell them to “gather together thy flocks, both male and female” (Ether 1:41), and they went down into the Valley of Nimrod “with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind” (Ether 2:1). We also know they still had their flocks and herds a thousand years later or more (Ether 9:31; 10:12), and thus capable of breeding the camelids that became indigenous after the Flood in the Land of Promise, i.e., Andean Peru.
    Thus, the verse: “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and cureloms and cumoms; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and cureloms and cumoms” (Ether 9:19); could have been accurately rendered: “And they also had horses, and asses, and there were elephants and Llamas and Alpacas; all of which were useful unto man, and more especially the elephants and Llamas and Alpacas” (Ether 9:19).

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