Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Did Mormon (Nephi) Mean “They Traveled Nearly East”?

What Did Mormon Mean “They Traveled Nearly East”? 
   Continuing with this fourth part of the meaning of words and statements.
4. “How is it that almost all non-Jewish Mormons seem to accept BYU Professor John L. Sorenson’s change of cardinal directions from Mormon’s description in Alma 22, for the layout of the Land of Promise? Maybe to a Westerner the direction east is simply east—but to a Middle Easterner, the direction of East is everything and there is no way this is all confusing to anyone who has ever studied eastern thought and religion—the idea is ludicrous that a Hebrew (ancient Jew) would have to stand with his back to the sea to know which way east was located. Long before the first Hebrew crossed over into Palestine, the concept of “East” had a very significance place in their religious thinking and relationship with God—no matter where one went, the first thing one did was orient himself to the east” Shayna D.
    You are certainly correct. However, despite all that we have written on this matter, the idea of an east-west direction for Mesoamerica persists. But let’s for a moment consider the result of Sorenson’s changing of Mormon’s description, which he claims results in the:
1. East Sea is really to the North
2. West Sea is really to the South
3. Land Southward is to the east
4. Land Northward is to the west 
5. The Land of Zarahemla is to the west of the Land of Nephi, instead of to the north
6. Land of Bountiful is to the west of Land of Zarahemla, instead of to the north
7. The Narrow Neck of Land is to the west of the Land of Bountiful
8. Land of Desolation is to the west of Bountiful (instead of to the north)
9. Land of Many Waters is to far west (northwest) of Desolation, instead of to the north
    Looking at the issue at hand, and that is simply that east in Jerusalem is where the sun rises, and east in Mesoamerica, is where the sun rises. So what should have been the difference?
    One of Sorenson’s major points for his clouding the issue with his “back to the sea” is that in his claims, the sun rises differently in Mesoamerica than it did in Jerusalem, consequently, the Nephites when they arrived in Mesoamerica, did not have an understanding of east and the direction of east and the sun rising in the east; however, the point to this is that the sun rises and sets during the year just about the same as it does in Jerusalem as it does from Mexico City to the Yucatan to Guatemala City in Mesoamerica.
Graph shows the 360º earth and how narrow a distance 1º would be; consequently, the sun rising and setting within a couple of degrees difference would make no impact on the visual sighting of that event and cause no problem for the immigrating Nephites if they had landed in Mesoamerica as Sorenson claims
    In other words, the Nephites would have had no problem in their new land and no reason at all to determine directions simply from the most noticeable heavenly object—the Sun’s location. It was more-or-less in the exact same position it had been from their view at Jerusalem. So that should dispel that problem, since the Nephites, if they landed in Mesoamerica, would have been in a sighting line of the sun from sunrize to sunset very similar to that of Jerusalem (see right side of graphic above).
    The other problem Sorenson sites is not knowing the direction of east; however, as numerous articles on the subject now extant by those who obviously know more on the subject than did Sorenson as to how an ancient Hebrew would have been oriented to our compass positions, let us consider once again this matter of “east” to the oriental mind—specifically the Jew and Arab, whose entire life surrounds this issue.
To make certain we are on the same page in Mesoamerica, this NASA satellite photo shows the area considered to be Mesoamerica with their directions and the Land of Promise labels added  according to the Theorists' placement
    Now we need to keep in mind that the Jews at Jerusalem had been around for about 500 years when Lehi came on the scene. As Hebrews, they were around since Noah landed the Ark. Their building expertise had created Solomon’s Temple (built between 970 and 964 B.C., though some claim it was as late as 1018 B.C.) The point being Israel had many years of building experience after Solomon’s temple was completed.
    Throughout Lehi’s entire life living at Jerusalem, and the lives of Nephi, Sam and Zoram, the temple was the epitome of building, with only stone blocks dressed at the quarry used, with no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool on the temple grounds during construction. A stairway led from the lowest floor (on the south side) to the middle level and from there to the third level (I Kings 6:8). The roof itself was made of cedar plank and attached to the temple by cedar beams (I Kings 6:9). The floor of the temple was covered with planks of juniper, and cedar planks covered the stone walls so that no stone could be seen, and everything looked cedar. He then overlaid the entire interior of the temple with pure gold.
Cheribum carved from olive wood were made and covered entirely with gold. He made two huge olive wood doors that were one-fifth the width of the sanctuary and overlaid the doors with hammered gold. 
    There were additional buildings, with the temple as part of a splendid series of buildings Solomon constructed in immediate connection with it, which included Solomon's own residence, the palace of Pharaoh's daughter, the throne-room, the porch of pillars, and the house of the forest of Lebanon.
    The ancients were capable of determining true east despite the absence of compasses. The shadow cast by a gnomen (the "finger" that casts a shadow of a sundial) at noon was used to determine true north, and the other cardinal points were established through simple geometry. This method was accurate to within a few degrees. 
In Hebew, as has been discussed her many times, east, or “mizrach,” is and always has been an important issue. It is tradition for Jews in the Western Hemisphere to pray facing east, the direction of Jerusalem and the Temple. So Jews who pray in their homes might hang a mizrach on an eastern-facing wall to indicated which way to face when they pray. This is also why the Ark in an Ashkenazie synagogue is set in an eastern-facing wall.
    To the Jews as a people, they face east because they are facing their land, their unity, their destiny. They face Jerusalem because they are facing their past, their present and their future. They face east towards the holiest place on earth, the foundation stone that bonds the human spirit to its Source. The world, too, is connecting to its past, its present and its future. The world is facing east towards its destiny.
    When Nephi wrote, “we did again take our journey in the wilderness; and we did travel nearly eastward from that time forth” (1 Nephi 17:1), he, like everyone in his party and all Jews, knew where east was located. It was not something they guessed at or ignored, it was the very center of their being. The same can be said of the Arab world—they face east three times a day in their prayers. When Nephi wrote “nearly eastward,” he knew exactly the direction and wrote it accurately in his record. When Sorenson tries to claim that the Nephites had a different north and east, etc., he simply does not understand the Jewish persona. To the Nephites, before the advent of the Savior, they lived the Law of Moses (1 Nephi 4:15; 2 Nephi 5:10), and in so doing kept the commandments and the traditions associated with that worship—one of which is knowing and facing east each day! Nor could it have been some other eastto a Jew, there is only one east, the same east we all know and use, only to them it is more than east, it is their entire being, the entire world.

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