Saturday, October 3, 2015

Why Are High Mountains so Important? – Part I

From time to time we get inquiries about different events or happenings in the Land of Promise of the Book of Mormon, asking for clarification or additional information. Sometimes we have new readers, or returning readers, who have missed some posts that covered a certain idea and thinking we had not written about it, ask us questions regarding the subject. And occasionally we are asked why we “harp” on or emphasize so often a particular subject.
    It is to this last issue we address this post, with all respect for our daily readers who might feel they’ve heard all this before—though whenever we write about a repeated subject, we write without cutting and pasting already posted material as much as possible. Sometimes the point is better made with a repeat of a paragraph, but for the most part we start every article from scratch. This is due, in part, because world knowledge is always increasing and the internet has become an important location for studies, research papers, theses, and a trove for immediate access to new scientific, archaeologic, and numerous other fields. So though a topic has been covered, it is written anew quite differently and often with new supportive evidence.
This is the case with our article today about the mountains mentioned in Helaman regarding the prophesies of Samuel the Lamanite (left), who left his home in the Land of Nephi to come to Zarahemla to preach the gospel. What motivated him to do so we are not informed, at least on his first visit to the Nephite capital. This takes place at a time in Nephite history when the Lamanites had become a righteous people and the Nephites had fallen into evil ways. In fact, this event begins with “And now it came to pass in the eighty and sixth year, the Nephites did still remain in wickedness, yea in great wickedness, while the Lamanites did observe strictly to keep the commandments of God, according to the law of Moses” (Helaman 13:1).
    We only know that Samuel came into the Land of Zarahemla and began to preach unto the Nephites for many days (Helaman 13:2), but he was eventually cast out by the people and was about to return to his own land when the voice of the Lord came unto him that he should return again and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart (Helaman 13:3). Obviously, the Lord had a message he wanted the Nephites to hear and understand. Unable to enter the city, Samuel boldly climbed upon the city walls and began to preach (Helaman 13:4).
Now the words he uttered were 1) given to him by the Spirit to say, 2) given for the people to know when the birth and the crucifixion of the Savior was to take place, and 3) given so all could know throughout the Land of Promise the signs involved in both instances.
    Now Samuel made the statement that mountains would crumble at this time into level valleys (Helaman 14:23), a vision Nephi also saw and described as: “mountains tumbling into pieces” (1 Nephi 12:4); then Samuel said, “and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great“ (Helaman 14:23, emphasis mine).
No matter how many arrows they shot at him, Samuel was untouched, guarded by the Spirit while he delivered the Lord’s message to the Nephites
    Why did Samuel utter these words? Because “the angel said unto me that many shall see greater things than these, to the intent that they might believe that these signs and these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men“ (Helaman 14:28).
    Note the significance of his words:
1. All the people might believe seeing the signs unfold;
2. The signs would be seen on all the face of the land;
3. So obvious would be the signs that no one would be able to disbelieve them;
4. In five years time the Savior would be born, and there would be two days with no night, a new star and many signs and wonders in heaven;
5. It was all being declared by an angel through Samuel;
6. At Christ’s death there would be three days of darkness;
7. There would be great tempests, and "there shall be many mountains laid low, like unto a valley, and there shall be many places which are now called valleys which shall become mountains, whose height is great."
    This should convince us that the signs Samuel foretold would be so thoroughly seen and understood throughout all the Land of Promise, both in the Land Northward and in the Land Southward, they would be observed by everyone, and all would know of their source so obviously would the events preceding and during the rising of the mountains be to all.
    From the city wall Samuel proclaimed: “I, Samuel, a Lamanite, do speak the words of the Lord which he doth put into my heart; and behold he hath put it into my heart to say unto this people…” (Helaman 13:5, emphasis mine).
So while those Nephites who rejected his message “cast stones at him, and also many shot arrows at him as he stood upon the wall, the Spirit of the Lord was with him, insomuch that they could not hit him with their stones neither with their arrows” (Helaman 16:2). No doubt the Lord was trying to impress the Nephites with his message through Samuel, but in the end they rejected the Lamanite prophet and he escaped capture by “casting himself down from the wall, and did flee out of their lands, yea, even unto his own country, and began to preach and to prophesy among his own people” (Helaman 16:7).
It should be well understood that the message of repentance was Samuel’s purpose in being sent to the Nephites in Zarahemla, and then returning to preach the same message to the Lamanites throughout his own land. Not only was the message to repent, but that at the time of the Savior’s birth there would be obvious signs, and that there would be exceptional destruction at the time of his crucifixion, so much so, that everyone, Nephite and Lamantie, would be well aware of it. And besides the signs of overall destruction at the time of his death, mountains would rise “whose height was great.”
    Now the idea that mountains would rise over night being a significant point of notice as a sign, they would rise to a monumentous height, one everyone in the land could see, and not be able to attribute to anything else but the prophesy of Samuel and the work of the Lord.
The mountain that came up to cover the city of Moronihah must have risen within minutes, or at least hours
    At one point, an eye-witness of these events at the Savior’s death, wrote: “And the earth was carried up upon the city of Moronihah that in the place of the city there became a great mountain” (3 Nephi 8:10), which the Lord verified he had done (3 Nephi 9:5), and made hills and valleys in the places of other cities (3 Nephi 9:8). The significant comment, however, in helping to locate the Land of Promise was in Samuel’s statement about mountains, “whose height is great.”
    This was not only significant to those who lived at the time to look up and see very tall mountains about them, obviously taller than the ones that had been there before but tumbled to the ground, otherwise the difference might not have seemed significant. And more importantly, this event would be seen and understood throughout the entire “face of the land,” i.e., throughout all the Land of Promise.
(See the next post, “Why Are High Mountains so Important? – Part II,” for the second part of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy and its importance to us today in identifying the Land of Promise.)


  1. I can't thank you enough for the work you've done here on your site. I would like to point out that the Mentinah Records show that Samuel the Lamanite actually came down from where he lived in the land northward, not up from the land of Nephi. He was a descendant of the Nephites and Lamanites (People of Ammon) that left South America to go up into North America (Alma 63 & Hel 3) because they were fed up with the wars with the Lamanites and the increasing corruption of the Nephites. Mormon's father was a descendant of them also and he brought his son, Mormon, down to the land southward when he was 10 stopping in the Nephite settlements in Central America where he met Ammaron (who he later replaces as the Prophet) and then came to Zarahemla a year later. Young Mormon was taught by Ammaron and knew the record of the Nephites from that, and took the name of Captain Moroni to give to his own son later. Samuel returned to his own land northward where he did preach to his people there and authored 2 of the books of the Mentinah Records.

  2. Now as to why the reference to "high" mountains so frequently. Several of the prophets in the scriptures are told to go there for consultation. I can only assume that it is for privacy. The children of Israel were terribly frightened when they saw and heard the evidences of God's presence on Sinai and wanted no part of Him. In other instances, I believe the Lord did not want to give unfaithful men cause to believe based merely on the signs of His presence. So He kept the meetings "private". As to the height of the newest mountains added in cataclysms, your guess is good enough about it needing to be high enough to be seen by all, but it could also act as more effective barriers between the righteous and the unrighteous. As it states in the BoM that the topographic changes were great in South America, but they were even greater in North America! While I don't recall anything descriptions of those cataclysms in up north in the Mentinah Records, there is the account of those young men that came down to the south to preach to the Nephites and wound up preaching to the Gaddianton Robbers in their own hidden city of Kishkumen shortly before the cataclysms struck. They had left the city when it happened and witnessed it and described the after effects when it got light again. I got the impression that it was up around the area of Venezuela at the time and they were stranded on an island as the land around them had sunk into the sea. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the Caribbean Islands are merely the tops of some of the land that sank. As to the city of Moronihah, it was covered by earth, as 4 other cities were that were mentioned. I have found pictures of the archaeological diggings in Caral, Peru, that show at least 6 hills of dirt that when excavated revealing a stone-walled city underneath. It's a fairly new site (20 years?) so not all the "hills" have been uncovered yet but they will show the same as the others I'm sure. The mounds of dirt are limited to just one side of the river in a fertile valley and then the dirt is covered by large stones and boulders. I know of no "natural" causes that can do that.

  3. To add to my comment about the city of Kishkumen, and the young missionaries that went to preach there and the other cities they stopped in first, the account of that is verified in 3 Ne 9:10.