Thursday, December 24, 2015

America is the Land of Promise—But Where is America? – Part IX

Continuing with the previous posts regarding one of our readers sending us information of a blog and asking our opinion and comments. 
    Blog comment: “Cumorah is also a natural place for a final battle of the Jaredite and Nephite nations because the major borders would funnel the respective armies there.”
    Response: First of all, having been to Palmyra, Manchester, the hill Cumorah and surrounding countryside, there are no borders or any topography that would funnel people or armies toward the hill Cumorah in this overall area. Secondly, it is obvious, the blog author has never been in the military what would mark or be a natural place for a final battle.
From Oneida Lake on the east to Buffalo on the west (161 miles) and from Lake Ontario on the north to beyond the Finger Lakes on the south (94 miles), the area is completely flat all around the hill Cumorah. There are no passes, canyons, etc., just easily traversed flat land and low-lying foothills (drumlins)
    As can be seen from satellite maps, there is absolutely nothing around this area, and even the hills to the south are low lying and provide no blockage for an approaching army, or any protection for defenders. This, from a military standpoint is the worst possible area for a huge battle, especially when your force is badly outnumbered.
Top: Shows the topography of the land looking south from the hill Cumorah (lower right corner off the photo)—note the complete flatness of the land; Bottom: Showing the area from Ithica to Palmyra (hill Cumorah), a distance of 70 miles of flat land—note the approaches to the hill Cumorah from all directions (white arrows), a battlefield commander’s worst nightmare. There is no possible way Mormon would have thought he could get some advantage in this area in New York
    However, in the description of the scriptural record, Cumorah being in the Land of Many Waters, Rivers and Fountains, you would have a lot of broken terrain, waterways, rivers, streams, etc. In fact, as any battlefield commander knows, in a fight such as that described by Mormon, himself the Nephite battlefield commander, what you would want is not only the broken terrain, lots of waterways, rivers, streams, etc., but also massive forests to hinder arrow flights, and tall mountains, cliffs, etc., where you can limit the directions to your defensive position and other terrain obstacles that hinder the approaches of the enemy to your position.
    Of course, Cumorah in New York, has none of this. It is wide open and the hill can be attacked on all sides simultaneously and there is no “funneling” of troops toward a single point, as suggested in the blog.
    Blog comment: ”It [name Cumorah] began before the Book of Mormon was published and Joseph and Oliver unequivocally made the connection.”
    Response: “There has been no evidence yet presented in the blog that Joseph Smith made a connection between the two Cumorahs. Certainly, if Joseph had made that connection, he would have called the hill Cumorah in New York the same hill Cumorah in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon; however, he never called the New York hill Cumorah at any time, referring to it as “the hill where the plates were buried.”
    The fact that Oliver Cowdery made such a connection is not difficult to understand given the information we have presented in this series. Oliver seems to have seen the hill Cumorah in New York in a rather fanciful way according to his sadly poetic description of the last battle between the Nephties and the Lamanites; however, he has presented nothing more than his own opinion and we have no evidence in any form that Joseph Smith agreed with that.
    Blog comment: “There are no requirements in the text that the New York Cumorah does not meet.”
    Response: This is an outlandish statement given the facts of Mormon’s descriptions and the lack of any match in the real world of the hill in New York. Several such disagreements have been pointed out in this series of articles. Saying that there is nothing in the scriptural record doesn’t meet the New York hill is not the same as showing the comparisons and being accurate about it, which has not been done.
    Blog comment: “The account in the Pearl of Great Price (Joseph Smith-History) was produced well after Joseph's History, 1834-1836, which incorporates Cowdery's letters. By the time Joseph Smith-History was published in the Times and Seasons in 1842, Oliver's account had been published in two official Church newspapers, as well as Benjamin Winchester's Gospel Reflector. Cowdery's version, and Joseph's adoption of it, was well established before 1842.
    Response: First, no where do we find that Joseph Smith said or acknowledged that the hill Cumorah in New York was the same as the hill Cumorah in the Book of Mormon, and at no time in all his writings does he make that connection, and certainly not in the Times and Seasons in 1842. In reality, Joseph seems to go out of his way in not calling it the hill Cumorah, but uses only “the hill where the plates were buried.”
    It should be noted, however, that in Donald Q. Cannon (Zelph Revisited, pp 97-109), he wrote: “Neither Joseph Smith nor the six journal writers associated with the Zelph incident were alone in writing and speaking about Book of Mormon geography. Nineteenth century Church members commonly referred to Book of Mormon locations in North America. Many of these people sincerely believed that at least some of the events described in the Book of Mormon took place in North America. The Times and Seasons, published by the Church in Nauvoo, often carried stories and statements about Book of Mormon geography. An example is this statement from Oliver Cowdery (original spelling has been preserved): “You are aquainted with the mail road from Palmyra, Wayne Co. to Canandaigue, Ontario Co., NY…you pass a large hill on the east side of the road…[a description of the hill follows]. At about one mile west rises another ridge of less height, running parallel with the former leaving a beautiful vale between. The soil is of the first quality for the country and under a state of  [p.105] cultivation which gives a prospect at once imposing, when one reflects on the fact, that here, between these hills, the entire power and national strength of both the Jaradites and the Nephites were destroyed. By turning to the 529th and 530th pages of the Book of Mormon you will read Mormon's account of the last great struggle of his people, as they were encamped round this hill Cumorah…This hill by the Jaredites was called Ramah: by it or around it, pitched the famous army of Coriantumr their tents" (Times and Seasons 2 (15 Apr 1841): 378.)
The Lord instructed the brethren in Kirtland to raise an army and go to Missouri—called Zion’s Camp, after setting forth various means by which the Saints were to settle the Missouri dispute about which the Missouri brethren asked for help (D&C 101). The camp eventually numbered 207, including 11 women, 11 children, and 25 baggage wagons, covering about 35 miles a day on the 1000 mile trek
    All of this is written about the incident regarding Zion’s Camp in which Joseph Smith is describing the bones found as belonging to Zelph (known from the Rocky Mountains to the hill Cumorah). The word “Cumorah” is used seven times by five different people, but only once, by Oliver Cowdery, is the hill referred to as being the same as the one in New York.
    The term: “Zelph, a warrior under the great prophet who was known from the Hill Cumorah to the Rocky Mountains,” was recorded only by Wilford Woodruff, however, no one else used that phraseology, instead, writing in their journals about it being “from the eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains,” “from the mountains to the sea.”
(See the next post, “America is the Land of Promise—But Where is America? – Part X,” for answers as to where the overall Land of Promise is located and to what land the Prophets have spoken and the Lord indicated and specifically for more on Zion’s Camp and the differences of opinion as to what was seen and heard there regarding Cumorah)

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