Friday, January 22, 2016

Looking for Zarahemla – Part I

We received another interesting comment from a new reader, evidently promoting his own book “Finding Zarahemla,” to which we are responding: 
Comment: “In my own book, "Finding Zarahemla" available on Amazon, I explain how the Mesoamerica theory can't possibly be right. The land southward exists on the east coast of the it is described by Mormon in Alma 22:32-33. He describes it is a peninsula, with no land bridge to the south. Looking at a modern map, this peninsula is about the size of Palestine and has a sea east and a sea west with a narrow neck (12-15 miles) at the north end. It was important that the Lamanites be "hemmed in" in the south with no place to go according to verse 33. Our problem is that most LDS people in the U.S. are westerners and know little or nothing of east coast geography” Franklin R.
    Response: I really think “our problem” is that many members of the Church do not spend enough time reading the scriptures before trying to decide where the Land of Promise might have been located. It seems anyone with a map can look for a peninsula, a narrow neck, the hill Cumorah, or whatever, and decide that has to be the place. In addition, it might be suggested that people in the west know more about geography than is suggestedwe are a traveling people out here and have been to the east numerous times, while those in the east seldom come west, but vacation to the south along the eastern coast.
    Let us respond to a few of your points first, then we will get into the geologic foundation of your premise about the Delmarva Peninsula, referred to as Delmarva—a name taken from the three states DELaware,, MARyland, and VirginiA. Today it is technically an island, but only because of the digging of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal, finished in 1829—before that it was strictly a peninsula. As such, it is 170 miles long and from 70 to 12 miles across or wide. While the lower half  borders the Atlantic Ocean on the east, the upper half borders the Delaware Bay and Delaware River on the east, both of which have been dredged to allow for ocean vessels to penetrate to Philadelphia. Delmarva is separated from the mainland on the west by the Chesapeake Bay, which is only 2.8 miles wide at its narrowest and 30 miles at its widest.
1. Your Comment: “I explain how the Mesoamerica theory can't possibly be right.” 
    Response: This is absolutely true. Mesoamerica, as we have been pointing out for six years in this blog, and in our four books on the subject, simply does not match the scriptural record and cannot possibly be the Land of Promise.
2. Your Comment: “The land southward exists on the east coast of the it is described by Mormon in Alma 22:32-33.” 
    Response: First of all, there is no mention of or reference to the United States or that area the U.S. occupies in the American Continent. Second, let’s quote the scriptures referenced: “And now, it was only the distance of a day and a half's journey for a Nephite, on the line Bountiful and the land Desolation, from the east to the west sea; and thus the land of Nephi and the land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water, there being a small neck of land between the land northward and the land southward. And it came to pass that the Nephites had inhabited the land Bountiful, even from the east unto the west sea, and thus the Nephites in their wisdom, with their guards and their armies, had hemmed in the Lamanites on the south, that thereby they should have no more possession on the north, that they might not overrun the land northward” (Alma 22:32-33). Note the term: “small neck of land” (which Mormon also calls “narrow neck” in Alma 63:5)—now this neck lay between and connected to two land masses of greatly larger sizes; the Land Northward—designated by Land of Desolation—and the Land Southward—designated by Land of Bountiful (Alma 22:31). We find that the Land Southward was, indeed surrounded by water except for a narrow neck of land that led further northward into the Land of Desolation and north of that, the Land of Many Waters which contained the land of Cumorah and the hill Cumorah (Mormon 6:4).
Third, the problem is, that while the scriptures tell us the Land Northward was also surrounded by water, Franklin’s map and location do not allow for such a thing, requiring him to change the scriptural record which reads: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east” (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added). Now the term from sea to sea is not used except when those seas are not only extensive, but also cover entire seaboards or surround entire land masses.
    As an example, we talk about the United States running “from sea to shining sea,” but not in both directions, only from east to west (including the southeast and a portion of the south). On the other hand, in Australia, the term from sea to sea and from sea to sea would make sense. In Canada, which has sea surrounding the country on three sides and a coastline of 164,988 miles, compared to a land border of only 5,525 miles (Contiguous U.S. and Alaska), has as a motto: “A Mari Usque Ad Mare,” which is “from sea to sea.”
    If that is not sufficient to say that the Land Northward was also surrounded by water, then consider Jacob’s statement in the temple speaking to the Nephites when he said: “we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). The word “isle” in Joseph Smith’s time meant “island,” a word which was not in use then.
    The point is, though Franklin wants to use a peninsula to indicate his model, there is no suggestion or use of the term peninsula in the scriptural record. The only term ever used is "isle" meaning “island.”
3) Your Comment: “He describes it is a peninsula, with no land bridge to the south” 
    Response: Mormon does not describe the Land of Promise as a peninsula—he is describing only the Land Southward as being surrounded by water except for the narrow neck. However, as shown above, the entire scriptural record, when using all of the scriptural descriptions, shows we are dealing with an island, where there is a north, east and west seas for the Land Northward, as well.
Top Photos: Islands in the midst of the sea as Jacob describes; Bottom Left: An island in the midst of the see with a narrow neck separating two larger masses; Bottom Right: Island showing labels that would match the Land of Promise descriptions of a Land Northward, a Land Southward, a narrow neck of land, four seas and an inlet sea that divides the land 
    Your Comment in Book: “I have just looked at the simple facts as recorded in the text,” and also “Admittedly, I am taking much of it very literally and fully accept what has been said in these scriptures.” 
    Response: One of the problems always associated with Heartland, Great Lakes and other eastern U.S. theories is that they do not match the scriptural record descriptions, no matter how much the author might lay claim to doing so, as Franklin does above. Take, for instance the simple statement made by Samuel the Lamanite, a prophecy the Lord put into his heart, “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” (Helaman 14:23).
The reality is, that the highest elevation anywhere in Delaware is 447.85 feet above sea level as shown by the Ebright Azimuth across from Tower Hill--and that is not even on the Delmarva Peninsula where the highest point is 102 feet. There are simply no mountains on the entire peninsula, your entire Land Southward, and nothing higher than 102-feet in elevation. Thus, this cannot be the Land of Promise location based upon a very simple statement made in Helaman of a prophecy the Lord placed in his heart for Samuel the Lamanite “prophesied unto the people whatsoever things the Lord put into his heart” (Helaman 13:4).
    The point is, if you are going to give more than lip service to “I have just looked at the simple facts as recorded in the text,” then you need to respond to such statements with logical and conclusive evidence, otherwise your argument comes off extremely weak, and you are left with having to ignore or change the meaning of other parts of the scriptural record. 
(See the next post, “Looking for Zarahemla-Part II,” for more information on Franklin Reid’s book Finding Zarahemla, and his comments to us and our responses)

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