Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Clarification for Another Reader – The Isle of Promise – Part II

(Continuing from the previous post on why the Nephites knew they were on an island. The last post ended with the comment of a reader: 
    Reader: ”Secondly, Jacob would not have known if they were on a literal island.”
    Response: Let’s take a look at what the scriptural record says, not what a person wants to claim. Speaking to the Nephites in the temple on the second day of a conference, Jacob tells them what the Lord has assured them:
Wherefore, I will consecrate this land unto thy seed, and them who shall be numbered among thy seed, forever, for the land of their inheritance; for it is a choice land, saith God unto me, above all other lands, wherefore I will have all men that dwell thereon that they shall worship me, saith God“ (2 Nephi 10:19).
    (Note Jacob says “sayeth God unto me” so obviously the Lord is telling him this. Evidently the Lord wants Jacob to understand where they are so he can tell the people [Amos 3:7 tells us that the prophet is the first to know from the Lord])
    And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are not cast off…”
    (This was the main issue and what he is addressing himself to so the Nephites can “lift up their heads”)
    “…nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance…”
    (Another point the Nephites were complaining about—the land of their inheritance, as it was to every member of the House of Israel, was the land promised to the Twelve Tribes in Israel)
    “…but we have been led to a better land…”
    (A better land than Israel and Jerusalem)
    “…for the Lord has made the sea our path…”
    (This would not have been any surprise to any Nephite present—all would have been told and know of the adventure of leaving Jerusalem, building the ship, and sailing across the oceansince this is at least 30 years since leaving Jerusalem, and at least 20 years since setting sail, there would be several adults in the audience who were children on that voyage, children of Nephi, Sam and Zoram, now in the mid to late teens or even early 20s)
    “…and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
    (Nor would this have been any surprise to any Nephite present. They knew where they were and it would be irresponsible to think that a people in a new area would not have explored their surroundings. They came from the west coast where Nephi landed, to the east coast, where Cuzco (City of Nephi) would have been with a Sea East just beyond their location. They would have traveled up the eastern seacoast for some time before reaching the place they stopped and pitched their tents and built their city. At the time of this conference in the temple, the city had been built and the temple had been built, and the crops in and probably harvested, etc. There would have been plenty of time for exploration by at least some.
But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea…”
    (Those scattered from the House of Israel and led away and were lost to the rest of the House of Israel)
    “…wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this…
    (Jacob is referring to Isaiah’s writing of which all would have been familiar, and he is referring to other isles than the one theythe Nephiteswere on)
    “…and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21)
    (Now how would Jacob know this unless the Lord had told him?” Men, all men, need to be careful that they don’t fall into the belief that they know as much as, or more than, the Lord, or his prophets to whom he speaks.)
    However, Jacob is not finished. Here he goes on to make his point:
    “For behold, the Lord God has led away from time to time from the house of Israel, according to his will and pleasure. And now behold, the Lord remembereth all them who have been broken off, wherefore he remembereth us also.”
    (This is what the Nephites were complainingor worried about, and the point of these passages, to which Jacob adds):
    “Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life” (2 Nephi 10:23).
    Jacob then goes on to preach his entire purpose—for the Nephites need to choose God over Satan. It also should be noted that Jacob uses the term “an isle of the sea” in vs. 20—that is, a single island for the Nephites; but in vs 21 he uses “isles,” and mentions that there were others and these plural islands were where the rest of those led away would be found or located.
    Reader: “Under this theory, the first landing site in Coquimbo, Chile is about 3,500 miles from the top of the land northward. There is no account of Nephi or Jacob or anyone in their group ever traveling that far.”
    Response: First of all, it is 3,995 miles from La Serena, Chile (Coquimbo Bay), to Cartagena, Colombia. Exactly where the top of the Land of Promise was located is anyone’s guess, but may have been no farther north than Cali, Colombia (3347 miles), or to Bogata, Colombia (2790 miles), or perhaps only to Guapi, Colombia (2284 miles). The size of the Land Northward seems to lend itself to the lesser distance than the greater one. Secondly, Nephi tells us that they crossed the oceans in “many days” (1 Nephi 18:23), a distance of at least about 9,000 miles, yet he also says they traveled for “many days” after separating from his brothers who sought his life (2 Nephi 5:7), a distance of unknown length. At no time in the scriptural record can we determine how long a period of time and a distance was meant by ”many days,” the term meaning, no doubt, anywhere from a handful of days to months. Third, according to Paul R. Cheesman, (“Lehi’s Journeys” BYU Religious Studies Center, Professor emeritus of ancient scripture), when traveling from Jersualem to the Arabian Sea, the distance would have been a little over 2500 miles.
    Consequently, it cannot be said no one traveled that far in the scriptural record. In addition, when determining travel distances in the Land of Promise, the distance from the Land of First Inheritance (landing site) to the Land of Nephi should be discounted, since once Nephi separated himself, the record has to do with basically the area between the City of Nephi and the City of Zarahemla, then later from Zarahemla to Bountiful and finally from the Narrow Neck of Land to Cumnorah, and in those sequences, the distance of travel would have been far shorter.
    Reader: “Had they gone north, they would have run into the Mulekites, or at least found the remains of the Jaredites like the people of Limhi did.”
Response: I’m afraid I miss your point here. Nehi traveled from Coquimbo Bay to the area of Cuzco (using modern terms), a distance of about 1526 miles. Mosiah traveled from Cuzco to Pachacamac (Lima), a distance of about 685 miles; Pachacamac to Cajamarca (Bountiful) 505 miles; Limhi’s 43-man expedition traveled from Cuzco to Cumorah, an assumed distance of about 1155 miles. While these are long distances, they are singular events. The vast majority of the travel cited in the scriptural record is like when the Lamanites came down to battle the city of Moroni, Lehi, Morianton and Nephihah—these were much shorter distances. Most of those distances would have been like from Cuzco to the city of Moroni, about 100 miles, across the narrow strip of wilderness to the Sea East coast, and then up the coast to Lehi, Morianton, and inland to Nephihah, the latter about 190 miles distant. The other travel distances are pretty much missionary work, and involved in going on foot from one city to another. That would not have been any more than early missionaries traveling by footmy great grandfather, Porter DowDell, was called on a mission in the early 1840s in Alabama. They walked all over the state, as an example from Hunstville in the north to Montgomery in the central part is 191 miles; from Birmingham to Columbus is 192 miles, and Tuscaloose to Mobile is 195 miles; all within the probability of Alma's missionary jaunts and the sons of Helaman, etc.


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  2. You may well be right in that the very top of the island may not have been visited and the Sea North seen by exploration; however, one would not have had to see that to understand they were on an island given the amount of water that would be seen exploring along the coast of the Sea East nearly to the top (northern most) of the island combined with seeing the Sea South and the Sea West on their approach by ship. In addition, Limhi's expedition was sent to look for Zarahemla, not explore, and thus they may have been in areas more conducive to seeing inland than an exploring party; however, that is merely speculation. Personally, I tend toward vision and the Lord rather than walking around the entire island to know they were on an isle. The point is, Jacob said they were on an island that was in the midst of the sea over which they traveled, i.e., the sea was their path to the island on which they lived--a subject which would have been understood by Nephi, Sam and Zoram, and their wives, and possibly by Jacob personally having been somewhere around 6 to 10 years old when making the journey.

  3. P.S. I thought I could add some pictures, but am unable to in this section; however, the photo toward the end of the previous post would be sufficient. The point is, when exploring a coast, especially from a height as this photo shows, it is not difficult to see the extend of the ocean that surrounds you. Seeing all the water, would make it pretty easy to believe one was on an island, especially if other islands could be seen, which according to geologists, several islands south of Coquimbo would have been seen at this time as the mainland was approached. Even today these islands can be seen all along the southern west coast of Chile for hundreds of miles before reaching Coquimbo Bay. Slanting the continent so the east was under water and the west above, as geologists claim, would show hundreds of islands as Lehi sailed up the Humboldt Current toward what would have been the first large, solid ground to land upon--Coquimbo Bay.