Friday, April 8, 2016

The Back Pass, through the Back Wall

King Limhi, the son of the evil king Noah, was faced with the realization that if his Nephites in the City of Nephi were to escape and find their way back to Zarahemla with Ammon’s help, they were going to have to sneak out of the valley and into the wilderness. Obviously, there were not sufficient numbers of Nephites to fight their way to freedom (Mosiah 22:2), so “Ammon and king Limhi began to consult with the people how they should deliver themselves out of bondage” (Mosiah 22:1), so they gathered all the people together “that they might have the voice of the people concerning the matter” of escape.
Among them was a man named Gideon (left), who was the king’s Captain (Mosiah 20:17), who had earlier made Limhi aware that it was the evil priests of king Noah who stole the Lamanite daughters, not any of the Nephites who had been responsible. His wise counsel averted a devastating war in which the Nephites might have well been wiped out (Mosiah 20:28-20). Now Gideon, overhearing the king’s comment, stood before the king and said, “Now O king, thou hast hitherto hearkened unto my words many times when we have been contending with our brethren, the Lamanites. And now O king, if thou hast not found me to be an unprofitable servant, or if thou hast hitherto listened to my words in any degree, and they have been of service to thee, even so I desire that thou wouldst listen to my words at this time, and I will be thy servant and deliver this people out of bondage” (Mosiah 3-4).
    Now the king, being a wise man, and Ammon looking for ideas to solve their dilemma, obviously turned toward Gideon to hear what he had to say. Gideon, pointing over his shoulder, said: “Behold the back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city…”
One of the back passes behind Sacsahuaman. It is completely dark within its many twists and movement is by feel, keeping your hand along one wall until you are through
    No doubt all who knew of the passages behind the city brought the images to mind as Gideon continued, “the guards of the Lamanites, by night are drunken; therefore let us send a proclamation among all this people that they gather together their flocks and herds, that they may drive them into the wilderness by night” (Mosiah 22:5-6).
    The king glanced at Ammon, who probably nodded at the idea, as Gideon continued: “Thus we will depart with our women and our children, our flocks, and our herds into the wilderness; and we will travel around the land of Shilom” (Mosiah 22:8).
    Obviously, Limhi liked the idea and evidently Ammon and the people agreed, so the king told Gideon to go ahead with the plans. It is interesting that in the City of Nephi, Sacsahuaman in Andean Peru, long ago there were cut passages behind the city on the hill which no one before or since Spanish times had any idea to their purpose. Today archaeologists talk about aqueducts while others merely shrug. Most lead nowhere, just run for several meters, some for half a mile, but they do not end up anywhere, just further away from the walled city.
These passages begin and end behind the city and basically lead nowhere, as though they had been built to accomplish the very purpose that Gideon and Limhi used them for in secreting the Nephites out of the city and into the wilderness. Some of the passages were cut through Yucay limestone and others through diorite rock, in the rocks on the hill behind the current ruins of Sacsahuaman. However, according to the chroniclers like Guaman Poma de Ayala, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, and Fernando de Montesinos, and others, agree there are underground passages beneath Sacsayhuaman called chincanas that connect this complex to many other ruins inside the city below. Legend has it that these tunnels were walled off by the authorities because tourists became lost in them and many claim this is just a legend, but given Garcilaso de la Vega’s claims that he played around the entrances to these as a boy growing up in Sacsahuaman, as well as other written records of the tunnels, one might consider their existence.
    In fact, in 1972 during the Lima earthquake rescue members discovered a series of tunnels crossing the city, other passages were lost towards the Andes. A single tunnel was found that led down to the ocean where it disappeared beneath the sea. The point is, tunnels are claimed to exist in various areas, especially in Cuzco and Sacsahuaman—obviously, when the site was built, those who did so wanted ways to secretly get in and out of the city, fortress and the temples.
One of the tunnel entrances within a cave behind Sacsahuaman
    Whether these cinchona tunnels exist can no longer be verified for the government claims they do not exist, but the passages behind Sacsahuaman are there and visited by tourists who chance to find them away from their regular tour guides.
    While there is no mention in the scriptural record of tunnels beneath cities, fortresses or elsewhere, of course, Gideon does mention a “back pass, through the back wall, on the back side of the city” (Mosiah 22-6), and goes on say that they will then “pass through the secret pass on the left of their camp” (Mosiah 22:7). Since he mentions a Lamanite camp, it may be assumed that the Lamanite guards were encamped outside the city walls, which would place them in the fields between the wall and the escape route into the wilderness.
Whether there is any connection between the scriptural record and Sacsahuaman cannot be said for certain; however, it certainly sounds like one and the fact that this back passage in the back of the city does exist in the place we claim is the City of Nephi, might well suggest such a connection.
(For more information on this, see an earlier post: Tuesday, July 23, 2013, “The Tunnels of Peru and Ecuador – Part I”)

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