Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Jacob Wasn’t Speaking in Metaphors – Part I

In the world of theorists, if something doesn’t agree with their point of view and Land of Promise model, it must be wrong. So how does one explain away what is found in the scriptural record that it seems is almighty clear?
Jacob speaking in the temple during a two-day conference of the Nephites
    As an example, in the case of Jacob’s statement: for we are not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but 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), how do you discredit that as a plain and simple comment about the Nephites being on an island in the midst of the waters over which they sailed from southern Arabia? 
    Since we have written numerous articles in this blog quoting every authority on the St. Lawrence River and the Mississippi River, including the Corps of Engineers and the Canadian River Authority, as well as the inland rivers of the Eastern and South Eastern U.S., of which all claim that all these rivers were obstructed not far inland and that there was no access to the Great Lakes in ancient times for any type of vessel, but particularly a deep ocean ship, how did the Lehi colony get to Lake Erie and the Great lakes Theorists' Sea West? And since Jacob says they were on an island in midst of the sea over which they sailed, why are we looking for something inland at all?
    Another question could also be asked. Is it important, and if so, why?
    Let us take the second question first. If Jacob’s statement is taken at face value, i.e., that the Nephites were upon an island in the midst of the sea, then that would eliminate every known theory in existence except one. Consequently, to accept Jacob’s simple comment, as it is written, would completely disassociate any and all theories out there, including Mesoamerica, Great Lakes, Eastern U.S., Heartland, Florida, Baja California, Malay, etc., leaving only Andean South America as we have been showing it over these past six years in this blog, and in our books, beginning with (2009) Lehi Never Saw Mesoamerica.
    Obviously, and without question, every theorist is going to try and discredit the meaning of Jacob’s statement, since if accepted, all their work, credibility, academic standing, etc., would be exposed as erroneous and in many cases, their livelihood would be threatened.
    It is not a matter of truth. It is not a matter of scriptural accuracy. It is a matter of pride! The Theorist cannot be wrong.
    So the latest effort to discredit Jacob’s statement is that it was merely a metaphor.
    A metaphor, of course, is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable,” meaning when someone uses a metaphor, it is not literal, but a figurative comment. Therefore, to all a scriptural reference a metaphor is to say that the scripture doesn’t really mean that at all. As an example, “My boss was boiling mad,” “We are the clay and you our potter (Isaiah 64:8),” “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life (Proverbs 13:14),” or “I am the bread of life (John 6:35).
    Metaphors are used in scripture to denote a similitude, i.e., something that resembles something else  to gain better understanding, thus “I am the vine, you are the branches” (John 15:5), or “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), or "You are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13. These are used typically to make comparisons between different things easier to understand—as an example, salt in biblical times, was very important as a preservative, flavoring, and even as currency; the metaphor says that followers of Christ have no purpose without Christ.
Consequently, Jacob’s statement: “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,” can be broken down into completely understandable meanings without making any comparisons, such as:
1. “We have been led to a better land” is completely understood in its simplest meaning;
2. “The Lord has made the sea our path” is also completely understood since the reader knew before hand that a ship was built to sail over the ocean;
3. “We are upon an isle of the sea” is also completely understood.
    Thus, this cannot be claimed as an metaphor since its simplest meaning is so clearly understood without knowing idioms, Hebraic speaking, or making comparisons with other meanings. So we can clearly see that Jacob’s comment is not in the category of a metaphor since there is no comparison being drawn and in and of itself, it is a likely event. Jacob says that they are upon a isle of the sea, a sea that they had sailed over. So since a metaphor is “a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable,” Jacob’s comment is literally possible and requires no stretch of the mind to understand, where a metaphor has to be transferred from its original content into another content, he is obviously not talking in a metaphor.
Israel has been scattered among all the nations with the promise that they would be gathered back into the Church (D&C 42:9; 110:11)
    Thus, the issue here is not about metaphors, the issue is about how Hebrews thought, talked and wrote…First of all, Isaiah is speaking of a global God and global promise to recover the House of Israel from wherever the Lord has sent them, places unknown to the Jews in Jerusalem, but known to the Lord. So in reading Isaiah and trying to make a comparison with Jacob’s comment (2 Nephi 10-:20), we need to separate the unknown from the known. While Isaiah understood that the Lord has led away people from the House of Israel from time to time, he makes it clear he does not know specifically where all of them are.
As an example, Isaiah did not know where the Ten Tribes were located; he did not know where those who had been led away from the House of Israel were located. As he wrote on one occasion:
    I will set a sign among them, and I will send some of those who survive to the nationsto Tarshish, to the Libyans and Lydians (famous as archers), to Tubal and Greece, and to the distant islands that have not heard of my fame or seen my glory. They will proclaim my glory among the nations” (Isaiah 66:19). And another “And the isles saw it, and feared; the ends of the earth were afraid” (Isaiah 41:5). And again, “Listen, O isles, to me; and listen, you people, from far” (Isaiah 49:1). And also, “Surely the isles shall wait for me, and the ships of Tarshish” (Isaiah 60:9). Also, ”And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea” (Isaiah 11:11).
    Isaiah uses the term “isles” quite often in his overall description of various places, nations or locals, of which some he names by name, but in the case of many others, he uses the two Hebrew idioms of “from afar” and “isles of the sea” which mean far off lands of which he (Isaiah) did not know where they were or their names.
Hebrews talked about far off lands
    When speaking in Hebraic ways (to think and talk like a Jew)—the Hebrews had a saying “to dwell in the Land of Nod,” meaning in a far off land; they also talked about “isles” as far away places. They, after all, were located on the mainland and always had been since the Ark landed. They knew what their region looked like, but not the rest of the world. As an example, in 600 B.C., there were three parts of the world just beginning to form in people’s minds: Asia, Europe and Africa. Maps of that period are vague at best as to where these three parts were located and how they related one to another. But in Isaiah's time (around 740 to 681 B.C.), the world was a vast mystery out beyond the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar).
The known world in Biblical times and even to the time of Lehi
    Some, like the Phoenicians had sailed to what is today France and England for tin to trade within the Mediterranean, especially in the eastern Mediterrranean and the traders from the far east; Phoenician sailors had been employed by Wehimbre Nekao (Necho II) to sail around Africa. According to the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle, Necho was campaigning in Syria from 609 to 605 B.C., when the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar decisively defeated the Egyptians at Karchemis in Syria. Somewhere around this time the borders between Babylonia and Egypt were drawn and the implication is that Egypt retired to the Sinai desert and left the Palestine coast in Babylonian hands (2 Kings 24:7).
(see the next post, “Jacob Wasn’t Speaking in Metaphors – Part II,” for more on Jacob’s message to the Nephites in the Temple)

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