Sunday, June 19, 2016

Through the Great Lakes Lens – Part III

Continuing from the previous post regarding the Book of Mormon Wars website and their odd views they claim are found in the scriptural record. In the last post we showed where though “daub” was used in Ezekiel, it had nothing to do with the Jews, but with the poor people living on the fringes o Israel in Biblical times. This idea that the Jews built with and used stone is also found in the name of stone in Jerusalem called “Jerusalem stone,” which is a name applied to various types of pale limestone, dolomite and dolomitic limestone, common in and around Jerusalem that have been used in building since ancient times—s stone that was quarried, cut and dressed to be used in Jerusalem in the days before David.
Jerusalem Stone used to build a wall before the time of Lehi
   In fact, the entire area of Israel and the Palestinian territories are primarily underlain by sedimentary limestone, dolomite and dolomitic limestone, with the softer Senonian limestone found to the east of Jerusalem, which has long been used as an inexpensive building material, while stone of the Cenomanian layers, known in Arabic as mizzi ahmar and mizzi yahudi, is far more durable than Senonian limestone, but is very hard and was expensive to quarry using pre-modern methods.    On the other hand, the limestone meleke (“royal stone”), which is a white coarse crystalline limestone used for representative buildings like the Western Wall and parts of the original Herodian Temple, turns to gold once quarried, exposed to air and hardens. Another, mizzi hilu is easily quarried and worked, yet hardens with exposure to the atmosphere and becomes highly durable. Jerusalem stone continues to be used in construction and incorporated in Jewish ceremonial art such as menorahs and seder plates, even today. In fact, by the year 2000, there were 650 stone-cutting enterprises run by on the West Bank, producing a varied range of pink, sand, golden, and off-white bricks and tiles.
    According to Israeli geologist Ithamar Perath, a retired geologist and lifelong Jerusalemite, whose special interest and field of research are the uses of building materials, particularly stone, in ancient Israel, shows that the residents of ancient Jerusalem in antiquity built their homes from Jerusalem stone quarried in the city and used the pit that remained as a cistern to collect rainwater beneath the home. Also, according to stone masons in Jerusalem today, they “learned their trade from their father, who passed on his stonemason's skills down to him through a human chain that reaches back through the "four score thousand hewers in the mountains," who, according to the Bible's First Book of Kings, quarried the stone Solomon used to build his temple.”
Portions of the north wall of the ancient City of Jerusalem is built on a natural scarp of rock of Turonian limestone that was part of Solomon's Quarries
In fact, ancient quarries around Jerusalem include the site of the bus station in East Jerusalem, Rehov Hamadregot in Nahlaot and the Garden Tomb, and the remains of ancient quarries can also be seen near Yemin Moshe, in the Sanhedria neighborhood, and elsewhere. Nor is it just Jerusalem, for a few miles away, Jericho, considered to be the oldest city in the world, built both the wall around the city and the city out of cut stone. In fact, part of a conical tower is still standing today.
    To think that Lehi, a sheik in his own right, and a wealthy man, would have lived in a wattle and daub house as the website claims, rather than his multi-roomed tent of fine materials, rugs, pillows, etc., or a stone house as he had been used to outside Jerusalem, is hard to imagine, knowing what is known and understood by those who know the area and have lived among the Nomadic Jews and Beduoin Arabs.
    Nature provided copious amounts of stone here on the highlands between the Mediterranean plain and the Jordan Valley. And stone, owing to tradition and law as well as availability, has played an important role in the life of these hills, from the beginnings of recorded history to the present.
    And a last note on this subject of cement mentioned by the website, that in speaking of the cement used in the Land Northward “Only in western New York is this distinguished.”
    There is no mention of cement being used in New York, only wattle and daub. If cement were to have been used, then why not cement some of the sloppy built walls of antiquity found occasionally in western New York, claimed to be Nephite by the website authors?
Yet since these walls were supposedly built to keep the Lamanites from overrunning therir cities and their defensive lines, one must ask again, why were they built without cement when cementing the walls would have made them sturdy and definitely a deterent to encroachment by the Lamanites. But as you can see in these photos, the stones were never cemented, nor were they actually stacked high enough to keep an invading army from getting past them.
Another of their statements is that the Book of Mormon Great Lakes theory: “Further refutes include being surrounded by fresh bodies of water - a point ignored entirely by modelers whose lands border salt water sea.”
    Since there is not a single mentioned of being surrounded by fresh bodies of water anywhere in the scripture, it is no wonder that this is not found in any other theorists’ views or explanations of their Land of Promise. In fact, there is not a single use of the term “fresh water” found anywhere in the Book of Mormon, let alone in relation to the land being surrounded by it. Nor do we have anything regarding pure water surrounding the land, but we do find “pure water” regarding the Waters of Mormon (Mosiah 18:5), and a land of “pure water” where Alma stopped after eight days in the wilderness (Alma 23:4), but nowhere else is there any comment of pure or fresh water. Seas are mentioned of course, five of them, one each in the four quarters and the “sea that divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13).
    On the other hand, though the Great Lakes people would like us to believe that the seas mentioned are inland, fresh water lakes, Jacob makes it clear that at least the Sea West was an ocean 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), thus Nephi’s ship sailed across the sea and upon that sea is the isle or island upon which they landed. And based upon that statement, then the other made by Mormon “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” (Alma 22:32), and part of that surrounded would have been the Sea West, or that ocean Nephi sailed across, then we must understand that the surrounding of the waters was the ocean sea, not an inland lake.
    Another stance of the Great Lakes theorists is that “Joseph Smith made several comments which suggest that ancient remains discovered in their vicinity once belonged to Book of Mormon peoples.”
    While this sounds true, only two names appear in the statements by Joseph Smith regarding this matter and they are: Zelph, a White Lamanite, and Onandagus, a prophet, known from the Rocky Mountains to the eastern sea, regarding the finding of a skeleton during Zion’s Camp. Joseph Smith also, in a letter to his wife Emma, said they were on an area he called the Nephite Plains, another term not found in the Book of Mormon. None of these three names, people, or locations appear in the Book of Mormon scriptural record.
    This is merely an opinion that a connection is being made and we do not know whether one was inferred by Joseph Smith to Book of Mormon times, or to the many centuries both lived in the Americas following Hagoth’s immigrants that went northward. There were, as we have stated manh times, references by numerous church leaders, in the past and now, that the Western Hemisphere, ie., both North and South America are part of the Land of Promise, therefore, finding the terms Lamanite or Nephite applied to those on both continents is not proof of one or the other.
Another statement is: “Some ancient American artifacts (one shown to the left) — specifically those known as the "Michigan Relics" — provide powerful evidence that the Bible was known in the pre-Columbian American Northeast.” Actually, the Michigan Relics are considered to be archaeological forgeries, known as the Scotford-Soper-Savage collection, which amounted to nearly 3,000 pieces. Daniel E. Soper, former Michigan Secretary of State, who resigned for ”corrupt behavior,” and affidavits were signed by witnesses who claimed to have seen Scotford’s sons manufacturing “relics.” The artifacts were called “frauds” by James E. Talmage of the LDS Church after participating in and finding some of the so-called “salted” relics. There is so much fraudulent books, writings, and judgments about the Michigan Relics that it is surprising that they appear as part of the support for the Great Lakes theory.


  1. There is another challenge with the theory that Zelph "died in the last great battle of the Lamanites". The remains of Zelph were found in Pike County, Illinois. The last great battle was fought on the Hill Cumorah. The now named Hill Cumorah in Manchester New York is 835 miles from Pike County Illinois. If Zelph died in the last great battle, wouldn't his remains have been near where it was fought? More likely Zelph was a descendant of those we read about in the Book of Mormon.

  2. I'm not surprised at all that they use the Michigan Relics to buttress their theory. Their claims cannot be supported through cold hard facts and so they make them up.

    I went to the website to get a little bit more information and was met with insults and derogatory comments from Jonathan and others. Their theory is entirely bogus and any discussion in opposition is prohibited. Ira

  3. David: Joseph Smith never said the last great battle, that was Wilford Woodruff, I believe, the only one that made that statement. And yes, Zelph would be a descendant of the Book of Mormon Land of promise Lamanites.

    Iterry: No surprise there.