Thursday, August 4, 2016

Is the Narrow Neck the Key? – Part II

Continuing from the previous post on the importance of landmarks, and how to find the location of the Land of Promise and understand the events that took place there.
    So which is the most important? The narrow neck, the narrow passage, the directions, the location of the Hill Cumorah, the written language, the Sidon River, or what? Actually, it is none of these and all of them. No one or even a handfull of features Mormon describes is the key. 
    It is all of them! Any location must account for every description in the scriptural record.. 
    If we are going to locate the Land of Promise and see where Nephi traveled, where the Mulekites landed, where the Sidon River flowed, where the land narrowed so much that inhabitants of the area could tell it was a narrow neck, we have to find a place that fits all of them. And the easiest way to find where Lehi landed is to follow the path Nephi’s ship took from the Sea of Arabia (Irreantum), as he described its motivation or movement, i.e., “driven forth before the wind toward the promised land” (1 Nephi 18:8).
Great Lakes Theorists at this point always want to say, that they know where the Land of Promise was located because Oliver Cowdery said where it was in Letter VII, that Joseph Smith supposedly verified. If that were really the case, then the Church long ago would have stated the official location of the Land of Promise. No, it is not a simple matter of reading what one of the early brethren believe to be accurate, no matter their position. Had the Lord revealed the location of the Land of Promise it would have been revealed to Joseph Smith first, and then only through him to the rest of the Church. If the Lord had told Joseph not to tell the Church, he would not have told Oliver—either way, Letter VII has no more validity to stating Church doctrine than any other writing by any other Church leader when stating a personal opinion.
    The point of all this is simply that there are a few steps that must be taken before anything else, even before settling on a possible location. In the political world, there is a saying “follow the money” if you want to know something. In the Book of Mormon there is an equally important principle: “Follow the scriptures” if you want to know something contained within them. Stated differently, let’s not get the cart before the horse—start at the beginning (Nephi’s words) and follow the scriptural account.
1. Thus, follow Nephi’s words to see where he sailed and where he landed, and
2. Understand what Nephi found at the point of landing.
3. Place to land (how he steered out of the current and to land and where that would have been)
   Once we have located Nephi’s place of landing, and verified what he says he found there:
 4. Place to pitch tents (suitable for long term settlement, and close to landing site since Lehi and Sariah were old and ill and not able for further travel);
5. Place to till the ground (land, soil, soil groups, temperature, climate, and preciciptation suitable for the seeds he brought from Jerusalem—a Mediterranean Climate—which has warm to hot, dry summers; and mild to cool, wet winters);
6. Conditions leading to the harvesting of an exceedingly abundant crop;
7. A forest large enough for both wild and domesticated animals;
8. Place where gold, silver and copper were abundant.
    At this point, one should remind themself that neither Mesoamerica (coast of Guatemala where they say Lehi landed), nor the Great Lakes area, are Mediterranean Climates, do not have the soils, soil groups, temperature, climate or precipitation similar to in any way that of Jerusalem from where Lehi brought his seeds, and neither location (Mesoamerica coastal area is tropical, hot and humid; Great Lakes area (humid continental climate with winters long and cold). In neither location would the seeds Lehi brought from Jerusalem have grown in 600 B.C. That being the case, what should a person do who is trying to find the location of the Land of Proimse and where Lehi landed? 
    Obviously, look for another landing site! 
    The interesting thing is that there are only five Mediterranean Climates outside of the Mediterranean Sea (of which Jerusalem is a part) and only two of those five are in the Western Hemisphere.
In order for Lehi to have planted seeds from a Mediterranean Climate that grew exceedingly and provided an abundant harvest, Lehi would have had to have landed either in the Cape of Good Hope along the southern tip of South Africa, the southern tips of Australia (Albany to Perth in the southwest, or west of Melbourne in the southeast), or the area of Coquimbo Bay and La Serena in Central Chile, or the area of Southern California in the U.S. Since only two of these areas are in the Western Hemisphere (Chile and California), then that is where one would need to look to satisfy this step in the process.
    So if one picks California, one would have to find ocean currents and winds that could have carried Nephi’s ship, “which was driven forth before the wind toward the promised land” moving him in that direction. Unfortunately, for such a vessel driven or pushed forward by wind, one would find himself having to reach the California Current, the eastern arm of the clock-wise North Pacific Gyre, which arm passes along the western coast of the U.S. from around British Columbia to Baja California.
    In this constant and circular movement, the  trade winds push water west, away from the coast of North America. The water travels across the Pacific Ocean until it hits Asia, so it cannot go forward. It flows north along the coast of Asia; it cannot stop at the coast of Asia because the trade winds continue to push more water west and this incoming water pushes the water out of the way and along the coast of Asia. By the time the water flowing north reaches Japan, the winds have shifted, and the water flows to the north in what is called the Kuroshio Current (“Kuroi”means “black” in Japanese, and “shio” means “river,” so “Kuroshio” means ”Black Stream” and is called that because warm water tends to have less life than cold water, hence, “lifeless river”).
     At this point the Westerlies push the water to the east, away from the coast of Japan and toward California. When the water reaches California, it is forced to stop or turn by the land. The winds continue pushing more and more water toward the coast of California, and this water pushes the water already along the coast out of the way and down the coast to the south. Of course, water flows downhill, however it cannot flow downhill back into the ocean because the winds are pushing water toward the coast, so it flows downhill in the only direction it can, along the coast. Just as water piles up when winds push water into the coast, winds create a hole or “gap” in the surface of the ocean where they push water away from the coast. Water further up the coast will flow down the coast (“downhill”) to fill the gap. This water begins to leave the coast near the bend in the coast of California (Point Concepcion not far from Santa Barbara), and is pushed west again, away from the coast by the trade winds.
    Thus, while it is possible to reach the west coast of North America by sailing northward from Indonesia in the Pacific Ocean past Japan and curve across the Aleutians and pick up the coasts of Alaska and Canada, getting from the Sea of Arabia or the Indian Ocean through Indonesia to the Pacific would not have been possible for Nephbi’s ship “which was driven forth before the winds toward the promised land” since the winds and currents coming off the pacific flow from east to west through Indonesia into the Sea of Arabia and the Indian Ocean.
Not only would Nephi’s ship been unable to make any headway through Indonesia, he and his crew would never have been able to manage the hundreds of course changes required to make such a voyage even if the winds flowed in the correct direction.
(See the next post, “Is the Narrow Neck the Key? – Part II,” for more on the importance of landmarks, and how to find the location of the Land of Promise and understand the events that took place there)


  1. I agree it all has to fit. But initially both Preddis and Birrell located the narrow neck first. Verla Birrell in her BOM guide book drew locations of the narrow neck starting in Nicaragua down to Chile. She knew that the land of South America had been uplifted. That was her starting point. That was where she left off.

    Priddis did not know about Birrell's work until near the end of her work on "The Book and the Map". But she began her book with the location of the narrow neck. After finding it then all the other pieces had to fit which they do.

    That is why I would never be able to accept the NA model because it simply does not have a narrow neck between two seas. Also none of the other pieces for their fictional narrow neck fit as well.

    Interesting study. Thanks. Ira

  2. You can't argue with a method that finds the right location. My point is, starting with the scriptural record and following Nephi's course is the best starting point and the only one that can be demonstrably correct and defended without question.

  3. Del, you've done an excellent job of finding the correct location - no question about it. You attacked the problem from a different angle than Priddis and Birrell however. The results converged on the correct location. The scriptural record certainly did provide the clues.

    I do have a question though for you. How did you know that Nephi left from Arabia? Was it FG Williams journal, Nibley, or did you figure that one out as well? Thanks, Ira

  4. When you follow his journey in 1 Nephi 17 you see he traveled south-southeast down by the Red Sea, then turned almost due est and came to the sea. he obviously would have traveled along the Frankincense Trail since that was where the water was located. That trail ends at Salalah in Oman. There would have been no other route across the Rub' al Khali (Empty Quarter).

  5. And so after finding this detail then the study of the currents and winds was the obvious next problem to be solved to trace the route through the ocean.

    Daniel Peterson just wrote an article in the DN Faith section about Meso-America that said they have cracked the Mayan language somewhat but for some unknown reason nothing seems to line up with the BOM. Imagine that!

    My question to you is did Hagoth settle Mexico in your opinion? Or do you think his ship was lost at sea? My guess is since these were Nephites they did not settle North in Mexico and the language is so much different that it tends to prove that they weren't related to the Mayan. But what is your opinion? Thanks, Ira