Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part IV

Continuing with our discussion of the land setup that Mormon outlined in Alma 22:27, including the Land of Nephi, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Narrow Strip of Wilderness along with the East and West Wildernesses.
Most ancient people and especially the Hebrews and later Nephites, gave location/directional names to physical places under a rather simple, but consistent manner, as illustrated above

    To repeat the stance of how wildernesses were labeled or named in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon, in the area of Zarahemla, the city was the center of the land, it being the home of the overall national government of the Nephite Nation. Thus, moving outward from the city of Zarahemla, west would have been along the Sea West coastal strip, of which the city was a part for that is where Mulek landed and settled. North would be toward the Wilderness of Hermonts, south would have been the narrow strip of wilderness that ran from the West Sea to the East Sea in a more or less straight course.
    East then would have been toward the borders of the Land of Zarahemla, the Land of Gideon, and eventually the east coast and Sea East. However, Mormon had a tendency to use the Land of Zarahemla in more than one manner:
1. Land of Zarahemla as an area surrounding the City of Zarahemla, with an eastern border along the border of the Land of Gideon and, evidently, the River Sidon; a southern border along the narrow strip of wilderness, and a northern border along an unnamed land (Helaman 4:5);
2. As an overall Land of Zarahemla, making up much of the Land Southward, such as the Land Bountiful, the Land of Zarahemla, and the Land of Nephi;
3. All of the Land Southward in Nephite hands, such as in the description that the land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla were nearly surrounded by water except for a narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32).
Evidently, almost all Nephite cities were named after the first who settled there, and the same name was given to the land immediately around the city (Alma 8:7)

    Consequently, once in a while one has to be careful how he is interpreting the Land of Zarahemla since it represents more than one meaning. However, at no time do we find the Land of Zarahemla being used meaning only the city of Zarahemla. Thus, in the distances described for the 21 days distance between the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla, we do not know where in the Land of Zarahemla that Alma reached when Mormon wrote: “And after they had been in the wilderness twelve days they arrived in the land of Zarahemla” for if this was just the border of the Land of Zarahemla and not the City of Zarahemla, it makes a big difference in the distances many theorists use to determine their size of the Land of Promise.
    Another example is in Mormon’s statement when: “And now there was no more contention in all the land of Zarahemla, among all the people who belonged to king Benjamin, so that king Benjamin had continual peace all the remainder of his days”? Since we do not know this, we need to be careful what part of the land, 1) just around the city, 2) the overall Land of Zarahemla to its borders, 3) The major portion of the Land Southward in Nephite hands other than the Land of Bountiful, or 4) the entire Land Southward in Nephite hands, including the Land of Bountiful and all other Nephite lands in the south” (Mosiah 1:1). Exactly what part of the land did he mean?
    Or another example is “And after being many days in the wilderness they arrived in the land of Zarahemla, and joined Mosiah's people, and became his subjects” (Mosiah 22:13)? Did he mean that Ammon and king Limhi did not reach Zarahemla until they got to the city itself? Or did they enter the land and then a day or more later reached the city?
    While it did not seem to matter to Mormon this fine point of accuracy, it has been used by numerous Theorists to determine time frames and distances and the size of the overall Land of Promise. But that is likely not very accurate since we do not know exactly what Zarahemla is being referred to unless the term “City” applies first. When “Land” applies first, it would appear we are talking about arriving somewhere at or just beyond the border into the land.
    In any event, we need to understand that when Mormon describes a South Wilderness it is in the south of the Land of Zarahemla—not elsewhere. Consequently, when he says there was a narrow strip of wilderness between the Land of Zarahemla dn the Land of Nephi, then we have to understand that this narrow strip was in the area of the south in the Land of Zarahemla—nor would there be two wildernesses in the south so named, and since the narrow strip is not given a name, it stands to reason that this narrow strip of wilderness was the South Wilderness, it being a narrow strip that ran from sea to sea.
The narrow strip of wilderness or the South Wilderness was the dividing line between the two enemies—Nephites and Lamanites, and was the single most important geographical location in the Land of Promise since it was the dividing line that separated peace and war for the Nephite Nation

    We also need to keep in mind why this narrow strip was being introduced. This was not a discussion about wilderness areas in the Land of Promise. It was about the land that the Lamanite king controlled through which he sent a proclamation. And that land was south of a narrow strip of wilderness which divided the land of Zarahemla from the Lamanite lands the king controlled—those lands went from sea to sea, or as Mormon put it: “in all his land, who were in all the regions round about, which was bordering even to the sea, on the east and on the west, and which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness.
    So everything to the north of that dividing narrow strip of wilderness was not part of the land that belonged to the Lamanites that the king controlled—only that land southward of that narrow strip of wilderness. Thus we can say that in this case, the narrow strip of wilderness is like a border or a line dividing the two major lands (Lamanites and Nephites).
    Earlier, Mormon had introduced the South Wilderness, as being very high in elevation and connecting the Land of Manti and the River Sidon (Alma 16:6-7), which he also comments upon when talking about the Narrow Strip of Wilderness (Alma 22:27). It is important to keep in mind that in Alma 22, Mormon breaks from his abridgement to introduce his own dialogue to help his future reader relate to these areas he has and is mentioning. He does this by starting out describing the Lamanite king’s land, then branches out to show that the Lamanites and Nephites were basically divided along a narrow strip of wilderness in the south (that is, south of the Land of Zarahemla, which, being a Nephite, is his land of focus).
And with that focus, Mormon then branches out to show where the Nephites were, the lands they controlled, that the Lamanites had infringed upon those holdings along the seashore or coasts for a short distance, but that the Nephites, “in their wisdom” had contained the Lamanites to the south. And in so doing, he describes this north-south land, beginning as he did with the Lamanite king’s lands in the south (south of the narrow strip of wilderness) and then moving northward, with the Land of Zarahemla and then the Land of Bountiful and then goes into a discussion on the Land Northward, and how that far land was separated by the Land of the Nephites by a narrow neck of land—even going into the detail of that narrow neck was the distance across that a normal man, a Nephite (not a woodsman like a Lamanite) could cross during a day-and-a-half journey. A journey, not a long-distance race, or any other unusual method of travel. Depending on the terrain, this distance would probably be somewhere between about 25 or 30 miles to upwards of 40 and maybe even 45 miles at best, since a journey is usually considered a leisurely pace, and a day-and-a-half typically would equate to 18 hours of walking (12 hour for one day, 6 hours for the half-day).
    So as Mormon returns to his abridgement, we return to the labeling of areas. Unlike modern man, because of the increasing number of places, objects, locations, etc., that need labeling, the ancients did not need many names for places. In fact, they often named something temporarily, with any individual (usually a leader of a group) naming a place they happened upon (such as Lehi naming the Valley of Lemuel and the River of Laban in areas where others, with other names for the areas obviously had traveled). However, in some cases, something was so significant, so large,such as a very big river, lake, or inland sea, requires a single name, such as the directional seas in Israel did anciently, but over time have evolved to be the Sea of Galilee, the Mediterranean, and the Dead Sea.
As an example, the Dead Sea, which lies to the east of Jerusalem, was once, and probably originally, called the Eastern Sea, for there was also a Western Sea (the Mediterranean). It was also called the Sea of Zoar, the Salt Sea, and the Sea of Arava and today the Dead Sea because it has no outlet everything that reaches it dies in it.
    The Mediterranean Sea, once called the West or Western Sea (Hinder Sea, meaning behind or West), derives its present name from the Latin word mediterraneus, meaning “amid the Earth” or “between land” like Mesopotamia is so named meaning “between the rivers.” The Carthaginians called it the “Syrian Sea,” and later Romans called it Mare Rostrum (Latin for “our sea”), but in the Bible and primarily it was known as the “Great Sea,” or simply “The Sea.” In more modern times it was the Mediterranean Sea from the Latin mediterraneus meaning “inland”or “in the middle of land” (from medius, middle and terra land. Today, to the Arab world, it is the White Sea, meaning Middle Sea.
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part V,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)

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