Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part V

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.
    So in effect, Mormon is both describing this south wilderness and naming it for us. Its name, of course, is the South Wilderness, like East Sea, North Sea, West Sea and South Sea. Its description is a narrow strip of wilderness that ran from sea to sea, dividing the Lamanite and Nephite lands.
    Once we understand the nature of the Nephites and their naming places, much like the Hebrews before them, of whom they are descended, it becomes less confusing to know what this or that action or name means and why it is so labeled.
Today, because of the duplicity of lands in the region, it can be confusing why the West Bank in Jerusalem is really to the East of Jerusalem, but that is merely because one may not understand that the West Bank is the west bank of the Jordan River, even though the Jordan River is to the east of Jerusalem (in fact, it included 371,000 Israelite settlers on the West Bank and another 212,000 Jewish Israelis in East Jerusalem). Therefore, placing the West Bank in the east of the land of Jerusalem. 
    It stems from a translation of the Arabic term ad-Diffah I-Garbiyyah, given to the territory west of the Jordan River that fell, in 1948, under occupation and administration by Jordan, which claimed subsequently to have annexed it in 1950. This annexation (International Law of Occupation, Oxford University Press, 2012, p204) was recognized only by Britain, Iraq and Pakistan. The term was chosen to differentiate the “west bank” of the River Jordan from the “east bank” of this river.
Another problem is the consider that Nephihah was build further inland for Amalikiah did not want to attack it, but keep his army down by the seashore. As Mormon states it: “But it came to pass that Amalickiah would not suffer the Lamanites to go against the city of Nephihah to battle, but kept them down by the seashore, leaving men in every city to maintain and defend it” (Alma 51:25). On the other hand, this city could have been much closer to the coast than some theorists place it, but up on a mountain top, cliff face, etc., making its attack by the Lamanites an unsure bet, so they kept their troops down by the seashore, meaning at a lower elevation.
One of the type of mountain top fortresses found throughout Peru and the Andes 

    We have to be careful how we read scripture and not just place our own meaning on words, phrases and ideas merely because it sounds right to us. Moroni ran into this type of problem when angry with the Nephite government for not sending fresh supplies and troops to help him keep the peace in the east, especially after Nephihah and other cities fell to the Lamanites—but he had misjudged the situation not knowing the chief governor, Pahoran, had been exiled from Zarahemla and wicked men sat on the judgement seats  in his place (Alma 60:1. 61:4).
    We can add to this placement of Nephihah that later, when Nephites were driven out of various eastern coastal cities of Morianton, Lehi, and Moroni, they made their way to Nephihah for safety (Alma 59:5).
    Evidently these four cities were fairly close together since Helaman’s strategy was to lure the entrenched Lamanits within these cities out into the open to do battle, and he marched his men past the cities hoping to draw the enemy out where the Nephites would have a chance to defeat them.
    It just could be that Nephihah was a strong fortress so positioned to make an attack of it a very difficult; however, this is just what the Lamanites did as they gathered an army so numerous the people of Nephihah could not withstand them (Alma 59:8) and fled and came over and joined the army of Moroni.
    We also find that the city Manti was nearby, for those driven out by the Lamanites fled to Nephihah, as did the coastal cities of Lehi, Morianton and Moroni (Moroni being just north of the narrow strip of wilderness along the east coast seashore), evidently placing Nephihah between these two areas, and probably closer to the coast than some might think. In fact, it is likely that Nephiah was geographically close enough to the sea to be included in these three cities that occupied the former East Wilderness. As suggested, it may have occupied a cliff or mountain top, been separated from the coastal side by a canyon,  making the cities of Morianton and Lehi easier to attack since they were evidently in the lowlands along the coastal beaches. 
    Evidently on the one side of Nephihah was a large plain area, flat ground, or open region for we are told that Moroni and Pahoran with their army pitched their tents on the Plains of Nephihah (Alma 62:18). Further north, of course, were the cities of Omner, Gid, and Mulek, which all occupied areas along the seashore, for that was where Amalikiah attacked (Alma 51:25-26). However, these three cities were evidently not as close to Nephihah as was the southern cities, for when Omner, Gid and Mulek were attacked, their people did not flee to Nephihah as did the southern cities. On the other hand, it might not have been distance at all, merely that the Lamanites would have been between these cities and Nephihah, having come from the south and attacking from that quarter. Still, when Moroni recaptured the Lamanite-held city of Gid, he did not take his prisoners to Nephihah but instead marched them to ther city of Bountiful (Alma 55:26), yet that might have been, again, that there were Lamanites to the south, or that the particular passes and mountain roads were easier to reach Bountiful from that point than Nephihah.
    This is why it is so difficult to determine distances, since there is simply no criteria that can singularly be applied. For those who want to limit the distances, such as Mesoamerican Theorists, they cite those factors that support their ideas, as do those who want a larger Land of Promise, such as the Heartland Theorists. The facts are, we simply do not know. And citing statistics that can so easily be countered by another set of statistics is not helpful
It is difficult to attack uphill, especially steep hills, against a fortress, no matter how large your numbers since the entrenched force inside the fortress has all the advantages 

    Much later, during the destruction that befell the Land of Promise during the crucifixion, the city of Moroni, which was located along the coast of the Sea East close to the narrow strip of wilderness, sank into the depths of the sea and the inhabitants thereof were drowned” (3 Nephi 8:9); however, what destruction, if any, that might have befell the cities of Lehi, Morianton and Nephihah, we are not told, so whatever the configuration of the city of Moroni, situated on a cliff overlooking the coast, or along the shoreline  of a beach, that ground disappeared beneath it and Moroni sank into the depths of the sea. As for the other nearby cities, Morianton, Lehi and Nephihah are not mentioned again in the scriptural record, nor for that matter, is Manti.
    It is interesting that while Mormon is abridging the record from Helaman through 4 Nephi, which covers all of the events listed here, he begins his own book or story (Mormon) by telling us of Ammaron’s hidden records, and Mormon being brought into the Land of Zarahemla from the Land Northward by his father (Mormon 1:6). Evidently, in his travels southward, Mormon was so impressed with the number of buildings and unending occupation of the land by the Nephnites, that he remembered it and wrote about it some 60 years later (Mormon 1:7).
(See the next post, “The Sea East and the East Wilderness – Part VI,” for a further discussion of these wildernesses and seas that Mormon describes)


  1. Just for fun I brought up Google maps and looked at the area north of Cuzco. Lo and behold there are several National parks that would I'm sure fit the description of the South Wilderness. Seems to fit pretty good.

  2. All of that land from the Amazon across Machu Picchu and west to the Pacific (dropping south of Lima) is basically an area of wilderness even today.