Saturday, September 3, 2016

Some Simple Placements in the Land of Promise

There are so many wild idea of theorists today as to where different areas of the Book of Mormon Land of Promise would be located, from an area called the “Plains of the Lamanites,” an expression Joseph Smith used in a letter to his wife, Emma, but never mentioned in the scriptural record which he translated, thus suggesting an area not covered within the actual Land of Promise, or at least that part of it covered in the Book of Mormon storyline. From this to Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII, a letter filled with his, poetic and fanciful opinion as to how the battle at Cumorah took place and where, showing his complete lack of understanding of that battle and circumstance (see previous posts).
    To think that we do not have sufficient information to know what the Land of Promise more or less looked like, how it was configured and what was north or south or east or west of one another, is simply untrue. For Theorists who are too lazy to follow the descriptions in the scriptural record pertaining to the placement of areas is poor scholarship. Certainly there is sufficient to give us more than a correct overall understanding. Certainly so that the placement of lands where they don’t belong is simply unacceptable.
General Map of the Nephite Land of Promise, showing the major land divisions of the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and the minor land division of the Land North and the Land South within the land Southward 

1. The Land of Promise is divided into two major land masses or regions called the Land Northward and the Land Southward, and there is a narrow or small neck of land separating these two major lands (Alma 22:32). This narrow neck is the only connection between these two lands and it contains a passage or pass
2. This pass or passage led into the Land Northward (Alma 52:9) from the Land Southward (Mormon 2:29; 3:5)), and ran by the sea on the east and on the west (Alma 50:34). It was located in the narrow neck of land between these two larger land masses (Alma 63:5).
3. The lands of Desolation and Bountiful are not descriptive of the greater Land Northward and the greater Land Southward, but are smaller divisions of land within those areas; that is, the Land Northward contains at least the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:30), Land of Cumorah, Land of Many Waters (Mormon 6:4); the Land Southward contains at least, the Land of Bountiful (Alma 50:11), the Land of Zarahemla, the Land of Nephi (Alma 22:, and the Land of Lehi. Thus the land directly to the north of the small neck was called Desolation, and the land directly south of the small neck was called Bountiful (Alma 22:31).
4. The Land of Bountiful was south of the small neck of land, and north of the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:29).
5. The Land of Zarahemla was north of the Land of Nephi, the two separated by a narrow strip of wilderness that ran from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27). This narrow strip was also called a “line,” for when Moroni drove out the Lamanites from the Land of Zarahemla, on both the east and the west, “he fortified the line between the Nephites and the Lamanites, between the Land of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi…the Nephites possessing all the land northward” (Alma 50:11). This narrow strip of wilderness was evidently considered a military defensive line dividing the Nephites on the north from the Lamanites on the south (Alma 22:33–34, Helaman 4:7–8). However, this line was evidently effective for only 37 years (72 B.C. to 35 B.C.), Nephite dissenters joined forces with a numerous army of Lamanites and conquered all the land of Zarahemla, thus destroying the effectiveness of the defensive narrow strip of wilderness (Helaman 4:8).
6. The Land of Nephi was northward of the place of Lehi’s Landing, called the Land of First Inheritance, which was located along the seashore of the Sea West in the south (Alma 22:28).
7. The Land of Nephi was at a higher elevation than the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 47:1), with the city of Nephi in a highland valley surrounded by hills (Mosiah 7:5-6; Alma 27:5; Omni 1:13). In addition, the land of Jershon was also lower than the eastern portion of the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma22:22,26). Thus it might be concluded that the narrow strip of wilderness, also being elevated, and likely was mountainous.
The Land of Nephi ran in a “straight course” or straight line from sea to sea 

8. The land of Nephi ran in a “straight course” from the east sea to the west (Alma 50:8). Here we have to assume “to the west” meant the west sea, since the land of Nephi ran from the east sea to the west sea (Alma 22:27). This, then would mean that the Narrow Strip of Wilderness would have run in a “straight course,” at least along its southern border with the Land of Nephi. The word “course” means “in a direct or curving line,” “continual, as not stopping” “direct; passing from one point to another by the nearest course; not deviating or crooked; as a straight line; a straight course.” And “narrow” of course means “of little breadth, not wide or broad, having little distance from side to side.” 
9. That the “head of river Sidon” means the source or beginning of the river, which was located in the narrow strip of wilderness to the south of Zarahemla, thus flowing northward past the city of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27).
10. The hill Manti is a high hill near Zarahemla (Alma 1:15), within the land of Manti located near the south wilderness (Alma 16:6-7), between the city of Zarahemla and the Land of Nephi (Alma 17:1), north of the Lamanites in the Land of Nephi by the head of the River Sidon (Alma 22:27), evidently at the base of the hills inside Zarahemla (Alma 43:32), the city of Manti was within the Land of Manti (Alma 56:14). Taking this further, between Zarahemla and Nephi are both Minon, south of Zarahemla (Alma 2:24), and Manti, south of Minon. Manti is also lower than the head of the River Sidon (Alma 43:32), suggesting it was lower than the higher areas of the narrow strip of wilderness. It should also be noted that after the Lamanites had captured the cities of Manti, Zeezrom, Cumeni and Antiparah, the Lamanites found themselves in a quandary as the Nephite army received reinforcements of men and supplies and now numbered ten thousand warriors (Alma 56:28). The Lamanites saw that “They durst not pass by us with their whole army, neither durst they with a part, lest they should not be sufficiently strong and they should fall. Neither durst they march down against the city of Zarahemla; neither durst they cross the head of Sidon, over to the city of Nephihah” (Alma 56:24-25), showing further the location of Manti above Zarahemla, near the Land of Nephi in the narrow strip of wilderness at the head of the River Sidon. 
11. The Sea East was part of an ocean that nearly surrounded the lands of Zarahemla and Nephi except for a small neck of land (Alma 22:32), and located to the east of the land of Bountiful (Alma 27:22; 51:32), east of the Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:27), and east of the narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 22:27), and east of the land of Nephi (Alma 22:27).
12. The Sea West was part of the ocean that nearly surrounded the lands of Zarahemla and Nephi except for a small neck of land (Alma 22:32), located to the West of the Land of Bountiful (Alma 22:33), Land of Zarahemla (Alma 22:28), Narrow Strip of Wilderness (Alma 22:27), the Land of Nephi (Alma 22:27), and the Land of Lehi where they first landed (Alma 22:28).
13. The Book of Mormon descriptions of the Land of Promise uses cardinal directions. There is no such thing as “Mormon north,” as decried by John L. Sorenson and of which all Mesoamerican Theorists adhere in order to make there east-west land acceptable to the north-south descriptions of Mormon regarding the land of Promise. While due north or due south is not used, and while northward and southward are often used, these lands were basically northward and southward of one another, not to the east or west as Mesoamerican Theorists as well as most Great Lakes and eastern U.S. Theorists also claim. In this vein, it should be noted that when Mormon meant a cardinal point that many of us would say “northwest,” he uses the terminology “which was west and north beyond the borders” (Alma 2:36), and also “they were scattered on the west, and on the north, until they had reached” (Alma 2:37). Also, Mormon appears to use different terms for these circumstances, such as using the term “Northward” 50 times, the term “North” 20 times, and the term “Northern” 2 times in his writing according to Mormon’s abridgement. He also uses “South” 18 times, and “Southward” 3 times. Which all should suggest that the layout of this land was mostly northward and southward, but basically north and south with some slight variation.
    As straight-forward as this is, and as much as the scriptural record bears it out, no Mesoamericanist is going to pay any attention to these scriptures in this light since it completely eliminates their theory of an east-west Land of Promise. Nor is any Great Lakes, Heartland, or eastern U.S. Theorist going to accept the scriptural statements because they completely show that their various models are not accurate. They would rather relate to articles in the Times & Seasons, or Oliver Cowdery’s Letter VII, as more important and more accurate information than the Book of Mormon scriptural record written and abridged by prophets who lived in the land and walked across it and defended it from attack.
    Yet, as Nephi said, “For my soul delighteth in plainness; for after this manner doth the Lord God work among the children of men. For the Lord God giveth light unto the understanding; for he speaketh unto men according to their language, unto their understanding” (2 Nephi 31:3). Too bad more people are not willing to listen to that plainness and not try to make more of what was said and written than clearly intended.


  1. Del, I certainly love your little drawings of the BOM lands. How are you creating those?

  2. In another life I was an artist--I use a Word program (annotating) lines and overlay them on maps I draw or find, etc. I just got a new Word program recently with a new computer and having fun with it

  3. I agree with Fred R. Barnard, of Printers' Ink who said on March 10,1927, that "A picture is worth ten thousand words." One of these days I need to get an actual drawing program--myh photoshop is so old I think it came over with the Mayhflower...