Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part X

Contining with Amaleki’s comments about the placement of the city of Zarahemla and Mormon’s description of the location of the Land of Nephi, the narrow strip of wilderness and the Land of Zarahemla. 
Using the advanced knowledge of stonework and building techniques learned from the Lord, Nephi taught his people to build buildings and work with their hands

    After Nephi settled in what they called the land of Nephi and built the City of Nephi, which later would be called the land and city of Lehi-Nephi by the Nephites in Zarahemla (Mosiah 7:1, 6). Nephi, Jacob, Enos, Jarom and the others down until Amaleki, all lived out their lives in this area, often referred to as the land of Nephi in the scriptural record, a period of about 350 years. During that time, the Nephites built the cities of Shilom adjacent to the city of Nephi, and also the city of Shemlon—when Zeniff went back to reclaim the city of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi), he was given that city and also the city of Shilom. The city of Shemlon was retained by the Lamanites (Mosiah 7:7, 21; 9:6, 8; 19:4).
Sacsahuaman, or the City of Nephi, was built along the plateau overlooking the valley of Cuzco behind three formidable levels of zig-zag stone walls that completely blocked off the one side, with the cliff on the other, in an almost impregnable location. Note the size of the stones compared to the people in the foreground

    Now the city of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi) was built in a cup-shaped valley high up in the hills or mountains (Mosiah 7:6), and at a much higher elevation than that of the land of Zarahemla, which was on the north of Nephi (Mosiah 7:1-2; Alma 22:27-33; 50:7), and according to Mormon, was divided from the Land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness (Alma 27:14), with all three—Land of Zarahemla, the strip of wilderness, and the Land of Nephi running from the Sea East to the Sea West (Alma 22:27; 50:8, 11), although the Land of Zarahemla also contained other lands to the east, and its borders ran along the Sidon River (Alma 2:15), with the Valley of Gideon to the east (Alma 6:7).
At one time Sacsayhuaman, the City of Nephi, was so impressive, that the conquering Spanish thought it had been built by the Devil, it was so magnificent in its construction size, appearance and techniques. They tore down as much as they could, but remains are still impressive in its size and magnificence, drawing tourists from all over the world

    Now, after this lengthy period of Nephi building and expansion in what is now called the Land of Nephi, in which the Nephites had spent their entire 350 years or so, evidently not having moved to the north, into or beyond the narrow strip of wilderness, the Nephi nation began to fall away from the Church and righteous living. In fact, the Nephite had become so wicked, despite numerous wars and contentions with the Lamanites (Omni 1:10), there were only a  few righteous left, which the lord preserved and “delivered them out of the hands of their enemies” (Omni 1:7).
    Around 200 B.C. or so, Chemish, the brother of Amaron, passed the records on the small plates to his son Abinadom, who passed them on to his son, Amaleki, who described Mosiah being told to leave the city and land of Nephi and to take all those who would go with him (Omni 1:12): ”they were led by many preachings and prophesyings. And they were admonished continually by the word of God; and they were led by the power of his arm, through the wilderness, until they came down into the land which is called the land of Zarahemla.” (Omn 1:13).
Now the Land of Zarahemla was an extensive area, bordering along on the north of the narrow strip of wilderness—which was evidently a mountainous region that included the headwaters of the Sidon River (Alma 22:27), which would have flowed from the south toward the north, down the mountain through the narrow strip of wilderness and past and through the lands of Zarahemla toward the north and eventually to the sea.
    Amaleki, the last of the Nephi prophets through the lineage of Jacob, with no family and a brother who had gone with Zeniff back to reclaim the lands of their inheritance in the lands of Nephi (Lehi-Nephi), ended up giving the records to King Benjamin (Omni 1:25; Words of Mormon 1:3, 10) which were later joined with the records held by Mormon (Words of Mormon 1:6), was an eye-witness to the discovery of the people of Zarahemla, which we know as the descendants of Mulek and his party which left Jerusalem and were guided by the lord to the Land of Promise, landing and settling where Mosiah found them, obviosuly along the seashore where they landed.
As Amaleki put it: “And they journeyed in the wilderness, and were brought by the hand of the Lord across the great waters, into the land where Mosiah discovered them; and they had dwelt there from that time forth” (Omni 1:16), adding, ”And at the time that Mosiah discovered them, they had become exceedingly numerous. Nevertheless, they had had many wars and serious contentions, and had fallen by the sword from time to time; and their language had become corrupted; and they had brought no records with them; and they denied the being of their Creator; and Mosiah, nor the people of Mosiah, could understand them” (Omni 1:17).
    Unfortunately, Mesoamericanists disregard this information of Mulek landing and settling where Mosiah found them because it does not fit into their Mesoamerica model and questionable secular history of the area, consequently, Mesoamrican theorists have created a scenario where Mulek landed in the Land Northward among the Jaredites (Sorenson p120), eventually traveled southward to settle the City of Mulek (Sorenson p249) along the east coast to the east of Bountiful, and then eventually some traveled to settle in Zarahemla (p249). 
    However, the fact of the matter is what Amaleki, an eye-witness to this meeting with Zarahemla and a recorder of what the chief Zarahemla told Mosiah about his history and that of his people, and the Mulektes traveled across the ocean, being led by the hand of the Lord, to land along the West Sea shore and settle there, where Mosiah found them (Omni 1:16).
How far Mosiah traveled from the city of Nephi to the city of Zarahemla, wandering in the
wilderness, “admonished continually by the word of God,” and being “led by the power of his arm,” is not known. Later, when Alma reverses that route, we are told it took him a total of 21 days to travel from the Waters of Mormon, which would have been within a day or two total from the city of Nephi, to the time he “arrived in the Land of Zarahemla” (Mosiah 24:25). Whether or not that phrase means arrived at the city of Zarahemla or just the borders of the land, is not known, so even though this is the only definitive time and distance measurement in the entire scriptural record, it too is clouded with a little questionable information. So whether or not it took 21 days, of 24 or 25, is simply not know, yet a distance factor can still be closely determined, if not exactly. Figuring 20 miles a day travel distance, times 21 days, we have a total of 420 miles; at 25 days, it would be 500 miles; consequently, we can say the distance between the City of Nephi and the City of Zarahemla is between 400 and 500 miles.
    The distance between Cuzco and Lima, or more accurately, between Sacsayhuaman (Nephi) and Pachacamac (Zarahemla) is about 600 miles. Thus, if the scriptural reference is to the borders of the Land of Zarahemla, then the further distance to the actual city, 650 miles would be just abut right. In addition, from Sacsayhuaman along the east coast (seashore when the Sea East existed) and the cities of Moroni to Lehi, Morianton, Omner, etc., where most of the Lamanite attacks were located, the distance is much shorter (from about 75 miles upwards to about 400 miles). The majority of the cities along this east coast seashore belt fall within about 100 to 200 miles of the City of Nephi. 
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XI,” for Mormon’s descriptions of the land and how it was configured)

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