Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XVI

Continuing with more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise. In this particular article, we will deal with a rather obscure comment of Mormon’s that everyone uses, but no one seems to understand its purpose and placement. 
And that is about an area referred to as a “narrow pass.” Now, this pass “led into the land northward” (Alma 50:34; 52:9), and also led into the Land Southward (Mormon 3:5), thus it ran from the Land Northward to the Land Southward. It also ran past both seas, that is: “by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34). Thus this narrow pass ran between both major land masses, with the sea on both sides of it, consequently, it had to be rather narrow to reach both seas in an area that ran between both lands.
    To better understand this, we need to look at one more feature Mormon describes for us, a feature that is always written about and placed in both very narrow and not so narrow areas, despite the fact that it is described quite thoroughly. But before describing the lands held by the Lamanites (in the south) and the Nephites (north of the Lamanites), we need to recognize that the Land of Promise was made up of two basic land masses—the Land Northward and the Land Southward, which was separated by a “small neck of land” (Alma 22:32), elsewhere referred to as a “narrow neck of land” (Alma 63:5).
    This small or narrow neck was situated “between the land northward and the land southward” (Alma 22:32). Now the Land Bountiful, in the Land Southward, bordered on the Land Desolation, in the Land Northward (Alma 22:30), thus, on the south side of this narrow neck, which ran between the Land Southward and the Land Northward, was the Land of Bountiful, and on the north was the Land of Desolation (Alma 22:31), and this narrow neck was so narrow, that a Nephite could cross it in a day-and-a-half journey (Alma 22:32).
    Thus we have a Land of Promise that Mormon describes to us as having two large land masses (Land Southward and the Land Northward) with a narrow neck of land in between that keeps the Land Southward (Zarahemla and Nephi) from being completely surrounded by the sea (Alma 22:32). Consequently, this narrow neck of land is the only land that connects the two major land masses—as some theorists have tried to diagram it, it would look somewhat like an hourglass, with two larger areas, one on top and one on the bottom, with a small area in between.
Now, with this narrow neck of land the only land connecting the two land major masses, the narrow pass or passage, which ran from the Land Northward to the Land Southward (Alma 22:32) could only have run within this narrow neck of land with the Sea East and the Sea West on either side (Alma 50:34).
    There is simply no other possible configuration with these descriptions Mormon gave us. Despite this very clear and very simple fact, several theorists have placed the narrow pass or passage in numerous other areas simply because their model did not have a so-called hourglass shape, with a single land mass—the narrow neck of land—in between them. Yet, that is how Mormon described the land.
    This is why the narrow neck of land and the pass or passage that ran through it from the Land Southward to the Land Northward was such a military strategic area that the Nephites needed to control and keep any enemy (defectors or Lamanites) from entering and getting a foothold in the Land Northward. This is why Morianton’s race to the north was so important and why Moroni ordered Teancum to head Morianton before he reached the narrow pass that led into the Land of Desolation (Alma 50:33-34), and why Teancum killed Morianton and the battle at the pass took place (Alma 50:35).
    If there had been any other means of getting into the Land Northward, Morianton would have taken it in order to achieve his goal and why Moroni “feared that they would hearken to the words of Morianton and unite with his people, and thus he would obtain possession of those parts of the land, which would lay a foundation for serious consequences among the people of Nephi, yea, which consequences would lead to the overthrow of their liberty” (Alma 50:32).
    Patrick L. Simiskey writes about two passes, though only one is mentioned in the scriptural record. He places one pass between Bountiful and Desolation (which the scriptural record shows) and then another pass along the seashore to the northeast. While that may satisfy his Mesoamerican or Central America model and justify his odd-shaped land, the point is always that what the scriptural record states is what we have to go with—we cannot be adding other things here or there to make our model work.
    One way to look at this is found in Ether when we learn about the poisonous snakes (Ether 9:33). In a narrow neck of land, it might be questionable that a group of snakes could block an area some 25 to 30 miles wide. On the other hand, a narrow pass, probably less than 100 yards wide, would be possible.
This narrow pass was the important strategic point in the narrow neck of land. It obviously provided a narrow ingress-egress point, or what is called a “choke point” in the military. Meaning, it can easily be defended and would be hard to move an attacking force through, even against a much smaller force. As Mormon tells us: “And it came to pass that they did not head them until they had come to the borders of the land Desolation; and there they did head them, by the narrow pass which led by the sea into the land northward, yea, by the sea, on the west and on the east” (Alma 50:34, emphasis mine).
    Once having defeated Morianton and taken the rebel force prisoner, Moroni orders Teancum that “he should fortify the land Bountiful, and secure the narrow pass which led into the land northward, lest the Lamanites should obtain that point and should have power to harass them on every side” (Alma 52:9, emphasis mine).
    On another occasion, we are told: “And now, when the Lamanites awoke and saw that the armies of Moroni were within the walls, they were affrighted exceedingly, insomuch that they did flee out by the pass (Alma 62:24, emphasis mine). And still another occasion, Mormon writes: “at the land Desolation, to a city which was in the borders, by the narrow pass which led into the land southward” (Mormon 3:5, emphasis mine). This took place after Mormon agreed to a treaty with the Lamanites “in which we did get the lands of our inheritance divided. And the Lamanites did give unto us the land northward, yea even to the narrow passage which led into the land southward. And we did give unto the Lamanites all the Land Southward”(Mormon 2:28-29, emphasis mine),
    Thus Mormon, who knew this land better than any modern theorists, tells us that there was a single pass from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, a pass that separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward, and for the next ten years he busied the Nephites into preparing their lands and their arms against the time of battle” (Mormon 3:1).
In all of this we find an inarguable point of terrain. The Land Southward was nearly surrounded by water except for this narrow neck of land (Alma 22:32). This neck of land was the only track of land connecting the Land Northward and the Land Southward. Through this narrow neck ran a pass, narrow enough to be a choke point or strategic military front, that greatly decreased the ability for an attacking force to pass. There were no other connections of land between these two major land masses, and no other ingress or egress between them.
    Mormon could not have made it any simpler!
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XVII,” for more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise)


  1. I have often wondered why Mormon did not clarify that the land Northward was also nearly surrounded by water except for the narrow neck of land?

    If they were on an isle of the sea.. then the entire isle would have been surrounded by water.. yet.. it was not mentioned concerning the land northward.

    Any ideas?

    1. South America was an Isle until the time of Christ. After the destruction (time of Mormon) South America was no longer an isle and connected to North America.

    2. Ok.. if that is true that in Mormon's day South America was no longer an isle.. and was connected to North America.. then why oh why did Mormon make the final stand against the Lamanites to watch all those men... women... and children... be slaughtered by the Lamanites at Cumorah? Why then did he not just continue to flee North?

      Del.. this question goes to you as well.


  2. Mr. Niron, good point. Possible answers, he was writing only about the Land Southward and the separation of the Nephite and Lamanite holdings; in his day the Land Northward was not surrounded by water (neither was the Land Southward); he was concentrating on the Land Southward; the Nephites had not yet gone into the Land Northward; his mind was mostly on the Lamanite lands; etc. Sure would have made things simpler if he had included it :)