Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XVII

Continuing with more of the scriptural record statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise, for there can be no question that any Land of Promise must have all these descriptions Mormon and Moroni left us, or that they existed at the time of the Nephites. In this particular article, we take a look at a statement made in Ether that seems to have baffled theorists for some time. As we have extensively pointed out, there were four seas (Helaman 3:8). However, another sea is mentioned and many have tried to make this a separate sea, however, the wordage of the scriptural record does not lead to that conclusion. 
Where the serpents gathered to block off the narrow pass, today known as the Pass of Huayna Capac because of the ancient Inca battle that took place there, but the pass has always existed as far as anyone’s memory; after the serpents were destroyed, the Jaredites preserved the land south of the pass as a hunting reserve

    In Ether 10:19 of Moroni’s abridgement, the discussion is about poisonous serpents that were, after many years—nine generations (Heth, Shiz, Riplakish, Morianton, Kim, Levi, Corom, Kish, Lib)—finally destroyed. Because the Jaredites had not been able to get through the pass and into the Land Southwasrd because of these serpents for all this time, all the animals that had escaped through the pass before the “serpents hedged up the way that the people could not pass” (Ether 9:33), had multiplied and filled up the land just south of the narrow neck of land in the land the Nephites called the Land of Bountiful. At that time, the Jaredites decided not to go into that land to settle, but to preserve it “And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game” (Ether 10:21). The scriptural record tells us of this: “Wherefore they did go into the land southward, to hunt food for the people of the land, for the land was covered with animals of the forest” (Ether 10:19).
    Obviously, since this area would be the stepping off location for such hunting trips, we are told that, “they built a great city by the narrow neck of land, by the place where the sea divides the land” (Ether 10:20).
    Now this sea that divided the land was located at the narrow neck of land, thus, the waters or sea that ran on either side of the narrow neck was evidently larger on one side, thus providing a type of Bay or Gulf.
Based on the map of today’s Ecuador and Gulf of Guayaqil: Left: A Land Northward and a Land Southward with a narrow neck of land in between, with the Land Desolation to the north and the Land of Bountiful to the south, just as Mormon describes it in Alma 22:32); Right: This Bay or Gulf to the west of the narrow neck of land would form the water the Jaredites called the Sea that Divided the Land; to the right of the narrow neck would be the Andes Mountains that rose at the time of the crucifixion

    It should also be clearly understood that in the case of the Jaredites, they did not use terms or names for seas, like East Sea or West Sea, etc. The only name we know of applied to a body of water is Ripliancum, “which by interpretation is large or to exceed all” (Ether 15:8). At no other time do we find a name given a sea, though the term “seashore” is used four times referring at least twice to an east sea (Ether 9:3; 14:26), probably twice to a west sea since referring to being in the land of Moron (Ether 14:11,12- 13), which was in the West near where the Jaredites landed.
    The term “sea in the wilderness” (Ether 2:7) is given, and “that great sea which divideth the lands” (Ether 2:13) but thereafter was simply called “sea,” by the Lord (Ether 2:24, 25) and “sea” by the Brother of Jared (Ether 3:4), and simply “sea” in the narrative (Ether 6:4, 5, 6, 10), though they did call the land there Moriancumer (Ether 2:13).
    With that in mind, it might be understood that in this case, as in the others, because the Land of Promise was an island in Jacob’s time (2 Nephi 10:20) and, therefore, no doubt in the time of the Jaredites, that the term “sea” was simply understood, i.e., that great sea that surrounded the entire land. Thus, the reference in this case to “the sea that divideth the land,” is merely a statement that “the sea” meaning the waters around them, at this particular spot, divided the Land Northward from the land Southward.
    Thus, the name or the reference given was “the sea that divideth the land,” to this gulf or bay by the Jaredites, because it divided the Land Northward (their homeland) from the Land Southward (the land they did not occupy and were saving for an animal preserve).
The Jaredites, at this point, decided not to venture into the Land Southward for settlement, but to keep it pristine so that the animals who had escaped into that land nine generations earlier, would remain nearby and could be hunted from time to time for food. Consequently,
No Jaredite settlements were built in the Land Southward as seen by the following statement: “And they did preserve the land southward for a wilderness, to get game. And the whole face of the land northward was covered with inhabitants” (Ether 10:21).
    This, by the way, should eliminate from Mesoamericanists thinking the idea that the Olmec were the Jaredites, since the Olmec built settlements all over their Land Southward. The problem for most theorists, however, is the question “what sea is being described here?”
    To answer this question, we need keep in mind that the sea that divides the land is mentioned in conjunction with the narrow neck of land. And the city they built, and the sea mentioned, is along by this narrow neck of land. So to understand the sea, we need to understand what made this land narrow at the neck. We also need to keep in mind that this is written by Moroni who is reading the Jaredite record, and who had the advantage of spending most of his life in the Land Southward, knowing very well what that land looked like, how it was shaped, how the land narrowed to form the narrow neck of land, and what waters flowed around the south countries, i.e., south of the narrow neck of land.
    He also knew how the waters formed around this narrow neck and its narrow passage which had seas on the west and east (Alma 50:34). He also knew about Hagoth’s shipyard and from where the ships that went northward sailed.
 Left: The Ba of Guayaquil in southern Ecuador that divides the western coast of Andean South America, today leaving about a 25-mile-wide corridor , or neck, between Peru (south) and Ecuador (north), blocked on the east by the sheer height of the Andes Mountains, and on the left by the sea; Right: In Nephite times,the Andes had not yet risen and this area on the east was a sea, today referred to as the Pebasian Sea by geologists (See the post "The Rising of South America--Part III," dated September 7,2012)

    Thus, from a viewpoint of knowing this configuration, Moroni wrote the words “where the sea divides the land.” Or, where the sea encroached into the land and divided it. Or where the sea separated the Land Northward from the Land Southward.
    This, of course, is the same sea into which Hagoth launched his ships, which Moroni knew very well from reading the records and knowing what his father wrote and knew. No doubt Hagoth’s shipyards at the narrow neck existed long after the period in which he is mentioned, since the Nephites were involved in shipping and the building of ships  (Helaman 3:14).
    And since Moroni was in the narrow neck area during the ten year hiatus of peace (Mormon 2:29; 3:1), and was part of Mormon’s army which withstood the Lamanite invasion through the narrow neck of land (Mormon 3:5) during the following three years. Consequently, it must be understood that Moroni, when writing about the Jaredites around the narrow neck of land some forty years later, was well versed in the area he was describing.
    The fact that this sea had no name is consistent with the Jaredite manner of not giving names to seas; at least the record lists no names, though directions are understood. Take the example of Omer when he departed out of the land and traveled many days, it says he traveled “eastward, and came to a place which was called Ablom, by the seashore, and there he pitched his tent” (Ether 9:3). Again, “And it came to pass that in the first year of Lib, Coriantumr came up unto the land of Moron, and gave battle unto Lib. And it came to pass that he fought with Lib, in which Lib did smite upon his arm that he was wounded; nevertheless, the army of Coriantumr did press forward upon Lib, that he fled to the borders upon the seashore” (Ether 14:11-12), and also “Shiz did pursue Coriantumr eastward, even to the borders by the seashore, and there he gave battle unto Shiz for the space of three days” (Ether 14:26).
    In these three uses of the word “seashore,” no name is given to the sea, though a direction, “eastward,” is mentioned. In fact, there are very few directions given in the entire Jaredite record. Moroni uses the term “north country” twice, Land Northward once, the term “southward” once, and the Land Southward four times. The terms “north” or “south” are never mentioned as a direction, and the word “sea” is mentioned only four times, and never with a name, unless Ripliancum, meaning “to exceed all,” is their North Sea.
Thus, when the words “where the sea divides the land,” is given, it should be considered that this sea is the main sea with which Moroni was well familiar and the Jaredites evidently simply called “the sea.” Obviously, the sea Moroni would have associated with the narrow neck of land would have been the Nephite West Sea (Alma 63:5).
    Another consideration is that the wordage “divides the land” is the same terminology used earlier in Ether 2:13, referring to the oceans that separated them from their homeland and the land of promise, when Moroni wrote: “And now I proceed with my record; for behold, it came to pass that the Lord did bring Jared and his brethren forth even to that great sea which divideth the lands.”
    Thus, we see that both statements are Moroni’s, and again, Moroni was well familiar with the sea that divided the land in the Land of Promise—the West Sea, where it cut into the land to create the narrow neck.
    Once again, we can see that Mormon (and Moroni) described the Land of Promise as two main land masses, the Land Southward, and the Land Northward, which were connected by a small and narrow land mass he called a neck. And these two lands were divided by the West Sea except for the narrow neck, and within this narrow neck was a narrow pass, which was the only passage between the two lands. And that pass was narrow enough that it could easily be guarded against an army trying to move from one land to the other,.
     Obviously, then, any true Land of Promise must match all of the descriptions listed in the Book of Mormon—it is not a pick and choose arrangement in selecting those that agree with your point of view, but must match all of the descriptions thus covered.
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XVIII,” for more of Mormon’s statements that lead us to a clearer understanding of the location of the Land of Promise)

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