Sunday, November 6, 2016

Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XXVIII

Continuing with this series on the scriptural record statements and descriptions 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, must be reachable by ship “driven forth before the wind” by an inexperienced crew, and qualify for an island as Jacob said, or existed at the time of the Nephites, and all the other scriptural references we have covered here.
     In this particular article, we take a look at the most irresponsible attack on the simplistic understanding of scriptural record regarding to the Land of Promise to-date. And that has to do with the numerous directions included, both by Nephi as they traveled along the Red Sea and also those of Mormon who describes the land upon which he walked, lived, and fought his entire lifetime.
In this argument first kindled by John L. Sorenson with his lengthy discussion about the Nephites having a different directional system than the rest of us, and continued in heated ways by numerous theorists trying to prove the alignment of their own individual models.
    John E. Clark makes the comment that: “It is obvious to everyone that Mesoamerica around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec has oceans to the north and south rather than to the east and west. But from the point of view of the Lehites and the Mulekites leaving Jerusalem, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans were eastward and westward paths to the promised land.”
    If we take a serious look at this statement, we can see the problems theorists face when they approach a problem with their mind made up to certain directions. As an example, Nephi makes it clear that he, and obviously, the others, knew which direction they were traveling as they traveled along the Red Sea, in a “south-southeast direction” (1 Nephi 16:13), which is neither east or west.
With almost no features but sand dunes across the Empty Quarter for days, weeks, months, even years, and only the sun to guide them, they obviously knew they were traveling “eastward,” and knew when they turned to the south as they headed toward the sea
    Then, after turning “nearly eastward” (1 Nephi 17:1), they pass through the largest sand desert in the world for some great length of time, i.e., part of an 8-year journey (1 Nephi 17:4), they came to the Irreantum Sea, which, though not mentioned, would have been to the south of them—a fact they most certainly would have known, seeing the sun rise ahead of them across the desert, then rising to the left of the sea when they arrived at Bountiful.
Turning to the south, they crossed the Qara Mountains, and from the pass could see the Sea of Arabia, which was to the south, which Lehi called Irreantum
    Thus, we see that Nephi launched his ship southward, into the sea when they left Bountiful. He did not launch to the east or west, and at this point in time, likely would have no idea there was a Pacific or Atlantic Ocean, having only known the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and now the Sea of Arabia. This brings us to the fact that the winds do not blow to the east or to the west along this coast at any time of the year, they either blow inland six months of the year, or to the south into the Indian Ocean the other six months of the year. Thus, a ship “driven forth before the wind” (1 Nephi 18:8-9), could only have been driven toward the south. With a ruddern, Nephi could have steered the ship along that path, moving from left to right in a restricted sea land, which enabled him later to guide his ship into the Indian Ocean Gyre, which swung the ship toward the southeast, and then steered into the Southern Ocean, which would have taken him directly east, but only after traveling in a southerly direction for more than 5000 miles, which would have been the builk of their travel time at sea, the rest in the Southern Ocean would have been short and fast before reached the Humboldt Current that took them north.
Nephi launched his ship southward into the Sea o Arabia becaue it was the only direction he could; and he sailed ot the south because it was he only direction the winds and currents went
    Thus, they would have spent more time at sea traveling either south or north than they would have traveling east, and not at all traveling west; consequently, Clark’s comment “Lehites and the Mulekites leaving Jerusalem, the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans were eastward and westward paths to the promised land” has absolutely no value at all.
    The point being that unless the Lord picked up their ship once at sea and placed it down in the Western Hemisphere, there is simply no other direction or path they could have taken based on their being “driven forth before the wind” and understanding the currents and winds of the Sea of Arabia, Indian Ocean, Southern Ocean and Pacific Ocean. Of course, it looks like on a map that a direct course to the east through Indonesia and the Pacific islands would be the shortest, fastest and least difficult, it is actually none of those three.
    The distance around the equatorial bulge of the earth would be more than twice as far because the world is round and the circumference at the equator’s bulge is far greater than southern waters nearer the Antarctic.
    In any event, there is no way, short of a vision of the world, that the Nephites would have understood the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. One of the troubles modern man has, with satellite images, accurate maps, and a fairly complete knowledge of the Earth, that ancient man understood little but his immediately environment.
    It is also obvious, that it is difficult for these theorists, being modern men, to grasp the fact that Nephi could not sail anywhere he wanted—he was restricted to the direction of travel in which the winds blew and the ocean currents flowed.
It should also be understood that all the time at sea that Nephi had, along with the Liahona which guided his way (1 Nephi 18:21), and with the sun as their constant daily directional point and the moon and stars at night, it would have been impossible for Nephi not to know in which direction he traveled, the direction throughout each and every single day, and the directions of his final landing site. To Modern man, of course, whose directions are based daily on known landmarks, the sun holds little interest in terms of direction, and he pays little attention to it in terms of where he is going and in what direction things lie—he has other things on which to rely, such as the compass (even built into cars today), excellent maps, aerial photos, satellite imagery, and a well defined knowledge of places and directions. I recall when I was a young man, the first thing you did when planning a trip was to get road maps. Today, of course, with the modern freeway system, even those are often unnecessary. When I was in the military, one of the tests involved was being dropped into a completely and totally unknown area at night, given only a topomap (no names, roads, cities, etc.), knife, and a match and you have to find your way out. You become more observant of the sun at times like that, and ancient man spent his entire life aware of the sun for numerous reasons, including planting and harvesting.
    If these modern theorists had to spend more time in ancient environments, where if you didn’t make it, you didn’t have it; if you didn’t plant it, catch it or kill it, you didn’t eat; if you didn’t build it, you didn’t have protection; and if you sailed in a ship driven forth before the wind, you went where the wind and currents took you not where you think they could or should have gone—and you certainly wouldn’t be navigating through islands, shoals, reefs, narrows, etc. with an inexperienced crew who had never before been to sea.
    If you want to know where the Land of Promise is located, get rid of all your ideas, pet beliefs and theories, and location models, and simply follow Nephi’s and Jacob’s accounts, and Mormon’s descriptions, and go where the simple language of the scriptural record takes you without adjusting any of their words, changing them, altering them, or ignoring anyh of them. Where Mormon says north and south, accept that--the theorist gets himself into trouble by trying to prove his pre-determined model location and ends up adjusting what Mormon wrote so it agrees with his model. 
    Just accept what Jacob wrote about being on an island, accept that; where it says there was a narrow neck of land that was the only thing that kept the Land Southward from being surrounded by water, accept that; when it says there were four seas, North, South, East and West, accept that; where it talks about seeds from Jerusalem growing exceedingly and providing an abundant crop, understand that—in short, accept what is written without trying to change, alter, or adjust meanings to fit your own ideas, but accept the scriptural record as it is written!
(See the next post, “Finding Lehi’s Isle of Promise – Part XIX,” for the continuation of this series and how any Land of Promise location must match all the scriptural references)

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