Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Growing Seeds in the Land of Promise – Part I

From time to time we are asked about the Mediterranean Climate  where Lehi landed in Chile, but recently we were asked about the seeds that the Mulekites and the Jaredites brought and would have planted and what about those different climates. We don’t write about their seeds much, because we have no specific mention in the scriptural record that either of them brought seeds to the Land of Promise where they settled. Yet, there is always the possibility that they did, and the Jaredites, who would have been farmers in an earlier time, are mentioned as having gone “forth upon the face of the land, and began to till the earth“ (Ether 6:13) after landing “upon the shore of the promised land” (Ether 6:12). “Tilling the earth,” of course, is taken from the process of “tillage” which is the agricultural preparation of soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning of earth in the preparation of planting seeds.
    Examples of human-powered tilling methods using hand tools, including shoveling, picking, mattock (combination of pick and adze) work, hoeing, and raking.
Before going into these two areas and the seeds they might have brought with them, let’s discuss the agricultural aspects of the Land of Promise regarding the Climates that existed. First of all, the interesting thing about crop growing in the South America, is that there are more climates on the continent than almost any other like area in the world, and many are small sub-climate zones, and others unusually shift with certain weather conditions from time to time.
    Along the west coast where the Lurin Valley and Pachacamac would be located, beginning around the foothills of the Andes, is mostly a Tropical Mountain climate system, with possibly a Tropical Desert system between the Andes and the actual coast. As for the Land Northward of the Jaredites, today it is mostly Tropical Mountain and Tropical rain forest.
    Looking at the Mulekites, Zedekiah was put on the throne at the age of 21, about 597 B.C., by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, in the year—an event and date mentioned in then Bible, and verified in an ancient Babylonian chronicle, which states: “The seventh year: In the month Kislev the king of Akkad mustered his army and marched to Hattu. He encamped against the city of Judah and on the second day of the month Adar he captured the city (and) seized (its) king. A king of his own choice he appointed in the city (and) taking the vast tribute he brought it into Babylon.”
Thus, after seven years, in 590-589, Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem and lay a siege to the city that lasted for 30 months (2 Kings 25:3; Lamentations 4:4,5,9). At the end of his eleven-year reign, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded in capturing Jerusalem, forcing Zedekiah and his followers to attempt an escape and make their way out of the city, through a tunnel, but were captured on the plains of Jericho and eventually taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his sons put to death, his own eyes were put out, and being loaded with chains, he was carried captive to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-7; 2 Chronicles 36:12).
    In the first year of Zedekiah’s reign, Lehi was told to flee Jerusalem by the Lord (1 Nephi 1:4; 2:1-2), and sometime during the following ten years, Mulek, Zedekiah’s youngest and only surviving son, was spirited away from the palace and into the wilderness (Helaman 6:10). Unfortunately, we know nothing of Mulek and those who brought him out of Jerusalem. That Zedekiah was only 21 at the beginning of his reign and 32 when he was captured by Nebuchadnezzar, for Mulek to be his youngesst son, and he had several that were put to death by the Babylonians, Mulek must have been well under the age of 5 and probably closer to the age of 1 or 2. Thus, as a baby or child, he was spirited away from the Palace in Jerusalem by retainers, servants, and palace guards. How many, we cannot be sure, but likely as not, none were farmers, but city dwellers of the Jewish servant or possibly royal family.
During a siege or any war time patrolling, donkeys loaded down the bags, etc., would elicit attention from an enemy patrol or lookouts—a low profile would be the only way to travel is such a circumstance 

    Also, because of the conditions of the siege, it is likely that those who brought Mulek out of the Palace and city, did so without much time to consider their needs beyond the present need to escape and protect the “little king.” That they would have had seeds is most unlikely, but possible, or more likely, picked them up along the way as they traveled the route to the sea that Lehi traveled some years earlier, for it would have been the only path open to them that was not heavily guarded by the Babylonians, and the possibility of leaving the city with bags of seeds and lots of supplies would have been out of the question for a surreptitious departure.
    The People of Zarahemla (Mulekites) landed around the area of Lima, Peru, in a moderate valley a few miles to the south called Lurin along the Lurin River in an area today called Pachacamac. This area has a mild climate that can be classified as subtropical and desert. This Peruvian metropolis is located in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are opposite what they would be in the United States. The late summer months are the best time to enjoy the weather in the area and around the month of March, the temperature is warm but not oppressive and there is hardly any rainfall.
The reason for the area’s unusual weather conditions is its location, lying directly at the Pacific Ocean in an arid region of plains that rise to the east to the foothills of the Andes Mountains. The cold Humboldt Current which runs along most of the Peruvian and Chilean coast moderates the heat of the tropical sun, but at the same time produces high humidity with clouds and mist, particularly in the winter months. The Andes Mountains to the east of the city prevent the tropical climate including storms and rains from the Amazon basin reaching the coast. Thus, the climate in Pachacamac (adjacent to Lima) would be free from Tropical Climate.
    By the end of November or the beginning of December the mist and persistent clouds lighten, humidity lowers and temperatures increase. Day by day people in this area experience less overcast days and it seems the area slowly awakes from a deep slumber. Finally around Christmas, summer arrives in Pachacamac. Besides some quickly passing early morning fogs it's warm and sunny, normally never too hot, but still humid. Temperatures reach a very pleasant 82°F by day and 64°F by night. Unfortunately already by April summer comes to an end and winter is almost around the corner.
    From April onwards temperatures decrease, humidity raises and cool air moves in from the ocean and condenses in the atmosphere. By May the area once again is covered in a blanket of clouds, mist and fog. On many winter days morning and evening drizzle, locally called la garúa—the dry winds that hit the lower western slopes of the Andes creating a low-level of cloud and drizzling rain. Within the Andes Mountains la garúa blocks out the sun for the cooler six months of the year, and there is almost no rainfall during this period. Many native Indians and Mestizo ethnic groups live on the highlands because of the high altitudes and dry climate.
During la garûa, a fog that is so clear that it poses no problem to visibility but so wet that drivers have to use their winshield wipers, occurs most of the time, and though called a fog, it is actually light rain falling from the sky rather than fog, which usually happens in winter, in grey cold days and is associated with melancholy and sadness

    Grains such as wheat, spelt, oats, rice, buckwheat, barley, millet, and rye, do well in a moist soil. Of these, wheat, which would have come from Jerusalem, prefers a nearly neutral soil (about 6.4 pH), and does best with a cool, moist growing season followed by warm, dry weather for ripening.
    Winter wheat is planted in fall, stays green until early winter, then goes dormant until spring. The onset of warm weather causes rapid new growth, and seed heads develop within 2 months. Winter wheat ripens about the first week of June in the South, later in the North. Spring wheat is planted at the beginning of the growing season and ripens in mid- to late summer. It tolerates drier conditions than winter wheat, but doesn’t yield as well.
    The unique conditions along the coastal strip of Lima to Pachacamac, in the Lurin Valley, match the requirements of wheat, certainly a seed that would have come from the Jerusalem area.
    Obviously, wheat seeds from Jerusalem would have done well in this climate which is sometimes referred to as a Mediterranean csb in the Köppen Climate Classification System, which is the most widely used system for classifying the world's climates. Its categories are based on the annual and monthly averages of temperature and precipitation.

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