Monday, November 21, 2016

More Comments from Readers - Part II:

More questions and comments we have received from our readers: 
    Comment #1: “It seems that the Lamanites and Nephites had numerous wars, it appears they were always battling each other” Sandra W.
    Response: That is probably because of the condensed history we have. However, in Jarom, we find a clue that these wars were probably annual, when the weather broke and the winter passed and the grounds dried up and marching an army across the land was feasible. Jarom wrote: “And it came to pass that two hundred and seventy and six years had passed away, and we had many seasons of peace; and we had many seasons of serious war and bloodshed” (Omni 1:3).
Now the word “season” has two meanings: 1) a season of the year, such as spring, summer, etc., and 2) a period of time. The 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language defines this definition of season as: “A fit or suitable time; the convenient time; the usual or appointed time,” “a time of some continuance, but not long.” Either way, it would appear that these wars covered a period of time of the year, but not the entire year, meaning not ongoing. Wars in genera, especially during the early history of the world, have been fought during the seasons or periods of time when the weather was conducive to moving troops and supplies. Few winter campaigns have been successful, as first Napoleon and then Hitler found out when attacking Russia. Thus, it would appear that the Lamanite-Nephite wars spoken of in the scriptural record occurred during one period of time each year (probably late spring and summer) and then broke off because of weather changes, rain, snow, etc., to pick up again when the spring came. On the other hand, there were a few occasions when the wars did not continue for a few to several years. As was the case in all ancient situations, warfare was closely bound to the natural environment and ecology: weather, altitude, terrain (geography), food supply, seasonality, and agricultural cycles.
    Comment #2:  “You are right in that the text reads "we are living upon an isle of the sea."  It is my interpretation that the Nephities, or at least some of them, were still living on the Isle of the Sun in Lake Titicaca when Jacob inscribe the passage.”
    Response: This statement was made in answer to a comment about Jacob’s statement in 2 Nephi 10:20.
    First of all, the Isle of the Sun is a rocky, hilly island in Lake Titicaca with eucalyptus trees, no paved roads, and is a farming community with several terraced  hills, including today about 800 families. Of the several villages, Yumani and Ch'allapampa are the largest. There are about 80 ruins on the island, all dating to the Inca period, though archaeologists have discovered evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the third millennium BC. According to Inca legend, the Isle of the Sun was one of the most important Inca shrines, with pilgrimages rivaling that of Pachacamac.
    The problem with the assessment of this being what Jacob had in mind is to ignore what Jacob actually said. First of all, Jacob is standing in the Temple, i.e, the Temple Nephi built like unto Solomon’s, he is speaking to the bulk of the Nephite people who had gathered at the temple for a two day conference, this being the second day, in which Jacob says, “the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20).
 Isle del Sol in the midst of Lake Titicaca

    Thus, we see that the Nephites in total were living on the island at the time of Jacob’s comment, and that the island Jacob mentions is one within the sea over which the Lord led Lehi to the Land of Promise. Therefore, it could not be an island within a lake. Jacob then goes on to say, “But great are the promises of the Lord unto them who are upon the isles of the sea; wherefore as it says isles, there must needs be more than this, and they are inhabited also by our brethren” (2 Nephi 10:21), showing that other islands would not just be other islands within the lake, for certainly Jacob and the Nephites would have known of this, but Jacob refers to their island like other islands unknown to them, again suggesting islands in the sea or oceans.
    Flippant answers like this submitted comment are far too often an unthinking, simple, unknowledgable response to a serious and important question when the theorist doesn’t believe that the Nephites were on an island in the first place.
    Comment #3: “What do you think of Rod Meldrum’s comment that “nowhere in the Book of Mormon does it state that they sailed east in their ship or that they landed on the west coast of the promised land” Jayson M.
    Response: I wonder how he explains away that Mormon describes the area of First Landing of Nephi as being “and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28). The idiom “Father’s First Inheritance” carries a significant meaning in Hebrew, akin to “are first occupied,” etc.
    Comment #4 “Did Hagoth settle Mexico or do you think his ship was lost at sea? My guess is since these were Nephites they did not settle North in Mexico and the language is so much different that it tends to prove that they weren't related to the Mayan. But what is your opinion?” Ira T.
Response: First of all, there is no suggestion Hagoth ever sailed anywhere—we only know he built ships, and while one ship was at sea, he was building another (Alma 63:7). Secondly, this is well outlined and covered in our book Who Really Settled Mesoamerica, and in short, when those Nephites “who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward” and “the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward” (Alma 63:5,7). Since these people were never mentioned again in the scriptural record, even when Mormon was running for his life with the Nephi Army throughout the Land Northward, one might suggest they went elsewhere—which is why they were never heard from again. Add in that a similar culture and civilization cropped up in Mesoamerica around the first century B.C., when Hagoth’s ships are said to have sailed northward, it might be suggested that these were also Nephites, who occupied Mexico and Central America. And when Joseph Smith talked about the Nephites and Lamanites in North America that he discovered, we can then assuredly know that, as modern prophets have time and again said, the Western Hemisphere is the Land of Promise. It began with Lehi landing in Chile and Nephi occupying the northern area, specifically Peru and later Ecuador, then spread northward by ship, and finally into North America, all the prophecies, all the rhetoric of the various Theorists, come together. As for the language, we don’t know what the Nephites in Mesoamerica underwent in their history, or whether there was a repeat of those who were righteous and those who were not splitting into two groups once again, and an annihilation of Nephites occurred elsewhere. At some point I am hoping that is all clarified for us.
    Comment #5: “It seems to me that an explanation of the lost 116 pages should have been included in the Book of Mormon somewhere in the beginning for those who read the book for the first time, as I just did, would understand why it starts with Nephi’s comments and not his father’s, which are alluded to later” Jack V.
Response: It is interesting you mention that—no one else has ever brought that up to us. However, in the original first edition of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith felt that a preface was necessary to address the loss of those 116 pages of the Book of Lehi. It stated: “As many false reports have been circulated respecting the following work, and also many unlawful measures taken by evil designing persons to destroy me, and also the work, I would inform you that I translated by the gift and power of God, and caused to be written, one hundred sixteen pages, the which I took from the Book of Lehi, which was an account abridged from the plates of Lehi, by the hand of Mormon; which said account, some person or persons have stolen and kept from me, notwithstanding my utmost exertions to recover it again….”  This preface is not included in any other edition.

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