Sunday, March 12, 2017

Beasts in the Forest – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the animals the Nephites found in the Land of Promise when they landed, and called: “cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat (1 Nephi 18:25). 
    Nephi, coming from a farming background and obviously familiar with animals of his area knew these animals were not called by other names, for Lehi and his sons knew the names of farm animals, such as cow and the ox, and the ass and the horse, and the goat and the wild goat (the latter not being a farm animal)—these animals were known in Jerusalem and frequented the outlying farms and region, and Lehi would have had his share of these animals  living outside the city walls, “having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days” (1 Nephi 1:4).
    Yet, according to Reynolds and Sköjdahl, “Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 1., p. 190-192, they claim that Lehi’s party, coming from farming backgrounds, didn’t know the name of the animals they saw and Nephi named. The same is true with John L. Sorenson, writes after listing the animals Nephi recorded: “It is easy enough to list these names, but what do they signify? The answer is not obvious. Consider for a moment Nephi’s statement that upon reaching the promised land they found both ‘the goat and wild goat’ in the forest of their new-found land (1 Nephi 18:25). How did an untamed “goat” different from a “wild goat”? The traits distinguishing the categories are not apparent” (An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, Deseret Book, Salt Lake City,1985, p289).
    The problem here lies in the fact that Sorenson, like so many theorists, evidently has not bothered to know what animal categories are being discussed  but ventures forth an opinion that so often, as it is here, in error. As we  have written here many times, there is a distinct different between a goat (Capra aegagrus hircus)—whether domestic or untamed—and a “wild goat” (Capra aegagrus or the Capra aegagrus cretica).
 Left: Domestic Goat found on farms throughout the world; Right: Wild Goat. They are two completely different animals, though they both stem from a common ancestor. Wild goats are found around most of the world, including in the Middle East, and Nephi would have been acquainted with both the goat and the wild goat. A little bit of research on Sorenson’s part would have borne this out--but evidently he does not let research get in the way of his opinions

    We need to stop trying to excuse what Mormon, Nephi and others wrote and take their word for their information. The Jaredites brought herds and flocks, as found in the Ether record: “Go to and gather together thy flocks, both male and female, of every kind; and also of the seed of the earth of every kind; and thy families; and also Jared thy brother and his family; and also thy friends and their families, and the friends of Jared and their families” (Ether 1:41). Afterward, Jared, his brother and their friends “went down into the valley which was northward…with their flocks which they had gathered together, male and female, of every kind” (Ether 2:1). They also had bees, fish and while in the valley, caught fowls of the air” (Ether 2:2-3). Obviously, the Jaredite flocks were in the Land of Promise (Ether 9:31), and fled before a plague of poisonous serpents that chased them into the Land Southward (Ether 9:32), and when Lehi arrived, these animals had found their way southward, and were observed in the forest as all manner of animals (1 Npehi 18:25).
Top: the Alpaca; Bottom: (Left) a cow; (Right) goats. These animals are not similar in any way other than that they are all quadrupeds

    However, Reynolds and Sköjdahl apologetically claim that because they did not know what kind of animals they encountered, they called them by names they knew, “And that is the obvious reason why he called them "cows," "oxen," "asses," "horses," "goats," and "wild goats." The names were not meant to express "blood relationship" with the old-world animals known by these names, but resemblance in some characteristic or other."
    Yet, this does not hold true with an understanding that Lehi and his sons knew those animals and there was nothing resembling them that they found in the Land of Promise except for two animals, which they called, because of the Ether record, the Curelom and Cumom (Ether 9:19). Thus, we see that when the Nephites did not know an animal, they did not make up a name for it, but called it by the name it was known to the Jaredites—the Curelom and Cumom.  
    Somehow the understanding of this seems to have escaped Reynolds and Sjödahl, who seem to feel they need to change Nephi’s writing and that of Mormon so it conforms to current scientific thinking. But the Book of Mormon stands on its own merits, is completely accurate, and the words and names within its pages are exactly as the Lord wanted us to know, with the Spirit acknowledging Joseph Smith’s translation.
    So, if there were cows, oxen, goats, sheep, horses, elephants, etc., and since science claims there were none in the Western Hemisphere after the period of their earlier extinction and prior to the Spaniards bringing them here, what happened to them?
    First of all, certain animals that existed in the Americas, such as the “deer and stags, the roe and the fallow deer, and such "wild animals" as foxes, lions, tigers, rabbits, etc.” Before going on with Reynolds and Sjödahl, let us ask a simple question: “Where did these wild animals come from?” They were here when the Spanish came according ot Garcilasso Inca de la Vega, in his Royal Commentaries, yet centuries earlier the Flood had destroyed all living things on the entire planet (Genesis 7:21-22) other than what Noah carried in his Ark.
    So where did they come from and how did they get to the Americas?
    Since the only people we know about that came to the Americas after the Flood and before the Spanish were the Jaredites, Lehites and Mulekites, and of those three, the only ones we know who brought animals “of every kind” were the Jaredites, it seems safe to say that those animals arrived in the Americas from the Jaredites.
    It doesn’t matter what the Inca called them, as Garcilasso Inca de la Vega points out when he writes: “The Inca, when describing the strange animals to his Spanish readers, compares them with "horses," "cows," "goats," just as the Prophet did twenty centuries before him, in his record, which I take to be a strong proof of its authenticity,” since the Inca would not have known where they came from or what they were called in Nephite times (The Inca came along about 1000 years after the Nephites were annihilated).
    So when Reynolds and Sjödahl claim that the Spaniards, on their arrival here, encountered a difficulty similar to that which Nephi must have experienced,” is completely without merit.
    The Spaniards knew what deer looked like, as well as oxen, cows, horses, goats, sheep, and donkeys. The only trouble they should have had was in identifying the curelom and cumom, and both of their ancestors, the guanaco and vicuña. What they called these four animals is not known, but may have been the stories told of calling some animals deer because they looking similar.
Top: Vicuña ancestor of the Llama; Bottom: Deer. These look similar, and probably led to the Spanish calling the Vicuña a deer

    "The resemblance," says Prescott, "of the different species to those in the Old World, with which no one of them, however, was identical, led to a perpetual confusion in the nomenclature of the Spaniards, as it has since done in that of better instructed naturalists." And yet, the Spaniards had one advantage. When they arrived on the scene, all the animals had names, and they could learn these of the Indians, as they, of course, did, when they were able to make themselves understood.
    This is not an accurate statement, since the Inca did not know these animals by the names used in the Book of Mormon. But it is where the current animal classification name (vicuña) came from, which was the Inca Quechua name (wikuna); guanaco (Quechua name wanaku); llama (Quechua: llama); and the alpaca (Aymara: allpaqa).
    However, Garcilasso Inca de la Vega wrote: "There are other animals in the Antis, which are like cows. They are the size of a very small cow, and have no horns."
Top: Cow; Bottom: Tapir. The tapir has a narrow head with a long snout that looks nothing like a cow, whose head extends upward on a neck, while the tapir does not, and the tapir has no large udder (milk sack); a cow weights upwards of about 2000 pounds (small cow 1000 to 1800 pounds), while the average tapir weighs only 550 pounds—not much of a match in anything

     Reynolds and Sjödahl claims that Garcilasso refered to the tapir, which they claim is so much like a cow that when European cattle were introduced into Brazil, the natives called them "tapyra" (Brazil is east of the Andes, no Inca or Nephites were ever in that country). It is an animal about four feet from nose to tail (a cow is 8.5 feet from nose to tail; 5’ rump height, the tapir rump height 3.5 feet), and the Spaniards used to call it gran bestia (great beast).
The Tapir did not exist west of the Andes area as shown above (dark red=extinct; dark yellow=extant; light yellow=probably extant)
    Garcilasso also said of these Peruvian animals: “The male huanacu [guanaco] is always on the watch on some high hill, while the females browse in the low ground, and when he sees any man, he gives a neigh like that of a horse, to warn the others. The vicuna stands higher than the highest goat. They are swift, and a greyhound cannot come near them."
    No suggestion of some other type of animal. The Spanish recognized that these animals were unlike any other they had ever seen or knew about and took their name from the native Quechua word for them.
(See the next post, “Beasts in the Forest – Part III,” for more information regarding the animals and their names the Nephites found in the Land of Promise)

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