Friday, April 7, 2017

The Four Seas of the Book of Mormon

It is true that many theorists misplace the various seas mentioned in the Book of Mormon, like moving the Sea West to the south (Joseph Allen), or Sea West to the east of the Sea South (Richard Hauck and V. Garth Norman), or the Sea South to east of the Sea East (Phyllis Carol Olive), or to claim there are two seas to the west and two seas to the east, making six seas (David McKane), and numerous others. It is just as inaccurate to move the Sea South to the middle of the Land of Promise (Arlin Nusbaum), or claim there is only an East and West Sea (John L. Sorenson). 
    It is important to keep in mind that ancient cultures typically named areas according to the compass heading, i.e., South Wilderness, North Sea, Northern Plains, Western Mountains, etc.
Even today we do the same, with naming and referring to areas according to their cardinal directions, such as Southern States, the Middle East and Far East, West Coast, Eastern Seaboard, etc. The point is, when using directional names (North, East, South, West) we do not name places out of their correct directional placement. As an example, South Island in New Zealand, is the southern of the two islands; West High School in Salt Lake City was in the western part of the early Salt Lake area when first named and opened; the East Coast of the Red Sea is the same place as the West Coast of Saudi Arabia. Another example is in the early days of America, places were referred to as South Mountain, the West Fork, East Lake or the North Shore. Some of these place names stuck, such as North Slope in Alaska; South Jordan, South Ogden, South Salt Lake, and South Weber in Utah, or South Mountain of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland; West Plains, Missouri; West Virginia was located to the west of Virginia, or West Shore, Florida, so named because it was on the west shore of the Florida Peninsula; Northwestern University named to serve the Northwestern territory in 1851.
    Again, the point is that anciently, as well as today, when we name a place a cardinal direction name, it is in that direction, not somewhere else. Consequently, we need to understand that the seas mentioned in the scriptural record are directional seas, that is, they denote a direction. It was certainly the custom anciently to name places by their direction from a central location, rather than naming places with common names, as we tend to do today. Therefore, the seas of the Book of Mormon must be placed in the direction of their name.
For people anciently living on an island and using cardinal directional labels, the seas would be called by the direction they were from a central point in the island itself, as shown in this sample

    Secondly, since the Land of Promise was an island (2 Nephi 10:20), these seas must be connected, forming one total sea around the island. This is obvious in the statement made by Jacob and recorded by Nephi: “we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance; but we have been led to a better land, for the Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea” (2 Nephi 10:20). Let’s take a look at this statement:
1. “we have been driven out of the land of our inheritance,” which obviously means the Land of Jerusalem (1 Nephi 1:4; 2 Nephi 2:2-3).
2. “but we have been led to a better land,” which obviously is the Land of Promise (1 Nephi 18:23).
3. “for the Lord has made the sea our path,” which obviously refers to the ocean over which the Lehi Colony sailed to the Land of Promise in Nephi’s ship, called Irreantum by Lehi where they set sail (1 Nephi 17:5).
4. “and we are upon an isle of the sea,” which obviously can mean only that the Land of Promise was an island at the time Jacob made this statement. In addition, since the sea was their “path,” and they were led to this “better land,” and that land was “upon an isle of the sea,” it must be concluded that they set sail on an ocean at one point and landed upon the Land of Promise on that same ocean at another point.
    Therefore, it must needs be that the Land of Promise was on an ocean (the word sea meant ocean in Joseph Smith’s time according to Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language), and that ocean was the same one into which they set sail (1 Nephi 18:6,8), which sea was called “Irreantum” by Lehi, which meant “many waters” (1 Nephi 17:5).
    Thus, the ocean (Arabian Sea) they set sail upon, must also be connected to the sea that surrounded the Land of Promise island. This is obvious by looking at any map, for the Arabian Sea is part of the Indian Ocean, which is part of the Southern Ocean, which is part of the Pacific Ocean, which surrounded the Land of Promise island.
    Thus, since the Land of Promise was an island, and the Land of Nephi and the Land of Zarahemla (obviously including the Land of Bountiful) were nearly surrounded by water except for the Narrow Neck of Land (Alma 22:32), there had to be a sea in three directions—west, east, and south. And including the Land Northward, a north sea.
In the scriptural record, we find two indications of very large bodies of water. First, bordering the first Bountiful (1 Nephi 17:5), and the second in the north of the land Northward (Ether 15:8). One indication is Irreantum “many waters” and the other is Ripliancum “to exceed all,” both of which describe an ocean that would appear unending to those who stood on its shores or sailed upon it. And since the Land of Promise was an island, the “to exceed all” water in the north was part of the Irreantum “many waters” where the ship was launched.
    And to make sure we have no doubt that Jacob meant that the land of Promise was an island, he also said, “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).”
    Now this brings us to the so-called H38 Virus. As described by its creator, the H38 Virus “is looking for a single body of land surrounded by four bodies of water. It is particularly aggressive against models with a larger northern body of water. Here is an example of what the H38 Virus is seeking to remove from Book of Mormon Geography models:”
    According to the website, the H38 Virus stands for Helaman 3:8 which says: ”And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread and did go forth from the Land Southward to the Land Northward and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the Sea South to the Sea North, from the Sea West to the Sea East” (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added).”
While there is another sea mentioned, i.e., “the sea that divides the land” (Ether 10:20), that sea would be the gulf, inlet or bay that cut in to form the narrow neck of land and thus, dividing the two major land masses

    Unfortunately, the creator of the H38 virus misuses the Helaman quote, by claiming it meant only those in the Land Northward were expanding, thus the four seas mentioned had to do with surrounding the Land Northward, not the entire Land of Promise, thus he places a south sea to the south of the Land Northward. However, as can clearly be seen, Helaman’s comment is inclusive of the Land Southward, since it specifically mentions that as the southern terminus, or the southern point of measurement: “And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread and did go forth from the land southward to the Land Northward and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the Sea South to the Sea North, from the Sea West to the Sea East” (Helaman 3:8, emphasis added). Obviously, Helaman and Mormon’s abridgement, is meant to show that the entire Land of Promise, from the Land Southward to the Land Northward, and then surrounded by four seas, is indicative of the entire land, not just one portion of it as the H38 virus claims.
    Thus, the four seas, as directional seas (i.e., called by directions not other names), are located in the directions indicated. It is also apparent, at least before the crucifixion when so much damage and change took place, the seas were all connected.


  1. I applaud your efforts concluding the Land of Promise is an island, however, I the solution is based in time. If you have been to Mesoamerica (which for a multitude of reasons I accept-- to hang your theory on to one aspect and not take Into account the whole plethora of evidence is easy to do but almost always misleading), you know how rugged many parts are and would have been even more so anciently, to the extent that the early Nephites would probably not have explored enough real estate to realize they were not on an island. Nothing is mentioned about an island after 2 Nephi but rather the Lamanite King's oral map would indicate otherwise.

  2. Doug: For the first nearly 650 years, the Land of Promise would have been very different than seen today, when at the time of the crucifixion, valleys became mountains "whose height is great." There is no reason to believe that the topography of the Land of Promise during those first 600 years would have been so "rugged" nor would it have been more so anciently. We know there were mountains there since both Nephi and Samuel tell us they collapsed and fell or flattened to become valleys. However, I would be more inclined to think that the knowledge of being on an island would have come from either inspiration or from visions granted to both Lehi and Nephi of the Land of Promise--Nephi's vision in particular covered a large and long sequence of events including numerous wars between his people (Nephites) and his brethren (Lamanites) and leading up to the discovering of the land by Columbus which included seeing the seas and the Europeans discovering and then conquering the land and the Lamanites. Nephi had that vision before Jacob stated they were on an island while in the temple teaching the people of his time. As for "to hang your theory on to one aspect and not take into account the whole plethora of evidence is easy to do" perhaps you have not been with us long, however, we have published here 2737 articles (as of today) in this blog dealing with every single scriptural reference to any type of description given of the Land and believe we have covered every single issue there is about the Land of Promise, the scriptural references and descriptions that can be had at this time. If not, please let us know and we will deal with them since it is our intent to not just "hang our hat" on one aspect or another, but cover everything there is.

  3. Doug: If you accept Mesoamerica, then indeed you are hanging your hat on one or two aspects, for Mesoamerica simply does not deal with all the issues at hand and are discussed and covered extensively in the scriptural record. Perhaps you would be better off going back and reading all that has been written here and not just deal with Mesoamerica "for various reasons." These pages are full of concrete examples of why Mesoamerica cannot possibly be the Land of Promise described in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon; however, when Hagoth's ships went north carrying numerous migrants, their families and provisions, they would have settled Mesoamerica and later, no doubt, North America--but those individuals are not the ones described in the scriptural record other than the fact that they left in Hagoth's ships and sailed "to a land which was northward."