Monday, May 22, 2017

Did Nephi Have Help Building His Ship? – Part V

Continuing from the previous post regarding what help, if any, Nephi had in building his ship other than his own family and those in Lehi’s party. 
    Regarding how much help Nephi had in building his ship, keep in mind that not another single person is mentioned outside the Lehi party, so despite theorists wanting to bend the scriptures to agree with their points of vie3w, by adding people, let’s take a look at the crew Nephi had at his disposal:

Lehi and Ishmael’s families before Jacob and Joseph and any children of the five new couples were born, and without any household servants and workers
1. Nephi, Sam, Zoram, Laman, Lemuel, and the two sons of Ishmael = 7 adult men;
2. Probably two teenage sons for each of Ishmael’s sons = 4;
3. Seven wives, plus a couple of teenage girls = 9;
4. Perhaps 10 youngsters around the age of 6 or 7 (children of the five newly wedded couples), plus Jacob and Joseph = 12 (and unlike children of today, children anciently around these ages were often hard workers with daylong chores to perform);
5. Possible field workers, hands that kept the fields, crops, grounds, etc., of a farm outside Jerusalem of both Lehi and Ishmael, including possible distant family members making up their households = 10;
6. Possible household servants of both Lehi and Ishmael = 5; for a possible pool of about 29 adults; 6 teenagers; 12 older children, or 47 total. Of course, 15 of these are speculation (field workers and household servants), but we are still talking about sufficient numbers to work a ship that is “driven forth before the wind,” that would require very little attention.
    There is also a specific event in the journey that should suggest no other professional people had been hired to run or work the vessel and that appears when, after many days of sailing, when Laman and Lemuel and the two sons of Ishmael tied up Nephi (1 Nephi 18:11) and Liahona stopped working (1 Nephi 18:12). Nephi states: “Wherefore, they knew not whither they should steer the ship, insomuch that there arose a great storm, yea, a great and terrible tempest, and we were driven back upon the waters for the space of three days; and they began to be frightened exceedingly lest they should be drowned in the sea; nevertheless they did not loose me. And on the fourth day, which we had been driven back, the tempest began to be exceedingly sore. And it came to pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea” (1 Nephi 18:13-15).
Now, one might think that if there were experienced seamen or an experienced captain on board the ship that 1) it would not matter that the brothers didn’t know how to steer the ship, and 2) they would have had the ship under sufficient control in heavy weather to which they would have been experienced. But as the narrative goes on to show, it was only the releasing of Nephi that saved the day, because he knew how to steer the ship and get the Liahona to work again (1 Nephi 18:21). What were the experienced seamen doing, twiddling their thumbs?
    Nor does the statement Nephi made make any sense if there were professional seamen on board, when he stated about his brothers: “And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their hearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me” (1 Nephi 18:20).
    Experienced seaman could have cared less about whether Nephi was tied up or whether the brothers were at odds one with another. Experienced seamen would have known what to do in a terrible storm and it would not have mattered whether a compass was available or whether the brothers were scared to death—at most they would have laughed at the drama unfolding around them because they would have been concentrating on the weather and handling of the ship.
    The problem always arises when theorists think they are more intelligent than the scriptural record, and more intelligent than Joseph Smith who translated it. Because of this, they feel they have to fill in the blanks, because in their intelligent thinking, it could not happen the way God tells us it happened, but would have had to have happened differently.
Greek ships at the time of Lehi were driven mostly by manpower (oars) with the sail a secondary convenience

Potter and Wellington also stated that “It is figured that at the time that Greek ships traveling between India, Persia, Arabia and Egypt visited the harbor at Moscha, few places would have provided Nephi with such a wealth of maritime tradition of sea traveling and shipbuilding.”  However, the Greeks were not sailing into the area of Oman until the first century A.D. (George Fadio Hourani, John Carswell, Arab Seafaring in the Indian Ocean in Ancient and Early Medieval Times, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1951, 1995, pp31-33). At least, we know that in the first century A.D., the ancient Greeks called the Sea of Arabia the Erythra Thalassa, meaning “Red Sea,” and the Romans called it Mare Erythreaem. In the third century, Flavius Philostratus made this comment: "And they say that the sea called Erythra or "red" is of a deep blue color, but that it was so named, as I said before, from a King Erythras, who gave his own name to the sea in question” (Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Book III, chapter L, Loeb Classical Library). In the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, written in the 1st century A.D., as well as in some ancient maps, the name of the sea refers to the whole area of the northwestern Indian Ocean, including the Sea of Arabia. In centuries past, the name "Erythraean Sea" was applied by Cartographers to the Northwest part of the Indian Ocean, mainly the area around Socotra, between Cape Guardafui and he coast of Hadhramaut, now called the Gulf of Aden.
    As to the Greeks, not only were they not in Khor Rori or this area before the first century B.C.., their traffic in the area withered away in the 3rd century A.D. after the fall of Rome. In fact, the earliest notice of the Greeks in the Indian Ocean is found in the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea (Latin: Periplus Maris Erythraei) is a Greco-Roman periplus (manuscript document that lists the ports and coastal landmarks, in order and with approximate intervening distances, that the captain of a vessel could expect to find along a shore), which was written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports along the coast of the Red Sea to the South western India.
The Greeks were still fighting sea battles in the Aegean Sea as last as the 4th cetury B.C. and despite much print to the opposite, did not leave the Mediterranean until the voyage of Pytheas of Massalia in 325 B.C. to northwestern Europe. He wrote of this voyage and it was widely known in antiquity, but has not survived

    Ancient Greeks were in awe of the seas and deified the oceans, believing that man no longer belonged to himself when once he embarked on a sea voyage. They believed that he was liable to be sacrificed at any time to the anger of the great Sea God. The Greeks were still fighting sea battles within the Aegean Sea as late as the 4th century B.C., some two hundred years after Lehi left Jerusalem, and the Mediteerranean Sea was still a dangerous place to sail in the third century B.C., the first fire-based lighthouse not being built until between 285 and 247 B.C. in Alexandria. For the Greeks to have sailed to far away India via the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean would have been doubtful before the second or first century B.C.
    Since we know that Khor Rori was not occupied until around 300 B.C., it seems likely that the Greeks would not have been using this port much before the first century B.C., since the periplus was not written until the first to the third century A.D.

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