Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Jaredite Hill Ramah as Imbabura and Cumorah

The country of Ecuador is today divided into three continental regions: 1) The Coasta (coast), the Sierra (mountains), and Oriente (east); however, in Jaredite times and that of the Nephites up to the time of the crucifixion, the east was the ocean, or Sea East of the scriptural record. In the north, beyond the lake-region area of Imbabura, where a very large and very low, flat area runs today, where the the waters of three rivers mingle (the Ambi, the Choriavi, and the Taguando) and flow into the Mira river, is an area often flooded, becoming a very large lake or inland sea. Today, the Mira River cuts through the Cordillera Occidental to flow into the Pacific Ocean. During Jaredite times this could well have been the Sea North (Helaman 3:8), what the Jaredites called Ripliancum.
    Throughout Ecuador, but especially in this northern lake and river areas, the rivers are an important part of the nation's geography and economy, forming, according to Matt Terry ("Ecuador's Water Crisis: Damming the Water Capital of the World," International Rivers, Berkeley California, 2007) over 2,000 rivers and streams have headwaters in the Andes range and flow either westward toward the Pacific or eastward toward the Amazon River and eventually the Atlantic.
    In this northern area, in the beautiful lake district of the Imbabura, the Cerro Imbabura is an inactive stratovolcano (sometimes called composite volcano because of its composite layered structure built up from sequential outpourings of eruptive materials) with a layered strata of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and fragments of pulverized rock. Stratovolcanoes are common at subduction zones, forming chains along plate tectonic boundaries where oceanic crust is drawn under continental crust (continental arc volcanism, such as Cascade Range and the Central Andes) or another oceanic plate (island arc volcanism, such as Japan and the Aleutian Islands).
An ash plume rising from a volcano after an eruption in 1990

Characterized by a steep profile without calderas, Imbabura is covered in volcanic ash, the slopes of which are especially fertile. In addition to cloud forests, which are found across the northern Andes to an altitude of 10,000 feet, causing the land around Imbabura today to be extensively farmed, in Mormon’s day, it would have been very fertile and covered with trees and green sward.
    The mountain stands about 7,000 feet above the highlands (15,190 feet above sea level), and can be seen for miles around, being located between the two great ranges of the Cordillera Oriental (east) and the Cordillera Occidental (west) and is upon the mountain knot or transverse ridge which unites them. It is intermittently capped with snow and has no permanent glaciers, but numerous high-altitude meadows above the tree line.
    Imbabura gains its name from Imba, meaning fish, and bura,  meaning mother, resulting from the legend of its casting forth of the preñadillas fish during an eruption claimed to have occurred by Alexander von Humboldt.

Cerro Imbabura's south slope in darkness and its east slopes showing numerous quebradas that cut through the mountains as rivers flow to the east off the mountain

According to Charles Reginald Enock (Ecuador: Its Ancient and Modern History, Topography and Natural Resources, Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, 1914, p155), “The eastern slopes of these mountains are scarred by deep and inaccessible quebradas (ravines), that fall toward the plains of Callo and Machache.” These quebradas are filled with long ichu grass and twisted, stunted shrub-life where Omer in his travels would have plunged into a region of arboreal wealth run riot, in a warm, humid climate, often shrouded in mists, which lie in banks of curious form along the valleys, so different from the south and Omer's former homeland of Moron. Also, according to Enock, “Ecuador has the most remarkable assemblage of cyclopean peaks in the world, culminating above the perpetual snowline…and all people have been startled or impressed by the presence of these great mountains, as indeed at times they have been menaced or desolated by their eruptive activity” (p14).
    Omer’s trek would have taken him past great precipices where landslides, brought about by heavy rains, acted upon the steeply-hung strata, had fallen in earlier times crashing among the trees beneath, where their debris remained, rapidly to be covered by flowering shrubs and plants. Passing great caves and chasms open to view where this small party passed, zig-zagging through the underbrush and breaks in the overgrowth through these difficult passages with completely inaccessible peaks above them and deep dropping, steep ravines below. Passing by great streams, which rise among the snows of the Andes and thread their way along vast plateaus several miles above sea-level, gathering innumerable tributaries, pouring over the lips of the plains, issuing from the very mouth of the Andes, and descending in torrential courses down the rugged breastplates of the Cordilleras.
    This trip from the more common areas of Moron, to these high, picturesque valleys of the north must have been both beautiful and terrifying to Omer and his household as they proceeded and made headway through scenery never before seen by human eyes since the descending flood left it one of the most beautiful water parks of any land. Through these tree-covered plains, broken by relatively small undulations, this vast wilderness of vegetation which extends throughout the Ecuadorian Oriente and embraces the montañas of Peru and Bolivia to the southeast, traversed only by the rivers, with its peculiar character, must have impressed itself on the minds of these travelers, for unlike the area of Moron, there is no horizon—the view is everywhere barred by trees, whose green walls enclose the channels of the river.
    Here there are no open, grass-covered plains, permitting distance views of the hills, such as their uplands homes earlier provided as were found among the plains around Imbabura when they passed. One can only wonder at the imaginative thoughts that crossed their minds as they passed by the mountain of Imbabura on their way eastward toward the coast.
Cerro Imbabura (Hill Cumorah) amidst the Land of Many Waters with numerous lakes, rivers and stream surrounding the mountain 
    As for the cerro Imbabura, the word “cerro” is Spanish, meaning “hill” or “peak,” or even "plateau," and can be loosely interchanged with the English word “mountain,” however, the Spanish word for “mountain” is “montaña.” And in Spanish, mountain range is cordillera, a “chain of mountains” (multiple ranges), or una cordillera, a “range of mountains” (singular range). At the same time, “a jagged mountain range” can be called a cadena serrana, or cadena de sierras, for “long jagged mountain range.” It should also be noted that “Sierra” is a subset of mountains that, because it is within a larger set, or mountain system, and whose summit line is sawn (jagged) peaks, is generally longer than wide.
    It is also interesting that Latin map makers have a tendency to call almost any sized mountain a “cerro,” or hill. Thus we have, in South America, cerro Imbabura (15,190 feet), cerro Negro (15,200 feet), cerro Guagua Pichincha (15,696 feet), cerro Cayambe (19,000 feet), and cerro Chimborzo (20,549 feet), which are all tall mountains by any standard, and not hills, yet they are labeled as “cerro,” meaning “hill,” on Spanish-named maps.
    It is additionally interesting that in the Jaredite language, the word Ramah has the same meaning as the word Rhama in Hebrew, both meaning “height” or “high place” or “hill” or “elevated” from the root word “rum” meaning “to be high.” This Hebrew verb is used to indicate either literal or figurative height (Psalm 61:2, Job 22:12), and the feminine noun רמה (rama), means height or high place (Ezekiel 16:25).
    Thus,  Ramah, רָמָה (raw-maw’ or ray’ muh), from rum, meaning ”height” is found 36 times in the Bible, as in the residence of the prophet Samuel. In fact, tradition, places the residence of Samuel on the lofty and remarkable eminence of Neby Samwil (An-Nabi Samwil, meaning “the prophet Samuel) which rises 2 ½ miles to the northwest of Jerusalem; Nabi Samwil is situated atop a mountain, 2920 feet above sea level and contained the tomb of the prophet Samuel from which it received its name.
    From all of this, it must be concluded that the hill Cumorah had to have been quite tall, for it was named, both by the Jaredites and the Nephites, with a word meaning “high hill,” or “high peak.”
Compare the "high hill" meaning with the low-lying hill Cumorah in Western New York many Great Lakes theorists claim is the hill Cumorah described in the scriptural record

   It is also of interest that the word “gilgal,” from the word “galal,” meaning “circle,” “wheel,” or “rolling,” such as in “rolling something heavy,” like rolling large stones, and mentioned 39 times in the Bible, and found in Nave’s Topical Bible, in Hitchcock’s Bible Names and in Smith’s Bible Dictionary as well as Easton’s Bible Dictionary. Though Gilgal is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 11:30, it gains its primary meaning and significance in the book of Joshua, where it is an area located on the Plains of Jericho, to a place afterwards called Gilgal (Joshua 4:19). From the solemn transaction of the reading of the law in the valley of Shechem between Ebal and Gerizim the Israelites moved forward to Gilgal, and there made a permanent camp. It is located about 5 miles south-west of Shiloh and about the same distance from Bethel, and on "the plains of Jericho," "in the east border of Jericho," where the Israelites first encamped after crossing the Jordan (Joshua 4:19, 20).  

This camp served as their base of operations during the initial conquest of the Holy Land under Joshua, and here they kept their first Passover in the land of Canaan (Joshua 5:10) and renewed the rite of circumcision, and so "rolled away the reproach" of their Egyptian slavery. Here the twelve memorial stones, taken from the bed of the Jordan, were set up; and here also the tabernacle remained till it was removed to Shiloh (Joshua 18:1). It has been identified with Tell Jiljulieh, about 5 miles from Jordan. It is thought that the word is basically a type of place, rather than a place itself, that is, the Plains of Gilgal in the Jaredite record might well mean a type of area, a plains area, of which there are several mentioned and located in Ecuador, but perhaps a type of plain, such as a high mountain páramo. 
   It might be concluded from this, that while other languages flourished in the world, the language of the Noah descendants, who did not have their language confounded at Babel, had some of the same words that the Hebrews used sometime later—another group of people through Eber, who claimed their language directly from Noah. If this is true, then it leads even greater emphasis to the use of the word “Ramah” by the Jaredites and the meaning of the hill Ramah (Nephite hill Cumorah) being of some great height—certainly not the 120-feet height of the hill Cumorah in western New York where Joseph Smith found the plates.


  1. Imbabura has a giant heart shaped formation on its western slope:


    1. "On a western slope, an area of loose earth perfectly resembles a heart. This area, known as the "heart of the mountain" is much beloved by residents and appears in local art depicting the volcano. The area is said to be enchanted, as no human nor animal has been capable of scaling or hiking across the area."

  2. From 1828 Webster's dictionary.

    "HILL, noun [Latin collis.]

    1. A natural elevation of land, or a mass of earth rising above the common level of the surrounding land; an eminence. A hill is less than a mountain, but of no definite magnitude, AND IS SOMETIMES APPLIED TO A MOUNTAIN." (Emphasis obviously added)


  3. Being extensively farmed today, have artifacts or remains been found around the mountain?

    1. The Macana was an Incan weapon that most likely existed long before their day. It was like a spear, but had a large star shaped rock head and was used to crush bones of enemies. Many of these Macana heads have been found in Ecuador.

      "By far the most common object was a stone star with a hole through the middle. [a Macana] They were found everywhere between Ibarra and Riobamba"


      Ibarra is the capital of the Imbabura Province