Monday, November 27, 2017

Some Interesting Counter-Questions and Answers—Part III

Continuing with our listing of some interesting questions that are asked us from time to time and our counter-questions and their answer, and specifically continuing on with when the Land Northward was first occupied.) 
   As shown in the last post, not until the last century B.C. did the Nephites learn of the Land Northward and the history of the Jaredites and their annihilation. In fact, the term Land Northward is not mentioned until Mormon does so in his insertion of the location and description of the lands in Alma 22:31; and then it is not mentioned again until 73 B.C. in Alma 46:22, when the destroyed Jaredites are mentioned during the making of a covenant with God, that if they failed in fighting and gaining back their government that He would cast the Nephites at the feet of their enemies even as they had cast their garments at the feet to be trodden under foot (Alma 46:22). It is mentioned again the following year when describing that the Nephites controlled all the land northward of the land Bountiful after casting the Lamanites out of the east wilderness and on the west in the land of Zarahemla (Alma 50:11).
    In 67 B.C. is the first time the Land Northward is mentioned as a destination, when Morianton put it in the hearts of his followers that they should flee to the Land Northward to avoid Moroni’s armies (Alma 50:31). Shortly afterward, the Lamanite king Amalickiah marched toward Bountiful to take possession of it and also the Land Northward (Alma 51:30); however, the Nephites stopped that movement (Alma 52:2), and for the first time we find that the Nephites fortified the land Bountiful in 66 B.C., and secured the narrow pass which led in the Land Northward, to keep the Lamanties from gaining that are and gain power to harass the Nephites on every side (Alma 52:9).
    Then we find that Hagoth built a shipyard “by the narrow neck which led into the Land Northward” (Alma 63:5), and during 54 B.C. “many people went forth into the Land Northward.”
About 9 years later, “an exceedingly great many…went forth unto the Land Northward to inherit the land” (Helaman 3:3), and “did travel to an exceedingly great distance, insomuch that they came ot large bodies of water and many rivers” (Helaman 3:4), and “did spread forth into all parts of the land” (Helaman 3:5), and “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).
    Thus we can suggest that about 40 years before the Savior’s birth, the Nephites and also some Lamanites occupied the Land Northward in great numbers from sea to sea.
    As for any hidden message, it is only that the Land Northward, though numerous theorists write differently, was not occupied in any large scale numbers prior to about 55 B.C. However, it might be safe to assume that the Nephite government or leaders at one time or another researched the area completely to make certain there was no possibility that they could be attacked by an unknown people from that far northern boundary. Consequently, they could safely say, as Mormon recorded, that the Nephites controlled all the land northward of the narrow neck of land.
    This also suggests that there was a northern terminus to that Land Northward, i.e., that it did not continue northward, which verifiers Jacob’s statement that they were on an island in the midst of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20).
    In addition, we fail to find anywhere in all of this that the Land Northward was covered with “farm lands.” During Jaredite times they would have been, but after all those wars and all Jaredites wiped out, it is doubtful any farmland survived to the point it was producing useful produce, and especially after several hundred years to when the Nephites arrived in that northern land, it is doubtful that any farmland existed at all.
    Obviously, the farm lands would have begun to deteriorate from lack of care and irrigation between the time the Jaredites were fighting their last civil war of annihilation and the time the Nephites went north to inherit the land, a period of around 500 years.
    Comment Received #8: “Why do you think the rising generation did not follow along with their parents in the gospel? They were too young to understand Benjamin, but surely their parents would have taught them.”
    Our Counter-Question: “Do you think their parents taught them?
    Response: We have an interesting parallel in the story of the stripling Lamanite warriors fighting under Helaman. They fought with such great courage and did not fear death, believing in God. They claimed it was because “they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them” (Alma 56:47). Even though this was a generation not involved in the original promise of their parents not to take up arms because of all the bloodshed they had caused, this generation held true to the faith of their fathers, for they had seen or heard of their fathers’ willingness to die for their faith rather than break their pledge and take up arms once again and defend themselves.
    On the other hand, the generation of Nephites under Benjamin turned out quite differently, for “… many of the rising generation … could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.”
    The question might be, why didn’t they understand the words of king Benjamin as expressed in the tradition of their fathers? Obviously, they had been taught for “they did not believe what had been said concerning the resurrection of the dead, neither did they believe concerning the coming of Christ.”
    What was so different in these two generations? Both had parents who had a change of heart and became dedicated to living the gospel, making pledges of changed living. Both evidently taught their children. But only the extreme example of the Lamanite fathers was different. Evidently, when one is willing to die for their beliefs, a much stronger message is conveyed. And, too, we do not know that the Nephites taught this young generation that they would have nothing to fear if they doubted not—but whatever it was, the Lamanite youth believed their mothers’ teachings and their fathers’ example, while the Nephite youth could not comprehend what they had been taught.
    “And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened. And they would not be baptized; neither would they join the church. And they were a separate people as to their faith, and remained so ever after, even in their carnal and sinful state; for they would not call upon the Lord their God” (Mosiah 26:1-4).
    How different their condition and the results of their reaction to their parents’ teachings. But we have this suggestion from Lehi as he gave this parting blessing to his living descendants before his death, “But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way that ye should go ye will not depart from it” (2 Nephi 4:4-5). Somehow, somewhere along the way, the Nephite youth were evidently not brought up in the way they should go, while the Lamanite youth were. Very possibly the Nephite fathers, in setting an example, were not as valiant in their doing so, or it was not as impressive to the mind of their sons, as was the example set by the Lamanite fathers.

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