Sunday, December 10, 2017

Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part I

Normally we handle reader inquiries together with other comments and questions, but this one is lengthy so we will answer it all in a complete post. 
    Reader Tyrus C: I have a few questions about your Book of Mormon theory. I am not an archaeologist or historian, just one who loves the Book of Mormon. I recently started my own study of what the setting of the Book of Mormon may have looked like and while my initial goal was not to find a place on the map, the more I studied the details the more it became clear that there were some significant clues. In learning about your theory I have some questions
1) “First, just to clarify, are you saying that the entire Andes mountain range (and the country of Brazil) rose out of the water in three hours? (3 Nephi 8:19) At most there was only three days of changes to the land before the earth did cease to tremble, and the rocks did cease to rend (3 Nephi 10:9) No other changes to the land were significant enough to report, so I'm assuming that's what you are saying.
Response: When a tectonic plate subducts under another tectonic plate, the earth’s surface changes dramatically. In most cases, this is merely a long-term event and those changes occur so slowly, other than an initial earthquake, tsunami, etc., which hits suddenly, sometimes catastrophically, but always in a few hours or a day or two and its gone and the aftermath forgotten (except by those hit by it all and the record keepers);  however, when the Lord’s hand is involved (“darkness should cover the face of the whole earth for the space of three days” Helaman 14:27) then the time frame is very quick by comparison (earth was divided in the days of Peleg) and the events can be quite noticeable (mountains rising from valleys “whose height is great” Helaman 14:23). Those mountains went up quickly, suddenly, and very noticeable, otherwise, the Lord’s prophecy through Samuel the Lamanite would be meaningless (“these wonders should come to pass upon all the face of this land, to the intent that there should be no cause for unbelief among the children of men—And this to the intent that whosoever will believe might be saved, and that whosoever will not believe, a righteous judgment might come upon them” Helaman 14:28-29)
2) “Even after the destruction that came to the land after the Crucifixion, the River Sidon was still flowing in the same place, Mormon 1:10, and running by Zarahemla in the borders of Zarahemla, by the waters of Sidon. We know that Sidon ran just to the east of Zarahemla, with Gideon on the other side (Alma 6:7).” 
    Response: First, as we have reported before, there is no mention of the “Sidon River” after the crucifixion. Mormon 1:10 does not refer to the “River” Sidon, only to the “Waters of Sidon.” Waters seems to be a word used in the scriptural record for a body of water, such as a pool, lake, pond, etc., such as the “Waters of Mormon” (Alma 5:3). The “Waters of Sidon,” is also mentioned in Alma where people were baptized (Alma 4:4); on the other hand, both Lamanite and Amlicite dead were thrown into the Waters of Sidon (Alma 3:3) that had access to the sea (Alma 2:34)—whether or not this is a pooled or collected area of the River Sidon is not known, but they were connected at this point (Alma 2:35). The point is, the Waters of Sidon mentioned in Mormon 1:10 is not mentioned in connection with a river, and therefore might suggest a different arrangement of the river or waters then called Sidon. The fact is, we do not know and cannot arrive at a conclusion in either direction, but we do know the scriptural record does not say “river” in Mormon 1:10.
3) “Considering the river ran South to North, if there was a large mountain range that rose up out of the East (and North towards the narrow neck), then how was the river running in the same place? An elevation change would have changed the course of the river, yet there is no mention of this.”
    Response: There is no mention of a lot of things in the scriptural record—whether or not it was mentioned in the original we do not know since we only have the abridged form. Also, when the mountains rose, we do not know exactly where that was in connection to the River Sidon, since all rivers that were once in the Land of Promise, after the rise of the Andes, would have been altered to some degree to their flow either west to the Pacific, east to the Amazon (Brazil) and then to the Atlantic, or in a few cases, north to what is now the Caribbean. It is difficult to start speculating on a particular mountain and how it was configured at this time to effect the River Sidon or any other river or body of water in the Land of Promise. The rising of the Andes effected Lake Titicaca in the time of man as evidenced by the fact Titicaca was once at sea level as we have shown in these posts from time to time, specifically Puma Punku and Tiahuanacu, and that was when ocean docks were built and used, as we have written about numerous times.
    Finally, the River Sidon was not just to the east of the city of Zarahemla, but in the borders of the Land of Zarahemla to the east, and we do not know how large an area the Land of Zarahemla consisted of before or after the changes in 3 Nephi. But it appears it was some distance between the city of Zarahemla and the eastern border between the Land of Zarahemla with the Land of Gideon, which is where the River Sidon was located.
4) “The City of Moroni was by the East Sea (Alma 50:13). During the destruction of the Crucifixion, one of the cities that was sunk was Moroni (3 Nephi 8:9, 3 Nephi 9:4,7).”
    Response: First of all, we might want to be careful how we visualize the wordage of the scriptural record. While the word “sunk” is preterite tense and participle passive of sink, meaning “toss'd by hope, or sunk by care,” the word “sink” means “to fall,” “to become lower,” “subside or settle,” “to be overwhelmed,” “to become deep,” “to put under water,” “to depress,” “to plunge into destruction,” “to bring low,” “to overbear, to crush,” “to conceal,” according to the 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language,” and may suggest other than what is first viewed in the mind.
    Secondly, while the destruction as written would indicated some type of sinking beneath the water, it does not necessarily mean a tidal wave or tsunami, nor would it seem likely by rainfall. How the Lord works is often a mystery to man, so while the mind conjures up a sinking beneath a sea, we cannot be sure exactly how that happened; however, “to sink into the depths of the sea,” drowning the inhabitants (3 Nephi 8:9; 9:4), seems pretty clear.
5) “Many cities were rebuilt, but the cities that were sunk could not be rebuilt because the water was still there (4 Nephi 1:9). They weren’t covered by a tsunami or the water would have receded back to the ocean and these cities wouldn’t have remained under water.”
    Response: First, while the water was still there, we do not know in what form. “But there were many cities which had been sunk, and waters came up in the stead thereof; therefore these cities could not be renewed” (4 Nephi 1:9). This does not mention the city of Moroni specifically, though we might assume Moroni was included in the term “many,” yet it does not say that “all of the cities that had been sunk.”
    Second, assuming Moroni was included in this list of “many,” let us consider what is meant by the wordage “waters came up in the stead thereof” (4 Nerphi1:9). When an enormous amount of water is somehow dumped upon an area the size of a city, most of the water will return back to where it had been, such as with a tidal wave, but not all.
Take, for example the tsunami that struck Indonesia and 13 other countries after the 2004 offshore earthquake that hit in the Indian Ocean not far from Sumatra. While many conclusions can be drawn from this event to compare with 3 Nephi, the point is that after the initial and extensive flood waters returned to the sea, there were numerous areas still flooded, or swamped sufficiently as not to allow a renewal of the city, towns and villages wiped out because of the instability of rebuilding. In this case, tens of thousands of acres were wiped out and not renewable for years before the water table was able to absorb the millions of tons of water left behind that inundated the land.
(See the next post, “Inquiry about Land of Promise – Part II,” for more on this and the rest of the questions from Tyrus).


  1. "First, just to clarify, are you saying that the entire Andes mountain range (and the country of Brazil) rose out of the water in three hours? "

    To clarify, the Andes, of course, was not under water as it sounds like you are saying. But you must not be saying that.

    The Andes rose and land around the Andes rose including lands in Brazil. That caused the Amazon basin to eventually drain and be above water except for the giant Amazon river and its tributaries.

    It is well known that the Andes rose over time. The question is when.

    Andes mountains formed by ‘growth spurts’

  2. erichard: Thank you for your comment, Please see an upcoming post about this for our answer since it is too involved and lengthy to place in this comment section.