Thursday, January 25, 2018

More Comments from Readers - Part I

More comments and questions from our readers of this blog: 
    Comment #1: “Why do you have the narrow strip of wilderness curving up at the ends when the scripture tells us it ran in a straight course?” G. R.
    Response: Mormon tells us that the Land of Nephi (the king’s land) “which was divided from the land of Zarahemla by a narrow strip of wilderness that ran from the sea east even to the sea west, and round about on the borders of the seashore, and the borders of the wilderness which was on the north by the land of Zarahemla” (Alma 22:27, emphasis added). He also tells us further of this narrow strip of wilderness than ran “round about” on both seashores: “Now, the more idle part of the Lamanites lived in the wilderness, and dwelt in tents; and they were spread through the wilderness on the west, in the land of Nephi; yea, and also on the west of the land of Zarahemla, in the borders by the seashore, and on the west in the land of Nephi, in the place of their fathers' first inheritance, and thus bordering along by the seashore” (Alma 22:28).
Top: Overall diagram of the Narrow Strip of Wilderness; Bottom: Blow up of the strip showing the round about curvature of the line as the wilderness encroaches into Nephite territory along both coasts, and the line that was foritified later (Alma 50:11; see also Alma 62:42; Helaman 4:7)

As we have discussed in the past, “round about” is not a straight line, but basically a curved line, meaning “around.” So the wilderness when it reached both the west and east seashores, curved upward or rounded upward into Nephite territory along both coasts.
    Comment #2: “You make such a big deal out of Lehi sailing across the ocean as though it had never been done, but Phoenicians did it at the same time, in 600 B.C., sailing all around the African continent. So what was the big deal and why so much emphasis on it when others no doubt did it or maybe even longer or better” Eldredge J.
    Response: I had the great privilege of meeting and talking to Thor Heyerdahl in 1952 when I was a teenager, following one of his lectures about five years after his Kon-Tiki expedition. While he was certain his idea would work, and had spent much time in its planning and preparation, he told me there was no guarantee that they would succeed and live to tell the tale. His feat of courage crossing the unforgiving ocean in a balsa raft had been such an act of personal courage for he and his five fellow-adventurers that he was considered nothing short of a conquering hero in the many lectures he gave across much of America.
    In his home country of Norway, a country that knows quite a bit about sailing, he was not only a national hero, he was appointed a national scholar, and awarded the Mungo Park Medal by Scotland (another early maritime nation), for outstanding contributions to geographical knowledge through exploration and research—only the 9th award in 120 years at the time, and  44th award to-date over a 183 year period, even though the mainstream archaeological and anthropological communities wanted little to do with him.
The lonely voyage across thousands of square miles of open ocean

Today, with GPS, cell phones, constant and instant radio reception, following vessels, helicopter, immediate medical assistance, coast guard assistance, maps and charts unequalled in history, and numerous other aides, man has duplicated some of the voyages of the ancients, but in the time of these ancients, what they did was outstandingly remarkable without precedents and little or no experience in their achievements.
    As an example, the Phoenician voyage you mentioned around Africa, under the direction of Wehimbre Nekao (Emperor Necho), the ruler of the kingdom along the Nile from 610 to 595 B.C., was made over a full three-year period, with setting in every night to make camp, little or no sailing out of the sight of land, and twice spending months on shore while they planted seeds in June, repaired their ship, and harvested grain and food for their continued voyage in November. The following year, they stopped and sewed grain once again and waited for the harvest, repairing the ship in between. This is hardly the type of sailing Lehi’s group performed, involving a non-maritime people and an inexperienced crew.
    To them, this voyage was a big thing and what they accomplished was just short of a miracle. To claim they sailed against winds and currents, through lands fraught with legendary dangers to shipping, sailing where men had never set eye, and doing so as if there was no problem and Nephi never wrote a single word, is far-fetched and beyond the abilities of early man and beyond modern man until the 1200s, some nearly two thousand years later.
    It seems like a pretty big deal, to me.
    Comment #3: “I disagree with your opinion that Zarahemla, being in the “heart of the land,” would have been anywhere but in the middle of the land—certainly not on the side along the coast” Cliff W.
    Response: Since the word “heart” does not mean “middle,” but “most important,” we should be able to place it anywhere. Take, as an example that London is in the “heart of England,” but is physically located in the southeast corner of the land; Los Angeles is the “heart” of Southern California, but is located near the coast and not centrally located; Salt Lake City is the “heart” of Utah, but located in the north of the State; Las Vegas is the “heart” of Nevada (at least its gambling heart), but is in the southern tip of the State; one might find it hard to show that “heart” means or relates to “center” or “middle.”
    Comment #4: “Your Land of Promise from Chile to Ecuador is far too big for the events described in the Book of Mormon” Steve O.
    Response: Since no distances are ever mentioned it is interesting when someone starts to place limits on the scriptural record locations. When I was in the military and stationed for a time at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the Church offices of the Stake were situated in Oklahoma City, 99 miles away, yet today, I live in St. George, Utah, where our State Center is less than five miles away. My sons on their missions traveled usually about 10 to 15 miles a day in their proselyting, meetings, calls, etc., but Alma traveled three days on foot when he went from Melek to Ammonihah (Alma 8:6).
     Lehi and his family walked from Jerusalem to Bountiful, a distance of about 2400 miles. Nephi and those who went with him walked “for many days,” to escape his older brothers and the sons of Ishmael. How many miles would you go to secure your safety from those who sought to kill you? The Jaradites walked from Mesopotamia to the sea, a distance of at least 1,000 miles and probably much more.
    It is difficult to think of long distances for modern people who rarely walk anywhere and consider a 30-minute drive to Church on Sunday a long distance. Ancient people were far more hardy and used to covering much longer distances on foot far more than we might think.
    But the point is, we have no idea how far away places were in the Land of Promise since there is no real clear guideline to judge their distances.
    Comment #5: “I can't thank you enough for the work you've done here on your site” Clyde R.
    Response: Thank you.
    Comment #6: “To add to my earlier comment about the city of Kishkumen, and the young missionaries that went to preach there and the other cities they stopped in first, the account of that is verified in 3 Ne 9:10” Brian.
    Response: The reference only verifies that there was a city of Kishkumen in the Land of Promise, not that missionaries went there or did any preaching there. We might assume that Kishkumen was the seat of the Gadianton Robbers and, as such, was destroyed at the time the Lord removed the less spiritual people from the land (3 Nephi 9:13).

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