Wednesday, February 14, 2018

City of Zarahemla, Land of Zarahemla and the River Sidon – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding the meaning of the River Sidon, and whether or not the Nephite river was named after or had any relationship to the Phoenician (Lebonese) coastal town by that name. 
   As concluding in the last post, the Mulekites outnumbered the Nephites at the time of their first meeting when Mosiah discovered them. It should be kept in mind that originally, both Mulekites and the Nephites originally spoke Hebrew, and by the time Mosiah discovered the Mulekites or people of Zarahemla, their language had become corrupted (Omni 1:17) so it could not be understood by Mosiah and his Hebrew-speaking people. Because of this, it would probably be a stretch to say that the Mulekites, because the word “Sidon” is a Hebrew or Semitic word, were the ones to give the river that name. Also, because of their small size, and their distance away from the eastern borders of what later became known as the Land of Zarahemla, that they even knew of the river, let alone named it.
Sidon is 25 miles south of Beirut along the public (coastal) road, and was one of the most powerful city-states of ancient Phoenicia, and known for manufacturing purple dye. Homer noted their famed ability to produce glass, which made the city famous and rich. The city was the “seat” of the Phoenician Civilization and from its port were launched most of the ships which would ply the Mediterranean, bringing more wealth to the city through maritime trade 

Yet, Allen, oblivious to these facts, goes on to write: “The port of Lebanon, which is south of Beirut, is also called Sidon (Sayda in Arabic and Pdn in Phoenician, Sidon in Greek, meaning “fishery”). The name meant “fishing-town” originally, and later was translated as “fishery” or “fish waters.”
    First of all, there was no “Port of Lebanon,” in Biblical times. There was the port of Tyre and the port of Sidon, both were important cities in the Old and New Testament times and today Sidon and Tyre, 20 miles to the south of Sidon, is called Sour today (named for the rock island on which it sits that juts out into the Mediterranean and means “rock”), are part of Lebanon.
    Sidon, the first born son of Canaan, son of Ham, and is from the root word צוד “sud,” which means to “hunt,” or more accurately, to “acquire food.” In addition, the Hebrew word for fish is “dag” from “dagah,” the latter meaning fishing or fishery; with “dugah” meaning Fish hooks, which should eliminate any affiliation with the word Sidon to “fish” or “fishing” as it would relate to the River Sidon.
    Consequently, “Sidon,” in formal conversation to an Israelite, has no association, but a Hebrew audience would probably tie the name Sidon to the root group צוד “sud,” which means “to hunt,” which more or less, as one linguist put it, “was the ancient equivalent of our trip to the supermarket.”
    The purpose of “sud” was to acquire food and one's skill to catch a prey was on a par with one's ability to survive (Genesis 27:3, Leviticus 17:13, Micah 7:2).  In addition, ציד (sayid), means “hunting” (Genesis 27:30) or “game” (Genesis 25:28), and ציד (sayyad), means “hunter” (Jeremiah 16:16 only). It is likely, since מצד (mesad), means fastness or “stronghold” (Jeremiah 48:41), suggesting the original meaning of this word may have been hunting-place.
    Later this verb entered into the game of "hunting" for souls (Ezekiel 13:18, 20). This verb's derivatives are numerous, but none specifically are directed to “fish,” “fishing,” or “fishery,” other than in acquiring food, and even more specifically, “to fortify,” that is to fortify the body through food. Thus we see how theorists love to insert information that is misleading from fact, but appears to support their point of view and Land of Promise model. 
    As a peripheral note, we read on this matter from Allen, “Mosiah discovered that the people of Zarahemla came out from Jerusalem at the time that Zedekiah king of Judah, was carried away captive into Babylon…We cannot be sure that the Mulekites departed from the port of Sidon, however, circumstantial evidence suggests that they were transported by the seafaring Phoenicians.”  
    The port of Sidon, of course, was their major port around 600 B.C.  and would have been fully under Babylonian control—the Mulekites, i.e., a member of Zedekiah’s family, would never have been allowed to sail from there under any circumstances by the Babylonian military which was under orders to capture any member of the Judah Royal Family.
As has been discussed numerous times in our articles, the only path open for escape or uncontested movement out of Jerusalem would have been to the (red arrow) southeast as shown in this map, since the Babylonian military controlled all the area (shown in yellow) from Egypt to Turkey
One might wonder why such an interpretation of the Nephite Sidon River is important, but Allen has his model in mind and anything that he can show to prove it he seems willing to bend to his interests. As an example, he writes: “The term “fish waters” is also associated with the Grijalva River located in the upper Grijalva valley [of Mesoamerica]. These waters are called Xocal Ha in the Maya language, which means “fish waters,” the same as Sidon in Hebrew.”  Ah—we see why he wants “Sidon” to mean “fish waters,” so he can tie it into his model in Mesoamerica—but as we have seen, “Sidon” does not mean “fish waters” in Hebrew, or even remotely, other than to say that what is hunted, resides in the waters.
   Allen adds, “One town located on the upper Grijalva is called Xocaltenango, a combination of two words, one in Maya and the other in Nahuatl, which means “place of the fish.” Some archaeological evidence hints at the possibility that the ancient Nephites/Mulekites called all the water “fish waters,” or “waters of Sidon,” as many tributaries flow into the Grijalva.” However, that is as misleading a comment as can be made. “Sidon” does not mean that, and there is no evidence anywhere to suggest that the Nephites called all waters “Sidon.”
    As we have written on several occasions, during the siege of Jerusalem and considering Nebuchadnezzar’s fanatical desire to kill off all of Zedekiah’s male kin to teach a lesson to the Hebrews, there is no way a group of palace elites, along with a child, are going to be allowed out of the city, through Babylonian military control lands to board a ship in Sidon or elsewhere along the Mediterranean. Their escape would have had to be to the east as we have suggested in earlier articles—the same basic path that Lehi took a few years earlier.
   Thus, the idea that Phoenicians were part of the Mulek party is both unreasonable and unsupportable and as a result, the idea that the Sidon River name came from the Phoenician town is unlikely and again unsupportable.

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