Sunday, March 4, 2018

That Troublesome Island of Jacob – Part II

Continuing from the previous post regarding Jacob’s definitive statement that the Nephites during his time were on an island, had been led to an island, and it was in the midst of the sea (2 Nephi 10:20).
    As stated in the last post, this statement is ignored or discredited by nearly all Theorists who write about a location of the Land of Promise, and basically ignore it. When brought up, they have numerous counter comments. Following is the continuation of these comments:
2) What does “isle of the sea” mean if it is not a “small island surrounded by ocean” like we would ethnocentrically interpret it, but “coast” or such as translated in the Bible, and “sea” means “lake” or “sea” (as in “Dead Sea”, “Sea of Galilee”) and not “ocean”?
    Response: First of all, ethnocentrism in this usage means how we interpret things, or our point of view—to interpret this statement (isle) from our point of view (our interpretation is the only interpretation).
    This comment also suggests that we should interpret this the way the Bible interprets the word “sea.” So, for non-bible students, we should suggest the meaning of the word “sea” in the Bible (Smith’s Bible Dictionary; the King James Dictionary):
[1] The gathering of the waters, i.e., the ocean (Genesis 1:2, 1:10, 30:13)’
[2] Some portion of the ocean, as the Mediterranean Sea, called the ”hinder” sea, the “western” sea, or the “utmost” sea (Exodus 23:31; Joel 2:20)
[3] Inland lakes termed seas;
[4] Any great collection of waters.
    Thus, as it is stated: “The Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of the sea.” In other words, “The Lord has made the sea our path, and we are upon an isle of sea over which we sailed.” That is, upon the sea over which we sailed, we landed upon an island in that sea.
An isle of the sea, meaning an island in the midst of the sea or ocean

Thus, the main interpretation of “sea” as used in the Bible is of the “ocean” or some portion of the “ocean.” Even the Mediterranean Sea, which is a portion of the Atlantic Ocean, was called ha-yam and ha-gadhol, meaning “the great sea” (Numbers 34:6; Joshua 1:4; Ezekiel 47:10); or ha-yam, ha-‘acharon, meaning “the western sea” (Deuteronomy 11:24; 34:2; Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8); or yam pelishtim, meaning “the sea of the Philistines” (Exodus 23:31); or yam yapho’ meaning “sea of Joppa” (Ezra 3:7).
    The Red Sea, which is a portion of the Indian Ocean, wa yam cuph meaning “sea of weeds” (Exodus 10:19, (Numbers 14:25; Deuteronomy 1:1, etc); yam mitsayim meaning “the Egyptian sea” (Isaiah 11:15); or in the Egyptian language eruthra thalassa, meaning “the Red Sea.”
The Mediterranean is connected to, or part of, the Atlantic Ocean; the Red Sea is connected to, or part of, the Indian Ocean

The point is, the Hebrews and Bible people understood that the word “sea” meant either what we call today the “ocean,” or a portion of it, by the word with which “yam” (sea) was associated .
    At the same time, it should be of importance to know that the proper name of what is called today “the Sea of Galilee,” is ”kinnereth” (Numbers 34:11; Joshua 11:2); or Chinneroth (1 Kings 15:20); or limne Genesaret, meaning “the Lake of Gennesaret” (Luke 5:1); or hudor Genesar, meaning “the water of Gennesar” (1 Maccabees 11:67). It should also be noted that in Hebrew, the word yam can be used for any body of water, which is why the word is used in conjunction with a name to describe which body of water is being meant as shown above. Consequently, when interpreted correctly, there is no mistaking that “sea” in the cases used, is meant to be “ocean” in our language today, “ocean” and “sea” being synonymous terms. And, as it states in Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary of the English Language, “seas are properly branches of the ocean.”
    Thus, once again, the word “sea,” as translated by Joseph Smith in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon meant “ocean.”
    This should suggest to us that we pay particular attention to Jacob’s wordage: “an isle of the sea,” and later, “the isles of the sea,” and “as it says isles there must needs be more than this [isle],” which tell us that the isle upon which the Nephites were located was an island in the ocean, and that there were other islands, and they, too, were occupied by Israelites that had been led away from Jerusalem or the surrounding area.
3. We can't assume that they'd feel it necessary to search the entire coastline to verify that they were, in fact, on an island.
    Response: Searching the entire coastline by the time that Jacob said this is highly unlikely, but probably the coastline of the Land Southward would have been known. Still, at some point in time, it would have certainly been accomplished. Usually, people who are involved in shipping, as were the Nephites (Helaman 3:10,14), are somewhat of explorers, at least of their own surroundings. But it is doubtful this had happened by the time the discussion in the temple takes place.
4. They quite easilymaybe even naturallycould have assumed that since they had to arrive by boat, that they were on an island when they really were not.
    Response: Perhaps some with such opinions have ever been to sea in a ship in the middle of the ocean (especially the Pacific) with its endless sea in every direction, and seeing no land for long periods of time. But after a while, you begin to look for any sign of land, and once you do, you study it very closely. This would have been especially true of early explorers.
    When young, we used to go to Catalina Island, which is 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. It is not a large island, about 21 miles long and 8 miles at its widest, encompassing about 76 square miles with a coastal perimeter of about 54 miles. The length of the island is presented to the coast, so any boat or ship moving from Los Angeles (San Pedro) southwestward across to Catalina sees the entire length, not the width. Consequently, from any distance, you can easily tell this is an island. Once upon the land, you can climb one of its 2000-foot-highmountains and see the ocean in about every direction. Unquestionably, an island. However when you sail back across the water toward the mainland, you see land as far as the horizon in every direction from north to south—you know this is not an island.
    While much larger islands can look like a mainland, you often get the impression of a land’s size by looking at it for hours as you approach it at the slow speeds of sailing. Without knowing exactly what the Land of Promise looked like in 600 B.C., one cannot rule out an impression from the sea sailing up its length for several hours. On the other hand, giving the lengths of central Chile northward to Peru, it would have been next to impossible to tell this was an island from that single view, unless the appearance from the south suggested to mind an island, but that would have been hard to imagine given the size of the land mass they were approaching.
5. I've never been 100% comfortable with using Jacob's assertion as cold, hard fact. You've gone to great length to prove your case in this postthat we must take him at his word, but I still perceive some wiggle room for alternate interpretation.
Cold hard fact does not exist with any scripture—it is not meant as such when written, that is, proof out of hand. We either accept what was written as truth or reject it. Personally, I accept every word as it is written in the Book of Mormon. I have no concerns about any of it. Jacob landed on an island, that island was part of a partially sunken continent that rose when the Andes came up at the time of the crucifixion, as clearly detailed. Geology supports this point, though there is a variance in the time frame.
(See the next post, “That Troublesome Island of Jacob – Part III,” for more information regarding the island that gives Mesoamerican, Great Lakes and other theorists so much trouble and forces them to try and find some other answer to Jacob’s statement than how it is interpreted by the majority of people)

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